16 Unique facts of Bhutan that why you should travel to Bhutan?
Why you should travel to Bhutan? What are unique things in Bhutan? Imagine a country tucked into the Himalayan Mountains between the giant countries of India and China and closed off from tourism until 1974. A country that decided to measure national happiness, has completely free healthcare, and nobody living on the streets. Sounds unbelievable, but this is all unique facts of Bhutan, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg… Below are 16 unique facts of Bhutan:
1. No homeless people at all.
In Bhutan, there’s no one stuck living out on the streets. If a person loses their home, they just need to go to the king and he’ll give them a plot of land where they can build a house to live in and plant a garden to eat from.
2. Free healthcare.
Each Bhutanese resident has the right to free medical care. The country’s Ministry of Health has made it their goal to become “A nation with the best health.” And it looks like they’re achieving just that. A person can decide whether to receive traditional or classical medicine as a method of treatment that’s all completely free!
TV and internet were officially banned in Bhutan… until 1999, that is. The Bhutanese people take their traditions and unique culture very seriously, and the king took great measures to protect his people from outside influences. But it became impossible to isolate the whole country from modern technologies, so the king finally decided to lift the ban. As a result, Bhutan was one of the last countries in the world to start using television. The internet arrived shortly after.
4. National Dress Code.
Speaking of traditions, Bhutanese people are required to wear traditional clothes in public. This nationwide dress code has existed for over 400 years. Men wear a heavy, knee-length robe called a Gho, and women wear a long dress known as a Kira. You can even identify a person’s social status by the color scarf they wear draped over their left shoulder. Ordinary folks wear white scarves, and noble people and monks wear yellow ones.
5. No Smoking!
In 2010, the king enacted a law prohibiting the cultivation, harvest, and sale of tobacco, making Bhutan the first country in the world with a total ban on tobacco. It’s impossible to buy it there, and you can’t smoke in public areas. Tourists lucky enough to gain entry into the country have to pay a huge fee for bringing their smokes with them. And if they get caught trying to smuggle in tobacco, they can expect a huge fine or even criminal charges!
6. Ecology is everything.
Bhutan is really concerned about ecology and nature. According to a local law, at least 60% of the country’s total area must be covered with woods. At the moment, that number is at about 71%, so they’re doing just fine. It’s no surprise really, since this is what locals want. In 2015, Bhutan even set a world record when its people planted 50,000 trees in just one hour! Thanks to that, it’s the only carbon-negative country in the world, meaning it absorbs more carbon dioxide than it produces. Way to go, Bhutan!
7. They like it hot!
The most popular ingredient in almost every Bhutanese dish is chilies. The Tourism Council even notes “Bhutanese people would not enjoy a meal that was not spicy.” The country’s official National Dish is called Ema Datshi. It’s a yummy mix of spicy chilies and a local cheese called Datshi. It’s a common staple in most meals and can be changed up by adding potatoes, green beans, mushrooms, or ferns. And if you really wanna mix it up, you can use yak cheese! Yep, from a yak!
8. Touring obstacles.
Remember, Bhutan takes preserving their traditions and unique culture very seriously. That’s why they make visiting their country very difficult and expensive. You can only go to Bhutan in groups of 3 or more. (Technically, you can go as a couple or by yourself, but you gotta pay extra if you do.)
All documents and visas are issued by a state-appointed company. And before you can get the permit, you have to pay all of the expenses in advance, including transportation, hotel, fees, tour operator and guide services, visa, and insurance.
A tour guide will be with you the entire time, and they’ll only allow you to visit places specifically designated for tourism. If you’re already thinking about booking a trip, then make sure you save up $250 per person for each night you’d like to stay!
9. Ladies first.
Women are respected and honored in Bhutan. Their tradition of inheritance proves that. All property and belongings like their homes, cattle, and land go to the eldest daughter, not son. Men are expected to earn their own fortunes.
10. 100% Organic?
Not quite, but they’re well on their way and could get there soon. It’s already illegal to import or use any chemical products there whatsoever. Everything they use is cutimeltivated within the country and is all-natural.
11. They keep food on the roof.
Winters are pretty harsh in Bhutan, so they have to take advantage of the warmer seasons to make sure they have enough food to make it through the cold months. In the fall, it’s not uncommon to see roofs covered with red chilies drying for the winter.
Piles of rice stalks in cone-like structures in the fields are also everywhere. They don’t have enough time to thrash the rice straight away, so they keep it like that until they can get to it. Chili and rice are something the Bhutanese can happily survive on all winter long.
12. Only the best pilots are allowed to fly to Bhutan.
This time, it’s not a matter of privacy or an attempt to preserve an ancient culture, but a matter of skill and safety. Paro Airport, the only one in the country, is in a fantastically beautiful location with breathtaking views of the Himalayas.
But it’s also one of the most dangerous airports in the world. Not every pilot can maneuver between mountaintops and land on a 6,500-foot-long (1.980 m) highway right by people’s houses. Add strong winds to the challenge, and you’ll understand why take-offs and landings are only allowed during daylight hours. And there are only 8 pilots in the world that can do this. Together, they transport around 30,000 people a year.
13. Wedding rules.
If you visit Bhutan, you may fall in love with the land, but try not to fall for a local or else you’ll get your heart broken. It’s prohibited to marry foreigners. When two happy Bhutanese people fall in love and get married, monks read mantras during the wedding ceremony.
They believe this tradition helps newlyweds build a tight mental connection. There’s also a Changphoed ritual, which is the offering of a locally grown brew to the deities. After the offering, the remaining brew is served and shared by the bride and groom. Once the rituals are performed, the couple becomes a family. Then, as a rule, the man moves into the woman’s home, and only when he earns enough money can they move to a new house.
14. The Ministry of Happiness.
In 2008, the Gross National Happiness Committee was formed in Bhutan to take care of the people’s inner peace. Bhutan is the only country in the world that has an official Ministry of Happiness. They believe GNH, or Gross National Happiness, is just as important to measure as GDP, aka Gross Domestic Product.
In 2015, they organized an extensive survey interviewing people about how happy they are. Even the census questionnaire has a column where you can indicate whether you’re satisfied with your life or not. The results of the 2015 survey showed that 91% of the population consider themselves happy, and 43% are deeply or extensively happy. The quality of life in the country is determined by the balance between their financial and mental values.
15. The road less traveled.
All the road signs in Bhutan are drawn by hand. Thiumphu, the country’s capital, is the only one in the world that has no traffic lights at all. In fact, there are no traffic lights in the entire country! Traffic police control vehicle movement manually, and the officer in his booth on the main street is one of the city sights no tourist wants to miss!
16. Gingerbread-like houses.
Bhutanese people love to decorate their homes. They draw birds, animals, and different patterns on the walls, making them look like real-life gingerbread houses. Their houses are small, 3-story structures. The ground floor is a place to keep animals, the living space is on the second floor, and the third floor is used to store hay.
Probably makes for great insulation too! Despite all the bans and strict rules, Bhutanese people are very friendly and happy, and the natural beauty of this country is breathtaking. So if you plan a visit, I’m willing to bet it’ll be an unforgettable trip!
So, would you like to visit Bhutan? Let me know down in the comments! If you learned something new today, remember to rate this article “16 Unique facts of Bhutan that why you should travel to Bhutan” and share it with a friend.
Credit: Bright Side