Bhutan Lite Blogs Travel

Exploring Bhutan’s Rich Heritage

The Royal Highland Festival, which celebrates the ancient traditions of Bhutan’s highland communities, is scheduled from October 23rd to 24th, 2024. The festival will be held in the beautiful district of Laya, in the highlands of Bhutan…reports Asian Lite News

As Bhutan marks the 50th anniversary of opening its doors to foreign tourists this year, there is no better way to experience the culture and soul of the country than through its calendar of over 150 festivals per year. Festivals are a key part of Bhutanese culture, and the Kingdom has a comprehensive festival calendar full of colour and atmosphere.

From mystical dances that give life to Bhutan’s ancient myths to the rhythms that have echoed through the Kingdom’s mountains for centuries, Bhutan’s variety of festivals will prepare travellers to immerse themselves in the unique cultural experience of the Land of the Thunder Dragon.

Genekha Matsutake Mushroom Festival
15th-16th August 2024
The Genekha Matsutake Mushroom Festival, celebrated in Thimphu, is a two-day event celebrated on the 15th and 16th of August. The festival aims to promote sustainable harvesting of mushrooms, create local awareness about wild edible mushrooms, and showcase the local cuisines. The festival offers a variety of activities, such as displays of indigenous sports and stalls showcasing local products like wild mushrooms, non-wood products, and high-breed agricultural seeds. Festival-goers can also relish traditional dishes like mushroom soup and curry. The festival also features traditional performances showcasing the region’s unique heritage, such as mask and folk dances, along with exhibitions and displays.

Thimphu Tshechu
13th- 15th September 2024
The Thimphu Tshechu is an awe-inspiring event in the Bhutanese capital that brings locals and tourists worldwide together. Thimphu Tshechu is a grand celebration dedicated to spreading the teachings of Guru Rinpoche, the second Buddha, and commemorating his legacy. During three days of lively festivities, the festival is full of colourful dances and ritual ceremonies that depict the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche. Said to be one of the most popular events for locals and tourists alike, Thimphu Tshechu leaves a lasting impression on all of its visitors.

Royal Highland Festival
23rd-24th October 2024
The Royal Highland Festival, which celebrates the ancient traditions of Bhutan’s highland communities, is scheduled from October 23rd to 24th, 2024. The festival will be held in the beautiful district of Laya, in the highlands of Bhutan. It will showcase the authentic, simple lives of the highlanders through a range of activities, including highland animal competitions, folk dances, and age-old traditional offerings. One of the festival's highlights is the scenic 25 km Laya Run, which begins at Ponjothang, the point where the drivable road ends. Visitors will travel along the banks of the mighty Mochu River until they reach the festival ground. This year, the festival will also mark the start of the Snowman Race, considered as one of the hardest ultramarathons in the world.

Zhemgang Bird Festival
13th-15th November 2024
The annual Zhemgang Bird Festival is another popular festival that takes place in November. Located in the eco-tourism capital of Zhemgang, the festival is a scenic 6-hour drive away from Thimphu. Visitors from both local and foreign lands flock to this festival to witness over 500 bird species living in the Zhemgang region. The three-day festival promotes eco-tourism and will feature cultural and entertaining performances by local bands, dancers, singers, and traditional Bhutanese musicians. Visitors can sample the local Bhutanese cuisine at the food stalls, participate in competitions and games, and enjoy a hike along the beautiful bird-watching trails. It promises to be a traditional Bhutanese festival that will be remembered for a long time.

ALSO READ-Summer Vacation Ideas From Maldives to Bhutan

Bhutan Lite Blogs Travel

Summer Vacation Ideas From Maldives to Bhutan

Make a splash this summer in Soneva Jani’s turquoise lagoon, where luxurious overwater residences and unparalleled marine experiences await…reports Asian Lite News

As the summer temperatures continue to soar in India, you can start planning a unique vacation
filled with new experiences that promise to remain etched in your memory. Whether you’re traveling with family or seeking a romantic escape, here’s a guide to bespoke getaways across the world that bring to you, a variety of immersive journeys, rare experiences and exceptional cuisine.

Soneva Fushi, Maldives

Spark discovery this summer at Soneva Fushi and explore exclusive entertainment, rare experiences and vast beachfront and overwater villas. Indulge in a culinary experience inspired by the movie ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’ at the overwater theatre, Cinema Paradiso. From sustainable arts and crafts to island-wide treasure hunts, there’s so much to enjoy at The Den. Pick ‘The Secret Day at Soneva Fushi’ experience and let the team curate a magical, personalised secret itinerary inspired by the Slow Life philosophy.

Soneva Jani, Maldives

Make a splash this summer in Soneva Jani’s turquoise lagoon, where luxurious overwater residences and unparalleled marine experiences await. Enjoy intimate dinners with visiting Michelin-starred chefs, reach new fitness goals or unlock the secrets to integrative wellness at Soneva Soul. Personalised secret experience, ‘The Secret Day at Soneva Jani’ and culinary experience inspired by the movie ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’ will both be available at Soneva Jani.

Amankora, Bhutan

Amanoi’s programme of craft activities include traditional coconut-leaf weaving – the intricate but easy-to-learn process by which the region’s children make their own toys. At the Beach Club, the Amanoi activity team celebrate the art of sand sculpture, incorporating shells, stones and driftwood into grand sandcastles and other creations. At night, the library can transform
into a screening room, with a selection of family films on offer – accompanied by popcorn and cookies. This year, Amanoi’s residency programme draws an international roster of holistic health experts and wellbeing practitioners who curate limited-edition retreats and experiences, including:
Rajeshwari Nerurkar, 1-31 May – Master of her craft since 2004, Rajeshwari focuses on
energy healing to treats the cause of physical symptoms.

Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort

Immerse yourself in a transformative journey of wellness as you cleanse and balance the seven chakras under the guidance of a Balinese High Priestess. Experience the restorative powers of ancient healing practices in one of the most inspirational settings
imaginable. Located on the southern tip of the Island of the Gods, Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort is an all-suite-and-villa cliffside paradise boasting innovative architecture and untamed natural beauty.

Anantara Layan Phuket Resort

Dara Cuisine Phuket and Sky Observatory at Anantara Layan PhuketResort offer a unique experience this summer combining modern Thai dining with stargazing. Named after the Thai word for ‘Star’, Dara celebrates Thai culinary heritage and seafaring traditions. The Sky Observatory provides an intimate rooftop setting with a custom-built Ash dome, where guests can
enjoy craft cocktails inspired by constellations while Sky Storytellers guide them through the night sky with Phuket most powerful telescope.

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A Spiritual Journey through 108 Sacred Sites of Bhutan

The Druk Neykor is a pilgrimage travel programme, and the sites are selected based on their sacredness, historical significance, easy accessibility and popularity among others…reports Asian Lite News

Bhutan’s Department of Tourism announces the launch of the Druk Neykor programme, a new tourism experience covering 108 sites and monuments in Bhutan showcasing the history, culture and spirituality of the country.

Introduced to welcome and enlighten travellers of varying ages who seek to know more about Bhutan’s unique culture and tradition. The Druk Neykor programme first starts with tours to 16 sites within Thimphu, including the Wangditse Lhakhang, Tshelung Ney, and Talangkha Drugyel Goenpa, among others. With accommodation options easily available near the sacred sites, all the locations are accessible either by road or via a hike.  

“The spiritual heritage of Bhutan is deeply intertwined with its natural beauty, and Druk Neykor provides a unique opportunity to explore both in harmony. We invite travellers from all across the world seeking a truly spiritual and immersive travel experience to participate in the Druk Neykor programme and contribute to promoting the pilgrimage sites and the unique culture of Bhutan,” said Dorji Dhradhul, the Director General of the Department of Tourism, Bhutan.

The Druk Neykor is a pilgrimage travel programme, and the sites are selected based on their sacredness, historical significance, easy accessibility and popularity among others.

Visitors can participate in Druk Neykor through a Bhutanese Tour Operator, and one can also visit the sites without participating in the Druk Neykor programme. However, the truly immersive experience is Druk Neykor’s unique passport system, wherein travellers collect stamps at each spiritual site visited. From the iconic Tiger’s Nest monastery perched on a cliffside to the serene Druk Wangyel Chorten, Dochula, offering panoramic views of the Himalayas, every stamp tells a story of spiritual awakening and cultural immersion. Additionally, the stamp book also includes QR codes, allowing access to detailed information about each site upon scanning.

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Bhutan Lite Blogs Sports

Ultimate Destination for Cricket Enthusiasts

Bhutan Cricket also collaborates with local tour operators to facilitate cricket matches in various picturesque locations across the Kingdom…reports Asian Lite News

Bhutan is now establishing itself as a premier destination for enthusiasts seeking a unique cricket experience. Bhutan provides a cricket experience like no other, with some of the world’s highest cricket grounds under their belt, and where the love for the sport intertwines with the tranquillity of its surroundings. The country’s cricket grounds boast stunning views that create an unforgettable atmosphere for both players and spectators.

Cricket is now considered one of the fastest-growing sports in Bhutan. Numerous efforts in terms of training, infrastructure & tournaments have spread throughout the country, penetrating even remote areas such as Merak and Sakteng in the far east of Bhutan. Now the Bhutan Cricket Association conducts many school tournaments and grassroots programmes for schools and coaching across the country. 

The emergence of cricket in Bhutan dates back to 1999 when televisions were first introduced in Bhutan, giving people the opportunity to watch the 1999 Cricket World Cup. Gradually, Bhutanese started to play in the stadiums and even played in various international tournaments. 

Bhutan Cricket has come a long way since its admission to the ICC in 2001. Today, there are seven active districts for cricket. The new Gelephu International Cricket Ground, which will soon be inaugurated, will become the first cricket ground in Bhutan that will meet international standards. So far, the Bhutan Cricket Association has trained 60,000 people in Bhutan from youth to senior age, across 18 dzongkhags (districts), including 1070 monks and 60 nuns.  

Bhutan Cricket also collaborates with local tour operators to facilitate cricket matches in various picturesque locations across the Kingdom. One of Bhutan’s primary venues, the Gelephu ground, situated in the southern part of Bhutan bordering India, offers a unique experience for clubs or teams from India seeking to play in Bhutan. Despite the hot weather, Gelephu ground provides a convenient and proper-sized playing field, making it an ideal choice. Additionally, cricket matches are offered in Thimphu and Punakha, each offering its charm and appeal. While the ground sizes may vary, the experience gained in these locations is bound to be mesmerizing. Particularly notable is the Punakha Ground, located near the majestic Dzong, enhancing its appeal and accessibility for cricket enthusiasts. Guests can have unforgettable cricket experiences amidst Bhutan’s breathtaking landscapes.

“On behalf of the Bhutan Cricket Family, I extend a warm invitation to all cricket enthusiasts worldwide to join us in experiencing the joy of cricket amidst the breathtaking backdrop of Bhutan’s natural beauty. Every stroke of the bat and every delivery you bowl will transform into a unique and unforgettable cricketing experience in the majestic Himalayan landscape. We wholeheartedly welcome you to be a part of the spirit of the game and immerse yourself in the serenity of Bhutan while relishing the thrill of cricket. Cricket-Happiness is a Game,” said Damber Gurung, the Chief Executive Officer of the Bhutan Cricket Council Board.

Gelephu International Cricket Ground is the first cricket ground in Bhutan that will meet international standards. Located at a comfortable five-minute drive away from the main town of Gelephu, the facility covers 6 acres of land and has two entrances. The playing field spanning 3.5 acres is equipped with 6 turf pitches for matches, net facilities (2 artificial pitches and 4 turf), washrooms (male/female) and natural seating for up to 2000 spectators. 

Jigmethang Cricket Ground in Thimphu is located in the north of Thimphu city. A leisurely walk of around five minutes, alongside the Raidak River will take you to this hidden gem. Sporting a synthetic wicket, the ground is 126.82 meters in length, 85.8 meters in breath and is any amateur cricketer’s paradise! Lush green pine trees, a breathtaking view of the mountains, the constant sound of flowing water, and the chirping birds will make for a unique setting for your cricketing experience. Furthermore, feel draped in Bhutan’s culture, sitting in a colourful Bhutanese tent as the pavilion! 

“Bhutan is not just a cricket destination; it’s an experience that combines the love for the game with the unmatched beauty of our country. We welcome cricket enthusiasts from around the world to enjoy the unique cricketing experience in Bhutan,” concluded Dorji Dhradhul, the Director General of the Department of Tourism.

To cater to the growing interest in cricket tourism, travel agencies in Bhutan are now offering specialized packages for cricket enthusiasts. These packages include the ground fee, match officials, equipment, lunch, refreshments, cricket opponent, first aid and even trophies.

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Modi Heads to Bhutan for High-Level Talks and Partnerships

The state visit is in keeping with the tradition of regular high-level exchanges between India and Bhutan, and the government’s emphasis on its Neighbourhood First Policy…reports Asian Lite News

Prime Minister Narendra Modi left on a two-day visit to Bhutan on Friday to cement bilateral ties and hold talks with King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

PM Modi will also hold talks with Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay.

The state visit is in keeping with the tradition of regular high-level exchanges between India and Bhutan, and the government’s emphasis on its Neighbourhood First Policy.

“On the way to Bhutan, where I will be attending various programmes aimed at further cementing the India-Bhutan partnership,” PM Modi said in a post on X.

“I look forward to talks with Majesty the King of Bhutan, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and Prime Minister,” he added.

PM Modi’s visit, earlier scheduled for March 21, was postponed due to inclement weather conditions in the country.

“The visit will provide an opportunity for both sides to exchange views on bilateral and regional matters of interest and deliberate on ways to expand and intensify our exemplary partnership between the two nations,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in an earlier statement.

PM Modi accepted an invitation extended by his counterpart Tshering Tobgay last week, on behalf of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, to visit Bhutan.

PM Tobgay visited India from March 14-18, marking his first overseas trip after assuming office in January this year.

Sharing warm hugs and handshakes, he met PM Modi and discussed a range of issues to strengthen relations between the two neighbouring nations.

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Bhutan Celebrates Modi’s Visit

The Himalayan nation is adorned with ‘Long live Bhutan-India friendship’ posters ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit…reports Asian Lite News

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to pay a two-day state visit to Bhutan this week, the Himalayan nation is decked up with posters of PM Modi with slogans ‘Long live Bhutan-India friendship’.

PM Modi’s visit from March 21-22 will further strengthen the multifaceted cooperation between the two neighbouring nations across various sectors, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a press statement.

During the visit, the Prime Minister will receive an audience with Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the King of Bhutan and Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King of Bhutan. The Prime Minister will also hold talks with the Prime Minister of Bhutan Tshering Tobgay, the MEA said.

Ahead of PM Modi’s arrival, the airport and the roads have been adorned with posters of PM Modi and the Bhutanese King, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

Earlier, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepted the invitation of his Bhutanese counterpart, Tshering Tobgay to visit Bhutan after Bhutan PM extended his invitation to PM Modi during his India visit this month.

Different posters have been put up at various places in the city along with the flags of both countries.

King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck too has made several visits to India, underscoring the close ties between the two nations. His last visit to India was in November 2023.

Similarly, PM Modi’s visit to Bhutan in August 2019 marked a significant milestone, with the launch of major bilateral projects aimed at bolstering economic cooperation and connectivity.

Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay was in India on an official visit, which was his first overseas visit after assuming office in February 2024.

Over the years, high-level exchanges have played a pivotal role in nurturing the strong bond between India and Bhutan. Formal diplomatic ties between the two countries were established in 1968.

The economic partnership between India and Bhutan has flourished over the years, driven by the India-Bhutan Agreement on Trade, Commerce, and Transit. This agreement, first signed in 1972 and revised multiple times, has facilitated a free trade regime between the two countries, promoting bilateral trade and economic growth. India stands as Bhutan’s top trade partner, both in terms of imports and exports.

The bilateral trade volume has seen a significant surge, reaching INR 11,178 crores in 2022, showcasing the robust economic engagement between the two nations. India’s investments in Bhutan span various sectors, including banking, manufacturing, electricity generation, and IT services, contributing to Bhutan’s socio-economic development and fostering closer economic integration.

India has been a steadfast development partner for Bhutan, extending economic assistance to support its socio-economic progress since the 1960s. India’s contribution to Bhutan’s 12th Five Year Plan, amounting to Rs 5000 Cr., underscores its commitment to supporting Bhutan’s developmental aspirations.

With several hydroelectric projects operational and others in various stages of implementation, India has played a pivotal role in supporting Bhutan’s energy security objectives. The commissioning of projects like the Mangdechhu Hydroelectric Project and the ongoing collaboration in the hydro-power sector underscores the shared commitment to sustainable energy development and regional cooperation.The educational and cultural ties between India and Bhutan form an integral part of their bilateral relations. India has been a key destination for Bhutanese students seeking higher education, with over 1000 scholarships provided annually by the Government of India.

Additionally, cultural exchanges and initiatives under the India-Bhutan Foundation have strengthened people-to-people ties, fostering greater understanding and collaboration between the two societies. The Nehru Wangchuck Scholarship Scheme, ICCR Scholarships, and ITEC program have further facilitated skill development and capacity building in Bhutan, reflecting India’s commitment to nurturing human capital and fostering educational excellence in the region.

Cultural and religious ties between India and Bhutan have deep historical roots, with shared Buddhist heritage serving as a cornerstone of their cultural identity. Pilgrimages to sacred Buddhist sites in India and cultural exchanges have further cemented these ties, enriching the spiritual and cultural fabric of both nations. Initiatives such as the loaning of the Zhabdrung Statue by the Asiatic Society, Kolkata, and the visit of His Holiness the Je Khenpo to Rajgir underscore the enduring cultural bonds and shared reverence for Buddhist traditions.

In addition to traditional areas of cooperation, India and Bhutan are exploring new avenues for collaboration, including digital initiatives, space cooperation, and technology partnerships. Projects like ‘Digital Drukyul’ and the joint development of satellites reflect the commitment to harnessing technology for mutual benefit and socio-economic progress.

The interoperability of flagship projects like RuPay and the BHIM app demonstrates the evolving nature of the bilateral relationship, with a focus on leveraging digital innovations for inclusive growth and development.

Recent developments, including progress on rail connectivity links and the establishment of Integrated Check Posts, underscore the commitment to enhancing trade and connectivity between India and Bhutan. Financial linkages, youth empowerment initiatives, and skill development programs further highlight the comprehensive nature of the bilateral partnership, aimed at fostering sustainable development and prosperity in Bhutan. (ANI)

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Bhutan Lite Blogs

Pemako: Where Tradition Meets Modern Comfort in Bhutan

Festivals are a grand affair in Bhutan, whether one plans to visit during spring or summer! One can experience the country’s rich cultural tapestry, through authentic experiences that unveil the kingdom’s traditions…reports Asian Lite News

Synonymous with ‘hidden lotus-shaped land’, Pemako represents a world whose rich stories are inspired by the beyul – the remote sanctuary of the Himalayas.

The two stunning hotels – Pemako Thimphu and Pemako Punakha, promise to introduce one to the natural splendour of Bhutan known for its year-round pleasant weather, vibrant festive celebrations, and magnificent cultural history. These boutique luxury hotels are renowned for breathtaking views of the majestic Himalayan landscapes, intimate ambience, traditional Bhutanese cuisine, rejuvenating spa therapies, and myriad of nature activities with an essence of comfort. From opulent tents with private pools at Pemako Punakha to meticulously designed rooms and suites at Pemako Thimphu, every stay is a unique mix of traditional Bhutanese aesthetics, and modern comfort, ideal for a romantic escapade like no other. An idyllic destination to strengthen bonds and reconnect with oneself and your loved ones!

Here are four must-have experiences with your loved ones in the Land of the Thunder Dragon that vow to be an unforgettable, immersive experience amongst the Himalayas:

A Kaleidoscope of Culture, Colour and Heritage: Experience the festivities in Bhutan

Festivals are a grand affair in Bhutan, whether one plans to visit during spring or summer! One can experience the country’s rich cultural tapestry, through authentic experiences that unveil the kingdom’s traditions. Locals and guests are welcome to attend these colourful and exciting events with special mask dance performances, songs and culinary delights – making it a fantastic affair. The Talo Tsechu which will take place from 17th to 19th March is a 3-day festival known for its mask dances. In April, the Rhododendron festival from 13th – to 14th April – at Lamperi Botanical Park, 35 km from Thimphu will showcase different species of beautiful flowers that are in full bloom in their natural habitat along with local folk dances, cultural programs and exhibitions. Think enjoying delicious traditional dishes from the food stalls and shopping for souvenirs!

Besides, Pemako Thimphu hosts a special cultural programme each evening showcasing folk music and the sacred cham dance – lending a mesmerising glimpse into the local celebrations and religious feasts within the hotel. A distinct highlight is the opportunity to try out the traditional Bhutanese attires – The Gho (for men) and The Kira (for women), colourful dresses elegantly wrapped around the body and widely worn by the locals.

An amorous evening: Indulge in intimate dining experiences

At Pemako, one can embark on a gastronomic journey that transforms every dining experience into a cherished memory. Pemako’s skilled chefs have curated a distinctive menu celebrating the unique Bhutanese cuisine – incorporating fresh, local ingredients and catering to the most discerning palette. The exclusive dining experiences lie at the heart of the brand – and allow one to discover good food with good views in the lovely company of near and dear ones. Pemako Thimphu offers scintillating dining and lounging options – enjoy a bespoke cocktail made with Bhutan’s exquisite local liquor offerings at Ara – a stylish, mood-lit bar or indulge in European, Continental delicacies at The Thongsel. Perfect settings for an intimate dining experience! At Pemako Punakha, one can discover the region’s most authentic flavours and indulgences served in a heritage setting at Alchemy House. The culinary journeys are enhanced with themed private dining nights – from a romantic sundowner at the banks of MoChuu River with handcrafted cocktails, to a lavish barbeque at the picnic deck under a starlit sky.

The Chef’s Table offers an upscale private dining experience where one can see the chef at work, learn traditional cooking techniques, and enjoy great company and exceptional food and wine.

Rejuvenate, Revitalise and Reconnect: Exquisite wellness therapies in the heart of Bhutan

Pemako Punakha and Pemako Thimphu are an intimate haven for guests seeking a holistic escape for the mind, body and spirit – a decadent voyage where relaxation meets the poetry of togetherness. An array of activities across the hotels offers a great way to detox, and destress along with forging a stronger bond with loved ones amongst peaceful and tranquil spaces. One can unwind at The Lotus Realm spa which offers therapies centred on the ideas of re-establishing harmony and balance – drawing inspiration from Sowa-Riga, a traditional medicine practised in Bhutan. Amongst an array of offerings, the Bhutanese Hot Stone Bath is a unique one – a nurturing ritual that offers a modern touch of spa therapy transcending conventional treatments.

Discover the charm of Bhutan: From guided adventure escapades to exploring the vibrant city

The enchanting landscapes in Bhutan rightfully cater to nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts seeking the extraordinary. Spread graciously across lush land, Pemako Punakha allows one to embark on a serene experience in the comfort of the hotel – seize the day by hosting a prayer flag, an auspicious activity believed to carry blessings and happiness, sign up for an archery lesson or a guided visit to the monasteries and dzongs. The centrally located Pemako Thimphu is a leisurely walk away from the bustling streets selling traditional handicrafts, and local dining restaurants or a hike away from the statue of Great Buddha Dordemna overlooking the capital city. One will be mesmerised by the very beautiful, unique and exotic Bhutanese architecture imbibed on every building, inspired by mythical stories and nature. Pemako seamlessly blends Bhutan’s rich culture, and authenticity with top-notch luxury and comfort, offering an idyllic romantic escape. An ideal destination for the ones who are passionate about exploring the world hand in hand, offering love-filled experiences and cherishing unforgettable moments.

Essential travel requirements and policies for Bhutan:VISA policies, SDF fees and beyond

Bhutan has a unique visa policy designed to preserve its cultural identity and environment. Indian citizens do not require a visa to enter Bhutan, however, they are required to obtain a permit to enter the country. The Department of Immigration issues the entry permit after checking the valid documents of the traveller. Visitors from India can apply for a permit but must hold an Indian passport or an Indian voter ID card. For Indian nationals under the age of 18, a passport or a birth certificate can be used to enter and they must be accompanied by a legal guardian. The SDF (Sustainable Development Fees) for Indian nationals (showing a valid Indian passport or Voter ID card) is Nu. 1,200 (or the equivalent amount in Indian rupees) per person, per night. Children aged between 6 years and who have not yet turned 12 are eligible to pay Nu./INR 600 per night. Children who have not yet turned 6 years old do not have to pay any SDF.

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Bhutan welcomes travellers with easier access

The country has focused on simplifying the visa process, reducing the Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) to USD 100, and increasing flight options to improve travel convenience….reports Asian Lite News

Bhutan, renowned for its majestic landscapes and unique cultural experiences, is now more accessible than ever for travellers, thanks to several key improvements in travel procedures. The country has focused on simplifying the visa process, reducing the Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) to USD 100, and increasing flight options to improve travel convenience.

Simplified Visa Process:

Bhutan requires visas for all visitors, with no nationality restrictions. The introduction of an online visa application system has made this process more efficient. Typically, visas are processed within five working days, allowing for easier travel planning. The visa is valid for up to 90 days. Visitors (except those from India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives*), must obtain a visa before arrival. The application involves paying a Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) and a USD 40 visa fee. The process is flexible, allowing applicants to apply directly online themselves, through a tour operator, or via a hotel. There is no cap on visitor numbers to Bhutan, and everyone is welcome.

Self-application for a travel visa is convenient, requiring tourists to fill out an online form with essential documents:

A digital copy of a valid passportA recent digital passport photoArrival and departure datesValid travel insurance for the duration of planned travelPayment information

Reduced Sustainable Development Fee

The Sustainable Development Fee (SDF), serves as a daily contribution by tourists towards the nation’s development. The SDF is utilized transparently and responsibly by the Royal Government of Bhutan. This fund aids various sectors such as healthcare, education, environment, culture, and economy, fostering long-term sustainable opportunities for Bhutanese citizens. As a carbon-neutral nation, Bhutan leverages the SDF to uphold its exceptional forest cover and carbon neutrality, ensuring a serene experience for visitors. In September 2023, Bhutan introduced a 50% reduction in the SDF rate, effective until August 31, 2027, with incentives for children. The new rates are USD 100 per adult per night; while children between the ages of 6 and who have not yet turned 12 pay a reduced rate of USD 50 per night. Children who have not yet turned six years old do not pay any SDF fee. The revised fee structure enhances Bhutan’s appeal as an environmentally conscious and welcoming destination.

Increased Flight Options

Bhutan’s airlines, Drukairand Bhutan Airlines, have expanded their flight options, providing increased accessibility to the kingdom with non-stop/transit flights connecting India, Singapore, Thailand, Nepal and Bangladesh to Paro International Airport. Soon, Bhutan Airlines will also start flights to Paro from Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. It was also recently announced that Bhutan has signed an Air Service Agreement with the Government of the State of Kuwait. The expansion of connectivity aligns with Bhutan’s dedication to accommodating the escalating demand from travellers, ensuring a seamless and enriching experience for all.

Best Times to Visit Bhutan

When planning a trip to Bhutan, consider what you want to experience. The best time of year to visit Bhutan will depend on whether you’re interested in trekking, avoiding crowds, the location of the places you want to visit, or attending traditional festivals.

Mid-March to May showcases the stunning rhododendron blossoms across the eastern Himalayas, with milder temperatures and slightly less clear skies compared to autumn.

April offers great opportunities for lower-altitude hikes. Trekking conditions are optimal in April, May, October, and November, with spring presenting more rainfall and autumn offering clearer mountain views and comfortable 20°C daytime temperatures. Trekking is less advisable during the summer season (June to mid-September) due to rainfall.

October offers pleasant weather, clear skies, vibrant festivals, and excellent trekking conditions. November and December are prime times for observing the black-necked cranes in Phobjikha Valley. The valley hosts these cranes until March.

Summer is ideal for spotting alpine wildflowers and it’s the season for high-altitude wildflowers, like the rare blue poppy, and summer festivals in lesser-visited areas like Haa Valley. Although it rains in summer, the rainfall is not normally a heavy monsoon, it means the waterfalls and rivers are gushing, and the country is covered in lush, green landscapes.

Winter (November to February) is also a good time to visit most of Bhutan, barring high mountain passes. Fewer tourists and mild valley weather make for a serene experience, though warm clothing is recommended. The main tourist valleys do not experience much (if any) snowfall, and the clear skies in winter make it a popular time to visit for photographers.

Aligning your visit with one of Bhutan’s vibrant religious festivals can enhance your experience. These festivals, determined by the lunar calendar, feature large gatherings of locals in traditional attire, along with a variety of holy men and vendors. While the popular tsechus in Paro and Thimphu attract many tourists, smaller regional festivals offer a more intimate experience. The Royal Highland Festival in October, with its unique blend of horse racing, music, and yak beauty contests, is a highlight. Check the Bhutan Department of Tourism website or major tour operators for up-to-date festival schedules.

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Bhutan Fashion Lite Blogs

Manav Gangwani’s Exclusive Designs for Bhutanese Royals

Manav Gangwani created a black Gho with cashmere yarn sourced especially for the occasion, with a red silk satin accent with the beautiful Bhutanese pattern of the seven lucky symbols…reports Asian Lite News

There was an Indian presence at the splendid Royal Brunei Wedding Reception Banquet, of The Royal Highnesses Prince Abdul Mateen ibni Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah and Yang Mulia Dayang Anisha Rosnah binti Adam, at the grand Istana Nurul Iman in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam.

With meticulous attention to detail, designer Manav Gangwani crafted attire for the Royal Majesties of The Kingdom of Bhutan, His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, and Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck,

Perfectly reflecting the regal essence of this momentous occasion for the King of Bhutan he specially designed a traditional Gho, a knee-length, robe-like piece of clothing that is secured with a belt at the waist. The Gho is a mark of tradition and of national prestige. Manav Gangwani created a black Gho with cashmere yarn sourced especially for the occasion, with a red silk satin accent with the beautiful Bhutanese pattern of the seven lucky symbols.

For the Queen of Bhutan, he curated a vesture that was again keeping in tradition with the national Bhutanese attire, which consists of three separate pieces: the skirt, or kira, the blouse, or wonju, and the jacket, or toego, all elaborately handcrafted with painstaking attention in their detailing, that showed a connection between the beautiful friendships of the kingdom of Bhutan and the kingdom of Brunei.

The beige-gold kira was a beauteous piece of design, embroidered with real gold embroidery with delicate floral motifs chain-stitched in a traditional Batik pattern from Brunei. The pattern was inspired by the Brunei national flower, Simpor (Dillenia Suffruticosa) that is also widely used for traditional handicrafts. The wonju was similarly hued as the kira, in lotus silk, painstakingly made from the fibres of the lotus plant, making it an exclusive, sustainable and eco-friendly garment. The similarly hued toego completed the ensemble, made with the finest Brunei Jong Sarat, most famously known for being sumptuous; silk brocade painstakingly interwoven with precious gold and silver thread in a special paisley pattern entwined with geometric batik motifs.

The Queen of Bhutan opted to wear a sleek chain and pendant of diamond and columbian emeralds with matching earrings from the Royal Bhutanese jewellery collection.

With the event demanding excellent competency of design and aesthetic, with an equally keen observance and adherence to traditional detailing, the Indian couturier was an obvious choice when it came to dressing the Royal Majesties of Bhutan in attendance. The Royal Majesties of Bhutan made quite a statement in the esteemed company of other Royal Guests and the Heads of States.

Manav Gangwani’s deep friendship and his special bond conferred upon him the honour of designing for the youngest and most revered Royal Majesties in the world, for the remarkable Royal Brunei Wedding Reception Banquet.

ALSO READ-Explore the Rich Tapestry of Bhutanese Buddhism

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Explore the Rich Tapestry of Bhutanese Buddhism

The heart of the exhibition lies in the vivid portrayal of Bhutanese Buddhist iconography, featuring exquisite thangkas that breathe life into the myths and legends intrinsic to this Himalayan kingdom…reports Asian Lite News

The rich tapestry of Bhutanese Buddhism is presented in full glory in ‘The Wheel of Life. This extraordinary showcase immerses you in the intricate world of Buddhist thangkas, offering a glimpse into the profound mythological narratives that have flourished in the serene landscapes of Bhutan. Thangkas often overflow with symbolism and allusion. Because the art is explicitly religious, all symbols and allusions must be by strict guidelines laid out in Buddhist scripture. 

The Wheel of Life takes its name from the centerpiece of the exhibit, a magnificent depiction of Buddhist cosmology known as the Wheel of Life. 

As the focal point, it illustrates the continuous interplay of birth, life, death, and rebirth. The intricate details of Bhutanese thangkas reveal a cosmic choreography, weaving narratives that transcend the physical world and invite contemplation on the interconnectedness of all living beings. This pivotal artwork is a visual anchor, guiding visitors through the interconnected cycles of existence and enlightenment. 

The heart of the exhibition lies in the vivid portrayal of Bhutanese Buddhist iconography, featuring exquisite thangkas that breathe life into the myths and legends intrinsic to this Himalayan kingdom. Among the celestial beings adorning the canvases are the revered Goddess Tara, the enchanting Dhakinis, the benevolent Zambala, and the mystical Goddess Dem Kurukulle.

Each painting is a testament to the skilled craftsmanship and spiritual devotion of the Bhutanese artists who are trained precisely in spiritual verses and their proficiency at conquering and translating the learnings onto canvas. The finesse of brushstrokes, the brilliance of colour palettes, and the precision of composition underscore the profound dedication and spiritual devotion inherent in every stroke.

Wheel of Life is a visual and spiritual odyssey that invites viewers to contemplate the profound teachings encapsulated in these sacred artworks. Each thangka unfolds a narrative that transcends time, inviting reflection on the timeless wisdom encapsulated in the artistry of Bhutanese thangkas.

Exhibition dates: 1tst – 4th February, 2024

Venue: India Art Fair, NSIC Grounds, Okhla, Delhi

Booth number: E 14

Total no. of artworks on display: 67

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