Travel Guide on Bhutan, Thimphu & Shangri-La

Bhutan: A Tourist's Heaven 

Like any Himalayan kingdom, Bhutan, youngest democracy in the world, is an ethereal beauty, nestled between India and China awesome and mystical. Wherever you go, the hills reverberate with the sound of drums and enchanting from the Buddhist monasteries. The striking natural beauty, laidback lifestyle and absolute calm that prevail here make it the eighth happiest nations in the world! (This is a projection based on the global survey in 2006).

The last Shangri la as it were has enamored tourist from all over the world wanting to discover this esoteric Himalayan adobe. As the Oxford educated 28 year old monarch Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk takes to the throne, the spotlight is turned to this kingdom which till recently had cut itself from rest of the world in a bid to preserve its culture. Although Thimphu is the capital, the international airport is at Paro in the Paro Valley, a stretch of spectacular beauty. Located 2,250 m above sea level, the valley with the gently flowing Paro Chu looks exhilarating. The valley is a riot of colors during spring. Some of the most exclusive trekking routes in the world are accessible from here. Among the places to explore here are Paro Dzong, the symbolic center of religious and secular affairs, National Museum and Taktsang Lhakang (Tigers Nest) which is perched on the edge of the cliff and long walk from Paro. Visitors should also check out the exotic fort Drukgyel Dozng.

Thimphu is perhaps the smallest capital in the world and the best way to explore the city on the banks of the Thimphuchu would be by foot. Take long strolls down the street which are impeccably clean and dotted with houses adorned with beautifully carved wooden doors and windows. You will encounter hordes of vendors selling farm fresh apples, oranges local paintings and art pieces. The people here use liberally use chilies in their food which perhaps gives it a distinct flavor. Try the red rice, phaksha pa (Smoked pork), ema datshi (cheese and chili), and toshoem and jasha maroo (minced chicken).