The only country in the world where tourists need to spend minimum $250 a day
Posted on 15/02/2019
The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, tucked in between China and India, definitely appreciates quality over quantity. Tourists are very limited here and the country strongly avoids being overrun by them. That's why this country officially requires its visitors to pay $200-250 per person per day. So is it worth the money? Those who've visited say that if you can afford it, absolutely!
What's included in the fee?
At first, the minimum tourist fee might seem too expensive, especially when you compare it to budget-friendly Nepal where you will probably spend six times less money. But, the daily tariff isn't just a visa. It basically covers all your expenses during your stay. According to theTourism Council of Bhutan, the minimum daily package covers the following services: three-star accommodation, all meals, a licensed Bhutanese tour guide, all land transport, and trekking gear.
The price varies depending on which months you decide to travel. It's cheaper to travel during low-season from January to December ($200) and more expensive from in spring-season, from March to November ($250). Almost all foreign tourists are obligated to pay this fee, with the exception of visitors from India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives. Children up to 12 years old and students can also get a discount.
When you add everything together, this is a pretty good deal. With all of your biggest costs taken care of, you'll just have to spend additional money on the flight, alcohol, souvenirs, snacks, and tips for your driver and guide.
Why is this actually a good thing?
Thanks to their unique tourism strategy, the country today enjoys a reputation for authenticity, well-protected nature, cultural heritage and exclusivity. Bhutan doesn't want to end up being one of those overcrowded tourist destinations like Venice or Thailand, and their methods have proven to be effective. In 2017 only 255,000 tourists visited the country. And Bhutan's culture and nature remain fully protected and preserved this way.
Also, 30% of the money goes to free health care, free education, infrastructure and poverty reduction. Furthermore, you get to experience untouched nature and well-preserved culture that can't be found elsewhere in the today's world. The experience is different when there are not a lot of tourists on the sites, pushing around, and trying to get the best photos. For instance, Bhutan's trekking routes are not nearly overcrowded like in Nepal. Here you can fully connect with nature and local culture, enjoying peace and quiet.
Bhutanese cultural heritage and unique lifestyle
The first impressions of the country are of a land frozen in the past. Their original culture is preserved here like in no other place on Earth. Locals mostly wear traditional clothes, non-traditional architecture is banned by the law, and smoking is illegal so as are hunting and fishing. The country was isolated for years, and the first tourists came here less than four decades ago in 1974. They take their religion very seriously, so visitors get to see a lot of Buddhist monks strolling around and impressive monasteries.
But still, some changes are happening. The internet and television were firstly introduced here in 1999. In 2008 Bhutan switched from being a kingdom to a democracy and young people are moving abroad more and more frequently to escape strict traditional laws. The government is strongly trying to fight the influence of the modern world and keep its cultural identity.
The world's only carbon-negative country
The constitution states that the country must have a minimum forest coverage of 60% at all times. They've won several world records for planting the most trees per hour in the world. Thanks to this, Bhutan is the only carbon-negative country in the world.
The happiest place on earth
Productivity here is not measured in GDP, but in Gross National Happiness. Bhutan's fourth king is responsible for this, firstly coming up with the idea back in 1972. According to him, "GDP ignores the basic need of every human being ? happiness." So, while neighboring countries like China and India were on their way to becoming economic giants, Bhutan was working on making their people happy. And they have come a long way since then. Today, Bhutan holds the title for the happiest country in the world.
Main sights and attractions to explore
Bhutan, often called the little piece of Himalayan heaven, will amaze you with its raw nature and stunning temples. The most famous site is the Tiger's Nest, a 325-year-old monastery. The path to get here is not easy. The only way to reach it is to trek for 90 minutes. But even though it will take some effort, you'll get to see some of the most incredible landscapes. The second oldest and largest dzong (Buthanese fortress-monastery) is the Punakha Dzong. It's a bit further than the capital city, but it's definitely worth the ride.
Prepare for tasty, spicy food, lots of hiking, impressive views wherever you go, and stunning monasteries! Still worried about the price? Don't be, because some things are priceless and this exclusive piece of paradise might not stay like this for too long.