All tourists traveling through Bhutan must pay a tax of $200 per day that is all-inclusive of meals, transport, activities and lodging. You’re required to book your travel with one of the country’s sanctioned travel providers, so the key to a good one is someone who will really push to get you the best bang-for-buck and go out of their way to build you a custom itinerary that includes all of things you’ll want to see and do in Bhutan.
My objective was to get an authentic glimpse into the lives of the Bhutanese people and consequently, our favorite experiences revolved around meeting Tshering’s (Bhutan Scenic Tours) various relatives from all walks of life in the country:
- Speaking with Korma, Tshering’s sister-in-law, who was one of five people handpicked by the king to sit on the National Council
- Cooking lessons with Tshering’s sister
- Camping in a farmer’s front yard (by no stretch of the imagination could you call this truly roughing it) where the night’s entertainment came in the form of dancing and singing around the campfire
- Talking love, life and Taylor Swift with the chirpy daughters from our Bhutanese farmhouse stay
- Bonding with our infinitely patient and sweet guide, Tandin, who had to put up with our boy stories, cravings and ball busting ad nauseum
- Sights: Punakha Dzong (sits at the confluence of two rivers), Taktshang Monastery (perilously perched on the edge of granite cliffs), Thimphu Tshechu (one of two major religious festivals)