Talk about untouched beauty: This little country in the Himalayas is flanked by Burma, Bangladesh and Nepal, and was totally cut from visitors until the 1970s. In the years since, Bhutan has only slowly allowed an increasing number of visitors—Indeed, electricity, coffee shops and Wi-Fi are only recent arrivals in many parts of the country. Bottom line: you can’t just spontaneously travel to Bhutan, or just do a backpacking trip: the obligatory tourist tariff (of $250 a day) means that most people visit Bhutan using a tour company, or at least a private guide that can help facilitate your visa. Either way, in Bhutan you’ll experience the only Vajrayana Buddhist nation on the planet, but you’ll also find a magnificently rugged terrain, beautiful monasteries, some excellent luxury hotels and best of all, a pretty tranquil atmosphere (there's a reason that the locals joke about their production of “Gross National Happiness”).
Things Not to Miss in Bhutan
• Explore Thimphu, the country’s distinctly mellow capital
• Enjoy dishes made with the local chilies
• Stroll the quaint town of Paro
• Toast your stay with asa (a rice liquor) or local Red Panda beer
• See Taktsang Goemba, Bhutan’s most famous monastery
When to Go to Bhutan
Bhutan offers a wide variety of climates, in part thanks to the terrain: The higher the altitude, the cooler the weather. In general, the south part of Bhutan is warm, and the eastern part of the country gets hotter than the central valleys. The peaks of the Bhutan travel season are in fall and spring since winter can get quite cold (and snow can restrict certain mountain passes) and summer brings heat and monsoons.