Bhutan has a rich and unique cultural heritage that has largely remained intact because of its isolation from the rest of the world up until the early 1960’s.  Tucked away in South Asia at the eastern end of the Himalayas, the small kingdom of Bhutan sits quietly nestled between China and India, to the west separated from Nepal by the Indian state of Sikkim, and to the south from Bangladesh by Assam and West Bengal.  Bhutan’s capital and largest city is Thimphu. 

One of the main attractions for tourists is the country’s culture and traditions deeply steeped in its Buddhist heritage.  Mystical monasteries and fortress-like dzongs, elaborate festivals and happy people with a reverence for natural balance and harmony.  Worth seeing is Takstang Palphug Monastery, popularly known as Paro Taktsang or Tiger's Nest, one of Bhutan's most sacred Buddhist sites, precariously perched on the cliffside of the upper Paro Valley. 

The Eastern Himalayas have been identified as a global biodiversity hotspot and Bhutan is viewed as a model for proactive conservation initiatives, receiving international acclaim for its commitment to the maintenance of its biodiversity.  The landscape ranges from subtropical plains in the south to the sub-alpine Himalayan heights in the north and supports a diverse range of animal life including many rare and endangered species.  From primates such as the Golden Langur to Bengal Tigers, Clouded Leopards, Himalayan Black Bear, Red Panda and the national animal, the Bhutan Takin.  You may also be surprised by the rich and exotic flora: Rhododendrons, magnolias, giant rhubarb and rare orchids.  An unusually large number of fungi occur in Bhutan, one fungus in particular, Ophiocordyceps sinensis, is specifically listed in the national biodiversity strategy and action plan because of its value in traditional Chinese medicine. 

They have their own way of doing things here - Phallus paintings on houses intended to drive away evil eyes and malicious gossip may leave you a little embarrassed, and the Bhutanese approach to tourism has visitors paying a minimum tariff per day to stay, although the fee will include all food, transport and an official guide.  So, maybe not for the budget back-packer, but for the budding biologist, serious trekker or to find a slice of hidden happiness, the secret garden of Bhutan could be the answer to your prayers. 

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