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Is Bhutan, the ‘World’s Last Shangri-La’, Worth the Hype—and the Price Tag?

Sergi Reboredo

They say nothing worth having comes easy, and that’s certainly the case with Bhutan. The tiny Himalayan kingdom that only opened to the world in the 1970s and only recently reopened post-COVID in September, is a place where nearly everything is pretty, almost postcard picturesque. It’s a land of still-unclimbed mountains, roaming tigers, and centuries-old Buddhist fortresses. Even its poorest farmhouses hanging on the steep valley mountainsides create the most romantic of scenes.

But to get here, to get around while here, or even to spend day after day in its high altitude villages, is not for the faint of heart–or pocketbook. Plus, there’s the whole putting chilis in everything.

One might be tempted to say a journey to Bhutan begins with the long flight to Asia, but more than most destinations, a trip to Bhutan begins at home. Since you cannot go around the country alone, you must determine which guide you’re going to use or go through a tour operator. You need to apply in advance for a visa, obtain travel insurance, and figure out the logistics of getting there as you typically fly first to Bangkok or Singapore, have a couple days of layover, and then to Bhutan. (There are also flights from India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, but a layover in those places is more complicated.) and while every destination requires you to grapple with what you want to see in the time you have available, with Bhutan the stakes are higher–$200 a day higher, to be precise. That’s because in addition to what you spend on hotels, guides, food, and shopping, Bhutan charges a Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) of $200 a day as part of its approach to limit mass tourism and attract a certain type of traveler.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Source: Is Bhutan, the ‘World’s Last Shangri-La’, Worth the Hype—and the Price Tag?

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