Bhutan: The Land of Happiness
Our next stop, Bhutan, goes down in my books as one of my favorite places I have ever visited. We stayed in the absolute best Aman Resort in Paro, Bhutan: ultimate serenity and peace surrounded by lush, green mountains.
Unification and Government
Before Bhutan was one nation, the land was split up into a bunch of little states. A Tibetan Buddhist monk and military strategist (um can you say oxymoron?!) came over to Bhutan and built the first monastery and solidified the power in order to unite the land and population into one country. Up till today, the religious and political systems remain very central to the leadership of the nation; the head of religion and state, work together to rule to country. While this system does seem very intertwined, in reality, there is quite a separation. For example, once one becomes a monk, they lose their voting privilege for their whole life.
The Land of Happiness
Bhutan is dedicated to being the happiest nation in the world, preaching the slogan of being “The Land of Happiness.” They are most famous for their measurement of Gross Domestic Happiness, instead of the Gross Domestic Product, the economic based index the rest of the world obsesses over. Personally, I definitely felt the happiness as soon as I landed. How could one not be elated with lush mountain after mountain framing your window, delicious food and peace and quiet??
During our trip, we visited both Paro and Thimphu and were able to visit beautiful must-sees in both spots…
#1 must-see location: Tiger’s Nest, Paro, Bhutan — follow the windblown prayer flags for a beautiful five hour hike back and forth from the base to visit this majestic Buddhist temple hidden in the mountains.
#2 must-see location: Buddha Point, Thimphu, Bhutan- journey to the capital city of Thimphu to visit not only one of the largest sitting Buddhas in the world, but also catch breathtaking views of the valley below.
Fun Fact: Thimphu is one of few capital cities to not have street lights or traffic lines!
#3 must-see location: Hang Prayer Flags on the hill side — nothing more Bhutanese than prayer flags! Hang your own, or even make your own, as I did, making sure to make a wish as you tie the ends to the trees. This is a super memorable way to leave your little mark on Bhutan.
Before I arrived, I assumed that Bhutan would be very similar to Nepal, but while both have naturally breathtaking mountainous views and welcoming cultures, I enjoyed the serenity of Paro over the bustling streets of Kathmandu. I would definitely make the trek back to Bhutan for another peaceful getaway!