Bhutan has been known for its nation driving philosophy ‘Gross National Happiness’ or GNH as locals would live by.
Yet again in the face of COVID-19 situation where big nations failed to contain the virus transmissions on a community level, Bhutan has taken another stride towards GNH as opposed to the Gross Domestic Product emphasis that has been placed in some developed countries.
Leading the charge of maintaining maximum preventive state, the 5th King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (Popularly known as the People’s king) ascended from the throne and went around the country addressing the urgency of the threat that lies beyond the border.
The government and the Ministry of health are also working day-in and day-out to ensure that maximum preventive measures are practiced.
The GNH philosophy which primarily aims at people’s welfare and happiness over wealth through materialistic values has yet again come into play in securing the nation so far from the deadly Novel Corona Virus Disease 2019. From Waiving off loan interests for three months and deferring loan principals by three months and many landlords waiving off rents for effected tenants and businesses are some of the collective measures taken to tackle and help those affected during this pandemic. Bhutanese people have always been kind and compassionate and it was only obvious that the people helped in any manner they could. Farmers donated their harvests to quarantine facilities, business people donated whatever cash they could the HM and the PM.
Like all the countries in the world at the moment, Bhutan too is economically challenged by COVID-19. Biggest economic driving sectors like tourism, construction, airlines, hotels and others have been hit hard as the reliance on these sectors are evident in the generation for the Bhutanese GDP.
Other sectors like the financial ones are on the brink of extra burden as well, as businesses go out of service, non-performing loans are very much expected by the banks.
At the height of all this, His Majesty the 5th Druk Gyalpo stepped up and announced the National Resilience Fund to the nation which comprises of Nu. 30 Billion to support those sectors affected by the COVID-19.
The King wished that no Bhutanese deaths occur during this time, even for those who live abroad and made sure that health comes before wealth for the people of Bhutan through various morale and relief assurance support system soon to be rolled out.
No matter the age of your child, traveling with them to new destinations always seem like a daunting task, almost impossible for some parents. Understandably so, the long hour flights, seemingly never-ending packing list (apparently everything your child/children ever owned seems important for the travel), sudden changes in schedules, and the worst nightmare for every parent: cranky children. Nevertheless, we are here to tell you that, we will help you get through these with our expertise and a few tips that might help you gain that confidence back and get your traveling pants back on. We believe travel should be for everyone as the experience that comes with traveling is just priceless no matter what age. Our travel experts have put together this article to help those travel junky parents who are planning to travel to Bhutan with kids for a memorable quality family time filled with eye-opening experience but do not know where to start.
Nothing is impossible if you keep your calm and be patient.
Before you pack, you might want to ask your travel maker what can be bought or rented and what cannot be for example diapers can be bought; car seats and strollers can be arranged. After which you can carefully only pack what you need like a few sets of clothes (remember you can have laundry at your hotel) and your kids’ favorite toys which would keep them engaged.
You can carry some packaged baby foods and snacks and there really isn’t anything to worry about as you can always instruct the hotel on the preparation of your baby food; like pureed or finger foods or any kind depending on the preference of your child.
You best know your child so always make sure you let your travel maker know what type of activities you would like your kids to engage in; like sightseeing, short walking activities, or farm experiences. Also planning beforehand of the activities will give a heads up on what to expect and how to prepare your child for the experience.
While traveling through Bhutan, you will most probably spend a fair amount of time traveling in a car depending on the destinations you plan to visit, for example, to travel to Punakha (a must-visit destination) it will be about 2 and a half hours of drive so it’s always better to have medication for motion sickness for your kids depending on their age. And any other medicines you deem important according to you.
Remember it’s a special family holiday so have fun and do not try to over stress on little things that might not work out as planned.
Though adventurous stuff like mountain biking or trekking will most likely be off-limits with kids, there are plenty of fun things to do with kids in Bhutan like cultural sightseeing, visiting zoos, visiting museums, and short hikes. Some of the few things you could do are listed below:
A gigantic bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma sits on top of a ridge hovering over the Beautiful Thimphu valley. The 51.5-meter statue of a Sitting Buddha Shakyamuni is the largest in the world and is the most visited attraction in Thimphu. The colossal statue holds within its architecture some 1025000 mini statues resembling the Buddha Dordenma itself and also a meditation hall on the ground floor.
The Memorial Chorten is located near the National Referral Hospital and is the most accessible attraction in Thimphu. The completely whitewashed stupa was built to honor the memory of the Third King of Bhutan. The Chorten attracts a lot of devotees every day who circumambulate around the Chorten while chanting prayers. It is a popular sight in Thimphu.
The Dochula pass is one of the most idyllic passes that can be accessed by a motor. The pass is decorated with some 108 stupas and is overlooked by the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang. The pass is located at an elevation of 3100 meters and it takes about 1-hour drive from Thimphu to reach the pass.
The Takin preserve is located in Motithang, a 15 minutes drive from the heart of Thimphu town. It was initially established as a mini zoo with some Takins and other endangered species of animals. Later the fourth king of Bhutan decreed that it was against the philosophy of Buddhism to hold animals captive and were let in the wild but was put back into reserve after finding the animals wandering the streets looking for food. Takin is also the national animal of Bhutan.
The postal museum is located on the ground floor of the Bhutan Post office almost in the middle of the Thimphu town. The museum flaunts artifacts from the pre-postal era. A whole pictorial documentation of the development of post can be witnessed at the museum. Also, a plethora of stamps can be seen at the museum. The visitors can also print their own customized stamps as souvenirs for an amount as less as $5.
The centenary farmers market is an interesting sight to visit during the weekends. All the residence of Thimphu fill the market rushing to buy fresh local produces and the amazing colors and aromas infused with the energy of the Thimphu residence are just amazing.
Located on a confluence of the male (pho Chu) river and female (Mo Chu) river, the Punakha Dzong is also known as the palace of great happiness, rightfully, just a mere sight of the magnificent fortress evokes a great sense of happiness in any onlooker. The marvels of the fortress are not limited to its appearance but its architecture which has been strategically constructed to keep invaders and enemies at bay is just astonishing. A traditional cantilever bridge leads the visitors to the Dzong over the female river and is greeted by three gigantic stairs that are strategically placed to be removed at times of siege so that it blocks the only entry point to the fortress. This Dzong is a must-visit sight in Punakha valley.
The founding of the Lhakhang is credited to the maverick saint Drukpa Kuenley also known as the divine mad man who supposedly subdued the Dochula demon and built a small stupa on the site. Later a Lhakhang was built on that site. The Lhakhang is popularly known as the fertility temple based on the fact that every childless couple who visited the temple and received a blessing miraculously had children after the visit.
This 7th-century monastery is one of the most visited attractions in Bhutan. Taktshang or as its English translation illustrates; Tiger’s Nest monastery is located in the beautiful Paro valley. Visitors from around the world traveling to Bhutan never leave the country without setting foot in this religiously sacred moreover marvelous site. Legend has it that in the 7th century the Buddhist master; Guru Padmasambhava rode atop a flying tigress to the site and meditated for several years inside a cave in the cliff and the monastery is built enclosing the cliff. The monastery precariously hangs on a cliff over 900 m above Paro valley. It takes around 3 hours for the trekkers to reach the monastery and you can even ride horses instead of hiking.
Spending a day or two at a farmhouse with a local family can be a very enriching experience not just for the adults but for the kids as well. By experiencing farm-stay one can observe the local authentic culture up-close.
Children of 5 years of age and below during the time of their visit shall be charged only visa fee of $40 and any other charge therein shall be exempted;
Children above 5 years of age but below 12 years of age accompanied by elders/ guardians shall be entitled 50% discount on Minimum Daily Package rate including SDF after verifying their age from their passport;
For a detailed fee and discount information check out our tour price calculator.
Bhutan can be an all-year tourist destination but when traveling with kids it’s better to be mindful and avoid rainy seasons or cold seasons so keeping that in mind, the months of April, May, September, and October can prove best to travel with kids.
Bhutan, the land of the thunder dragon and happiness! We were 4 women with the dream to travel in this small, hidden, not of many known countries to understand Bhutan, the land of the thunder dragon and happiness! We were 4 women who had the dream to travel to this small, unknown country to understand a little bit of the culture, the secrets, and the mystic behind it.
I cannot recommend this company highly enough. The communication is outstanding from the start. The owner -Ram- deals with you directly and will call you to talk about your trip in detail and what he can offer if you prefer rather than exchanging tons of emails. He follows up with lots of links and offerings before setting the itinerary. His English, knowledge, and enthusiasm will be evident when you talk to him. Just stop searching and book your tour with Hahayana Holidays for your most memorable stay in Bhutan