Bhutanese society and culture are truly unique, and whichever journey you opt for, the distinctive ways of life of the people you encounter will be a constant source of fascination.
It’s worth making a distinction between the national cultural identity, forged in the main towns of Paro and Thimpu, and the traditions associated with regional or ethnic minorities who form the lion’s share of the population. These fall into three main groups – the Tshanglas, Ngalaps and Lhotshampas – who are mostly small-scale farmers. Further afield, you’ll come into contact with groups such as the semi-nomadic Bokpa, Bramis and Layaps, who trade in yak and sheep produce, and spend much of the summer at high altitudes with their herds and flocks.
Wherever possible, we recommend visits to local silk weaving workshops, monasteries and, of course, villages we’ve particularly enjoyed in our own travels to gain a sense of Bhutanese life. For a more immersive experience, you may also opt to spend a night or two in a traditional farmstead, where you’ll have the chance to share meals with your Bhutanese hosts and help with the chores.
Wherever you travel in the country, our hand-picked, English-speaking guide will be at your disposal 24/7 to help you make sense of the country’s quirkier side, from the famous Gross National Happiness index, to the infamous penis murals of Chimi Lhakang.