Nestled in the Himalayas, the Kingdom of Bhutan is one of the most sensational destinations that few tourists make it too due to its location, cost, or travel logistics.
Bhutan is an unknown country by many westerners. The country is far different than many of its neighbors as well as the culture are extremely unique. For example, Bhutan is dedicated to the pursuit of Gross National Happiness rather than GDP. It also apparently has a full ban on tobacco sales and many more unusual facts that make them different than any type of place else. Whether you are planning a Bhutan trip or simply interested in this interesting country, here are some things to know about Bhutan.
Here are 11 things you didn’t know about lovely Bhutan, one of the happiest, greenest as well most sustainable countries in the world.
1. No Traffic Lights
Another amazing fact about Bhutan is that it does not have a single traffic light in the whole country as well as no, not even in the capital city of Thimphu. Instead of a robotic light that signals traffic, Bhutanese feel that human traffic police managing the traffic feels more personal and closer than a machine. Rightfully so, vehicular car traffic is much easier and pedestrian-friendly in Bhutan.
2. The Bhutanese Are Archery Mad
If there’s one thing the Bhutanese love more than the king, its archery. There is always an archery match going on somewhere in Bhutan. At Jomalhari base camp, I saw two local villages challenge at 4200 meters in their national dress, firing at targets the dimension of plates over 140 meters away. The villagers had walked for nearly two days through the mountains to get to the competitors. Whenever somebody made a shot, both groups would dance and also sing like the Bhutanese warriors of old.
3. Bhutan Is the Only Carbon-Negative Country in the World
Bhutan sets an environmental benchmark as the only carbon-negative country on the planet. A fact about Bhutan as a carbon sink that is overwhelmingly impressive is that the country emits only 1.5 lots of carbon every year while its forest cover absorbs greater than 6 million tons.
This is a ratio that the highest carbon sink in the world, the Amazon rainforest, can match.
Planted 108,000 trees in 1 hour to commemorate the birth of His Royal Prince Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck by 100 Bhutanese volunteers in Thimphu set Guinness world record in 2016.
Meanwhile, the Constitution of Bhutan mandates the country to preserve at least 60 % of forest is covered.
4. The Phallus Is Revered As a Religious Symbol
Phalluses are all over in Bhutan. They are painted on the outer walls of houses and temples. Some are hung from the rooftops or discover the pride of place on altars.
It is rather seen as an object of religious reverence that drives away the evil soul. The phallic sign is often associated with the 15th – century mystic, Drukpa Kuenley, although it predates him.
Drukpa Kuenley was a revered monk often referred to as a madman for his unique ways of propagating the teachings of Buddha. He also established the renowned fertility temple.
5. Forest covers 5. 72 % Percent of Land in Bhutan
By constitutional law, at least 60 % of the country should be covered by trees. This commitment to keeping an ample forested area has allowed rich, abundant biodiversity to flourish. Over 5,500 plant varieties (300 known to be medical) and also 165 species of mammals (including the snow leopard as well as the red panda) can be found in the country.
6. No Smoking in Public Places
Now for a healthy fact about Bhutan. Smoking and usage of tobacco products are prohibited in public places in Bhutan like movie theater halls, restaurants, streets, and so on. Designated areas have actually been created for cigarette smokers, and if anyone is caught breaking the law, imprisonment for 3 to 5 years can be imposed.
Harvesting and sale are also strictly prohibited. This has been done to make Bhutan the first smoke-free country. Customers recognize these products as imports from other countries. Nonetheless, huge taxes are imposed to prevent purchase.
7. Bhutan is home to the highest unclimbed mountain in the world
Now here’s a fact about Bhutan that lots of may be familiar with. Gangkhar Puensum is the highest mountain in Bhutan and also has never been overcome. It has an elevation of 7570 meters. Bhutan prohibits access to the mountain since 1987. Before that, many unsuccessful attempts were made to climb up the mountain. The first team which tried to climb the mountain could not even find it because the maps were so inaccurate!
8. Plastic bags are banned in Bhutan
On even more sensible banning, plastic bags are not available, and also they are banned in the country since 1999, well before other countries started to take into consideration the ban.
9. Only 8 Pilots are allowed to fly in the only airport in Bhutan
Flying to Bhutan is the best way to travel to Bhutan, hands down. If the sky Gods remain in the mood, you’ll witness some of the best views of the Himalayas in your life! But Paro airport, the only international airport in Bhutan, is on the list of one of the most dangerous airports in the world, thanks to the Himalayan range of mountains and an extremely tiny runaway. The pilots take off and land manually, and only eight pilots are qualified to fly from this airport!
10. Bhutan Facts – Healthcare and Education is free for all
Although the country is still developing and also not among the richest, health care and education is free for all in Bhutan. The health care is free for visitors too.
11. Rice in Bhutan is red
The staple rice in Bhutan isn’t the white rice we’re used to, or perhaps the brown rice loved by health fans. It’s red. It has a nuttier flavor than other types of rice, and cooks more quickly, producing a sticky texture and also deep pink color when cooked. It’s an important part of the Bhutanese diet, but it might come as a surprise to the western visitor.
Twinkle Garg is a travel enthusiast who loves to visit the most popular as well as offbeat places in the world. She loves to share her travel experiences with fellow travelers. For planning a memorable India tour or any world destination, you follow her on facebook or write-ups.