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You’ve heard of how happy the Bhutanese are, but have you seen it for yourself? If not, its time for a visit to the Kingdom of Bhutan in South Asia.

Bordered by China, India, and Nepal, Bhutan is a landlocked country neighboured by the mighty Himalayan range whose natural terrain is marked by highs and lows - the country is a patchwork of peaks and valleys, mountains and foothills, which are occasionally crossed by fast-moving ri-vers. Considered the world’s last Buddhist Kingdom, Bhutan is known to be extremely protec-tive of its ancient traditions and beliefs, resisting the push for a more homogenous, globalised culture. The country is also credited for coming up with the Gross National Happiness Index, a means of charting its people’s spiritual health rather than just their material wealth.

Besides its unique, holistic perspective on life, Bhutan is also known for its pristine natural beau-ty: due to the country’s views on sustainable development and tourism, its areas of wilderness are protected and prized (by law, 60% of Bhutan’s land must remain under forest cover at all times).

Because of all these and more, you’ll find that you’ve never visited a place on Earth that’s quite like Bhutan.

Getting around

Most international tourists will have to book a tour package with a registered Bhutanese tour op-erator before being allowed to travel in Bhutan, so getting around will not be a problem - your tour guide will take care of that for you.

For those holding Indian, Bangladeshi and Maldivian passports, though, this rule does not apply (as of June 2015) and they may travel independently within the country. However, many parts of Bhutan are restricted and special passes are needed to access them.

What to see and do

If you are in Bhutan, it would be a crime to miss seeing the Taktsang Monastery - also known as Tiger’s Nest - the world-famous hanging monastery that is at once terrifying and breathtakingly beautiful. Established as a sacred place for meditation, this icon of Bhutan is built on rocks on the side of a cliff that stretches 1,200 meters into the sky and is, in total, about 3,000 meters above sea level. There is no other way into the monastery except by foot or by horseback, but ei-ther way the journey up is not for the faint of heart (especially for those with altitude sickness). The hike up is long and strenuous, usually taking around 2 to 3 hours, but many find the adrena-line rush and amazing views well worth the effort.

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