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Bhutan
The Land of the Thunder Dragon is the last Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas. The Bhutanese actively preserve their environment and vibrant cultural heritage by pursuing a nationwide policy of Gross National Happiness; enlighten yourself in this custom by trekking through the unspoilt natural habitat in blissful solitude.
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Tiger's Nest Monestary
Legend has it that Guru Rimpoche, the 8th century Buddhist master, flew to Bhutan from Tibet on the back of a demoness shaped like a tiger. To pacify her, he consecrated the caves where they landed, and the sacred caves became the heart of the iconic Tiger’s Nest monastery.
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Exploring the Punakha Valley
Punakha was the capital of Bhutan until 1955, and it remains a site of cultural importance. The idyllic river valley in which it sits is defined by its rice paddies, the mud and stone houses, and the Punakha Dzong, the second oldest monastery in Bhutan.
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Trekking in Bhutan
Bhutan’s Himalayan scenery, rich flora and fauna, and colourful prayer flags and chortens, a traditional shrine, make it a superb trekking destination. You don’t have to be particularly fit to enjoy a short hike in the mountains, though there are multi-day treks if you’re one for a challenge.
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Birding in Bhutan
Bhutan is an absolute paradise for ornithologists: 670 Himalayan species have already been recorded, and more are discovered each year. The top of your bucket list must be the imperial heron - one of the 50 rarest birds in the world - plus the black-necked crane, which migrates annually from Tibet.
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Incredible dzongs
Dzongs are to Bhutan as churches are to Rome: they are numerous and iconic, and entwined with the everyday life of the people. A cross between a fortress and a Buddhist monastery, the striking white facades stand guard over nearly every valley.
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Culture and Festivals
The Bhutanese pursue a nationwide practice of Gross National Happiness and a key aspect is preserving and celebrating their culture. Religious festivals take place throughout the year in the Buddhist monasteries and they’re an ideal chance to see Bhutan’s colourful costumes, music, and masked dance.
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Dochula Pass
On the drive from Thimpu to Punakha, you cross over the Dochula Pass. The snow capped Himalayan peaks surround you, and the way is lined with 108 memorial chortens which commemorate the Bhutanese soldiers who died fighting Assamese troops. It’s one of Bhutan’s highest and most remarkable drives.