It’s hard not to picture the Kingdom of Bhutan as ‘Shangri-La’, the mythical Himalayan paradise. One look at its mystical fortress-like monasteries (dzongs), sprawling forests and glaciers, scenic trek trails that lead to the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, and Buddhist architecture will have you convinced that you’re in the world’s last utopia. As Bhutan prepares to reopen its borders, it is ramping up its ‘high value, low volume’ tourism policy. Bhutan opens to tourists for the first time in over two years on September 23. bhutan tourist fee
Foreign visitors will now have to pay a $200 daily fee, which is three times the pre-Covid rate, although they no longer need to book a package tour.
Bhutan is rebranding itself as an ‘exclusive destination ‘while ‘keeping carbon footprints low,’ said Dr. Tandi Dorji, Bhutan’s foreign minister and chair of the Tourism Council of Bhutan.
The tiny Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan on the eastern edge of the Himalayas, often referred to as the last Shangri-La for its abundance of natural beauty, sustainable development and rich cultural heritage, has long resisted the quick financial returns of mass tourism in favor of conservation. The approach is aligned with a cultural philosophy where the countrys wealth and prosperity is measured, through a national happiness index, as an alternative to the gross domestic product.
Since 1974, the year when foreigners were first permitted to visit Bhutan, the country has had a unique high value, low volume tourism policy, requiring international visitors to pay at least a daily rate of $250 that covered accommodations, meals, a mandatory tour guide and included a $65 sustainable development fee to the government. The package-like approach was aimed to preserve the natural resources of the country by limiting the number of international visitors and controlling where they went. While some tourists complained of poor hotel plumbing, slow internet access and bland food, many appreciated the ease of the predetermined tours.
Now as the government of Bhutan prepares to reopen its borders on Sept. 23, it has overhauled the tourism system and will significantly raise the cost to visit. Visitors no longer need to be on a package tour, but they will now have to pay a $200 daily fee directly to the government, and pay separately for their accommodation, meals, tours and other travel expenses. The new policy, officials say, will rebrand Bhutan as an exclusive destination, attracting discerning tourists who will have access to a wider range of higher-quality services. bhutan tourist fee
The country’s purity is a cultural experience that only a few can afford, but a worthy investment once you meet the saffron-robed monks of Paro Taktsang and Punakha Dzong in Thimpu. Here, you’ll learn the true meaning of contentment as you interact with locals that live life simply. Sit back, relax, and revitalize your spirit in Bhutan!