Researching Bhutan has been one of the most awe-inspiring and humbling experiences for us. The more we get to know about the facts about Bhutan, the ways, laws and beliefs of this tiny country nestled between giants like India and China, the more we’re surprised over how they’ve managed to retain core Buddhist values in a globalized world. Read on and tell us if you don’t feel the same!
Eye-Opening Facts About Bhutan –
Bhutan embodies the spirit of all for one and one for all. With zero traffic lights in even the major cities (Thimphu is the only capital in the world without traffic lights), the people still manage to maneuver their vehicles without any trouble or accidents. Only when you actually experience this does it register that a country could get by solely on civic sense and not fear of punishment.
Bhutan bans the cultivation and sale of tobacco. All public places have a strict no-smoking law, which if broken, results in imprisonment for 3-5 years. There are designated areas for smokers, but largely smoking is shunned and heavy duties are imposed on the import of tobacco products. Visitors, however, may carry their own cigarettes. Knowing this fact about Bhutan is especially important if you’re a smoker yourself.
King Jigme Singye Wangchuk gave up part of his powers in favour of democracy. In a world festered with fights and wars over power, this act speaks of the deep sense of responsibility that the monarchs carry for the welfare of the country and its people. This is one of the more inspiring facts about Bhutan.
With a law that states that a minimum of 60% of its land must always be covered by forests, Bhutan aims at ensuring a carbon-neutral footprint for eternity. However, it is running ahead of the curve by actually being carbon-negative with over 70% of the land covered by forests. This means that the people of this country breathe in clean, pure and fresh air, a novelty for most people across the globe. One of the happiest facts about Bhutan!
One of the odd facts about Bhutan is that it is home to highest unconquered peak in the world. Being a deeply religious country, there are many superstitions that have made way into the minds of the Bhutanese. One of them is the belief that spirits reside high up in the mountains and must be revered. Thus, no one is allowed to scale these heights. The Gangkhar Puensum Mountain, at 7570 meters, is the highest unclimbed peak in the world. What is noteworthy is that despite the ability to be a major tourist draw, the government does not intend to cash in on it, which brings us to our next point.
In another classic counter-intuitive approach, Bhutan actually levies a minimum daily spend on tourists to discourage excessive tourism. The rationale is to not put too much burden on the limited resources available. Although previously exempt from this rule, Indians have been brought under it too with a nominal minimum spend of Rs. 1200 per day.
An astonishing fact about Bhutan is that despite being a country with a large consumption of non-vegetarian food, the animals are not actually killed in the country. All sorts of meat are imported from neighbouring countries. This is done in accordance with the Buddhist principles and there is contemplation of the consumption of meat being banned altogether.
Feminism is an unheard concept in Bhutan, simply because there is no need for it. The society and the constitution follow equitable laws for both genders. Women head most establishments, own more land and inherit property from their parents. Men are expected to make their own way in the world and live in their wives’ houses. Gender-based foeticide does not exist and women take up administrative positions across all levels. One of the best facts about Bhutan!
This was so baffling for us! However, this tiny country with its limited population has an extremely genial and warm relationship with its monarchs. It is not uncommon for princes to play sports with ordinary citizens and this may well be one of the biggest reasons why the locals love their king so much. This is one of the facts about Bhutan that warms the heart!
In an attempt to keep its citizens happy, Bhutan follows the most basic of rules. The people do not need to worry about basic issues like education and healthcare as the government makes it free for them and constantly strives to provide better amenities. Now you know where the daily minimum spend money goes! Sure makes us feel better.
Who knew that this little country of Buddhism loving people would actually be so unabashedly cool about actually wearing a phallus as a charm around their neck? The phallus is considered as a symbol of strength and good luck and is painted on doorways, used as scarecrows and is omnipresent throughout the country. It’s completely ok if you gape the first time you see it. We did too!
Thank you very much to you and your team for arranging this fantastic tour. One of the best pick from this tour was your meticulous planning and promptness of service. All arrangements were fantastic, be it a delivery of vehicle at Chandigarh airport, hotels particularly at Chandigarh, Leh, Nubra, Pangong. However the best was at Jispa, Kargil and Srinagar for different reasons. Jispa was simple but authentic with very tasty food.
Rajesh & Gauri Natu
Graphic Designer, Apple
Sunil, after I ran 21k Marathon I bragged about it for years. The same is being repeated again, with my ambition to drive across the Himalayas, which was almost faded with Srinagar under curfew. You and Chetan were the spark to our fire that we could do this drive and without a single trouble. Driving is a passion but driving thru places where there are no roads is trouble, but your breakup of program and awesome car condition helped us actually sail thru. Three cheers and five stars.
Absolute Networks, Mumbai
Wow. wow, wow. What a experience! We took the route of Delhi - Jammu - Srinagar - Leh - Sarchu - Manali - Delhi. Sunil Kapoor gave us excellent service which includes his next to new 4WD in immaculate condition and all hotels were top class. Coming from Australia, we were bit nervous in start but when we met Sunil, we had full trust and all went very positive. Sunil gave us perfect instructions and everything was according to plan. Thank you Sunil and your team for our one of the best experience in life you have provided us.
Director, Webential, Australia
Eight of us from Sri Lanka got Sunil to arrange a self driven tour to Leh and we are very happy with our decision. He was punctual, trustworthy and met our expectations. The service provided was very professional. As foreigners it’s hard to arrange such a tour by ourselves and Unwind outdoor filled in the gap perfectly. All places we stayed were nice and decent. Should specifically mention about the two Scorpios which we instantly fell in love with. They were very well maintained ...
Friends from SriLanka
After days of research, we finally came across a facebook page called ‘Unwind Outdoors’. It seemed like our dream was going to be finally true. Very reasonably priced and Sunil from Unwind was like a know-it-all person.
The itinerary was so crisp and so very well laid out that there was no reason for us to worry other than coping up with nature’s fury.
Clifford Chance, Delhi
We did a SUV self drive trip from Chandigarh to Ladakh and back organized by Unwind Outdoor.
Highly recommend Unwind Outdoor as Sunil and Manpreet took care of everything we needed (car, hotel bookings, sightseeing and food recommendations, permits) and everything was organized seamlessly. Sunil was very patient with all our queries, giving suggestions and options to suit our preferences.
Ashish & Neha Thadani
Great to see the know-how of the Unwind Outdoor team regarding every aspect of the Srinagar - Leh - Chandigarh self drive trip. From weather conditions, to road conditions, to health/clothing requirements, and also driving instructions - Sunil and Manpreet are warm, meticulous and knowledgable. Villa Himalaya in Sonamarg surpassed all our expectations and ensured that our expected standards for the rest of the trip were extremely high.
Symbiosis Law School, Mumbai
Thanks Sunil for arranging a wonderful trip. Everything went well and we were in good hands with friendly and competent drivers. Accommodation was good and tents were comfortable beyond our expectations. We didn't have problem with food choices. It was a totally rejuvenating vacation and experience for us. Thanks from us in Singapore!
We had an amazing 9-day from Manali to Leh. Serene, breathless and picturesque. High altitude sickness was a big issue for us but we were in good hands.
Unwind Outdoor was superb in arranging and coordinating the trip. Taking care of all arrangements and checking-in on us. Kudos to Sunil and his team.
Assistant Director, Jurong Town Corporation, Singapore
We travelled as a couple & completed a self drive trip from Delhi-Jammu-Srinagar-Kargil-Leh-Nubra-Pangong-Tso Moriri-Sarchu-Manali-Delhi. Itinerary was meticulously designed to be a mix of adventure and comfort. Hotel choices were best. Support was available at all points in case of emergency.Vehicle provided was top notch. Thanks to Mr. Sunil Kapoor for personally putting in efforts to maintain such high standards.
Nikhil & Neha Mazumdar
Manager L&T, Mumbai
Six of us (two families) travelled to Leh in Jul / Aug 2015 and we had an excellent experience with Unwind Outdoor. From the very beginning of our excited planning phase, Sunil has been willingly suggesting us options, number of days, places to visit etc. He has all the knowledge of the terrain, passionate about trekking and traveling himself, so he understands travel-crazy people such as me and my quirks.
We landed in Leh in time for cloudbursts and flashfloods and landslides (along with mud and rocks sliding too). Despite Nature's fury, Sunil and Skarma made sure we were utmost safe and comfortable. These guys are just not into travel business, they help people fulfil their travel dreams. Truly! Go guys!!
Barclays Bank, Bangalore