Bhutan, a slender mountain kingdom

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Bhutan passport stamps are hard to get by, but there’s something unique about this fiercely autonomous, firmly traditional nation that evaluates development by Gross National Happiness.

Bhutan does not have the most lavish hotels, exquisite eating choices, or even the best value for money. On the other hand, few towns have successfully maintained their culture – even new structures must be built following traditional architectural techniques.

There aren’t many must-see attractions in Bhutan, except for the cliff-side Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Paro. Instead, spend your time here exploring the countryside, pausing to stroll through small towns that have sprung up around 17th-century dzongs (fortresses). Plan your vacation around a Bhutanese festival to see whole villages coming together in celebration.

Hiking across Bhutanese countryside brings you through vistas studded with chortens (shrines), prayer flags, and prayer wheels placed into streams and moved by the water. The Druk Path, an ancient trade route that connects Paro and Thimphu, runs through peaceful woodland paths and yak pastures.

In the spring, the valley walls are ablaze with rhododendrons. In addition, the central Phobjikha Valley is home to the majority of Asia’s black-necked cranes.

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