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Bhutan travel guide

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Bhutan
Bhutan
by Frizko

Bhutan

Buddhist Kingdom of the High Himalaya

Prayer flags flap in the wind against a backdrop of soaring Himalayan peaks. Below, in the valley, terraced fields of rice glow in the golden mountain sun and bright red chili peppers decorate the rooftops of wooden farmhouses and ancient fortress monasteries. Bhutan is truly a land apart, an alpine kingdom determined to maintain its independence and preserve time-honored traditions of calm Buddhist piety. Nature is accorded the highest respect; nearly a third of the country is designated as national parkland, and logging and fishing are strictly regulated. Although luxury hotels are going up in the capital and young people frequent Internet cafes, the Bhutanese royal family keeps careful control of development, ensuring that economic growth and modernization are achieved within the context of "Gross National Happiness." Although tourism is closely regulated and expensive relative to other areas of South Asia, these days it is becoming easier to visit Bhutan. The young king is set to introduce new visa regulations in 2008, and tourist numbers are expected to rise. Bhutan will surely change in the years to come, but the cultural exchange works both ways: travelers lucky enough to visit this enlightened kingdom of the high Himalaya will find it impossible to forget the peace of clifftop monasteries or the taste of Himalayan air.

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