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This year, I took my first trip to Bhutan, a land-locked country sharing its border with ours. I decided not to read up too much about it and explore and discover more about the nation and its people once there. After spending about a week in Bhutan, here’s what I learnt. Also Read - Watch LIVE: PM Modi Attends Online Summit With Australian PM Scott Morrison



1. The country is clean and green in the truest sense

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Bhutan is the world’s first and only carbon-negative country because of its green cover. It produces more oxygen than it consumes and the air here is extremely pure. But what makes it even better is that the people here strive really hard to keep their country clean and you will seldom find anyone littering here.



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2. Almost everyone speaks and understands Hindi

Even though the official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha. You will be surprised to learn that most locals in Bhutan speak and understand Hindi and do not shy away from talking to Indian tourists in Hindi. Since tourism is their main source of income and they see many Indian tourists visit every year, the people here are fluent in the language making it easy to talk to them.

3. Indian currency is widely accepted in Bhutan

The currency conversion of Indian Rupee and Bhutanese Ngultrum is the same and if you run out of Bhutanese currency, you can even pay in rupees. From local shops to high-end restaurants, Indian currency is widely accepted and people are more than willing to accept INR.

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4. Bhutanese people are the warmest lot you’ll ever meet

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It isn’t called the land of Gross National Happiness without a reason. The people of Bhutan are the most welcoming and warm people. They will invite you home for tea even if you’ve met them once and will even lower the price without really bargaining much. You probably wouldn’t find anyone talking in a loud tone or being rude to tourists here.

5. Bhutanese don’t really have a sweet tooth

They love chillies and cheese and even have a national dish called ema datshi which is a mix of the two. But Bhutanese people don’t fancy desserts so much. Most of the restaurants I went to simply had ice cream and a few Indian sweets like gulab jamun, halwa on the menu. So if you have a sweet tooth, you may be a bit disappointed here.

6. They love Bollywood films and Indian TV shows

Bollywood and Indian TV shows have a big fan following in Bhutan. Not only do they watch films, they even follow television shows and film awards. Cricket is also big here but nothing comes close to films and TV.

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7. Men think of women as equals

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Women in Bhutan are at par with men and are shop owners, drivers, chefs, waiters, etc. Wherever you go, you will find women working even if it means getting their kids along with them. Breastfeeding isn’t uncommon in public and you’ll be pleasantly surprised that women are at the forefront of everything. Men here think of them as equals and share responsibilities.

8. They love their traditional outfits

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Bhutanese traditional dress which is the gho for men and kira for women is a symbol of pride for the people and most of them sport it every day including the royal couple. The dress can be quite expensive but you will find most locals wearing it even where it isn’t compulsory. Perhaps the younger lot has taken a liking to jeans and shorts but they too wear it on special occasions.

9. They do not kill animals

Bhutanese people follow Buddhism and are against animal killing. Even the meat is imported from India and fishing too is banned in the  nation. When you step in a monastery, you will find the monks walking barefoot so that they do not kill any ants or any other living creature. Even today, this practice hasn’t changed.

Photographs: Shutterstock

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