Tiger’s Nest, Taktsang Trail, Paro, Bhutan
Tiger’s Nest, Taktsang Trail, Paro, Bhutan

There are many rules to visiting Bhutan, but the Himalayas and Buddhist culture of this proud nation are well worth any that you encounter.  The festivals and architecture are brilliant, and quite different than what you'd find in other parts of Asia.

Let's say for the sake of conversation that you've got an extra $200 or $250 a day (for a week or so) laying around the house.  What could you do it with it?  That's besides running off to the track to bet on the ponies.  Yes, you've thought of it too--head to the Kingdom of Bhutan.

The Kingdom of Bhutan?  Never heard of it?  Wait, this is some place--and the reason you need like $200 bucks a day is because that's the minimum required by law in this Constitiutional Monarchy for you to spend.  Hey, places this extraordinary don't come cheap.  And the government heavily regulates tourism, so you gotta pay up before you've even gotten here.

A small price to pay to see what's known as Dzongs.  This is a fortress of sorts, kinda like a medieval castle that's got courtyards and temples inside its walls.  But what makes Bhutan truly famous is its Paro Taktsang Monastery--or the Tiger's Nest Monastery.

Oh, it's worth the $200 to see this Buddhist monastery perched precariously up the side of the Himalayan mountainside at over 10,000 feet above sea level.  It was actually created back in the 8th century, but it took over 800 years for it to become a full-fledged monastery.

You'll find the Tiger's Nest in Paro, which also offers traditional Bhutanese architecture and its own Dzong--with a large collection of centuries old costumes in the Rinpung Dzong.  This is the place to be in March/April for the annual tsechu, with mask dances that tell a religious tale. 

Stick around, this festival goes on for four days.  Oh yes, the building itself is also the venue for the National Museum of Bhutan. 

Ahh, the cultural side of Bhutan.  That brings me to the performances held at the Royal Academy of Performing Arts and the Folk Heritage Museum.  Another museum that's a must see is the Textile Museum, as the practice of making textiles in this small country has been a source of pride for centuries. 

Look, any place that celebrates the coming of the Monsoon Season (usually September 22nd) is a bit extraordinary.  Before you ask, any place that celebrates the rain is definitely A-OK in my book--if I wanted sun and surf right now, I'd be in the Caribbean not in a country that neighbors Nepal and India.

Just a few things before you start socking away those two C-notes.  First, the weather.  Summers are hot (read:  humid too), and winters can get very cold  So, Spring and Fall are the optimal time to visit.  Secondly, Bhutan is all about Buddhist culture--so don't ever touch a monk;  And it's not exactly a club-hopping, drink 'til the sun comes up kind of place. So, if you're looking to knock back a few umbrella decorated drinks--this ain't it. 

It's all right to give up those beachy drinks to see the Motithang Takin Wildlife Preserve, or all the waterfalls and lakes hidden within.  Sure, I'd gladly spend $300 a bucks a day to see it; and I think you would too.  Just don't tell the government--they might make us pay it.