Bhutan is one of the most mysterious places in the world. Visiting the Land of the Thunder Dragon can be challenging, but there is a new impetus to finally remove it from the list of places to see in 2022, as its breathtaking Trans Bhutan trail will reopens to travelers for the first time in 60 years.
According to the Bhutan Canada Foundation, the main donor of the restoration project, the 402 km road connects nine dzongkhag (districts), 28 gewogs (local governments), two municipalities, a national park and 400 historical and cultural sites. Passengers following the entire path will cross the 18 main bridges and climb 10,000 steps. It will be possible to walk or mountain bike.
He added: “The Trans-Bhutan path also reflects the philosophy of the country of General National Happiness and will allow the children of Bhutan to follow in the footsteps of their ancestors.” The westernmost point of the trail is the city of Haa, which is close to the border with Tibet. The easternmost point is Trashigang, near the border of Arunachal Pradesh state of India.
According to a representative for the Bhutan Canada Foundation, an ambitious stroller can cover the entire trail in about a month, but most tourists are likely to enjoy shorter segments of the trail on three-, four- or seven-day excursions.
King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Bhutan’s 41-year-old monarch, has been a driving force behind the restoration of the trail, which was previously a Buddhist pilgrimage route before being demolished after Bhutan began building roads in the 1960s. It will inaugurate the trail at a ceremony in Trongsa, a holy city in central Bhutan, in March. Due to its “high value, low impact” tourism strategy, Bhutan had on average only a few thousand visitors in a typical year before the pandemic.
As part of its goal to avoid oversupply, the country charges a mandatory $ 250 a day fee, which includes ground transportation, accommodation, food and guide service. The cost makes it somewhat forbidden for many people to visit. Applying this mentality to the Trans Bhutan trail, aspiring pedestrians will have to apply for a permit. They can do this starting in April.
There is a potential hurdle to travel planning in Bhutan, though – at the moment, the Himalayan country is closed to tourism (with one notable exception). Rumors have been circulating that the kingdom is heading towards a full or partial reopening of spring 2022, so the timing of the Trans Bhutan Trail event may be favorable.