A brief history of Bhutan's Tourism and Eastern Escapes’ contribution to it:

  • 1974 - Tourism in Bhutan starts

  • 1981 - DrukAir is established through a Royal Declaration by His Majesty

  • 1983 - DrukAir flies its first commercial flight to & from Kolkata, India

  • 1991 - Over 2,000 passengers visit Bhutan

  • 2000 - Over 8,000 passengers visit Bhutan

  • 2009 - Topline Products (former parent company) receives a PSA with DrukAir

  • 2010 - Topline Products books over 500 tickets with DrukAir

  • 2011 - Bhutan Airlines is established with its first commercial flight to Thailand

  • 2016 - Eastern Escapes is formed as a brand of Topline Products

  • 2017 - Eastern Escapes caters to over 1,000 passengers

  • 2018 - Over 5,000 passengers travel with Eastern Escapes

  • 2019 - Eastern Escapes receives the ‘Best Tour Operator in Bhutan’ by Thomas Cook

  • 2020 - COVID-19 pandemic hits the globe, Bhutan borders shut down on March 2, 2020

  • 2022 - Bhutan opens its borders for tourism on September 23, 2022

  • 2023 - By March 2023, over 40,000 passengers travel to Bhutan as per records

  • 2023 - Eastern Escapes gets accredited by Ministry of Tourism, India

Bhutan - Its History, People & Culture

Bhutan - The Land of The Thunder Dragon is the last peaceful sanctuary on Earth. This landlocked Himalayan nation has prided itself on its love for nature and its preservation. Despite introducing tourism in Bhutan and with its enormous growth over the last 50 years - Bhutan has maintained over 70% forest cover and is the first nation in the world to have become carbon-negative.

Bhutan is the only country in the world that measures its overall development on the Gross National Happiness index, a philosophy incorporated by His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuk, the 4th King of Bhutan in 1974. Bhutan's Gross National Happiness Index is a unique and holistic approach to measuring the well-being and happiness of its citizens. It was introduced in the 1970s as an alternative to traditional economic indicators. This index encompasses nine key domains, including psychological well-being, health, education, time use, cultural diversity and resilience, good governance, community vitality, ecological diversity and resilience, and living standards. By prioritizing the overall happiness and well-being of its citizens, Bhutan's Gross National Happiness Index sets a global example for a more balanced and sustainable approach to societal progress.

In the 16th century, Bhutan emerged as an independent nation under the charismatic leadership of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. He unified various warring factions and established a centralized government system. This marked a significant shift in Bhutan's history, as it transitioned from a collection of feuding territories to a cohesive political entity. The Shabdrung introduced a distinct Bhutanese identity by promulgating a unique form of Vajrayana Buddhism, which continues to be a cornerstone of Bhutanese culture today. The establishment of a theocratic system intertwined with governance solidified Bhutan's autonomy and distinctiveness. This period also witnessed the construction of dzongs (fortress-monasteries) that continue to be iconic symbols of Bhutan's architectural and cultural heritage. Bhutan's independence in the 16th century laid the foundation for its enduring cultural identity and political sovereignty, setting it on a distinct path among nations.

The nation’s hospitality is deeply linked to its food and culture - one that is immersed in flavors, warmth and happiness. There is a wide contrast in Bhutan’s favorite dishes - from Hoentay or Bhutanese dumplings that originate from the Haa valley - to local favorites like Shamu Datshi, Ema Datshi or Kewa Datshi. The one common element you will find is the use of chillies - red, green - or even the rarest white - chillies are used in practically all dishes around this Himalayan nation.

Beverages in Bhutan also provide an equally exciting new array of flavors on the palate. Suja (butter tea) is a must try non-alcoholic beverage that is popular amongst Bhutanese people and Ara is the national drink of Bhutan. Ara is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grains and is popular during religious or archery events. And of course, there is Bhutanese grain whiskey that has also gained popularity around the world.

Biodiversity & Heritage
Artistry - Bhutan has it all.

The food and culture in Bhutan is one that will simply blow your mind away - but it is also the contrast in the experiences you will find - that will spoil you for choices. From strenuous climbs and treks - to calming hot stone baths or meditation points - Bhutan’s offerings are as contrasting as its terrain. Archery is the national sport and can often be experienced by tourists.

Its isolation from the rest of the world has led to Bhutan creating its own interests in the arts. Zorig Chusum - which literally means 13 crafts - ranging from ceramics to blacksmithing and sculpture to carpentry - have been considered the protected arts. Bhutan’s textiles and weaves with their vibrant hues and patterns have also made its mark in their cultural and tourist attractions. Today Bhutanese textiles have reached new heights of dynamism and respect; they are valued not only for their economic viability, but also as a symbol of Bhutan's artistic heritage that commands world attention and appreciation.

Eastern Escapes prides itself on absorbing the many facets of this beautiful nation in its ethos to create memorable experiences for clients around the world.

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  • Registered Office: Ground Floor, 38/ 5 Bagbazar Street,
    Kolkata 700003, West Bengal, India

  • Operations Office (India): First Floor, 17Q Dover Terrace,
    Kolkata 700019, West Bengal, India

  • Operations Office (Bhutan): Tshalu Lam, Babesa,
    Thimphu, Bhutan

  • Phone:   +91 (0) 9560 033 043