Backpackers not welcome in world’s newest democracy

Tucked in the Himalayas, the Shangrila hermit kingdom of Bhutan became the world’s newest parliamentary democracy on March 24, 2008, transisting from monarchy. Shed no tears for the beloved, disempowered Fourth King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. Last year he abdicated his throne to his Oxford educated son to take on the job of democracy’s leading salesman to the Bhutanese. The ex-monarch believes democracy will promote GNH or “gross national happiness.”

Sorry, foreign backpackers. You won’t get a taste of Bhutan’s GNH. Independent travel in Bhutan is forbidden. Visitors must book travel through a registered Bhutanese tour operator, who will arrange for them to be chaperoned from one expensive resort to another.

Much worse off than foreign backpackers who can’t pitch tents in Bhutan’s lush valleys, pristine forests, and mystical mountains are the 100,000 ethnic Nepalese who have lived in refuge camps in Nepal since 1990 after a crackdown on their demand for — are you ready for this? — democracy. The ethnic Nepalese are disenfranchised because the government considers them illegal immigrants.

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One Response to “Backpackers not welcome in world’s newest democracy”

  1. Tour to Bhutan Says:

    This summer I have planned to spend my summer holiday in Bhutan. Last year I went to Bhutan through Raven Tours and Travel Group and my trip to Bhutan was wonderful

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