Guns & Butter: Bhutan Travel Guide (Happiness Edition)


Bhutan Travel Guide is part of the ANA, Take Me ‘Round the World Trip Report. Catch up on Finding Happiness: Bhutan Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4, Day 5 (Part 1 Part 2).

TPOL’s Guns & Butter Travel Guide is the best way to see as much as you can in as little time as possible. Here’s how it works – A trip is composed of two factors: Labor And Lazy. The opportunity cost (what is given up) for relaxing and being Lazy is gained by being adventurous in the form of Labor and vice versa. The guide includes inefficient activities i.e., tourist traps that should be avoided and aspirational activities that are worth doing but may be impossible to see given the constraints of time and resources.

Getting There: Book a flight on Drukair.

TPOL’s TIP: To see Everest, sit on the left if you’re flying from KTM to Paro. Sit on the right on the way back.

Searching for happiness? Everyone says go to Bhutan. What they don’t detail is how to book a trip to get there, what it will cost, and what tour guide to select. Let’s start with the price.

Americans need chaperones to go to Bhutan (Guided Tours: Like Attending Class, It’s Boring But Sometimes Useful). Here’s what it costs for 5 nights (see How to Book a Trip to Bhutan).

I booked Bucket List Adventures and have nothing but great things to say about that tour group (see Traveling to Bhutan? Contact Bucket List Adventure).

Now that the logistics are out of the way, here’s what you should do and what you should avoid.

Avoid #1

Don’t eat at tourist restaurants. Insist on spice!

Spice, spice, baby.

Avoid #2

Big Buddha in Thimphu (see Finding Happiness: Bhutan Day 2).

Avoid #3 

If you aren’t a cyclist, you won’t enjoy biking down from the Big Buddha.

Avoid #4

Too many temples, not enough adventure. TPOL isn’t always one with nature, but Bhutan is naturally beautiful. Don’t spend all your time visiting temples (see Finding Happiness: Bhutan Day 1).

Avoid #5: Selfie Death 

Even in the land of happiness, selfie death may occur.


I’ll list these in order of enjoyment.

#1 Find Happiness 

You certainly don’t want to come all the way to Bhutan and leave without understanding what happiness is (Finding Happiness: TPOL’s Search for the Point of Life in Bhutan).

#2 Trek up to Tiger’s Nest and Beyond (see Finding Happiness: Tiger’s Nest (Bhutan Day 5)

#3 White Water Rafting (see Finding Happiness: Bhutan Day 3)

#4 Trekking with a Stranger to the Isle of Dogs (see Finding Happiness: Bhutan Day 3)

#5 Souvenir Shopping

Whether it be buying penises (see Finding Penis (Happiness): Bhutan Day 4) or a futbol outfit (see Finding Happiness: Bhutan Day 3), don’t miss out on happiness souvenirs. Beware of being ripped off.

Buy your masks in Nepal.

# 6 See Temples

By far the nicest temple is the Palace of Great Happiness (see Finding Penis (Happiness): Bhutan Day 4).

The tree in the Palace of Great Happiness where Buddha found enlightenment.

By far the most interesting is Chime Lhakhang which was built in tribute of Lam Drukpa Kuenley, the Divine madman, who “deliberately portrayed the image of a vagabond and wandered around the countryside, indulging in song and dance, alcohol and women, hunting and feasting.” Kuenley, a social critic, “taunted the hypocrisy of the established orders, including the monastic order. The use of his phallus as a ‘flaming thunderbolt’ weapon symbolizes the discomfort that society experiences when facing the truth.”

#7 Watch Archery, Try Archery 

Watching makes you appreciate how impossible this sport is (see Finding Happiness: Bhutan Day 2 and see Finding Penis (Happiness): Bhutan Day 4)

#8 Eat

Eating is #8 because I was so distracted by what I was doing.

Beef momo

Beef momo (see Finding Happiness: Bhutan Day 2) and chili cheese (see Finding Happiness: Bhutan Day 5 (Post Tiger’s Nest)) are prerequisites for happiness.

#9 Drink

How did drinking not remain a priority? Red rice beer (see Finding Happiness: Bhutan Day 1) or arak (see Finding Penis (Happiness): Bhutan Day 4) is what I recommend when you get around to it.

#10 Golf (see Total Consciousness: Golfing in Bhutan)

There won’t be a tip, but on your death bed, when you die, you’ll receive total consciousness. So I got that going for me.

#11 Spa

Don’t forget to indulge. Going to a stone spa in a home is a great way to end your trip (see Finding Happiness: Bhutan Day 5 (Post Tiger’s Nest)).

Next Time?

I don’t think I will visit Bhutan again. It’s not because there isn’t more I could do like festivals or explore the eastern part of the country. It’s because I had such a perfect time and want to remember it that way.

Bhutan Travel Guide is part of the ANA, Take Me ‘Round the World Trip Report. Catch up on Finding Happiness: Bhutan Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4, Day 5 (Part 1 Part 2).


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