CNN Travel reported on Wednesday 5th October 2022 that Bhutan reopened its doors to tourists on 28th September, marked as the reopening of the Trans-Bhutan Line for tourists.
In other words, this scenic nature trail is welcoming tourists again after 60 years. This 400 km trail connects nine districts, 29 local governments, two municipalities, one national park, and 400 historical and cultural sites.
Travellers crossing the Trans-Bhutan Line will pass 18 main bridges and climb 10,000 steps either by foot or by bicycle.
“This is a community-driven project, both under construction and in operation that will restore ancient cultural icons and provide a sustainable zero-carbon experience in the country for pilgrims and tourists,” said Sam Blyth, chairman of the Bhutan Canada Foundation. “The Trans Bhutan Trail also reflects the country’s philosophy of Gross National Happiness and will allow the children of Bhutan to walk in the footsteps of their ancestors.”
The westernmost point of this trail is the town of Haa, which is near the border with Tibet. The easternmost point is Trashigang, near the border of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
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According to a representative from the Bhutan Canada Foundation, ambitious hikers can cover the entire trail in about a month. However, most travellers will likely enjoy shorter trail segments of three, four, or seven-day trips. Along the route, there will be a choice of lodgings, from rural campgrounds to three-star hotels.
The restoration of this path was encouraged by King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. This route was previously a Buddhist pilgrimage route but has been damaged since Bhutan built the road in the 1960s.
The king also officially inaugurated the pathway in a ceremony in Trongsa, a holy city in central Bhutan. To combat over-tourism, a fee of US$250 is charged which includes ground transportation, accommodation, food, and guide services. The fee is notably higher than before the pandemic when it was just US$65.
“COVID-19 has allowed us to reorganise, to rethink how this sector can be structured and operated properly while keeping our carbon footprint low,” said Tandi Dorji, Bhutan’s Foreign Affairs Minister.
All travellers must apply for a visa through the Foreign Affairs Ministry. Hikers are also required to apply for a permit via the Trans-Bhutan Line.