To an outsider, Bhutan and Nepal may evoke similar imageries – smiling monks dressed in red robes, colorful gompas set against green scenery, and mountains views from backyard. While these countries do share these similarities, they are starkly different in terms of natural and cultural experience they offer. The best way to know is come feel by yourself. However, we have listed 4 ways how travelling to Bhutan differs from travelling to Nepal.
Neither Nepal or Bhutan can be directly accessed from North America or Europe. Yet travelling to Nepal is easier as several major airlines connect Kathmandu to hubs like Delhi, Doha, and Dubai. In Bhutan’s context, only choices for final leg of the flight are Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines. There are transit points like Kathmandu and Kolkota but don’t get surprised if you have to stay overnight.
Cost of visas and permit
On costs, visa and permits, two countries differ hugely. For Bhutan, you can only get a tourist visa if you have booked a guide with a licensed tour operation for whole duration of your stay and have contracted to pay USD $250 per day in Bhutan. In Nepal’s case, getting visa and permits are incredibly easier and cheaper. You are free to travel and trek anywhere without a guide, thus making Nepal a backpacker’s heaven. However, permit fees differ depending on areas you choose to trek.
Nepal is a Hindu majority country whereas Bhutan is a Buddhist majority country. In both countries, religion has played a crucial role in shaping its societies and way of life. While in Nepal, you will be able to visit several majestic temples dedicated to Hindu gods and goddesses, and palaces from the medieval times. In Bhutan, you will be able to visit remarkably built Dzongs and intricate gompas that house imageries of Buddhist godly bodies.
Trekking couldn’t be any more different between these two countries. In Nepalese context, the routes are populated with substantial communities before trek even starts. The routes are often packed with villagers and trekkers. You will almost invariably sleep and eat in inns and tea house. In Bhutan, the only people you will meet in the mountains are nomads raising herds of yaks. Also, trekking almost entirely means camping.
Nepal is a peak climber’s haven. Whether you are a novice to peak climbing or want to scale the highest peaks in the world, there is a peak suitable for everyone. Any significant peak is separately categorized by the tourism board and charges are applied according to height and popularity. However, climbing any peak in Bhutan is forbidden. They are all considered as sacred homes to gods and heavy fans are levied for breaking the law.
So, in this way, Bhutan and Nepal and Bhutan are two very different travel destinations that offer absolutely different experiences. If you are short on money, it’d be a good option to visit Nepal as Bhutan can be remarkably expensive. However, if you want the true wilderness experience away from the packed trekking routes, Bhutan is the perfect choice for you.