It was the last nation to turn on the TV in 1999, it is the only country with a national park devoted to preserving the natural habitat of the yeti and its government shuns international franchises such as Starbucks and McDonalds. Bhutan preserves an air of magic and mystery, despite being sandwiched between rapidly developing powerhouses India and China. Even in the capital Thimphu, national dress – kira for women and gho for men – prevails over western clothes.

The tiny Buddhist kingdom is most famous for rejecting GDP and favouring the idea of Gross National Happiness (GNH) a notion that was introduced by the country’s former monarch, the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1972 and has been fawned over by international media since.

To Stay

Uma by COMO Paro

A high-end resort with 20 rooms and nine private villas in the Paro Valley, which mixes clean-lines and contemporary aesthetics with traditional Bhutanese design. The Bukhari restaurant here is a favourite of the Royal Family.

Hotel Norbuling

A simple family-owned boutique hotel with a spa. Situated on Chang Lam Street in central Thimphu, close to the Clock Tower square, the Bhutan Textile Museum and Changlimithang national stadium.

To Eat

Folk Heritage Museum

In the grounds of the Folk Heritage Museum, this restaurant serves up traditional Bhutanese fare, including chilli cheese, chilli beef, red rice, buckwheat pancakes and butter tea.

Chimi Lakhang Cafeteria

With a traditional Bhutanese design, complete with silk woven tablecloths and painted masks, this restaurant serves up spicy cuisine with a backdrop of Punakha Valley rice paddies.

To Do

Tiger's Nest, Paro

A monastery clinging to cliffs overlooking Paro – a four-hour round trip if you’re hiking. As the legend says, the guru who built it flew to its location on the back of a tigress in the 17th century.

  • Taktsang trail

Buddha Dordenma, Thimphu

At 169ft tall, this is one of the biggest Buddha statues in the world, and comes with panoramic views of the capital city and surrounding mountains.

Chimi Lhakhang

Couples from as far away as Japan visit this temple in the hope it will help them have children. It was built to honour the unorthodox Drupa Kunley, also known as the Divine Madman, who is famous – among other things – for introducing the phallic symbol (which is commonly found painted on houses in the region) as an emblem of good luck and fertility.

National Memorial Chorten, Thimphu

Spin prayer wheels and, if you’re lucky, listen to the chanting of orange-robed monks in this Tibetan style temple in memory of the Third King.

To Drink

Mojo Park, Thimphu

A live music bar with walls bedecked with Rolling Stone covers. Like stepping back into a dingy rock bar in the 1990s, and the best place to drink the locally distilled Bhutan Highland Grain Whisky.

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