February 27, 2023

The revival of the Trans Bhutan Trail will boost tourism in Bhutan.

Synopsis: The usage of the Trans Bhutan trail decreased after the construction of 

first national highway in Bhutan. However, Bhutan's present king, whose vision was to preserve the nation's unique past, has decided to renovate this trail. Once renovated, Bhutan will experience a surge of tourists. 

Those who believe Bhutan is an underdeveloped country with few opportunities for tourism growth will be disappointed by this news. They will be very surprising to know that Bhutan is a beautiful country where people believe in preserving their culture instead of following westernization. If you have Bhutan on your travel list, then this recent addition to the country's beauty will definitely excite you. 

According to The Bhutan Live, the Trans Bhutan Trail is now open to tourists and it will bring more tourists to the country. From Haa in the west to Trashigang in its far east, the Trans Bhutan Trail travels a distance of 4,033 kilometers through 27 villages and nine districts. However, after Bhutan's first national highway was built in 1962, the Trans Bhutan Trail was no longer the country's primary transportation artery. Over time, the lack of upkeep caused its bridges, pathways, and stairways to collapse.

Thanks to the foresight of Bhutan's King, the country's historic Trans Bhutan Trail was reopened after an absence of 60 years. The Trans Bhutan Trail organization, which works as a social enterprise and doesn't try to make money, is a big part of the trail's success. The group facilitates communication between visitors and the local guides and farmhouses, which open their doors so that city dwellers can experience rural life. 

Trans-Bhutan Trail:

The Trans Bhutan Trail is a long hiking trail in Bhutan that goes all the way across Bhutan. The trail covers approximately 250 miles (402 kilometers) and takes hikers through some of the most remote and beautiful regions of Bhutan, including high mountain passes, lush forests, and traditional rural villages.

This 16th-century-old trail was the only means of transportation for rulers, tourists, monks, and traders until the construction of Bhutan’s first national highway in 1962. However, after the construction of the National Highway, the usage of this trail gradually decreased, resulting in vandalism. The bridges started to collapse, and footpaths and stairways have been damaged with the passage of time. 

What is the Trans Bhutan Trail Passport program?

According to The Bhutan Live, the guides have begun developing a Trans Bhutan Trail Passport program with the Trans Bhutan Trail organization. If reports are to be believed, there are more than sixty "Passport Ambassadors" (tourist hosts) in Bhutan right now, and most of them are women. Under this program, local farmers serve tourists a traditional meal cooked at their homes and share their culture and heritage with them. Apart from this, people also offer cooking demonstrations, while others provide hot stone bath facilities to tourists. The partnership empowers women to work in the tourism sector and earn a living. The news report also added that it gives travelers a deep cultural understanding and connection with Bhutan's most remote communities and people.

In an interview with Bhutan Live, Zangmo, a Bhutanese woman who is opening her home to tourists, stated, "I wanted to open the doors of my farmhouse to tourism in 2018, but then the pandemic hit and ruined my plans." She added, "Then last year, a guide from the TBT knocked on my door and invited me to be an ambassador, which changed my life." Zangmo further stated “It's a great way to meet interesting people from all over the world while also bringing in some extra cash for the family.”

According to the reports, tourists are welcomed with Suja and Jaju (spinach and milk soup) and served lunch or dinner, including Bhutanese dishes like Emma Datshi and Margu. Further, foreign tourists are surprised to see chillies drying on village rooftops.