Chang is a mild, mushy beer made from rice, barley, millet or corn. The alcohol content is relatively low. It is widely consumed in Tibet and less so in Bhutan. Ara, a potent local spirit made from barely, rice, maize, millet, or wheat, is more popular in Bhutan. Many restaurants and hotels serve a variety of imported beers and alcoholic beverages. What is available varies greatly. Both chang and ara are served to guests and friends as well as offered as offerings to the gods.

Karma Phuntsho wrote in the “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices”: “Although intoxicating drinks form one of the primary Buddhist prohibitions, alcohol, in the form of locally brewed spirits and ciders, is popular in Bhutanese societies, and festivities are marked by drinking. Religious influence, however, has led many to give up alcohol and also to observe fasts during holy days and weeks. [Source: Karma Phuntsho, “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices”, Thomson Gale, 2006]

Ara can be be either fermented or distilled and is usually a clear, creamy, or white in color. It is commonly made at home with rice or corn and consumed privately. Ara production is unregulated and its sale is prohibited in Bhutan. In the old days, people sold ara through shopkeepers but the government cracked down on the practice. Because producing ara is very profitable many Bhutanese farmers want the laws reformed. But Bhutanese government is just as vehement in maintaining its stand to discourage drunkenness and alcoholism. [Source: Wikipedia]

Ara is used in religious rituals, particularly in eastern Bhutan, where it serves as an offering on on certain auspicious days. Ara is also believed to ward off snakes, and is sometimes carried by children for protection. An effort has been to reduce ara production and consumption in Lhuntse District, eastern Bhutan, where the eastern Bhutanese tradition of heavy drinking is linked to a number of health and societal problems. Alcoholism and ara production are political issues discussed throughout Bhutan, especially at the local level.

Druk 11000 is the most popular beer among locals in Bhutan. It is brewed by one of the oldest breweries in Bhutan. Other locally made beers include Bhutan Glory-Amber Ale; Dragon Stout; Bhutanese- Red Rice Lager; Bhutanese- Dark Ale; Red Panda beer; and Chabchhu.

Compared to people in other countries, Bhutanese don’t drink so much. In terms of alcohol consumption Bhutan ranks 171st out of 189 countries according to World Health Organization (WHO) data. Annual alcohol consumption per capita: pure alcohol: 0.6 liters (compared to 17.4 liters in Belarus; 9.2 liters in the United States; and 2.4 liters in Japan). percentage: beer: 46.2 percent; wine: 4.2 percent; spirits: 49.6 percent; [Source: WHO data, Wikipedia Wikipedia ]

Alcoholism (deaths per 100,000 people): 2.58 (compared to 14.68 in Russia and 2.26 in the United States. [Source: World Health Organization, World Life Expectancy worldlifeexpectancy.com ]

Buttered Tea and Tea in Bhutan

The most popular beverage in Bhutan is tea, which is served in a variety of ways. Tea, made with salt and butter, is a Bhutanese staple as it is in Tibet. Yak butter tea is the traditional drink of the Himalayan and Tibetan highlands. Sweet tea is stewed with high-quality black tea, fresh milk or milk powder and white sugar.

Buttered tea is traditionally made with butter or ghee and salt (or milk) in a special tea barrel. It is often made of boiled brick tea and ghee. Ghee, which looks like butter, is a kind of dairy product made of fat obtained from cow milk or sheep milk. Tibetan people like the ghee made of yak milk. When they make buttered tea, they mix boiled brick tea and ghee in a special can, add some salt, pour the mixed liquid into a pottery or metal teapot and finally heat it up (but don’t boil it).

Buttered tea is regarded as a nutritious drink well suited for high and cold region regions. It is filling and the caffeine in it give those who drink it a slight jolt. Those who drink it say it helps one resist coldness, promotes body fluids, quenches thirst, and gets rid of fatigue. Different people have different tastes for the buttered tea. Some people like salty flavor, others prefer to light flavor. People who do manual labor, especially men, like the strong-tasted, cream-like buttered tea. Old people, children and women like light-flavored tea. People usually heat up the buttered tea because cold buttered tea is not easy to be digested and does harm to one's stomach.

Tibetan tea is brewed with an equal measure of salt and yak butter, giving it a consistency like soup. The drink is made by scrapping tea from a brick of black tea and boiling the tea leaves with rock salt or soda and yak butter and milk while the mixture is churned in a wooden tube. To make Tibetan butter tea: boil brick tea in water for a long time into red thick juice, pour the juice into a specially made round wood pail which is 90 to 120 centimeters long with a diameter of 10 centimeters, and add an appropriate amount of butter or ghee and salt. Tibetan butter tea is often blended in a slim wooden cylinder. After the mixture is put in the cylinder, a piston is used to push and pull inside the cylinder. With the passing of the mixture through the slit between the piston and the cylinder, the mixture of butter, salt and tea is forcefully and thoroughly blended. Then it is poured into a pot or boiler, is put on slow fire and is ready to be poured out for drinking. [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities, kepu.net.cn ~]

Cannabis and Drugs in Bhutan

Wild marijuana grows everywhere and it is boiled and fed to pigs. Young Bhutanese had never considered smoking it until Westerners introduced them to the idea. When travelers asks about getting some their guides tell them that price of getting caught is five years of meditation — the time spent in jail with nothing else to do.

Brook Larmer wrote in National Geographic: “Drug addiction is also on the rise. Near the entrance to Destiny Club, one of Thimphu’s handful of new discos, three young revelers discuss the virtues of “pig’s food,” a potent variety of marijuana, abundant in the Bhutanese countryside, that is used traditionally as an appetite enhancer for livestock. “Do kids in America also get addicted?” asks the trio’s leader, a 23-year-old with reddened eyes. Thimphu’s drug scene might seem tame by international standards, but this can hardly be the kind of happiness the king envisioned. Ugyen Dorji, a former addict who founded Bhutan’s first drug-rehabilitation center three years ago with the help of the Youth Development Fund, says it reflects “the anxieties of a society in transition.” [Source: Brook Larmer, National Geographic, March 2008]

Drug use deaths (per 100,000 people): 1.25 (compared to 15.93 in Ukraine and 0.30 in Japan. [Source: World Health Organization, World Life Expectancy worldlifeexpectancy.com ]

Betel Nut in Bhutan

Betel nut (areca) is widely consumed in Bhutan. Known as doma, it provides a mild buzz and turns the teeth and mouth reddish-orange. A khamto (quid) of doma pani (areca nut and a dash of slaked lime wrapped in a betel leaf) is placed in the side of the mouth between the cheek and gum and gently chewed on and sucked, without swallowing. The buzz is stronger than coffee but way below cocaine or meth. Some men carry betel nut in silver-and-gold boxes.

In Bhutan, the soft and moist raw areca nut is consumed. It is very potent When chewed it can cause palpitation and vasoconstriction. In southern Bhutan and North Bengal, the nut is cut into half and put into a local paan leaf with a generous amount of lime. In the rest of Bhutan the raw nut, with the husk on, is fermented such that the husk rots and is easy to extract. Where fermented doma is made it is said the putrid odour can be smelled from very far away. [Source: Wikipedia]

Doma is served after meals, during rituals and ceremonies. It is offered to friends and is chewed at work places at all levels of society and is an essential part of Bhutanese social life and culture. Traditionally, this nut is cut in half and placed on top of a cone made of local betel leaf, with some lime into it. According to legend, some of the original inhabitants of Bhutan, the cannibalistic Monyul, who lived beyond Buddhism’s reach in the land of Monpas, ate raw flesh, drank blood, and chewed bones. In the 8th century, the Tibetan Buddhist saint Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) arrived in Monapas and convinced the Monyul to stop eating flesh and drinking blood and created the betel nut quid (betel leaf, lime and areca nut) as a substitute. The three parts of the betel nut quid are said to symbolize parts of the human body: the leaf stands for the tongue, the lime for the brain, and the betel nut for the heart. [Source: Wikipedia, Karma Phuntsho, “Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices”, Thomson Gale, 2006]

Gopilal Acharya wrote in Kuensel: “Doma is an integral part of Bhutanese life culture; it is chewed everywhere, by all sections of society on all occasions. It takes the form of a traditional offering during the auspicious Zhugdrel Phuensum Tshogpa ceremony and as casual offering or gift among strangers and friends. Often doma is the first thing offered to a guest. Although no scientific studies have been carried out on the contents of the nut, doctors say that arecadonic acid” is the active ingredient. "It not only gives a sort of temporary high but also makes people warm," says the senior surgeon with the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital, Dr. Sonam Drukpa. [Source: Gopilal Acharya, Kuensel, raonline.ch]

Doma is often referred to as trozey, a conversation starter. However “consumption among the younger generation is delcininf. Many school-going children and young civil servants have never chewed doma in their lives. The blood-red doma juice expectorated by numerous chewers has always been a topic of discussion. The red juice can be seen everywhere, from gutters to office corners to the walls of doma shops. But doma nevertheless will always be indispensable to the Bhutanese. "It is a cross-society phenomenon with its use in both religious and temporal spheres," says Yeshey Lhendup, a Thimphu resident, who chews an average of 25 khamto a day.

Betel Nut and Health in Bhutan

Gopilal Acharya wrote in Kuensel: “Doma pani has three main ingredients: doma or areca nut (Areca catechu), pani or betel leaf (Piper betel), and tsune or lime (Calcium Carbonate). Excessive chewing of doma could be harmful to health, according to Dr. Sonam Drukpa. "Doma diverts blood from vital organs of the body to the skin. That is why the skin gets red and the body starts heating up producing warmth." Repeated use of doma, doctors say, will affect vital organs of the body leading to high blood pressure and stress. It also disturbs the smooth function of other vital body organs. [Source: Gopilal Acharya, Kuensel, raonline.ch]

“The impact of doma on the body system starts from the mouth. It changes the normal mucosa (the tender pink inner lining of the mouth) to an abnormal one that can lead to mouth cancer in the long run. As the red juice is swallowed it can cause lesions of the throat wall and the intestine and stomach wall. When the juice reaches the stomach it can cause harm to stomach mucosa resulting in dysplasia leading to early stages of stomach cancer, according to doctors. "Doma might not be the direct cause of the cancer but is one of the factors," Dr. Sonam Drukpa said. "Our clinical study of cancer patients has showed that almost 60 percent of stomach cancer patients have a history of chewing doma for a long time."

“Doctors say that doma also causes significant dehydration if taken in excess. This was bad for the kidneys. It also kills taste buds and causes diarrhea if taken on an empty stomach. Doctors strictly warn people suffering from diseases of intestinal tracts like ulcers and gastritis not to indulge in domaa chewing. "Domacan aggravate this leading to serious complications like perforations," says the senior surgeon. However, doma might have some benefits if cleaned properly and chewed. "If chewed after food once or twice a day it could have some benefits," says Dr. Sonam Drukpa. "The lime could provide calcium supplement and also help in digestion."”

Betel Nut History in Bhutan

Gopilal Acharya wrote in Kuensel: “The earliest documented mention of doma occurs in the ceremony of Zhugdrel Phuensum Tshogpa, a lead up to important functions. According to the Driglam Namzhag Manual published by the National Library in Thimphu, in 1637 a huge gathering of people had come with variety of food products to "pay tribute and pledge loyalty" to the Zhabdrung in Punakha. The book says that the Zhabdrung was deeply touched and he instructed everyone to be served with "food items of droma (kaser), drizang (saffron fragrance), suja (butter tea), dresi (fried sweet rice), doma pani, and a variety of fruits" Even today, doma is served during the Zhugdrel Phuensum Tshogpa, a commemoration of the meal hosted by the Zhabdrung in 1637. [Source: Gopilal Acharya, Kuensel, raonline.ch]

“According to the History of Bhutan by Lopon Padma Tshedwang, some early settlers of the Moen Yul ate raw flesh and skin, drank blood and brain, and chewed bones. When Guru Rinpoche arrived spreading Buddhism he tamed these people by creating a substitute; Rushing (bark of Poikilospermum, a creeper plant) substituted flesh, areca nut the bones, betel leaf the skin, lime the brain, and the resulting red spit, blood. The Tradition of Betel and Areca in Bhutan by Francoise Pommaret, a Bhutan researcher, says that none of the visitors (including George Bogle in 1774, Samuel Turner in 1783, Kisan Kant Bose in 1815, and Pemberton in 1838) who made political missions to Bhutan at different times make a direct mention of the Bhutanese chewing doma.

“Some of them, however, mentioned that the Bhutanese imported 'betel nut' from Bengal and Assam. J. C. White, the British political officer who attended Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck's enthronement in 1907, mentions that "three kinds of tea, rice and pan were offered in turn" to the guests. Scholars agree that doma most likely came from the neighbouring Indian states of Bengal and Assam where it grew and was chewed in plenty. Many Indian writers have drawn similar conclusions. One Indian writer, Chakravarti, says: "The Bhutanese seemed to have picked up this habit from the people of the plains in Assam in course of their trades and raids through centuries. Bhutan draws its requirement of betel leafs and areca nuts from Assam. Betel leafs, however, grow in some quantity in the jungles of lower Bhutan also."

“Is doma then an imported culture? A corporate employee who occasionally chews doma agrees. He maintains that in the olden days when Bhutanese forayed down south into the Indian border the most-looked-forward-to gift was doma since it didn't grow in the mountains. Among the recent Bhutanese folk Documents three popular stories, Gasa Lamey Senge, Namtala and Ap Wang Drugay make a mention of doma.

What is well known is that doma for a considerable time of its use in Bhutanese society was restricted only to the aristocrats. "The whole elaborate tradition of handling doma has come from the aristocratic customs," says Choki Dhendup, a Dzongkha editor with the Bhutanese media. "Since it had to be imported from the southern plains doma remained a luxury of the richer section of the society." The "elaborate tradition of handling doma" involved an ostentatious style of carrying the nut and the leaf in a rectangular box called chaka, while lime had a separate circular box with conical lid called trimi. Both the boxes were usually made of silver. Those carried by the royal family and noblemen were often gold plated and decorated with intricate lotus motifs.” Today the tradition of chaka and trimi has been replaced by kaychung, a cloth pouch.

In the past, doma was often given as a gift from aristocrats to common people. "Common people would be thrilled to receive a gift of doma from important figures," says Choki Dhendup. "If doma was offered from the chaka trimi it was a matter of immense pride for the receiver." Pommaret relates from Namtala how when Namtala returned from a mission he took a gift of betel leafs to his master, the Lord of Drametse, and how his Lord accepted the gift with gratitude. In the absence of doma people also used bark and roots of various trees like rushing (Poikilospermum) and gonra (Potentilla pendoncularis). Rushing's bark and gonra's roots were chopped into pieces and dried and chewed with a betel leaf. It produced a red juice like doma pani. Today, however, with abundance of doma everywhere, rushing and gonra chewing is on the decline. "In fact, it has become a rare ingredient to be added in small quantities with doma," says Choki Dhendup.

Betel Nut Price Rises in Bhutan

In 2021, Chhimi Dema wrote in Kuensel, “The price of doma has been rising steadily over the years, though. For Nu 10 [13 US cents] one would get four pieces of doma. Then the price went up to Nu 20, and then 40. Now seven pieces of doma cost Nu 50 [67 US cents]. Passang, from Thimphu, spends more than Nu 200 on doma in a day [US$2.70]. “It is a habit I can’t kick.” [Source: Chhimi Dema. Kuensel, February 11, 2021

“An owner of a pan shop owner on the Norzin Lam said that the price of doma had increased by more than 40 percent within 10 months. She said that she bought 80 pieces (one pon) of doma for Nu 620. And, bought Meetha (sweet) and Bangla betel leaves at Nu 100 for 30 and 20 leaves respectively. “When the wholesalers increase the price of doma, we have to decrease the amount of doma in a packet,” she said.

“A few months ago, retailers could get a pon of doma for Nu 380. “The sale decreased in a few months. I could sell more than 450 pieces of doma in a day before the pandemic. Now I can sell only about 250 pieces in a day,” she said. Another doma seller said: “Doma sells well.” She said that her daily income from the sale of doma was Nu 3,000. “The sale dropped this time because I could not buy doma from the wholesalers.”

“A wholesaler in Thimphu said that a sack of doma (roughly 48,000 pieces) costs Nu 34,200 from India, excluding transportation charges. Jewan Kharka, a wholesaler in Thimphu, said that the sale was better only during the harvest season. There was no continuous supply of doma from the Bhutanese growers, Jewan Kharka said. According to the trade statistics, in 2019, Bhutan imported 684.52 MT (metric tonnes) worth Nu 51.22M (million) and exported 5,194.28 MT of doma-paney.”

Smoking Laws and Tobacco Ban in Bhutan

Bhutan has some of the world’s strictest anti-tobacco laws. Cigarettes and smoking are virtually illegal in Bhutan although some people do smoking. Bhutan was one the first nations to completely ban the sale of tobacco. Sales of all tobacco products were banned in 2004. A government spokesman said sat the time: “It’s for the well-being of the people, to protect the environment and preserve our culture.” Smoking in public places was banned but people could still smoke in their homes if they wanted. At that time, a 100 percent was levied on tobacco products brought into the country and the punishment for the sale to tobacco was US$225.

The Tobacco Control Act of 2010 made chewing tobacco and smoking cigarettes a non-bailable offense. Anyone in Bhutan selling tobacco or found with cigarettes that have not been declared to customs has committed a non-bailable offence that carries minimum three years and a maximum five-year prison sentence if the person is unable to produce a receipt declaring payment of import duties. Adam Plowright of AFP wrote: The 2010 law “sought to crack down on smuggling by introducing a prison term for offenders. The Tobacco Control Act does not make smoking illegal, but it restricts smokers to private use of a maximum of 200 grams of tobacco and 200 cigarettes per month that can be legally imported. Users have to keep the customs receipts to prove that duties of up to 200 percent have been paid. [Source: Adam Plowright, AFP, September 6, 2011; Democracy in Bhutan: A Critical Assessment by Bhujel Dhan Kumar, South Asia Journal, July 8, 2015]

The Tobacco Control Act of 2010 was widely criticized after a 23-year-old monks was sentenced to three years in jail for possession of US$2.25 worth of chewing tobacco. Under public pressure the act was amended in January 2012. Now the amended Tobacco Control Act allows imports of tobacco and its products for personal consumption including 300 cigarettes, 400 bidis, 50 cigars and 250 grams of other tobacco products by paying required import duties.

Lung cancer rate (age-standardized rate per 100,000 people): men: 6.31; women: 7.81; men and women: 6.99 (men: 77.4; women: 41.4; men and women: 56.7 in Hungary and men: women: 30.8; men and women: 35.1 in the United States. In Bhutan lung cancer is more likely linked with smoke from indoor fires than smoking. [Source: World Life Expectancy worldlifeexpectancy.com ]

It is said Guru Rinpochhe (Padmasandhava), Bhutan’s most revered Buddhist saint, credited with bringing Buddhism to Bhutan condemned tobacco in his teachings and scriptures as early as in the eighth century. Arthur Lubow wrote in Smithsonian Magazine: “When I asked a former Bhutanese smoker why the country banned cigarette sales (a brisk black-market trade persists), I was told that tobacco is made of the ash of a demoness who was shattered into a thousand pieces when kicked by Guru Rinpoche's horse. Such stories probably began as parables for how Buddhism superseded the animist Bon religion in Bhutan. However, the old gods were never completely effaced. [Source: Arthur Lubow, Smithsonian Magazine, March 2008]

Smokers in Bhutan

A survey in 2009 funded by international anti-tobacco groups found that just 2.8 percent of people smoked in Bhutan, compared to 31.4 percent in China. In the old days many Bhutanese purchased single cigarettes in shops and women rolled cigarettes for their husbands. Many smokers today buy cigarettes from street vendor that offer snacks and drinks and secretly sell cigarettes on the side. . [Source: Adam Plowright, AFP, September 6, 2011]

Adam Plowright of AFP wrote: “In hushed tones, the young men ask for a packet of 10 and the contraband is handed over wrapped in paper and hastily shoved inside the large pouch at the front of their traditional tunics. “You can find them all over, but you need to know someone," one of the buyers said as he scuttled away. "It's dangerous though. He (the seller) could land in jail."

After dark in Thimphu, Bhutanese of all ages can be found defying "No Smoking" signs in the back-street bars of the capital. Glowing red embers are a frequent sight down the alleyways leading from the main streets, and smokers can be seen indulging at nightclubs and at the city's only bowling alley. Most say they buy their cigarettes off black market vendors. “I can go anywhere and get cigarettes, but the cost has really gone up," says Gyeltshen, who jointly set up the "Amend the Tobacco Control Act" Facebook group which has more than 2,600 members.

Outrage Over Smoking Bhutan’s Punishments

In March 2011, Sonam Tshering, a 23-year-old monk became the first person convicted and sentenced to three years in prison after he was caught with 180 grams of undeclared chewing tobacco (worth about US$2.25). Adam Plowright of AFP wrote: Since then, more than 50 people have been arrested, including an 81-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy. “We are doing this for the good health and well-being of our people," said Kinley Dorji, the executive director of the Bhutan Narcotic Control Agency, which has overseen the implementation of the law. “People in the world are full of habits and addictions and sometimes they are not easy to give up," he told AFP. [Source: Adam Plowright, AFP, September 6, 2011]

But sending small-time users to jail, particularly those in apparent ignorance of the law, has caused an outcry and proved a test for Bhutan's fledgling democracy. “We don't question the good intention. Tobacco kills people, but smoking has been there for centuries. Overnight people cannot stop," says 39-year-old Tashi Gyeltshen, who has spearheaded protests on Facebook. “Everyone agrees that the prison term is a mistake," he told AFP. Parliamentary opposition leader Tshering Tobgay has also been a vociferous critic.

“Faced with hostile media coverage and public dissent — unheard of in Bhutan during the days of absolute monarchy which came to an end in 2008 — new guidelines have been brought in recommending fines for small-time users. Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley admitted to AFP in an interview that the law imposed "excessive punishment" on those caught in possession of small quantities of tobacco and this would be reviewed later in 2011. “I don't think we have the right balance," he said in his office. "I am hoping that we will be able to make amendments... The kind of punishment is something that I think needs to be looked at."

“The government argues, however, that the law will ease the tobacco-related burden on the country's free healthcare system and ultimately help users, many of whom confess to wanting to give up anyway. Supporters point to World Health Organisation data that show six million people die annually from tobacco, with 80 percent of those deaths in developing countries like Bhutan.

Bhujel Dhan Kumar wrote in the South Asia Journal: The smoking laws became the source of “a heated public debate and the people openly expressed their protest on social media. Perhaps this was the first show of dissent in the country which had never entertained criticism against its rulers. Opposition leader Tshering Tobgay had always opposed the Tobacco Act. He had argued that the law has always allowed some people such as travelers and those living around international borders to easily import tobacco for consumption, so why can’t it be for others as well. He claimed the tobacco control bill to be” draconian” and “dangerous” and had also called for monk Sonam Tshering to be freed. Perhaps the government could have gone for alternatives such as education, awareness, taxation, allocation of smoke free zones, etc.

Representatives is the legislature that passed the anti-smoking laws “usually belonged to the older generation and had maintained tobacco consumption was a sinful activity and against Buddhist values. It can also be seen that the rich people always had an upper hand as they could afford to pay 100 percent import duty and enjoy tobacco; the same might not be possible for the lower and middle classes. The law also seemed to be discriminatory because common people were the ones who often got caught in the process of avoiding 100 percent import duty. [Source: Democracy in Bhutan: A Critical Assessment by Bhujel Dhan Kumar, South Asia Journal, July 8, 2015]

Social media played a major role in bringing about reform. Tashi Gyeltshen, a film-maker, told the BBC: When the previous government introduced an act to control tobacco usage, my friends and I started a Facebook page called: "Amend the Tobacco Control Act." We did this after a 24-year-old monk, Sonam Tshering, was arrested and sentenced to three years in jail in 2011. It was the very draconian law that allowed this to happen. But social media helped us to make an important change. It started a debate and allowed people to come out and openly talk about their dissatisfaction with the Act. Around 4,000 like-minded people took part and because of that Facebook page, we were able to make the government aware of the dissatisfaction around the nation. What followed was a discussion in parliament and then the government amended the act. His Majesty the King also gave amnesty to 16 people who were sentenced under the Tobacco Control Act. I believe this wouldn't have been achieved without the power of social media. I also try to connect with film-makers around the world through Facebook. If you know exactly where to connect and who to connect to it is not difficult.” [Source: BBC, February 19, 2014]

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Tourism Council of Bhutan (tourism.gov.bt), National Portal of Bhutan, the Bhutan government’s main site (gov.bt), The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Wikipedia and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated February 2022

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