Monday, September 28, 2009

Planning Gay Holidays to Bhutan

By Howie Holben

The nation of Bhutan is a tiny Buddhist kingdom tucked into the remote Himalayas between India and Tibet. Here, visitors will discover a rich way of life that has only recently begun to be exposed to modern mindsets and Western culture. This devoutly Buddhist country is home to a distinct culture that is based on age-old Buddhist beliefs and practices and maintains a solid footing in tradition. The government of Bhutan monitors tourism closely as national leaders work hard to protect the cultural heritage and pristine natural beauty of Bhutan, balanced with allowing the adoption of modern technologies and conveniences to enhance the lives of the Bhutanese people.

However, while Bhutanese culture may be traditional and conservative in many ways, the people of Bhutan warmly welcome tourists on gay vacations, or visiting as part of a planned gay travel tour, just as they do any other guest. The number of tour groups and tourists allowed to enter Bhutan each year is restricted by the government as part of an overall effort to preserve the cultural heritage and breathtaking natural beauty of this long-isolated country, so those who have the opportunity to venture into this mystical land as part of an organized tour group should take advantage of the chance to experience all that Bhutan has to offer.

Bhutan has no LGBT scene to speak of; therefore, a gay vacation planned to this magnificent mountain kingdom would certainly not be planned with the intent of experiencing a distinct LGBT community or visiting LGBT establishments. Of course, this is not to say that same-gender behaviors and relationships do not occur. These activities are actually common and accepted and there is a significant amount of bisexual sexual behavior practiced among Bhutanese men.

Most of these men are either married to women or are monastic monks and these behaviors are not considered taboo, and do not influence how one identifies. In fact, there are no words to describe sexual orientation in this regions language; sexual expression is simply part of everyday life. A law from over 100 years ago is still on the books that criminalizes same-sex sexual behavior and allows for punishments that include life imprisonment; however, there are no indications that this law has ever been enforced.

Partaking in gay travel in Bhutan is an experience that provides the opportunity to experience a community and culture that has been left relatively untouched by Western culture and offers an ideal environment for spiritual awakening or renewal. Bhutan gay vacations include opportunities to visit Buddhist temples, hike through the Himalayas and explore sacred sites.

To fully enjoy all that Bhutan offers, it is recommended that you plan your gay holidays or vacations to this majestic land through very well. This will help to ensure that you are given the opportunity to discover the beauty and spirituality of this magnificent country, while respecting Bhutans natural and cultural richness.

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