My absent magic wand, or, a note to prospective visitors to Bhutan

I love to hear from people who are planning trips to Bhutan.  Now, for the “but:” please note: I have no magic formula or wisdom to offer, beyond what I share in my book, Radio Shangri-la (which is not a travel book, but offers insights to the Kingdom which, by the way, many Bhutanese take issue with) and have passed along in this blog.

In the early days of my work in and around Bhutan, I spent countless hours trying to help people who wanted to volunteer there to avoid having to pay the tourist visa, and journalists with similar goals of entering the Kingdom and accessing the royalty, etc.—with virtually no luck.

There are a growing number of formalized volunteer opportunities, which did not exist when I first traveled there in 2007 at the invitation of the government (an introduction extended to me by dumb luck and timing), and I try to keep up with them and share what I learn here, when I can.

In other words, feel free to be in touch but please understand that I won’t be able to wave a wand to open the gates.  Similarly, if you’ve planned a vacation to Bhutan, please understand that most tour operators can’t or won’t deviate from a proscribed route–so sending me your itinerary makes my mouth water (I’ve never had the fortune to be a tourist in Bhutan) but there’s little I can suggest, since the travel plans are so rigid.

And of course, if you do read my book, and I hope you will, I’d love to hear what you think.


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