Category: Bhutan

Canada doesn’t make the top 20 in Lonely Planet’s traveller’s choice destinations

Lonely Planet just released its traveller’s choice destinations, based on a survey of 3,000 of their Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Thorntree fans. The results were revealing:

  • Canada didn’t even crack the overall top 20 destinations. Half of the destinations were Asian, and both Australia and New Zealand made the top five.
  • The big winners? Bhutan, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Thailand, and India.
  • Canada made it into only two categories – it came in ninth in the Nature category. The winners here? Costa Rica, Iceland, New Zealand, Bhutan, and Australia. So even though¬†we feel we “own” nature, and certainly have lots of it, travellers don’t see us as the top destination to go for nature.
  • Canada also came in fourth for safety.
  • We didn’t make it to the top 10 in the adventure category.
  • Bhutan won the prize as best overall destination, and made it into the top 10 in 8 out of 16 criteria. Interesting, as it is not cheap to travel there.

While this survey only sampled a certain type of traveller, it does show that despite our great national tourism brand, we have some work to do when it comes to marketing our country.

Countries that entered the to 10 of most categories in Lonely Planet’s 2013 Traveller’s Choice awards.

Trekking in Bhutan featured by Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet just released a list of Top 10 sustainable experiences in the world on its website. Fourth on the list is hiking in Bhutan. As main resource it lists our Mild and Mad Day hikes in Thimphu and my Trekking in Bhutan website.  Visitation to the site doubled instantly. Very cool.

New York Times destinations of the year 2009

The NYT just published their trips of the year again. This time, 44 destinations, but none in Canada. Some odd choices, but also some good ones, like Bhutan.

The world’s 50 best walks

The Times online just posted an article on the top 50 walks in the world, ranked from easy strolls to tough mountain treks. The Snowman trek in Bhutan was listed as the most difficult trek in the world. It indeed is no easy stroll in the park; supposedly less people have completed this trek than have climbed Mt. Everest. I can think of harder treks, especially those in the highlands of Papua, but it ain’t easy.

Interestingly, the Tour du Mont Blanc is ranked as the second most difficult. Now I really want to walk this trek too.

Sadly, no other Canadian treks, such as the West Coast Trail, are mentioned. It is certainly tougher and more classic than some of the listed treks!

(Via Besthike.)

Trekking guide for Bhutan

My friend Bart Jordans has just published the second edition of his excellent guide to trekking in Bhutan: Bhutan, a Trekker’s Guide. This comprehensive book is the only guide dedicated to trekking in Bhutan. It covers all the major treks, including the famous snowman trek, often said to be one of the world’s most difficult treks.

For additional information on trekking in Bhutan, check out Bart’s Bhutan Treks website, or my site on hiking and trekking in Bhutan.

Are travel guides all bad?

The travel writing industry is abuzz over the upcoming release of Thomas Kohnstamm’s book detailing his life as a Lonely Planet travel writer. He supposedly plagiarized content, didn’t visit the places he was supposed to go to, slept with waitresses, etc., etc. In reality, it turns out that it wasn’t all that bad. In a recent interview, he takes back some of the things he said in earlier interviews. Of course, by then the main stream media had picked up on the juicy tidbits.

So, are travel guides, just that – guides, or are they bibles? I have used a lot of guidebooks in my travels, and spent a lot of time sending updates to Lonely Planet’s guides. As far as I am concerned, they are just rough guides. Stuff will be missing, out of date, or wrong, but that is the fun of it. But if you find errors, don’t whine about them. Instead, take the time to write the publishers, or post an entry on the publisher’s forums.

Do I buy guidebooks when I travel? Always.

Which ones? Depends on the destination. I always compare Rough Guides, LP, and Moon Handbooks. For North America, Moon often has more in-depth titles. For other countries, Rough Guides tend to be more in-depth, with better writing (more background info, especially about culture, and more opinionated), and they cover more out-of-the-way places. But Lonely Planet covers more establishments, has more practical information, and offers more titles. For example, there are no Rough Guides for Mongolia and Bhutan.

When I go to a country for an extended period of time, I buy several guidebooks. For example, in Bhutan, you need the Lonely Planet, as well as Francoise Pommaret’s Odyssey guide, and Bart Jordan’s Bhutan, a trekker’s guide. For Mongolia, get the Lonely Planet guide and the Bradt guide.

Are the LP guides to Bhutan and Mongolia any good? Both will invariably have some errors, but Michael Kohn (Mongolia) lived there for three years, and knows the country as well as anyone writing about it. Stan Armington (who wrote earlier editions of the Bhutan guide, as well as several of the LP Nepal guides) has been in Nepal since the early 70s, and was one of LP’s first authors. He as good as they come.

There were a couple of bibles out there, though. The ultimate travel guide is probably the Indonesia Handbook by Bill Dalton, founder of Moon Publications. Sadly, it is out of print, but it put all other Indonesia guides to shame. It truly was the travel bible to Indonesia. Even so, it had its share of errors, and Bill was the first to admit it when I met him in Jayapura, West Papua. Bill spent about 20 years researching every edition of his Handbook. No travel writer has spent so much time criss-crossing the country. But in the end, it even became to much work for him.

The other one was the Moon handbook to Tibet (also out of print). About three times as thick as any other Tibet guide, it truly went into great depth. It’s a shame that both are gone now.

Bhutan completes historic vote

Punakha Dzong, BhutanThe people in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan just voted in their first election, ever. The former king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, decided to devolve power from the absolute monarchy to the people, by abdicating and creating a constitutional monarchy under the leadership of his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck. This first election of the national assembly was the final step in the creation of the constitutional monarchy.

The results were suprising to many: the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) won 44 out of 47 seats, while the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) only won 3. Even their leader, Sangay Ngedup, the former minister of health and brother to the queen mothers, lost his seat. The DPT is led by five former ministers, so government direction is not expected to change significantly.

Read Kuensel for full coverage.

Running a marathon in Bhutan

There are thousands of marathons around the world, literally from pole to pole. But the Bhutan marathon is definitely special. Run up the valley from Thimphu to the edge of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park and back. the entire race is run at around 2500-3000m. Not as high as the Everst marathon, but it still takes some getting used to. This is the first internationally sanctionted version of the event, September 7, 2008.

Lonely Planet Bhutan

Lonely Planet Bhutan GuideLonely Planet just announced the new, 3rd edition of their Bhutan guide. Although Francoise Pommaret’s guide has more cultural information, the LP guide still has the most comprehensive travel information.

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