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Bhutan: a country where 'Gross National Happiness' forms part of the constitution.
Celebrity watchers will no doubt have tracked Cameron Diaz and Keira Knightley to their current favourite holiday haunt: Bhutan. This small Kingdom, roughly the size of Switzerland, squeezed between Tibet and India at the eastern end of the Himalayas, is the antithesis of a shoestring backpacker destination. With a daily tourist tax to pay, starting at £130, the country has so far remained firmly off the international tourist trail, except for the rich and famous, reports the Daily Mail.
Originally one of the most isolated countries in the world, tourists were first allowed entry in 1974 but still amount to barely 20.000 a year. There is only one major road and one airport, however it is a country of great beauty and Buddhist spirituality, which, together with a series of pampering retreats owned by fashion tycoon Christina Ong, draw the celebrities.
Guests at the Uma Paro hotel will be butler-driven to their villa in the blue pine forest above reception, can enjoy gorgeous views, yoga sessions and later relax in the hotel's bathhouse, with water heated by hot river rocks and strewn with marigolds.
Not to be missed is the monastery at Tiger's Nest which clings to a sheer cliff face 3000 feet above the valley floor and is reached by a two hour trek. It was built in honour of Bhutan's most revered prophet, Guru Rinponche, who brought Buddhism to the country in the 8th century.
Today however, the behaviour of Bhutan's youngsters is starting to change, in part, influenced by the lifting of the ban on TV and internet in 1999. The monks are using computers and traditionally dressed nobles, mobile phones. So visit now before this delicate balance of ancient and modern is lost to Western influence.