12 Best Books on Bhutan | Druk Asia

12 Best Books on Bhutan

BY Joni Herison
Posted on 20/June/2024

We’ve compiled a list of 12 best books for people who are keen to understand more about the Bhutanese culture, customs and traditions. Here are some of the best reads on Bhutan in preparation for your own journey to the mystical kingdom.

1. Bhutan Travelog
by Ashley Chen and Joni Herison | Published on March 1, 2024

Bhutan Travelog

Over the past fifty years, Bhutan has gradually emerged from centuries-long self-isolation to meet modernisation demands. It has been careful with its choices and decisions on the road of development and progression. While Bhutan has opened its doors to the world, a ‘High value, Low volume’ tourism policy still guides the country to ensure that its unique culture, identity and natural environment will continue to be protected from external influence.

Bhutan Travelog aims to provide readers with insights into the country’s history, values, customs, as well as travel tips and recommendations. This book also includes 9 exclusive first-hand stories from diverse travellers who have been to Bhutan to provide a glimpse into this idyllic country. It is arguably one of the best Bhutan travel guidebooks in the market.

Category: Travel, Guidebook, Bhutan Guide, Trekking, Travel Tips, Photography

2. Married to Bhutan: How One Woman Got Lost, Said I Do, and Found Bliss
by Linda Leaming | Published on April 1, 2011

Married to Bhutan: How One Woman Got Lost, Said I Do, and Found Blis

In this funny, magical memoir, we accompany Linda Leaming on her travels through South Asia, sharing her experiences as she learns the language, customs, and religion; her surprising romance with a Buddhist artist; and her realizations about the unexpected path to happiness and accidental enlightenment. As one of the few Americans to have lived in Bhutan, Leaming offers a rare glimpse into the quirky mountain kingdom so many have only dreamed of.

Category: Bhutan customs, Buddhist, Religion, Bhutanese culture

3. Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey Into Bhutan
by Jamie Zeppa | Published on May 1, 2000

Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey Into Bhutan

Jamie Zeppa was 24 when she left a stagnant life at home and signed a contract to teach for two years in the Buddhist hermit kingdom of Bhutan. Much more than just a travel memoir, Beyond the Sky and the Earth is the story of her time in a Himalayan village, immersed in Bhutanese culture and the wonders of new and lasting love. Whether you're travelling to Bhutan, looking for the best travel writing around, or wishing to be transported to a culture, mindset, and spiritual ethos wonderfully different from your own, Beyond the Sky and the Earth is a joyous and lush memoir that will transform the way you think of faith, Western life, and love.

Category: Bhutan customs, Buddhist, Religion, Bhutanese culture

4. So Close to Heaven: The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas
by Barbara Crossette | Published on June 25, 1996

So Close to Heaven: The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas

For more than a thousand years Tibet, Sikkim, Ladakh, and Bhutan were the sanctuaries of Tantric Buddhism. But in the last half of this century, geopolitics has scoured the landscape of the Himalayas, and only the reclusive kingdom of Bhutan remains true to Tantric Buddhism. As Crossette travels through Bhutan and its neighbors, she introduces readers to a world that has emerged from the middle ages only to find itself peering into the abyss of modernity.

Category: Politics, Buddhist, Religion, Bhutanese culture

5. Of Rainbows and Clouds: The Life of Yab Ugyen Dorji
by Yab Ugyen Dorji | Published on October 1, 2000

Of Rainbows and Clouds: The Life of Yab Ugyen Dorji

Memoirs of Yab Ugyen Dorji on his ancestors and descendants, as told to his Daughter, Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. The book was written in first-person and provides an intimate glimpse into the life of living in remote eastern Bhutan. Expect narration of gripping family saga and insights on Bhutanese culture, society and history.

Category: History, Biography, Royal, Bhutanese culture

6. Treasures of the Thunder Dragon: A Portrait of Bhutan
by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck | Published on April 15, 2012

Treasures of the Thunder Dragon: A Portrait of Bhutan

A captivating blend of personal memoir, history, folklore and travelogue, this book remains the most insightful and comprehensive portrait of the Himalayan kingdom. This revised edition has been updated to cover recent events, such as Bhutan's introduction of parliamentary democracy, and the coronation and wedding of the new king. With beautiful illustrations, and rare photographs from the royal family's personal albums.

Category: History, Biography, Royal, Bhutanese culture

7. Bhutan: Through the Lens of the King
by Pavan K Varma and Malvika Singh | Published on November 16, 2012

Bhutan: Through the Lens of the King

Bhutan’s vast and stunning landscape, beautiful people, rich wildlife, and the mystical and dynamic culture are sensitively captured through the eyes of the photographer, His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

Category: Visual storytelling, Landscape, Bhutanese culture, Photography

8. Invoking Happiness: Guide to the Sacred Festivals of Bhutan & Gross National Happiness
by Kenpo Phuntsok Tashi | Published on January 1, 2011

Invoking Happiness: Guide to the Sacred Festivals of Bhutan

Invoking Happiness explains the importance of sacred festivals in Bhutan and how these contribute to enhancing happiness and building harmony among friends and family members. It describes the significance of each sacred dance and includes excellent illustrations and photographs of each of the festivals. This is the first book ever written on sacred festivals performed in Bhutan which focuses on the three major festivals of the country: the Paro, Thimphu and Bumthang Jampa Lhakhang festival. One of the main purposes of conducting these local festivals is to commemorate the sacred deeds of Guru Padmasambhava, who introduced Vajrayana Buddhism to the country in the 8th century. Festival performances provide an opportunity for both spectators and participants to accumulate merit merely through witnessing the sacred festival and cultivating right intention.

Category: Buddhism, Bhutanese culture, Bhutanese customs, Festivals, Guidebook

9. Trekking in Bhutan: 22 Multi-day Treks including the Jomolhari, Drukpath and Dagala Treks
by Bart Jordans | Published on June 30, 2018

Trekking in Bhutan: 22 Multi-day Treks including the Jomolhari, Drukpath and Dagala Treks

Bhutan is an ideal destination for trekkers wishing to experience the magic of the Himalaya without the commercialism. Although independent trekking is not permitted, it can nonetheless prove difficult to obtain information. This guide describes 22 official treks and a handful of trek variants, with comprehensive advice about planning and preparation and plentiful cultural information to enhance any visit. Included are the classic Lunana 'Snowman' Trek, the Jhomolhari and Dagala Treks, and the Druk Path, as well as many other treks - both well-established trails and other routes of a more exploratory nature, venturing into remote and seldom-visited areas of the country.

You will find thorough coverage of all the practicalities, with notes on trekking seasons, outfitters, transport, accommodation and food, ethics and etiquette, equipment and medical considerations (including safety at altitude). The guide also offers a fascinating insight into Bhutanese mountain life, from local superstitions and beliefs to plants, wildlife and yak husbandry. Route description is presented alongside sketch mapping and information on local points of interest. Trekking here is a truly unique experience, promising memories that will last a lifetime.

Category: Travel, Trekking, Trekking Guide, Guidebook

10. The Raven Crown: The Origins of Buddhist Monarch of Bhutan
by Michael Aris | Published on October 1, 2005

The Raven Crown: The Origins of Buddhist Monarch of Bhutan

The hereditary monarchy of the Wangchuk dynasty was established in 1907 in the independent Himalayan state of Bhutan, thus introducing one of the world's most recent experiments in kingship. The new order quickly replaced a theocracy founded in the seventeenth century by the first of the "Dharma Rajas", a lineage of reincarnating lamas known by the title of Shabdrung. The first king of the new dynasty, Ugyen Wangchuk (1862-1926), was a charismatic figure who came to power against a turbulent background of incessant and complex feuding. He adopted as the unique symbol of his authority a crown surmounted by the head of a raven. The bird represents a form of Mahakala, Bhutan's guardian deity.

The prototype of the founding monarch's Raven Crown had first been devised as a battle helmet for his father, Jigme Namgyel (1825-81). Known as the Black Regent, he had worn it in bloody struggles against his many rivals within the country and against the British who tried, unsuccessfully, to subdue him. The story of the Wangchuk dynasty's rise and triumph moves from a picture of turmoil and chaos to one of relative peace and stability. In contrast with earlier published accounts based solely on the colonial records of British India, here the narrative is founded on the Bhutanese chronicles which offer a new perspective and bring many new details to light. The ethnic and historical context is outlined before recounting the turbulent career of the Black Regent, followed by the lives and achievements of the first two kings. The book is copiously illustrated with rare historical photographs that have come to light in private and public collections in the United Kingdom. Most of these vivid images have never previously been published. They provide a lively depth and focus to the unfolding narrative.

Category: History, Royal, Photography, Politics

11. Lonely Planet Bhutan
by Bradley Mayhew, Joe Bindloss, and Lindsay Brown | Published on July 21, 2020

Lonely Planet Bhutan

Lonely Planet provides up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Join the pilgrims at colourful Changangkha Lhakhang, hike to the dramatic cliff - hanging Taktshang Goemba, and explore the busy weekend market at Thimpu - all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Bhutan and begin your journey now!

The comprehensive guide to Bhutan is ideal for discovering both popular and off-the-beaten-path experiences.

Category: Travel, Guidebook, Bhutan Guide, Travel Tips

12. Bhutan: Himalayan Mountain Kingdom
by Francoise Pommaret | Published on December 1, 2009

Himalayan Mountain Kingdom

Shoe-horned into the Grand Himalayas, Bhutan―Land of the Peaceful Thunder Dragon―is a fiercely independent kingdom that celebrated its centenary in 2008. Isolated, charming, peaceful, and religious, the Bhutanese are a pragmatic, sensitive people who take from the West what will benefit their country and leave the rest. The countryside is pristine, the lifestyle and culture have been preserved for centuries, and the love of life is abundant among the people. Few outsiders know Bhutan as intimately as Françoise Pommaret.

Category: Travel, Guidebook, Bhutan Guide

Druk Gyalpo The King of Bhutan

by Gyalyum Charitable Trust and Royal Office for Media | Published on September 24, 2020

This pictorial book titled "Druk Gyalpo - The King of Bhutan" commemorates the 40th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

The collection of photographs and narration in this book encapsulates a decade of His Majesty's reign, which began on the 9th of December 2006. This pictorial narrative succinctly describes Bhutan's remarkable journey to the 21st century under the extraordinary leadership of His Majesty the Fifth King.

Category: Biography, Royal, Photography, History, Culture, Politics

Conclusion About Best Books on Bhutan

Dive into Bhutanese literature and plan your trip with our Bhutan travel packages. Determine the best time to travel to Bhutan and budget accordingly with insights on the Bhutan travel cost. For those seeking luxury, our luxury travel in Bhutan packages are ideal. If you're travelling from Malaysia, learn more about travel to Bhutan from Malaysia and start planning your journey. Druk Asia, the best Bhutan travel agency, is here to ensure your literary journey in Bhutan is unforgettable.

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