Bhutan Travel Books & Film

Recommended reading and film to enrich your travel to the Land of the Thunder Dragon

Odyssey Guide Bhutan, by Francoise Pommaret
Vivid guidebooks by Odyssey, as with Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand guides, the Bhutan edition is loaded with graphics and photographs that make the book a great souvenir as well as guidebook material.         

The Raven Crown: The Origins of Buddhist Monarchy in Bhutan, by  Michael Aris
“The definitive account of the modern history of Bhutan as seen through the 20th-century Wangchuk dynasty, which has ruled the kingdom since 1907. Based on Bhutanese chronicles, this gorgeously produced, informative book features 106 rare historic photographs from archives in Bhutan and the United Kingdom. Originally published in 1994. The late Michael Aris lived in Bhutan from 1967 to 197 as a historian and tutor of the children of the royal family.”

Bhutan the land of serenity

Bhutan: The Land of Serenity by Matthieu Ricard
A perfect souvenir and reminder of your trip to Bhutan. Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk who left a promising career in cellular genetics to study Buddhism in the Himalayas 35 years ago. Matthieu spent eight years in Bhutan with Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, a revered Tibetan Buddhist master, and has continued to return to the “land of the thunder dragon” throughout his life, discovering on each occasion another of its invaluable treasures. His experiences are recorded here in this exceptionally beautiful book, a voyage to the heart of Bhutan, a land where spirituality and daily life are intimately linked. 184 color illustrations. As well as bestselling author, translator and photographer, he is an active participant in current scientific research on the effects of meditation on the brain. He lives and works on humanitarian projects in Tibet and Nepal.

The Blessings of Bhutan by Russ and Blyth Carpenter
Not a travelogue, this is instead an introduction to Bhutan -- its people, customs, religion and history -- as interpreted by a husband-and-wife team who has made Bhutan their second home.

Married to Bhutan (2011) by Linda Leaming
"As one of the few Americans to have lived in Bhutan, Linda Leaming offers a rare glimpse at the peaceful mountain kingdom so many have only dreamed of. For over ten years, Leaming has lived and taught in the small town of Thimphu, where there are fewer than 100,000 people and no traffic lights. “If enlightenment is possible anywhere,” she writes, “I think it is particularly possible here.” The Bhutanese way of life—quieter, slower, and more tranquil—can seem daunting to most Westerners, consumed with time, dates, speed, and efficiency. In Bhutan, people rarely check their e-mail and take their time answering their telephones. But, as Leaming shows us, a little patience—over a cup of warm tea and friendly conversation—can help soothe the most distressed mind and soul."

"In this funny, magical memoir, Leaming takes us with her on her travels through South Asia, sharing her experiences as she learns the language, customs, and religion; folklore of a revered Tibetan holy man who gave blessings to the people by whacking them on the head with a big wooden phallus; her unlikely romance with a Buddhist artist; and her discoveries about the unexpected path to happiness and accidental enlightenment, where true bliss resides. Married to Bhutan is a reminder that following our dreams is the way to be truly happy." —Amazon

Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli (2010). "What I discovered on my accidental journey to the happiest kingdom on earth,” states Lisa Napoli who left behind Los Angeles for a new adventure in the land of the thunder dragon. "In this smart, heartfelt, and beautifully written book, sure to please fans of transporting travel narratives and personal memoirs alike, Lisa Napoli discovers that the world is a beautiful and complicated place—and comes to appreciate her life for the adventure it is."

So Close to Heaven, The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas • by Barbara Crossette
A New York Times Asia correspondent writes of Bhutan and neighboring kingdoms of Ladakh and Sikkim in the Himalayas, strongholds of Tantric Buddhism in an increasingly homogenized world. It's part travelogue and part history -- a personal portrait of the region.

Journey in Bhutan: Himalayan Trek in the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon by Trish Nicholson.
If you are trekking in Bhutan, a must read. "Journey in Bhutan: Himalayan Trek in the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon" is not a guide, it is the trip. Through informed and sensitive narrative and personal journal, Trish Nicholson shares her experience trekking and absorbing local culture and history in the Land of the Thunder Dragon, the unique Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan hidden deep in the Himalayas."
An anthropologist and storyteller as well as a photographer, the author takes us on knee-wrecking gradients over passes three miles high, following the footsteps of Buddhist pilgrims, to meet yak herders families. We listen to monks chanting in ancient monasteries, and enter fortified dzongs containing religious treasures. We visit shops with smoked yak cheese, car parts, felt boots and silver coated biscuits on the counter. The author’s photographs – 37 original color plates – let us see for ourselves the sacred mountains, smiling people, and amazing architecture. "In this Year of the Dragon, if you are unlikely to get to Bhutan any other way, this book will take you there. If you’ve been, or plan to go, it will enrich your experience. For those who like to dig deep, there are suggestions for further reading, a glossary, historical time-line, and a survival guide to Bhutanese Buddhism." —Amazon

Beyond the Sky and the Earth  • Zeppa's memoir of her time as teacher in a remote village shows her growing love and commitment to the people and culture.”

Buttertea at Sunrise - A Year in the Bhutan Himalaya • by Britta Das (1996)
This travel narrative is an longtime favorite.

Children Books

In Search of the Thunder Dragon • by Sophie Shrestha (Illustrator), Romio Shrestha (Illustrator),


Travellers and Magicians (DVD, 2003)

The first feature shot on location in Bhutan, this film, directed by a respected lama, follows a young official on his odyssey across the country. Along the way he is joined by a mischievous monk, an elderly peddler and an old man with his daughter.

The Cup (DVD, 2002)

A wonderful story for children telling of humorous story of a monk determined to watch a match of the World Cup on TV, despite disciplinarians at his monastery. The film features local novice monks in main acting roles.

The Other Final

A 2003 documentary film about a football match between Bhutan and Montserrat, then the two lowest-ranked teams in the FIFA World Rankings. The game was played in the Changlimithang Stadium, Thimphu, Bhutan on the same day as the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final. We won't ruin the outcome. On YouTube, free.

Lunana - A Yak in the Classroom

Academy-award nominated enjoyable for all ages.

Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon

INDOCHINA Travel Company

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