Discover The 'Almost Medieval' Charm Of Haa - A Well Kept Secret Of Bhutan

Email

Urbanisation has not touched Haa fully yet.

(Source: Wander with knowledge)

 

By Phub Dem Kuensel

The two-day Summer Festival started in Haa over the weekend from 13-14 July. The festival celebrates the living-culture and nomadic lifestyles of the people of Haa.

Other highlights include: unique Bhutanese cuisine, traditional sports and religious performances. There was also an exhibition showcasing local artefacts and alpine flowers.

According to Haa’s Dzongdag, Kinzang Dorji, the number of tourist arrival to Haa had increased drastically over the past two years. The summer festival, he said, was a major event to attract tourists.

Haa is still ‘relatively’ untouched compared to some other districts in Bhutan

Urbanisation has not touched Haa fully yet. In fact, outsiders, particularly the tourists, often describe it as ‘almost-medieval’.

 

Source: Bhutan Map

 

The people of Haa still depend largely on livestock and agriculture for a living. It appears that the dzongkhag (district) has been left out by development mainly due to its location and winter in Haa is known to be very cold.

However, given the right developmental focus, Haa could easily become an attractive tourist destination.  Income opportunities will also vastly improve for the people of the dzongkhag.

Kinzang Dorji said that Haa was amongst the best among the 20 dzongkhags to open itself to tourism.

“Due to a varied range of altitude, various kinds of flora and fauna are found,” he added.

Plans in the pipeline to develop Haa as a popular tourist destination

In recent years, the dzongkhag administration’s focus has been on developing Haa as a potential tourist destination.

 

Home-stays in Bhutan arranged by Druk Asia.

Photo: Druk Asia

 

Although Haa is not included in the tourism development focus group, the Dzongkhag Tshogdu (DT) has endorsed a tourism action plan document to develop tourism in Haa over the next five years.

Kinzang Dorji said that the endorsement signified the unity among the people of the dzongkhag and the importance of the tourism development plan in the region.

The DT has also put forth a moratorium on foreign investment for the construction of high-end hotels in Haa to promote home-stays and farmhouses.

Presently, there are 25 home-stays in Haa. A home-stay owner, Ugyen said that the initiative will be good for the people of Haa.

“Haa will otherwise be no different from Thimphu and Paro if five-star hotels are built everywhere. We would lose our unique selling point.”

Haa has also restricted the sale of imported handicraft products. Here, one can find only ‘Made in Bhutan’ products.

 

Savour Haa's cuisine at a home-stay with Mark Wiens (Migrationology).

Source: Youtube/Mark Wiens

 

Challenges faced to develop Haa as a tourist destination

There are a few challenges to be tackled: if tourists are to be kept engaged, there ought to be other products besides culture and handicraft items.

Trekking routes should be developed and new tourism markets such as Chundu Gongzhay, Yangthang Bongko, Chundu Lhasoel could be explored.

For a start, the dzongkhag administration has constructed a tourism information centre which is a convenient one-stop-shop for tourists.

With this, it is hoped that marketing home-stays will become more efficient. Kinzang Dorji said that the initiative could help poverty alleviation in Haa. Since it was the decision of the DT, the plan must be launched, whatever the cost.

“That Haa is not in the focus group of Bhutan’s Tourism flagship programme is strange. Haa has the action plan ready, we just need the budget.”

6th Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition in 2020

Haa will host the 6th Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition (RBFE) next year, a perfect opportunity for the dzongkhag to promote itself as a potential tourist destination.

 

His Royal Highness The Gyalsey at the 4th Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition in Punakha.

Photo: Kuensel

 

According to Kinzang Dorji, the exhibition will be spread across many households and it will be sustainable.

This means that any visitors can visit any part of Haa – from Sombaykha, Gakhiling, and Samar to the mountains bordering China.    

“It will be different from the other five exhibitions held in other districts. Rather than beautifying the area that hardly lasts for a few weeks, Haa will focus on something permanent,” he explained.

The dzongkhag administration of Haa will be meeting with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests next week to discuss and plan the activities for the 6th Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition

 

This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.

 


Related Posts

Yak Farming In Haa, Bhutan Is Becoming A Vanishing Trade

Once an important source of livelihood for the people in Uesu Gewog, yak farming has seen its popularity wane over the...

Nov 12, 2018 16:19

Haa Develops Tourism Action Plan To Promote Its Rich Cultural...

Haa had the 6th highest visitor arrivals among the dzongkhags in the country, according to the Bhutan Tourism Monitor...

Jul 26, 2018 08:23

Heading To Haa, Bhutan For The Summer Festival? Here Are Some...

Savour the most delectable cuisine from the province of Haa in Bhutan.

Jul 13, 2018 14:54

Tapping On Brand Bhutan To Promote The Himalayan Kingdom As An...

Gross National Happiness and the Wangchuck dynasty will always be the core components of Brand Bhutan.

Jul 08, 2019 22:28

Study Finds Homestays And Eco-tourism Helped Preserve Bhutan’s...

The evaluation found that 98 percent of the homestays used exclusive traditional products like local food products and...

Aug 25, 2018 16:17

The Theme Of Bhutan’s Jhomolhari Festival 2018 - Living In...

The theme of this year’s festival 'Living in Harmony with the Ghost of High Mountains' is centred on the conservation of...

Nov 02, 2018 16:20

Latest

News

Canadian Delegation Held 1st Biennial Consultations, Set To Foster Closer Ties With Bhutan

The two sides exchanged views on the recent political, economic developments and bilateral cooperation in Bhutan and Canada.

Nov 26, 2019 23:38

Bhutan Celebrates World Children’s Day, Renews Commitment To Well-Being Of Children

UNICEF’s Bhutan Representative, Dr Will Parks said that children today encounter multiple challenges to childhood that were not envisaged 30...

Nov 21, 2019 23:38

Features

Five High End Hotels From Bhutan Bagged International Awards

The five award winning hotels are: dusitD2 Yarkay, Terma Linca Resort and Spa, Zhiwaling Heritage, Le Meridien Thimphu and Taj Tashi hotels.

Dec 02, 2019 22:38

Accelerating Innovation Workshop Aims To Deliver More Effective Government Services In Bhutan

The UNDP, in collaboration with the Gross National Happiness Commission organised the workshop.

Nov 28, 2019 23:58

Sports

Karma – Female Archer From Bhutan Qualified For Tokyo 2020 Olympic Quota

Karma has been specialising in Olympics-style archery since 2009.

Nov 30, 2019 13:18

Bhutan’s Pelden Wangchuk Wins 10th Edition Of Tour 0f Dragon Mountain Bike Race

This year, the race also saw the highest number of female participants compared to past years.

Sep 10, 2019 01:08

Business

Doors Open For Further Bhutan-Finland Collaborations In Various Sectors

Called 'Doing Business with Finland', the seminar was organised by the BCCI in collaboration with Finn-partnership

Dec 04, 2019 23:28

Celebrating Bhutan's Entrepreneurs: Kinley Rabgyel Of Goximbo

This story is part of an exclusive feature by Yeewong Magazine in Dec 2018 on celebrating entrepreneurship in Bhutan.

Nov 20, 2019 23:58

Travel

Bhutan’s Black-Necked Crane Festival Drawing More Foreign Tourists

Some 500 tourists from around the world came to Bhutan to see the Black-Necked Crane festival, exceeding the number of locals.

Nov 14, 2019 23:18

Bhutan Bird Festival Set Bird Watching Haven Of Zhemgang Abuzz

Zhemgang is home to more than 500 species of birds, which is an area much sought after by bird watchers from around the world.

Nov 13, 2019 12:48

Lifestyle

Bhutanese Textiles To Be Exhibited In Paris Trade Fair 2020

The exhibition is an initiative of the EU-Bhutan Trade Support project.

Nov 10, 2019 12:48

Launch Of Karen Greenspan’s Footfalls From The Land Of Happiness: A journey Into The Dances Of Bhutan

The book delves into familiar subjects that are what continues to shape Bhutan’s image.

Oct 05, 2019 10:18

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!