A deeply religious, long closed-off country where ‘national happiness’ is measured in place of GDP, the Himalayan nation of Bhutan is known to many as the closest thing to the world’s last Shangri-La.
And as of last week, it’s a step closer to Myanmar, after the countries agreed to launch direct flights between Yangon and the Bhutanese capital, Thimphu.
The bilateral deal signed May 24 gives permission for designated airlines to fly to and from Myanmar’s biggest city up to five times per week. Flights may also stop in other cities, including Mandalay. It also grants ‘fifth freedom rights’, meaning flights from Thimphu to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore can stop en route in Myanmar.
The agreement was made following a visit by a Myanmar delegation led by the director general of the civil aviation department, Min Lwin, according to a report by Bhutanese news website Kuensel.
“We in Bhutan are particularly happy with the growing relations between the two countries,” said Wangdi Gyaltshen, director of that country’s civil aviation authority.
He added the two Buddhist nations had always enjoyed close relations
Better start saving, though: in an attempt by the government to preserve Bhutan's traditional ways of life, tourists are required to pay a daily tariff of several hundred dollars.