Crime Issues in Bhutan: 5 Essential Travel Safety Tips

Bhutan is the only country in the world to measure the happiness of its citizens and this investment into their people's wellbeing translates to low crime rates.


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Bhutan is the only country in the world to measure the happiness of its citizens and to use the data as an indicator of the economy. Authorities measure the "Gross National Happiness" of the population using a sophisticated survey instrument.

It aims to show that quality of life cannot be measured by a country's gross domestic product, instead, Bhutan prioritizes its Buddhist spiritual values over its economy.

Crime in Bhutan

Given this emphasis on people rather than profit, it won't surprise you to learn the crime rate in Bhutan is extremely low.

It's highly unlikely you will encounter any crime while you are traveling in Bhutan. Incidents of petty crime are rarely reported and violent crime is very uncommon. On average, 21 homicides are reported across the country annually.

Drug crime

While there are some cases of drug crime reported, incidences of drug trafficking are low. Until television was introduced in 1999, marijuana plants were considered a weed that was simply fed to pigs to fatten them up! Cannabis consumption and trafficking are illegal and penalties range from fines to hefty prison sentences. 

Terrorism in Bhutan

The chances of a visitor being caught up in terrorist activities in Bhutan are very low, with events occurring in the border regions between Bhutan and India and Bhutan and China.

The most serious threat to Bhutan's security is terrorism carried out by different dissident groups from India illegally camped in the nation. There have been kidnappings from communities near the border region. Most tour companies don't go to remote areas within Bhutan where insurgent activity has occurred and it's advised for safety reasons to avoid those areas.

LGBTQ+ safety

Same-sex relationships were decriminalized in Bhutan in June 2019 after a long legal battle by the local LGBTQ+ community. There is no noticeable gay scene in Bhutan, however, there are several tour operators who can assist LGBTQ travelers with their holiday arrangements. 

Locals are generally accepting of the LGBTQ community even in rural areas, however, if you are unsure, play it safe and be discreet.

Women's safety

Bhutan is probably one of the safest places to travel for women travelers. Take the usual precautions you would as if you were heading out at night back in your home country.

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