Crime in Bhutan - Tips for the Traveler

The Bhutanese Government spends a considerable amount of time investing in the wellbeing of its citizens. We have a look to see if there is really any crime to worry about.

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Bhutan is the only country in the world to measure the happiness of its citizens and uses 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 rather than just 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 extremely 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 is 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 is illegal in Bhutan and penalties range from fines up to hefty prison sentences. So despite the abundance of marijuana, don't be tempted to have that cheeky smoke.

Terrorism in Bhutan

The chances of a visitor being caught up in terrorism 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 occured and it's advised for safety reasons to avoid those areas.

LGBTQ Safety

Same sex relationships and marriage are not recognised in Bhutan, but the locals generally don't care what goes on behind closed doors and prosecutions as such have been rare. There is no noticeable gay scene or community in Bhutan however there are several tour operators who can assist LGBTI travelers with their holiday arrangements. 

Public displays of affection aren't favourable amongst the locals regardless which sexual orientation travelers are. 

LGBTQ travelers should remain discreet at all times for their own safety and respectful of the local laws.

Women's Safety

Bhutan is probably one of the safest places to travel for women travelers. There's not a great deal to worry about so take the usual precautions you would as if you were heading out at night back in your home country.

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