Luxury side lock up Apr 2024
Luxury side lock up Apr 2024

Luxury

Share this article

The rise of female guides in Bhutan is reshaping tourism in the Buddhist kingdom

Female guides are on the rise in Bhutan, with more than 122 women certified and validated by the Department of Tourism as ambassadors for the country, in a move changing the face of tourism in the Buddhist kingdom.

Female guides are on the rise in Bhutan, with more than 122 women certified and validated by the Department of Tourism as ambassadors for the country, in a move changing the face of tourism in the Buddhist kingdom.

There has been a more than 25 per cent rise in women taking on the celebrated role as a guide since the Asian country reopened to tourism in September 2022 – in a move the Bhutan Director General of the Department of Tourism, Dorji Dhradhul, says is “reshaping Bhutan’s tourism landscape”.

“They are pioneers, enriching our visitor experiences while championing the role of women in our cultural and economic fabric.”

Bhutan landscape. Image Faris Mohammed
Bhutan landscape. Image Faris Mohammed

The guiding light in Bhutan

In a society where women have always played a strong role, Bhutan Tourism says the rise of female guides is also a testament to Bhutan’s commitment to inclusivity and gender equality in the workforce.

And it’s by no means a walk in the park.

One hike guided by Aman guide, Chenco Lham, takes more than five hours to complete.

“The day hike from Paro valley to Haa valley, called the Sagala hike, can be quite rigorous and demanding journey for the inexperienced,” she says.

But she says, it’s “one of the most enriching careers in the world. Despite showcasing the same breathtaking views of Bhutan repeatedly, each encounter with guests from diverse cultures offers a unique learning experience”.

Female guides are on the rise in Bhutan
Female guides are on the rise in Bhutan

And for Lham, who has been guiding since 2013, it’s been particularly special seeing other women join the ranks.

“The tour guide profession was traditionally undertaken by males until around the early 2000s. However, market dynamics have shifted since 2010 along with guest preferences.

“Female guides have increased due to rising demand from various guests, including solo female travellers, female groups and elderly couples.

“It’s inspiring to witness the increasing number of female guides leading tours and conquering challenging treks. Some even take on the most difficult trails across the country, showcasing remarkable resilience and skill.”

She says it’s much more than just a profession.

“It’s a fulfilling calling with purpose. Bhutan is a country where we deeply cherish our culture, traditions, and respect for all beings. I consider it an immense privilege to call Bhutan my home.”

For more information, visit Bhutan or Amankora.