Radio Shangri La – The Story of Finding Happiness and Purpose Through Travel

radio shangri la book review

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Radio Shangri-La book

Name three good things every day. They could be small, but there have to be at least three.

It was this advice given to author Lisa Napoli in a “happiness class” that put her on the road to Bhutan, the “happiest place on Earth.”

Radio Shangri La: My Accidental Journey to the Happiest Kingdom on Earth introduced me to a place I knew hardly anything about, so the topic is what initially attracted me to the book.

About Radio Shangri La

Lisa Napoli is at the point in her life where she has accepted the fact that she’s probably going to stay single. Despite previous relationships, she’s made a family out of her close friends.

Through a chance meeting with a friend of a friend, Lisa finds herself volunteering at a startup radio station in the kingdom of Bhutan, the first in the country. Bhutan only got televisions in the past few years, so she had no idea what she was getting herself into, especially as a veteran journalist.

In her six weeks there, she falls in love with the Kuzoo FM employees, the Himalayan mountains and the country’s priority of happiness.

While Lisa has had her own personal tragedies, like being raped, getting a divorce in her twenties and being laid off, they never play a large role in the narrative and are not written in a way that tries to make the reader feel sorry for her.

What I Loved About Radio Shangri La

As a career journalist, she writes with a political knowledge of her surroundings instead of the drippy, overly descriptive style of some travel narratives. It’s hard not to compare solo female travel stories to Eat, Pray, Love, but Radio Shangri La is its antithesis. Napoli has accepted a future without a husband and even buys herself a ring, saying, “I am married to myself. Who else do I really need?”

While there are a few love interests in this book, “the one” plays no role in this book. It’s not about the search for a happy ending, but rather a search for a purpose, something to devote the rest of her life to.

I found Napoli as the narrator to be very easy to relate to, which is what made this book so enjoyable for me. Napoli intertwines tales from her twenties with those of Ngawang, one of the Kuzoo employees, who comes to visit her in Los Angeles. It’s interesting to compare their two stories.

The lesson I took away from Radio Shangri La is that both Napoli and Bhutan have something figured out: happiness is more important than money, belongings or anything else.

By now, I’ve learned that the ingredients for happiness are simple: giving, loving, and contentment with who you are.

If you loved Eric Weiner’s Geography of Bliss, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Radio Shangri La.

Radio Shangri-La book

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Gear We Use


Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.

Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.

Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking! – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

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