The Kingdom of Happiness

29th Apr 2018

Tiger's Nest

Photo of The Kingdom of Happiness by Sonia Pereira

Four Goan girls retreat to Bhutan, the Kingdom of Happiness. Why pick Bhutan? Mystical, lots of nature and fresh air, unadulterated culture, momos, close by, easy on the pocket and safe.

The first thing that strikes you on entering Bhutan is the drastic contrast as you cross the gate from the chaos and muck of Jaigaon, to the spotless roads and organized traffic of Bhutan, it leaves you wondering what makes Bhutan tick so smoothly?

Tip: Fly into Bagodogra and take a cab to Phuentosholing if the flights directly into Bhutan are too expensive

Day 3
Day 6

Out and about by 8 am today, we headed to Tigers Nest (Taktsang), prepared for the trek.

Boy was it worth it! Not only is the monastery stunning, but its location perched amidst such beauty, the camaraderie of the other travelers doing the trek and the pride of accomplishment comes together is one of those magical moments that you know will stay with you forever.

Day 7

We headed back to Phuntosholing with heavy hearts full of memories for a lifetime, fervently wishing our trip didn't have to end so soon.

So why chose Bhutan as your next travel destination?

1. Bhutan measures gross national happiness. In times where mental health is still a taboo topic, a country that values happiness is commendable.

2. In an attempt to boost local enterprises, supermarket chains or western fast food chains are not permitted.

3. Something like 80% of the land has to be forrest land.

4. The royals live in a modest house, roam freely among the people, go to the local schools and partake regularly in philanthropy.

5. On public holidays you will see students cleaning up litter on the roadsides. Civic sense is deeply ingrained with traffic signals and pedestrian crossings abided by.

So don't think twice, whether a trip with friends, family or a solo trip, discover this beautiful country with its rich heritage and its kind, happy people :)

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Day 1
Photo of Phuentsholing, Bhutan by Sonia Pereira

We devoured our first Bhutanese meal, momos and Ema Datshi (Cheese and Chillies- can it really go wrong?!)

Today was a day for local sightseeing, we visited the impressive Buddha Dordenma Statue, saw some Takin (their national animal), visited some monasteries and indulged in some shopping.

Day 2

After completing immigration formalities the next morning, our guide led us into the misty mountains on a rainy day to the kingdom beyond the clouds.

Tip: You need a guide (preferably Bhutanese) to travel to Bhutan, and immigration is straightforward for Indians because of strong diplomatic ties between the countries. You just need ID proof and photographs and they print you a permit.

Our destination today is Thimphu, and we make it as the sun is setting, after maneuvering through breathtaking mountainous terrain, spotted with Buddhist prayer flags and gushing waterfalls.

The locals are all dressed in their local dress, Gho and Kira, your first introduction into the mainy moves to preserve their local culture. We stayed at Damchoes homestay (booked via Airbnb), and enjoyed a beautiful local meal.

Tip: Homestays are often outside the city limits due to regulations, and are not necessarily cheaper than city motels.

Day 4
Day 5

The next day we drove from Punakha to Paro via misty, twisting roads adorned with funny roadsigns.

Photo of Paro, Bhutan by Sonia Pereira

Punakha Dzong was one of the prettiest sights, a windows desktop scenery of sorts, the mountains as a backdrop, the gushing river, the blossoming trees, and its beautiful architecture.

The Suspension Bridge was also a thrilling (read slightly frightening) experience.

Tip: Head out early to avoid the crowds, carry rainwear and fruit or snacks.