One would assume that Thimphu is still settling into its role as the capital of one of the happiest countries in the world, Bhutan. Simple at heart, grappling with growing commercialisation, Thimphu is bustling with energy and is the heart of the country. Thimphu is a delight to explore if history interests you and also if you want a break from the quiet and serenity of Bhutan. Brimming with cafes, nightclubs and restaurants, the city welcomes people from all over the world with open arms. While here, do check out Changangkha Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, the National Folk Heritage Museum which offers a peek into the life of the Bhutanese people, especially the rural way of life. There are tons of parks, gardens and galleries in and around Thimpu and you cover most of these in a single day depending on your interests. The exhibits here range from archaic to contemporary and are definitely worth taking a look at.
Bhutan has gradually become a popular tourist destination. And if you are visiting Bhutan, you can't possibly miss the lovely city of Paro. Considered to be one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan, it is definitely a must visit! A perfect mix of culture, beauty, nature and history, Paro offers you an experience unlike another. Do visit the unofficial Taktsang Monastery or Tiger's Nest, which is a delight for trekkers and explorers! Located on a hill, the trek to this monastery is something you'll always remember. Do carry water, wear proper shoes before you start your trek lest the number of halts increases your trek time. Another wonderful place to visit is the National Museum of Bhutan which is located in a former watch tower and hosts a collection of artefacts tracing the history of Bhutan. Among other places to visit, Rinpung Dzong and Drakhapo are definitely worth visiting. The Paro market is also a great place to explore and makes for a perfect location for an evening stroll. If you don't want to stay in the city, Paro is where you should head to. The lush valleys here are a delight to explore and the streams and meadows are nothing less than a postcard.
The twin towns of Malda and English Bazaar make for an unusual holiday destination. Serving as a gateway to Bengal, one usually spots Malda on the way to Siliguri from Kolkata. Malda is a very small city, though the places surrounding it are considered to hold great architectural significance. Some of these destinations are also mentioned by the Archaeological Survey of India, including Gour, Farakka Barage and Jouhra Kali Bari. Gour, the erstwhile capital of Bengal is home to the original footprints of Lord Mohammad and it is very well preserved here. Adina is home to a beautiful mosque and if you have a few hours to spare, this small town deserves a visit. If you are a history buff, Malda will be a pleasure to discover, though you'll have to do a little research before setting out to explore.
A thriving commercial centre and a gentle mix of various ethnicities, Phuentsholing is a beautiful small town located in southern Bhutan. This is the town where the gorgeous big Bhutan gate is located and also where you can get your visa to visit Bhutan. While you wait for the visa, you can visit the Zangtho Pelri Lhakhang, a small temple representing the heaven of Guru Rinpoche, located at the city centre. This temple houses statues of manifestations of Guru Rinpoche and paintings on Buddha's life and times. The Kharbandi Goemba situated in the city is a charming monastery illustrating the life of the Buddha. From the monastery garden, you can get a fascinating view of Phuentsholing town and its surrounding plains. The local landscape and markets are fun to explore and offer the first peak in Bhutanese life! Phuentsholing has a great food scene as well. Don't forget to try the delicious meat dumplings and the chicken corn soup at the Zen restaurant. Once you are done exploring the quaint towns and completing all government formalities, take a bus or cab forward to visit Paro or Thimphu.
Lying on the India-Bhutan border, Jaigaon is not a tourist place, but is frequented by tourists on their way to Bhutan. The border area is the location of the majestic Bhutan gate, which brings you face to face with Bhutanese architecture. The gateway is covered in beautiful illustrations of dragons and has authentic Bhutanese artwork all over it. The town has many small and big hotels, where you can halt the night before moving on to get the visa at Phuentsholing, on the other side of the gate. The border area has some street side food stalls, which sell momos and chowmein. The Jaigaon region is quite small and can be easily covered on foot. This destination also houses the very unique Dalsinghpara Buddist church, which is an amazing amalgamation of Buddhist engineering and Christian spirit.
Mirik is a beautiful, laidback town, about 40 km from Darjeeling, popular for its scenic beauty and quiet surroundings. Mostly on the list of travellers visiting Darjeeling, this lovely town promises a wonderful day trip. Mirik Lake, located at the centre of town is a popular spot owing to its natural beauty. Do also visit the peaceful Mirik monastery situated close to the lake. This is where you'll find most locals and also a variety of local food stalls serving an assortment of snacks including the very famous jhaal muri! With umpteen homestays springing up in the region, Mirik is slowly becoming a popular weekend destination as opposed to the picnic spot it is. Surrounded by views of tea estates, on a good day you can also catch glimpses of the Kanchenjunga peak. It's best to plan your visit enroute to Darjeeling since it's convenient and the weather here is just perfect.