Day 1 – Bagdogra to Phuentsholing
If you are planning on entering Bhutan by road via Phuentshoing, then arriving in Bagdogra before 2 PM on the first day of the trip, is the first thing you need to get sorted. Bagdogra is a military controlled International Airport, 10 KM from the city of Siliguri, West Bengal, India.
Hop on into your taxi, sit back, and enjoy the drive past the gorgeous Teesta and beautiful tea gardens. Reach Phuentsholing and Check-in to your hotel and call it a day.
Day 2 – Phuentsholing to Thimphu
Post breakfast, head out to the Immigration office with your guide, get your passports stamped, and make your way to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.
The drive itself is going to take 4-5 hours, including an hour break for lunch. So, the earlier you reach Thimphu, more time you have to head out to the city, and enjoy the vibrant pub culture.
Stay in Thimphu for the night.
Day 3 – Thimphu Local Sightseeing
This day is only local sightseeing so you can plan the route in advance.
Post breakfast, first head out to the 169 feet bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma. This Vajra Throne Buddha is located in the Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and is one of the largest statue of Buddha in the world.
Next, visit the National Memorial Chorten which is built in honour of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and admire the Thimphu Dzong or the Tashichho Dzong, the largest Dzong in Bhutan, and also the seat of the office of the King of Bhutan, from a nice vantage point.
Visit the Thirteen Traditional Arts and Crafts School and the Folk Heritage Museum, before continuing to the National Library, where you’ll find the world’s largest published book.
Once you are done with all the sightseeing, head out for a nice long walk along the lanes of Thimphu and check out the different souvenirs that are sold at the Norzin Lam Craft Stalls!
Stay in Thimphu for the night.
Day 4 – Trip to Punakha
After an early breakfast, your first stop of the day will be Simtokha Dzong, a small dzong built in 1629, just 5 km from Thimphu on the way to Dochu La Pass.
Next up will be Dochu La Pass, where the highlights are the 108 memorial chortens / stupas also known as the ‘Druk Wangyal Chortens’.
There is a nice cafeteria offering panoramic view of the Himalayas, on a clear day, and if you’ve got time also check out the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang monastery, which overlooks the 108 chortens of Dochu La Pass.
Dochu La pass is about 45min from Thimphu and about 2 and half hour from Punakha. There’s a military checkpoint between Thimphu and the pass, where your guide will step out and show your travel permit to the authorities.
As you make your way to Punakha, take a pit stop, just before reaching Punakha, and hike your way to Chimmi Lhakang. The hike, through open fields and specially through the village of Sopsokha, will surely stun you up. As you will see plenty of Phalluses, painted on walls, and also available in different sizes as souvenirs.
Thereafter, continue to Punakha Dzong, a large and spectacular Bhutanese architecture, located at the confluence of Pho Chu and Mo Chu Rivers. Punakha Dzong is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan, and it was the religious and administrative centre of Bhutan until 1950, when the capital moved to Thimphu.
After that, in a matter of 10 minutes, you will find yourself on a short hike to the Suspension Bridge, spanning 160 - 180 m across the river Po Chu and is longest bridge of Bhutan. The suspension bridge is draped with prayer flags all along, and provides a panoramic view of the valley.
Day 5 – Punakha to Paro
Make your way to Paro today, and plan it in such a way so that you reach Paro for lunch. The streets of Paro are dotted with quaint cafes, which definitely need your attention.
Post lunch, you can head out to Paro Dzong also known as Rinpung Dzong, and enjoy seeing the sun go down, from there.
Have a relaxing day at this scenic valley which is the heart of Bhutanese culture, as tomorrow you will need all your strength and you can’t afford to be tired.
Stay for the night in Paro.
Day 6 – Tiger’s Nest Hike and Hot Stone Water Bath
A hike up the Tiger’s Nest is a 100% must, and, the climb up to the viewpoint will take around 1 1⁄2 hours and from there you will enjoy a spectacular view of the monastery clinging to the side of the cliff. Stop for refreshment at the View Point Cafeteria. Then walk further up to the monastery which will take about 30 – 45 minutes. Ideally, you should be done in a matter of 5 – 6 hours, including spending around one hour at the monastery itself.
Once you are back, and have had a nice lunch, head out to your hotel, freshen up, quickly grab a change of clothes, and head out for the traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath. This therapeutic bath, will ensure that your body is rejuvenated after the strenuous day.
Day 7 – Artisanal Brewery in Paro and drive back to Phuentsholing
If you love your beers, or fancy trying out some new tastes, make your way to the Namgay Artisanal Brewery. The beers are dirt cheap, and the artistic labels also make the Bhutanese beer as nice souvenirs to take back to India. Try out the wheat beer, and the red rice beer for sure.
With this your trip has come to an end, and it’s time to bid adieu to Bhutan – The Last Shangri La on Earth. You can either choose to fly back to India from Paro, or head back to Bagdogra, halting at Phuentsholing on the way.
If you are driving back, add one more day, as you’ll be stopping at Phuentsholing on the way. Paro to Phuentsholing is a 5 hours’ drive, and Phuentsholing to Bagdogra is another 4-5 hours drive.
Recommendations to make the most out of your Trip to Bhutan
1. Bhutan is full of tourists from all over the globe, so make sure to try out different cuisines like Tibetan, Bhutanese, and explore the vibrant café culture in Thimphu and Paro.
2. Things to Shop in Bhutan to remind you of your Trip to Bhutan
• Baby Yak wool shawls
• Customised stamps from Thimphu Post Office
• Cordyceps or Cordyceps Tea
• Home Decorative items (Tankha, paintings)
• Bhutanese Peach Wine
• Bhutanese Beer and K5 whiskey
This article was first published on the Eat Travel Live Repeat blog
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