The land of monks, monasteries, pristine nature and tobacco free environment is hard to find as a neighbouring country for many citizens of the world. But Indians are blessed to have Bhutan as our neighbour which has been endowed with natural beauty, heritage-proud people and amazing hospitality in abundance. So me and 2 friends of mine decided to explore this country for a week (a friend had already been here twice with his better half and they were in complete awe of this small country!)
Important things to remember for travelling to Bhutan:
1. Booking through travel agent - Crossing the border through Phunseoling and entering Bhutan seems like a very lucrative option for many, but beware that there are government regulations in place which bans the movement with non-Bhutan number plates beyond a certain limit. Additionally, there are many places that call for special permit which can be obtained only when booked through travel agents. Travel agents who are government certified are a means to support the economy since a part of their earnings goes to the government directly. They also provide transportation facilities and en English speaking guide. I booked through Sonam Trophel tours and I highly recommend them. Amazing hospitality and a very courteous and helpful owner - Pem Thinley.
2. Flight bookings - Flights cost nearly 300 USD for a round trip if booked personally. But the catch is this - if booked through any Bhutan government certified travel agency, the same ticket costs 140 USD ! So take a smart decision and let them do the booking !
3. Weather - The weather in Bhutan varies from being sunny to bone-chilling cold. So be prepared and go with adequate winter clothes (if going in winter) and be sure to pack clothes which provide protection from wind. Also pack sunscreen and a couple of sunglasses for protection from the ultra clear sunlight.
4. Respect their culture and King - Bhutanese people are fiercely loyal to their culture and its mandatory for government officials to wear the national dress (Gho for men and Kira for women) at their workplace. Also, they worship their King and any sort of discussion where the autocracy is deliberated upon is not appreciated and shall attract frowns from them. So best to refrain from it.
Remember to breathe-in the pure air in plenty because its pretty much a luxury in today's time where even an evening stroll takes a toll on the respiratory system.
And now for the itinerary for that special trip: