Bhutan officially known as Kingdom of Bhutan is small country in South Asia located in Eastern Himalayas. It was my first trip out of India and till date one of my favorite trip as i was madly in love with this country and awaiting my next trip to Bhutan soon. What made me love this country ? ..ummm this country is Land of Happiness. I loved the people there, calmness in the environment. I could feel the happiness around. I hope i can make you feel so with my tale too ^_^
P.S: I went there before the new rule of Tourist fee in Bhutan was imposed. That's why i had my trip under good budget.
Entering Bhutan via road
We took a flight to Bagdogra and hired a 6 seater taxi to India-Bhutan border which is located in Jaigaon on Indian side and Phuentsholling on Bhutan's side. Its a 3-4 hours drive from bagdogra airport. Went through a process of security check and went straight to the Immigration Office.
Immigration office is closed on Saturday, Sunday and Bhutan's official holidays so do check before planning your arrival and departure. Also, plan to reach early afternoon at least so that you can get immigration process done timely. It took 2-3 hours for us due to connectivity issues in office. Exchange Bhutanese currency and also take sim from here itself. Indian currency is accepted in Bhutan so keep Rs 100 notes handy (P.S they don't accept 500/2000 usually)
We pre-booked our cab for 6 day road trip in Bhutan so we quickly left for Thimphu after immigration process was done. Also, you can get few shops nearby this office and you can try out yummy momos :D
We reached Thimphu by evening. Our driver helped us find a great accommodation there for the evening. We prebooked stay from next day
Next day we started exploring Thimphu. We visited the Great Buddha Dordenma statute in the mountains of THIMPHU, the capital and largest city of Bhutan, is a massive, golden Buddha sitting atop a gilded meditation hall. But the monument holds an invisible secret: Unbeknownst to many people viewing the statue, they aren’t actually looking at one Buddha, they’re looking at 125,000 of them.🤩
Inside of Thimphu’s 169 foot Buddha Dordenma statue, there are 125,000 miniature Buddhas
After having this picturesque view of the town, we headed next to Royal Taking Preserve , Motithang which is a wildlife reserve area for the national animal of Bhutan – the Takin. It has been said that when the animals were set free, they refrained from inhabiting any other place and that is the reason the reserve was constructed in the location that it is.
We had lunch at one of the cafe and later explored local handicraft market and explored the Simple Bhutan Museum which gave good look through Bhutanese history, art and culture.
Recommendation: Sinchula Cafe
next we headed towards King's Palace and we had our airbnb booked in that area itself. King's palace is such a beautiful palace, although it don't allow entry to visitors for whole tour but you can stroll around area which have beautiful park and river stream flowing down which makes it more and more beautiful. We had great hosts for the airbnb booked and an amazing view to wake up.
Drive from Thimphu to Punakha
Next day we started early for Punakha covering few spots on the way.
Along our way we halted at the Dochula Pass,which is a mountain pass that houses 108 Stupas. On a bright sunny day, the pass allows an uninterrupted view of the Himalayan range. We had great fun at this place with light rain to bring in fun.
We reached Punakha by late evening and stayed with local hosts which we pre booked. Had amazing stay and got to taste local rice beer offered by our hosts which the themselves made. Bhutanese people are very sweet and humble.
Punakha was the former capital of Bhutan and is known for the Punakha Dzong, a 17th-century fortress at the juncture of the Pho and Mo Chhu rivers[ Got to know from locals it refers to male and female river].
We started our day and headed towards Punakha Dzong. The Dzong is the place where the Kings get crowned and married. The second oldest structure of the country looks spectacular from across the river, while you approach the administrative centre. The drive was magnificient while reaching Dzong. We hired a guide there who took to great history of the Dzong and how the marriage process happens when Bhutanese King and Queen get married.
Next we went for white river rafting along the river Po chu and it was very scenic rafting. We also visited Punakha suspension bridge which is the 520-foot long bridge, linking Punakha Dzong to Shengana, Samdingkha, and Wangkha villages across the Tsang Chu River (aka Po Chu). This is one of the longest suspension bridges in Bhutan and is adorned with colorful prayer flags.
We drove in evening for Paro and reached late evening.
Paro is a scenic valley town. Its know for famous Tiger Nest monastery also known as Paro Taksang.
We had planned to go to Tiger Nest Monastery and enjoy the hike. This is a sacred site and is a cliff-side monastery. We had fun while trekking to this monastery, met so many amazing people. All we could see were green mountains around us. The sort of greenery I never witnessed in my life. It truly was an amazing experience.
After coming back we explored local market, picked up souvenirs and explored local cafes. Later went home and took rest after a workout full day. Our homestay was just near to a river, so went on for night walk under the sky full of stars.
Drive back to Phuentsholling
Our trip was about to end and i was sad for the reason i had to leave this beautiful country soon, but happy on the front i had bag full of memories from the Land of happiness.
Before starting back, we strolled and explored Paro. Tried local fruits, local markets. By evening we reached Phuentsholling and took overnite rest there since Paro to Phuentsholling is almost 5 hour drive and we had to go back till Bagdogra.
Sharing few travel trips for Bhutan
* We booked a 14 seater Car which was around 7000/- per day and it was way too comfortable. Driver No for reference: +97577727090 : Pema
* Explore airbnb or homestay and prebook for comfort.
* Keep xerox copy of documents and passport size photo for timely immigration process
* carry some snacks along for comfort, not many road side facility is available
* Try local cuisine and fruits as well. Plan to spend some time with locals to know more about this country!
* Be ready on time, don't make people wait they are very punctual with time :)
P.S: Will be sharing Tiger nest Monastery hike experience separately !
Waiting for everything normal like before Covid and i can visit this beautiful place again, planning to visit this time when Bhutan is snow covered!! ^_^