Vacation Trip to Bhutan 2020 When the Indian subcontinent collided with the Eurasian Plate the Great Himalayas were formed. Bhutan is landlocked between India and China starting from the foothills of Himalaya where the Indian plains end to the massifs of Tibetan Plateau. It has a population of fewer than 10 lacs mostly following the Vajrayana Buddhism religion. Since 18 July 2008 Bhutan is following democratic constitutional monarchy with Official language being Dzongkha. Bhutan is the last of the great Himalayan kingdoms where the philosophy of gross national happiness is followed. Currencies used in Bhutan are Ngultrum (BTN) and Indian Rupee, the current conversion ratio is 1:1
Tourism point of view: Vacation Trip: Bhutan 2020
Bhutan can be divided into three parts Eastern Bhutan(Guwahati- Samdrup Jongkhar Samdrup – Trashigang Tashiyangtse Radhi Merak Mongar Jakar Lhuntse), Central Bhutan(Bumthang) & Western Bhutan.
One can enjoy the pristine Himalayan landscape where the snowcapped peaks rise above the forest, beautiful traditional villages, the postcard-perfect picturesque landscape, majestic fortresses called Dzongs, and monasteries. One can witness spectacular festivals of folk Dance and participate in Archery competitions. Bhutan has a plethora of high altitude trekking trails where one can enjoy & explore the flora and fauna. It is famous for its Handicrafts and Handlooms. As a rule, the male is dressed in traditional Go and the ladies are dressed in Kira. To visit monasteries and Dzongs one has to be in decent attire. Paro preserves the rich cultural diversity whereas Thimphu let’s one explore the urban side of Bhutan. Numerous parks like the Takin reserve and botanical garden leave you spellbound with their biodiversity.
Places to visit: Vacation Trip: Bhutan 2020
Western (5 to 8 Days)
- Haa Valley (if time permits)
- Paro Valley (Must visit)
- Thimpu Valley (Must visit)
- Punakha Valley (if time permits)
Central (10 to 11 Days)
- Jakar (Bumthang)
Eastern (9 to 10 Days)
- Samdrup Jongkhar
Most popular destinations for tourism are in Western Bhutan. Because of the ease of accessibility and plethora of tourist places, most of the tourists visit this part of Bhutan only. Towns in Bhutan are based on valleys along the river (Chu) and named after them, eg Paro is in the valley of Paro Chu.
How to Reach: Vacation Trip: Bhutan 2020
- For Central & Western Bhutan one can fly down to Bagdogra or straight to Paro
- For Eastern Bhutan, one fly down to Guwahati
- By Road Siliguri to Phuentsholing is 162Km(4h) and Guwahati to Samdrup Jongkhar is 104Km(2h30mins)
- Phuentsholing to Paro is 143Km(4h), Phuentsholing to Thimphu is 147Km(4h)
You can plan a vacation to explore the magic of mountains and monasteries in Bhutan ideally for 3 to 10 days. Each valley has an administrative office(Dzong) besides popular Temples and monasteries. The terrain is suitable for backpacking/ trekking/ camping or to go as part of an organized group. By air, you can fly to Paro (by Druk Air) or go via road from Bagdogra airport. If you are planning a road trip to Bhutan ensure your vehicle is ready for mountainous roads and terrain.
If you are going as part of an organized group tour travel agency they will cater to all your requirements like various permits, transportation, accommodation, food, camping, trekking, et cetera. Either with a travel agency or if you are going alone on a Road Trip, study the places using Google Earth Pro/ Google Earth Studio/ Wikipedia. Its a treat to drive in Bhutan.
Best Time to Visit: Vacation Trip: Bhutan 2020
- January and February are colder, but from then until April the climate remains dry and pleasant.
- March to May The best time to visit Bhutan is during the late spring months of when the valleys come alive with famous rhododendrons bloom, spectacularly flooding the valleys with colors.
- June to August is considered the low season due to the rains, which makes trekking less of an option though with an upside of more verdant scenery. June is the start of the summer monsoon season in Bhutan, with the heavy rains and harsh winds
- October to December Autumn is the ideal time to visit Bhutan as the air is clean and fresh with sunny skies. The Great Himalayas are at their best with snow at the peaks. This is the best time for trekking with temperatures on the cooler side.
- The country is famous for forest red rice and chilies being used as the main ingredients in food preparations.
- Rice Beer
- Cafe in Thimphu
- Ema Datshi
- Shakam Datshi
- Khewa Datshi
- Red Rice
- Jasha Maroo or Maru
- Phaksha Paa
- Shakam Paa
- Sicaam Paa
- Yaksha Shakam
- Suja – Bhutanese Butter Tea
- Ara – Traditional Alcoholic Beverage
- Zow Shungo – Veggie Dish
- Jaju Soup – Traditional Bhutanese Soup
- Jasha Tshoem – Spicy Stew
- Khur-le – Buckwheat Pancake
- Puta – Buckwheat Noodles
- Momos – All the way from Tibet
- Hoentay – Fried Momos
- Khatem – Fried Bitter Gourd
The following guidelines will come handy for planning your 2020 Vacation trip to Western Bhutan
Phuentsholing: Vacation Trip: Bhutan 2020
Bhutan has a B-Mobile cellular network, One should switch over immediately on arrival. One must plan to reach Phuentsholing by 7:00 AM or plan a night stay.
You must visit the immigration office around 9 AM with the required documents. Entry Permit and Special area permits are valid for a maximum of 7 days and if you want to spend more time than 7 days, you need to visit the Immigration office in Thimphu again and apply for an extension of stay. Once your immigration is done then visit the nearby RSTA (Road Safety and Transport Authority) to get a vehicle permit in case you have one. You should plan to hit the road at the earliest, it takes around 4h to Paro. Plan a lunch halt en route at the famous Dosa Point.
Paro: Vacation Trip: Bhutan 2020
Once you reach Paro, after a short coffee break explore the town & in the evening witness Night lighting arrangements of the magnificent Paro Dzong. Have dinner and retire to your room.
After an early breakfast drive to the base of Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest). As per folk-lore, in the 8th-century Guru Padmasambhava(Guru Rinpoche) came from Sindye Dzong(Tibet) flying on the back of a tigress & meditated for three months inside Taktsang Senge Samdup cave perched on a cliff face 800m above the Paro Valley. A temple complex was first built in 1692. After it got burnt in a fire it was reconstructed in 1998. If you are not feeling up to the trek to Tiger’s Nest in the morning, go to Chele La Pass.
For the trek to Tiger’s Nest ensure you are properly dressed & have comfortable footwear. Once you start the trek it takes about 5 hours to return to base. Some refreshments are available midway in a cafeteria. En route enthusiasts would enjoy photography of the breathtaking view of the monastery, mountains, and the valley from such a height.
Once you return to the base, head for Kyichu Lhakhang(9 am-4 pm), the oldest 7th-century temple along with Jampa and Kenchosum Lhakhang in Bumthang. You can enjoy the local favorite Ema Datshi (a cheese and chili delicacy) during lunch. Explore Paro & retire to your room. In the evening explore the town and try other authentic Bhutanese cuisines.
Next day start early and explore remaining temples of Paro,Ta Dzong (National Museum) & and head for Thimphu (1h 14min).
- Ta Dzong National Museum
- Paro Rinpung Dzong (built and consecrated in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal).
- Tiger Nest Paro
- Kyichu Lakhang monastery
- Walkthrough the Paro’s main shopping district.
- Drugyel Dzong (in ruins) built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1647. Mount Jumolhari, 7314 meters or 24000 feet high, appears as a backdrop on a clear day.
- Chelala Pass (3,988 mts.) only if time permits.
Thimphu: Vacation Trip: Bhutan 2020
After refreshing yourself have lunch and visit the world’s largest (167 feet) sitting Buddha made of bronze at Kuensel Phodrang. You can see the national animal Takin in its natural habitat in the Takin Reserve Forest. You can also visit the handicraft museum. See the lightning arrangements in Thimphu Palace at night.
Dedicate the next day for a city tour. After having breakfast obtain your permission to go to Punakha from the immigration office, then head for Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory. It is a private factory manufacturing Traditional paper and Paper Products. Then head for the Folk Heritage Museum open to the general public since 2001, it is a treasure trove of Bhutanese Heritage and Culture and the Handloom Museum.
Next, you must visit the National Memorial Chorten it is a major landmark of the capital city and one of the most sacred places of worship for locals. Post lunch you can plan a trip to Changangkha Lhakhang. It is a first-century temple atop a hill overlooking Thimphu valley. See the Tashichho Dzong in the evening and witness the Flag Retreat Ceremony at 4 pm (check timings). Explore the town in the evening and retire to your room.
- Tasichho Dzong
- Pangri Zampa Monestry
- Dechencholing Palace
- King’s Memorial Chorten (Monument)
- National Zoo (contains national animal takin)
- National Library (collections of holy scripts)
- Folk Heritage Museum and The Textile Museum
- School of Arts and Crafts (also known as the painting school)
- National Institute of Traditional Medicine
- Traditional Paper Factory (made from Daphne plant)
- Buddha Point
- Painting School(Thankas sacred Buddhist scroll)
- Weekend Market(Friday till Sunday)
- Handicraft Emporiums
- Semtokha Dzong(1629, by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal)
Punakha: Vacation Trip: Bhutan 2020
The next day post breakfast, start for Punakha. While crossing Dochula pass, which is at 3150m, have a coffee break. Also, see the Dochula Chorten (108 Chortens) and Druk Wangyel Monastery which were built for well being of everyone. Continue towards Punakha, have lunch en route at Lobesa Village. Take a short hike to Chimi Lhakhang (Temple of Fertility), it is dedicated to Lam Drukpa Kuenley (Divine Mad Man). It is considered auspicious for a childless couple.
Drive to Punakha Dzong which is located at the confluence of Mo Chhu and the Po Chhu Rivers forming the Puna Tsang Chu. The Dzong was constructed by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1638 at the spot shown by Guru Rinpoche. It is the second oldest and largest Dzong in Bhutan and houses some sacred relics of the Drukpa Kagyu School of Buddhism. After seeing this Dzong you can either stay or return back to Thimphu for night halt.
After early breakfast depart for Phuentsholing or straight towards your onward destination. However, if you intend to catch a return flight from Paro then head there.
Adieu: Vacation Trip: Bhutan 2020
In conclusion, a trip to Bhutan would be a memorable experience for kids, elderly, or even if you are planning to go solo backpacking. It provides numerous avenues for trekking. Do share excerpts & photographs from your Bhutan Escapade!