9 Day Trip to Bhutan

Hi Folks, Back from our Bhutan anniversary trip! Made great memories, enjoyed scenic views and met people of a different culture!  I’m sharing a suggested itinerary for people who are planning a trip to Bhutan. We

Hi Folks, Back from our Bhutan anniversary trip! Made great memories, enjoyed scenic views and met people of a different culture!  I’m sharing a suggested itinerary for people who are planning a trip to Bhutan. We had a 9 day trip from Delhi, including the to and fro travel. We did this trip in Feb’17.

Suggested Itinerary:Day 1: Delhi to Bagdogra->Siliguri-> Night Stay in Siliguri
Day 2: Siliguri->Hashimara(Train)-> Jaigaon(shared auto)->Phuentsholing(shared cab/bus)->Thimphu
Day 3: Thimphu Local sight-seeing
Day 4: Thimphu Local sight-seeing
Day 5: Day trip to Punakha and travel to Paro
Day 6: Paro Local sight-seeing
Day 7: Paro Local sight seeing
Day 8: Paro->Phuentsholing->Jaigaon->Hashimara->Siliguri
Day 9: Flight from Bagdogra to Delhi

Delhi to Thimphu:
We took the afternoon flight from Delhi to Bagdogra, and landed at 4pm. From the airport, we took a shared cab to Siliguri, where we had pre-booked a hotel for the night and rested there.

Next day, we took the Dhubri intercity train at 6am, from Siliguri to reach Hashimara. From there, we took an auto-rickshaw to reach Jaigaon. From Jaigaon, we just crossed the border by walk, to enter into Phuentsholing, and proceeded to the immigration office. People in the immigration office are quite helpful, and we got our entry permits done in 30 minutes. We exchanged some cash in the immigration office.

Walking across the border into Bhutan

We took a cab to Thimphu -our first stop. It was a 6 hr ride, and we halted in between for lunch. We had a sumptuous Bhutanese lunch of Shamu Datschi & Chicken Thukpa, and proceeded for the remaining part of the journey. The driver was playing Hindi songs all along! He dropped us in our hotel in Thimphu. We checked-in, freshened up and headed out for dinner. 


We explored the Clock Tower area in Thimphu, and came across Ambient Cafe. As the name suggests, it is a place with excellent ambience. There was a cat thrown in, and some great travel books to pick up, but the food was terrible. We had a carrot cake and some Pakoras, and called it a night.

Ambient Cafe in Thimphu – Great ambience but horrible food

Thimphu Local Sightseeing:I’m jotting down the places to visit in the logical order of visiting. On the day of our visit, it was a festival in Thimphu, and hence a national holiday. So, some tourist spots were closed. But we had lot of time and hence we explored Thimphu on foot!

1. Clock Tower square: This is located centrally in Thimphu. It has a clock tower with a shopping complex surrounding it. Ideal to buy souvenirs, gifts etc, and has lot of cafes, restaurants around it. This was our first stop for the day.

At the Clock Tower

2. Changlimithang: This is the national football stadium of Bhutan. It is located near the Thimphu bus stand and Taxi stand. Great place to stroll around and click some beautiful pictures

3. Coronation Park: This was the park, in which the current king was publicly corona-ted in around 2008. It has this huge Buddha statue and a nice park to loiter around!

Beneath the Buddha in the Coronation Park

4. Memorial Chorten: We next headed to Memorial Chorten Dzong. It’s a beautiful place with lots of pigeons and huge prayer wheels. The landmark of this monument is the golden spires that one can’t miss. Very peaceful, one can sit in the benches around the Dzong and drown into the reverie!

At the entrance of the Memorial Chorten

5. Buddha Dordemna: This is a huge statue of Buddha on a hill top, proposed to be the 8th World Wonder. We walked up the hill which is a 5km hike! But the experience was worth all the pains!(There are cabs available uphill, and downhill, but with the national holiday, there were no cabs, and we had plenty of time to cover Thimphu, in two days!). The statue is surrounded by a huge portico on all four sides. We took beautiful pictures on the cold windy day!

At the Windy Buddha Dordemna

6. Changangkha Lkhang: A beautiful Dzong located on a small hillock. We walked from Dordenma to this Dzong. Saw a lot of tourist crowd here. It is a very serene Dzong, visited by expecting mothers. The Queen of Bhutan also visited this Dzong when she was pregnant.

Outisde the sanctum sanctorum of Changangkha

7. Zilukha Nunnery: Atop a small hillock, this is a small school. Not many people were in it, and slightly off-beat this was. It is quite a walk to reach this place, but as I said – national holiday made the place very less crowded, and easy for us to walk around!

Enroute Zilukha Nunnery

8. TraschiChod Dzong: A huge Dzong, almost deserted when we visited it! Very close to the Bhutan assembly building.

The huge Dzong

9. Handicrafts Market: These are a line of shops, near the bus stand, selling Bhutanese handicrafts and souvenirs.

We did not visit the Takin Reserve Zoo and The National Folk Heritage Museum as both of them were closed in the two days we spent in Thimphu. But these are places definitely worth visiting is what we learnt.

Punakha:
There is immigration paperwork, that needs to be completed in order to visit Punakha. It can be done from Thimphu, Paro and Phuentoshoeling. It took us around an hour to get it done, in Thimphu. Do check the timings of the paperwork, to plan it better.

Places to visit in Punakha:
Dochula Pass: This is the crown jewel of Punakha! It’s on the way to Punakha and a must visit monument in Bhutan. It was very misty and cloudy when we visited this. It is a congregation of 108 Memorial Chortens or stupas!

The misty Dochula Pass

Punakha Dzong: This is a huge majestic Dzong, with a small bridge to cross, to enter the temple. It is called the administrative centre of Punakha.

The Majestic Punakha Dzong

Suspension Bridge: This is at a walk-able distance from the Punakha Dzong. It is the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan. Very nice and serene place!

Suspended – on the suspension bridge!

Paro

Tiger’s Nest:One can write a separate blog post, or maybe a separate blog on Tiger Nest trek! It’s called Takhthang in the local language, and people emphasize its pronunciation from the tongue! We took a cab till the base camp. From the base camp, there is a charge of INR 500 per person for Indian Nationals to trek the mountain. We took around 2.5 hours one side. Initially it is steep, followed by a flat patch for a while but it’s the end which is the most painful. The end has a downhill for a small part and a huge fleet of stairs which are very steep and uphill. There is a local guide being provided for every tourist group that visits the temple. He explained us about the relevance of the temple and the various mini temples inside the temple complex (most of which I forgot!). The way back was a comparatively easier trek. Saw some fellow trekkers who were eager to know the balance way up!

Enroute Tiger Nest

Rinpung Dzong: We were casually hiking to Ta Dzong National Musuem and this Dzong came on our way!

Inside the Rinpung Dzong

Ta Dzong National Museum: We walked to this place from the Rinpung Dzong. There is an entry fee for foreign tourists. They have a good collection of Bhutanese artefacts. Nice way to explore the local culture!

Ta Dzong Clock Tower

We roamed around for lunch in Champaca cafe – Had some sumptuous sandwiches and called it a day.
The next day, we started our way back for Phuentsholing. From Phuentsholing, we crossed the border by foot to Jaigaon, took an auto-rickshaw to Hasimara, and boarded the intercity to Siliguri. We halted for the night in Siliguri and took an early morning flight from Bagdogra to Delhi.

Few suggestions for your travel in Bhutan – Bargain a lot. We took shared cabs mostly for our commute in Bhutan. While buses may be cheaper, they take a lot of time, with frequent break-downs etc. We hiked a lot to short distances, and maps always help( We didn’t take any Bhutanese mobile sim. We managed navigation through offline maps, which we downloaded the previous evening from the hotel wifi!)

Try the local food. Its tasty, easy on the stomach and of course cheaper than Indian food! Shamu Datschi and all variants of Datshcis are yummy!





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