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Wed
3
Jan '18

Visiting the last Shangri La on earth. Bhutan Travelogue

Precisely its after an year after my Badami trip that I am writing this travelogue. Year end shutdown again and time for getting out of the house. 2017 was rather a dull year with almost no travel done throughout the year. Partially attributed to the younger one falling ill often & the rest attributed to the ever increasing work at office. So when the shutdown came in & when we saw that our younger one was keeping fit we were quick to get a plan charted. Bhutan was on our to-do list for a long time. So after a quick check with few of my friends for a travel agent who could book us a package we were all ready with plan.

Few points about package tour:
1) Me not a big fan of these kind of package tours. I prefer planning everything on my own. But then just because this was a international trip & since we had a kid with us i thought of going with a travel operator. — If I do it again I will definitely do it on my own.
2) If you can spare enough time to self drive, then do that –nothing can beat that.

ok so without wasting much time here are the nitti-grittiess of the travel.

Day1:
Bangalore to Bagdogra to Phuentsholing.
Pretty un-eventful day. Bangalore traffic was very gracious on this day. It just took us 3 hrs to reach the airport. The spice jet flight was scheduled at 1200hrs which took off at the exact time and reached Bagdogra at 2:50 PM.
After reaching Bagdogra we met our travel agent who was waiting for us. After exchanging pleaseantries we quikcly started out towards Phuentsholing.

Find a glimpse of this day in the below video.

Route map from Bagdogra to Phuentsholing:

Place were we stayed:

http://drukhotels.com/phuntsholing/

Day2:
Phuentsholing to Thimpu
The day started with visiting the immigration office. Immigration office is situated just in front of the Hotel we stayed ( Hotel Druk) so it was quite easy for us to get to the office in time. Our travel agent had done all the ground work required to get the necessary permits for us to visit Bhutan. ( In my opinion this is the only advantage of going through a travel agent ) and hence we had some time to spare so we went for a small walk across the street to see the gate that seperates Bhutan from India

We were done with the formalities by 2:00 PM & then we headed towards our destination Thimpu.
This drive of 165 kms is one hell of ride through the mountains see for yourself what I am talking about

The route:

Place where we stayed:

http://www.nhh.bt/

Day 3:
Thimpu sight seeing and Paro.

Glimpses of the Day:
Buddha Point:

Changangkha Lhakhang:

Handicraft Market Thimpu:

Dochula Pass:

Finally we proceed towards Paro

Route from Thimpu to Paro:

Points to be noted:
1) The handicraft market in Thimpu is a place were you need to put your bargaining skills to the best use.
2) Don’t miss Dochula Pass
3) Punakha was not in our itinerary hence we would have missed Dochula Pass. If not its en route to Punakha so you won’t miss it.

Day 4:
This day was for us to explore the beautiful valley of Paro.

Catch a glimpse of this day here.

We started our day with the visit to the foot hills of Taktsang Monastery, Tiger’s Nest.

This is one of the most celebrated landmarks in Bhutan, However to reach the Monastery you need to survive a day long hike. We had to give this a skip since we had a toddler with us. however we did spent some time soaking in the majestic views of the Monastery and then headed to see the places around in Paro.
While coming back from Tiger’s nest we visited a Gift shop on the road side which provided us with some traditional Bhutanese clothes to try on. We spent some time there clicking few pics here.

By the time we came out of the gift shop it was time for lunch and we grabbed a quick lunch from a near by hotel and proceeded towards the Watch Tower, Ta Dzong. This place is converted to national museum and it overlooks the beautiful valley.

We spend considerable time in the museum going through and learning about the different cultural aspects of Bhutanese people & Bhutan.- Photography was not allowed here.

We proceeded towards Rinpung Dzong towards the evening. It was a very peaceful place and we spent some time in the temple offering prayers.

Sight of the Paro valley was amazing from here

Later in the evening we roamed around in the Central Street of Paro and did some shopping there before calling it a day.

Day 5:
Paro to Phuentsholing

Today we were returning back to the border town and back to our home. The drive from Paro to Phuentsholing was altogether a different experience during the day time.

Route Map:

Few glimpses from the road trip:

Enroute there was a small waterfall which too provided some nice photograpic oppurtunities

We did spend some time in the eve in Phuentsholing exploring its local markets and did some shopping as well. Finally around 7 PM we retired for the day.

Day 6:
Phuentsholing to Bagdhogra to Bangalore:
After an uneventful day we land in Bangalore around 8:30 PM. Thus winding up our amazing trip to the last Shangri La on Earth.

Few Points:
1) For immigration carry your passport or voter id. – Aadhar card is not recognized.- For kids if not passport, birth certificate is a must.
2) Follow traffic rules when in Bhutan. If not then not only the cops but the locals as well won’t spare you.
3) No Honking in Bhutan
4) No littering in Bhutan. The contrast between the either sides of the gate mentioned in the video is very striking.
5) This drive from Phuentsholing to Thimpu is scenic & hectic at the same time. Prepare for delay due to motion sickness.
6) No talking on phone while driving in Bhutan- Traffic cops here have eagle eyes. Our driver got fined and had to go through
20 minutes of grilling for doing the same.
7) No Jaywalking allowed in Bhutan
8) Try the yummy Ema Datshi (National Dish of Bhutan )

9) Avoid shopping in Paro and rather do it in Phuentsholing. We found the prizes to be lesser atleast by 30 to 40%.
10) Looks like land cruisers are the national vehicle here..Have never seen so many of these in one place.

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8 comments »

8 comments to “Visiting the last Shangri La on earth. Bhutan Travelogue”

  1. Kuljeet Says:

    Nice pics Harish!

  2. Pavana Says:

    Awesome writeup! Hats off to your narration skills. It was like a complete virtual tour and in my imagination, I felt like I visited Bhutan myself! Keep up the great work and wish you guys explore more places in future and we get to experience the rich virtual tours in your words!

  3. Vikash Says:

    Awesome clicks Harish..

    Have seen few of your albums in last 5 years; all of them have been equally mesmerizing. Thanks to Babija who “seldom” provides me an opportunity to look into your photography :)

  4. Guru Says:

    Looks like scenic places and will miss them if not visited. Very nice summary of the trip which is an inspiration for other travelers and place hunters for vacation! Thanks.

  5. Prince Says:

    Nice .. :) :)

  6. Santhosh Khaire Says:

    Nice videos and photos…
    Beautiful photography…
    Felt like I m visiting Bhutan…

  7. Meyyammai Says:

    Superb,
    Soo detailed blog about your trip looks more interesting and makes us to plan as well..
    Pics are too good :)
    Keep going !!!

  8. Meghana Says:

    Wowwww.. amazing write-up and beautiful pictures. Especially the ones showing Sun. Mind blowing

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