Shared by Janki on 19 January 2022
Bhutan is a very nice neighboring county to visit from India. If you want to travel by air then the only airport is “Paro International Airport” As an Indian Citizen; you do not require VISA or any per day charges to visit this county. In the other country, people have to pay per day access charges for their stay. I request you all to read my travel diary which I have written for Thimpu in continuation of this to have more clarity on the planning of your trip.
Some of the instructions I am repeating over here if you could not able to locate my Thimpu diary. Indian Rupees are also valid in Bhutan except for 500 Rs. note. The majority of debit cards are not accepted in Bhutan. Plz. See instruction return on your debit cards. Regarding phone; your Indian SIM will not work over there (very expensive to use Indian data SIM) and on Airport arrival you will find a travel desk; take a local SIM from there for calling within Bhutan and making international calls.
Wi-fi will be available at all Restaurants and hotels free. Club Mahindra is offering affiliated property at Thimpu and Punakha so use these properties and at Paro do hotel booking on your own. You can combine Thimpu, Punakha, and Paro in one trip. If you are traveling by air then you can make your itinerary as under:
• On Arrival at Paro directly head to Thimpu (Approx. 2.5 hrs drive). Stay at Thimpu for 2 or 3 days.
• From Thimpu head to Punakha (Approx. 3 hrs. drive). Stay 3 nights at Punakha
• From Punakha head to Paro. (Approx. 5 hrs drive).
Stay 3 nights at Paro to cover all places. Keep Paro at last as you have to catch the early morning flight from Paro to India. Now let’s talk about Punakha. Punakha is the old capital of Bhutan. It is situated at the intersection of two main rivers of the country - Pho (father) Chhu river and Mo (mother) Chhu river. Punakha is comparatively warmer than Thimpu and Paro.
There are many places to visit in Punkha as under:
1) Punakha Dzong Punakha Dzong was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the Government. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). Dzongs are distinctive forts that have served as administrative centres in Bhutanese districts for centuries. The Punakha Dzong is the largest dzong in Bhutan and one of the most regal places to visit in Punakha. The beautiful complex is the epitome of architecture in Bhutan, and its beautifully decorated rooms and prayer halls are a treat for visitors that come here. It is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji
2) Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten It is a Buddhist temple constructed in 2004. It is built to ward off all the evil spirits and promote peace and harmony in the world. The temple complex also serves as a fine example of the architectural traditions of the country. The temple can be reached after hiking through the paddies and then up a small hill laden with prayer wheels. The enormous statue of Vajrakilaya, the easily angered Buddhist god, is the first thing that you see when you walk into the temple.
3) Chimi Lhakhang The Temple is also known as “The Temple of Fertility” and was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley. The Buddhist monk Drukpa Kunley defeated a devil/demon/monster here and trapped it inside a rock here. You will find phallus (penis) symbols scattered everywhere inside and on the walls of the temple. The phallus symbol is used throughout Bhutan to cast away the spirits. You will find different gift pieces of this symbol in the market.
4) Koma Tsachu The Koma Tsachu water springs are a one-hour drive away from the township of Punakha, followed by a hike up a hill that takes about two hours. The water spring is actually located inside the Jigme Dorji National Park. The bathing pools here are housed in four different rooms, complete with solar lighting, mats, and tents that can be pitched outside. The hot water springs are supposed to have therapeutic value
5) Gangtey (Phobjikha) The Phobjikha Valley is a vast U-shaped valley. The valley houses one of the impressive ancient Buddhist monasteries in Bhutan known as Gangteng Monastery. The valley is located on the borders of the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. You can find a large flock of black-necked cranes, wild boars, sambars, serows, Himalayan black bears, muntjacs (barking deer), leopards, and red foxes in the surrounding hills, making this place one of the most important wildlife preserves in Bhutan. There is a river by the name Nakey Chhu that flows through the valley and reaches the Punak Tsang Chhu. The Gangtey Goenpa Monastery is located on a hillock in the Phobjikha Valley that gives you a mesmerizing scenery of Phobjikha Valley. This beautiful monastery was established by Gyalse Rigdzin Pema Thinley who is the grandson and the re-embodiment of great Bhutanese treasure hunter Pema Lingpa in 1613, thus making it the main seat of the Pema Lingpa tradition. It is the largest Nyingmapa monastery in Western Bhutan and they have quarters for the monk and meditation hubs There are many more places to visit in Punakha but these are the places you should cover at least. While going from Punakha to Paro, on the way stop at Lamperi to visit Royal Botanical Park - The park contains a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna and features a huge species of plants and animals including endangered species. Keeping your base at Paro, you can visit Chele-La-Pass (13,088 ft.) – the highest motorable road in Bhutan. Enjoy the scenic beauty & memorable landscapes from Chele-La-Pass. Also, visit the famous Taktsang Monastery - called “Tiger's Nest” (2hrs hike from the base camp) & Kitchu Monastery keeping your base at Paro.
Now let’s talk about our affiliated property of Club Mahindra. The Dragon Nest resort/hotel is located at a very nice location on the bank of the river. The view from the hotel is very pretty. The rooms are very spacious and from each room balcony, you can have a very good view of the river.
The hotel is located on the outskirt of the city so there are not many nearby restaurants available so you have to take food in the hotel itself. The food in the hotel is good. Very limited dishes available on buffet BF and Dinner but the taste is good. You can get good Subzi / Roti/Pulav/Dal etc. at the hotel. The tea at the hotel is really very good. Also, try local Bhutanize dishes like EMA DATSHI - made up of cheese and chilly, KEVA DATSHI – made up of Potatoes and cheese, SHAMU DATSHI – made up of Cheese and Mushroom, SHAKAM EMA DATSHI – made up of dried beef, SHAKAM PAA – made up of dried beef and chilies and radish at restaurants. In short, you will really enjoy your Bhutan visit by visiting Paro, Thimpu, and Punakha. Also while returning through the plane take a right-side seat so you can have a beautiful view of Himalaya -Mount Everest.
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