who have visited Bhutan, the land of the Thunder Dragon,
say it is a unique heavenly experience, and it is truly
a hot international tourist destination, but costlty.
Tour packages are mandatory for foreigners except Indians
and may cost around US$200 per person per night. With
a befitting spiritual landscape, Bhutan's religion is
mostly Mahayana Buddhism. A visit to the country is a
mystical experience and at the same time its call of adventure
too is irresistible. Seventy two per cent of the country
is under forest cover. The culture of a land of 700,000
people revolves round Tsechu, the Buddhist festival of
masked dance, celebrated after Guru Rinpoche, who brought
about the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan. Worth watching,
the festival is held at different times in different districts.
The pre-Buddhist Bon festival of Ha district is equally
is a trekker’s paradise. Nature tours and trekking expeditions
are arranged by tour operators. There is rafting and kayaking,
ideal during March to April and November to December,
else rivers will be swollen. Guides are available. Paro
Valley and Wang Chhu in western Bhutan are good for kayaks.
Punakha Valley in central Bhutan is suited for kayaks
and rafts (Mo Chhu, Pho Chhu, Sonam Put In). The stretch
from Waklaytar to Sunkoshtar on Puna Tsang Chhu in Wangdue
Phodrang in central Bhutan is amazing for both kayaking
is good for mountain biking. Rock climbing is a recent
sport in Bhutan. Climbing clubs offer equipments and training.
For trekking the ideal time is mid-March to mid-May and
mid-September to mid-November. Treks even from Thimphu
to Paro is also adventurous. Trekking requires lot many
gears which trekkers have to bring. Camping facilities
are provided by the operator. The low key Druk Path and
the challenging Snowman routes are popular. There are
a dozen proven tracks in Bhutan.
HOW TO REACH BY ROAD: Bhutan can
be reached via Phuntsholing on Indian border in Bengal
or from Nepal by road. The road from Phuntsholing takes
one to Paro and Capital Thimphu. The only airport in the
kingdom is located in Paro, 65 km away from Thimphu. Inside
Bhutan, of high mountains and deep valleys, travel is
by road only. Roads, mostly single lane, are well laid,
although bumpy, at times, and the hair-pin bends and turns,
ups and downs make journey quite time-consuming, yrt interesting.
Tour packages are mandatory and are to be booked with
operators, they are costly for foreigners except Indians.
BY AIR: Paro airport is in a valley
at an elevation of 7300 ft surrounded by hills of 16,000
feet. The national air carrier, Druk Air, and foreign
airlines fly to Bangkok, New Delhi, Kolkata and Kathmandu.
Mt. Everest and Khangchendzonga can be seen in close quarters
during a flight between Kathmandu and Paro. And the views
at such high altitudes are spectacular too. Bagdogra in
West Bengal is the nearest Indian airport, but there is
no flight from here to Paro.
TRAVEL IN BHUTAN: Travel inside Bhutan
is by bus or taxi. One spends a day at Paro resting and
seeing the famous manasteries. Paro and Bhumthang are
two places in the kingdom with godly associations. For
that matter the whole of Bhutan is dotted by monasteries
and the only other thing to see is the scenic beauty which
is considered a heavenly experience with the mountains,
deep jungles and valleys characteristic of the country.
It takes a day each in Paro and Thimphu, resting and sightseeing.
One can visit Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang in another
day, and return. It takes two days visiting Trongsa and
Bumthang and returning or proceeding to Assam border.
In a two-day short duration trip to Bhutan, one can be
fully satisfied with seeing around Paro, Thimphu and Punakha.
(nearest Indian airport, in West Bengal) to Phuntsholing
by road is 170 km and takes 4 hours; Phuntsholing - Thimphu
is 176 km, 6 hrs, by bus (Approx.) Rupees 250 pp, Rs 350
by taxi pp, Rs 1500 per one taxi; Paro airport - Thimphu
is 65 km, 2 hrs, Rs 500 taxi pp, Thimphu – Punakha 77
km, 2 hrs; Thimphu – Wangdue Phodrang 70 km, 3 hrs; Punakha
– Wangdue Phodrang 21 km, 30 min; Wangdue Phodrang – Trongsa
129 km, 4 hrs; Trongsa – Bumthang 68 km, 2 hrs 30 min;
Bumthang – Mongar 129 km, 4 hrs; Mongar – Trashigang 90
km, 3 hrs; Trashigang - Samdrup Jongkhar (Assam border)
180, 6 hrs.
Embassies provide travel guidelines for a given time)