Where is Bhutan?
This was a question I got most of the time when I said we are going to Bhutan.
Bhutan is located in the eastern Himalayas, sharing the border with Tibet and India. This small kingdom has been on my “To Go”list for a long time. Why? Because! Bhutan is known as the “happiest country” in the world. Everyone wants to be happy, don’t they !!
Obviously, I had a high expectation towards this country and I would like to confirm now that my experience in Bhutan has exceeded my expectations. This kingdom is full of purity and beauty. If I have to describe Bhutan in one word, I would say “Genuine”. People, food, nature, air…,I felt that everything was genuine.
Throughout the trip, I felt the people were super nice and trustworthy ( but not like “Japanese”nice…We, Japanese, have a good reputation as “kind” or “polite” people, but we are trained to act that way and which is different from”nice” I think, if you know what I mean. The food was simple and tasty (I will write about Bhutanese food another day). Taking care of nature and their culture is part of their life.
So, did I feel happier now by visiting Bhutan? I have to say YES. I do not know what it is, but I somehow feel calmer and more relaxed.
I would like to record our trip here, which maybe helpful to the people who are considering going to Bhutan, as I assume that not many people around you have already experienced it.
Travel Period : 7 days / 6 nights
Travelling Season : Autumn. We chose September as there were quite a few big festivals (Tsechu) on in September.
Flight: Perth Australia – Bangkok (Thai Airways) – Paro Bhutan (Druk Air) – We flew out to Kathmandu after that. Thai Airways have a relationship with Druk Air, therefore, our luggage could go to Bhutan directly (we did not need to pick it up at Bangkok). We did not need to go through immigration in Bangkok to transfer to Druk Air.
Travel Agency: Raven Tours. This was a great choice! Highly recommended.
To go to Bhutan, booking the trip via Bhutanese government approved travel agency is a must. Once you decide your travel agency, they can book everything for you including Visa, Hotel, and Druk Air flight tickets, thus, you do not need to worry about anything.
Raven made a personalised tour for us. Our guide was a super cool and smart lady who made our small wishes (but important) come true, such as wearing Bhutanese traditional cloth and taking us out for dinner every night (as we are foodies). I have no hesitation to recommend them to anyone.
Currency: Bhutanese Ngultrum or Indian Rupee. Take USD. The best place to exchange money is Paro Airport (before immigration).
Cost: minimum $250 USD per person. It might sound too much, but we felt not…. (I know it is not cheap, but!!). This normally includes everything (Hotel, meal tour etc), thus, you will only spend a little in Bhutan (all we spent there was for beer and a little souvenir for ourselves). If you would like your travel agency to book flights or upgrade the hotel rank, it will be at additional cost. We went for standard 3 star hotels, but all hotels were great!
Itinerary: Thimpu -> Punakha -> Paro
Thimphu (2 nights) : Attend the Festival at Tashichho Dzong, Hike to Tango Monastery, Largest Sitting Budha, Memorial Chorten, Tashichho Dzong, Nature Hikes.
Punakha (2 nights): Attend the Punakha Festival, Punakha Dochula Pass, Punakha Fortress, Fertility Temple, Talo village and Kham Sum Yule Temple Hike.
Paro (2 nights): Tiger’s Nest, Paro town, Farm House, Archery, Hot stone bath.
Recommendations: The best was I have to say – a usual suspect – Tiger’s Nest. It was really hard to get there, but it was so rewarding. The temple itself was just beautiful. We found a little quite corner in the temple and mediated for a while. It was so peaceful and I felt like my heart was cleansed…. I highly recommend to take a hot stone bath after the hike!
I also enjoyed attending the festivals with the locals – ask your agency to dress you in the Bhutanese traditional cloth!
Next I will write about Bhutanese Food!