Bhutan, The Land of the Thunder Dragon, is the happiest country in Asia. This remote kingdom is located in the mountainous regions of the Eastern Himalayas and celebrates its Buddhist culture.
The country is loved for its beautiful monasteries, traditional architecture, lush valleys and snow-clad mountain views. It is also known for its sustainable growth of natural resources, protected natural environment, cultural heritage and good governance.
1. Tourism Policy in Bhutan
2. Why must you visit Bhutan?
3. How to reach Bhutan from Kolkata?
4. Best time to visit
5. Tourist places to visit in Bhutan
6. A sample itinerary of Bhutan
7. Must try dishes of Bhutan
8. How to travel around Bhutan?
9. Festivals of Bhutan
10. Tips when travelling to Bhutan
12. Checklist to travel to Bhutan
13. FAQs for your Bhutan travel
Tourism Policy in Bhutan
Bhutan’s Lower House has passed legislation that makes it mandatory for tourists from India to pay a fee of INR 1,200 per day for developing its tourism facilities and infrastructure. This legislation will come into effect from July 2020.
Why must you visit Bhutan?
Bhutan is shrouded in mysteries and rich history. Bhutanese men and women wear traditional attire like Kira and Gho respectively to work, educational institutions and on festivals. Bhutan has a number of Dzongs and temples. The Mask Dance with colourful costumes depicting demons, heroes, gods and animals should not be missed.
How to reach Bhutan from Kolkata?
There’s a direct flight from Kolkata to Paro in Bhutan. You can drive down by road from Siliguri to Phuentsholing, take a permit and then further drive down to Thimphu or Paro.
Best time to visit
One of the best times to visit Bhutan is spring time which falls from March to May when the weather is beautiful and pleasant. The other good time to visit Bhutan is autumn time which falls from September to November because of genial weather.
Tourist places to visit in Bhutan in May
The capital of Bhutan has a modern vibe to it with internet cafes, restaurants and pubs. The nightlife in Thimphu is one of its highlights. Thimphu still has its fair share of traditional architecture, best visible in the Thimpu Fortress, a mighty and grand building that is the seat of power. It is only the capital city that doesn’t have any traffic lights installed. This city is a blend of both tradition and modernity.
How to commute locally?
You can hire a taxi from Paro and drive down to Thimphu.
Things to do in Thimphu
- Admire the tall gold plated statue Buddha Dordenma.
- Visit the ancient temple Changangkha Lhakhang.
- Visit the tallest monument The Memorial Chorten.
- Interact with the locals at the Weekend Market.
- Visit the Folk Heritage Museum.
- Hotel Norbuling- prices start from INR 2,000 per night.
- Osel- prices start from INR 4,000 per night.
- Hotel Thimphu Towers- prices start from INR 4,000 per night.
- Terma Linca Resort & Spa- prices start from INR 12,000 per night.
- Druk Hotel Thimphu- prices start from INR 8,000 per night.
Paro is a small town situated in the Paro valley of Bhutan. It is one of the most fertile and historic valleys of Bhutan. It is home to 155 temples and monasteries and also Bhutan’s sole international airport. Paro has numerous sites that are worth visiting, and this is one of the prime reasons for the increase in tourist activity.
How to commute locally?
Buses, taxis or private cars are the best way to travel the town.
Things to do in Paro
- Visit one of the most prominent Buddhist sites, Tiger’s Nest Monastery or Paro Taktsang.
- Admire the architecture of Rinpung Dzong.
- Get the stunning Himalayan views from Chele La Pass.
- Visit the National Museum of Bhutan.
- Take a walk at the first bridge of Bhutan, Tachog Lhakhang Bridge.
- Naksel Boutique Hotel & Spa- prices start from INR 13,500 per night.
- Hotel Khamsum- prices start from INR 2,000 per night.
- Le Meridien Paro- prices start from INR 17,500 per night.
- Gangtey Palace Hotel- prices start from INR 6,000 per night.
- Rema Resort- prices start from INR 3,000 per night.
Punakha, Home to the Palace of Great Happiness, located at a height of 1200 m above sea level offers a mesmerizing view of the Himalayas. Home to plenty of slopes, the valley is an excellent place for mountain biking and trekking.
How to commute locally?
The best way to travel to Punakha is to hire a shared taxi or take a bus from Paro. You can stop at Thimphu to get the permit for Punakha.
Things to do in Punakha
- Admire the architecture of Punakha Dzong.
- Enjoy rafting and kayaking in Mo Chhu River.
- Walkthrough the Punakha Suspension Bridge.
- Visit Buddhist Monastery- Chimi Lhakhang.
- Visit Jigme Dorji National Park for wildlife.
- Dhensa Boutique Resort- prices start from INR 16,000 per night.
- Zhingkham Resort- prices start from INR 4,500 per night.
- Hotel Zangto Pelri- prices start from INR 1,900 per night.
- RKPO Green Resort- prices start from INR 10,000 per night.
- YT Hotel- prices start from INR 3,500 per night.
4. Wangdue Phodrang
Being one of the largest districts of Bhutan, Wangdue Phodrang has everything from monasteries and temple to wildlife and rustic villages. You will love the hiking trails and treks with beautiful views for nature lovers as well.
How to commute locally?
There are both taxis as well as buses available from the key cities like Paro to Wangdue Phodrang.
Things to do in Wangdue Phodrang
- Visit the famous Wangdue Phodrang Dzong.
- Visit the bird watching spot- Jigme Singye Wangchuk National Park.
- Visit the beautiful Phobjikha Valley.
- Receive the blessings at The Temple of Sha Radap.
- Explore the Gasleo and Nahee village.
- Odiyana Hotel- prices start from INR 2,000 per night.
- Dragons Nest Hotel- prices start from INR 4,500 per night.
- Kichu Resort- prices start from INR 4,000 per night.
- The Valley Camp-Phobjikha- prices start from INR 3,500 per night.
- Hotel Kuenphen Norbuding- prices start from INR 3,000 per night.
A sample itinerary of Bhutan
Here’s a Kolkata to Bhutan tour package itinerary for your reference:
Day 1: Arrival at Paro airport. Take tourist permit and transfer to Thimphu. Night stay at Thimphu.
Day 2: Thimphu sightseeing includes National Memorial Chorten, Folk Heritage Museum, Buddha Point and more. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 3: Take tourist permit and transfer to Punakha. The enroute visit includes Dochu la Pass, Punakha Dzong and more. Overnight stay in Punakha.
Day 4: Visit Gangtey Gompa. Check in to the hotel. Overnight stay in Punakha.
Day 5: Transfer to Paro. Paro sightseeing includes Ringpung Dzong, Ta Dzong and more. Overnight stay in Paro.
Day 6: Check out from the hotel to fly back home.
Must-try dishes of Bhutan
These are the Bhutanese food that you must definitely try while in Bhutan:
- Ema Datshi- Being the national dish of Bhutan, Ema Datshi is like a stew made of chillies and cheese.
- Shakam Datshi- It is a popular dish made from dried Butanese beef and then simmered in cheese and butter.
- Red Rice- The staple food in Bhutan, this rice is earthy to taste and goes very well with dishes that have a bold flavour. Being gluten and wheat free and rich in minerals, it is highly nutritious as well.
- Jasha Maroo- Another dish worth tasting would be the Jasha Maroo which is like a spicy stew or curry. This is usually served with red rice.
- Phaksha Paa- It highlights another favourite item of the Bhutanese people- pork. This dish is made of pork slices stir-fried with whole red dry chillies. This is often eaten along with rice and datshi dishes.
How to travel around in Bhutan?
Getting around in Bhutan can only be done by road since no other mode of transport is available. The roads that run across the country are very well maintained and safe. It is recommended to use buses or hire a taxi or car to travel around the country.
Festivals of Bhutan
Bhutan, with its rich culture and spirituality, celebrates numerous festivals with great vigour and fervours. Take a Bhutan trip from Kolkata to experience the festivals of Bhutan by being a part of its celebrations.
- Paro Tshechu- It is one of the largest festivals celebrated in the country. During this festival, monks and common men celebrate together and the locals come dressed up in vibrant attires and also masks, which represents demons and gods. Experience meditations taught by the monk and enjoy traditional dance and music in the festival.
- Thimphu Tshechu- One of the most popular festivals in Bhutan, this festival brings together thousands of locals, all decked up in fine colourful dresses who flock to the Tahichhodzong Fortress courtyard to be part of the most lively festivities. It is usually celebrated during the months of September or October.
- Nomad Festival- The annual Nomad Festival, held in Bumthang, sees the real nomadic tribe of Bhutan coming together from different parts of Bhutan. During this festival, you can witness the traditional performances, the grand pageantry of Chipdrel Try Yak riding and also try delicious homemade Bhutanese cuisines.
- Wangdue phodrang Tshechu- Local songs and ornamental speeches called Lozeys are an integral part of this festival. Enjoy the dance of an Ox which is known as Raksa Mangcham and also try local authentic cuisines during this festival.
Tips when travelling to Bhutan
- Currency- The currency of Bhutan is Ngultrum. 1 Ngultrum can roughly be bought for 1 Indian Rupee. The Indian currency is readily accepted in Bhutan. But the higher value notes such as INR 500 or INR 2000 are not accepted. It is advisable to use the official currency for higher-value transactions.
- Weather- Bhutan has four seasons. The spring season falls from March to May summers are hot from June to August, the autumn season falls from September to November and the cold winters fall from December to February.
- Safety- Bhutan is a very safe country to travel. But it is always wise to take precautions for your own personal safety when travelling.
- Etiquettes- One needs to be modestly dressed and appropriately covered while visiting monasteries and other attractions. You must give and take money with both hands. Do not carry products containing tobacco as it a severe crime in Bhutan.
- Mobile network and sim card- Indian sim cards will only work up to few meters around Bhutan gate. You need to buy Bhutanese sim cards like TashiCell. Sim cards are available in most of the towns.
- Power Plugs- You need power plugs and sockets of D, F and G type.
- Embassy- The Indian Embassies address in Bhutan is:
Embassy of India
PO Box: 193,
Checklist to travel to Bhutan
There are some essential items that you should not miss when travelling to Bhutan
- Travel Documents- Valid Indian passport, medical documents and relevant ID cards.
- Money- Indian currency as well as Bhutanese currency.
- Clothes- Soft-soled shoes, conservative clothes, sunglasses.
- Electronics- Mobile phone, camera and travel adapter.
- Health and Hygiene- Medications that you are on, basic medical kit, women hygiene items and toiletries.
FAQs for your Bhutan Travel
1. Is altitude sickness common?
Yes, altitude sickness is common in Bhutan and can affect any traveller, regardless of age, strength, or fitness level. Symptoms include dehydration, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, edema and insomnia. To alleviate the chances of altitude sickness, we recommend limiting alcohol, staying hydrated and planning for rest days in the higher elevations.
2. Do Bhutanese speak English?
English is commonly spoken, as it is the medium of instruction in schools. Road signs and government documents are written in English and Dzongkha, and the national newspaper is printed in English, Nepali and Dzongkha.
3. Are vegetarian meals available in Bhutan?
Yes! Almost all restaurants have vegetarian options listed on menus. Many visitors to Bhutan are Indians who do not eat meat because of religious reasons, so you will be in good company.
4. How to travel from Kolkata to Bhutan by train?
New Jalpaiguri and Hasimara are the two most accessible railway stations.
Bhutan- an ultimate destination for all travellers
Bhutan is perhaps one of the most mesmerizing places in the World. The landscape, nature, architecture and the people make it a beautiful paradise. You must take a Bhutan tour from Kolkata to experience the rich sites and culture of this astonishing country. There is much more to Bhutan that you can never imagine.
Gear up for this amazing vacation to Bhutan, all that you need to do is get in touch with us at email@example.com or call us at +91 3340525777.
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