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Old 24th March 2016, 18:11   #1
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Default Bhopal - Bhutan - East Sikkim

Hi! Guys

Need help on a self drive trip to Bhutan and then East Sikkim (Silk route). We are two families and will be in two vehicles. A Toyota Fortuner and a Skoda Rapid diesel. The trip starts on 24th April. The plan is as follows

24 April Sun Bhopal - Gorakhpur
25 Mon Gorakhpur - Siliguri
26 Tue Silli - Phuentoshling - Thimphu
27 Wed Thimphu
28 Thr Thimphu - Punakha
29 Fri Punakha
30 Sat Punakha - Paro
1 Sun Paro
2 Mon Paro - Phuentosling
3 Tue Phuentoshling - namichen / Zuluk
4 Wed Zuluk - Ngthang
5 Thr Ngthang - Gangtok
6 Fri Gangtok
7 Sat Gangtok - Muzaffarpur
8 Sun Muzaffarpur - Jhansi
9 Mon Jhansi - Bhopal

Some Qs
1. How much time for Gorakhpur to Silliguri. Can i reach Jaigaon on this day ? Till what time the bhutan border gate is open. Do not want to stay in Jaigaon. Would like to stay in Phuentoshling.

2. As per above plan we are reaching phuentoshling on Tuesday. Read in a 2012 log that its a no vehicle day on tuesday. Is it the same today also ?

3. Whats the better route from Silliguri to Phuntoshling. The one through Sevoke. How much time from Silliguri to border via Sevoke ?

4. Phuntoshling to Zuluk via Mal bazaar , gorubathan, lava and permit at Rongli . How much time and route condition ?

5. Gangtok to Muzaffarpur. How much time ?

Need your help in fine tuning the above program.

Thanks
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Old 24th March 2016, 19:29   #2
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Default Re: Bhopal - Bhutan - East Sikkim

Question Number 3. Take the Sevoke- Coronation bridge route to get from siliguri to Bhutan border. Its got very less traffic and very few trucks. Plus its quite scenic. Approx time from siliguri to Bhutan Border is 3.5-4.5 Hrs depending on your speed, traffic and how often you stop.

Also your plan on 3rd May from Phuentoshling - namichen / Zuluk may be a little optimistic. Getting permits and all might take a little time and you might have to break that journey.
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Old 25th March 2016, 11:39   #3
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Default Re: Bhopal - Bhutan - East Sikkim

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Originally Posted by amrisharm View Post
Question Number 3. Take the Sevoke- Coronation bridge route to get from siliguri to Bhutan border. Its got very less traffic and very few trucks. Plus its quite scenic. Approx time from siliguri to Bhutan Border is 3.5-4.5 Hrs depending on your speed, traffic and how often you stop.
Thanks
For the return leg can this route be done in evening say may be from 6 in the evening to 10 in night ? Any safety issues ?

Also any stay options between silliguri and phuentoshling ?
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Old 25th March 2016, 17:31   #4
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Default Re: Bhopal - Bhutan - East Sikkim

Quote:
Originally Posted by columbus View Post
Hi! Guys


25 Mon Gorakhpur - Siliguri

7 Sat Gangtok - Muzaffarpur
8 Sun Muzaffarpur - Jhansi
9 Mon Jhansi - Bhopal

Some Qs
1. How much time for Gorakhpur to Silliguri.

5. Gangtok to Muzaffarpur. How much time ?
Gorakhpur to Siliguri is close to 700 kilometers but you won't take more than 10 hours if you only stop for fuel & bio-break/s. Gorakhpur to Purnia can be done in 7 hours but even if you don't cross 100, shouldn't take more than 8 hours.

Gangtok to Siliguri will take 2+ hours. Purnia, close to 3 hours, Purnia - Muzaffarpur is a run of 4 hours.

The EW corridor, right from Lucknow to Purnia has a fabulous 2 lane road with less traffic. Sore point is Gopalgunj in midst and that is. Try crossing Gopalgunj early, as early as possible. Purnia onwards, the surface detoriates a bit for some 30 kms till Kishangunj and is good again from Islampur onwards. Traffic too increases post Purnia and especially after Dalkola.

After Gopalgunj, you won't come across many big fuel pumps, so please do keep that in consideration. There is a pump every 10 kms [atleast] but big pumps with multiple dispensers or COCO's aren't many
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Old 25th March 2016, 18:48   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheel View Post
Gorakhpur to Siliguri is close to 700 kilometers

Gangtok to Siliguri will take 2+ hours. Purnia, close to 3 hours, Purnia - Muzaffarpur is a run of 4 hours.
Thanks Sheel

Ok so the route will be Gorakhpur - Muzaffarpur-Darbhanga-Forbesganj-Purnea. I mean i have to come down towards purnea and then again climb up to dhalkhola - kishanganj-islampur-silliguri.
Please confirm above route.

Thanks
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Old 25th March 2016, 19:06   #6
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Originally Posted by columbus View Post
I mean i have to come down towards purnea and then again climb up to dhalkhola - kishanganj-islampur-silliguri.
Please confirm above route.

Thanks
After you cross Forbesgunj, you will come across Araria. A route to Siliguri goes from there via Naxalbari. It isn't really frequented as it is a single lane road, having too much local traffic and bad roads. If you are in a SUV, then you may give it a shot. I would neither vote against or in favor of this route.
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Old 31st March 2016, 10:28   #7
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Default Re: Bhopal - Bhutan - East Sikkim

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Originally Posted by columbus View Post
Thanks
For the return leg can this route be done in evening say may be from 6 in the evening to 10 in night ? Any safety issues ?

Also any stay options between silliguri and phuentoshling ?
Hi there sorry for the late reply. To answer your question, doing the Bhutan to Siliguri route at night via coronation bridge is a little risky. As it is not a main Highway, this stretch is pretty much deserted at night. Also this area has a lot of closed tea gardens in route. Thus a lot of unemployed and desperately poor people looking for any opportunities to take advantage of. Though I do not have first hand experience of any such incidence, I would recommend that you do not travel on this route at night after 8 pm.

About places to stay between Bhutan and Siliguri, well there is a small place called Chalsa, right on the half way mark of the journey. There is a nice 3 star resort called the Sinclairs Retreat. Its a great place but falls in the budget of approx INR 5,000 per night. There are cheaper options as well. From Chalsa if you take a detour south for approx 10 kms, you come to Gorumara National Park. Around that area you have a fair few stay options falling in any budget. A quick google search will give you all hotel details.
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Old 16th April 2016, 19:40   #8
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Default Re: Bhopal - Bhutan - East Sikkim

So the plan has been finalized like this

23 April Sat Bhopal - Jhansi
24 April Sun Jhansi - Kushinagar / Muzaffarpur
25 Mon Kushinagar/Muzaffarpur - Phuentoshling
26 Tue Phuentoshling - Thimphu
27 Wed Thimphu
28 Thr Thimphu - Punakha
29 Fri Punakha - Bumthang
30 Sat Bumthang
1 Sun Bumthang - Phojika
2 Mon Phobjika - Paro
3 Tue Paro
4 Wed Paro - Rongli
5 Thr Rongli - Gnathang
6 Fri Gnathang - Gangtok
7 Sat Gangtok
8 Sun Gangtok - Muzaffarpur
9 Mon Muzaffarpur - Jhansi
10 Tue Jhansi - Bhopal

Need suggestions on following

1. Lunch options between lucknow - gorakhpur and other eating options after gorakhpur.
2. Stay option in Muzaffarpur. Preferably near the highway with secure car park. Is it OK to land in Muzaffarpur say at 10 - 11 in night ?
3. Paro to Rongli. Is the route through gorubathan good. How much driving time ?
4. Stay option at Thimphu 2 to 5K range.
5. Gnathang stay option. though the lady at Daftar Bunglow has confirmed the stay but she has not taken the advance.


Thanks
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Old 19th April 2016, 00:06   #9
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Default Re: Bhopal - Bhutan - East Sikkim

Have been to all over sikkim in the last few years several times for some official work. The beauty lies in North Sikkim after one crosses Mangan or Chungthang. Gangtok has become too crowded like many North Indian hill stations.

I went to Bhutan last in April 2015 and visited Paro, Thimpu, Punakaha valley, Trongsa and a Hydro site near Trongsa. Although Trongsa to Bumthang is just 2 hours journey but couldn't visit due to shortage of time.

If you love nature & peace, spend time in Bhutan and give Sikkim a shot later on some time.

The highway (2 lane road) to east is under widening, therefore, travelling on Thimpu - Wangdue - Palela - Trongsa - Bumthang road needs to be planned. There are times in the day when the traffic is blocked for 2 -4 hours at a stretch. Check with road department or I can try to find it from my contacts.

Jumolhari is a good hotel in Thimpu, average rate is 4k inclusive of taxes. There are a couple of Indian restaurants behind embassy area.

In case you want to save on time, try to plan your travel covering Phuentoshling - Paro - Thimpu - Puanakha - Trongsa - Bumthang as a one way because road blockages wouldn't eat into your time. From Bumthang, come back to Trongsa and travel along Mangdhecchu river to exit Bhutan from Gelphu and enter Assam. From thereon, the highway to Coronation Bridge is a road through tea gardens and a faster route. Coronation to Gangtok is a 2.5 hours drive.

Last edited by breezydrive : 19th April 2016 at 00:12.
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Old 19th April 2016, 08:23   #10
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Default Re: Bhopal - Bhutan - East Sikkim

Quote:
Originally Posted by columbus View Post

Need suggestions on following

1. Lunch options between lucknow - gorakhpur and other eating options after gorakhpur.
2. Stay option in Muzaffarpur. Preferably near the highway with secure car park. Is it OK to land in Muzaffarpur say at 10 - 11 in night ?
Plenty, but nothing high end which I could spot. I usually stop where I spot the most truckers and is a typical dhaba where food is cooked on firewood/coal. There is a BPCL COCO outlet to your right, opposite lane while traveling from Lucknow to Gorakhpur, while the amenities were ok, food wasn't worth stopping.

With females onboard, I stop at big pumps to use the wash-room and these big dhabas for food. Sometimes the food is eaten in the car with aircon running.

Absolutely safe to land at Muzaffarpur, especially after the liquor ban in Bihar I am not very sure of motels on highways. You may check GMaps.
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Old 19th April 2016, 08:51   #11
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My replies in bold below

Quote:
Originally Posted by breezydrive View Post
Have been to all over sikkim in the last few years several times for some official work. The beauty lies in North Sikkim after one crosses Mangan or Chungthang. Gangtok has become too crowded like many North Indian hill stations.

Have already been to North Sikkim upto Gurudongmar. Wanted to drive on the Zuluk loops hence the detour to east Sikkim. Gangtok is purely for chilling out purpose.

I went to Bhutan last in April 2015 and visited Paro, Thimpu, Punakaha valley, Trongsa and a Hydro site near Trongsa. Although Trongsa to Bumthang is just 2 hours journey but couldn't visit due to shortage of time.

Are you by-chance connected to BHEL or NHPC ? My wife is in a department which supplies equipment to hydro sites in Bhutan.

The highway (2 lane road) to east is under widening, therefore, travelling on Thimpu - Wangdue - Palela - Trongsa - Bumthang road needs to be planned. There are times in the day when the traffic is blocked for 2 -4 hours at a stretch. Check with road department or I can try to find it from my contacts.

Please do checkup with your contacts. It would be very helpful.

Jumolhari is a good hotel in Thimpu, average rate is 4k inclusive of taxes. There are a couple of Indian restaurants behind embassy area.

Thanks. Thimphu is the only place where i have'nt booked yet. Will try there.

In case you want to save on time, try to plan your travel covering Phuentoshling - Paro - Thimpu - Puanakha - Trongsa - Bumthang as a one way because road blockages wouldn't eat into your time. From Bumthang, come back to Trongsa and travel along Mangdhecchu river to exit Bhutan from Gelphu and enter Assam. From thereon, the highway to Coronation Bridge is a road through tea gardens and a faster route. Coronation to Gangtok is a 2.5 hours drive.

Thanks for the tip. But my hotel bookings are almost done. So won't be able to change the plan now.
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Old 21st April 2016, 16:37   #12
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Request for driving time for Sevoke to Rangpo/Rongli. Is there a bypass for Kalimpong ?

Also any suggestion for stay option at Rangpo or Rongli.

Thanks
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