Team-BHP > Travelogues


Reply
  Search this Thread
8,619 views
Old 4th June 2024, 22:02   #1
Distinguished - BHPian
 
arun_josie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 3,762
Thanked: 13,879 Times
To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing

A trip to land of thunder dragon (Bhutan) – Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing

Index
Planning and Package details

The D-Day (Bangalore to Bagdogra to Phuentsholing) and Crossing the border

Day 2: Visit to Immigration office / Payment of SDF and Phuentsholing – Thimphu Journey (164 Kms)

Day 3: Sightseeing in Thimphu - Buddha Dordenma Statue, Motithang Takin Preserve, Painting School, Shopping at the Handicraft Market

Day 4: Thimphu to Punakha (Stop at Dochula View point), Chimmi Lhakhang

Day 4: Punakha Dzong

Day 4: Punakha suspension bridge, Stay at Hotel Pema Karpo

Day 5 : Journey towards Phobjikha Valley, Quick Shopping (@ Lawala Pass), Black-necked cranes, Phobjikha Valley

Day 6: Stay at Phuntsho Yangkhil Resort, Gangtey Monastery, Trail Walk

Day 6: Picnic type lunch (Phobjikha Valley)

Day 7 : Phobjikha Valley – Paro (175 Kms), Shopping in Paro Town

Day 8: Hike to Paro Taktshang (Tiger's Nest), Hot Stone bath

Day 9– Paro to Phuentsholing, Crossing the border, Stay at Majhgram Chabri (290 Kms, 8-9 hours)

In conclusion



Punakha Dzong

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-1.jpeg

View from hotel in Phobjikha Valley

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-2.jpeg

Tiger's Nest Monastery

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-3.jpeg

Buddha Dordenma Statue - Thimphu

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-4.jpeg

Thimphu city view

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-thimphu.jpeg

Our tour bus

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-6.jpeg

A long vacation drive was pending for a few years. However, Since the 2015 Uttrakhand and 2017 Himachal drives, I couldn’t plan and execute any long drive/vacation with family for various reasons. Notable ones were a drive plan to Sikkim in 2019 and then again in 2020/21. In 2023, a drive to Zanskar valley got cancelled twice due to floods in Himachal.

Initial Trigger:

My childhood friend, Nithil is living in Bhutan since past 4 years and whenever we meet when he visits India, he keeps asking me to plan for a Bhutan trip. So, I had Bhutan in mind for a while. Sometime in January during a casual chat with a friend, Bhutan came up for discussion. This discussion gathered some momentum, and we started planning for a Bhutan trip in earnest. We decided to lock the dates for May to begin with.

The Planning:

Nithil put me in touch with his friend who arranges guided tours across Bhutan. Once we updated him with the number of days that we could afford, he came up with the complete itinerary and the cost breakup. We made some minor modifications and locked it.

The direct flight to Paro, Bhutan was too expensive (at least 2.5X more than flying to Bagdogra) so the suggestion was to take a flight to Bagdogra in Northern West Bengal and then cross the border via road. It is around 160kms from Bagdogra to the entry point to Bhutan, Phuentsholing. We booked the flight tickets well in advance.

I did have some challenges when the travel date approached and was not sure if I will be able to make it for the trip, but thankfully I was able to go.

The Tour Package Details / Entry Fees /Other Guidelines:
  • Sustainable Development Fees (SDF) Rs. 1200 per head per night for Indian tourists. VISA will be granted on arrival. (Not included in the Package).
  • Department of Tourism Certified Guide will escort us from the entry point of Bhutan till we exit at the end of the tour. (Included in the Package).
  • Department of Tourism Certified vehicle for travel & sightseeing will be available to guest as per itinerary (Included in the Package).
  • We have to bear the cost of all entry fees to places they wish to visit.
  • Toll Tax, parking charges & driver allowance are included.
  • Documents required for Bhutan Immigration is Voter ID/Passport with 6 months validity while on tour.
  • Children below 18 years can carry birth certificate (written in English only) instead of passport.
  • The package includes breakfast and dinner.
  • The package cost was around 3L for 3 families. (They didn't charge for kids below 12).
  • Insurance was mandatory earlier but now that rule has been removed. So, we didn’t opt for insurance.
  • The package cost also includes the taxi cost from Bagdogra airport to Bhutan entry (Phuentsholing) and later the drop to Bagdogra airport at the end of the trip.

Last edited by arun_josie : 8th June 2024 at 20:08.
arun_josie is online now   (27) Thanks
Old 4th June 2024, 22:55   #2
Distinguished - BHPian
 
arun_josie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 3,762
Thanked: 13,879 Times
The D-Day (Bangalore to Bagdogra to Phuentsholing)

The D-Day (Bangalore to Bagdogra to Phuentsholing)

This was my first domestic flight in 14 years. The flight timing was at 5:15 AM, but we decided to start very early as it had heavily rained a day before causing some heavy traffic jams due to water logging. We reached the airport by 1AM. My friend’s family was along with us too but in a different taxi. We spend some time walking around the airport and then some of us took quick naps in the waiting lounge. The other friend’s family was joining us in Bagdogra from Pune.

The flight journey:
  • The flight was on time (Akasa Air).
  • We got in by 4:45 AM.
  • The seats were uncomfortable for me with very limited leg space. Probably I am spoilt by the comfort of the driver seat of my Jeep Compass.
  • We had pre-ordered the breakfast, it was good.
  • This was not a direct flight, it had a layover at Guwahati.
  • Overall, it took 5 hours to reach Bagdogra.
To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-1_flight_1.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-2_flight_2.jpeg

Bagdogra Airport to Phuentsholing, Bhutan (155 Kms):
  • This is a small Defence airport. So the exit was quick.
  • We however had to wait a bit as the tempo traveller (TT) which was supposed to pick us was a bit late. The driver updated us that he was stuck in a traffic jam.
  • The TT arrived by 11:10 AM and the driver asked us to come to the parking area.
  • The parking here was cramped and after the TT picked us, we got stuck inside the parking lot for another 10 minutes.
  • Our next stop was at a hotel nearby to pick the 3rd family of this trip. They had reached Bagdogra one day before.
To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-bagdorabhutan-entry.png

The congested parking space

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-3_airport-parking.jpeg

Traffic before we could get out of the town

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-4_traffic.jpeg

Bangladesh border was just 2Km away

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-5_bang.jpeg

Once we picked them, the actual trip started with our journey towards the Bhutan entry point at Phuentsholing. There was more traffic to deal with before we could exit Bagdogra.The weather was hot and the kids were getting hungry. So we decided to stop for lunch by 1:00 PM.

Lunch stop @ Motorist Inn Motel:
  • Nice spacious place.
  • It took some time before the order started arriving.
  • But the wait was worth it as the food was very good.
  • We had ordered both Veg and Non-Veg.
  • The butter fish fry was delicious.
  • After a sumptuous lunch we resumed our journey.
Crossing the border:
  • We reached the border (Jaigon) by 4:45 PM.
  • Our guide was waiting for us here and he quickly took us to the border crossing.
On the way to the border

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-6_cb.jpeg
  • After we reached the entry point, the documents were verified by the Bhutan immigration officers at the newly constructed Pedestrian Terminal here.
  • Once all were done, we had to exit the building which opens into Phuentsholing town.
  • This was a quick process, and it didn’t take much time.
  • Our hotel was just 5 mins walk from here.
  • While we got through this process, our TT had crossed the border and reached our hotel to drop our luggage.
First look of Bhutan from the Pedestrian Terminal

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-6a_cb.jpeg

First Impression of Bhutan:
  • Wow! Once you cross the border, you immediately feel the freshness of the air. The Indian side was congested and dusty but on this side it was super clean and green.
  • The road/traffic etiquette also changes radically. At every pedestrian crossing, the pedestrian gets the right of way.
  • The drivers show more patience and respect the pedestrians. The moment you step on the zebra crossing, the vehicles stop and wait for you to cross the road.
  • Good roads with clean sidewalks and the town looked more organized.
Some pics after crossing the border

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-8_cb.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-9_cb.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-10_cb.jpeg

Stay at Hotel Central:
  • Spacious and clean rooms with balcony.
  • Food was good, but it was Indian food only.
  • The staff were very helpful.
  • This is close to the immigration office that we were visiting the next day for VISA processing.
Hotel Central on the left

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-7_cb.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-h1.jpeg

The tempo traveller that dropped us


To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-h2.jpeg

The room was good

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-h3.jpeg

Zangdokpalri Temple

This temple was very close to the hotel where we stayed so we made a quick visit. It also has a park where the kids spent some time burning energy. The ladies went out to explore the town and for a round of shopping.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-11_tv.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-12_tv.jpeg

We called it a day after the dinner at the hotel.

Last edited by arun_josie : 8th June 2024 at 20:10.
arun_josie is online now   (29) Thanks
Old 5th June 2024, 17:42   #3
Distinguished - BHPian
 
arun_josie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 3,762
Thanked: 13,879 Times
Day 2: Visit to Immigration office / Phuentsholing – Thimphu Journey

Day 2: Visit to Immigration office / Payment of Sustainable Development Fees (SDF)
  • Our guide asked us to be ready by 9:00 AM after the breakfast.
  • The immigration office is at a walkable distance from the hotel.
  • We checkout out of the hotel and reached the immigration office early, so there was not much crowd.
  • The SDF payment was done for all (1200/- per day for adults and 600/- for kids below 12).
  • All the passports were verified again and stamped with the entry details.
  • It is better to be early here because if you are stuck in the queue behind any big travel group then it takes ages to do the payment as officers will have to review each and every passport/voter card/DOB certificate. The guide behind us had around 40 passports with him for processing.
  • We finished the immigration formalities and exited the building at around 10AM.
A quick walk to the immigration office

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-imo_1.jpeg

Nice and clean roads. The weather was good too.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-imo_2.jpeg

At immigration office. We reached here early, so there was not much crowd.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-imo_3.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-imo_4.jpeg

Phuentsholing – Thimphu Journey (164 Kms)

After completing the entry/visa process, we started our journey towards our day’s destination, Thimphu. Our bus had come to the immigration office with all our luggage loaded in it. Phuentsholing is a small town and we exited this town in quick time.

Its all twisty roads till Thimphu

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-maps.png
  • After we exited the town, there was a check post, all the documents were checked along with the SDF payment receipt.
  • After this stop, we spotted few local fruit shops on the way, so stopped to get some fruits here.
  • After buying some bananas, we proceeded ahead by 2-3 Km and then our guide realized that he left his mobile at the shop, so we took a quick “U” turn and returned to the fruit shop to pick up his mobile.
  • They had kept his mobile safe.
This was the stop to get some fruits

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-2_d2_f-stop.jpeg

Heavy Rain on the way

It was less than an hour from our start (around 11:00 AM), and while crossing Sorchen, it started raining very heavily. The visibility was almost zero. We enjoyed the rains and the driver stopped for few minutes before proceeding further. Rains were a concern for us during the planning. We didn’t want to be rained in and locked up inside our hotel rooms during the trip. I’m happy to report that the weather cooperated with us throughout the entire trip.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-3_d2_rain.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-4_d2_rain.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-5_d2_rain.jpeg

Lunch stop @ Divine Midway:
  • Kids were getting hungry. so we stopped for an early lunch around 12:15 PM.
  • The lunch stop was at Divine Midway which is on the highway itself.
  • Unlike in India, the serving takes time here. We need to get used to their slow life. This lunch stop was a good preview for the rest of the trip.
  • Food was very good.
  • We tried Thali and Noodles.
  • We also got some local snacks here.
  • This stop was close to 1 hour.
@ Divine Midway

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-6_d2_l-stop.jpeg

Highway is dominated with Toyota Buses and Vans

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-7_d2_l-stop.jpeg

Lovely weather

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-8_d2_l-stop.jpeg

Veg Thali

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-9_d2_l.jpeg

Chicken Chowmein

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-10_d2_l.jpeg

Chicken Thukpa

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-11_d2_l.jpeg

Some pics after we started from lunch point towards Thimphu

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-12_d2_pl.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-13_d2_pl.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-14_d2_pl.jpeg

Waterfall on the way

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-15_d2_pl.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-15_d3_pl.jpeg

During a tea break at a scenic location @ 3:00PM

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-17_d3_ts.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-17_d2_ts.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-16_d2_ts.jpeg

After a nice short break, we proceeded towards Thimphu

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-18_d2_pts.jpeg

Scenic view and roads

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-18a_d2_pts.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-18b_d2_pts.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-18c_d2_pts.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-19_d2_pts.jpeg

We reached the hotel by 4:00 PM and this hotel is located right before the Thimphu gate.

Last edited by arun_josie : 8th June 2024 at 20:11.
arun_josie is online now   (25) Thanks
Old 5th June 2024, 19:04   #4
Distinguished - BHPian
 
arun_josie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 3,762
Thanked: 13,879 Times
Stay at Silverpine Boutique / Day 3: Thimphu Sight seeing

Stay at Silverpine Boutique:
  • This is located just outside the Thimphu town, before the entry.
  • Good views from our rooms.
  • Rooms were very spacious and clean.
  • Service was excellent.
  • Our package included breakfast and dinner. The food was good.
  • We stayed here for two nights.
Thimphu entry gate

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-21a_d2_pts.jpeg

This is the view from the hotel
The hills are barren because of a forest fire back in February.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-20_d2_pts.jpeg

The Hotel - Silverpine Boutique
To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d2_2.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d2_3.jpeg

Football ground at Royal Thimphu College that I got to visit

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d2_1.jpeg

With my friend Nithil

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-whatsapp-image-20240605-6.39.08-pm.jpeg

View of Thimphu @ Night

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-22_d2_night.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-23_d2_night.jpeg

Day 3 – Thimphu Sightseeing:

The plan for this day was to start a little early and do some sightseeing around Thimphu and end the day with some shopping at the local handicraft market. So, after a good breakfast we were all set to our first point, Buddha Dordenma Statue aka Buddha Point.

We started towards the Buddha Point by 8:30 am.

Buddha Dordenma Statue:

The Buddha Dordenma statue in Thimphu is a significant landmark. Standing at 169 feet tall, it is one of the largest Buddha statues in the world. Made of bronze and gilded gold, it depicts the seated form of Shakyamuni Buddha. Inside the statue are 125,000 smaller golden buddha statues. The site offers breathtaking views of Thimphu Valley and provides a serene environment for visitors to explore and reflect. This remarkable statue represents Bhutan's dedication to Buddhism and its commitment to peace and well-being. It is a symbol of spiritual heritage and offers a unique experience for those seeking tranquility and cultural insight.
  • The route to this place has some nice winding roads. Driving here would have been fun.
  • It’s on a hilltop. so, you get some good views all around.
  • We reached here around 9:15 am.
  • Spend some good two hours exploring the monument and the temples inside the place and clicking pics.
  • Kids had lot of space to run around and play.
  • This place was not very crowded when we arrived but it got crowded by the time we were leaving.

Clicked this on the way to this statue

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-bs1.jpeg

The entry gate

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-bs2.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-bs3.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-bs5.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-bs6.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-bs7.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-gp5.jpeg

During the return we stopped at this viewpoint from which you could see the entire Thimpu city.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-bsv1.jpeg

The Motithang Takin Preserve

This place is a preserved area. This was initially built as a small zoo but later it was converted into an animal preserve centre. This preserve is home to Takin, the national animal of Bhutan
  • We had some good time walking around the trail in the park.
  • There are some good climbs and slopes. It was like hiking.
  • There is a Cafι on the trail. We had some nice coffee and pastries/cookies.
  • It’s a peaceful place.
  • We spent around one hour here.
To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-ts1.jpeg

National animal of Bhutan

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-ts2.jpeg

A yak that was chilling

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-ts3.jpeg

The cafe in the park

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-ts4.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-ts5.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-whatsapp-image-20240605-6.41.32-pm.jpeg

Day3: Lunch @ Bhutanese Authentic Food
  • We were back to Thimphu by 12:15 PM and stopped for our lunch.
  • We tried traditional Bhutanese dishes.
  • This place was in a shopping complex, so ladies didn't miss the chance to do some quick shopping.
  • We finished lunch here and moved to the next stop which was the Painting School.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-whatsapp-image-20240606-11.43.57-pm.jpeg

Painting School

It is also known as Institute for Zorig Chusum. Here students are taught courses like traditional drawing, painting, carving and to develop skills in arts and crafts.
  • Few of us went around this place.
  • We can’t interact with the students; we can only observe them working.
  • We have to maintain pure silence here.
To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-as1.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-as2.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-as3.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-as4.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-as5.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-as6.jpeg

Day 3: Shopping at the Handicraft Market

There are about 100 shops in one lane, where you can shop local handicrafts and art. Good thing about this place is that all the shops are on one side of the road with a divider separating the road and the shopping lane. So, it’s safe even if you have kids with you. The guide gave us 45 minutes for shopping, but the ladies took double that time

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-shp1.jpeg

By the time the shopping got over, it was 4PM and it had started drizzling lightly.

Our next stop was for some tea/coffee/snacks. Our guide had suggested a nice place for some momos and chai.

We spend around 45 minutes here and called it a day.

The driver dropped us at the hotel.

Last edited by arun_josie : 8th June 2024 at 20:12.
arun_josie is online now   (21) Thanks
Old 5th June 2024, 21:34   #5
Distinguished - BHPian
 
arun_josie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 3,762
Thanked: 13,879 Times
Day 4: Thimphu to Punakha (Stop at Dochula View point), Chimmi Lhakhang,Punakha Dzong

Day 4: Thimphu to Punakha (Stop at Dochula View point), Chimmi Lhakhang,Punakha Dzong, Punakha suspension bridge

It was time to shift our base from Thimphu to Punakha. On the way there was a scheduled stop at Dochula pass view point. The distance to Punakha from Thimphu is around 70 Kms.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-maps.png

Morning View from the hotel

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_m1.jpeg

Our luggage getting loaded on the top

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_m2.jpeg

Hard Cheese hanging on the store front, the local term for cheese is datshi.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_m3.jpeg

Dochula Pass:

Dochula Pass is a picturesque mountain pass in Bhutan, connecting Thimphu and Punakha. This is at an elevation of 3,100 meters, it offers stunning views of the Himalayas, including the revered Gangkar Puensum peak. The pass is adorned with 108 chortens(stupas) honoring the fallen soldiers. Visitors can soak in the panoramic vistas, fluttering prayer flags, and a peaceful ambiance. It's a significant site for its natural beauty and cultural importance. Whether it's the blooming rhododendrons in spring or the snow-covered landscape in winter, Dochula Pass provides a memorable experience for travelers seeking breathtaking scenery in the heart of Bhutan.


• We reached here by 9:00 AM.
• The views were spectacular, and the weather was cold too, around 12C.
• We were able to see the snowcapped Himalayan peaks from here.
• There was some crowd here but didn’t get the crowded feeling.
• Opposite to this viewpoint there is a park – 60th Anniversary Park.
• There wasn’t anyone here. So, we let the kids run around and play for some time.
• There is also a cafι here – we had coffee and momos.
• We spend a good 90 minutes here and then resumed our journey at around 10 30AM.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_m4.jpeg

The 108 chortens(stupas)

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_m5.jpeg

A closer look of the chortens(stupas)

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_m5a.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_m5b.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_m5c.jpeg

Snowcapped Himalayan peaks

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_m6.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_m6a.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_m7.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_m8.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_m9.jpeg

Me with my elder son :-)

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_m10.jpeg

60th Anniversary Park

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_m11.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_m12.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_m13.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_m13a.jpeg

Chimmi Lhakhang:

Chimi Lhakhang, the Temple of the Divine Madman, is a revered Buddhist temple in Bhutan's Punakha Valley. Built in the 15th century,it honors Lama Drukpa Kunley, known as the "Divine adman,"renowned for his unconventional teaching methods. The temple, situated on a hill, features Bhutanese architecture and intricate paintings. It is sought after for fertility blessings, with the phallus symbol believed to bring fertility and protection. Chimi Lhakhang offers a peaceful atmosphere amid picturesque surroundings. A pilgrimage site, it allows visitors to explore Bhutanese culture, the Divine Madman's legacy, and enjoy the beauty of the Punakha Valley. Modest attire and clockwise circumambulation are customary.
  • From the parking it’s a short walk to this temple.
  • The weather was totally opposite on how it was in Dochula pass. It was too hot for the first time in the trip.
  • We spent around 30 minutes here.
  • And then proceeded towards Punakha for lunch
To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_m14.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_m15.jpeg

Reached Punakha

We reached here by 12:30 PM. Punakha was the capital city before Thimphu. The climate here is generally warm and when we reached here, it was too hot. Our guide took us to lunch at a place where we had preordered. But it still took some time for them to serve our food. The food was good though.

Sankosh River

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-pn1.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-pn2.jpeg

Last edited by arun_josie : 8th June 2024 at 20:13.
arun_josie is online now   (22) Thanks
Old 5th June 2024, 22:28   #6
Distinguished - BHPian
 
arun_josie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 3,762
Thanked: 13,879 Times
Day 4: Punakha Dzong

Day 4: Punakha Dzong

Punakha Dzong, a significant fortress-monastery in Bhutan, was built in 1637 and served as the capital until 1955. Located at the confluence of the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers, it showcases a blend of Bhutanese and Tibetan architectural styles. The dzong's whitewashed walls, golden roofs, and intricate woodwork mesmerize visitors. Inside, the Dzongkhag Tshokhang courtyard hosts religious ceremonies, while sacred relics and paintings adorn the halls. The Bazam Bridge adds to its charm. Punakha Dzong holds historical importance as the crowning site of Bhutan's first king. With its serene riverside location, it offers a glimpse into Bhutan's culture and heritage.

There was not much crowd here. There are many picturesque spots in this monastery to click pictures.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_af2.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_af3.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_af4.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_af5.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_af6.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_af6a.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_af7.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_af8.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_af9.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_af10.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_af11.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_af12.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_af13.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_af15.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_af16.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_af17.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_af18.jpeg

Last edited by arun_josie : 7th June 2024 at 23:38.
arun_josie is online now   (17) Thanks
Old 5th June 2024, 22:42   #7
Distinguished - BHPian
 
arun_josie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 3,762
Thanked: 13,879 Times
Day 4: Punakha suspension bridge

Punakha suspension bridge:

Punakha suspension bridge is very close to Punakha Dzong. This bridge relies on cables anchored to massive cement blocks on the banks. It has those colorful prayer flags and this is one of the longest suspension bridges in Bhutan.

• We were here by 3:15pm and it was cloudy.
• From the parking, we had to do a bit of walking to reach this bridge.
• It was windy and walking was fun.
• We walked on the bridge to the other end and retuned.
• There is a cafι at the other end of the bridge just in case anyone wants to take a break. We skipped it though.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_sb1.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_sb1a.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_sb2.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_sb3.jpeg


Coffee stop at the river side:


After spending some time on the suspension bridge, we moved towards our next stop which was for a quick break at a cafι on the river side.

• We collected some pebbles to take back home for memories.
• Had coffee and some snacks before going to the hotel for the night.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-gp2.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_sb4.jpeg

Stay at Hotel Pema Karpo:

There was a slight change in our plan this day. As per original plan we were supposed stay in a home stay, but due to some unavoidable situation in the home stay, our agent booked us in a different hotel. We were looking forward to the stay at the homestay to experience a Bhutanese home. But, unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.

Anyways, the hotel they had booked for us was good too.

• It was on the riverside.
• We spend some time walking along this river, we couldn’t get close to the water though.
• It was breezy and nice.
• Kids had fun throwing stones on the river.
• The rooms in the hotel were spacious.
• This hotel has a good swimming pool too. But we didn’t use as it was very cold.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_ev11.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_ev1.jpeg

The room was spacious

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_ev1a.jpeg

The view of the river from the hotel room

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_ev2.jpeg

Sankosh River (aka Puna Thsang Chu)

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_ev2a.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_ev2b.jpeg

Spent some time here enjoying the cool breeze and the scenic view. Kids had fun throwing stones on the river.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_ev3.jpeg

We took an evening walk along this river

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d4_ev4.jpeg

Last edited by arun_josie : 8th June 2024 at 20:14.
arun_josie is online now   (19) Thanks
Old 5th June 2024, 23:06   #8
Distinguished - BHPian
 
arun_josie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 3,762
Thanked: 13,879 Times
Day 5 : Journey towards Phobjikha Valley / Quick Shopping (@ Lawala Pass)

Day 5 : Journey towards Phobjikha Valley

• We got up early as the sun rises very early here.
• Had a good breakfast, it was more of an Indian breakfast.
• Packed all our bags and loaded it on top of our bus.
• Started our journey by 9am towards Phobjikha Valley which was our destination for the day.
• Our first stop was for some snacks and coffee/tea. By now it was around 11:00AM.
• We had a good 50 minutes stop here.
• This place had a pool table, so we spent some time with the guide and the driver playing pool.

The weather was getting colder. Once in a while it drizzled too

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-ts1.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-ts2.jpeg

We had some hot momos and coffee

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-ts3.jpeg

My friend, an expert pool player

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-whatsapp-image-20240606-11.43.58-pm.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-ts4.jpeg

Quick Shopping (@ Lawala Pass) :

• This is the entry to Phobjikha Valley. We reached this place around 12:15 PM.
• Very scenic location and there are some small shops that sold shawls, scarves made in baby yak wool and trinkets.
• The ladies didn’t waste a moment here before loosening their purse strings.
• The men and kids just walked around this place exploring the area, the weather was cold and the air was crisp.
• Towards the end it started drizzling, so we had to make a move from here.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-s1.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-s2.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-s3.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-s4.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-s5.jpeg

Some more pics captured after crossing Lawala Pass

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-s6.jpeg

Nice curvy roads

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-s7.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-s8.jpeg

Lunch Stop – Gadhen Ihayuel (Phobjikha Valley)

• It was an authentic Bhutanese lunch. We had Ema Datshi, Kewa Datshi, Pork and Rice. It was nice.
• The view from this hotel was very scenic too.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-pj1.jpeg

Authentic Bhutanese lunch

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-pj1a.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-pj1b.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-pj1c.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-pj1d.jpeg

Black-necked cranes:

Phobjikha Valley is also famous for being the winter home of the black-necked cranes, an endangered species of birds that migrate from the Tibetan Plateau. These cranes arrive in the valley around late October and stay until February, adding a touch of natural wonder to the already breathtaking surroundings. The arrival of the cranes is celebrated with the annual Black-Necked Crane Festival, where locals and visitors come together to honor and raise awareness about the importance of conserving these magnificent birds. Apart from the monastery and the cranes, Phobjikha Valley offers opportunities for hiking and nature walks, allowing visitors to explore its rich biodiversity, encounter unique flora and fauna, and enjoy the serenity of the surroundings. There are also a few quaint villages in the valley where visitors can experience the local way of life, interact with the friendly inhabitants, and learn about traditional Bhutanese culture and livelihoods.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-whatsapp-image-20240606-11.44.53-pm.jpeg

A group pic

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-gp3.jpeg

Phobjikha Valley :

Phobjikha Valley, also known as Gangtey Valley, is a picturesque glacial valley located in central Bhutan. Situated at an elevation of about 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) above sea level, it is renowned for its natural beauty, biodiversity, and its significance as the wintering ground of the endangered black-necked cranes. Phobjikha Valley is characterized by vast open spaces, lush meadows, and beautiful forests of blue pine trees. The valley is surrounded by mountains and offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. It is known for its tranquility and pristine environment, making it a perfect destination for nature lovers and those seeking a peaceful retreat.

• This place reminded me of Khajjiar in Himachal.
• Very less tourist crowd, so going around in this open land was fun.
• Nice landscape and mountain ranges all around.
• The temperature was very cold and we required room heaters for the first time.
• The hotel stay was very good. The room was spacious.
• We settled in very early as it was getting colder outside.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-pj2.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-pj3.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-pj4.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-pj5.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-pj6.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-pj7.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-pj8.jpeg

Last edited by arun_josie : 8th June 2024 at 20:17.
arun_josie is online now   (19) Thanks
Old 6th June 2024, 17:33   #9
Distinguished - BHPian
 
arun_josie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 3,762
Thanked: 13,879 Times
Phuntsho Yangkhil Resort and Day 6: Trail Walk

Stay at Phuntsho Yangkhil Resort
  • This is located in a very scenic location.
  • The room were spacious, neat and clean.
  • The weather was very cold in the evening.
  • Thankfully heater was available in the room.
  • We settled in very early as it was getting colder outside.
  • Unlike Paro or Phuentsholing, these people don't speak/understand Hindi.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-h1a.jpeg

Very nice cottages

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-h1.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-h1b.jpeg

The room was spacious and comfy. It had a room heater too which was very helpful

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-h2.jpeg

Awesome view from the room

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-h3.jpeg

Day 6: Visit to Gangtey Monastery, Trail Walk, Picnic lunch:

The deeper you go into Bhutan, the slower the life moves. The morning breakfast starts by 8:00 AM. The plan for the day was to visit Gangtey Monastery, then a trail walk along the Phobjikha Valley, lunch at a picnic spot and call it a day.

Morning scene from the hotel

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-m1.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-m2.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-whatsapp-image-20240529-10.01.10-pm.jpeg

• We were ready for breakfast by 8:15 am.
• The breakfast options were toasted bread, jam, scrambled eggs, cornflakes, oats etc.
• The coffee here was not piping hot.

The breakfast table setup

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-whatsapp-image-20240606-11.32.26-pm.jpeg

By 9:00 AM we were set for our drive to Gangtey Monastery.

Gangtey Monastery:

One of the valley's major attractions is the Gangtey Monastery, also known as Gangtey Gonpa or Gangtey Sangacholing Monastery. This 17th-century Buddhist monastery sits on a hill overlooking the valley, and it serves as an important religious and cultural center for the region. Visitors can explore the monastery, witness the daily rituals of the monks, and admire the intricate architecture and beautiful paintings inside.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-whatsapp-image-20240601-3.21.39-pm.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-whatsapp-image-20240606-11.32.00-pm.jpeg

Trail Walk:

Phobjikha Valley is a hidden gem in Bhutan, offering a peaceful escape and a chance to connect with nature in a pristine and untouched setting. Whether it's witnessing the graceful cranes, exploring the monastery, or simply immersing oneself in the beauty of the valley, a visit to Phobjikha is a memorable experience that captures the essence of Bhutan's natural and cultural heritage.

After the visit to Gangtey Monastery, we started the trail walk towards our hotel. The trail is roughly around 4-5 Kms. This was also a warm-up for our trekking to Tiger’s Nest in Paro that was coming up soon. One good thing about this trail walk was after the first one Km which was a slope and then it is more of level surface.

• No crowd at all, it was only us on this route.
• Kids enjoyed the entire stretch.
• Initially it started drizzling, thankfully it didn’t get heavier.
• Very less climbs on this route.
• No restrooms or cafιs on this route.
• Loads of open space and scenic views all through.
• Our guide was mostly managing the kids on the walk as they keep running away at times.

The start point of the trail

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-1tw1.jpeg

The complete gang at the start point

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-gp1.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tw1.jpeg

The views kept changing all through this trail

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tw1a.jpeg

Our guide sharing some information about the trees

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tw2.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tw3.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tw3a.jpeg

At some places the path was narrow

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tw4.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tw4a.jpeg

The guys posing

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-whatsapp-image-20240601-8.55.00-pm.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tw5.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tw5a.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tw6.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tw7.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tw8.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tw9.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tw10.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tw11.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tw12.jpeg

Last edited by arun_josie : 8th June 2024 at 20:19.
arun_josie is online now   (18) Thanks
Old 6th June 2024, 17:37   #10
Distinguished - BHPian
 
arun_josie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 3,762
Thanked: 13,879 Times
Day 6: Picnic type lunch (Phobjikha Valley)

Day 6: Picnic lunch (Phobjikha Valley)

Thanks to our guide and driver as they suggested this idea of picnic lunch. So, they took our lunch order in advance, placed the order with a hotel nearby. Our driver went and picked the food while we went on the trail walk. The food was waiting when we returned from the walk.

Our driver also made sure that we had enough plates, spoons, water, mats/bedsheets to put on the ground etc. He also helped to find a very nice location to sit and have the lunch. The only challenge was the gusty wind. It was nice to have lunch in open air with scenic view all around. There was a small stream that was flowing close by the spot.

By the time we finished the lunch, it was 3pm. After lunch we went to a supermarket nearby and got some snacks. With six kids in the group, one can never have enough snacks.

Our driver bringing the lunch for us
To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-whatsapp-image-20240601-8.51.48-pm.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-whatsapp-image-20240529-8.53.58-pm.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-lunch1.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-lunch2.jpeg

Some play time for kids

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-lunch3.jpeg

Crows had their lunch too

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-lunch4.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-lunch5.jpeg

Last edited by arun_josie : 8th June 2024 at 19:17.
arun_josie is online now   (16) Thanks
Old 6th June 2024, 18:05   #11
Distinguished - BHPian
 
arun_josie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 3,762
Thanked: 13,879 Times
Day 7 : Phobjikha Valley – Paro (175 Kms)

Day 7 : Phobjikha Valley – Paro (175 Kms)


To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-map.png

As per Bhutan standard, this was going to be a long day on road. We must cover 175 Kms with expected travel time of around 6-7 hours including the stops.

• After breakfast, we started at 8:30 AM.
• Its all winding roads till Paro.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d71.jpeg

• There was a refueling stop at 9:00 AM (approx.)

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d71a.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d72.jpeg

The winding roads continued...

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d73.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d74.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d75.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d76.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d77.jpeg

• The plan was to keep the stops as short as possible so that we can reach Paro early for some shopping.
• There was a tea stop at 10:30 AM.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d78.jpeg

• There were some shops around this place. So, the ladies didn’t waste any time here either

• We stopped for a loo break around 12:00 PM.

• The lunch stop was at Thimphu @ 1:00 PM. It was a nice veg restaurant run by a Nepali family.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d79.jpeg

• After lunch, we proceeded towards Paro

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d710.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d711.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d712.jpeg

• Just before Paro, we stopped at a souvenir shop for some shopping. This place was recommended by our guide.
• To our bad luck, this place was very crowded.
• We were here for 45 minutes.
• After some shopping, we proceeded towards our hotel and did the check-in by 4:00 PM.

Paro Airport


To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-da1.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-da2.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-da3.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-da4.jpeg

Stay @ Hotel Gakyidiana:

• Nice and clean rooms.
• It was not as spacious as our other hotels in this trip.
• The food was more Indian than Bhutanese.
• The most crowded town in this trip.
• Almost 90% of the tourists are Indians.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-hotel-1.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-hotel-2.jpeg

Shopping in Paro Town:

• We stepped out for souvenir shopping by 4:30 PM.
• The shopping area in Paro town is very organized.
• It was a walkable distance from the hotel.
• There are 2-3 streets full of shops.
• Everyone had a long list of people to buy souvenirs for.
• Cards are not accepted in most of the shops. In the shops which accept cards, they charge extra 3-4% as transaction charges.
• At most of the shops the prices are negotiable but not by a big margin.
• We had coffee at Mountain Cafι on the main road.
• After shopping we returned to the hotel by 7:00 PM.
• We decided to settle early as we had our Tiger’s Nest Monastery trekking next day.

WagonR is the king in their local taxi fleet

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-sh1.jpeg
The shopping street

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-sh2.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-sh3.jpeg

Last edited by arun_josie : 8th June 2024 at 20:20.
arun_josie is online now   (19) Thanks
Old 6th June 2024, 21:07   #12
Distinguished - BHPian
 
arun_josie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 3,762
Thanked: 13,879 Times
Day 8: Hike to Paro Taktshang (Tiger's Nest Monastery)

Day 8: Hike to Paro Taktshang (Tiger's Nest Monastery)

Unlike other hotels, here the breakfast starts early. So, we had our breakfast by 7:00 AM and moved towards the start point of the Tiger’s Nest Monastery trekking. This place was around 10 Kms from our hotel.

Paro Taktsang, also known as Tiger's Nest Monastery, is one of the most iconic and sacred sites in Bhutan. It is a prominent Himalayan Buddhist monastery and temple complex located on a cliffside in the upper Paro Valley, overlooking the stunning Paro Valley and surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty.
Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, flew to this location on the back of a tigress in the 8th century, meditating in a cave for several months. Hence, the monastery was named Tiger's Nest Monastery. Guru Padmasambhava is revered as the patron saint of Bhutan and is credited with introducing Buddhism to the country.

To reach Tiger's Nest Monastery, you will embark on a scenic hike through pine forests and uphill trails. The hike is approximately 2-3 hours long, but the duration can vary depending on your pace and fitness level. Along the way, you will encounter prayer flags, small temples, and stunning viewpoints that offer panoramic vistas of the valley below.

The monastery itself is perched precariously on a cliff, seemingly defying gravity. It is composed of several temples and residential buildings interconnected by stairways and narrow passages. The main temple houses various statues, sacred relics, and beautiful murals depicting Buddhist deities. The spiritual ambiance and the breathtaking views make Tiger's Nest Monastery a truly unique and awe-inspiring destination.

Visiting Tiger's Nest Monastery is considered a pilgrimage for Buddhists, and it holds immense religious significance for the Bhutanese people. Even if you are not a religious person, the cultural and historical importance, coupled with the natural splendor of the location, make it a must-visit attraction for any traveler to Bhutan.

Please note that photography inside the monastery is strictly prohibited, but you can capture stunning views from the viewpoints along the hike. It is also important to dress modestly and respectfully, as Tiger's Nest Monastery is a place of worship.


We started our trekking by 7:30 AM.

This is the start point and you can see the Tiger's Nest Monastery as well

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk1.jpeg

• The monastery is on a hilltop but the approach is to climb atop a hill and down it before climbing the hill on which the monastery sits. So there is uphill and downhill both ways.

• It was the first trek for most of us and we knew that this is going to be a challenging one. One person in the group is an expert trekker though.

• We took the trekking sticks on rent, its 100/- per stick. This was helpful throughout the trek.

• While starting from the room we made sure that our backpacks are lighter.

• With kids in the group, it was going to be a challenge.

• We didn’t want to rush and get tired. So, all of us took sufficient breaks.

• Mule was an option till halfway point, so the youngest kid in the group took the mule.

• The climb starts right from the beginning.

• The path is narrow at some places and wide in other areas.

• The terrain keeps changing. Rocky, sandy, gravelly with steps interspersed. Towards the last third of the trek, there is proper concrete steps on the edge of the hills.

There are some cliffs

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk2.jpg

Rocky terrain and it is irregular

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk3.jpg

My younger son, he enjoyed this trek

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk4.jpg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk5.jpg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk6.jpg

We had to be very cautious at the cliffs

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk7.jpg

Some slopes are not easy too

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk8.jpg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk8a.jpg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk8b.jpg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk8c.jpg

• At places, there were short-cuts but the climb on these short-cuts are very steep. The guides and the locals use these short-cuts. The tourists who aren’t used to the hilly terrain will struggle. My advice is to avoid the short-cuts and take the regular trail.

• We kept taking breaks.

• At halfway point there is a Cafι. This is the only option to take break in this entire trail path.

• We reached here by 9:00 AM.

With the Tiger's Nest in the background

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-gp7.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tkdd1.jpeg

After the break:

We took a good one hour break here and then proceeded further. From here it is a steep climb then there is a downhill stretch before the uphill climb. Our guide was very helpful. With no option of mule anymore, he carried the youngest kid in the group on his shoulder and was ahead of us at a good pace. He said that he does this trek an average of three times a month during peak tourist season.

• Like the first half, even in the second half the terrain kept changing. It is very important to wear good shoes.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk8d.jpg

Small rocks and stones all around

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk8dd.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk8e.jpg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk8f.jpg

With my friends


To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk9.jpg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk9aa.jpeg

There is a small water falls on the way

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk9b.jpeg

With my younger one

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk9c.jpeg

You can see the steps from the other side.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk10.jpg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk11.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk12.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk13.jpeg

• We continued to take breaks and reached the top by 11:15 AM.

• We reached the top in 3 batches. The slowest in the group reached by 12:00 PM.

Tiger's Nest Monastery:

• The entry charge is 1000/- for people above age 10.
• We can’t take the mobiles/camera inside the monastery.
• All our bags and sticks had to be kept inside a locker.
• We spend some time here and started our return trek.

View from the top

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk14.jpeg

Return:

We started our return by 12:15 PM.

• The return is challenging as well. The very steep climbs were now looking like risky downhill slopes. We need to place our foot at the right places to get proper grip. Otherwise, there are chances of slipping and taking a tumble down the hill.

The downhill

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk15.jpg

This downhill was not that easy too

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-20240515_140605.jpg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-tk16.jpg

• People with good fitness levels will not have much difficulty.
• We again stopped at the mid-point cafι for lunch.
• Resumed the downhill trek after lunch.
• Reached our parking by 3:30 PM.

Overall, it was a fun filled trekking experience. This is not an easy one at the same time not an impossible one either. It is tough, but if you take enough breaks and have the patience then you can complete it. This trekking experience has induced more interest in me to do such treks in future.

We reached the hotel by 4:15 PM

At 5:00 PM, some of us just walked around to get some Tiger Nest Monastery souvenir t-shirts and buy other pending stuffs.


Hot Stone Bath:


After the arduous trek to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, we were advised to go for a massage or take a hot stone bath. My friend Nithil was very insistent that we should experience the hot stone bath after the trek. To prepare a stone bath, they use river water that’s heated with the stones from the river in a wooden tub mixed with Artemisia leaves. The stones are roasted on fire till they are glowing red and then dropped into the bath. You will not come in contact with the stones. The water temperature is increased by adding more heated stones into a wooden chamber via a chute. This chamber is connected to the main tub which contains the water we soak in. It is expensive, but you get to be in the hot water for 1 hour.

The minerals that are released from these stones and leaves are believed to have healing power to hypertension, arthritis, joint pains etc. It also helps to relax the tight muscles and regain energy. We were asked to drink cold water and to stand up inside the tub every 10 minutes to avoid getting overheated. This bath is not advised for people with BP issues.

I was skeptical about the healing powers of this bath when I went in. We finished the hour-long bath and had dinner and ended the day. I slept the moment I hit the bed. Next thing I know I wake up feeling as fresh as a daisy. I expected a tough recovery day considering the challenging trek the day before. But, it ended up being just another day in the trip. No soreness or body aches. No DOMS or muscle pain. The hot stone bath truly worked. Not just for me. For everyone else in our group too. So, it is good to experience this if you are doing the Tiger’s Nest Monastery trek.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-hot-stone.jpeg

Last edited by arun_josie : 8th June 2024 at 20:22.
arun_josie is online now   (17) Thanks
Old 6th June 2024, 21:48   #13
Distinguished - BHPian
 
arun_josie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 3,762
Thanked: 13,879 Times
Day 9– Paro to Phuentsholing, Crossing the border, Stay at Majhgram Chabri (290 Kms, 8-9 hours)

Day 9– Paro to Phuentsholing, Crossing the border, Stay at Majhgram Chabri (290 Kms, 8-9 hours)

This was the longest day on road during this trip. It was about crossing the border and then travelling another 120 Kms to our day’s destination in West Bengal. After crossing the border, we spend two days in a tea estate. This idea was to take a break and avoid rushing to Bagdogra to catch the flight on the same day of crossing the border.

Lost and Found – Mobile:

Our plan was to start early by 8:00 AM. However, one of us misplaced their mobile while shopping the previous night. By the time we had realized in the night, the shop was closed. The shop was expected to open by 10:00 am only. Thanks to help from the hotel folks and our guide, we were able to get the shop owner’s number and he agreed to open the shop early for us to retrieve the mobile. This helped us to start by 8:30 AM.

The trip started with our guide misplacing his mobile after we stopped at a fruit shop and the Bhutan segment ended with another mobile lost and recovered.

All set to start our journey towards the border

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d91.jpg

• After this drama, we started at 8:30 AM and stopped at 10:00 AM for refueling.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d92.jpg

• In another 20 minutes we stopped for a snack break.
• It was a nice hotel, had lot of options for snacks.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d93.jpg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-ld.jpeg

• After this stop, we proceeded towards Phuentsholing.

• On the way, it started drizzling and at one point the visibility went to zero.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d94.jpg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d95.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d96.jpeg

• We reached Phuentsholing by 1:00 PM and stopped for lunch.

• Initial plan was to cross the border and then have lunch but we decided to have the lunch in Phuentsholing itself.
• It was a buffet lunch and for one last time before leaving Bhutan, we had ema datshi.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d97.jpeg

• After lunch we reached the border.

• Ladies went around for some a quick shopping again in a shop they had scouted while we were in Phuentsholling while entering Bhutan. Leave it to the ladies to squeeze the last-minute shopping.

• We already started feeling the hot weather.

• The border crossing was uneventful, we had to take the luggage with us. Our guide and his friend helped us.

• On the other side of the border, we had to walk a bit to reach our Tempo Traveller.

• Our guide had arranged to carry our luggage on a push cart.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d910.jpeg

• We again felt the difference in environment on both the sides of the border. Phuentsholing is neat, clean, and very organized. Jaigon is dusty and congested with bad roads. However, once we were out of Jaigon, the roads were very good.

• We had to bid adieu to our driver and guide here.

Almost lost a Mobile - One more Mobile incident:

The mobile incidents refused to leave us. At the border we were trying to unload the luggage. We were all outside the bus dealing with the luggage when an unknown person entered our bus and tried to take away our driver’s mobile which was left inside. Thankfully my elder son spotted this and questioned him. He immediately left the mobile back and escaped. We were happy that we didn’t lose the mobile. This happened just before we were to bid adieu to the driver.

One last click of the bus.


To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d98.jpeg

Jaigon to our home stay at Majhgram Chabri :

We started from Jaigon at 2:15 PM. Once we were out of the town, the roads were very good. We stopped in between for tea and reached our home stay by 5:15 PM.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d911.jpeg

Majhgram Chabri:

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d912.jpeg

• This is in the middle of a tea estate.
• There are 3 rooms. So, 3 families can stay at a time. This suited us nicely as we were 3 families.
• Rooms are on first and second floor
• The rooms were spacious and clean.
• It had enough charging points for all our gadgets.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d913.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d914.jpeg

• Food was good. They cook both veg and non-veg.

• This is a good place to do nothing and just relax.

• It was too hot and humid so we didn’t step out much. This place will be good during monsoon/winter season.

• During the day, we watched the movie “Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya”. It was silly fun watching it together.

• We spent two nights here just relaxing, playing card games, some cricket etc. Of course, we had to unpack and repack our luggage for the air travel.

• Tasted locally made Rasgullas. wow the taste was awesome. It was nothing like I have tasted so far.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d915.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d916.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d917.jpeg

Thanks to Bhpian Samba for suggesting this place.

Back to Bangalore.

So, that’s the hardest part after vacation, going back home. We didn’t get a TT this time, so took two innovas, Thanks to Dipan who helped us to arrange these taxis. Otherwise, we were finding it tough to arrange the taxis from the tea estate.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d918.jpeg

The taxi guys were on time and loaded all the luggage in both the innovas. The roads were all good till the airport with no traffic.

This truck broke down while taking "U" turn.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d919.jpeg

One last click before we boarded the flight @ Bagdogra

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-gp8.jpeg

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-gp9.jpeg

The flight(Akasa) was ahead of time and landed 30 minutes earlier in Bangalore.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d920.jpeg

The moment we were on the Bangalore roads, the traffic welcomed us. It took around two hours and 45 minutes to reach home.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d921.jpeg

Last edited by arun_josie : 8th June 2024 at 20:25.
arun_josie is online now   (21) Thanks
Old 6th June 2024, 22:16   #14
Distinguished - BHPian
 
arun_josie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 3,762
Thanked: 13,879 Times
What I liked about this trip and About our driver (Nema) and guide (Tara), Likes and Dislikes

What I liked about this trip:

• Bhutan is a very clean and beautiful country. even the crowded part of their towns are very clean.

• Very disciplined traffic, everyone on the road follows the traffic rules with impeccable road etiquette.

• Beautiful landscapes and it keeps getting better as you go deeper in to the country.

• Very friendly and helpful people, who go out of their way to be kind to you.

• Less tourist crowd on the road, never got stuck in any traffic.

• Loved trekking to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, it was worth the effort that we put to climb.

• Phobjikha valley is a picturesque location. This place reminded me of Khajjiar in Himachal.

• The trail walk in Phobjikha valley was a very good experience and the picnic lunch was fun.

• Punakha Dzong is another picturesque location.

• Thimphu had some nice viewpoints and the Buddha Dordenma Statue.

• Indian currency is accepted for all cash transactions.

• With a good driver and a guide, we just had to follow their instructions and enjoy the trip. There was no need for us to track the route or decide on the stops for food/fueling or plan the next destination etc.

• Traveling as a group in one vehicle was fun too.

What could have been better?

• We must pay SDF fee at the entry, this is 1200/- per day for each of us. For kids its 600/-. This is high I felt. But this probably is helping to keep the crowd under control.

• For your own vehicles, they are charging 4500/- per day. I feel this is on the higher side.

• Paro looked more of commercial place and crowded when compared to other places that we visited in this trip. The food here is more Indian and the shopkeepers speak Hindi as well

• Things happen at snail pace here; Food takes longer time to arrive at the hotels. We avoided the delays by calling ahead and ordering the food while still on the way. Our guide helped us with this logistics. The more you stay there, you will get used to their speed and maybe you will start liking their slow life instead of the fast-paced life you live back home.

• You have to deal with cash as they are not card-friendly.

• Direct flight to Paro in Bhutan is too expensive. It’s at least 2.5X of the cost via bagdogra

• Coffee/Tea is not served as hot as in India. We could only get lukewarm beverages here.

About our driver (Nema) and guide (Tara)

Our driver(Nema) was a very safe driver all through the trip. He was always maintaining the speed limit which is slower than the norm for the Indian drivers. No honking at all except once when another car came on the wrong lane. I don’t remember any unnecessary or sudden braking as well. No hesitancy in allowing us to play the songs that we wanted. He always had a smile on his face. And more importantly we had 2-3 people with motion sickness in the group. He was very mindful of this while driving. No one felt uncomfortable during the drives.

Our guide Tara is very knowledgeable and helpful. His recommendations for restaurants were spot-on. During the trekking and trail walk, he took care of the kids. In fact, he carried one kid on the shoulder during our trekking. While crossing the border, he had arranged people to carry our luggage. All the stops for lunch, tea breaks he suggested were good.
Both the driver and guide were always on time.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-d99.jpeg

When I got a chance to hold the steering

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-driver.jpeg

The Travel Agent:

We got in touch with them through my friend. They were very helpful in scheduling the trip and incorporating our inputs as well. Dipan was the person who was interacting with us and he kept checking with us every day to make sure that we are comfortable and enjoying the trip.

The bus - Toyota Coaster (20 seater):

Actual plan was to take a 12 seater only. But when the number of passengers became 12, we decided to go for a bigger vehicle. Since we didn’t get any 15-16 seater, we decided to go with the 20-seater. This was a good decision because, it was very spacious, and we had enough space to spread out. This bus has run around 3.5L Kms but it didn’t feel like that at all. The driver said that its just the standard maintenance that he follows.

The windows of this bus is big and gave us clear view to enjoy the scenery outside. From our entry into Bhutan till our exit, the bus and driver were the same.

To the Land of the Thunder Dragon | Bhutan | Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentsholing-6.jpeg

The Travel Agent:

We got in touch with them through my friend. They were very helpful in scheduling the trip and incorporating our inputs as well. Dipan was the person who was interacting with us, and he kept checking with us every day to make sure that we are comfortable and enjoying the trip.

Final Note:


It was tough to be not driving during this trip. But with excellent company of friends, we had a fantastic and a memorable trip.

As mentioned at the beginning of this travelogue, my friend helped us to schedule this trip which had ample time at each of the location we visited. The driver and guide made sure that we had no worries about any of the plans/activities during this trip. It was a seamless experience from the beginning to the end. A fun trip that left us with a lifetime of memories. So, a big thanks to my friend Nithil too.

Looking forward to another such wonderful trip.

If you've reached here, thank you so much for reading.

Last edited by arun_josie : 8th June 2024 at 20:27.
arun_josie is online now   (35) Thanks
Old 8th June 2024, 22:02   #15
Team-BHP Support
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 18,162
Thanked: 78,329 Times
Re: A trip to land of thunder dragon (Bhutan) – Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha Valley, Paro, Phuentshol

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
Aditya is offline   (4) Thanks
Reply

Most Viewed
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Copyright ©2000 - 2024, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks