To Visit/Not to Visit
I was annoyed as irritating inconveniences (read about them below) kept recurring from the start of this trip.By the time we started to Paro from the border town I had my miserable mode ON. But an hour into the drive unbelievable forests started to appear and every not so good feeling I felt up until then vaporized in an instant.For next six hours me and my friend were glued to the windshield and I was like – WOAH! This is nothing like I have seen ever before!!!
Bhutan is mythical. You should visit this country if you are nature lover. Even if you aren’t visit this country as you will become one. I think one of the biggest reason on the country being happiest nation is nature.People here coexist with nature and not the other way round.A wonderful lesson learnt.
Places to visit
Though small country it is impossible to cover all of it in a week.When people ask me which all places you visited I don’t have much to tell apart from dzongs/museums.Bhutan is not a touristy country and is more of nature’s paradise. You will see trees which you didn’t think existed and you will now know there can be 6-8 different types of pine trees.You need not drive to a view-point here to see some incredible views.They are waiting for you at every turn <3.Do not fret if you can’t cover all the places you have in mind.
Hassles and what to do about them
- The immigration office at Phuentsholing is closed on the weekend.Imagine the distress of knowing it two days prior departure.This one was enough toss our itinerary out the window.You can also apply for travel permit but well in advance (8-10 days prior) from Kolkata. The immigration office opens from 8 am – 5 pm and are busiest on Monday.The queue for forms starts as early as 4 am. Please get in touch with travel agents once you reach the border town.Also if you plan on hiring vehicle from India you will need separate vehicle permits. The vehicle permits are issued from 1 pm onward ( Now you know why I got miserable ). We lost 3 days because of this :(.The best plan is to enter the country on Friday.
- None of the ATMs work.Carry enough cash.
- Most of tourists go to Thimpu first. Hence head to Paro. You will avoid them.Tiger’s Nest is a must visit and do not keep the trek to the last.There is lot of travel on road and you might be sick or tired at the end of the trip.We went from Phuentsholing -> Paro ->Thimpu ->Punaka ->Haa ->Par0 ->Phuentsholing.
- The life in Bhutan is relaxed.There is no hurry what so ever. This implies that no shops/restaurants are open at 10 am(?!).There is no breakfast served in hotels as well. Everything opens after 11 am. Restaurants take at-least an hour to serve food at any time of the day as they do not cook in advance.At one restaurant she went to buy curd when we ordered for lassi!!! So stick to simple breakfast ( bread + cheese/tuna) and explore the place.
- They are pretty strict about clothing at religious places.Keep everything covered except your face (both men and women). If you’re wearing their national dress Kira then you are supposed to wear the religious shawl as well.
- If you plan on going to Haa Valley kindly note the place is not for sightseeing.It is for trekkers.A hike is apt way to explore Haa.
- If you plan to shop, Paro is better place than Thimpu as it is highly expensive.