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Where can you take a vacation that will leave you completely relaxed? Wondering why you should be interested in a small country like Bhutan? Well,  Bhutan is one of the most visited places in terms of tourism for many reasons.

It is known by many different names such as, The Land of Druk Yul or The Land of the Thunderbolt because of the violent thunderstorms that take upon the nation, however, it is one of the most peaceful places in the world. 

History & How to Visit Bhutan?

Where is Bhutan? The country of Bhutan is on the southern slopes of the Eastern Himalayas between Tibet, China, and India. Bhutan is one of the most visited places in terms of tourism for many reasons.

The small country has a beautiful and clean environment. Forts, monasteries, trekking sports, shopping areas and other Buddhist relics are what make this a tourist attraction and worth a visit.

The country is a rare sight in the world today. Captured in pictures, it looks surreal. A delicate and divine glimpse of both nature and history which is untouched to lengths by modernization.

A perfect place to visit if you need a peaceful retreat from your busy life. Bhutan has valleys that go on and on, look over the majestic Himalayas, and have an enormous amount of flora and fauna to fawn over. Tourists are mesmerized with the natural beauty the country has to offer.

Every year tourists come to experience this from all parts of the world improving the tourism industry in Bhutan. 

When one visits Bhutan, they will feel like they are passing through the spirit of Buddhism and can feel the never-ending magic in the air. From the wildlife sanctuaries to the monasteries, to the colourful villages and festivals, history and nature can be seen everywhere.

This is what makes Bhutan special, it tries to make the country experience with each visit. The Land of the Dragon offers immense peace and serenity which attracts people from all over the world to pay their visits! 

En Route Bhutan: 

Bhutan can be reached through air transport, road transport or railway transport. There are direct flights available to many countries. There are two entry roads through Phuentsholing and Gelephu. These are linked to the states of West Bengal and Assam and they are the only land borders open to the world. 

By Car- 

Tourists are welcome to opt for taxies, buses, or any other local transportation to reach Bhutan. 

Phuentsholing is around 170 km away from the Indian national airport at Bagdogra, West Bengal. It is the nearest airport to Bhutan and it takes about a 5 hours drive to Phuentsholing.

Gelephu is another entry point to Bhutan situated in south-central Bhutan. It is 250 km from the capital, Thimphu. To reach Thimphu, travellers have to go through the sub-tropical areas and the alpine zones of Bhutan. It takes approximately ten hours to cross through three beautiful dzongkhags (districts).

By Train-

There are no direct trains that head to Bhutan. Tourists have to reach the nearest train stations and then choose to take a cab or local transport to the country. The best options are Siliguri, new Alipurduar, Hasmira and New Jalpaiguri. 

  • Hasimara is operated by the Indian Railways, it is merely just 17km away from Phuentsholing. 
  • New Alipurduar railway station is only at a distance of 60km from Jaigaon. Buses and taxis are available at both these destinations. 
  • One of the most convenient ways for travellers to reach Bhutan by land is New Jalpaiguri Station in Siliguri. Direct shared taxis and buses from Siliguri to Jaigaon are available here. 
By Bus- 

Indian tourists can opt to take a bus tour from Kolkata into Bhutan. A direct bus from Esplanade Station in Kolkata to Phuentsholing in Bhutan is available. The bus journey is considered to be very comfortable and it takes about 18 hours to reach Phuentsholing from Kolkata. 

Siliguri has the frequent bus service to Phuentsholing/Jaigaon. It takes less than a four-hour journey.

By Air- 

There is only one international airport in Bhutan. Any flight entering through the air will be through here. This airport is surrounded by beautiful scapes of mountains and is constructed at a height of 7300ft. above sea level.

There is a domestic airport in use as well in South-Central Bhutan in Gelephu. It is recommended to take flights from Mumbai, Kolkata, New Delhi, Kathmandu and Bangkok especially if you’re flying in from another foreign country.

List of Must Visit Places In Bhutan:

1.The Tiger’s Nest

Also known as Taktsang Palphug Monastery. It is located in Paro, approximately 10km away from the city. The monastery, its architecture, designs, location, history, everything is interestingly made.

This monastery is considered to be the cultural icon of Bhutan. What makes it all the more unique and fascinating is the fact that it hangs off a cliff in the Paro Valley.  

2.Punakha Suspension Bridge Chele La Pass

Punakha is a town which is 3 hours away from the capital city, Thimphu. Punakha Dzong which is known to be the second-largest dzong, the suspension bridge is found spanning the Po Chu River right next to it. It is known as the lane of flags as it is decorated with colourful and vibrant flags. This is a very famous tourist attraction.

3.Chele La Pass

This is one of the most popular tourist spots. It gives you a view of the Himalayas. This pass is found en route to Haa Valley and is located at 13,000 feet above in the west from the Paro Valley.

It is surrounded by the Himalayan range and Mount Jomolhari. This is the country’s most sacred mountain and it’s over 22,000 feet. Tourists often come here to look over the Himalayan Range. 

4.Bumthang Hidden Valleys

As the name suggests it is believed that in Buddhism, there are valleys that seem to be separated from the contact of the outside world and they provide sanctuary to those seeking solace in times of need.

These hidden valleys are described to be like paradise and heaven on Earth. They are also called the Switzerland of the East. 

5.Buddha Statue

This golden-bronze Buddha statue showcases outstanding artworks and perfect frames. It is considered to be a sacred site to the Buddhists of the country. It is 169 feet tall and overlooks the entrance of the city, Thimphu. There are 1,25,000 small figures of Buddhas contained inside it.  

6.Handicraft Market

The handicraft market consists of beautiful and authentic artefacts belonging to the Bhutanese religion and culture which represent the traditions of the country.

Beautiful clothing with delicate embroidery, carved wooden souvenirs, scroll painting and precious jewellery made out of gold, silver and stones are to be found in these markets sold by welcoming shopkeepers who are mostly women.

7.Haa Valley

The Haa Valley is counted as one of the most popular places visited by tourists. It is only 13km away from the India-China border. Haa Valley is famous for its rich diversity of animal and plant life it has.

It gives a view of Chomolhari and is a quiet place away from the crowd for nature lovers. Hence, hiking and biking are also considered an activity which is popular in this region.

8.Dagala Thousand Lakes

The Dagala Thousand Lakes is one of the most enchanting and serene views the country has to offer. It is a landscape that should not be missed if you love nature.

A mixture of adventure and thrill as you trek along the path towards this divine destination.

9.Jigme Dorji National Park

If you are a wildlife enthusiast, you must come here. Bhutan has many wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. However, this is the second-largest national park in Bhutan. It stretches for an area of 1316km and one should keep their cameras in their hands to spot animals like Bengal tiger, snow leopard, Himalayan blue sheep, and black bear. 

10.Chomolhari

Chomolhari, also known as Jomohari is a mountain that is based on the border of Tibet and Bhutan at a height of 7,326m above sea level. It is a rare beautiful sight to behold.

It is also often referred to as the BRIDE OF THE KANCHENJUNGA. The glacial lakes, the snow-capped mountains and splendid views of the landscapes are a treat to the eyes. 

11.Monasteries

Bhutan is a country of monasteries, so many monasteries all over the country catch the eyes of tourists. 

Things To Do On Your Bhutan Trip:

1. Go for a trek

Bhutan consisting of crystal clear lakes, mountain peaks, green valleys, monasteries, cultural history and tradition has many places to undertake a  trekking journey.  

For instance, Jomolhari Trek, Druk Path Trek, Merak Sakteng Trek and many more are available in Bhutan.  

2.. Go birdwatching and visit nature

The Jigme Dorji National Park is home to many birds and animals. It is a pleasant visit for bird and animal lovers. The music of the birds make this visit all the more beautiful.

One can witness amazing out of the world wildlife experiences in this country. There are wildlife safaris where you can see black bears, golden langurs, Asiatic lion, tigers, and a variety of birds.

3. Explore the history of Bhutan

If the history of Bhutan interests you, go on a deep search to find out more information about Bhutan. Visit the Trongsa Dzong, this is the ancestral home of the Bhutan royal family. This fortress looks over the Mangde River, it was built around 463 years ago. 

4.Hot Spring Therapy

Gasa Tshachus is known as a hot spring. The locals often used to enjoy these hot springs but now it is open and is used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. It is said that it helps in relieving body aches and arthritis ailments. 

5.Attend Festivals

Bhutan is a country which focuses more on their National Happiness than their Gross Domestic Product. There are many local festivals and cultural traditions which are carried out all year round.

This will give you a vibrant experience to view and enjoy these festivities and feel closer to Bhutanese tradition and history. 

6.Suspension Bridge

A visit to the Suspension Bridge in Punakha is a must-visit. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful attractions since it is considered to capture postcard-worthy pictures. Surrounded by numerous mountains and the river, it gives the perfect setting for an amazing picture! 

7. Visit the Philatelic Bureau

Philately is the study of postage stamps and postal history. It also refers to the collection, appreciation and research activities on stamps and other philatelic products.

The National Post office in Bhutan’s Thimphu changed the stamp hobby to a whole new level. This post office carries out its normal functions but also turns your pictures into stamps.

You can submit your picture or get your picture clicked there and receive a sheet of stamps with your picture on it. This is a cute memory and souvenir to carry back.

8. Bhutan’s Cuisine

One of the country’s traditional cuisines is known as Datshi. It is also recognized as one of the symbols of Bhutan. It is declared by the country as a popular dish. “Datshi” is made up of cheese, vegetables, pepper while “Ema” means chillies.

 9. Weekend Market

Do not miss out on the weekend market, handicraft market or the antique market. All three have different, yet unique methods of showcasing the country’s heritage beautifully.

Explore the markets of Bhutan and get anything you want from embroidered boots to handmade papers.

10. Archery

If you are in a country where the national sport is Archery, then one must go there and try it out. There are archery competitions that take place around the country by men in different coloured robes.

 11. River Rafting And Kayaking

The rivers of the country are calm and are open to the public to enjoy water sports like river rafting and kayaking. Bhutan has pleasurable rides where you’re floating down the river.

You can appreciate and view the lush greenery, rare birds, clear skies, and blue waters of Bhutan. The best time to indulge in water sports as this is after the monsoon season because the flow of water increases. 

Best Time To Visit The Country Of Happiness- Bhutan

The best time to visit Bhutan would be from March to May when the valleys come to life. In these months, tourists should visit to experience things in their beautiful state.

With the clear skies in the range, the Himalayan peaks are too beautiful to be missed. It is considered to be the best time for trekking.

Even though temperatures will be on the colder side, this is the best time to visit for these purposes and to explore.

FAQS About Travelling To Bhutan: 

Ques: Is Bhutan a nice place to visit for a honeymoon? 

Ans: Absolutely! An ideal place for couples. There are several honeymoon places in Bhutan where the main attraction lies in the tranquil woodland walk, verdant valleys, and snow-swathed mountains.

Ques: Do I need to use a tour operator to book my travel?

Ans: Yes, it is Bhutanese government regulation that you must use a licensed Bhutanese Tour operator to book your tour to Bhutan or one of their international associates.

Ques: Do we have to apply for a visa?

Ans: A visa is not required. If you are an Indian National, you need to carry your valid passport having a validity of a minimum of 6 months or your voter ID Card. 

Ques: Does the Bhutan Tourism Spend rule apply to Indians?

Ans: Previously it did not apply to Indians, Maldivians or Bangladeshis. However, starting from July 2020, the rule will apply to all Indians, Maldivians and Bangladeshis although we would be expected to spend near Rs.1200 approx. whereas, foreigners have to spend around $250 per day.

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By Abhishek Saraswat

Abhishek (@himalayan_gypsy) is a travel photographer and blogger known as Himalayan Gypsy over the internet. Academically from an engineering background and born the Himalayan valley of Dehradun, he found himself in love with nature and ever since he has been on a journey to travel India and showcase the beauty of the country through his pictures, motivating and encouraging people on the go to feel the same and also take responsibilities to conserve our rich heritage, culture and environment. He is a Certified Digital Marketer and a Travel Influencer who is efficient to create visually appealing content for Travel Brands, Property Owners, Cafes and other Product Shoots. He also specializes in running Facebook & Instagram Ad Campaigns for Brand Awareness, Brand Promotion and Online Reputation Management.

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