Hi! I am Daniel. Happy to share my views and unforgettable moments of Bhutan trip.
If Bhutan has been known throughout the world for something, it´s by their decision to put the collective happiness of its population before the economic wealth through the Gross National Happiness. It is surprising that when the effects of climate change are increasingly evident around the world, this country of just 700,000 inhabitants, surrounded by giants (India and China) is the only one in the world whose carbon footprint is negative and whose constitution requires that at least 60% of the country must be covered by forest.
Traveling to Bhutan is totally different from trip to any other country. Beginning with the flight from Kathmandu, the experience and feeling that something big is yet to come overflows the traveler. Just 20 minutes after take-off from the capital city of Nepal, you will have the chance to see Mt. Everest from the window of the plane. That’s not only the scenery, you can have amazing view of the Makalu and Kanchenjunga on a short but intense flight.
The moment you land in Paro and down-stairs of the plane, the first sensational feeling is purity of the air that you breathe. The adrenaline of the landing between the mountains also increases the joy of the traveler. “Welcome to the Land of the Thunder Dragon!”
From Paro, the traveler has lot of options upon their choice:
For those who prefer classics and cultural trips, a tour of Paro, Thimphu and Punakha (from 5-6 days) is the best option with short distances which makes a comfortable trip avoiding long transfers by road.
For those who are intrepid and thirsty of adventures, Central and Eastern Bhutan offers them an amazing combination of wild mountain landscape with the original culture and lifestyle of its population far from the developed west of the country. Bumthang, Gangtey or Trongsa must be included in the route, especially in festival season, as you can view many auspicious occasions. Also, this option is perfect too, if you are willing to experience trekking and some adventure activities like Rafting.
Whatever your decision, you will find some common highlights along the country: Preserved nature, Tibetan culture, Buddhism, local gastronomy, traditional lifestyle and the kindness of Bhutanese people. The combination of all these things, makes this country a paradise to discover a completely different way of life while the journey transforms you.
5 MUST EXPERIENCES IF YOU TRAVEL TO BHUTAN
Visiting Bhutan is already a unique moment in life, but there are some experiences you shouldn´t miss to make it a memorable trip:
Hike to Tiger Nest:
A once in a lifetime experience that any intrepid traveler should have in their bucket list. The 3 hours hike allows to the monastery where it´s believed that Guru Rinpoche flew into from Tibet and subdued a demon. Hanging on a cliff and with sacred caves inside the monastery, the route is enjoyed from the beginning to the arrival at monastery. Take some minutes to meditate and fulfill this amazing journey. The effort will worth it!
Visit Punakha Dzong:
Not the biggest, not the oldest, but without any doubt, the most beautiful Dzong (Fortress) in Bhutan is in Punakha. Built in a perfect location, the confluence of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu river, the best moment to visit this majestic place is in spring, when the jacaranda trees that surround the Dzong are flourished. As per the 1200 m. altitude of Punakha, it´s a great place to stay also in the hard winter of Bhutan, with warmer temperatures than Thimphu or Paro.
Try the Bhutanese local dishes:
Gastronomy in Bhutan is still to discover. Mainly vegetarian, Bhutanese cuisine has a lot of creative combinations of vegetables, meat and species with a crossover of Himalayan food, finding typical Tibetan dishes like Dumplings or Thukpa.
It´s fascinating how the tradition is present in gastronomy as well. Most of the restaurants and homes serve the food in wooden bowls and like many other Asian countries the food is eaten with the hands.
Don´t miss it!
Babesa Village Restaurant (Thimpu)
Hotel Lobesa (Punakha)
Aum Choden Homestay (Paro)
See the sunrise from Dochula Pass:
Located in the border between Thimphu and Punakha District, Dochula Pass at 3,100 metres over the sea, host a Memorial built with 108 Chorten in honor of Bhutanese soldiers. Dochula Pass offer a 360º panoramic view where the traveler can see some of the highest mountains in Bhutan, like Mt. Gangkar Puensum (7570 m), Tari gang (7304 m) or Masagang (7194 m). Those views make this place a perfect spot to enjoy a memorable sunrise in the Himalayas that will be difficult to forget.
Relax with a Hotstone bath:
Probably the best way to end your trip after the hike of Tiger Nest. The process is unique, using medicinal water heated by stones that previously had been roasted for hours. This wellness therapy has a lot of physical and mental benefits that will relieve you with heat of the water, the khempa herb and the minerals released from stones. Along the country it is easy to find all style of Hotstone bath, from the rustic ones used in homestays, to the luxury found in the best hotels and resort of Bhutan.