Bhutan (Thimphu - Punakha - Paro)

Flights

After Nepal, we flew to Bhutan - The land of the Thunder Dragon. We booked multi leg flights for our Nepal-Bhutan trip. Dhaka to Kathmandu via Biman Bangladesh airlines, Kathmandu to Paro via Druk airlines and from Paro to Dhaka also via Druk airlines.


Tiger Nest

Visa

As a Bangladeshi citizen we got on arrival visa at Bhutan airport. If you are not a citizen of Bangladesh, India or Maldives, you most likely have to apply for visa before traveling to Bhutan. Also, most foreign nationals are only allowed to travel with government approved travel agency and have to pay flat 250USD per day which covers all costs.


Foods

In Bhutan, we didn't eat out much due to limited options. However, all hotels we have stayed had great chef and better choice of Indian food. We used to order an hour before our meal because they usually start cooking after the order is placed, not your typical restaurant :)


Day 1 - Paro to Thimphu


We pre-arranged airport pickup via our hotel and our driver picked us up from greeting area. They welcomed us by putting a white silk scarf around our neck, known as "Khata" which is a ceremonial scarf used to welcome and bid near and dear ones. From airport, we drove to Thimphu directly. It was a scenic drive to Thimphu. We reached Thimphu in the evening and booked a complete tour package for 7 days via our hotel. Also we applied for the route permission to travel to Punakha district via our hotel.


Entering Thimphu City


Day 2 - Thimphu (Sightseeing around the city!)

Most of our sightseeing in Thimphu were involved visiting Dzongs, which are essentially government/royal buildings. These are extraordinary structures, normally with decorated white walls and impressively decorative ceilings.  

We wake up early morning and had our breakfast in the hotel. Our driver picked us from the hotel around 9 in the morning. At first, we stopped at the Parliament house and was amazed with the beautiful architecture. King’s Palace was just beside the Parliament house. Unfortunately, none of these places are open for tourists. Our driver took us a view point from where we captured this amazing view of Parliament house and King’s Palace.





Later, we visited King's Memorial Chorten also known as Thimphu Chorten, is the most visible religious landmark in Bhutan. This is a very busy place as all kinds of people gather here to worship. We visited there early morning to avoid busy time.


King's Memorial Chorten


King's Memorial Chorten

Buddha Point

From King's Memorial Chorten, we went to see the Buddha Dordenma Statue. It is a huge 51m-tall steel statue of Buddha Dordenma which dominates over the valley of Thimphu. This is a must visit place in Thimphu, and we got an spectacular view of Thimphu from here. 


Buddha Dordenma Statue


Buddha Point


View of Thimphu town

After Buddha Point, we went for lunch to a nearby restaurant.  Our driver picked us from restaurant after lunch and we went to Takin Zoo (National Animal of Bhutan). The entrance fee of the zoo was Nu100 per person. In the zoo, we found few large trees and only few Takins. So, our excitement about visiting Takin zoo ended up with disappointment. 

Later, we visited Simtokha Dzong, which is a small Dzong and often said to be the first dzong built in Bhutan. We spent couple of hours at Simtokha Dzong and finished our trip for that day. On our way back to hotel, we stopped at the Clock Tower and visited some nearby shops.


Clock Tower

Day 3 - Thimphu to Punakha

We collected our permission stamp to visit Punakha delivered at our hotel and started our trip to Punakha the next day. On our way to Punakha we stopped at Dochu La Pass. It is a concentration of 108 memorial stupas, 3100 m high mountain pass in the snow covered Himalayas within Bhutan on the road from Thimphu to Punakha. This place provides 360-degree panoramic views of the Himalayas. It was a windy and cold day in January but the sky was clear and we were blessed with great views of Himalayas. 


Dochu La Pass


Dochu La Pass

View of Himalayas

After a short tea break at Dochu La Pass, we resumed our drive to Punakha. Upon reaching there, we visited Chimi Lhakhang Temple (The fertility temple), Punakha Dzong, and Punakha Suspension bridge.

Punakha Dzong is pretty huge and beautiful fortress. The Punakha Dzong, often referred to as the 'Palace of Happiness', is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan. We decided to spend more time at Punakha Dzong and saved this place as our last stoppage of the day.



Punakha Dzong

We took some photos of Punakha Dzong from road and went to visit Punakha Suspension Bridge. Punakha Suspension Bridge is the second biggest suspension bridge in the world and a well built metal bridge going over the river. We had small fight wile taking photos (couple will understand) and could not enjoy our first visit to Punakha Suspension Bridge.


Punakha Suspension Bridge

On our way back from suspension bridge, we sorted out our issues and decided to come back here next morning. Later, we stopped at Punakha Dzong and spent couple of hours there. We were amazed with sound of the river flowing below the connecting bridge, nice ambiance and soothing weather there.

We decided to spend one night in Punakha. Our driver dropped us in the hotel and after checking into the hotel we went for walk to nearby area and enjoyed the local life in Punakha. The nearby area was not developed enough but it was very quiet and peaceful environment there.



Day 4 - Punakha


Next morning, we went to Punakha Dzong again as it was so beautiful and did some photo-shoot there. From there, we went to Punakha Suspension Bridge to take some happy photos. We requested our driver to come with us as our photographer to resolve any further issues.

Later that day, we visited Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten. We hiked up to the top and was amazed with the Elaborately decorated architecture.


Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten


View from top of Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten

After that we visited Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery which is the learning and meditation centre for the nuns. The prayer hall with its wood carving was amazing. We found few nuns there who were practising their learning.
This place provided us a quiet and peaceful environment and we spent our afternoon there as we had only one place left for the day.

Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery

View from Nunnery

From there, we went to Changangkha Monastery in Thimphu which is very popular among local Bhutanese. Parents usually come to this temple to get auspicious names for their newborns and blessings for their children. With that, we finished our trip for the day.


Day 5 - Thimphu to Paro


We checked out from hotel early morning and started our trip to Paro. At first, we stopped at Tashiccho Dzong - a Buddhist Monastery and fortress in Thimphu. This is a great place to visit with it's historical value. We could not enter here as it is only open for visitor from 5 PM to 6 PM.

Later we visited Craft market, National School of Arts, Also, our driver took us for a photo shoot with traditional Bhutanese attire. There were a huge collection of
Bhutanese attire and we picked these color for us. Each attire cost us Nu 100 but we really liked the attire.


Bhutanese Attire

On our way to Paro, we stopped at Paro Airport view point and Archery Ground - Tachogang Lhakhang Bridge and Dzong. The Tachogang Lhakhang bridge was one of the older suspension bridges. We crossed the bridge and climbed to the second level of the tower for a great view of river and bridge.


Paro Airport View Point


Tachogang Lhakhang Bridge and Dzong

Day 6 - Paro (Tiger Nest!)

We started our big day for hiking to the famous  Tiger's nest. Our driver dropped us at the starting point of hiking trail. It took us around three hours to reach to the top. Some people use horses that can take halfway up to the Tiger’s Nest. After that the path gets too narrow, and there are also lots of stairs involved.

We hiked up to the top of the Tiger's nest and got a chance to get inside of it. I heard sometimes people can't go inside of Tiger's nest but we were lucky to visit it from inside.

Tiger's nest

Later, we visited Ta Dzong National Museum and few shops nearby. Our driver told us the Dzong's appearance is different at night. It is much more beautiful at night because of lights. So, we went to have a look of the beautiful Dzong at night.

Paro Dzong at night

Day 7 - Paro

It was our last day in Bhutan. We visited Kichu Monastery, Paro Dzong and spent couple of hours there.

Paro Dzong

We planned to visit Chele La Pass but was not able to make it. All the banks were closed and we were out of local currency. So we decided to visit the local bazaar and made our own dinner with fresh vegetables and fruits.




Local Market

In the afternoon, we went for a walk and also arranged a cab via our hotel to drop us at the airport. With that, our memorable trip to Bhutan came to an end.




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