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Capital of Bhutan – Thimphu In & Around

Trashichhoedzong

This part of Trip Report is being continued from Entering Bhutan – The Land of Thunder Dragon

For your reference again, here’s the itinerary that we are following :

1st Feb : Day 1 : Hasimara – P/Soling via Jaigon
2nd Feb : Day 2 : P/Soling – Thimphu
3rd Feb : Day 3 : Thimphu SS
4th Feb : Day 4 : Thimphu – Phobjika via Punakha
5th Feb : Day 5 : Phobjika – Bumthang via Trongsa
6th Feb : Day 6 : Bumthang SS
7th Feb : Day 7 : Bumthang – Punakha via Wangdue
8th Feb : Day 8 : Punakha – Thimphu
9th Feb : Day 9 : Thimphu – Paro SS
10th Feb : Day 10 : Paro – Day Trip To Haa
11th Feb : Day 11 : Paro – Hike to Tiger’s Nest
12th Feb : Day 12 : Paro – Hasimara via P/Soling & Jaigaon

Trip To Bhutan Series :
Part 1: Planning A Trip To Bhutan – For Indians
Part 2: Entering Bhutan – The Land of Thunder Dragon
Part 3: Capital of Bhutan – Thimphu In & Around
Part 4: Journey To Phobjika via Dochula
Part 5: The Most Historic Dzongkhag – Bumthang
Part 6: The Old Capital – Punakha
Part 7: Exploring Paro, Haa and Chele La Pass
Part 8: Hike to Tiger’s Nest – Paro Taktsang
Part 9: Tashi Delek Bhutan – The Himalayan Kingdom

2nd February : Day 2 : Phuentsholing to Thimphu :
My mom, dad and aunt woke up very early at around 5 AM, it’s their habit and they do it every day. We kept sleeping till 7:00 AM. While planning for Bhutan, we came across various informations which suggested Tea in Bhutan is not that common. So we carried our own Electric Kettle, Tea Bags and Sugar Cubes. As like other Bengali’s, Tea is something which is mandatory for us for at least 2 times a day. When at home we generally have it 4-5 times a day. So we used our own arrangements rather than ordering Tea from Hotel Restaurant and thus saving some cost 😛

As provided by Raj, we were ready by 9:00 AM. Strictly punctual. But when we went down downstairs for checkout, Raj was not there. And I remembered that, while noticing the details, I forgot to ask for his number. So I called BK for his whereabouts. He informed us to wait and informed us that he’ll call us back immediately after checking with him. Within 2 minutes I got a call back from BK saying Raj mentioned 9:00 AM IST. Ahhh…a small miscommunication. As Bhutan Time is 30 minutes ahead to that of IST, it’s still 8:30 AM in India. I changed time on all our mobiles yesterday to avoid any miscommunications. Our luggage has been brought down by the hotel staff and kept in reception lobby. So sitting in reception for 30 minutes didn’t seemed viable to us. So we decided to check out a foot bridge nearby.

Phuentsholing Foot Bridge

Phuentsholing Foot Bridge

Phuentsholing Foot Bridge

Not bad, a little stream flowing by, a picturesque road, we enjoyed the morning breeze. We clicked some pics and in the mean time Raj arrived. With a smile he said that “aap log jaldi ready ho gaye, BK dat raha tha phone pe” (You guys got ready early, BK was scolding me over phone). We explained the miscommunication happened due to difference in Timezone and we decided that from now on we’ll move on as per Bhutan Timezone only as we have configured the same on our mobile. My mom and aunt turned off their mobile, as there’d no need for it from now on and my wifey and cousin put it in airplane mode. As they have smartphone, they kept it on for clicking selfie and surfing WiFi at hotels.

Please note that from now on, all the times mentioned here is on par with Bhutan Timezone (BTT).

Anyway, at around 9:30 BTT we started from Phuentsholing for our first sightseeing destination Crocodile Park. Entry fee was Nu. 20/- per head. But at the counter, the guy didn’t had any change as it was off season by the way. So he asked us to pay Nu. 100/- (instead of 20 x 6 = 120) and allowed us to enter.

Crocodile Park

Crocodile Park

  • Crocodile Park

After Crocodile Park, Raj drove us to Kharbandi Monastry.

Kharbandi Monastry

  • Kharbandi Monastry
Lamas At Kharbandi Monastry

Lamas At Kharbandi Monastry

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Bird's Eye View of P/Soling

Bird’s Eye View of P/Soling

Bird's Eye View of P/Soling

Bird’s Eye View of P/Soling

After Kharbandi Monastry we started for Thimphu. In between we stopped at Chukha Hydel for having lunch at Dam View Restaurant. This time we thought of trying Rice and Kewa Datshi. Kewa means Potato and Datshi means Curry. So it was Potato Curry cooked in cheese with chilly. The food was awesome, I must say. After having our lunch we again started moving on.

At around 3:30, we stopped at Dam Chu. Chu means river in Dzonkha and clicked some shots before moving on.

Dam Chu

Dam Chu

  • Way To Thimphu

While going to Thimphu, you’ll come across two check posts where you need to show the entry permits in order to move further.

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DSC02489

Finally we reached Thimphu at 5 o’clock. Our hotel in Thimphu was Zey Zang, just near the Clock Tower on Norzim Lam. We got a very warm welcome from Mr. Kin Gyeltshen, the owner, on our arrival. The hotel ladies helped carrying our luggage. Yes, ladies, don’t get shocked. This is something we noticed in Bhutan. All the way from reception to other works, except kitchen, we noticed that ladies are in charge of it. Our hotel at Phuentsholing was way better than this one. But Mr. Gyeltshen made us feel at home. This is something you’ll notice anywhere in Bhutan. Always smiling, always helpful and everyone will make you feel at home. Raj left for the day informing us to be ready by 9 AM BTT. No more confusion.

Hotel Zey Zang

After getting freshen up, we decided to go out and roam around Clock Tower and walk through Norzim Lam and check out the shops and market. Clock Tower is just 2 minutes walking distance from the hotel on the road going downwards. There was no one at Clock Tower, we thought might be due to off season.

Clock Tower

Clock Tower

We moved on further to the road and came across Bhutan Kitchen. While leaving for the day, Raj informed us that, if we like to try Bhutanese Cuisine, we can come here. But it was closed. Moving on further to the road beside stadium we came across Willey’s Fast Food Centre, just opposite the Changlimithana Stadium. The restaurant was well decorated. We thought of paying a visit for some evening snacks. The owner suggested us to try Chicken Jhathup or Chicken Bathup. We ordered both. Chicken Jhathup were more like Thukpa and Chicken Bathup was kinda same but with flat hand made noodles out of flour. We like Chicken Bathup more due to use of lime leaves.

Willy's

Chicken Jathup

Chicken Jathup

Chicken Bathup

Chicken Bathup

Soon we realised that we made a mistake by ordering both, as we were full for the day and have to skip our Dinner. So we decided to move on to Norzim Lam. As soon as we crossed the road, a traffic police came upto us and instructed us to always cross by Zebra Crossing, otherwise accidents can happen. I realised how educated people like us, don’t follow the rules or should I say we like to break the rules. But the case here is not like in India. Bhutan have strict rules almost everywhere. You’d be amazed that there’s no traffic signals at Bhutan. Cars will automatically stop and will ask you to cross if they see you standing near the Zebra Crossing. Yes, I realised that these rules are there even in India. But who follows? People here just shows hand to stop the car and move on anywhere in the middle of the road.

The first hotel we came upon while walking by Norzin Lam is Choephel Norkyi. The hotel looked much better than ours. Wish I would have booked this one. But both Choephel Norkyi and Zey Zang didn’t had much reviews in TripAdvisor and thus I couldn’t make correct decision.

Choephel Norkyi

Moving further I noticed Hotel Ghasel. Ahh..I remember from Ashish Da’s Travelogue that you’ll get best vegetarian food here in Bhutan. And then came the most well known budget hotel, Hotel Tandin. Almost all the travelogues I have read, most of them stayed at Hotel Tandin and it have great reviews in TripAdvisor. But when I called them while at India, their tariff was 1495/- per night which was little bit more than our budget.

Hotel Tandin

Soon we noticed that shops were closing by and then we realised that it was already 9 o’clock by then, so we decided to return. After returning to hotel, I asked Mr. Gyeltshen, if they have WiFi. He nodded and said “Yes, but it’s chargeable”. He told us that we have to pay Nu. 20/- per night per person. We agreed. We asked for room heater as it was getting very cold.We kinda predicted that, as Raj already told us that, Thimphu experienced snowfall just a day before. So it was obvious that it’d be cold here. After connecting to the WiFi, Google showed us that it was 2 Deg C. He said that it’s chargeable and we have to pay Nu. 100/- per room per night. We agreed.

3rd February : Day 3 : Thimphu Sightseeing :
We were ready by sharp 8 o’clock and ordered Tea and Toast and Omlette which is popularly known as English Breakfast from hotel restaurant and I must say it was the best breakfast I ever had anywhere. It reminded me the breakfast at Glenary’s at Darjeeling. Though we got a bit late in the end but that didn’t created any problem as Raj was having breakfast too.

At 9:30 AM sharp we started for our first destination Handicraft Centre which hardly took us 5 minutes to reach. Raj parked the car near Thimphu Immigration Office and asked us for our entry permit. We handed over the permits to him. He asked us to visit Handicraft Centre and National Textile Museum and said in the mean time he’ll arrange Restricted Area Permit for the rest of our trip.

Thimphu Immigration Office

Thimphu Immigration Office

Thimphu Immigration Office

Thimphu Immigration Office

We tried bargaining few items at Handicraft Centre but the prices were like, one would dare to touch. Though we never do any kind of marketing while at tour, so there’s no issue asking for the price.

National Handicraft Centre

  • Handicraft Center

After Handicraft Centre, we went to National Textile Museum which is just there on the opposite of Thimphu Immigration Office and Handicraft Centre. There’s a small entry fee of Nu. 50/- per head. After paying up the fee, the lady welcomed us to Video Room and played a video which describes the the various art’s and crafts of Bhutan and the history of Royal Family. We then went upstairs, where there was a hierarchical chart of King’s of Bhutan along with various crowns of King’s and other Royal amenities.

National Textile Museum

  • National Textile Museum

The next destination was National Library.

National Library

National Library

National Library

After National Library we payed a visit to Folk Heritage Museum. Here also we had to pay an entry fee of Nu. 30/- per head. One can experience various utensils used by the Royal Family at the period of 80’s and before.

Folk Heritage Museum

Folk Heritage Museum

Oranges at Folk Heritage Museum

Oranges at Folk Heritage Museum

Folk Heritage Museum

We then visited to Zilukha Nunnery. We here interacted with some nuns who have devoted their life to spirituality and Buddhism.

Zilukha Nunnery

  • Zilukha Nunnery

Our next destination was Takin Preserve. Again, there’s an entry fee of Nu. 30/- per head. Takin is the National Animal of Bhutan. It looks like more of a cross of cow and goat.

Takin Preserve

  • Takin Preserve
Birds Eye View of Trashichhoedzong

Birds Eye View of Trashichhoedzong

The next sightseeing point was Changangkha Lakhang.

Changangkha Lakhang

    Finally Raj drove us to uphills at Buddha Point which is also known as Kuensel Phodrang.

    Buddha Point

    • Buddha Point

    Raj intimidated us that, Trashichhoedzong (Thimphu Dzong) is closed now and we’ll have to come after 4:30. So we’ll visit National Memorial Chorten now and then will drive to hotel for lunch. Post lunch in the afternoon he’ll take us to Trashichhoedzong.

    National Memorial Chorten

    • National Memorial Chorten

    It was already 2:00 AM by then, we were really hungry. We thought of having our lunch at Hotel Ghasel. So we asked Raj to take us to Hotel Ghasel. We asked Raj to join us. We ordered Rice for us and Roti for dad, dal, Mix Veg, Paneer Butter Masala and Alur Dum. While Raj ordered Special Thali in which there was Rice, Butter Nun, Dal, Paneer Butter Masala, Kadai Paneer, Papad and Rasgulla. Yes, Ashish Da was right, what a yummy lunch we had. Only Bengali’s will understand what having a great food means to us. We were literally licking our hand.

    Hotel Ghasel

    Post lunch we walked to our hotel and after taking rest for an hour we went to Trashichhoedzong. The Dzongs are the main secretariat building which houses the throne room of His Majesty, the King of Bhutan and the Monastry. The districts are called Dzongkhag. There are 20 Dzongkhag in Bhutan. And in each Dzongkhag, there’s a Dzong.

    Trashichhoedzong

    Trashichhoedzong

    • Trashichhoedzong

    I felt bad that, I missed some awesome night view shots of Trashichhoedzong. Raj dropped us to our hotel and left for the day asking us to be ready by 8:30 AM next day. He also informed us to visit “8 Eleven” stores, if we want to buy anything. We planned to have our dinner at Bhutan Kitchen, but we were out of luck today also. It was closed. We then guessed that, they might have gone to their home as it was off season anyway. We then went to 8 Eleven store which was on the upper road of Norzin Lam. We climbed by the stair beside Hotel Shantideva. We picked up one Red Wine, Takin and one Peach Wine, Zumim and two cans of Druk 11000.

    Finally after returning to our hotel, we thought of trying the Peach Wine first. Though this was the first time, we were into Peach Wine and we really liked it. Later in the evening we went to Hotel Ghasel again for our dinner. Though previously I thought of trying out Hotel Tandin, but my mom and dad loved the food at Hotel Ghasel and specially my dad loves Veg. food more than anything else. So they were not much interested to go to Hotel Tandin. I thought of leaving it for now, as we’d be back to Thimphu anyways while going to Paro. This time we ordered Special Thali for dinner.

    Before going to sleep, we enjoyed the Beer we got from Eight 11.

    The next part of this trip report is continued at Journey To Phobjika via Dochula

    Hotel Zey Zang :
    Hotel Zey Zang

    • Hotel Zey Zang

    Tariff : Rs. 1100/- x 2 (rooms) x 3 (nights) = 6600 + 900 (extra mattress on one room for 3 nights) = 7500/-
    Well, to say the truth this was one of the worst stay in our whole trip to Bhutan. Within this budget there are much better hotels available in Thimphu. WiFi is chargable at Nu. 20/- per person per night and room heater is chargeable at Nu. 100/- per room per night. Don’t get me wrong by the worst stay, the hotel itself is good but cleanliness is an issue here about the rooms. The owner Mr. Kin Gyeltshen is a very nice person and goes beyond the limit to fulfill your needs.

    Hotel Ghasel :
    Hotel Ghasel

    Review : The best Veg. Food you’ll get here in Bhutan. Even if you are not vegetarian, I’d suggest you to have one of your meal here and I assure you that you’ll come out licking your fingers.

    The next part of my trip report is continued at Journey To Phobjika via Dochula

    Trip To Bhutan Series :
    Part 1: Planning A Trip To Bhutan – For Indians
    Part 2: Entering Bhutan – The Land of Thunder Dragon
    Part 3: Capital of Bhutan – Thimphu In & Around
    Part 4: Journey To Phobjika via Dochula
    Part 5: The Most Historic Dzongkhag – Bumthang
    Part 6: The Old Capital – Punakha
    Part 7: Exploring Paro, Haa and Chele La Pass
    Part 8: Hike to Tiger’s Nest – Paro Taktsang
    Part 9: Tashi Delek Bhutan – The Himalayan Kingdom

    About Author

    Hi, I'm born and bought up in Kolkata in the midst of what bongs are best known for - Eating, Sleeping and Travelling. A developer by profession and a traveller by passion. As I was facing a lack of budget-friendly information on the internet while planning my travel, I started drafting my travel experiences here to help you all having a pocket-friendly smooth travel experience.

    52 Comments

    • […] move to Phobjika obviously to experience the rarest Black Neck Cranes after spending two nights at Thimphu. We had to go a long distance, so we all were ready by 8:30 as instructed by Raj, but at the last […]

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    • […] The next part of my trip report is continued at Capital of Bhutan – Thimphu In & Around […]

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    • […] Capital of Bhutan – Thimphu In & Around […]

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    • […] Capital of Bhutan – Thimphu In & Around […]

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    • sandip shaw
      August 13, 2016 at 10:42 PM

      hi kris,
      sandip here, planning for jan 17. which hotel u suggest gatzel , zayzang or tandin. do these hotels have three beded rooms?

      Reply
      • Krishnandu Sarkar
        August 14, 2016 at 11:08 AM

        Hi Sandip,
        Tandin is a bit better than Ghashel and Zeyzang. Ghashel is extremely budget hotel. But all 3 are clean.

        But I think Tandin is value for money but a 5min walimg distance from Clock Tower.

        Nome of them have 3 bedded rooms as that’s not common in Bhutan. You have to take one extra mat. Then you 3 people’s can stay in one room.

        Reply
    • Leena Karia
      August 21, 2016 at 5:30 PM

      Krishnandu you’ve been immensely helpful!! Thanks.

      Reply
    • […] Capital of Bhutan – Thimphu In & Around […]

      Reply
    • saptadweepa chattopadhyay
      October 3, 2016 at 4:13 PM

      Hi Krishnandu

      You Blog is really very helpful. I am planning for a trip on December 8 and I will be a solo trip. I have searched and came to know that Bhutan is safe for woman solo traveller. I am a budget traveller and this is my first solo trip. So I am gathering more n more info. 🙂

      I bought tickets in Garibrath which will reach NEW ALIPURDUAR on 9th December. I have planned to stay at phootsholling on 9th and from 10th Morning my actual trip will begun. Please help me with an itenerary which will be ideal for a solo traveller. I haven’t book the return tickets yet. Bit confused whether to return to NJP/ New alipurduar on 16th or 17th… Please suggest.

      Also suggest some hotels whcih will be pocket friendly as well as neat and clean and safe at teh same time. My max budget is 25k. Is it feasible? Do I need to take public transport for that?

      Reply
      • saptadweepa chattopadhyay
        October 3, 2016 at 4:16 PM

        Sorry for all the typs I made…:-P

        Reply
      • Krishnandu Sarkar
        October 3, 2016 at 9:00 PM

        Hi Saptadweepa, Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you liked it 🙂

        9th – Arrive P/Soling.
        10th – P/Soling SS and Move To Thimphu.
        11th – Thimphu SS
        12th – Get ILP and Move To Phobjika via Dochula
        13th – Phobjika To Bumthang via Trongsa
        14th – Bumthang SS
        15th – Bumthang To Punakha
        16th – Punakha To Paro and Paro SS
        17th – Paro To P/Soling and Proceed To Hasimara.

        Hasimara Railway Station is around is around 30 minutes from Jaigaon / P/Soling. There’s a train Kanchankanya Express at 05:00 PM which goes through Hasimara. So you can take that train.

        I haven’t included Haa via Chele La and Hike To Tiger’s Nest due to shortage of time. But if you want to do these, then you have to leave out Bumthang. So it’s your preference what kind of tour you are looking for. Let me know, if you want them instead, then I’ll re-modify the itinerary.

        You may consider below budget hotels…
        Thimphu : Hotel Tandin / Chophel Norkyi / Hotel Zeyzang / Hotel Ghasel
        Paro : Hotel Sonam Trophel / Hotel Phunsum
        Punakha : Hotel Kingaling
        Phobjika : Gakiling Guest House
        Bumthang : Samyae Resort

        Hotels suggested above, at Thimphu and Paro costs around 1000/- – 1500/- per room per night. Hotels at Punakha, Phobjika, Bumthang would be around 1500/- – 2000/- per room per night.

        Yes, public transport i.e. Bus are reliable, but beyond Thimphu and Paro, Buses are not much frequent and runs thrice weekly. So for Punakha, Phobjika and Bumthang, consider hiring a taxi.

        December being off season, you may bargain a bit everywhere to get the sweet deals.

        And yes, Bhutan is very safe for women. Being a Matriarchal Society, women related crime is almost next to zero. But anyway, don’t forget to use some basic common senses which you’d even use when in your hometown. Such as wandering isolated dark streets lonely at nights, being too much friendly with unknown persons etc.

        Do take your time to go through Planning A Trip To Bhutan to understand the permit and other requirements.

        Also you’ll get the contacts of all the hotels mentioned above at Tashi Delek Bhutan

        Other than the above suggestions, you might check Hotel BT for list of hotels in Bhutan. You may shortlist some more accordingly. But the prices given there are bit outdated, so add Rs. 500/- to what’s mentioned to be on the safe side.

        Hope that helps 🙂

        And BTW, I too make too many typos!! So no worry!!

        Reply
    • kumarjit sengupta
      October 29, 2016 at 1:29 AM

      Hi krishnendu,

      I am going to Bhutan in November. Just wanted to know what was the total cost of meals for your trip. We’re the meals costly in hotels? And approx how much per day per head should we assume.

      Reply
      • Krishnandu Sarkar
        October 29, 2016 at 3:36 AM

        Hi Mr. Kumarjit,
        Food cost depends on where you take the food and what kind of food you are choosing. Generally the dishes are no more than 100/- – 120/- which can be shared among two persons but Tea costs more in Bhutan.

        Normally at Thimphu and Paro you can keep a budget of 500/- per person per day but the actul expense will be much less than that.

        But at more eastern side the cost is a bit high.

        The cost of meals at hotels depends on the standard of hotel. At budget hotels are not more like Hotel Tandin, Hotel Ghasel, Chophel Norkyi at Thimphu and Hotel Phunsum and Hotel Sonam Trophel at Paro.

        Reply
        • kumarjit sengupta
          October 29, 2016 at 3:55 PM

          Thanks a lot sir. Just another question, in Bumthang and Pujbhijka is it very cold in November?

          Reply
          • Krishnandu Sarkar
            October 29, 2016 at 4:31 PM

            Yes November being winter Phobjika and Bumthang would be a bit cold.

            Reply
    • Nimisha
      November 4, 2016 at 1:04 PM

      Hi Krishnandu,
      Thanks for such detailed travelogue,its very helpful.
      Though I am a little confused this one.
      1. You started with Day 2, where you reached Thimphu at 5pm.
      2. Next day, you guys decided for BTT and raomed around and had bathup and Jathup in the evening at Willys.
      3. Then you wrote Day 3 , where you mentioned about the whole day sight seeing.
      Did you miss a day in between or I am missing something here…If you could please explain..

      Reply
    • Anonymous
      November 12, 2016 at 5:29 PM
    • Anonymous
      November 23, 2016 at 11:50 PM

      4.5

      Reply
    • Anu
      November 30, 2016 at 5:05 PM

      Hi Krishnandu,
      Luved the way you have written little details of your trip it has really helped me plan mine.
      I plan to travel to Bhutan via Kolkota with a family of 4(2 adults, 2 children(15,7), here are my queries
      I am from Ahmedabad and plan to do some site seeing in kolkota, arriving @9 AM and leaving the same day from Sealdah Railway Station thru Kanchankanya Express
      1. What are the must see places in kolkota in a day, I even have a day when I return from Bhutan thru Kanchankanya and my flight back home is @6.30pm
      2. Will it be feasible to travel the same day we lend to Phuentsholing
      3. can you suggest an itinerary for 7 days in Bhutan including the day we travel from Phuentsholing to thimpu and back

      Thanks again for your valued inputs.
      Regards,

      Reply
      • Krishnandu Sarkar
        November 30, 2016 at 7:31 PM

        Hi Anu, Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you liked it 🙂

        1. What are the must see places in kolkota in a day, I even have a day when I return from Bhutan thru Kanchankanya and my flight back home is @6.30pm

        A. There are many. Can you please tell me some preference of yours like what do you want to see? Below are some options according to few category
        1. Architectures / Monuments : Victoria Memorial, Birla Planetorium, Indian Museum
        2. Animals : Alipore Zoo
        3. Flora & Fauna : Botanical Garden
        4. Amusement Parks : Nicco Park, Wet-O-Wild (Water Park), Aquatica (Water Park)
        5. Relaxing & Parks : Millennium Park, Princep Ghat, Victoria Memorial, Citizen’s Park (Mohar Kunja), Eliot Park, Nandan
        6. Marketing : Esplanade, Gariahat, Fancy Market (Khiddrepore)
        7. Religious : Kalighat Temple, Dakhineswar, Belur Math, Adya Pith

        There are many. But only stick only one or two of them. Let me know your preferences, in that case I can suggest you better.

        NOTE : Don’t go by the categories, not all places in same category are nearby. You need to keep in mind the distance to Sealdah and train timing too 🙂

        2. Will it be feasible to travel the same day we lend to Phuentsholing

        A. You may, but mind that the journey can be very tiring depending on your physical condition. After the long train journey you have to travel 7-8 hours more to Thimphu same day. Also you have to get the permits which may take some time depending on the queue. Also if you try to move to Thimphu same day, make sure you have hotel booking in advance.

        Kanchankanya is always late by 1-2 hours. So for the sake of calculation keep 11 AM as arrival time and then you’d need another 20-30 minutes to reach Jaigaon (the Indian side of the border) and then you need to make permits which may take some time depending on the queue. So even if you start by 1AM you’ll reach Thimphu at around 8-9 PM. So make sure to inform the hotel in advance of your late arrival.

        3. can you suggest an itinerary for 7 days in Bhutan including the day we travel from Phuentsholing to thimpu and back

        A. Day 1 : Arrive at P/Soling
        Day 2 : P/Soling – Thimphu
        Day 3 : Thimphu Sightseeing
        Day 4 : Thimphu – Punakha
        Day 5 : Punakha – Paro
        Day 6 : Hike To Tiger’s Nest / Day Trip To Haa via Chelela
        Day 7 : Paro – P/Soling and Deperture

        Make sure Day 1 / Day 2 and Day 3 / Day 4 is weekdays. Because you need to get the permits on either of those days and permit offices doesn’t works on weekends.

        Let me know if you need help with anything else 🙂

        Reply
    • Shubhi Jain
      December 8, 2016 at 3:22 PM

      Is there any airport in thimpu?

      Reply
    • Swati Sinha
      January 5, 2017 at 10:24 PM

      Great blog and quite detailed. Thanks !
      Buddha point reminded me of Buddha park in Ravangla, Sikkim !

      Reply
      • Krishnandu Sarkar
        January 6, 2017 at 12:35 AM

        Hi Swati, Yes 🙂 It’s really identical with that of Buddha Park, Ravangla.

        I’m glad that you liked it 🙂

        Reply
    • Chaitanya
      February 24, 2017 at 3:12 PM

      Hi Krishnandu,

      Am planning a trip (budget, obviously :-P) for 7 days (5 working days and the subsequent weekend) in June along with 3 others. Planning to cover only Paro and Thimpu, a bit of Phuentsholing too. I have a queries regarding it.

      1. Are 5 days enough to cover Paro and Thimpu ?
      2. Must visit places in Paro and Thimpu ?
      3. Traveling from Mumbai, the budget is around 30k per person, will it be enough ?
      4. If we hire a car from bagdogra, can we drive ourselves in Bhutan with an Indian license ?

      Reply
      • Krishnandu Sarkar
        February 24, 2017 at 8:34 PM

        Hi Chaitanya,
        1. Yes 5 days are good enough for Thimphu and Paro.
        2. Well there are lots!! You may check this post for sightseeing places at Thimphu and https://krishnandusarkar.com/exploring-paro-haa-and-chele-la-pass/ for Paro.
        3. 30k per person for 5 days, yes I think it’s a good budget.
        4. Yes. But the driver need to get car permit from RSTA. I’d suggest to hire car from Jaigaon instead for Bhutan. As Jaigaon or P/Soling based drivers know Bhutan better than Bagdogra based drivers who are generally from Sikkim / Darjeeling / Siliguri or other areas of North Bengal.

        Make sure not to land up there on a weekend, because as per the new rule, permits offices are now closed on Satudays and Sundays, so you’ll stuck there for entry permits till Monday. And due to the same reason, they have started recieving more than double rush on Mondays.

        Reply
    • Shikhar
      May 5, 2017 at 10:28 PM

      Hi

      Can you tell me if I book an Airbnb, that would not be a problem with the entry permit no??

      Reply
      • Krishnandu Sarkar
        May 5, 2017 at 11:06 PM

        Hi Shikhar, Yes if you are able to book any hotels through any online portal that too would work.

        Reply
      • Shikhar
        May 5, 2017 at 11:20 PM

        Through airbnb app..

        Reply
    • Maneesha
      July 3, 2017 at 10:06 AM

      Hi,
      Thanks for insight.
      Loved ur blog
      I m planning a budget trip for 7-8 days from delhi on sept 22/23 . Me and my husband are more of nature lovers.so can u help me to plan it and let me know wat al offbeat places to focus on n which al can we skip.
      And which way would be cheaper for us to reach bhutan.

      Reply
      • Krishnandu Sarkar
        July 3, 2017 at 11:11 AM

        Hi Maneesha, Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you liked it 🙂

        If you haven’t yet gone through, you may check out Planning A Trip To Bhutan – For Indians for a detailed insight on how to plan a trip to Bhutan and all the details you need to know before planning a trip to Bhutan.

        If you have time, you may scan through each and every post of the whole Bhutan Travelogues of mine or else just head over to Tashi Delek Bhutan – The Himalayan Kingdom for all the contact details and cost details if you want to plan on your own.

        First things first, please check the price of Air Fare to Paro at Druk Air and check if you can afford that. The site is not so user friendly as like other Indian online web portals. It doesn’t shows anything if there’s no flight on that date. So in that case search with different date of your choice. That’s the easiest way to enter Bhutan.

        Another way is to fly to Bagdogra and drive to Bhutan border. But unfortunately P/Soling Immigration Office is closed on weekends unlike Paro Airport and 22nd being Friday, you’d have to wait till 25th until you can proceed further. Also the period being Puja Holidays in West Bengal, there would be a lot of rush which may lead to a long queue on Monday in that case. A same kind of chaos happened last year too.

        Another option is to get Online Permit, but Online Permit System is not accessible to public and instead you need to reach out to authorized Tour Operators of Bhutan for that. But the point is, if you opt for Online Permit System, you must mandatorily hire a Tour Guide and book Hotels through them.

        Considering all these options, do a feasibility check and plan accordingly.

        Your itinerary would definitely depend on the choice of your mode of entry. As you cannot enter Bhutan through Land Border on weekends, you’d loose few number of days there. Also to travel to and from Bagdogra to Thimphu / Paro (the main towns), it’d take you 2 + 2 days i.e. 4 days both way.

        So considering your date is fixed, and assuming you’d opt for flight to Paro (via Druk Air), you may do it like…
        23rd (Day 1) : Arrive Paro and Proceed to Thimphu
        24th (Day 2) : Thimphu Sightseeing
        25th (Day 3) : Thimphu – Phobjikha
        26th (Day 4) ; Phobjikha – Punakha
        27th (Day 5) : Punakha – Paro & Paro Sightseeing
        28th (Day 6) : Day Trip To Haa via Chele La
        29th (Day 7) : Hike To Tiger’s Nest
        30th (Day 8) : Deperture

        Hope that helps 🙂

        Let me know if you have further queries or confusions. Will be glad to help 🙂

        Reply
        • Maneesha
          August 8, 2017 at 12:06 PM

          Hi,

          Thanks for ur help, i hav booked my travel via dunk airlines for the same date 23-30 …as per itinerary suggested by you.can you please tell me the travel time between these places in bhutan so i can plan how much time wld i have .plus i dnt want it to be too hectic.
          As per your blog, i called hotel tandin for booking s but it seems tey are closed for renovation and hotel zey zong has not picked up my call.any other hotels you can suggest.plus bcoz its tourist season hotels are charging alot.hotel punaka is charging 1800.

          Reply
          • Krishnandu Sarkar
            August 8, 2017 at 2:52 PM

            Hi Maneesha, Yes for those dates you should have booked hotels atleast 3 months in advance from now. As due to the Durga Puja in Bengal there would be a lot of rush and most good and cheap hotels are already gone.

            Anyway you may check with Hotel Ghasel / Chophel Norkyi. Please refer Hotel.bt to find hotels and call them up. Do have some patience as they don’t always pickup the call. So in that case try after some time.

            BTW 1800/- at Punakha is a very good rate at September. Punakha is a remote destination, so please don’t hope to get it below Rs. 1500/- like Thimphu and Paro that also in end of September.

            Anyway, below are the travel timings according to the itinerary (day wise)

            23rd (Day 1) : Arrive Paro and Proceed to Thimphu (1.5 Hours)
            24th (Day 2) : Thimphu Sightseeing (Whole Day)
            25th (Day 3) : Thimphu – Phobjikha via Dochula (4-5 Hours)
            26th (Day 4) ; Phobjikha – Punakha (3 Hours)
            27th (Day 5) : Punakha – Paro & Paro Sightseeing (3 Hours and Whole Day)
            28th (Day 6) : Day Trip To Haa via Chele La (4-5 Hours)
            29th (Day 7) : Hike To Tiger’s Nest (Depends on you!!)
            30th (Day 8) : Deperture

            Reply
          • Maneesha
            August 10, 2017 at 8:43 AM

            Hii again, i wantd to can i wanted to include bumthang is it possible n worth or wld it bcom too hectic? .plus can i opt for public transport i few areas so i can save on transportation.how is the availability of public transport ter, like from paro airport to paro n thimpu , esp inside the cities to go around…for far off places i wld hire car but .

            Reply
            • Krishnandu Sarkar
              August 10, 2017 at 10:53 AM

              Hi Maneesha. Bumthang would need another 2N minimum. Otherwise it’s not possible.

              Another way would be like cutting down plans for 2 days and fly to Bumthang from Paro. However you need to stay at least 2N in Bumthang to explore the place. And you need to consider flying back to Paro again.

              Public transport specially within Thimphu and Paro is very good and very frequent. There are buses almost every 30 mins – 1 hours. Shared Cabs too are available.

              For moving within the city, like driving to restaurant or for sightseeings, you can hire taxi’s on spot.

              Reply
    • Paramita
      January 2, 2018 at 3:36 PM

      Hi,
      I have gone through your travel blog and loved the way you explained every detail. I am planning for a 9/10 days trip to Bhutan. Cud u pls check following Itinerary and suggest if this is doable.

      Day 1 : arv. 11 am to hasimara — P/Soling – arrange permit and night stay
      Day 2 : P/Soling to Thimphu
      Day 3 : Thimphu SS
      Day 4: Thimphu – Dochula–Phunka– Phobjika – Gangtey :
      Day 5: Gangtey- pele la – Trongsa – Bumthang :
      Day 6: Bumthang SS
      Day 7: Bumthang –Thimpu
      Day 8: Thimpu – Paro –Tiger Nest :
      Day 9: Paro –Trip To Haa valley and other SS on return
      Day 10: Paro – Hasimara via P/Soling

      I have few queries:
      1. If getting permit is possible on the same day (Day 1) when we reach P/Sholing and till what time bus /taxi will be available to go to Thimpu.
      2. On day 4, is it possible to cover dochula, Phunka Dzong, suspension bridge and move to Gantey for night stay? how long it takes for Phunka SS?
      3. If bus/shared taxi available on last day from Paro to P/sholing. Is it possible to catch kanchankanya @4pm on the same day.?

      Thanks in advance

      Reply
      • Krishnandu Sarkar
        January 3, 2018 at 10:59 PM

        Hi Paramita, Thanks & I’m glad that you liked it 🙂

        However there are several mistakes on your itinerary.

        1. Thimphu – Dochula–Phunka– Phobjika – Gangtey => All the sightseeings cannot be done in a single day.
        2. Bumthang –Thimpu => Again not possible on a single day.

        Below are my answers for your queries…

        1. If getting permit is possible on the same day (Day 1) when we reach P/Sholing and till what time bus /taxi will be available to go to Thimpu.

        A. Bus / Taxi’s are available throughout the day. It’s not an issue.

        2. On day 4, is it possible to cover dochula, Phunka Dzong, suspension bridge and move to Gantey for night stay? how long it takes for Phunka SS?

        A. No. Dochula along with Punakha Sightseeing (Punakha Dzong, Suspension Bridge, Chimi Lakhang) can be done in a single day. However you cannot travel to Phobjika / Gangtey same day.

        3. If bus/shared taxi available on last day from Paro to P/sholing. Is it possible to catch kanchankanya @4pm on the same day.?

        A. Yes. There’s a bus at 8:30AM, 9AM and 1PM. However you need to book in advance. Shared cabs are available throughout the day for Rs. 800/-.

        Reply
    • Ajay Saha
      August 13, 2018 at 5:19 PM

      What would the entire cost one has to bare if one is planning to visit Bhutan as a solo traveller?

      Reply
      • Krishnandu Sarkar
        August 15, 2018 at 10:50 AM

        Costing depends a lot on personal choices such as standard of hotels, mode of transport, choice of restaurants and foods etc. But to give you a basic idea, a hotel costs around Rs. 800/- – 1000/- (at Thimphu, Paro & Punakha). But if you go further east, the cost increases, but as a Solo Traveller, you can always find cheaper options such as homestays. Else travel in off season when you can bargain a lot.

        If you plan your journey well and have adequate number of days, you can travel by Bus (Tickets costs around Rs. 250/-) and shared Cabs (costs around Rs. 500/-).

        For Meals, you can keep Rs. 600/- – 800/- per head per day.

        Reply
    • Veena
      August 17, 2018 at 10:43 PM

      Dear Krish
      we are elderly people in early 60 wishing to see Bhutan. I read your very interesting blog where you describe things so well. All of us are not much of walkers. Could suggest an itinerary for us.

      Veena

      Reply
      • Veena
        August 17, 2018 at 10:46 PM

        Sorry I forgot to tell you that we would like it for about ten days. Also you talk about off season. Which are those months

        Reply
      • Krishnandu Sarkar
        August 18, 2018 at 6:42 PM

        Hello Maam,
        Thanks a lot and I’m glad that you liked it. Well for 10 days, I need to know how are you planning to enter Bhutan. I mean are you planning to fly to Bhutan or planning to cross the Land Border?

        Here’s what an itinerary would look like if you are planning to cross via Land Border.

        Day 1 : Arrive Bagdogra / Hasimara and Transfer to P/Soling
        Day 2 : P/Soling – Thimphu
        Day 3 : Thimphu Sightseeing
        Day 4 : Thimphu – Phobjika
        Day 5 : Phobjika
        Day 6 : Phobjika – Punakha & Punakha Sightseeing
        Day 7 : Punakha – Paro
        Day 8 : Day Trip To Chele La
        Day 9 : Paro – P/Soling
        Day 10 : P/Soling – Bagdogra / Hasimara

        I have kept the itinerary a bit relaxed considering your age group. On Day 5, you can either spend it at Phobjika / Punakha as per your wish. Your Day 2 should be a weekday and working day for Bhutan Govt.

        Else if you are planning to fly to Bhutan, then you’d save 2 days of journey to & from P/Soling. Please let me know, in that case I’d modify the itinerary.

        Regarding season, April – May and October is peak season and have huge rush. Remaining would have normal tourist influx. However avoid July – September which is considered as Monsoon.

        Reply
    • Abhishek Singh parihar
      November 23, 2018 at 12:44 PM

      Hi Kris as you mentioned Apr / May are high season, can I plan for June, will it be cost effective and good for sightseeing and travel

      Reply
      • Krishnandu Sarkar
        November 23, 2018 at 12:57 PM

        Well see, April – May is peak season, however June – August / Late September is lean season but monsoon. During beginning of June it mostly drizzles (however that depends) and starts raining heavily by July end. Again from Sep End / Oct it starts peak season and ends by Nov. Dec – Feb / Mid – March is off season. However during XMas again it’s considered as peak season due to tourist inflow but not like in April – May / Oct.

        So instead of delaying it I’d say you may visit by Mid May or so. As if it starts raining after that you’d be in trouble. Although till Mid-June it generally drizzles sometime now and then. Heavy Rain starts from June End / July onwards. However that depends on weather which is very unpredictable throughout North East.

        Reply
    • […] Capital of Bhutan – Thimphu In & Around […]

      Reply
    • Mukul Gupta
      February 16, 2020 at 9:38 PM

      Hi
      Krishnandu
      I read your blog and it is very very informative and i liked it very much. I am a regular traveler from Delhi. I am a mathematics teacher so i am having enough time in month of june to travel. I am planning to visit Bhutan in Second week of June 2020. Can you help me in my itinerary and answer my queries.

      General Points:
      1. We are 4 families from Delhi and total 14 members. 9 adults and 5 kids of varying age , youngest 7 yrs and eldest 15 years.
      2. We all are early risers so we don’t have problem in leaving hotel at 6 or 7 am at all.
      3. Planning this trip in second week of June, 2020.
      4. I am planning to book North East Express from Delhi, which reaches NJP at 0830 hrs.
      My Itineary is as follow:
      Day 1 Monday 8 June 2020.
      Reach New Jalpiguri railway Station from North East Express from Delhi around 8:30 AM.
      Move to Phuentsholing 156 km approx 4hrs.
      Complete permit formalities.
      N/S at Phuentsholing Or if possible can we go directly after getting permit to Thimphu
      Day 2
      Phuentsholing to Thimphu with on the way sightseeing. 150 km approx 4.5 hrs
      N/S at Thimpu
      Day 3
      Thimphu local Sightseeeing and permit for Punaka, I think 1 day is enough for Thimphu SS.
      N/S at Thimpu
      Day 4
      Thimphu to Punaka 85 km approx 3 hrs. Local Sightseeing.
      N/S at Punakha
      Day 5
      Phunakha to Paro 126 km approx 4 hrs.
      Local SS + Chelela pas
      N/S at Paro
      Day 6
      Tiger Nest + local roam( if stamina allows)
      N/S at Paro
      Day 7
      Paro to Newpaiguri 300 km approx 9 hrs.
      Train from Newjalpiguri @ 5:30 pm

      My Queries.
      1. What is good option: To take a car ( Tempo traveler) from Jaigao and keep it with us till returning to India or take a car daily in Bhutan from point to point.
      2. On day 1, can we reach directly Thimpu after getting permit from Phutsholing.
      3. Can we get a tempo traveler for 14 of us or we need two separate cars.
      4. On day 7 can we reach Newjalpiguri at 5:00 pm to board North East Express train or I shall book Brahamputra Mail train which departs at 11:45 pm.

      Hope you will answer my queries.
      Thanks.

      Reply
      • Krishnandu Sarkar
        February 16, 2020 at 10:00 PM

        Hi Mukul, I’m glad that you found this blog helpful 🙂

        June is beginning of monsoon. Although it won’t rain heavily however expect light or mid showers or drizzling throughout the day.

        Your itinerary is perfectly fine, except on Day 5 after reaching Paro, I don’t think you’ll have time to cover both the Paro Sightseeing and Chele La Pass. You can consider breaking that into 2 days or else skip Chele La Pass.

        Also, to get entry permit your hotels needs to be booked in advance and you’d need your hotel booking confirmation from hotel to get the permit. So you cannot be really flexible here.

        Coming to your questions…
        1. What is good option: To take a car ( Tempo traveler) from Jaigao and keep it with us till returning to India or take a car daily in Bhutan from point to point.
        A. It’s upto you. If you don’t want to take hassle of bargaining and finding vehicle everyday, you can consider hiring a tempo traveller for the whole trip.

        2. On day 1, can we reach directly Thimpu after getting permit from Phutsholing.
        A. You can considering you get the permit early. It’s really hard to predict. If there’s huge rush, you won’t get the permit that day. Also considering North East Express to be long distance train, it’s bound to be late. So even if you reach NJP at 8:30 AM, it’d be around 1:30 – 2PM when you’ll reach P/Soling. NJP – P/Soling is almost 4.5 – 5 hours. Consider the stops for breakfast and all too.

        So, if you reach P/Soling by 2PM, it can be hard getting permit same day depending on rush. Also the Immigration Office sometimes stops accepting new applications after lunch which is from 1PM – 2PM. In that case you’d need to go to permit office next morning.

        So Personally I’d recommend staying at P/Soling for a night to be on safe side. Also you can’t be flexible here, as you’d need to show hotel booking confirmation in order to apply permit. So if you can’t make it that day, your whole plan will be a mess.

        3. Can we get a tempo traveler for 14 of us or we need two separate cars.
        A. Yes you can get Tempo Traveller 19 and 21 seater easily.

        4. On day 7 can we reach Newjalpiguri at 5:00 pm to board North East Express train or I shall book Brahamputra Mail train which departs at 11:45 pm.
        A. Paro – P/Soling is around 5-6 hours and further to NJP is around 4 hours. So it’s a total journey of around 10-11 hours. Consider the stops for lunch and breaks which would make it 12-13 hours of journey. So if you leave Paro by around 7AM or so, you shall have enough time to make it upto NJP for Brahmaputra Mail which departs at 11:45PM.

        Hope that helps 🙂

        Reply
    • Mukul Gupta
      February 17, 2020 at 4:53 AM

      Thanks a lot dear krishnandu.
      You suggestion is really valuable to me. And yes thanks again for such a quick reply.
      Regards
      Mukul Gupta

      Reply

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