We had planned a 6 Day, 7 night trip to Bhutan from May 19th to May 26th. We were a group of 11 people including 3 children. The trip was a truly memorable experience. After contacting and corresponding with a number of agents, we finalized Heavenly Bhutan as our tour operator. Mr. Raju and Mr. Shiva were extremely helpful and prompt with their replies to all our email queries. We exchanged close to a hundred emails and I never had to wait more than a day for a reply.
We took a flight from Delhi to Paro. The view of the Himalayas from the plane was breathtaking. At Paro airport, we were received by our tour guide Ms. Dechen Tshomo. She was very courteous and knowledgeable about the places we visited and this added to our enjoyment. From Paro, we drove down to Thimpu and visited an old suspension bridge on the way. We also got personalized stamps made for the kids at Thimpu post office. Bhutan is supposed to have some very good stamps and philatelists should definitely aim for a visit to the main post office at Thimpu. After staying for two nights in Thimpu, we proceeded to Punakha, stopping at Dochula pass but since it was raining we did not see much.
On the way to Punakha, we also visited Chimi Lhakhang, the temple of the divine madman. The walk through the fields to reach it was a fun experience. We also visited the Punakha Dzong which was extremely beautiful. The river flowing in front of it, mountains all around and the blooming jacaranda trees around the Dzong made it a spectacular sight – one we would always cherish!!! Our guide knew of a suspension bridge about 10 minutes walk from the Dzong and we visited that as well. The kids really loved walking across the swaying bridge.
Next morning, we started for the beautiful Phobjikha valley. The road is very dusty and construction being in progress, we took about 6 hours to reach Phobjikha. The drive though was very scenic. I must say that the vehicle provided for us was in a very good condition and our driver Sam was a very careful driver. Though some of us are prone to motion sickness, none of us suffered any nausea etc. during all the drives through the winding bumpy roads. At Phobjikha, we visited the Gangtey Gompa monastery and went for the two hour nature trail walk.
Next morning we again started for Paro. It took us almost 10 hours to get there, but again the scenery during the drive was wonderful. Next day in Paro, we visited the National Museum and drove to Chelela Pass. The museum had a lot of information about Bhutanese traditions, dances, paintings, flora and fauna etc. – a must visit place. The drive to chelela pass is also wonderful. The variety of flora we see on the way is fabulous and we saw a variety of blooming flowers. We had a picnic lunch on the way as well. Mr. Raju from Heavenly Bhutan had hosted a dinner for us and another group this night and that too was a great experience as we could hear local songs sung by Mr Raju’s staff and had an informative discussion with him about Bhutan’s culture and Buddhism.
The next day was for the famed Tigers Nest hike. Most of the people in our group attempted and succeeded in it, from age 73 to kids 8 years old. It was a truly wonderful as well as a spiritual experience. The hike is a little tough, but the view from the top and the Taktsang monastery is worth every effort. Our guide Ms. Dechen was very helpful. There were times the kids ran on ahead and she went in front to keep up with them and keep an eye on them. There were times when some of us trailed behind and she would then double back to ensure that we were all fine. Her patience and sunny nature helped a lot. Also she was extremely good with kids and they got quite attached to her as the trip ended. We had expressed a wish to get photographs dressed in traditional Bhutanese dress and our tour agent arranged it for us free of cost.
This ended our trip and we caught the flight back to Delhi the next morning. All the hotels we stayed in were suggested by our tour operator and we found all of them good, clean and with cooperative staff. Bhutan is truly a charming, beautiful and serene country. We visited towards the end of spring and still saw blooms everywhere. The people are simple and friendly and we could guess why it is one of the happiest places on earth. Though the country is not very prosperous, but we found people content with whatever they have. In our entire trip we could not found a single beggar which was a very pleasant surprise for us. In general, people are religious and have great respect for their king. While visiting Bhutan, we could also see how religion and politics can work together for the betterment of the people. Overall, the trip exceeded our expectations and has left a lasting impression on all of us.