Paro was our final destination in our Bhutan trip. Thimpu, Punakha, Bumthang and now, Gangtey done, we were looking forward to the trek up to Tiger’s Nest in Paro.
The only damper was the drive from Gangtey to Paro – it was a long one. Plus, not being a Sunday, we were held up for a couple of hours in all those stretches where they are widening the roads, between Gangtey to Wangdue and from Punakha to Thimpu. It was a hot day too and with a non-AC van, the 8-9 hour drive seemed like forever.
We reached Paro around 9pm. And hit the bed straight after a good bath and good dinner.
Must-Knows for Gangtey-Paro Drive
Places to eat: Owing to the road widening work, you won’t find too many road-side stalls selling snacks or water. Must buy them at the beginning of the journey. There is the Chendebji Resort a little before Pele La (between Gangtey and Wangdue) where you can have lunch. Also, between Wagdue and Thimpu, there are 2 restaurants at the Dochula Pass where you can buy good tea/coffee, meals and snacks. Both are extremely clean and well laid out. Even the toilets are very clean.
Road widening work: Post Pele La on your drive downhill towards Wangdue, the road is undergoing widening work, and hence, the drive can be quite dusty for about an hour. There is no road block here though unlike the Thimpu-Punakha drive. And when there are fewer cars, the dust is not much of a problem. The problem starts when the cavalcade of army trucks pass by. We encountered a few jams owing to rock cutting, which held us up for 30-45 minutes. But once the widening work gets over, it’s smooth and nice drive all over again. On a clear day, you can see the Himalayan ranges of Jhomolhari, Jichu Drakye and Kang Bum. There are these beautiful hamlets where you find women spinning yarns on their porches, older men idling their time and children frolicking around.
About 2 hours of the Thimpu-Punakha drive is through the road widening work. This means, you need to shut your van’s windows owing to the heavy dust outside. Consider taking an AC vehicle for this stretch as it can get very suffocating inside a non-AC car.
Once again, do note that there are planned roadblocks for the Punakha-Thimpu drive over the weekdays. Your driver (if a local guy) will know about the road block timings. Make sure, he has planned the entry-exit accordingly.