Best Bhutan Itinerary and Blogs

A visit to Bhutan had been a long standing dream. It came true last summer holidays when we took a 10-day road-trip to Bhutan and wandered the country thorough to see its imposing Dzongs and picturesque country-sides, eat its food, dress the way its people did, listen to its uncountable tales from history and folk-lore…

We flew down to Bagdogra from Mumbai; drove up to Phuentsoling, Bhutan’s border town for the permit, and from there started the odyssey –ThimpuPunakha, Bumthang, Gantey and Paro – over 10 mesmerizing days.

Every drive seemed to be better than the previous one; every town looked more charming than the previous one; here was a country that took its history, art, culture, architecture so seriously that you are forced to feel ‘nothing must have changed’. Deeply religious, even the commoner in Bhutan almost starts and ends his day at the monasteries. Every little town has the basics and is so clean that you can eat off the streets. Almost every town is located in a valley with a river running past it, giving it life. Schools adopt a brook, stream or a river and keep it sparkling clean. Every house, shop, hotel, monastery, Dzong follow the same architecture – giving the entire Bhutan a character you will find difficult to ignore.

Upon coming back home, I wrote an exhaustive series of posts on our Bhutan road trip. This post is a compilation of all the town-wise posts to help the one looking for Bhutan-related information in one place.

Click on the individual links to read more about the topic…

Head to Phuentsoling, Bhutan’s border town, for the Bhutan Permit:

  1. Drive from Bagdogra (West Bengal) to Phuentsoling
  2. How is the Bagdogra Airport? 
  3. How to get an entry Permit/Pass for Bhutan 
  4. Where to stay in Phuentsoling (Bhutan)?  We stayed overnight at Hotel Druk

Thimpu – We stayed there for 2 days 2 nights

  1. Drive from Phuentsoling to Thimpu 
  2. Sight-Seeing in Thimpu
  3. Where to shop in Thimpu?

Punakha – We stayed there for 1 day 1 night

  1. Drive from Thimpu to Punakha
  2. Sight-seeing in Punakha
  3. Where to stay in Punakha? — Punatshanchuu Cottages
  4. Romance in Punakha Dzong

Bumthang – We stayed there for 2 days 2 nights

  1. Drive from Punakha to Bumthang
  2. Sight-seeing in Bumthang
  3. Where to stay in Bumthang — Ugyen Ling Resort
  4. Where to shop in Bumthang? (recommended, since the rates are most reasonable here)

Gangtey – We stayed there for 1 night 1 day

  1. Drive from Bumthang to Gangtey
  2. Trek in Phobjikha Valley
  3. Where to stay in Gangtey? — Hotel Dewachen review
  4. An Ethereal Morning Walk in Gangtey

Paro – We stayed there for 2 nights 2 days

  1. Sight-seeing in Paro
  2. Tiger’s Nest Trek in Paro
  3. Where to stay in Paro? — Hotel Olathang
  4. Gangtey to Paro Drive

And a few generic posts that will help you:

  1. Best Time to Visit Bhutan
  2. Must-Eat Dishes & Drinks When In Bhutan

That was quite a bit of reading. Time for some photos now

  1. Flowers in Bhutan
  2. Beautiful Gangtey
  3. Phojikha Valley Trek 

23 thoughts on “Best Bhutan Itinerary and Blogs

  • Rajaa Chowdhury

    We three friends are planning a train/road trip from Kolkata to Bhutan this October, ’15. We will take a train from Kolkata to Hasimara / Alipurduar and then enter Bhutan via Phuntsheoling. Phuntsheoling is only 18kms away from Hasimara and 42 kms away from Alipurduar. We have many trains to these two places from Kolkata. Can you kindly help me by saying what was the cost of the car between the various destinations:

    1. Phuentsoling to Thimpu

    2. Thimpu to Paro

    3. Paro to Phuentsoling

    Cost of budget hotels for three adults at Phuentsholing, Thimpu and Paro. Places of tourist attraction in these three places. The tour will be for 6 days excluding the travelling days.

  • Az

    Dear Jayant and Deepa

    Wonderful post.

    Wanted your help and guidance on this itenary. We are a family of 4 and 3 of us our road sick, so want to travel optimally as well as not compromise of the beautiful locations of Bhutan

    suggested ITINERARY : 9 nights / 10 days :
    Thimphu/2 nights + Gangtey/1 night + Wangdue/1 night + Bumthang/2 nights + Haa/ 1 night+ Paro/2 nights.

    MAY 9 (Sat) – Pick-up from Paro airport & transfer to Thimphu hotel. Paro – Thimpu (2 hours)

    MAY 10 (Sun) – Sightseeing Thimphu. Overnight stay at Thimphu.

    MAY 11 (Mon) – Morning sightseeing Thimphu. Late morning transfer to Punakha/Wangdue (via Dochula Pass). Thereafter transfer to Gangtey – Phobjikha valley. Overnight stay at Gangtey. Thimpu – gangtey (5 hours)

    MAY 12 (Tues) – Morning transfer to Bumthang (via Trongsa). Sightseeing Trongsa. Reach Bumthang by late afternoon / early evening. Overnight stay at Bumthang.

    Gangtey – Bhumtang (8-9 hours)

    MAY 13 (Wed) – Sightseeing Bumthang. Overnight stay at Bumthang.

    MAY 14 (Thurs) – Transfer to Punakha / Wangdue. Overnight stay at Punakha / Wangdue.

    Bhumtang – Wangdue (7-8 hours)

    MAY 15 (Fri) – Sightseeing Punakha/Wangdue. Late afternoon transfer to Haa. Overnight stay at haa.

    Wangdi to haa (6-7 hours)

    MAY 16 (Sat) – Morning transfer (day excursion) to Chelela Pass & Haa valley. Late afternoon back to Paro. Time permitting sightseeing Paro. Overnight stay at Paro

    Paro – Haa 1.5 hours

    MAY 17 (Sun) – Trek/Hike to Taktshang Monastery. Late afternoon sightseeing Paro.
    Overnight stay at Paro.

    MAY 18 (Mon) – Morning Drop to Paro international airport. Tashi Delek!

    • WOOF Post author

      Hello Az,
      Thank you for writing in. Here are my observations:
      May 11: Thimpu to Punakha takes about 3 hrs. Sightseeing in Punakha can take a little more than half a day if you were to see the Dzong, suspension bridge and a temple. Therefor, going that very day to Gantey could be taxing as Gantey is another 3-3 & half hr drive uphill.
      May 14-15: No point coming back to Punakha again. Instead, better to stay overnight in Punakha, see it very well on May 11 and go to Gantey. From Bumthang, you can go directly to Haa.
      Regarding the road-sickness bit: Hmm….all of the places will involve driving — especially Punakha to Bumthang is about 8 hrs, and coming back will involve the same amount of driving. Plus, the stretch between Thimpu-Punakha and Wangdue-Gantey was being repaired/broadened when we went last year. Not sure if the road-work is complete. Can get a little difficult in those stretches. We travelled with our baby, and we gave her medicines for vomitting in the long-drive stretches. She wasn’t road-sick even once though 🙂
      On the whole, do not do a repeat visit to Punakha. Makes no sense to go back to the same place, when you can directly head to another destination.
      Hope this will help. Do feel free to ask should there be any more questions.

  • Mayank

    Hi Deepa

    We are planning a trip to Bhutan and your blogs and feedback has been of great help. Am still reading through and making notes for my trip. 🙂
    Keep sharing your stories.

    • WOOF Post author

      Thanks so much Mayank for your kind words. Hope you and your family have a wonderful trip. Happy Holidays!

  • Vivek Gupta

    Wonderful post……. I plan to travel to Bhutan in the month of September and am currently in the planning phase. Found your posts very useful and have made tons of notes 🙂 The notes will come very handy when I will finalize my itinerary!!!

    Once again, thanks for sharing your experience and for sharing all the valuable information!

    Best wishes!

    • WOOF Post author

      Delighted you found it useful. Sept is a super time for Bhutan. Am sure you will have a memorable trip.
      — Deepa

  • Ramya

    Dear Deepa

    So glad I ran into your blog. My husband and I are planning a trip to Bhutan and reading your blog was very reassuring.
    I am changing my itinerary after reading your blog :-). After seeing your posts, we are very interested in visiting Paro , Timphu, Punakha and Gangtey. I am skeptical about Bhumtang considering its a very long drive and both of us have motion sickness

    Can you please help me with the below information

    1. How and where do we book a cab with a driver and guide for the entire trip? We intend to plan the trip for 6N7D
    2. Could you kindly share an email id or phone number of your driver/ guide.
    3. Is it essential that we hire a guide? Or are the drivers equipped with the necessary information? How knowledgeable was your driver Karma? Could you please share his email address or phone number.
    4. How much does it cost to hire a car and driver per day? And what would be their work timings? Also how much would a guide charge per day?
    5. Will it be difficult to get acclimatized to places on high altitudes?
    6. Are the drivers reliable and friendly? How was your driver?

    Thank you!

    • WOOF Post author

      Hi Ramya, thank you for getting in touch.

      1. & 2. We had lot of trouble in remitting money to Bhutan so chose an operator there who had an Indian Partner. Please connect with Niriti Vaid
      @ 9310930808 – Eco Tours has an office in Delhi & they work with Norbu Bhutan. You can reach out to other Tour Operators as well there – they will be all registered with the Bhutan Govt. It’s a highly regulated industry there

      3. It’s better to hire a guide as there is so much to their history and culture. All guides are certified by Bhutan Tourism and listed on their website

      4. Not sure – we chose an all inclusive deal with Hotel + tour with guide. It works out better, as they are used to working on a full package there – with rates controlled at $250 per person for foreigners (incl. stay, select meals, car + guide). For Indians it’s substantially cheaper and can be negotiated. The rates there are very reasonable – came to something like Rs. 5K – 6K / night for 3 of us, all inclusive (standard hotels). The guide and driver stay at the hotels / nearby depending on the arrangement. Someone had mentioned Rs. 2000 / day for guide if I am not mistaken. Travel Forum on TA should have updated info.

      5. Locations in Bhutan are not at very high altitudes, so no challenges for asthmatics or old people as such. You don’t need to acclimatize like in Ladakh/Leh here

      6. Karma & Sonam were some of the nicest people we have ever met in our trips – they went out of their way to make our trip comfortable and enjoyable. There are always some obnoxious people around (like one Mr. Dawa from Norbu Bhutan, whom you should avoid specifically if you deal with Eco Tours / Norbu). As such, most of the people we met in Bhutan are simple and very friendly

      Bhutan is an amazing country and a must visit for everyone. Am sure you will love your trip there … do feel free to contact us for any additional details. Cheers Jayanta

  • Sharada

    Hi Deepa and Jayant,
    Loved reading the post. It is so very informative. We are planning a trip end April. It is a 6N/7D trip. Trip includes Thimpu, Punakha and Paro.
    I have connected with Norbu Bhutan, but I gather from one of your posts that remitting money to Bhutan is not easy. Do you suggest going through an Indian agent?

    • WOOF Post author

      Hi Sharada, we had a tough time figuring out how to transfer funds to the travel agents there. We got details of an intermediate branch but neither HDFC nor ICICI allowed us to transfer to them via Axis bank as ‘comments or instrictions’ was not allowed. Not sure if things have changed but we found going through the delhi agent easier. We might have paid a lil extra but was good to have a connect here. Cheers

      • Sharada

        Thank you so much for the info. We have got a quotation from an agent in Bhutan. Will see if the payment will go through. Keeping fingers crossed!
        Btw, is third week of April a good time to go to Bhutan?

        • WOOF Post author

          Am sure it will go through…end April should be a good time. You will get the flowers…Pity you are not going to Gangtey…you could have seen the last of the cranes in the Phojikha valley…

  • Nisha Prakash

    Dear Deepa & Jayanta,

    What a delightful site. Reading your travel diary is almost like being there. Almost. Its vivid and riveting.

    I am writing to you from , a product search and discovery site. I was wondering, if its is possible to republish your story on our Discover section. The link will be redirected on your blog. Please do let me know. You can reach me on 9871340911.

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