Shrouded in the amazing mountain peaks and dense green forests, Bhutan- the Land of Thunder Dragon is still one of the least explored and traveled destinations of the world. Also known as the last Himalayan Buddhist kingdom, Bhutan is the home of centuries-old monasteries and historic dzongs. Taktsang Goemba is one finest example of sacred pilgrimage sites of the country which has outstandingly contributed to the nation`s pride and Buddhist culture. Not only this, Bhutan is a promised land of profound natural beauty which can be explored through the breath-taking landscapes of the majestic Himalayan peaks, stunning valleys, and abundance of rare flora and fauna.
Getting to Bhutan:
Paro is the country`s only international airport which serves flights to other major cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Gaya, Dhaka, Kathmandu etc. Major airports like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (Kolkata), Bagdogra International Airport (Siliguri, West Bengal) and Indira Gandhi International Airport (Delhi) provide direct flights to Paro.
If you are planning a road trip to Bhutan, then out of the three border points in India, Jaigaon/Phuentsholing is the most preferred route by travelers. The distance between Siliguri to Phuentsholing is 94 km and for the ones traveling from Bagdogra, NJP and Siliguri can board private taxis or buses all of which connects to the National Highway NH31. A drive along NH31 will take you directly to the capital Thimphu via Phuentsholing.
Traveling from Paro airport to Thimphu:
Once you have landed at the Paro airport, your taxi with a courteous driver will be ready to pick you up. The approximate time taken to cover the distance between Paro and Thimphu is 1hour and 15 minutes. As you depart from Paro airport towards the capital Thimphu, you will get awe-struck by the mesmerizing views of the entire province. Every village you pass by and each house and building built in a unique architectural style will leave you amazed. Besides, the quaint country breaths in the serene air and invokes a sense of nostalgia with its age-old dzongs and tranquil monasteries. Your road trip from Paro to Thimphu will provide a glimpse into the last existing Shangri La.
Points of Interest in Paro and Thimphu:
1. Taktsang Monastery
2. Chele La Pass
3. Rinpung Dzong
4. Dumtse Lhakhang
5. Thimphu Chorten
6. Buddha Dordenma
7. National Memorial Chorten
8. Tango Monastery
9. Motithang Takin Reserve
10. Cheri Monastery
The currency of Bhutan is Ngultrum (Nu). Indians will probably find Bhutan a cheap country because the currency is equal to that of Indian rupees. Adding more to this, in most of the local shops and restaurants, Bhutanese accept the Indian 100 rupees notes.
Local taxi fare in Bhutan:
If you are traveling to Bhutan for the first time then make sure you keep information about the local car hire and fare. To avoid hassles and escape from extortions, the best way to enjoy tour within budget is you can pick a reliable and authorized car rental service provider in Bhutan. Availing their service will save you from paying a hefty amount for basic requirements that can be obtained with a phone call or few clicks.
Though Bhutan government has placed fixed rates for taxis, the fare varies according to the place you are at and the choice of vehicles. For example, a Non AC Indica or Alto charges Rs. 9 per km whereas an AC Indica or Alto charges Rs. 10 per km.
One best thing you can do in your lifetime is paying a visit to this tiny intriguing Buddhist kingdom, where economy of the country is not measured by wealth instead, by the gross national happiness of people. So, happy journey folks!