Bhutan

Bhutan, a Buddhist kingdom on the Himalayas� eastern edge, is a land of monasteries, fortresses (or dzongs) and dramatic topography ranging from subtropical plains to steep mountains and valleys. In the High Himalayas, peaks such as 7,326m Jomolhari are a destination for serious trekkers. Taktsang Palphug (Tiger�s Nest) monastery, a sacred site, clings to cliffs above the forested Paro Valley.

Entry Points to Bhutan

By Air
The easiest way for visitors to enter Bhutan is by air on Druk Air, Bhutan's national carrier and the only airline operating in Bhutan. Druk Air's fleet consists of two British Aerospace jets, BAe 146s, which are specially designed for Bhutan.

Flights to Bhutan are available from Bangkok in Thailand, Katmandu in Nepal, Bagdogra, Delhi & Calcutta in India, and Dhaka in Bangladesh several times each week. Latest flight schedules are available on request.

On clear days the flight into Paro offers spectacular views of the Himalayan mountain range, including Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga, Chomolhari, Kula Kangri and many other peaks of the Himalayas. Paro Airport, located in the mountains, is subject to the vagaries of nature, and weather conditions sometimes prevent flight landing and take off. Druk Air itself has an impeccable safety record, without a single mishap since its inception in 1983. We can book your air-seats in and out of Bhutan well in advance, avoiding last-minute rush during the peak tourist seasons of Spring and Autumn.

By Road
Tourists wanting to combine a visit to Bhutan with Sikkim & Darjeeling (or other places in India) can enter Bhutan by surface through the border town of Phuentsoling. This is the only other entry point to Bhutan other than flying into Paro airport. In the reverse order visitors can fly into Bhutan and exit by surface to India through Phuentsoling.

For those travelling to far Eastern Bhutan there is a option to exit out of the country through the border town of Samdrup Dzonkar to Guwahati Airport in Assam of India. Only exiting out of Bhutan is allowed from here not entry. From Guwahati there are flights available to Calcutta and Delhi.

Tourist Visas

Tourist visas have to be approved prior to your arrival in Bhutan. With prior approval visas are then issued only on your arrive in the country, either at Paro airport or (if by road) at Phuentsoling. Once your are ready to confirmed your tour arrangements we will apply for your visas. We need the following details in order to start applying for visas.

01 : Your full name (as it appears in your passport) -
02 : Permanent address -
03 : Occupation -
04 : Nationality -
05 : Passport number -
06 : Date of issue and expiration of passport -
07 : Date and place of birth -

The actual visa is stamped in your passport only when you arrive in Bhutan. You need to pay US$ 20 and present a passport photo with your passport number written on the back. You will then receive a visa for the period of your stay in Bhutan. We will process visa extensions for you if they become necessary.


Place of Interest in Bhutan
Paro

The first thing you will notice as you disembark is the transparent purity of air and the absence of noise. The Paro Valley has kept its bucolic nature in spite of the airport and the existence of development projects. Fields, brown or green depending on the season, cover most of the valley floor, while hamlets and isolated farms dot the countryside. The houses of Paro Valley are considered to be among the most beautiful in the country. Paro is believed to be one of the first valleys to have received the imprint of Buddhism

Places to visit in Paro
01. Kyichu Lhakhang [Lhakhang means Temple]
02. Taksang Monastery (Tiger's Nest)
03. Drugyel Dzong [Dzong means Fortress]
04. Dungtse Lhakhang
05. Ta Dzong [National Museum]
06. Paro Dzong

Thimphu

Thimphu lies in a wooded valley, sprawling up a hillside on the West Bank of the Thimphu Chhu [Chhu means River]. Thimphu is unlike any other world capital. Small and secluded the city is quiet and there are never the traffic jams familiar in other Asian Capitals. It is often said that Thimphu is the only world capital without traffic lights. Thimphu's main shopping street is a delight not so much for what you can buy there, but for the picturesqueness of the architecture and national costume. Beautiful weaves in wool, silk and cotton, basketwork, silver jewelry, thangkas and other traditional crafts of the Kingdom are available in various Handicraft Emporiums.

Places to visit in Thimphu
01. The Memorial Chorten [Chorten means Stupa]
02. Changlimithang [Battle Ground]
03. Weekly Market [Saturdays and Sundays]
04. Tashichoe Dzong [The biggest fortress in Bhutan]
05. National Library
06. School of Arts and Crafts
07. Royal Academy of Performing Arts
08. National Institute of Traditional Medicine
09. Zangto Pelri Lhakhang
10. Zoo
11. Changangkha Lhakhang
12. Drubthob Gompa [Nunnery]
13. Dechencholing Palace
14. Pangri Zampa Temple
15. Tango Gompa
16. Chari Gompa
17. Simthoka Dzong
18. Recommended day hikes in Thimphu
19. Tala Monastery
20. Phajoding Monastery
21. Thadra Monastery
22. Trashigang Nunnery

Punakha

Rinchen build a temple there which can still be seen today opposite to the great Dzong. Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel a key figure in the History of Bhutan built the Punakha Dzong and his body is preserved in one of the Dzongs temples, Machen Lhakhang. The Dzong was damaged six times by fire, once by floods and once by earthquake. The coronation of Ugyen Wangchuk, the first king of Bhutan, took place at Punakha Dzong on 17th December 1907.

Places to visit in Punakha
01. Punakha Dzong
02. Wandue Phodrang

Meaning “the palace where the four directions are gathered under the power of the Shabdrung”. However the popular story has it that the Shabdrung arrived at the river and happened to see a boy building a sand castle. He asked for the boy's name, which was Wangdue, and thereupon decided to name the Dzong Wangdue Phodrang or 'Wangdue's Palace.' Wangdue Phodrang Dzong is perched on a spur at the confluence of 02 rivers. The position of the Dzong is remarkable as it completely covers the spur and commands an impressive view over both the north-south and east-west roads. The main road climbs the length of the spur and on the left, across the river, comes the first glimpse of the picturesque village of Rinchengang whose inhabitants are celebrated stonemasons.
Phuntsoling

This small modern town in the south is the gateway of Bhutan for overland travelers. Like all other border towns, it is also a prelude. Phuntsholing is also a fascinating mixture of Bhutanese and Indian, a lively center for the mingling people, languages, customs and goods. On top of a low hill at nearby Kharbandi, a small Gompa situated in a garden of tropical plants and flowers overlooks the town and surrounding plains.

The Amo Chu, commonly known as the Torsa river flows alongside this town and it is favorite spot for fisherman and the picnickers. From Phuntsholing, the road winds north over the southern foothills, through lush forested valleys and around the rugged north-south ridges of the inner Himalayas to the central valleys of Thimphu and Paro. It is a scenic journey; forests festooned with orchids cover the mountains on the other side and exciting hairpin curves greet travelers with colorful sculptures of Tashi Tagye (The eight auspicious signs of Buddhism).

Trongsa

Trongsa means 'the new village' and the founding of Trongsa first dates from the 16th century which is indeed relatively recent for Bhutan. It was the Drukpa lama, Ngagi Wangchuk (1517-54), the great grandfather of Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel, who founded the first temple at Trongsa in 1543. The landscape around Trongsa is spectacular, and for miles on the end the Dzong seems to tease you so that you wonder if you will ever reach Trongsa. The view extends for many kilometers and in the former times, nothing could escape the vigilance of its watchmen.

Places to visit in Trongsa
01. Trongsa Dzong
02. Chendebji Chorten [Stupa]
03. Ta Dzong

Bumthang

The Bumthang region encompasses four major valleys: Choskhor, Tang, Ura and Chhume. The Dzongs and the most important temples are in the large Choskhor valley, commonly referred to as Bumthang valley.

There are two versions of the origin of the name Bumthang. The valley is supposed to be shaped like a Gompa, a vessel that contains holy water, and Thang meaning flat place. The religious connotation of the name aptly applies to the sacred character of the region. It would be difficult to find so many important temples and monasteries in such a small area anywhere else in Bhutan.

Places to visit in Bhumthang
01. Jakar Dzong [Castle of the White Bird]
02. Wangdichholing Palace
03. Lamey Gompa
04. Kurje Lhakhang [Ku means "body", Je means "imprint"]
05.Tamshing Lhakhang [Temple of Good Message]
06. Kencho Sum Lhakhang [known for its broken bell]
07. Member Tsho
08. Peling Sermon Chorten [Stupa]

Mongar

The Mongar district is the northern portion of the ancient region of Kheng. Mongar is the district headquarters and hardly more than a stopping place surrounded by fields of maize. It is also the first town built in a mountain side instead of in a valley, a characteristic of eastern Bhutan where the valleys are usually little more than riverbeds and mountain slopes which rise abruptly from the rivers, flatten out as they approach their summits. One would never imagine that the upper parts of the mountains are so densely populated.

Shongar Dzong, Mongar's original Dzong, is in ruins and the new dzong in Mongar town is not as architecturally spectacular as others in the region. Dramtse Goemba, in the eastern part of the district, is an important Nyingmapa Monastery, but it is difficult to get there.

Places to visit in Mongar
01. Dramtse Gompa
02. Mongar Dzong

Lhuentse

Lhuentse is an isolated district although there are many sizeable villages in the hill throughout the region. It is very rural and there are fewer than five vehicles, including an ambulance, and not a single petrol station, in the whole district.

Formerly known as Kurtoe, the region is the ancestral home of Bhutan's Royal Family. Though geographically in the east, it was culturally identified with central Bhutan, and the route over the Rodung-la was a major trade route until the road to Mongar was completed. To see and appreciate Lhuentse properly, with its many small villages and ancient temples, you should really explore on foot.

Trashigang:

Trashigang is one of the most densely populated districts in Bhutan. After Thimphu, Trashigang is the biggest urban center in mountainous Bhutan. It is the heart of eastern Bhutan and was once the center of important trade with Tibet. There are several gompas and villages that make a visit worthwhile, but it is a remote region and requires a lot of driving to reach.

Places to visit in Trashigang
01. Zangtho Pelri Kanglung Lhakhang
02. Khaling Lhakhang
03. Radhi Lhakhang
04. Trashigang Dzong
05. Tashiyangtse Dzong
06. Gom Kora
07. Chorten Kora

Samdrup Zonkhar

The small frontier town is situated at the precise point where the mountains meet the plains. There is almost nothing of interest to the traveler in south-eastern Bhutan. It is the headquarters of a district boasting a brand new Dzong, although it is basically a town of small shopkeepers who serve all of eastern Bhutan as far as Mongar and Lhuntshi. The tropical heat gives a languid air which is accentuated by a lack of busy traffic.

 

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