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Trip to Bhutan - The Land of Thunder Dragon - Experiential Travel Blog

A Trip to the Land of Thunder Dragon, Bhutan

Thimphu city view - Trip to Bhutan

Every person in this world plans something unique for his birthday and tries hard to make the day memorable. For me, nothing could have been better than traveling to celebrate my day. So, I planned a trip to Bhutan with my college friends to celebrate my 24th birthday. Also, it was my first international trip so the excitement level was at its top. 😀

We planned to travel in August end and booked the flights in July to get a bit cheaper tickets. We also booked a few hotels in advance so that we could get the permits with ease because hotel booking vouchers are required to get the permits.

Stuff to pack - Trip to Bhutan
Stuff to pack – Trip to Bhutan

Now, as our departure date started coming closer, we started packing and arranging other important stuff.

  • Day 1: Fly from Delhi to Bagdogra. Travel to Alipurdwar
  • Day 2: Jeep Safari at Buxa Tiger reserve. Travel to Jaigaon.
  • Day 3: Enter Phuentsholing in Bhutan. Get permits and travel to Thimphu
  • Day 4: Sightseeing in Thimphu. Travel to Punakha
  • Day 5: Travel to Phobjikha Valley, back to Punakha and Travel to Paro
  • Day 6: Trek to Tigers Nest
  • Day 7: Travel to Chele La pass and back to Paro
  • Day 8: Travel from Paro to Phuentsholing and then to Siliguri
  • Day 9: Fly from Bagdogra to Delhi

Day 1: Fly from Delhi to Bagdogra. Travel to Alipurdwar

We were a group of five, out of which two were coming from Hyderabad and Pune and the rest three (including me) were coming from Delhi. We reached the airport a bit early because we wanted the window seats on the left side as I had heard from someone that one can see Mount Everest and other Himalayan peaks while flying from Delhi to Bagdogra or Guwahati. Our flight took off and the journey started.

It took us 2 hours and we reached Bagdogra Airport in West Bengal. Though we couldn’t get a view of Everest but Kanchenjunga was clearly visible. At the airport, we met Ashish, who came from Hyderabad and was waiting for us there since 12 PM. Now, we four were at the airport waiting for the fifth person of our group, Rahul who was supposed to reach at 1 pm but his flight got delayed. Our train was scheduled at 7:30 pm from New Jalpaiguri and it was already 5:45 pm and we were still at the airport. Neither were we shocked nor were we scared of losing the train because we already knew that if we 5 are together then crazy incidents must happen and also we were quite sure about the Indian Railways that the train will surely get late.

View from the flight - Trip to Bhutan
View from the flight – Trip to Bhutan

Finally, Rahul arrived at the airport, and we rushed out to catch a taxi to the New Jalpaiguri railway station. After bargaining with some taxi walas, we finally booked one and moved towards the railway station. The taxi driver was also wicked. He did rash driving and drove too fast on the road because we told him that we would not give the tip if our train gets missed. We reached the station after a thrilling drive and found what we were sure of. The train was late by 15 minutes. Haha! Thank You Indian Railways 😀

At 7:45 pm, the train arrived and we boarded. Now, the next 3 hours we had to spend on the train. We had no other option so we started playing UNO and playing cards. We also did the recce of the complete train and did some pranks too. Reached Alipurdwar at 10:30 pm and after searching for few minutes, found a decent hotel. Had dinner and slept.

Day 2: Jeep Safari at Buxa Tiger reserve. Travel to Jaigaon.

Woke up and got ready for the Jeep Safari in the Buxa tiger reserve. The weather was humid and there was no electricity since midnight. We also had a small fight with the hotel owner because he didn’t turn on the generator. So we just wanted to leave that place. We inquired from taxi walas and they were charging around ₹600 for dropping us at the Rajabhaktawa gate (forest entry gate). So we chose to travel by auto rickshaw as it was cheaper. We turned on our Bluetooth speaker and enjoyed the journey. After reaching the gate, we hired another taxi to Jayanti gate which charged us ₹1200 and dropped there. Jayanti gate was the point from where the safari was to be started. We did all the formalities, met our guide and hopped on the green gypsy.

We crossed the gate and entered the dense forest having tall trees on both sides. The guide told us that the forest is home to animals such as leopard, tiger, deer, biason but the whole region was famous for elephants. Though we didn’t find any animal except a deer and an elephant still we enjoyed the safari. The forest was beautiful and raw.

Safari at Buxa Tiger Reserve - Trip to Bhutan
Safari at Buxa Tiger Reserve – Trip to Bhutan

After finishing the safari, we boarded the taxi and it dropped us at the outer gate. Now we had to go to Jaigaon from that point and the day was about to be set. There were no autos/taxis available directly to Jaigaon. So without delaying further, we hired an auto up to Kalchini and decided to take another auto to our destination, Jaigaon.

Forest of Buxa Tiger Reserve - Trip to Bhutan
Forest of Buxa Tiger Reserve – Trip to Bhutan
The group - Trip to Bhutan
The group – Trip to Bhutan

We started our drive in the autorickshaw and after 5 minutes of the drive, the driver suddenly asked us to focus on the road and the surroundings. We asked him “why?” He replied that we are traveling through the dense forest and there is a high possibility that any animal can come on our way. We asked further “what will happen if a leopard or an elephant come?”. The type of answer he gave was quite funny but it thrilled us and made us alert. He told that “agar leopard aa gya toh woh humara kya kar lega, hum gaadi chadha dega aur agar haathi aa gya toh hum uska kya kar lega, hum gaadi chod ke bhaag jaayega” (if leopard comes then what can he do to us? We would continue driving and if an elephant comes, what can we do to him? We will leave the autorickshaw here and run away).

The driver told few forest stories also and we thoroughly enjoyed the journey. After reaching Kalchini, we took another auto rickshaw and continued our drive towards Jaigaon (a town nearest to Bhutan border). It was an hour journey to Jaigaon and there was no more forest so now we could travel freely but it was obvious how things could go normally with us? So it started raining and t was not a mild rain, it rained like cats and dogs. We could hardly see a thing outside. Somehow the auto wala drove and we reached Jaigaon. We checked-in into the hotel and went out for having the dinner.

Jaigaon was a small town situated at the bottom of a hill and known as the border town for Bhutan. From here, one can cross the Indo-Bhutan border on his feet. There is a gate situated called Bhutan gate through which one can reach Phuentsholing, a town in Bhutan. We roamed around a bit and after having dinner, we relaxed in our rooms.

Day 3: Enter Phuentsholing in Bhutan. Get permits and travel to Thimphu

After 2 days of traveling in India, now today we were going to enter Bhutan. We got ready by 8 am, checked out from the hotel and started walking towards the Bhutan gate. It was hardly 500 meters from our hotel. We went through the frisking center and finally, we were standing on the land of Thunder Dragon. We then walked a few meters and proceeded towards the immigration office to get the permits.

Bhutan Gate at Jaigaon - Trip to Bhutan
Bhutan Gate at Jaigaon – Trip to Bhutan

At the gate, we met some people asking for taxis. We talked to them and booked a taxi for 6 days including the sightseeing of Phobjikha Valley and Chele La. It costed us ₹20k and we thought it was a fair deal.

The driver took our passports and we went inside the office for the ID and fingerprint verification. Finally, our passport got stamped and it was the first stamp so we were hell excited. It took us around 1 hour in doing all the formalities and then we started our drive towards the capital of Bhutan.

While traveling towards Thimphu - Trip to Bhutan
While traveling towards Thimphu – Trip to Bhutan

Thimphu was around 160 km from Phuentsholing and the whole drive was through mountains. The drive was scenic like any other mountain drive and it was comfortable like no other mountain drive. We took a halt at a village called Gedu to have our lunch and after that, we continued our drive and reached Thimphu by 6 in the evening. The city was looking lively and beautiful at that time. The weather was also quite pleasant.

We put our luggage in our rooms and got out to roam on the streets to have dinner. The receptionist of the hotel already informed us that in Bhutan most of the shops and restaurant get closed by 9 pm except few clubs. So he advised us to not get late for dinner and we did the same. The next 2 days were going to be long as it included more traveling so we slept little earlier.

Streets of Bhutan - Trip to Bhutan
Streets of Bhutan – Trip to Bhutan

Day 4: Sightseeing in Thimphu. Travel to Punakha

Got ready and went down for having breakfast. We started our day with the sightseeing in Thimphu. Every country capital has a list of places to visit. We shortlisted the best ones as per our interests. First, we went to the immigration office and applied for permits of Phobjikha Valley and Punakha. Then we visited the Buddha point which was a Buddhist temple situated in the outskirts of Thimphu on a hill. As the temple was on a hill, there were around 100 stairs which we had to climb to reach the main temple premises.

Buddha Point in Thimphu - Trip to Bhutan
Buddha Point in Thimphu – Trip to Bhutan
Buddha Point - Trip to Bhutan
Buddha Point – Trip to Bhutan

There was a big statue of Lord Buddha sitting on the roof of the temple. The temple was alluring from inside due to the colorful textures and paintings and the view of the surroundings was also mesmerizing. The entire town of Thimphu was visible.

After spending time there, we proceeded towards another Buddhist temple and then had lunch. Now our plan was to visit the National Zoo but we changed the plan at the last moment because we got to know that there were no red pandas. So we decided not to go there and instead of it, we visited the Bhutan king palace. The palace was huge and the architecture was great. I can say it was one of the best buildings of Bhutan.

We then began our journey towards Punakha. Amidst the way, we crossed one of the high passes of Bhutan, viz, Dochu la. We stopped at the pass for some photos and had hot chocolate at the only cafe situated there. Then we continued our journey and reached Punakha by 8 pm. The place was cold as compared to Thimphu. We had our dinner and then went out for the night walk.

View of Thimphu City - Trip to Bhutan
View of Thimphu City – Trip to Bhutan

Read Part 2 :

About

An engineer and a travel blogger. Loves trekking and doing bike road trips. Burger lover (want to try every burger in the world). Clinomaniac. Sports fanatic. Likes technology but not a technology addict.

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