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7 Day Itinerary for Bhutan – The Last Shangri La
Bhutan, is the Land of Thunder Dragon, the Last Shangri La, a Kingdom unconquered by the world’s stresses, and a country with “literally” the happiest people in the world.
This Last Shangri La remains unexplored, and unseen by millions of travellers. However, this 7-day itinerary to Bhutan – The Last Shangri La, has a little bit of everything, be it adventure, culture or tradition.
Day 1 – Bagdogra to Phuentsholing
If you are planning on entering Bhutan by road via Phuentshoing, then arriving in Bagdogra before 2 PM on the first day of the trip, is the first thing you need to get sorted. Bagdogra is a military controlled International Airport, 10 KM from the city of Siliguri, West Bengal, India.
If you have pre-booked your vehicle, then the driver should be waiting for you in the airport parking. If you haven’t, you might be able to book a taxi for yourself upto Phuentsholing, on the spot as well. Just enquire around.
Now all you need to do is sit back, and enjoy the drive past the gorgeous Teesta and beautiful tea gardens. Reach Phuentsholing and Check-in to your hotel and call it a day.
Day 2 – Phuentsholing to Thimphu
Post breakfast, head out to the Immigration office with your guide, get your passports stamped, and make your way to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. In addition to being the government seat, the city is known for its Buddhist sites. The massive Tashichho Dzong is a fortified monastery and government palace with gold-leaf roofs. The Memorial Chorten, a white- washed structure with a gold spire, is a revered Buddhist shrine dedicated to Bhutan’s third king.
The drive itself is going to take 4-5 hours, including an hour break for lunch. So, the earlier you reach Thimphu, more time you have to head out to the city, and enjoy the vibrant pub culture. My recommendation would be to head out to the Mojo Park or The Zone or Steez Bar to grab some chilled beers on the tap or to try out the Bhutanese Peach Wine, along with some munchies. You can also check out Om Bar and Jimmy’s Pub if you want.
Day 3 – Thimphu Local Sightseeing
This day is only local sightseeing so you can plan the route in advance.
Post breakfast, first head out to the 169 feet bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma. This Vajra Throne Buddha is located in the Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and is one of the largest statue of Buddha in the world.
The hill top location provides a panoramic view of Thimphu and some amazing photo shoot location. Learn more about Buddhism, like the significance of the 8 lucky symbols, and the history of Buddha as depicted on the wall paintings inside.
Next, visit the National Memorial Chorten which is built in honour of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and admire the Thimphu Dzong or the Tashichho Dzong, the largest Dzong in Bhutan, and also the seat of the office of the King of Bhutan, from a nice vantage point.
Visit the Thirteen Traditional Arts and Crafts School and the Folk Heritage Museum, before continuing to the National Library, where you’ll find the world’s largest published book.
Once you are done with all the sightseeing, head out to the Thimphu Post Office, and send a postcard or two, from the Last Shangri La, to your near and dear ones. You can get a post card for around Nu 20 and the international postage stamp amounting to Nu30. Then head out for a nice long walk along the lanes of Thimphu and check out the different souvenirs that are sold at the Norzin Lam Craft Stalls!
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Just a random shot taken while walking along the streets of Thimphu, Bhutan . I feel the best way of exploring any new city is on foot. You stumble across so many unique and interesting things. . What do you feel about this ? . . . . . . . . . #EatTravelLiveRepeat #highONhimalayas #wanderlustwednesday #ETLRWithArnav #roadtrip #travelwithoffbeattracks #thimphu #bhutantourism #bhutan_ig #bhutan🇧🇹 #visitbhutan #happinessisachoice #travelbible #indiantravelblogger #nustaharamkhor #NomadsOfIndia #natgeotravel #bbcearth #bbc_travel #beautifuldestinations #photographers_of_india #potd📸 #streetsofbhutan #tripotocommunity #thimphubhutan #solotraveler
Day 4 – Trip to Punakha
After an early breakfast, your first stop of the day will be Simtokha Dzong, a small dzong built in 1629, just 5 km from Thimphu on the way to Dochu La Pass. Simtokha Dzong is an important historical monument and a former Buddhist monastery, and today it houses one of the premier Dzongkha language learning institutes.
Next up will be Dochu La Pass, where the highlights are the 108 memorial chortens / stupas also known as the ‘Druk Wangyal Chortens’. The 108 memorial stupas were built in memory of the 108 Bhutanese soldiers who were killed in the 2003 battle against separatist insurgent groups during the first ever operation “Operation All Clear”conducted by the Royal Bhutan Army.
There is a nice cafeteria offering panoramic view of the Himalayas, on a clear day, and if you’ve got time also check out the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang monastery, which overlooks the 108 chortens of Dochu La Pass.
Dochu La pass is about 45min from Thimphu and about 2 and half hour from Punakha.There’s a military checkpoint between Thimphu and the pass, where your guide will step out and show your travel permit to the authorities.
As you make your way to Punakha, take a pit stop, just before reaching Punakha, and hike your way to Chimmi Lhakang. The hike, through open fields and specially through the village of Sopsokha, will surely stun you up. As you will see plenty of Phalluses, painted on walls, and also available in different sizes as souvenirs.
Chimmi Lhakang also known as The Fertility Temple of Bhutan, is dedicated to the Divine Madman and childless couples from all over the world come here to pray for children, and are believed to be blessed with a baby after the visit.
Ask your guide, there is a photo album kept inside the temple with images and messages from these couples who were blessed with children after their visit.
The phallus is a symbol of prosperity and luck, and is also used to ward off evil and malice, which is why you’ll see phalluses everywhere as you walk through the village of Sopsokha.
Thereafter, continue to Punakha Dzong, a large and spectacular Bhutanese architecture, located at the confluence of Pho Chu and Mo Chu Rivers. Punakha Dzong is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan, and it was the religious and administrative centre of Bhutan until 1950, when the capital moved to Thimphu.
After that, in a matter of 10 minutes, you will find yourself on a short hike to the Suspension Bridge, spanning 160 – 180 m across the river Po Chu and is longest bridge of Bhutan. The suspension bridge is draped with prayer flags all along, and provides a panoramic view of the valley.
Tip – Rather than rushing to go from one end to the other, go the middle and just enjoy the beauty of nature, and when the number of people on the bridge start getting less, take out your cameras, and get those Instaworthy shots.
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Day 3 of my trip to Bhutan – the last Shangri La with @offbeat_tracks . . . Quite an amazing day it was. The sun decided to show up, which meant that by the time we reached Punakha and the suspension bridge in the evening, it was just too good. . . . . . #EatTravelLiveRepeat #ETLRWithArnav #ETLRTravelDiaries2019 #travelwithoffbeattracks #bhutantraveller #bhutantourism #bhutantravels #bhutan_ig #bhutantour #highONhimalayas #northeastindia #happinessisachoice #himalayasarecalling #lastshangrila #tripotocommunity #instatravels #igtraveler #travelBlogger #indiantravelblogger #india_pixelz #punakha #MadeforMountains #traveladdict #travelbible #potd📸 #postcardsfromtheworld #natgeoindia #traveldiaries2019
If you are looking for an entirely offbeat and rustic experience, spend the night in a farm stay, away from the city, surrounded by nature.
Day 5 – Punakha to Paro
Make your way to Paro today, and plan it in such a way so that you reach Paro for lunch. The streets of Paro are dotted with quaint cafes, which definitely need your attention.
Post lunch, you can head out to Paro Dzong also known as Rinpung Dzong, and enjoy seeing the sun go down, from there.
Have a relaxing day at this scenic valley which is the heart of Bhutanese culture, as tomorrow you will need all your strength and you can’t afford to be tired, on this day of your trip to Bhutan.
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I found my happy place 😍 . One of the best sunsets I enjoyed, with the Rinpung Dzong ( Paro) on the back and a panoramic view of nature at it's untouched best ❤️ . . . . . . . . . . . . . #EatTravelLiveRepeat #highONhimalayas #sunsettimes #bhutantourism #happinessisachoice #goldenhour #goldenhourlight #ETLRWithArnav #travelwithoffbeattracks #traveldiaries2019 #TravelTuesday #NomadsOfIndia #wanderersofindia #tripotocommunity #indiantravelblogger #outdoorphotography #postcardsfromtheworld #ultimatesunset #beautifuldestinations #bhutandiaries🇧🇹 #bhutan_ig #bhutantraveller #photographers_of_india #whereisnortheast #amazing_bhutan
Day 6 – Tiger’s Nest Hike and Hot Stone Water Bath
A hike up the Tiger’s Nest is a 100% must, and trust me, the 2 hours of hike up, is definitely rewarding. Tiger’s Nest or Taktsang, constructed back in 1692, is located on a cliff about 3000 feet above Paro Valley, and is 10 miles north of Paro.
The climb up to the viewpoint will take around 1 1⁄2 hours and from there you will enjoy a spectacular view of the monastery clinging to the side of the cliff. Stop for refreshment at the View Point Cafeteria. Then walk further up to the monastery which will take about 30 – 45 minutes. Ideally, you should be done in a matter of 5 – 6 hours, including spending around one hour at the monastery itself.
Start the hike up by 8 – 8:30 AM, and you should be back at base by 1-2 PM just in time for lunch. The entire trail is a wide dirt trail, and is easily doable by almost everyone. The trail gets easy once you cross the view point, as from this point on, there isn’t much of an altitude gain.
Once you are back, and have had a nice lunch, head out to your hotel, freshen up, quickly grab a change of clothes, and head out for the traditional Bhutanese hot stone water bath. This therapeutic bath, will ensure that your body is rejuvenated after the strenuous day.
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Trek to Tiger's Nest ✔️ . Hot Stone water Bath ✔️ . Celebrating Holi surrounded by colourful prayer flags ✔️ . Ending the day on a high note after enjoying a sumptuous dinner and live music here in Paro, Bhutan ✔️ . . . . This is how Day 5 of my trip to Bhutan – the last Shangri La with @offbeat_tracks was 😎 . . . . . . . #EatTravelLiveRepeat #ETLRWithArnav #ETLRTravelDiaries2019 #travelwithoffbeattracks #bhutantraveller #bhutantourism #bhutantravels #bhutan_ig #bhutantour #highONhimalayas #whereisnortheast #happinessisachoice #himalayasarecalling #nustaharamkhor #tripotocommunity #instatravels #igtraveler #travelBlogger #indiantravelblogger #iamtb #tigersnest #tigersnestmonastery #tripotocommunity #postcardsfromtheworld #photographers_of_india #traveldiaries2019
Day 7 – Artisanal Brewery in Paro and drive back to Phuentsholing
If you thought the Tiger’s Nest hike was the last thing on your itinerary before heading back, there’s a surprise waiting for you.
If you love your beers, or fancy trying out some new tastes, make your way to the Namgay Artisanal Brewery. This picturesque brewery, offers amazing panoramic views of Paro city, and of the Paro airstrip as well, which is directly in your line of sight.
The beers are dirt cheap, and the artistic labels also make the Bhutanese beer as nice souvenirs to take back. Try out the wheat beer, and the red rice beer for sure.
With this your Trip to Bhutan has come to an end, and it’s time to bid adieu to Bhutan – The Last Shangri La on Earth. You can either choose to fly back to India from Paro, or head back to Bagdogra, halting at Phuentsholing on the way.
If you are driving back, add one more day, as you’ll be stopping at Phuentsholing on the way. Paro to Phuentsholing is a 5 hours’ drive, and Phuentsholing to Bagdogra is another 4-5 hours’ drive.
Recommendations to make the most out of your Trip to Bhutan
- Bhutan is full of tourists from all over the globe, so make sure to try out different cuisines like Tibetan, Bhutanese, and explore the vibrant café culture in Thimphu and Paro.
- The best time to take a trip to Bhutan is in Spring, from March to May when the valleys come alive with flowers in full bloom.
Things to Shop in Bhutan to remind you of your Trip to Bhutan
- Tibetan Inspired Crockery
- Baby Yak wool shawls
- Customised stamps from Thimphu Post Office
- Cordyceps or Cordyceps Tea
- Home Decorative items (Tankha, paintings)
- Miniature prayer wheel
- Tibetan prayer flags.
- Bhutan souvenir T Shirts.
- Bhutanese Peach Wine
- Bhutanese Beer and K5 whiskey
Day 1 – Arrive in Bagdogra and drive to Phuentsholing.
Day 2 – Phuentsholing to Thimphu. Explore Thimphu pubs and bars.
Day 3 – Thimphu sight-seeing – National Memorial Chorten – Buddha Dordenma– Folk heritage museum
Day 4 – Thimphu to Punakha via Simtokha Dzong, Dochu La Pass, Chimmi Lhakang – Punakha Dzong and suspension bridge
Day 5 – Punakha to Paro – Paro Dzong (Rinpung Dzong)
Day 6 – Hike to Tiger’s Nest– Bhutanese hot stone water bath
Day 7 – Visit Namgay Artisanal Breweryoverlooking Paro airstrip, and Paro – Phuentsholing
Day 8 – With loads of happy memories, bid adieu to Bhutan and make your way from Phuentsholing to board your flight back from Bagdogra, India
Trip to Bhutan Ends.
Already taken a Trip to Bhutan? Share your experiences in comments!
And guess what you can join a Group Trip to Bhutan with Offbeat Tracks as well for under INR 40000. The benefit of joining this group trip is that the focus is on you having exhaustive offbeat experiences like, staying at a rustic farmstay, visiting the brewery, getting the hot stone water bath, and even having traditional Bhutanese food cooked by local families.