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Travel Notes: Asia: Bhutan Travel Notes

Bhutan Travel Notes

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Find Bhutan Travel and Tourist Information with links to official travel and tourism websites and state resources for visitors to Bhutan.

About Bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan is locked in the Himalayas, between India and Tibet.

Bhutan Country Information

Countries neighbouring Bhutan are: India and China.

Map of Bhutan

Bhutan Background Information:
Compiled for Travel Notes, with the help of Yves Fortin.

Visiting Bhutan

Only a lucky few thousand people, who can afford to spend two hundred dollars a day, get to visit the kingdom of Bhutan in a year.

The policy of restricted tourism is meant to safeguard the culture and ideals of an Himalayan kingdom that doesn't want to make a killing from tourism, especially if it is the tourism that kills their way of life.

The modern name for the country comes from the Sanskrit word Bhu-Uttan, meaning High Land, although the Bhutanese refer to their country as Druk Yul - the land of the Dragon.

The indigenous people are Drukpas and they follow the Drukpa Kagyud school of Buddhism.

When to Visit Bhutan

Visit Bhutan in the month of May, when it is considered off season. In May, the weather is glorious, and the colours and the smell of flowers everywhere you turn.

Meta-Travel Members By Gelay Jamtsho.

Where to Go in Bhutan

A typical program for foreign tourists to Bhutan will include visits to a number of dzongs, particularly in western and central Bhutan. Dzongs are very much at the centre of civil, religious and cultural life in Bhutan.

The capital of Bhutan is Thimphu, located in a sylvan valley on the bank of the River Thimpu.

The Valleys

Travelling in Bhutan means going from valley to valley, and in turn from dzong to dzong. Much of the population and agricultural lands, and therefore organised life, is located in the valleys.

The valleys most likely to be visited by tourists are the Paro valley (where a small airport is located), the Thimphu valley, the Punakha valley, and the Wangdiphrogang valley and the Tongsa valley.

Other important valleys are the Bumtang and Tashigang valleys in eastern Bhutan. These are more difficult to access, and are less likely to be visited.

The Thimphu and Punakha valleys are linked by a narrow and windy road, which reaches its peak, at about 12,000 feet of altitude, at the Doshula Pass. From the top of the Pass there is a magnificent view on the glaciers, and a multitude of prayers scrolls competing for the attention of the visitors' cameras.

In each of the valleys there is a dzong, housing the public administration and the monks. The biggest one (but not by any means the oldest, as it was only completed in 1969) is in Thimphu and is called the Tashichhodzong, or "fortress of the glorious religion". This is the official residence of the king and the Je Khempo.

Getting to Bhutan

The best way to get to Bhutan is to fly from Kathmandu, where the views of Mt. Everest and the Himalayas rival those of an expensive mountain flight.

Visitor Information:
Visitors to Bhutan must have visa clearance before flying to Bhutan; although the visa itself is issued at Paro airport.

Druk Air

A trip to Bhutan normally starts and finishes with flights to and from Paro airport aboard Druk Air, the Royal Bhutan Airline. Druk Air are the only airline to fly into Bhutan, so you will need to check them out.


Druk Air flies to Paro 4 times a week from Bangkok, three times a week from Calcutta, twice a week from New Delhi and Kathmandu, and once a week from Dhaka.

Druk Air reservation offices can be found in Bangkok, Chicago, Frankfurt, Paris, Sydney, and Tokyo. Travel agents abroad need to contact the Central Space Control of Druk Air, in Thimphu:

Central Space Control
Druk Air Corporation Ltd.
P.O. Box 209, Thimphu, Bhutan
Tel : 975-2-22215/22825

It is also technically possible to cross the border by land at Phuntsholing (7-8 hours by land rover to the capital, Thimphu). Special permission may have to be sought from the Indian authorities to travel to Assam, as well as from the Bhutanese authorities.

Tourism Authority of Bhutan:
Post Box 126
Thimphu, Bhutan
Phone (975) 2-23251, 2-23252

Restricted Areas

Tourists can not wander the country as they please, for security reasons, and also because many temples and monasteries in Bhutan are considered Holy institutions and are off limits to visitors.

The Kingdom of Bhutan:
Bhutan has three regions open to visitors - Western Bhutan, Central Bhutan, and Eastern Bhutan.

Trekking in Bhutan

Almost impossible to do alone, because of the high altitude, tour guides do offer plenty of high and low altitude treks throughout Bhutan.

Bhutan Trekking Guides.

Bhutan: A Trekker's Guide (Trekkers Guides) Journey in Bhutan:: Himalayan Trek in the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon Bhutan Himalaya 1 : 390 000: Trekking Routes: Chelela - Dagala - Druk Path - Gangte - Jhomolhari - Manas - Punakha - Sakteng - Snowman

Bhutan Dzongs and Monasteries

The Punakha dzong is probably the highlight of any visit to Bhutan. It is large, very old, and a very living agora and point of meeting for ordinary citizens, civil servants, and monks.

By comparison the Tashichhodzong of Thimphu is more formal, austere and less accessible. There are many festivals in the dzongs in the year and with a bit of planning the visitor can be treated to an unforgettable spectacle.

There are also many monasteries located high in the mountains above the valleys but these are not opened to tourists. The architecture of the dzongs is absolutely unique.

Most of the dzongs have extremely interesting chapels and are decorated by a multitude of thankas or huge embroidered scrolls depicting various scenes from the life of Lord Bhuddha.

A visit to any of the dzongs leaves a deep and life-long impression even on the most seasoned tourists.

Bhutan News

Kuensel Online:
Bhutan's daily news site.

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