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BhutanTravel and Tourism on Travel Notes
Find Bhutan Travel and Tourist Information with links
to official travel and tourism websites and state resources for visitors
The Kingdom of Bhutan is locked in the Himalayas, between India and Tibet.
Countries neighbouring Bhutan are: India and China.
Bhutan Background Information:
Compiled for Travel Notes, with the help of Yves Fortin.
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
By Gelay Jamtsho.
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.
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
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
Visitors to Bhutan must have visa clearance before flying to Bhutan; although the visa
itself is issued at Paro airport.
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,
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
Tourism Authority of Bhutan:
Post Box 126
Phone (975) 2-23251, 2-23252
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.
Kingdom of Bhutan:
Bhutan has three regions open to visitors - Western Bhutan, Central Bhutan,
and Eastern Bhutan.
Almost impossible to do alone, because of the high altitude, tour
guides do offer plenty of high and low altitude treks throughout Bhutan.
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
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.
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