11 Experiences from Bhutan

Bhutan, Latest  /   /  By Makrand

I started looking at the map once again to find my next destination. I had lot of parameters to balance this time. Since I hadn’t planned much in advance, I was looking for a place which is affordable, has good weather to escape from heat of Hyderabad, doesn’t have complex entry formalities and is also unique in some way. After lots of researching, I was going to finalize Meghalaya and then my eyes noticed a small land locked country in Himalayas. I spent a day researching about Bhutan and realized it suited all my needs. So without much planning (in-fact no planning), I fixed the place and traveled. This was the first time I was going to travel to a new country without any bookings/itinerary and had left everything for on the spot decisions. Except few small setbacks the entire journey turned out quite well. So presenting to you some of my experiences :

1. Bhutan is a democratic monarchy which means it’s ruled by King and parliament both. Parliament consists of elected candidates which functions along with the kings. King and his family is highly respected in Bhutan.
2. Life in Bhutan is relaxed and moves at a slow pace. You will not observe any one rushing to reach their destination or in a state of hurry. It’s good for most of the parts except services in Restaurants :).
3. More than 60% of Bhutan is covered with forest and they are trying to improve this number to fight against global warming. Yes, the country with so much trees is still not contented and striving hard to make environment better.
4. This is the only country where Indians have more privileges to enter than rest of the world. Indians can enter the country by road and permit is issued on border itself. Moreover people from most of the nations have to enter country only via a travel agent by paying more than 200 USD per day. On the contrary Indians do not have any such restrictions and can move around freely.
5. Majority of revenue for country is generated from Tourism and Hydro Electric Power Stations. Bhutan sells electricity to India and even has a dedicated Power Station only for export (as communicated by my guide).
6. Bhutanese have their national dress which is compulsory to be worn in government offices, schools and other official places. You will find people wearing them everywhere. The dress for men is called Gho and for women its Kira, a long, ankle-length dress accompanied by a light outer jacket known as a Tego. The dresses are very colorful which make them more likable. They are not easy to tie so if you plan to buy them then learn how to wear from a local person. Your guide/shopkeeper/hotel staff may help you in that.
7. Prices of petrol and liquor are cheaper in Bhutan whereas prices of most of the other commodities and services are more compared to India. To give an example taking a xerox would cost you Rs. 5 at most of the places. So take multiple xerox of your documents which you might need before entering Bhutan.
8. Bhutanese Currency (Nu) exchange rate is equal to INR. Indian currency is accepted everywhere including Rs.500 and Rs. 1000 notes. You can withdraw local currency from ATMs at Rs.20 per transaction fees.
9. Hindi movies and television shows are widely watched across Bhutan. Hindi is spoken/understood by almost everyone so in terms of communication, I didn’t have any problem what so ever.
10. Food in Bhutan is quite spicy and Bhutanese dishes contain a higher content of chilli. Indian restaurants are easily available in Thimpu although in Paro I didn’t see any because of limited time.
11. Road conditions are excellent on most of the routes. The only rough patches I found were on way to Phunaka from Thimpu. Even there it was not very uncomfortable considering the mountain region.

I traveled only in Western Bhutan, so the experiences are tied to this region, however I assume most of the things would be applicable in other parts of country as well. I came across lots of interesting things throughout my stay and will share them in rest of the posts. I was fascinated by how the country is being managed well with so less population. There were many instances where I found myself comparing my country India with Bhutan. I will be writing a separate posts on that later. For now I can conclude that if  you are looking for a tranquil place in the lap of nature, Bhutan will not disappoint you.

About the Author

I am a Travel Blogger from India. This blog is a collection of my travel experiences and learnings. I share my travel stories to introduce the wonderful places that I have visited and thus have virtual tours with readers:). If you liked reading my travel blog, please comment to share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you.

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8 Comments
 
  1. swapnagandha 26 May, 2016 at 12:04 PM Reply

    very good info about Bhutan, This is the country most popular these days to have “most negative carbon footprint”, Bhutan was/is mostly known as a poor country, but after know about its environment friendly nature and after reading above points it seems a beautiful country nature lovers must read.
    thanks for sharing such an honest and unbiased experience about Bhutan. It will help people to plan for their travel to Bhutan.

  2. Makrand 26 May, 2016 at 8:32 PM Reply

    Glad you found the article useful 🙂

  3. The Untourists 27 May, 2016 at 9:39 AM Reply

    The extensive forest cover and the happiness iex,focus on indigenous culture, these are the reasons enough to love Bhutana Dan seek to travel there.

    • Makrand 29 May, 2016 at 8:37 AM Reply

      Right you are 🙂

  4. Soumya Ghosh 26 September, 2016 at 12:16 AM Reply

    I am planning to visit Bhutan with my family. Have heard from some people that food is extremely costly over there like a cup of tea costs around 40 rupees and a proper meal for 3 would set you back by more than 1000 rupees in average restaurants….is it true? Is food really that expensive?

    • Makrand 26 September, 2016 at 8:59 PM Reply

      Hi Soumya,

      I wouldn’t say extremely costly but yes its expensive. You will not get tea for Rs. 10 like India and would be minimum 25 at most of the places. Also don’t expect it to taste like India :). Also make sure to check prices in cafe on the way to tiger nest monastery where its super expensive.

      Food bill will depend on what you order but in average restaurant expect to pay around 600-700 if not thousand

  5. Madhumita 27 February, 2017 at 4:34 AM Reply

    Hi,
    I am an Indian National but resident of NZ.I am planning to travel to Bhutan from Delhi.Can you please advise whats the best way to travel?I checked via airways its only DRUkair operates.Prices are very expensive.
    So do you recommend for me any other modes?
    Also any recommended hotels for solo female travellers?

    • Makrand 27 February, 2017 at 5:46 PM Reply

      Hi Madhumita,

      The alternate way for Indian nationals is to cross border by road. You can fly till Bagdogra airport in West Bengal and then take a taxi/share cab to reach Jalgaon, the border town of India. From here you can get permit to enter Bhutan. Please note that permit process may take half a day so you will need to have almost extra 2 days starting from Delhi to getting a permit. I had taken the road route for the same reason of expensive flights. Also note that permits can not be obtained on Saturday/Sunday so plan to reach Jalgaon on Sunday evening so that you can get permit Monday morning. Please search online for more information or you can ask me any follow up questions. The post on border crossing to Bhutan is in my backlog which I hope to write soon.

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