The Land of Thunder Dragon, Bhutan 2016
Bhutan is always on my wish list to visit, it has its own mysterious sense of uniqueness. Let me share some interesting facts and observations about Bhutan before going into the tourist stuff:
- No traffic light in Bhutan: roundabouts and traffic police are your driving assistance.
- Total population 7xx,xxx with about 180 doctors nationwide.
- All local beer tastes the same: Druk 11000, Druk Lager Premium, Red Panda, whatever. No wonder Druk Air does not serve those local beer on board.
- Sit on the left side of the plane when flying into Thimphu so that you can see the Himalayan Mountains during landing. Vice versa on the return flight.
- Lots of young women with small kids, literally most of them.
- Food is ok, personally feel like a mix of Mongolia, Chinese and Indian cuisine with a much smaller variety. E.g. stir fried chili pepper with goat cheese, or minced chicken with tomato. Butter tea is great, especially with dry rice in it!
- Souvenir shops near Fertility Temple are overpriced, relatively cheaper in town. Airport is the worst (2-3x).
I believe most tourists follow almost the same itinerary when visit Bhutan. Land in Paro, drive to Thimphu, visit Punakha, and return to Paro to hike the Tiger's Nest on the last day. As a majority of Bhutanese are Buddhist, most tourist attractions are temple, fortress, monastery and places relating to Buddhism. It feels like a luxury version of Tibet (although I have never been to Tibet).
- Thimphu -
The capital city with no airport since it does not have enough flat land to build a runway. Several luxury hotels to choose from (we went for Taj Tashi and it was the right decision).
Archery is Bhutan national sport, There is a daily local competition happening all the times. Interesting, in the picture below, those women from the other team will sing & dance to disturb/ distract the contestant, however, if the contestant hits the target, his teammates will sing & dance to celebrate him.
- Punakha -
Punakha was the capital of Bhutan until 1950s. Although it is only about 80 km from Thimphu, the drive takes about 3 hours due to the road condition (bumpy & muddy). I think the greenery area around Fertility Temple and the outstanding Punakha Dzong (fortress) would justify the hassle to get there. Only a few choices for hotel, we stayed at Uma by Como, great view, but there isn't much beyond that around the area.
- Paro -
Home to the international airport and the famous Bhutanese landmark, Paro Taktsang (AKA Tiger's Nest). I like this town atmosphere better than Thimphu, it is more traditional but does not offer many choices of food compared to Thimphu. All good hotels are a bit far from the city center.