Bhutan – The land of the Thunder Dragon.
It was fascinating to hear about gross national happiness and made me inquisitive to explore. How could a small Himalayan country land locked from all sides provide for its people, preserve 60% of its forest area and be carbon negative? does it raise your eyebrows, it did for me and guess what I planned a visit to explore.
It was in the month of April the thought crossed my mind and four months down the visit happened. Being Indian national we ( me and better half ) were happy to learn that the a) Indian currency was accepted and had the same value as Bhutanese Ngultrum (Nu) (Money matters), b) we could set our own travel budget, unlike other nationals who have to pay $250 or $200 based on the season chosen for visit , c) No visa required, we required a valid Passport or Electoral voter ID for a written/stamped permit if entering by land or by air (Paro airport).
We preferred the off-season month to avoid crowd and bring down costs. The duration of stay mostly dictated by possible leave approval from work came out to 7 nights and eight days. The costs shared by travel agents for central and western Bhutan was generally on a higher side than from what we could make out from visitors inputs and costs as seen on websites for stay, travel and food. We decided to go budget and backpacking.
Booking of the fight tickets was a firm decision to visit and start putting time and efforts in planning the trip. Most of my so-called free time and dedicated times went in reading blogs, posts, travel sites, planning and re-planning our visit.
A rough itinerary based on inputs on WordPress, Tripadvisor, Lonely Planet, Quora, blogs and from friends who have visited Bhutan, helped us sketch a realistic one. ( Thanks to all the bloggers, WordPress, Tripadvisor’s, Lonely Planet and Quora digesters, your inputs were valuable, keep writing for the benefit of many. I take your inputs seriously, hence i too share.) The plan was to see places in and around Thimphu, Punakha, Paro and if possible HAA valley.
More in the next press – the places we stayed, the places to see, the food, culture, travel.