Why You Should Plan A Trip To Bhutan

By Ansoo Gupta

Only 2.5 hours flight from Delhi and 1.5hrs from Calcutta, Bhutan is yet not an obvious choice for Indian travellers. But the people of this small South-East Asian country have worked very hard to not let Bhutan become another Nepal.

Bhutan has always been some sort of an enigma for Indian tourists. Though it is very close (only 2.5 hrs flight from Delhi and 1.5hrs from Calcutta) it is still not an obvious choice for the Indian travellers. But Bhutan, like some other countries in the Indian vicinity, has a charm, which is intoxicatingly nostalgic. It is also visa-free for Indians

Bhutan is a very differently managed country in South-East Asia. They might be small but they have worked very hard to not let Bhutan become another Nepal. This is why they restrict the number of visitors – which means you will never find a crowd of tourists anywhere in Bhutan. And they ask for a-minimum-spend per tourist so it is not a cheap destination.


Once I decided on Bhutan – I knew I had to do two things. One, take a flight back one way so I could get a glimpse of Mt. Everest and second, climb up to Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) in Paro which is perched on the edge of a cliff. Another attraction of Bhutan is the Public Library in Thimphu, which holds the world’s largest coffee table book.

From Gangtok, I reached the border town of Jaigaon (7 hrs from Gangtok) and spent a night in a small hotel there. Next morning, I crossed the border (in a cycle rickshaw) to get into Phuentsholing where my visa was processed. I further carried on to Thimphu in a local bus. The roads on the Indian side of the border are in a bad shape compared to the Bhutanese side.

Food and Stay

There are many hotels in Thimphu. Sites like Tripadvisor can help you find some. There are no cheap hotels in Bhutan and it takes approximately Rs 5000 per night for a decent hotel stay. Of course there are very-high-end luxury resorts as well  like Aman and Taj where the tariffs can be as high as Rs 25000 per night.

You will not find any fast food chains etc. Depending on your travel tastes, you might either find this bothersome or a welcome change. Local food is delicious but typically very spicy. EmaDatshi (chillies in cheese) is the national dish and it is available everywhere, all the time. Apart from that, ‘Tibetan’ cuisine – momos, thukpasetc are available. A lot of restaurants serve Indian food as well.

Adventure and Nightlife

If you seek adventure, you can always take short and long treks around Thimphu and Paro. Some people trek between Paro and Thimphu as well (A 7-day trek). Archery is their national sport and it is great fun to see them break into a song and dance when the archer hits a bull’s eye. There’s a small night-club scene in Thimphu but Bhutan is not popular for its nightlife scene.


All cell phone networks work. GPRS/ 3G connectivity has recently been introduced in Bhutan and data is accessible in some parts.  Bhutanese currency is equivalent to Indian and both currencies are acceptable. However change Rupees to Ngultrum for a true foreign-land experience. Almost everyone understands Hindi/ English.

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