Bhutan is a land of incredible beauty. Nestled between the valleys of Himalayas, the destination offers spectacular mountain views, dazzling white peaks, scenic beauty, rich flora and fauna, unique culture and lifestyle. And that’s what has been taking me back to Bhutan over the years for short relaxing trips. Bhutan is ‘relaxation’ at best.The pristine land of delicate sensitivities and sacred values, Bhutan gets tourists from all walks of life for a variety of reasons. As I said, primarily for beauty and relaxation. Then for culture – customs – traditions which is certainly the biggest tourism magnet for Bhutan. For festivals. For rare bird sighting of around 800 bird species. For photography tours and textile tours, for biking – motor biking – sports – rafting – fishing – safari and horse riding tours, Bhutan offers is all.
Bhutan is also called the land of ‘Dzongs’ (meaning fortress) and ‘Monasteries’, the land of hospitable and friendly people and the land of well preserved heritage. The King of Bhutan – a regular visitor to India – shares extremely close bonds and ties. Bhutan offers several Monastery tours for those visiting for spiritual solace.Over the last few years of the destination opening up to tourists with good flight connectivity and easy visa procedure, hotel chains like the Taj Tashi and Le Meridien have invested, making the destination stronger in terms of infrastructure and good hospitality both. Indian food is easily available at all hotels and restaurants. In the evening one can enjoy the luxury of sitting outdoors facing the meandering river. High-end hotels like Uma, Aman Resorts, Zhiwaling, Termalinka and Hotel Druk offer gracious honeymoon packages in Bhutan.
The people of Bhutan are very relaxed and happy. They enjoy life, post their work. They do not take unnecessary stress or work pressure, the ones that are a given part of lifestyle in any cosmopolitan country or metro towns. Working hours are set and once done for the day, Bhutanese spend time with family and friends. I remember many years back on one of my visit to Bhutan I ordered for room service at 9 in the night and I was told the room service is closed for the day.
Visiting Bhutan, one has several options. Either fly into to Paro, the first point of entry via flight, on any of the Bhutan Airways flight or Druk Air. And then drive down to Thimpu – the capital city. The golden triangle of Bhutan is between Paro – Thimpu – Punakha and that is good enough for any 4 night 5 day itinerary. From India, one can land into Paro from Delhi or Kolkata, or enter by road from Siliguri Bagdogra and drive to Phuntsholing (the entry point by road), get the visa permit by showing valid Indian passport, driving onwards to Paro or Thimpu via Chukha in a four hours drive. The Bhutanese government is also considering entry for Indian travelers by show of Aadhar Cards, but the process is not yet finalized. The visa-on-arrival (or rather permit on arrival) is free for Indians holding valid passport.