Bhutan: A 5D4N Itinerary For “The Last Shangrila”

 

The trip to Bhutan took two years of saving and I can tell you personally that it was definitely worth every cent. Bhutan is a small Kingdom known as the Last Shangrila due to its staunch Buddhism teaching and harmonious environment which can be felt throughout the country.

To enter Bhutan, travelers must go through a travel agency from the country, who will package a trip inclusive of accommodation, meals, ground-tour and visa. Even if we booked a trip to Bhutan from Malaysia, the agency will connect with a company in Bhutan to make the necessary arrangements.

Budgeting wise, travelers will need to pay US $250 a day which includes hotel, meals & on-ground transportation, US $40 for a visa and separate flight cost from Bangkok to Paro (around US $700 return). You really need to save up a whole lot for this epic trip!

Therefore it’s much better to go directly to a travel agency located in the Kingdom. We were lucky to have a Bhutanese friend who owns a travel tour company called Dechen Cultural Tours & Trekking Company (her name is Dechen by the way). For those who are interested in traveling to Bhutan, you can reach her through this email dechen1592@gmail.com  and mention Travel Chameleon (or Fie).

Each group trip is personalized, which means that if you’re traveling in a party of three, then the itinerary, on-ground arrangements will not include any other groups (definitely a plus for me). The weather in April was quite cooling (18-24 degrees Celcius) and just nice for the entire trip.

Meanwhile, have a read at our itinerary for the entire 5D4N trip to Bhutan which started from Phnom Penh to Bangkok and finally to Paro.

Our trip was made possible with Dechen Cultural Tours and Trekking.

 

Day 1: Arriving in Paro

06:50 am – Our journey started from Bangkok with an early flight on the Royal Bhutan Airlines to Paro, Bhutan. The whole journey took 4 hours with a quick stop in Gauhari, India to disembark and pick up passengers. No in-flight entertainment therefore we took this opportunity to rest and napped throughout the journey.

10:10am – Arrived in Paro International Airport in a deep valley, with a view of mountains everywhere. After visa check at the Immigration counter, we met Dechen, our tour guide Yongten and driver Lotte, who came to pick the three of us in a mini bus.

12:00 pm – We started our journey to Thimpu, the capital city of Bhutan and had our first stop along the way, to Tagozhang Monastery. 

2:00 pm – Checked in to Hotel Thimpu Tower located in the middle of the city center. Our rooms came with a view of the Clock Tower Square. Since I wasn’t feeling well, our guide advised us to rest and pushed the remaining activity to the next day.

5:00 pm – Walked around Thimpu town while waiting for Dechen to pick us up to the local Craft Bazaar. The stalls had bags, shawls, key chains, magnets and plenty of other souvenirs to choose from.

7:30 pm – Dinner with Dechen and her pilot friend at a local restaurant called The Zone. It felt like an American pub, yet cosy and very homely.

Day 2: Sightseeing in Thimpu

9:30am – Visited Kuenselphordang, a 165 feet tall, the largest sitting Buddha in the world on a hilltop overlooking the Thimpu Valley.

11:00 am – Lotte drove us to Memorial Chorten to see the pilgrimage making their around the temple. This Chorten is the daily focus of worship of the locals.

12:00 pm – We headed to the Takin Sanctuary only to discover that it was closed for the week. Our guide then took us to Sangay Gang instead for a stunning panoramic view of the city.

2:00 pm – After lunch, we continued to Chang Gangkha Monastery, a sacred temple founded by Phajo Dugom in the 13th century.

3:00 pm – Stopped by the Centenary Farm Market nearby the town centre. It had a dry market selling crafts, souvenir and a wet market selling spices. It’s also a good place to buy traditional Bhutanese clothes.

4:00 pm – Went over to the Changlimithang Stadium which is the oldest sports arena in Thimpu city. We had a chance to watch a real archery game while we were here.

4:30 pm – Next stop to the Post Office Museum, which was not on the itinerary list. I needed to get some stamps and postcards so we decided to drop by for a quick tour. We also had our photo taken and printed as stamps to bring home.

5:00 pm – Finished the day with a visit to Trashi Chhoe Dzong, a capital administration building of Bhutan. We had to wait until 5:30 pm for the gates to open and only had until 6:00 pm to view the compound, before it was closed for the day.

7:00 pm – We spent the evening celebrating Dechen’s birthday at FNB Restaurant, then to Mojo Park, and made new Bhutanese friends.

Day 3: A road trip to Punakha

9:30 am – Departed for Punakha, a two and a half hours drive away from Thimpu. Stopped at Dochu La Pass where 100 stupas were erected by the Queen Mother.

12:00 pm – Arrived in Punakha and made our way for a 30-minute walk to Chimi Llakhang, a fertility shrine built in the 15th century by Lama Drukpa Kunley, the “Divine Madman”.

3:00 pm – After lunch with a view of this sacred village, we headed to Punakha Dzong, one of the oldest capital administration in the country.

5:00 pm – Checked in to Meri Phunsum Hotel, on a hilltop overlooking the valley. We called it a day after the long journey from Thimpu to Punakha.

Day 4: Back to Paro

7:30 am – Our journey started from Punakha back to Paro, stopping at the Dochula Pass to snap some photos. The journey took four hours on a winding road.

11:30am – Arrived in Paro and went to Taktsang Monastery (Tigers Nest) where we started our climb to 3,000 feet above sea level. The trek was not challenging but the thin air was, and at many points, I had to stop to catch a breathe before continuing the hike.

5:00 pm – Descended from Tigers Nest and took some time to visit the stalls for some souvenir. This is where we found the Endless Knot pendant for only $4.

7:30 pm – Checked in to Hotel Olathang and had dinner with Dechen. They served buffet with mostly vegetarian options as most of the tourists are from neighboring country, India.

Day 5: Depart to Bangkok

8:00 am – Checked out of Hotel Olathang and headed to the Paro International Airport for our flight to Bangkok. The airport was 15 minutes away, without traffic.

Here’s a video summary of the trip to Bhutan in 30 seconds:

Check out the map for all the places we visited in Bhutan

About Yafieda Jamil

A Malaysian girl currently working abroad in Phnom Penh city. I love a good road trip, hot cappuccinos, spicy food and staring at old buildings. My mission is to inspire people to see the world differently before we all get any older. Oh and giraffes are the most beautiful creatures on earth.

2 Responses to Bhutan: A 5D4N Itinerary For “The Last Shangrila”

  1. That’s quite an adventure for 5 days! How is Bhutanese cuisine though?

    • fienuts says:

      Hey Dan,

      It was indeed! Bhutanese eat a lot of cheese! For example, potato and cheese, beef and cheese, yak with cheese and chillies.
      The combination of cheese & chilies was good though. So good that I took down the recipe and tried it at home.

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