SOLO TRIP TO THE HIGHLAND THEATRE OF BHUTAN
What if I share with you a solo trip that I recently did which combines all of the above and within short period of 7 days.
NESTLED IN THE HIMALAYAN MOUNTAIN RANGE, this small yet rich kingdom of Bhutan is blissfully untouched and ideal for a GREAT SOLO TRIP. Here you can step back in time and experience a life of ancient tradition or step forward in time and experience unbeatable luxury at some of the finest resorts. Bhutan’s location in the mighty Himalayas has protected it from the rest of the world and left it unspoilt through the centuries. For example, the Bhutanese people still wear traditional dress while archery is a national sport. What you might most enduring in the country is the architecture. All buildings whether large monasteries, private houses or even gas stations, are made in the same traditional design.
You will witness that Bhutan is very protective of its natural environment and the culture of its people. It was only in 1999, the ban on television and the Internet was lifted, making Bhutan one of the last countries to introduce television.
FOR THIS 7-DAYS TRIP YOU MAY IDEALLY COVER 3 MAIN CITIES-
THIMPHU, PARO, PUNAKHA
The best part is that Bhutan has really controlled its tourism with just one international airport at Paro and only 2 airlines flying in and out of the country – Royal Bhutan and Druk Air. You may choose to either fly to Delhi or Kathmandu and then take a flight further to Paro.
Then visit the Memorial Chorten (Stupa) built in memory of the Late King and walk around on the main street of Thimphu. Later, visit the Buddha Dordenma Statue, the gigantic statue of Shakyamuni Buddha erected on a mountain top is considered one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world. It will amaze you if I tell you that there are 125,000 miniature Buddhas preserved inside of Dordenma statue’s bronze chest, ranging from 8 to 12 inches tall. This means that in Thimphu there are more Buddhas than there are human beings as the population of the city is just around 100,000
Suggested Hotels – Taj Thimphu, Le Meridian
After a nice Bhutanese lunch at one of the local cafes, drive to your next destination, Punakha via the Dochula Pass (10,000ft/3,050m), which offers stunning views of the Himalayas. Here you may sit and hear different versions of the same legendary stories from the locals and you may also follow the sacred tradition of raising prayer flags in the name of peace and wisdom. Continuing on to Punakha, you may like to visit a rice farming village where you can stop for a cup of tea and literally engage all your senses. Punakha sits at the confluence of the “Mother” river and the “Father” river in a sub-tropical valley and is home to my favorite ‘the Punakha Dzong’. I was lucky to stay at a homestay (Dhumra Farm Resort) on a hill top with a direct view of the Dzong situated between the Father river and the Mother river.
Suggested hotels – Como Uma Punakha, Dhumra Farm Resort, Dhensa Boutique Resort
You can visit all the sites or stick to a selected few and choose other activities of your own like meditation, get to know the city on foot as you walk through the market area or cross a 700 year old bridge, connecting with locals with some butter tea and noodles, check out freshly brewed beer at the Namgay Artisanal Brewery that sits on a ridge with a view of the valley and a bunch of traditional houses spread across on the opposite side.
Suggested Hotels – Como Uma Paro, Le Meridian
This is a sacred place for the Bhutanese and every Bhutanese from far- away places try to visit, at least once in their lifetime.
Lunch will be served at the Taktsang Cafeteria, which is approximately half way. This whole hike is about 5 kms round trip.
Later if you wish to visit the ruins of Drukyel Dzong, a victory fortress dating to the 17th century and to make it more experiential you may also choose to visit a Bhutanese farmhouse and meet the family, dive into their culture and traditions head on and geta first hand experience of this beautiful and a happy kingdom (this experience can be arranged by the tour operator managing your travels or you may speak to your local guide or request at the hotel)
As per the fight availability you may have to stay a night either in Kathmandu or Delhi
Kathmandu – I recommend staying at the Hyatt hotel as it in close vicinity to the airport
Delhi – I recommend staying at any of the hotels at Aerocity like J W Marriot.
This is purely a suggested idea of an itinerary; you may choose to extend your trip for another 3 days and explore Kathmandu or stay in Bhutan and drive further to Bumthang. Hope you give this classic yet experiential journey a try and do share with me how it went for you.