Beautiful Punakha Dzong - Trip to Bhutan

Hope you have read and enjoyed the Part 1 🙂 If not, here is the link to Part 1 – Trip to Bhutan – The Land of Thunder Dragon

Day 5: Travel to Phobjikha Valley, explore Punakha and travel to Paro

I woke up by around 6 am and the weather was cold at that time. So, it was a really tough task to get out of the warm blanket. However, after struggling for a couple of minutes, I successfully got out of the bed, opened the balcony door and stepped out into the balcony while still yawning. I took a pause, rubbed my eyes and then forcibly called out my roommates (Ashish and Ashwini) and asked them to see the view. We all were amused by the beautiful view as it was literally like the sceneries and paintings that we had only seen in books until then.

If I jot down my words, I would say that there was a big and clean river flowing through a valley just behind our hotel, tiny houses & huts situated at a distance from each other and lush green mountains which encircled the entire region. To enhance the amazing experience, there was also blowing a cool and fresh breeze which was accompanied by the soothing sound of the river, chirping of birds and a positive light prayer music coming from a distant monastery. I can simply summarise it to say that I had one of the best mornings at Punakha during my trip to Bhutan. We also did yoga to get the best experience out of it.

View of Punakha from our hotel's balcony - Trip to Bhutan
View of Punakha from our hotel’s balcony – Trip to Bhutan

After freshening up ourselves, we had a breakfast of yummy Aloo Paranthas, then got ready and proceeded towards the most beautiful valley of Bhutan, Phobjikha Valley. The valley is located in the Gangtey region and is 80 km away from Punakha. Phobjikha Valley is known for its incomparable beauty and black-necked cranes. We started our drive from Punakha towards Gangtey and the road was narrow and full of road pits but the drive was scenic. We took a few breaks during the ride and captured photos. It took us 3 hours to reach the valley.

The valley was whopping and it was girded by huge mountains from all directions. In the middle of the valley, there was a vast plain green meadow on which cows and horses were grazing. We didn’t find any black-necked cranes at that time as it wasn’t the right season. Nevertheless, the best thing about the place was that it was very less populated and full of greenery. Our driver took us into the middle of the valley and stopped the car. It was an amazing experience to explore the valley. Now we can proudly say that we have seen the true beauty of Bhutan.

While traveling to Phobjikha Valley - Trip to Bhutan
While traveling to Phobjikha Valley – Trip to Bhutan
First view of Phobjikha Valley - Trip to Bhutan
First view of Phobjikha Valley – Trip to Bhutan
Amazing view of Phobjikha Valley - Trip to Bhutan
Amazing view of Phobjikha Valley – Trip to Bhutan
View of Phobjikha Valley - Trip to Bhutan
View of Phobjikha Valley – Trip to Bhutan

After exploring the valley, we began our return journey to Punakha and then visited Punakha Dzong. Punakha Dzong is considered the most beautiful Dzong and that is why it is the most famous place in entire Punakha. The Dzong is situated between two rivers, namely, Mo Chu and Pho Chu. We bought the tickets, which cost us 300 bucks per person, and went inside the Dzong through a cantilever bridge constructed over the Mo Chu river. The Dzong was as beautiful from the inside as it looked from the outside. There were three courtyards which consisted of a few temples, stupas, Bodhi tree and residential quarters for monks. Altogether, the architecture was great.

Punakha Dzong - Trip to Bhutan
Punakha Dzong – Trip to Bhutan
Entering a temple in Punakha Dzong - Trip to Bhutan
Entering a temple in Punakha Dzong – Trip to Bhutan
Punakha Dzong - Trip to Bhutan
Punakha Dzong – Trip to Bhutan

After finishing with the exploration of Dzong, we had delectable Manchurian Fried Rice for lunch at a restaurant near the Dzong and then visited the Punakha suspension bridge which is the largest suspension bridge of Bhutan. The bridge was constructed over the Pho Chu river and the view was scenic. We spent some time there and then proceeded towards another beautiful and famous place in Bhutan, i.e., Paro. It took us 4 hours to drive down to Paro and we reached there in the night so there wasn’t much left to be explored. Therefore, we checked-in to our hotel and had our dinner there. We were a little tired after the long day so we slept early without playing UNO or playing cards.

Longest Suspension Bridge of Bhutan - Punakha - Trip to Bhutan
Longest Suspension Bridge of Bhutan – Punakha – Trip to Bhutan

I was asleep and suddenly someone pulled off my blanket and started beating me and waking me up. Yes, it was my birthday. It was 12 am and everyone was ready to celebrate my birthday. Previously, I thought that they have forgotten all about it because they were pretending likewise. I was already having a perfect day and this surprise celebration made it way more than just perfect. Now I can surely say that that was one of my best birthdays till date.

Day 6: Trek to Tiger’s Nest Monastery (Taktsang Lhakhang)

This day was reserved for the trek to Tiger’s Nest because it was my birthday and I wanted to do the trek the same day itself. We got ready by 10 am but as it was raining outside, we waited for the rain to either stop or atleast slow down. Two of my friends (Ashish and Rahul) suggested that we should postpone the trek due to the rain but I was determined to do the trek the same day itself. Finally, we left the hotel by 11 am and traveled towards the starting point of the trek. We quickly bought the tickets that cost us 500 bucks and began the trek. The trek was 4.5 km long as informed by our driver. The monastery was visible from the starting point and it was settled on a rocky mountain cliff. The trail was marked so we didn’t take the guide.

First view of Tiger's Nest Monastery - Trip to Bhutan
First view of Tiger’s Nest Monastery – Trip to Bhutan

The initial trail was through the forest and it was mild steep. After walking for about half an hour, we found two routes- one was the shortcut and another one was the main route. We took the shorter one as we always take pride in choosing the route less traveled by and also to avoid the crowd & the mule shit. The further trail was also not that steep however it was a bit narrower than the initial route. We continued the trek without any break and it took us around 2 hours to reach the last leg of the trek. We found a few shops and restaurants at the midpoint but we didn’t stop as we were running short of time.

Now, we were at the point from where we could see the monastery right in front of us but on another mountain. The trail had already ended and the route further was through the stairs. Now, we had to climb down the stairs, cross a bridge and then climb up the stairs. This part of the trek was a bit tiring but it was easily doable. It took us around 20 minutes and we finally reached the entrance of the monastery. There, we deposited all the gadgets and then went inside.

Tiger's Nest Monastery - Trip to Bhutan
Tiger’s Nest Monastery – Trip to Bhutan

The monastery is dedicated to Guru Rinpoche and according to the local legend, he came to the place on a tiger and, therefore, the place is called Tiger’s Nest. There are several small temples dedicated to different Buddhist gurus as well. We were also lucky enough to attend a prayer performed by the monks. The monastery was filled with absolute of peace and solitude. One monk also showed us the cave through which Guru Rinpoche entered the place on a tiger.

After exploring the place, we began the downhill trek. While coming down, we also witnessed a mesmerizing sunset and got an amazing view of beautiful Paro valley brimming with paddy fields. We finished the trek by 6 in the evening and came back to our hotel. As it was my birthday, our plan was to go to a night club for some booze and dance.

View of Paro from Tiger's Nest trek - Trip to Bhutan
View of Paro from Tiger’s Nest trek – Trip to Bhutan

We searched on the internet and went to one of the most popular clubs in Bhutan, viz, Club Ecstasy. Unfortunately, the club was closed. 🙁 Closed as in, dance and booze were not available and one could only enjoy the food there. Now, cafes were our only option. So, we explored for a while and found a cafe named the “Mountain Café” at the main street. There, we tried several lip-smacking cuisines and, of course, some delicious burgers (my personal favourite :D). Later, we visited a few souvenir shops to buy magnets and t-shirts.

Streets of Paro - Trip to Bhutan
Streets of Paro – Trip to Bhutan

By that time, the shops were being closed for the night and we had nothing else to do so we went inside a dance bar that our driver had suggested previously. As we entered, a lady approached us and offered us a seat. There was a podium or a stage on which girls were dancing and giving performances. Initially, we felt comfortable and liked the atmosphere. However, soon after, that feeling of comfort converted into awkwardness when a bar girl came and sat quite close to us. Then, some weird things started happening and the reality of the place dawned on us and we quickly finished our beers and came out. It was a very different experience for all of us. Later, we played a few games in our room before falling asleep.

Day 7: Chele La visit and Paro Sightseeing

This was our last day in Bhutan and it was reserved for Paro local sightseeing. We started with a visit to the Highest Motorable pass of Bhutan, viz Chele La. The pass is situated at an altitude of around 3800 meters. We got out of the car and walked up to the top of a hill along the Tibetan prayer flags. It was quite windy atop the hill so we did not stay there for much longer. Then, we climbed down and had piping hot tea with noodles, which was so needed at th time.

Chele La Pass - Highest Pass of Bhutan - Trip to Bhutan
Chele La Pass – Highest Pass of Bhutan – Trip to Bhutan
Chele La Pass - Highest Pass of Bhutan - Trip to Bhutan
Chele La Pass – Highest Pass of Bhutan – Trip to Bhutan
Ashwini, Ashish and Me - Trip to Bhutan
Ashwini, Ashish and Me – Trip to Bhutan

We then headed back to Paro and had lunch at one of the cafés located in the town. After that, we visited the National Museum of Bhutan followed by Paro Dzong. The museum was a really nice place where we learned about many things about Bhutan that were totally new to us. After exploring the place, we spent our evening strolling near the Paro Chu river.  Later, we came back to our rooms and started packing our stuff as it was time to bid adieu to Bhutan.

View of Paro town from National Museum - Trip to Bhutan
View of Paro town from National Museum – Trip to Bhutan
View of Paro Chu river - Trip to Bhutan
View of Paro Chu river – Trip to Bhutan

Day 8: Travel back from Paro to Phuentsholing and then to Siliguri

We checked out from the hotel after having breakfast and began our drive to Phuentsholing. Everyone was feeling a bit low because we were to leave that beautiful land. However, we still enjoyed the journey by listening to our favorite songs. We reached Phuentsholing by 12 PM, completed all the payments and also tipped the driver. Our driver “Mr. Lobzang” was an amazing man and we had a great time traveling with him. We walked through the Bhutan gate and entered our country.

After entering India, we turned around to have a one last view of Bhutan to wrap up our journey. There, the roads were clean, all the cars were parked in an organized manner, people were dressed in national uniform, no honking and people seemed calm and happy. Contrary to the neighbouring country, the first thing we noticed in India was a big road pit just near the border gate. It seemed like an ironic way of welcoming people to automatically let them realize that, yes, they have arrived in India. Then, there were continuously honking autorickshaws, shouting vegetable hawkers and, of course, the pollution. We could literally feel the change in the air. Still, no matter what we say, this is our India and we love it. The feeling of coming back to your country after spending 6 days in a foreign nation was also amazing.

As we were all starving by then, we ran towards a Dominos outlet to have some pizzas and then traveled to Hashimara railway station because we had to catch the train to Siliguri. In the evening, we reached Siliguri and booked a hotel to spend the night. Later, we went to a mall to watch Venom and had a good time.

Day 9: Fly back to Delhi

It was the last day of our trip. We boarded the flight by 3 PM and reached Delhi by the evening and, thus, ended our trip.

To sum it up, we had a wonderful time exploring Bhutan, the Land of Thunder Dragon. We enjoyed all the places that we went to and also loved the cuisine and the various items we ate. We also tried Red Panda beer and several wines, including the peach and red ones, as they were good and quite cheap too. The place we found the best was the Phobjikha valley.

Let me know in the comments if you liked the blog and I will be sharing an informative guide to Bhutan soon.

Happy Traveling 🙂

Written by

Manu Khandelwal

An engineer and a travel blogger. Loves trekking and doing bike road trips. Burger lover (want to try every burger in the world). Clinomaniac. Sports fanatic. Likes technology but not a technology addict.