We were supposed to reach Kolkota airport early morning (around 6:30 am) to catch the flight for Bhutan. Ethnotel Hotel offered a take away breakfast consisting of Sandwich, fruit and a packaged juice. Free transfer from hotel to airport was provided, as per our tour plan.
At Kolkata aiport you need to fill a form – The Departure card, applicable for Indians leaving the country and get your passport stamped with ‘Exit’ before heading towards the International territory.
Veg Breakfast offered in Drukair flight from Kolkata to Paro, Bhutan.
First view of Paro International Airport, Bhutan after landing.
Once you reach Paro, you need to apply for the Visa to travel in Bhutan. Indians get their Visa on arrival under SAARC category and it is advisable to carry passport, though you can apply for the visa by providing a valid Indian Voters ID card too. In case of passport you get a visa stamp on the same page with entry and return date.
In case of Voters ID card visa, you get a permission letter with a stamp. On this Visa you can travel to Paro and Thimpu in Bhutan. For travelling to places like Punakaha, you need a have a route permit but your tour operator will get that done for you.Please carry passport of kids too no matter how young they are.
Once done with the airport formalities, when we came out from Paro airport, the chilled and fresh air greeted us along with the staff of MakeMyTrip. A coaster (Toyota Mini bus) was assigned to our group and we were briefed about the tour plan, were reminded about the do’s and don’ts and were introduced to the local guide. A pre loaded sim card of 100 Nu (100 INR) was provided to each family. You can call to Indian numbers by prefixing +91 and those calling you from India have to dial +975 followed by your phone number. This tourist prepaid SIM card is valid only for one month.
The drive from Paro airport to Thimpu was a pleasant one. The roads were good and the scenic beauty around was mesmerizing. Our bus made a halt at Chuzom, which is the juncture of Thimphu River (Wang Chhu) and Paro River (Pa Chhu) surrounded by three mountains. Since it was considered as inauspicious, three stupas (mound like structures, considered to be very sacred) were constructed by three countries to ward off the ill effects. These Stupas or Chorten are built by Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet.
After a brief halt we headed towards Thimpu, travelling on the roads surrounded by villages, old houses, colorful flags, apple orchards and rice fields. In an hour we reached our destination, Hotel Galingkha, where we were supposed to stay for three days during our Thimpu Visit. The hotel is situated in the center of Thimpu and is at walking distance from many Indian restaurants as well as local eateries and market.
Since no sightseeing was planned for the day by MakeMy Trip, we decided to venture out on foot, to explore the surroundings and to enjoy some local food. The markets were lined with shops selling vegetables, groceries, clothes, stationeries; stocking local as well as things imported from neighboring countries like India and Nepal. So sitting beside a jar of local honey was our Dabur Honey and fiddle head ferns sold along with Indian tomatoes. The usual branded packaged foods that are popular in India were also available in Thimpu.
We decided to visit ‘The Bhutan Kitchen’ to have our maiden Bhutanese meal.The restaurant was cozy and bit traditional with low seating arrangements. The owner was very polite and explained us that we can enjoy a not so spicy Bhutanese meal, and since the cuisine was new for us, she was kind enough to offer a buffet meal (like Indian Thali) served on our table and that three of us can share a meal. The cost of a meal was 450 Nu and it was actually more than sufficient for three of us.
We were served sea weed soup followed by the local red rice and the white rice cooked with corn, Ema Datshi ( Chillies cooked with cheese, the national dish of Bhutan, kewa Datshi (Potatoes cooked with cheese, very flavorful with earthy/smoky flavors) followed by fresh local bananas, peeled and sliced.