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Rediscovering the Joy of a Road Travel—a Trip to Thimphu—the Capital City of Bhutan

Educated as a microbiologist, trained as an editor, a quintessential nomad soul grounded to the earth. Loves anything that touches her soul

An unforgettable journey to the beautiful capital city, Thimphu

An unforgettable journey to the beautiful capital city, Thimphu

Exciting road trips

If you are you looking for an unusual, unforgettable road trip in 2020, explore the Land of Thunder Dragon (called Druk Yul in Bhutanese) and bask in its serene beauty.

6 reasons why Bhutan road trips are reinvigorating

These are the perks of traveling by road in Bhutan:

1. Stop wherever exquisite beauty lures you

Enjoy the flexibility of stopping the car anywhere on the road and soak in the nature and experience the serenity. Bhutan's lush greenery is definitely a bewitching attraction, as it boasts rich flora, such as pines, spruces, firs, conifers, and cypresses.

2. Capture the picture-perfect scenery

Throughout the drive to the capital city, you would get to see the enchanting views. The scenery is inviting and will leave you bedazzled. Stop the car, park it aside, witness the beauty and click some stunning pictures before you leave.

3. Live in the moment

The beauty all around cannot be ignored. So, put aside all your thoughts and focus on the beauty and create memories.

4. Indulge in digital detoxification

The scenic beauty is quite fascinating, drink in the charm of the beauty and stay away from your Tab, mobile, or laptop.

5. Spark a conversation

Engage in an interesting conversation with the driver and the guide to know more about Bhutan, its culture, people, food, lifestyle, or legends. It's also a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the bonds with family.

6. Taste the local food

Break for lunch, tea, or snacks in roadside restaurants and pamper your taste buds with the local food items. Try the red rice or local cuisines. Sitting for long hours may be difficult, therefore, take short breaks and stroll on the roadside. Experience the serenity, soak in the beauty of the nature, and strike a conversation with the locals.

Bhutan—the Land of Happiness

Tucked in the mighty Himalayas, this tiny Asian country will leave a long-lasting impression on your mind, in terms of both beauty and serenity.

The country boasts lofty mountains, picturesque landscapes, and spectacular rivers. Bhutan has diverse landscapes, such as plains (with paddy fields), high mountains with steep bends, and deep valleys.

The Land of Happiness, Bhutan, is an ideal example of peace and happiness and scores high in Gross National Happiness (GNH).

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Bhutan is rich in vegetation and most parts of the country is covered with thick forests. This has helped Bhutan become a carbon negative country.

Towering mountains covered by thick vegetation and valleys

Towering mountains covered by thick vegetation and valleys

The green river, rolling hills, Dzong, the clear sky - looks like a fairyland

The green river, rolling hills, Dzong, the clear sky - looks like a fairyland

Stepped farming

Stepped farming

Trees in Thimphu

Trees in Thimphu

On a clear day, the snowy peaks can be viewed

On a clear day, the snowy peaks can be viewed

Thick vegetation and fall color

Thick vegetation and fall color

A beautiful river and forest

A beautiful river and forest

Various trees

Various trees

A pretty sunflower stands proudly blooming on the roadside

A pretty sunflower stands proudly blooming on the roadside

Long fern leaves

Long fern leaves

Drive to Thimphu from Phuentsholing

A road trip to Thimphu from Phuentsholing is almost a 5-hour (around) drive through the picturesque villages and towns, serpentine roads, rolling hills, and lush greenery.

Phuentsholing is Bhutan's border city towards India. It is Bhutan's second largest city after Thimphu. It is a busy commercial hub with markets, hotels and restaurants, monasteries, administrative buildings, and a central bus terminus.

Various places in Phuentsholing

Bhutan Gate

Bhutan Gate

Amo Chuu Crocodile Breeding Centre

Amo Chuu Crocodile Breeding Centre

Karbandi Monastery

Karbandi Monastery

Immigration Office remains closed on Saturday and Sunday and on other Bhutanese holidays.  Indians can enter Phuentsholing without permission; however, they need to seek permission from the Immigration Office in Phuentsholing to travel beyond it.

Immigration Office remains closed on Saturday and Sunday and on other Bhutanese holidays. Indians can enter Phuentsholing without permission; however, they need to seek permission from the Immigration Office in Phuentsholing to travel beyond it.

A major street of the city

A major street of the city

An open area with gym equipment. Enjoying the amazing view while exercising

An open area with gym equipment. Enjoying the amazing view while exercising

The panoramic vista of lush greenery

The panoramic vista of lush greenery

Enroute to Thimphu

We stayed in Phuentsholing for a night. The next day dawned in the morning and before the city got busy, we drove past some of its beautiful places on our way to Thimphu.

Huge, rocky mountains

Huge, rocky mountains

Wide, clean roads

Wide, clean roads

A sign board displaying the name of the cities and distances up above the hill

A sign board displaying the name of the cities and distances up above the hill

Serenity prevails all around

Serenity prevails all around

Rinchending Checkpost

After taking a tour of the city, we reached Rinchending Checkpost to get the approval to enter Thimphu and Paro. The validity of the permit spanned only for 7 days.

Once we got the nod to travel beyond Phuentsholing, we drove for a while in search of a restaurant for breakfast as we wanted to satiate our craving for local food.

Meanwhile, we found ourselves away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the lush green surrounding with hills in the backdrop set our mood in the right tune.

What a sight to behold - a bridge, green mountains, wide road on sunny day

What a sight to behold - a bridge, green mountains, wide road on sunny day

Organic oranges on the roadside

Each curve has some surprises and in one such curve, we found fruit sellers with various fruits on the roadside. We stopped to buy organically grown, fresh oranges from them. Even though we find the oranges expensive, we bought them because they were fresh and Bhutan is famous for tasty oranges. The oranges did not disappoint our taste buds.

Fruit sellers on the roadside

the-epic-drive-to-thimphu-an-unbelievable-experience
the-epic-drive-to-thimphu-an-unbelievable-experience
the-epic-drive-to-thimphu-an-unbelievable-experience

Toorsa Tea Garden—breakfast

We spotted a small, clean, beautiful, homely restaurant in the lap of the hills. The ambience was comfortable and staff was courteous.

The food was served hot and freshly cooked. Eating hot, scrumptious breakfast amidst the beauty of nature and enjoying the panoramic view of the breathtaking scenery while sipping on hot tea refresh the mind instantly.

While our food was getting ready, we struck a conversation with the local people in the restaurant, who told us more about the Bhutanese culture and food. Their hospitality and warmth touched our heart.

On the way to the restaurant

On the way to the restaurant

Experience during the drive

After the delicious breakfast, our next phase of the journey commenced and we were wondering what's in store for us.

We drove past small towns (Gedu), villages, picturesque landscapes, hills, waterfalls, rivers, prayer wheels, and stupas.

The serenity that each place offers reflects why the country scores high in the GNH Index.

We were spellbound by the spectacular beauty of the surrounding, the color of fall on the leaves, and the tranquility. We stopped our car quite a few times to soak in the nature and absorb the happiness from the surrounding.

Breathtaking views

Clouds moving from the deep valleys to the hills

Clouds moving from the deep valleys to the hills

On the roadside

On the roadside

Gedu

Gedu

the-epic-drive-to-thimphu-an-unbelievable-experience

Water-powered prayer wheels

We saw water-powered prayer wheels and our guide explained to us the mechanism behind the operation. The prayer wheel is turned by the water coming from the waterfalls.

the-epic-drive-to-thimphu-an-unbelievable-experience
the-epic-drive-to-thimphu-an-unbelievable-experience

Idyllic surrounding

As the journey progressed, more and more surprises unfolded. The beauty of huge tress, lofty rocky mountains, waterfalls, and sun-bathed valleys continued to bedazzle us.

The serpentine roads are clean and well maintained. There are big boards on the road displaying the direction and distance.

A drive with the family on a sunny day enjoying the magnificent scenery is a bliss.

A wide road with lush greenery on its both sides

A wide road with lush greenery on its both sides

A solitary waterfall

A solitary waterfall

Rocky mountains

Rocky mountains

Each turn with a beautiful surprise

Each turn with a beautiful surprise

Afternoon sun washing the rocky mountains

Afternoon sun washing the rocky mountains

Wangkha—Lunch

After continuing the drive for a few more hours, we parked near a restaurant for lunch in Wangkha. The ambience was inviting and pleasant and we sat by the window overlooking the towering mountains.

We had the option to choose from a wide range of dishes and we relished our five course meal.

The clear, blue sky; the beautiful scenery; the calmness of the surrounding; and the cool breeze eliminated the fatigue and filled our minds with happiness.

Beautiful sceneries

Greenery all around

Greenery all around

Rocky mountains

Rocky mountains

Crossroad—left road towards Paro and straight road towards Thimphu

We reached a crossroad from where one road has headed to Paro while the other to Thimphu.

Either take left and enter Paro or drive straight to enter Thimphu

Either take left and enter Paro or drive straight to enter Thimphu

the-epic-drive-to-thimphu-an-unbelievable-experience
the-epic-drive-to-thimphu-an-unbelievable-experience
the-epic-drive-to-thimphu-an-unbelievable-experience

Thimphu—the capital city of Bhutan

We entered the beautiful capital city, Thimphu, in the late afternoon through a magnificent gate, which is an ideal example of Bhutanese architecture and reflects its rich heritage and culture.

The capital city is surrounded by lofty mountains and a river called, Wang Chuu or Thimphu Chuu, flows through it. Thimphu is one of the world's high altitude capital cities (around 2,330 meters) and does not have any airport. The only international airport of the country is in Paro.

We meandered through the capital city to the hotel near Clock Tower Square and with that, our epic drive to Thimphu concluded.

The magnificent gate to enter Thimphu

The magnificent gate to enter Thimphu

A prayer wheel adjacent to the gate

A prayer wheel adjacent to the gate

Distance and direction of different places displayed

Distance and direction of different places displayed

A city tour

A city tour

Another gate within the city

Another gate within the city

View of the city close to Clock Tower Square

View of the city close to Clock Tower Square

Night view of a part of the city

Night view of a part of the city

the-epic-drive-to-thimphu-an-unbelievable-experience

8 Things to Carry During Your Road Trip

1. Carry adequate quantity of drinking water.

2. Keep chocolates, candies, and fruits handy.

3. Carry a high-quality camera.

4. Carry tissue papers, a sanitizer, a liquid soap, or paper soap strips.

5. Keep sanitary napkins handy.

6. Take your medicines on time as prescribed by the physician.

7. Carry a small notebook and a pen to note down the names of places, any important information shared by your diver or guide, or any other interesting information.

8. Keep your sunglasses, lip balm, and moisturizer handy.

9. Wear mask and gloves.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Prantika Samanta

Comments

Prantika Samanta (author) from Kolkata, India on May 14, 2020:

Bhutan is beautiful and the scenic views are spectacular. I have covered only a part of Bhutan and would love to travel to other cities of Bhutan. Also, I'm planning to visit the country during its festival. I'm eagerly waiting for the current situation to get better.