Backpacking in Bhutan is in everyone’s bucket list all around the world. If you are a budget traveler, backpacking in Nepal and Bhutan is quite doable in a shoestring budget. Especially, in Bhutan it is quite an experience as the country is so close to India geographically, yet so different. You will get to explore the culture, food, and religious practices of the country at close quarters by mingling with the natives there. After all, is it not that the best way to travel?
Read on to know more about different aspects of this beautiful country before backpacking in Bhutan.
How To Reach Bhutan
By Air: Bhutan has only one international airport with flights coming in from New Delhi, Singapore, Bangkok and Kathmandu. Usually these flights have stops in cities like Dhaka, Bagdogra or Kolkata, which means the country is somewhat connected by air. Two different airlines operate in the country: Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines. However, that definitely is not the preferred way of going to Bhutan when it comes to seasonal backpackers.
By Road: The main entry point to the country is via the city of Phuentsholing, which lies on the India-Bhutan border. There are two different points of entry in the Indian state of Assam as well, but they are not used frequently.
By Train: The nearest train stations are at New Jalpaiguri and Hasimara. You will find connecting trains from every major Indian city, which makes Bhutan backpacking from India a desirable option for almost every traveler.
You can take a taxi from Hasimara to Phuentsholing and go to different Bhutanese cities like Paro and Thimphu. Buses are quite common in the Indian part, however, in Bhutan, it is best to take shared taxis.
Best Time to Visit Bhutan
Every season and month sees the country in a different colour. You should visit Bhutan in summers during the months of June and July, if you want to avoid the cold weather. October to December is perfect for hikers and photographers who want clear skies and good photographs. The months of March sees the bloom of rhododendron in the area, which is a huge hit amongst tourists. To cut down the costs, it is advised to travel off season.
You can also plan your travel around the royal festivals held in Punakha and Thimphu, where masked dancers make for amazing pictures.
Arrival At Bhutan
When you are entering Bhutan, you would be required to present your official ID as well as permits at the Immigration Office. Here it is to be noted that Indian natives can also acquire a visa on arrival. The government tries to regulate tourism in the country to conserve the culture as well as nature, which makes Bhutan a costly place to visit for most foreign nationals.
Cities To Visit When Backpacking In Bhutan
The first Bhutanese town to greet you this side of border is Phuentsholing. The town has limited places to visit. The Kharbandi Gompa is quite famous which was built by the Queen Mother of Bhutan in 1960’s. There are a number of beautiful and serene paintings of Buddha in the temple. You will also find Guru Rinpoche statues in the temple. The murals here as well as in the monastic school make for beautiful pictures.
Famous for Tiger’s Nest or Paro Taktsang, the valley town of Paro is a dream come true for backpackers and hikers. Paro features prominently in all itineraries for Bhutan backpacking. You can also visit the National Museum as well as the beautiful Rinpung Dzong, the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong and Dungtse Lhakhang. The Chele La Pass, which you will cross on your way to Paro, is another beautiful place to be at to sneak a peek into the surrounding mountains. The traditional clothing, jewelry, and other pieces of Bhutanese culture make the town a must visit.
This Bhutanese capital needs no introduction. On you way from Phuentsholing, it is preferred to cover Paro and then move onward to Thimphu. The city has the government seat as well as different Buddhist sites. You can visit Tashichho Dzong, Memorial Chorten and the Buddha Dordenma Statue to click beautiful pictures. There are a number of museums in Thimphu like the Folk Heritage Museum that will provide you a deeper insight into the Bhutanese culture. The Royal Textile Academy is another preferred place to explore the tradition of clothes and manuscripts in the country.
Known for the Punakha Dzong, this valley town, located on the rivers Pho and Mo Chhu, receives a large number of tourists around the year. The beautiful palace is one of the most incredible buildings in the country built in the sixteenth century. During festivals, a visit to Punakha is even better for capturing the true Bhutanese essence.
What To Eat And Where
Head over to the Folk Heritage Museum restaurant in Thimphu, which is a great place to try Bhutanese cuisine. You can also try food at Champaca Cafe in Paro among other places. The Taktsang Cafe on way to Tiger’s Nest is a great place to have lunch while backpacking to Bhutan.
The Bhutanese cuisine is quite simple with limited usage of spices and oil. You will also find Nepalese and Indian food easily in the country. Eat traditional Datshi, which is a great option for vegetarians and a local cheese, and curries like beef and pork to ensure food quality. You will also get good thukpa and momos in different parts of the country.
Suggested Read: Paragliding In Bhutan: Get All The Information You Need
Where To Shop
Government sanctioned shops like the Emporium in Thimphu are the best places to pick up authentic Bhutanese art and craft items, if you want, at affordable prices. You can also check out the local bazaars in Paro and Thimphu to buy local items. Do forget to negotiate, which will only help you land better deals. Oh, and always carry your cash instead of cards while shopping. Most Bhutanese places accept Indian currency as well, which makes it a lot easy to travel in the country.
Backpacking Cost In Bhutan
There are several cheap bed and breakfast as well as guest houses in different cities of Bhutan, which means you can easily find accommodation in budget. It is better to travel in groups, which will help you cut down the cost on stay as well as transportation. If you are solo backpacking in Bhutan, try and travel in shared taxis a lot. Considering all expenses, you can cover the country keeping your daily spend upto INR 1500 (accommodation, food plus getting around), which is quite economical.
A trip of backpacking in Bhutan is all you need to set your life in perspective. Plan your trip today with TravelTriangle to get the best deals ever!Make sure to gather your friends and spend some time in the sun among the most warm and friendly locals.