Bhutan : The World’s Happiest Country

Bhutan is one of the most mystical and unique countries in the world.

I travelled various countries, but no place has given me such high as Bhutan. Environment around here is humble and packed with positive energy.

I feel extremely happy to share my happy story, when I travelled in this happy country 🙂

How I Travelled ?

We took a flight to Bagdogra and from there hired a pre-paid taxi to Phuentsholing. Depending on the traffic, it takes around 5-6 hrs to reach the border. Our’s was a budget trip, so we chose road over air 🙂

(Tip : Try checking with local drivers at the parking lot, there are chances to get a taxi for lower price)

Alternative :

You can  take Druk airways and fly to Paro. This is the only airlines that operates in Bhutan and there are flights from Delhi, Gaya, Bagdogra , Kolkkata and Guwahati.

Check their site for pricing and other details.

Visa :

Click here to get Visa details.

The Border:

After a very long ride we finally reached Phuentsholing and immediately went to the permit office. It was 6 o’clock in the evening and as per few internet sites, working hours of immigration office are from 9 AM- 5:30 P.M.

But fortunately it was open and got the permit letter .

Depending on the tourist traffic, working hours of  immigration office are prolonged.

[Note : There will be several check-posts ahead, so keep this letter handy.]

Despite of having the permit, we halted at Phuentsholing in the night cause we did not want to miss the beautiful sceneries of the ghat road drive.

And now with no prior booking, it was hard for us to find a stay.

Then came Shelgoen hotel to our rescue. They only had one room and upon request they agreed to let four of us stay for a little extra price.

Here everything shuts by 9 PM max, so make sure to grab some food before that.

First of all we got a local sim for approx. Rs. 200/- and then went to this tiny bar called Pradeep Bar. Omlette & Druk 1100 beer is a must try .

Bhutan is ahead of India by half-an-hour. You can time travel by walking across these friendly borders Phuentsholing which is on the Bhutan side and Jaigon on the Indian side.

World would have been a better place, if all the borders of neighboring countries are this cool.

Paro :

Plan was to take a shared taxi and reach Paro via Thimphu, but then  didn’t see much difference in pricing on opting a private vehicle, so dropped the shared taxi idea.

We met Sherpa right outside the hotel; our driver for the rest of the tour and had agreed to take us for 3.6k in his Santro.

The uphill drive through clouds was a visual splendor.


The route provides numerous photo opportunities and the little Bhutanese restaurants along the way are worth a try.

I ask this young girl at Dam view cafe –

Me :What is your name ?

She says “Karma” !

Me : What?😳 Can you say your name again ?

She says “Karma” !!

I was overjoyed hearing to her and man such a beautiful name ☺️.

At around 3:15 PM we reached the Thimphu’s permit office. The permit you get at the border is valid for 7 days and are issued for Thimphu & Paro only. So anything beyond these, you will need to get the permit again from Thimphu office. We have got our permit extended and Haa valley permit from here.

After taking the permit,  we began our ride to Paro and on the way took a pitstop at an other tiny food place again. All these places looked so unique and I was totally in love with them.


Lastly we entered Paro at 7 PM and Aum Om Homestay is “The Place” to stay.

Hosts were super kind and they made some great authentic bhutanese dishes.

(Tip : Food is served in monster quantities. So ask them to prepare food for one, it should be sufficient for two people)

Tiger’s Nest monastery :

Time for the highlight of the trip – The ascend up to Tiger’s Nest aka Paro Takstang , one of the most iconic sites of Bhutan.

This is believed to be built on the site where Guru Rinpoche meditated in a cave having arrived there on a flying tiger. Built precariously on a hillside cliff, it sits more than 10,000 feet above sea level and is accessible only by a foot path.

The hike up to Tiger’s Nest takes a couple of hours and it’s a breathtaking walk in more ways than one. It gets a little tough for you to adjust to the altitude levels. But whether you can breathe or not, the views will take your breathe anyway !

Pony rides are available at the starting point of the trek and they usually cover two-thirds of the journey; none of us took them and we decided to trek.

Just take it slow and steady when you start getting tired.

Prayer flags here making a pleasant & cheerful sight 🙂

We have now reached one of the best view points along the trial  – The Magical View of Tiger’s nest.

It was worth the climb and we totally admired this surreal sight.

It took another 25 minutes from this spot and at last we reached the monastery. You will be surrounded by positive energy and your inner spiritual beauty will get reflected on your face immediately 🙂

I had never meditated in life, but for the first time I did here. This was the moment where I had got in tune with my inner energy source and got high on life :-). It is very hard for me to pen down or explain that feeling.

Things to keep in mind :

– The monastery remains closed from 1PM – 2PM for lunch.

– You are not allowed to take any electronic devices with you inside, there is a safety locker outside.

– Make sure you are dressed properly. My friend wore short pants and security did not let him in. After requesting for a very long time he had let him go.

– It is pretty cold,  wear something that keeps you warm.

– Food options are limited, so carry enough refreshments.

After coming out a guy overheard us talking in our local language and asked us where were we from?

We had a conversation and later got to know that he is our ex-colleague’s brother :-). It’s a small world after all.

I met Srini here and had become very good friends since then. It has been proved again that travelling helps you find good friends.

This guy Srini is crazy, he drove all the way from Hyderabad to Bhutan which is about 2400kms.

Crazy!!! isn’t it ?

He clicks some really cool pictures, do check out his instagram profile. 

While climbing our way down, we found certain paths to be too steep and slippery, so be very careful.

You would spot some souvenirs and local stuff at the base. These are cheaper compared to prices in stores at Paro, so buy from here if you are planning to going on a shopping spree.

Our total journey up and down the Tiger’s Nest (inclusive of our time spent inside the monastery, break time and lunch time) took us close to seven hours, and it was late afternoon by the time everyone made it down.

It was absolutely exhausting, but the awe-inspiring view was worth all the effort !

Trekking up with so many people from different parts of the globe and different religions was a great experience that I can never forget.

After reaching the home-stay, we gobbled down the food like we’d never eaten before 😀

Our incredible day gets more exciting after dinner.

My friend Nia got dressed in Bhutanese attire and surprised everyone by dancing with the wonderful hosts.



En route to the hidden valley of Bhutan – Haa Valley :

The drive to Haa vallley was super scenic and we stopped at multiple places.

Paro Airport’s Bird’s Eye view point was our first halt. We were not that fortunate to see any flight landing or take off ; but totally enjoyed the stunning views.


Later we made our way up to Chelela pass – the highest motorable pass in Bhutan.

Marked with rows of colorful flags, this place looked beautiful and from here we admired the mountain vistas.


Haa town is known for its ancient traditions and rituals and; Ugyen’s homestay is a substantiation for this.

It had rich interiors , wooden furniture and it left us awestruck as we climbed the wooden stairs to our designated rooms.

Above all these the warm hospitality of Ugeyen’s family had floored us completely.

They served some delicious lunch and Ema Datshi dish was incredible.

After relaxing we went to the river side and this is definitely an offbeat Bhutan gem. Fresh air, water sounds and views of snow peaks were just amazing.


Haa is a piece of paradise preserving its traditions and cultures.

Another interesting fact about Haa is, it is the smallest district of Bhutan.

While strolling around, we got to know that there will be a movie screening later that night in Haa.

So we had early dinner and went straight to the movie. Ugyen was very kind and lent his personal car to us :-).

Did not understand even a single bit of the movie, but was a good experience to watch it with the locals .


Haa Tour Continues :

The small neighboring houses , the rising smoke from the backdrop of traditional kitchen and the rising sun above – what a way to start my day 🙂

Adding to this, tasty breakfast has been offered.

Haa valley has quite a few temples and monasteries, so first we covered these in the morning.

IMTRAT (Indian Military Training Teams) has its base in the Haa town and this was our second stop. If you are looking for some Indian food, you can get some at the canteen here for a very low price.

It was great interacting with some of the Indian soldiers here. They really love Bhutan people a lot.

From here we left to the Bhutan-Tibet border and on the way back we randomly went to some local cattle house.



Bought the famous Yak cheese here- It was so fresh and smelled damn good.

The journey got more exciting now.

Archery is the national sport of this country and we noticed some locals practicing it.

The distance from which they aim the target is insane !

While we were driving through, there were prayer flags fluttering in the air, tiny water falls and many picturesque locations.


Haa and its surroundings were gorgeous.

Ended our last day in Haa at a local bar which was moderate.


Climax :

Time for us to leave this wonderland. Had the rich ema dasthi for the last time 🙂 and  started to Paro.

The lush green surroundings , architectures from medieval times, living in a traditional homestay, humble people, prayers at monastery- Haa had offered us a lot and will treasure this for ever.

Following serene Haa , Paro was a bit loud for me and indeed it was more like a culture shock.

I end my trip here and took a shared taxi from Paro bus stand to Phuentsholing.

My friends continued their trip in Paro and from there to Punaka.

Transfer services  to Bagdogra operate from 5:30 in the morning. And there are several taxi’s at Jaigon border or you can ask anyone where you can get the transport, they shall guide you.

Having talks about different cultures, people and life my tour back to airport was eventful; thanks to the driver Jimmy and his sister 🙂.

Bhutan happens to be one of the few countries that has offered me what feels like an entirely authentic experience.

It’s so refreshing to visit a country where, you will not be hassled by annoying vendors outside of the famous sights or people demanding money to take a photo of them in their traditional dress.

In total absolute bliss – highly recommend everyone to travel here at least once in life.

If you would like to know about our stay details, please click here.

 Majority of the pictures above are clicked by Srinivas.V and if you would like to know any information about Punakha, please feel free to ping him on his instagram account.


8 Replies to “Bhutan : The World’s Happiest Country”

  1. Very good Sridhar,would like to travel with you for next trip

    1. Thank you so much and yes we shall plan a trip soon 🙂

  2. Soumyaranjan Pradhan says: Reply

    Story telling at it’s best 😊

    1. Thank you 🙂

  3. Sridhar you have exposed your Bhutan experience in a very sweet manner, and created interest on readers to visit beautiful place with guidelines.

    1. Thank you so much 🙂

  4. Wonderful work! This is the type of info that should be shared around the internet. Shame on Google for not ranking this post higher! Thanks =)

    1. Thank you 🙂

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