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Advice for hotels in Bhutan

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Apr 13th, 2009, 07:24 AM
  #1
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Advice for hotels in Bhutan

My husband and I are going to Bhutan in September. These are the hotels we are staying in:

Paro: Rinchenling hotel
Thimphu: Namgyel Heritage
Punakha: Meripuensum Resort
Gangtey: Hotel Dewachen
Bumthang: Swiss guest house

Can anyone give advice on these? For example, I have read things like....stay in a particular room number ....or eat the Indian food, not the Bhutanese....newer rooms have better views....etc.. (This way I can request it from our tour operator)

We would rather have some up front advice so we don't find out later that we could have had a better experience. The luxury hotels look fantastic but $1000 a night isnt in our budget. Also, I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, so any advice people could give in terms of being prepared for the unexpected would be helpful.

This is a trip of a lifetime for me, so I am simply attempting to cross as many t's as possible.

Thank you!
OliveO is offline  
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Apr 13th, 2009, 09:24 AM
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The only one I can comment on it Hotel Dewachen in Gantey. It was wonderful. (We were there in Oct 08) I don't remember what room nucmber we were in but the building is build in a kind of arc so every room has a view over the valley. There are little wood stoves in the rooms & the staff made sure they were well lit while we were at dinner so the room was lovely & warm. I also think they may have put hot water bottles in the bed. We stayed there 2 nights & I could have happily do a third. Have a wonderful trip!
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Apr 15th, 2009, 09:58 AM
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I stayed in the Rinchenling hotel earlier this month. It's 7km from Paro, which disappointed me at first, but it was nice to be out in the countryside and see the fields and traditional farmhouses.

Our room was comfortable and fairly simple, and the bathroom had a walled, tiled bath with a hand-held shower.

The best thing about the hotel was the staff, who were very welcoming and helpful, especially when they helped my boyfriend and I put on traditional Bhutanese dress.
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Apr 15th, 2009, 07:00 PM
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Thanks! My husband keeps wondering what to pack...I know it sounds silly...but will we only need trekking clothes?
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Apr 16th, 2009, 12:53 PM
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I don't really know what the weather is like in September, but our tour guide assured us that it's always a little unpredictable. I thought that layering worked really well on our trip as early mornings and evenings were often cold, but the rest of the day could be hot. I tended to wear a T-shirt, jacket and linen trousers. We didn't do much trekking though, just day hikes.

One thing we learnt is that anyone wearing shorts may not be admitted to the dzongs, so trousers are a safer bet. Our guide managed to get my shorts-wearing boyfriend past security with the excuse that he needed to leave his painful-looking mosquito bites uncovered, but I think he was lucky. I get the feeling that smart, modest dress is appreciated by the elegant Bhutanese, but given the hikes up to many of the religious sites anything impractical is out. We did dress up a bit to attend a tsechu though.

Shoes/boots with good soles that grip are recommended as the hikes can be pretty steep. I skidded and fell over on one hike and saw some Japanese tourists do the same. No injuries this time, just everyone covered in dust.

I had a wonderful time in Bhutan and I hope you do as well. It really is an amazing country.
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Apr 16th, 2009, 05:42 PM
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We were there in Oct. We both wore hiking type/quick dry pants all the time. Mostly T shirts, I also had a couple of long sleeved ones(again we take the hiking/quick dry type which we both like). My hubby had a button up long sleeved shirt that he tsechu's as it looked a little smarter plus the sun protection was a huge bonus being at the festival all day in high altitude sun. I also had a similar shirt & a scarf to 'dress' up a T-shirt if I felt like it. The mornings & evenings were cool so I usually had my fleece on at those times. We both took light weight ankle high hiking boots for our day hikes & the rest of the time wore tril running type shoes. You are obviously not held back by your RA which is great. On our trip we came across a lady several times who had some sort of condition that required her to use 2 elbow crutches all the time. She got to all the places she wanted to get to including the Tigers nest without any assistance from the horses. We also saw her at some other tmeples and in a village where there were no other tourists except her & her husband & us. An inspiring lady. So I am sure you will find a way to do all you want. Be careful of the chillies in the food...if they ask you if you like spicy food they mean really really spicy so take a tiny bite!!!!! We loved our time in Bhutan. Our overall impression was of such a calm serine place, with incredible people. J
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Apr 27th, 2009, 07:45 PM
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I stayed at Dewachen Hotel in Dec 2007. We had a south corner room on the second floor with beautiful views of the valley to the south and east. Make sure your room stove works. Electricity in the valley was turned off al 9 pm when we were there, so bring a miner's head lamp if you want to read. The hotel is lovely, designed by an American architect in traditional Bhutanese style. Everything around this valley is stunning, see all you can.
Meri Phuemson was a lovely spot overlooking Punaka valley. We had a room in a row of cottages with a balcony overlooking the river, fine location of room. i remember the food at the hotel was excellent.
Don't know about the other hotels. If you wanted to splurge at the Uma Paro, I bet the $1000 a night rack rate could be negotiated to $250ish.
General tips: layer, layer, layer clothing; sun hat, visor, extra visor (the sun at high altitude is very intense). I wish I had brought artificial tears, the dry air and wind up high bothered my eyes. If you need warmer clothing than you have with you, any local market can give you what you need.
I would urge you to dress very conservatively, no shorts, etc. The tour guides will never remark on your attire (except if you are not suitably dressed to enter a temple) but privately will likely be offended by immodest dress. They are such kind and gentle people, it will go a long way to dress respectfully. In Bhutan, every place is sacred so save the skimpy stuff for the Thai beaches.....and this is from someone who favors airing out my skin.
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Apr 30th, 2009, 07:57 AM
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Thank you! Many great tips from everyone that will make the trip far easier. Keep them coming, please!
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May 20th, 2009, 09:42 PM
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My favorite place to stay in Paro is Gangtey Palace Hotel. Request a room that overlooks the Rinpung Dzong which is lit up at night. The hotel has a warm cozy feel, has good food, and also has traditional hot stone baths available in a little hut outdoors. Little electric heaters keep the hotel rooms warm, and bathrooms have all the modern conveniences. A simply charming place...

If you want to stay on a mountain pass, consider an overnight at Dochula Pass guesthouse. It's relatively new, and unknown among tourists as it only has 5 rooms (so no buses!) There's 108 chortens to wander around nearby, and if you're lucky, on clear days you'll have views of the eastern Himalayas at sunrise. Good hiking trails from there to mountain views and even a monastery...it's all just a 45 minute drive from Thimpu, the capitol city (which seems a world away)and 2 hours drive from Punaka.

And finally a word of caution...even though you may request certain rooms or even hotels, know that confirmed reservations are often nixed for visiting dignitaries or whatever. Be prepared to get substituted without notice.

Personally, I would concentrate more on specifying what things you want to do rather than where to stay. Find out from your tour operator what festivals are occurring during your stay and what hikes or temples you could visit in your itinerary. Even though my itinerary is geared for photographers, feel free to browse through one I put together for this fall at www.UniquePhotoTours.com. One last tip: make sure you include a hike to Tiger's Nest (outside Paro) on your last day, which allows you to acclimate. You'll love it!!!
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May 21st, 2009, 10:30 AM
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wanderluster: you give good advice - but stop flogging your website. You'll get deleted.
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May 23rd, 2009, 02:08 AM
  #11
 
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Just come across this post. We travelled to Bhutan last summer however did not stay in any of the hotels on your list. I have two tips. When you can ask your guide if you can eat out away from the hotel. Most hotels prepare a buffet which although OK is not as good as the food served in the restaurants in Thimpu or Paro. You have already paid for your meals so eating out does not cost anything extra. Tip Two. if you are unhappy with any of the hotels or your rooms tell your guide who will really try to find somewhere else. Our experiences of the hotels was that they were OK but nothing special in terms of comfort. You will spent very little time in your hotel as there is so much to see in the county.
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