Bhutan -- Is it really fantastic?

Old May 10th, 2006, 12:38 PM
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Bhutan -- Is it really fantastic?

We are really stumped on our big trip this year and are considering an organized bike tour in Bhutan (October). Other destination thoughts are northern/western Australia, Cambodia/Vietnam, Malaysia. Our top choice trips have already been done (safari in Africa, Nepal trekking, Morocco/Turkey, Thailand, etc.) so we are a little stumped and Bhutan is the most expensive of those we are considering -- was this a favorite destination for you?
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Old May 10th, 2006, 01:11 PM
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I just came back from Bhutan and really enjoyed it. I have not done Nepal -- but wonder if there may be similarities in terms of scenary, food, etc. I was on a cultural tour that also included some light trekking. We learned lots about the culture and religious practices. The people were friendly, the food was ok, the scenary was quite nice. Very calm and quiet country. Sounds like you have lots of good choices -- enjoy!
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Old May 29th, 2006, 10:08 AM
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We are also interested in Bhutan. Any suggestions on tour groups? We generally do not like travel with groups but we thought a good group might make Bhutan travel easier and more educational. Thanks.
 
Old Jun 1st, 2006, 03:09 AM
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As You have to do Your tour with a official guide and a driver You do not need to book a group. Travelling is easier with "Your" own group. And even more individual and educational, for You can choose Your own route and timetable.
have fun
Gar
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Old Jun 2nd, 2006, 06:52 PM
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Does anyone know any guide or driver in Bhutan?
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Old Jun 2nd, 2006, 08:14 PM
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You have to go with an official guide. The Bhutanese travel agencies are all listed in the website: www.kingdomofbhutan.com
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Old Jun 2nd, 2006, 08:25 PM
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gargame is correct -- you must use a govt approved guide. We booked through Jachung Travel in SF, CA -- they have a relationship with Eagle Tours in Thimpu, Bhutan. Our guide and driver were great -- I would highly recommend them. Pls feel free to ask some questions -- would be glad to help!
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Old Jun 4th, 2006, 08:11 AM
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Pamo - Thanks for your offer. We would appreciate any suggestions re: our trip to Bhutan. It seems like one could spend alot of time driving. Are there things not to be missed, despite the travel time?
 
Old Jun 7th, 2006, 08:20 PM
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I can tell you what we did on our 7 day cultural tour -- we found pretty much everything interesting - and on paper we weren't sure we would. We had hikes about every other day around the cultural events.

Paro
-- Paro Rinpong Dzong (fortress)
-- National Museum (former watchtower)
-- Kyichu Lhakhang (monastery)

Thimpu
A hike to Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan's most famous monastery.
-- King's Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan)
-- Chang Gangkha Monastery
-- Radio tower (for a great view of Thimphu Valley)
-- Takin Reserve (national animal of Bhutan)
-- National Library (which houses ancient manuscripts)
-- School of Arts and Crafts (also known as the painting school)
-- National Institute of Traditional Medicine
-- Bhutan Post Office (to see Bhutanese stamps)
-- Traditional Paper Factory
--Tashicho Dzong (summer residence for monks and chief abbot)
Folk Heritage Museum
Textile Museum
Tango Monastery, which was built in the 15th century. It's a center of study for monks, and it affords a great view of the Thimphu Valley

Wangduephodrang
Stop en route for tea at Dochu La (3,100 meters), where on a clear day you can get spectacular views of the Himalayas.
Punakha Dzong, which is noteworthy both for being one of the most beautiful dzongs in Bhutan and also for having been built by the first Shabdrung in 1637.
Chimi Lakhang, which is a fertility temple.


We found this tour to be a nice mix of activity and culture. Also -- on our last night -- we ate dinner with a Bhutanese family at their farm house. Was a nice ending to a very lovely trip. I hear Bumthang is quite nice -- however we did not have time to visit there. we basically went Paro -Thimpu-Wangduephodrang-Thimpu-Paro. It was a couple of hours drive between each city. Also -- I am really not a "tour" kind of person. But -- having the driver and guide with 3 travelers was rather nice. Out guide spoke a few langiages and was quite interesting to speak with. He was a native and could share lots of info on the culture and was quite open to our many questions. we really had a nice time -- I highly recommend visiting before it changes. Out guide says he has started to see some change -- largely due to the changing Indian subcontinent, and the internet/tv. But -- we were happy there were no Walmarts, Targets or McDonalds (or any other sort of Western chain business).
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Old Nov 19th, 2009, 09:12 AM
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We just returned from 2 weeks in Bhutan and found the people and the experience to be wonderful. The food was generally much better than we had been led to believe and the weather (first two weeks of Nov.) was nearly perfect. Every day was sunny and in the high 60's. Even the one night when there was no hotel available in the area, we stayed in an old farmhouse and had a great time with a "stone bath" being the highlight. Our guide, Sonam, from Snow White Tours was knowledgeable and flexible so we were able to make itinerary changes when we desired. He knew when to go to destinations to avoid any crowds also. Yes, some hikes were difficult, such as Tiger's Nest as I had read. You could go at your own pace, however, and still have a fabulous experience. We actually planned the trip just 3 months in advance but were able to do everything we had wanted to do including attending two festivals. One hotel did have pretty lousy food but otherwise we couldn't have been happier with the guide, driver and tour organizer that made it the trip of a lifetime.
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Old Nov 19th, 2009, 11:38 AM
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Just to add a little bit of balance;

I didn't care for Bhutan at all. I find the tourist experience there to be artificial, bland and completely contrived. But then, so is Disneyland - and people love that.

You can easily find out what your prospective trip will be like simply by reading some of the trip reports in here.

Everybody, despite what they think, does EXACTLY the same thing. It's simply a question of perception. You either believe the script, or you don't.

So if a ticket to The Bhutan Show appeals to you - buy one. You'll certainly know what you're getting, even down to The Very Nice Dinner With A Local Family. Enjoy.

Sorry guys, I don't mean to offend, nor deny your great experiences. It's a forum, which I think means an exchange of opinions. So this is mine.
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Old Nov 19th, 2009, 05:46 PM
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Dogster, you are so right, Bhutan is pretty much a cookie cutter experience. You have to travel with a driver and guide and they mostly take you to all the same places. That said we had a lovely guide and driver in Bhutan and enjoyed our time there in spite of the rainy weather. A bicycle tour may be different though.

Were we to go again I would go at festival time and pay a lot more attention to the itinerary, and try to get a bit off the beaten path.

I have some photos of Bhutan (which was part of a 5 month trip) on our website at.
http://www.wright-photo.com/2007%2008%20Asia%20Trip.htm
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Old Nov 19th, 2009, 05:47 PM
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The OP is from 2006. I wonder where they ended up going?!
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Old Nov 20th, 2009, 12:45 AM
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Good spotting jules; I must have been having a senior mongrel moment not to have noticed that.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2009, 02:00 PM
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Sukie and dogster may have a point, but it is a point which can apply to any tourist in any country. For example how many people come to UK and do London, Stonehedge (I know), Bath, the Cotswolds and Stratford and think they've seen England when all they have seen is a few tourist-infested spots?

We are recently returned from a three week trip from west to east in Bhutan and found it a very surprising country with a lot to offer. Sure we saw the main sights but we also spent time helping monks with their English, taking classes in a rural school and nosing round quiet villages.

The 'cookie cutter' experience is what you will get if you don't do your research before you go, don't explain to your guide and driver what it is you want to do when you get there and don't have the nous to see what Bhutan can offer you when you are there. Just like any other country.

Michael
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Old Nov 22nd, 2009, 02:52 PM
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Well wasleys, apparently you have not clicked on Dogster's trip reports. Otherwise you would not have made that comment. I am sure that what he has achieved is way beyond any travel experience you have attempted.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2009, 04:10 PM
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Well, Craig, instead of making gratuitous attacks on others perhaps you would care to share your own experiences of Bhutan with us?

For the record when researching our trip I had read dogster's report of his disastrous trip to Bhutan, a report in which he said "I had, stupidly, decided to not research Bhutan very much".
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