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Please help me to start planning a trip to Bhutan

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Please help me to start planning a trip to Bhutan

Old Apr 28th, 2017, 05:27 PM
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Please help me to start planning a trip to Bhutan

I have been wanting to go to Bhutan for a while, so would like to start planning for 2018. I know it is too early, but I would like to use my mileage for a flight from Chicago to... (Delhi, Katmandu, etc), and in general, seems like this trip requires a bit more coordination than usually, so wanted to have some time.

We (my husband and I) will have two full weeks total for an entire trip.

My first question is on recommendation on how to spend these two weeks. I understand we can fly to Paro from Nepal, India, Thailand and Singapore. However, we have been to Thailand and Singapore previously, so thinking to flying to Delphi or Kathmandu, prior to flying to Paro. We have never been to India or Nepal.

I was thinking of maybe spending about 8 days in Bhutan, and 5 days in India to see the Golden Triangle.
Another option is to spend 5 days or so in Nepal and seeing some of the sites in there.
Or maybe we need to increase time in Bhutan, but we are not trekkers and seem a bit expensive to stay longer.
What do you recommend? Really looking forward to seeing your input.

I also would like to visit during festival time. I am not sure if it makes sense to plan around major festivals, or we can attend a smaller ones. Do you have any recommendations on this?

And lastly, where do we start? Do we start by contacting a local agency to discuss dates, festivals, flights to Paro, and only then plan on purchasing international flights?

So many questions ... Looking for your help to get me started...
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Old Apr 28th, 2017, 07:27 PM
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Start by buying a guidebook. That will help you determine what you want most to see/do in Bhutan. Read some of the trip reports here on Bhutan. Go to the top of the page and under "view by country" choose Bhutan. You will find both planning threads and trip reports.

Once you have a good idea of what you want from your trip, the next task is to choose a local company in Bhutan to take care of all the logistics. The company can also make good recommendations to you about things like festivals.

I've looked into a trip to Bhutan several times in the past decade, but have not yet gone. But if I were going, I'd spend all the time I could in Bhutan. Dividing a two week trip into Bhutan plus a trip to the Golden Triangle or Nepal sounds like a mistake to me unless you had at least three weeks.

Happy planning!
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Old Apr 28th, 2017, 08:04 PM
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I agree that some time with guidebooks would be good, and that you don't really have time for the Golden Triangle. However, I do think that you could spend three or four days in Nepal. Bhutan is a very homogeneous country, and although the countryside is wonderful and the temples interesting, after a while it can all start looking the same.

The most important consideration is that you want to be there for a festival. I don't know how much tourism there is now, but a festival in the countryside rather than the capital might draw fewer tourists.
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Old Apr 29th, 2017, 06:44 AM
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Kathie Thursdaysd, thank you for your replies!

I do have Bhutan travel books are on my Kindle. You know I was a regular on this site since 2004, and planning all kind of independent trips for over 20 years, so I would not even dare to post any questions without some preliminary reading. Based on my reading (my books and some trip reports), I know we would not want to spend all two weeks in there. I did get the same feeling as Thursdaysd said, it is a very homogeneous country, and it would get expensive for a longer stay.
With that, my question was more on how to spend our remaining days, so they do not get wasted. We both work, have very short vacations, I have health issues making it is very hard to tolerate long flights, so we try to use out days to the fullest.

I did not spent much time with India or Nepal books as of yet, so wanted to go an easy route and ask experts on where our remaining days would be spent better - India or Nepal.

I did see some tour companies offering a private trip of the Golden Triangle for 5 days, so this is why I thought this would be an option. How many days do we need to see the Golden Triangle?

Thursdaysd, thanks for your suggestion, I will look on how several days can be spent in Nepal.
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Old Apr 29th, 2017, 07:38 AM
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I think Nepal would be easier to manage in conjunction with Bhutan. The Golden Triangle requires lots of driving as does Bhutan, so a place where you aren't driving all the time seems like a better fit. I'd recommend spending your time in the Kathmandu Valley and visiting some of the many World Heritage sites there. Take a look at my trip report which details visits to all of the World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley. Here is a link to our photos: www.marlandc.com/Nepal-2008

You might also enjoy the movie, Travelers and Magicians, which was filmed in Bhutan.
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Old Apr 29th, 2017, 07:49 AM
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You might want to re-post with a heading along the lines of "Five Days - India or Nepal?" as not many people here have visited Bhutan and may skip this thread.

What does the five day trip cover? Really, you need at least one overnight in Agra, and if you are going to see anything of Delhi (not that it is one of my favorite cities) that probably only leaves time for Jaipur or Jodhpur.

I probably spent a couple of weeks on the Golden Triangle, don't remember exactly. For Bhutan and Rajasthan (Deserted Kingdoms) see:

http://wilhelmswords.com/asia2001/
Photos: https://kwilhelm.smugmug.com/Travel/Asia-2001

For Nepal, start here: https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...and-mountains/
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Old Apr 29th, 2017, 02:47 PM
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Thursdays (looked at your website, and I understand your screen name now and Kathie,

Thank you so much! This is exactly what I was looking for. I will be looking at Nepal then. Browsed quickly thru pics (will look in details when get more time; I love looking at pics, this gets me excited), and looks beautiful.

Now, I just need to do more reading on Bhutan, and figure out exactly how many days, around which festival, and then the remaining time will to go to Nepal.

If you have any Bhutanese agency that you can recommend, this would be greatly appreciated as well.

Thank you again!
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Old Apr 29th, 2017, 02:56 PM
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It sounds like you are well on your way with planning. If I can answer any Nepal questions, I'd be glad to do so.
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Old May 4th, 2017, 07:26 AM
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Yes, I am fine for now. Thank you, Kathie! Will do some reading, find a couple of agencies to talk to and come back with more questions
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Old May 5th, 2017, 10:27 AM
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I've just started to post a trip report that includes travelling in Nepal and Bhutan, stay tuned. These countries make a good combination not only because of proximity but also the contrast in their cultures and scenery. The flight from Kathmandu to Paro left me awe-struck. A good guide in Bhutan is essential as you will be spending alot of time with him/her and its important to communicate your itinerary preferences ahead of time. Happy planning!
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Old May 6th, 2017, 06:47 PM
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Will be reading! Thanks Victoria!
\
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Old May 6th, 2017, 07:38 PM
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Definitely look up trip reports on Bhutan. I was planning a trip to Bhutan ~3 years ago, and came across trip reports by Dogster and Kathie which steered me towards Sikkim/Darjeeling instead. We stayed in Sikkim for 10 days and I did not regret it. Kathie I am a big fan of yours, we had one of our best vacations in Sikkim.
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Old May 7th, 2017, 08:45 AM
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Thanks, vipsha. I'm glad I was able to be of assistance.
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Old May 7th, 2017, 09:26 AM
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While it is true that dogster did not enjoy his time in Bhutan, a lot of that had to do with his guide (and dogster, much as I enjoyed his tales, had a tendency to exaggerate). I would not take his trip report as a reason to avoid the place. I visited before him, and while I thought two weeks overkill, I very much enjoyed my visit and certainly don't regret it.
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Old May 7th, 2017, 11:00 AM
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I have just posted the start of my Bhutan trip (more to come) and hope it will give you some more perspective!
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Old May 9th, 2017, 05:53 PM
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Victoria, I am enjoying your trip reports as well as reading others.

Yes trip reports are very helpful. I just realized that Bhutan even more expensive than I thought, so we would not be able to afford to stay longer than 7-8 days based on $475 pp/night (looking at your prices with upgrades) anyway.

I have a question on amount and difficulties of hiking. We like hiking, and can walk for a relatively long time, however lately, I have a very difficult time walking up.
How much will we be able to see without strenuous hiking? I know there is a difficult hike to the Tiger Nest, which I am hoping to make at least up to cafeteria. But I am wondering about other places.
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Old May 9th, 2017, 06:49 PM
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To me, the best part of visiting Bhutan, aside from the amazing scenery, was attending a couple of festivals. I did very little hiking, aside from the trek to the viewpoint for Tiger's Nest (it was being rebuilt after a fire when I was there). There are some flat areas, and I certainly don't think you have to hike the appreciate the country.
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Old May 10th, 2017, 02:56 AM
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Hey , I'm from India and went to Bhutan recently . Bhutan is an amazing country with great people - its beautiful and mythical. Hiking to Tiger's Nest is not as difficult as most forums and articles make it sound. However getting in and out of the country is a little tedious since there is only one airline that functions only a few times a week. If you manage to get a Paro-Delhi flight, then doing the Golden Triangle is definitely a possibility. Which month are you looking at for travel? India can get really hot in summers.

Anyways if you are travellng to Bhutan - please read this quick guide on what to keep in mind before going there:

https://mewanderlost.com/2017/05/08/...ing-to-bhutan/
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Old May 10th, 2017, 06:33 AM
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Helen63, you mentioned visiting during festival time. One festival that comes to mind is the Camel Fair in Pushkar, which falls on the first full moon after Diwali, also known as Kartik Purnima. The date for 2018 is November 23. I find that November is a good time for visiting India; the monsoons will have ended, it will not be as hot, and while it will still be (crazily) crowded it will be slightly less so than in the winter months. Pushkar would be a detour from Jaipur, which is one of the cities on the Golden Triangle. I hear it takes time to get there during the festival, but the pictures look crazy enough that I am beginning to contemplate spending my Thanksgiving shopping for camels.

The other festival I like - Ganesh Chathurthi - is during the monsoon months which tend to be humid and logistically challenging. There is Janmashtami which is interesting, again in the monsoons. Diwali tends to be more of a family affair, although Navratri and Dussehra which come ~ 3 weeks before Diwali can also be interesting for visitors.

Those are the Hindu festivals and holidays. Of course Indians will celebrate just about any holiday from other religions as well, they are looking for an excuse to party, especially in the cities - which in itself is not a bad thing I guess. (I am originally from India).
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Old May 10th, 2017, 07:10 AM
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@vipsha - the OP was asking about festivals in Bhutan, and has decided to visit Nepal instead of India.
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