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Rediscovering the Joy of a Road Travel—a Trip to Thimphu—the Capital City of Bhutan

Updated on January 23, 2020
Prantika Samanta profile image

Educated as a microbiologist, trained as an editor, a quintessential nomad soul grounded to the earth. Loves anything that touches her soul

An unforgettable journey to the beautiful capital city, Thimphu
An unforgettable journey to the beautiful capital city, Thimphu

Exciting road trips

If you are you looking for an unusual, unforgettable road trip in 2020, explore the Land of Thunder Dragon (called Druk Yul in Bhutanese) and witness the beauty it offers.

6 reasons why road trips in Bhutan are exciting

These are the perks of traveling by road in Bhutan:

1. Stop wherever exquisite beauty lures you

Enjoy the flexibility of stopping the car anywhere on the road and soak in the nature. Bhutan boasts rich flora, such as pines, spruces, firs, conifers, and cypresses.

2. Live in the moment

The beauty all around cannot be ignored. So, put aside all your thoughts and focus on the beauty and create memories.

3. Indulge in digital detoxification

Disconnect from electronics devices, such as Tab, mobile, or laptop and connect with nature, family, friends, or yourself.

5. Spark a conversation

Engage in an interesting conversation with the driver and the guide to know more about Bhutan, its culture, people, food, lifestyle, or legends. It's a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the bonds with family.

6. Taste the local food

Break for lunch, tea, or snacks in roadside restaurants and pamper your taste buds with the local food items. Try the red rice. Sitting for long hours may be difficult, it is better to take short breaks and stroll on the roadside and soak in the nature.

Bhutan—the Land of Happiness

Tucked in the mighty Himalayas, this tiny Asian country will leave a long-lasting impression in your mind, in terms of both beauty and serenity.

The country boasts lofty mountains, picturesque landscapes, and beautiful rivers. Bhutan is covered by thick forests. It has diverse landscapes, such as plains (with paddy fields), high mountains with steep bends, and deep valleys.

The Land of Happiness, Bhutan, is an ideal example of peace and happiness and scores high in Gross National Happiness (GNH).

The country is rich in vegetation and has successfully kept a check on its carbon footprint, thereby becoming a carbon negative country.

Towering mountains covered by thick vegetation and valleys
Towering mountains covered by thick vegetation and valleys
The green river, rolling hills, Dzong, the clear sky - looks like a fairyland
The green river, rolling hills, Dzong, the clear sky - looks like a fairyland
Stepped farming
Stepped farming

What type of traveling are you planning in 2020?

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The ethereal beauty of Bhutan entices travelers from all corners of the world, such as India, Canada, Australia, Korea, the US, and the different parts of Europe.

Trees in Thimphu
Trees in Thimphu
On a clear day, the snowy peaks can be viewed
On a clear day, the snowy peaks can be viewed
Thick vegetation and fall color
Thick vegetation and fall color
A beautiful river and forest
A beautiful river and forest
Various trees
Various trees
A pretty sunflower stands proudly blooming on the roadside
A pretty sunflower stands proudly blooming on the roadside
Long fern leaves
Long fern leaves

Drive to Thimphu from Phuentsholing

A road trip to Thimphu from Phuentsholing is almost a 5-hour (around) drive through the picturesque villages and towns, serpentine roads, rolling hills, and lush greenery.

Phuentsholing is Bhutan's border city towards India. It is Bhutan's second largest city after Thimphu. It is a busy commercial hub with markets, hotels and restaurants, monasteries, administrative buildings, and a central bus terminus.

Various places in Phuentsholing

Bhutan Gate
Bhutan Gate
Amo Chuu Crocodile Breeding Centre
Amo Chuu Crocodile Breeding Centre
Karbandi Monastery
Karbandi Monastery
Immigration Office remains closed on Saturday and Sunday and on other Bhutanese holidays.  Indians can enter Phuentsholing without permission; however, they need to seek permission from the Immigration Office in Phuentsholing to travel beyond it.
Immigration Office remains closed on Saturday and Sunday and on other Bhutanese holidays. Indians can enter Phuentsholing without permission; however, they need to seek permission from the Immigration Office in Phuentsholing to travel beyond it.
A major street of the city
A major street of the city
An open area with gym equipment. Enjoying the amazing view while exercising
An open area with gym equipment. Enjoying the amazing view while exercising
The panoramic vista of lush greenery
The panoramic vista of lush greenery

Enroute to Thimphu

The day dawned in the morning and before the city got busy, we drove past some of its beautiful places on our way to Thimphu.

Huge, rocky mountains
Huge, rocky mountains
Wide, clean roads
Wide, clean roads
A sign board displaying the name of the cities and distances up above the hill
A sign board displaying the name of the cities and distances up above the hill
Serenity prevails all around
Serenity prevails all around

Rinchending Checkpost

We reached Rinchending Checkpost to get the approval to enter only Thimphu and Paro. The validity of the permit spanned only for 7 days.

After the clearance, we drove for a while in search of a restaurant for breakfast. Meanwhile, we were away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the lush green surrounding with hills in the backdrop set our mood in the right tune.

What a sight to behold - a bridge, green mountains, wide road on sunny day
What a sight to behold - a bridge, green mountains, wide road on sunny day

Organic oranges on the roadside

We stopped to buy organically grown oranges from the fruit sellers on the roadside selling various fruits. Even though the oranges were expensive, we bought some as Bhutan is famous for tasty oranges. The oranges did not disappoint our taste buds.

Fruit sellers on the roadside

Toorsa Tea Garden—breakfast

We had our breakfast in a small, clean, beautiful, homely restaurant in the lap of the hills. The food was served hot and we relished it.

While our food was getting ready, we struck a conversation with the local people in the restaurant, who told us more about the Bhutanese culture and food. Their hospitality and warmth touched our heart.

On the way to the restaurant
On the way to the restaurant

Experience during the drive

We drove past small towns (Gedu), villages, picturesque landscapes, hills, waterfalls, rivers, prayer wheels, and stupas.

The serenity that each place offers reflects why the country scores high in the GNH Index.

We were spellbound by the spectacular beauty of the surrounding, the color of fall on the leaves, and the tranquility. We stopped our car quite a few times to soak in the nature and absorb the happiness from the surrounding.

Breathtaking views

Clouds moving from the deep valleys to the hills
Clouds moving from the deep valleys to the hills
On the roadside
On the roadside
Gedu
Gedu

Water-powered prayer wheels

We saw water-powered prayer wheels and our guide explained to us the mechanism behind the operation. The prayer wheel is turned by the water coming from the waterfalls.

Idyllic surrounding

After the scrumptious breakfast, our next phase of the journey commenced.

The serpentine roads are clean and well maintained. There are big boards on the road displaying the direction and distance.

A drive with the family on a sunny day ejoying the magnificent scenery is a bliss.

More and more stunning views

A wide road with lush greenery on its both sides
A wide road with lush greenery on its both sides
A solitary waterfall
A solitary waterfall
Rocky mountains
Rocky mountains
Each turn with a beautiful surprise
Each turn with a beautiful surprise
Afternoon sun washing the rocky mountains
Afternoon sun washing the rocky mountains

Wangkha—Lunch

After continuing the drive for a few more hours, we parked near a restaurant for lunch in Wangkha. We sat by the window overlooking the towering mountains.

The clear, blue sky; the beautiful scenery; the calmness of the surrounding; and the cool breeze eliminated the fatigue and filled our minds with happiness.

Beautiful sceneries

Greenery all around
Greenery all around
Rocky mountains
Rocky mountains

Crossroad—left road towards Paro and straight road towards Thimphu

We reached a crossroad from where one road has headed to Paro while the other to Thimphu.

Either take left and enter Paro or drive straight to enter Thimphu
Either take left and enter Paro or drive straight to enter Thimphu

Thimphu—the capital city of Bhutan

We entered the beautiful capital city, Thimphu, in the late afternoon through a magnificent gate, which is an ideal example of Bhutanese architecture and reflects its rich heritage and culture .

The capital city is surrounded by lofty mountains and a river called Wang Chuu or Thimphu Chuu flows through it. Thimphu is one of the world's high altitude capital cities (around 2,330 meters) and does not have any airport. The only international airport of the country is in Paro.

We meandered through the capital city to the hotel near Clock Tower Square and with that, our epic drive to Thimphu concluded.

The magnificent gate to enter Thimphu
The magnificent gate to enter Thimphu
A prayer wheel adjacent to the gate
A prayer wheel adjacent to the gate
Distance and direction of different places displayed
Distance and direction of different places displayed
A city tour
A city tour
Another gate within the city
Another gate within the city
View of the city close to Clock Tower Square
View of the city close to Clock Tower Square
Night view of a part of the city
Night view of a part of the city

8 Things to Carry During Your Road Trip

1. Carry adequate quantity of drinking water.

2. Keep chocolates, candies, and fruits handy.

3. Carry a high-quality camera.

4. Carry tissue papers, a sanitizer, a liquid soap, or paper soap strips.

5. Keep sanitary napkins handy.

6. Take your medicines on time as prescribed by the physician.

7. Carry a small notebook and a pen to note down the names of places, any important information shared by your diver or guide, or any other interesting information.

8. Keep your sunglasses, lip balm, and moisturizer handy.

A
Phuentsholing:
Phuentsholing, Bhutan

get directions

B
Thimphu, Bhutan:
Thimphu, Bhutan

get directions

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Prantika Samanta

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    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      8 hours ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you, Abitha. It is one of my memorable road trips. The scenery and serenity win the hearts of the travelers. Park the car on the roadside and soak in the nature, breath in the fresh air, and enjoy the serenity and beauty. Try to enter from Phuentsholing and then drive to Thimphu. You will definitely enjoy your road trip very much.

    • Abitha Deepak profile image

      Abitha 

      26 hours ago from Chennai, Tamilnadu

      Such breathtaking views so delightfully captured! That sure must have been one beautiful road trip!

    • profile image

      Arpita 

      2 days ago

      Well written Prantika...your tips and suggestions are of great value to tourists planning to visit Bhutan.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      6 days ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much, Raymond. for visiting my hub. Glad to know that you have liked it. Bhutan is a fantastic place and that is the reason the photos are beautiful,

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      6 days ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you Peggy for visiting my hub. Bhutan is rich in vegetation and we had visited Taikin Preserve and we enjoyed the nature walk there. The preserve houses various trees and plants. The highlight of our vacation was visiting the preserve.

    • raymondphilippe profile image

      Raymond Philippe 

      6 days ago from The Netherlands

      What a beautiful pictures from a magical place! I enjoyed reading your hub.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 days ago from Houston, Texas

      Your photos and descriptions of Bhutan are gorgeous and enticing. The fact of it being a carbon-neutral country is something other countries should try and achieve. By looking at the map, it appears that there are several large national parks in Bhutan. I am a lover of national parks! It is great that lands are being set aside for that purpose in Bhutan. Thanks for writing this beautiful travelogue.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      8 days ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much, Vidya. Bhutan is indeed a beautiful place and one of the favored destinations of the travelers around the world. Try to accommodate this place in your bucket list and travel to Bhutan.

    • Vidya21 profile image

      Vidya21 

      9 days ago

      Stunning snapshots, the breathtaking views were treat to my eyes. Beautiful place indeed! Thanks for the sharing your journey.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      10 days ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much, Devika. Bhutan is a beautiful place and a favored destination. You can plan a vacation and if you love trekking or hiking, it's an ideal place for you. A wonderful place to enjoy holidays with family and friends.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      10 days ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much, Chitrangada. Glad to know that you have liked the term "digital detoxification." Try to enter Bhutan through Phuentsholing and then enjoy the drive to Thimphu, which is a treat to the eyes. You can see the clouds moving from the valley to the mountains, as if they are returning home from work. Nature has been kind and generous to Bhutan, it is green all around.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      10 days ago from Kolkata, India

      You are welcome, Hemamala.

    • Hema Mala profile image

      Hemamala B 

      11 days ago from Karnataka, South India

      Dear Mrs.Prantika,

      Thank you very much for additional information . So kind if you.

      Regards

      Hemamala Mysore

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      12 days ago from New Delhi, India

      An excellent article about Bhutan, with beautiful pictures and information.

      Bhutan looks like a wonderful place and thanks for sharing the interesting details about the people, food and lifestyle.

      I would love to visit it some day.

      Your tips to keep in mind for a road trip, is quite useful. Liked the term, digital detoxification.

      Thanks for sharing this well written article.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      12 days ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      You have beautiful images and an interesting destination to travel to. In details and sounds an idea for me.

    • nitinkhaire profile image

      Nitin Khaire 

      13 days ago from Mumbai

      Wow. Prantika, you have done it again. Your article is so engrossing and the images are mesmerizing.

      I liked the video clip with the upbeat music in the background.

      The images are so good.

      Thank you so much for this visual treat.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      13 days ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much, Linda. glad to know that you have liked my article. I was mesmerized looking at the beauty and the serenity the country offers. Trekking, nature walking, hiking, slow traveling anything you can choose to do to make your holiday in Bhutan a memorable one.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      13 days ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much, Hemamala. During my recent visit to Bhutan, I have seen many travelers from different parts of India have chosen Bhutan for vacation. Both Bhutanese and Indian currency have same value. You will get Indian thalis as well as other Indian food. Bhutanese are fond of chilies, so remember to inform your requirement while placing the order. Also, after placing the order, you need to wait for sometime as the food is freshly cooked there. Try to enter through Phuentsholing.You can go from Bagdogra. No permission required to visit Phuentsholing. The Immigration office remains closed on Saturday and Sunday and on any other Bhutanese holidays. Hope this might help you plan your tour. If you want to know anything more about the trip, please let me know, I will try to help you as much as I can.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      2 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much, Liza. I was spellbound not only by the beautiful landscapes but also by the roads, people, architecture of the buildings. This trip is a memorable one and I will cherish its memories. If you love trekking, it is a must in your bucket list for 2020. It is also an ideal destination for other kind of travelers. If possible, plan a holiday in Bhutan with family or friends. You will enjoy the vacation thoroughly.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      2 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much, Devika. Bhutan is indeed a beautiful place and a preferred holiday destination for many travelers all around the globe. After visiting there, it is easy to understand why it is one of the happiest countries in the world. Rivers, mountains, valleys, and the people there will win your heart.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This was a very enjoyable article to read. I loved looking at your photos and learning about Bhutan. Thank you for sharing the information.

    • profile image

      Hemamala B 

      2 weeks ago

      Hello Ms, Prantika,

      I loved reading this article..wonderful narration with many pictures too. Bhutan is already in my travel list for 2020. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    • lizmalay profile image

      Liza 

      2 weeks ago from USA

      The best thing about reading other people's hub is you feel you were there! Prantika your article was marvelous. I don't know if I will visit Bhutan. However, your comprehensive review of the places you've visited helping me to learn about this beautiful country. Plus, the images you shared are stunning. Thank you for sharing your wonderful tour of Bhutan.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      2 weeks ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      This is a beautiful place and sounds a great idea for traveling and sight seeing. Your photos are amazing!

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      2 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much. Great to know that you have visited the place quite a few times. It was my first visit and our family vacation in Bhutan was brief. We stayed for a day in Thimphu as well as other places in Bhutan for a day. So, I could not notice it in my first visit. If I go to Bhutan again, I will keep this in my mind.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      2 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much, Prateek. The drive to Thimphu was a memorable one because you can witness the generosity of nature in Bhutan. Every turn reveals a new story. The wide roads, waterfalls, mix vegetation, greenery, stupas, prayer wheels, all add to the beauty of the place, making it a preferred vacation destination.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      2 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much, Sumit. I am a huge fan of your writing as you use the words appropriately. You have earlier worked as a travel guide and the your immense love for traveling is evident in your comment. The land boasts picturesque landscapes and we had to stop the car frequently as each bend has a new story to tell. Try out the local food. Red rice is their staple food. However, Indian thalis or other Indian food are also available. To sum up, it was a brief stay in a peaceful land.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      2 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much, Mahesh. I loved my vacation in Bhutan. The enchanting beauty of Bhutan amazed me very much. The people are warm and friendly. It was a wonderful trip filled with fun and joy. The road trip is exciting.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      2 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much, Murali. You can try out several activities. There is happiness and peace all around. The natural beauty never fails to amaze its travelers. Try out the local food but Bhutanese use chilies and cheese generously, so let the restaurant know your requirements while placing the order for food.

    • emge profile image

      MG Singh 

      2 weeks ago from Singapore

      I have been to Thimphu at least 5/6 times. Nice place and well represented in the article. But I wonder if you noticed an undercurrent of distrust between the Nepali majority and local population( inhabitants).

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      2 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you so much, Natasha. The place is beautiful and naturally the photos are beautiful. The landscapes are picturesque. Whether you enter Thimphu from Paro or Phuentsholing, the scenery is beautiful. But I found the Phuentsholing-Thimphu drive a special one.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      2 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Bhutan is a beautiful place and generously blessed by nature. The land has something for all types of travelers. If you like trekking or hiking, you must visit the place. Slow travelers or nature lovers also find the place interesting. The country has rich culture and heritage. The people there are peace lovers and you can feel the happiness all around.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      2 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      The place is beautiful and a must visit place. Thank you for liking the article.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      2 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      I visited Bhutan last November with my family. It was mid November and the winter had just commenced. Nature has been really kind to the country and you can witness its generosity throughout the country. Travelers around the globe prefer to visit this destination. If you are into trekking, the land is going to amaze you. You can take a nature walk and soak in the nature. The country is also culturally rich and the people are warm and gentle. You will love the place.

    • Prantika Samanta profile imageAUTHOR

      Prantika Samanta 

      2 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

      Thank you, Suchismita. Bhutan is beautiful and one of the peaceful countries of the world. A tiny country has so much to offer other than its natural beauty. It is greenery all around and has wide roads. No honking, pedestrians once reach the zebra crossing, the vehicles stop to give them way. And this is happening without any traffic signal. Not much use of mobile phones until and unless it is badly needed. There is happiness all around. Enter Bhutan through Phuentsholing, take the permit, and drive to Thimphu. You will love it.

    • PrateekJain24 profile image

      Prateek Jain 

      2 weeks ago from Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh

      Such an amazing artilce with wonderful images, well I was not aware of so much about the capital of Bhutan. But after reading your article I came to know very mu h information about it. Also the location are very exciting to explore and spend holidays there. Again the eye catching part is wonderful images. You have given so much insight about the place. Thank you for this informative article mam. You always serve some unique and fresh content. Looking forward for your next article.

    • Sumit273 profile image

      Sumit Chakrabarti 

      2 weeks ago from Kolkata

      This article is just like a storybook with images of stunning landscapes, serpentine roads, crystal clear river, lush green vegetation, and quaint temples. A perfect representation of one of the world's most peaceful and amazing countries Bhutan. On top of it, the fluid language and apt illustrations have portrayed Thimpu so wonderfully that you can't get enough of it. A wonderful piece of travel writing and I am a big fan!

    • profile image

      Mahesh Chandra Gaur 

      2 weeks ago

      Hi Prantika, your article is nicely represented and is full of picturesque details. The vivid description of places adds to its beauty.

    • hmkrishna profile image

      Halemane Muralikrishna 

      2 weeks ago from South India

      Hi Ms Prantika, your article is very nice, full of information, illustrated beautifully and is guide to travellers. There are different varieties of material suitable for the tastes of different types of people.

    • Natasha Tungare profile image

      Natasha Tungare 

      2 weeks ago from India

      The photos are so so beautiful, I felt like I am actually present there. Truly loved this piece!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      2 weeks ago from UK

      This is a detailed article with interesting photos. You have really put Bhutan on the map for road trips.

    • profile image

      Saurav Samanta 

      2 weeks ago

      Wonderful article and full of Information. Best one as of today.

    • Shing Araya profile image

      Shing Araya 

      2 weeks ago from Cebu, Philippines

      I have never been to Bhutan, and the moment I read this, I wanted to explore there

    • Suchismita pradhan profile image

      Suchismita Pradhan 

      2 weeks ago from India

      This is a very interesting and well-illustrated article with jaw-dropping images. Your article lures your readers to visit this mesmerizing beauty. I hope someday I could make it.

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