Paro Airport, the only airport in Bhutan is located in Paro. This valley is one of the most populated areas in the country. The valley contains a wealth of attractions and requires a few days to be properly explored. The elegant and perfectly symmetrical Rinpung Dzong looks after the religious and secular activities in the valley. Behind Rinpung Dzong, on a high hillside is the castle shaped Ta Dzong - a watch tower built in 1651 to defend Bhutan from Tibetan invasions. This Dzong houses the National Museum since 1967.
Thimphu is perhaps the most unusual capital city in the world. The Tashichho Dzong is the most prominent landmark situated near the Wang Chhu River and it houses the throne room of the King of Bhutan. During the summer months, the monk body led by His Holiness, the Je Khenpo, makes its home in the Dzong.The National Library holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts and contains arguably the best collection of religious and historical literature in the Himalayas. Some of the other places of interest are the Thangka Painting School, the Indigenous Hospital, the Memorial Chorten built in memory of the third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in 1974.
The road from Simtokha winds into pine forests and through small villages for 20 kilometers and then opens miraculously onto the northern ridge of the mountains of the mountains. Dochula Pass at 10,500 feet gives one of the most spectacular views of the Himalayas.
This is the last town on the highway before entering Central Bhutan. Sitting on the top of a hill the formidable Dzong is the town's most visible features. In the 17th century Wangdue played a critical role in unifying western, central and southern Bhutan. The town itself is little more than an enlarged village with well-provided shops and hotels.
The road from Wangdue to Trongsa is one of the prettiest in Bhutan passing streams, forests and villages before climbing the Pelela Pass on the Black Mountain ranges in to the Trongsa valley. South of the highway is the Gangtey Gompa an old monastery dating from the 17th century. A few kilometers past the Gompa is the village of Phobjikha - one of the winter homes of the Black Necked Cranes who migrate to Bhutan from Central Asia to pass the winters in lower climes.
This town is located in the center of Bhutan. The Royal Family has strong links with Trongsa. Both the first and the second king ruled the kingdom from Trongsa's ancient Dzong. The Crown Prince of Bhutan normally holds the position of Trongsa Penlop prior to ascending the throne.
The valleys of Trongsa and Bumthang are separated by Yutola Pass (Alt 11,500ft) . Bumthang has an individuality that separates it from all other regions. Composed of four smaller valleys, the deeply spiritual region of Bumthang is shrouded in religious legend.
Mongar like Trashigang further east, is built on the side of a hill because valleys in Eastern Bhutan are too narrow for towns to develop on the valley floor. Mongar Dzong is modern compared to other Dzongs in the kingdom. Lhuentse is 77 kilometers from Mongar and is one of the most isolated districts in Bhutan. The landscape is spectacular with stark cliffs and gorges and dense coniferous forests. The region is notably famous for its weavers and special textiles and fabrics, generally considered to be the best in the country. The Kurtoe region of Lhuentse is also the ancestral home of the Royal dynasty.
The town of Trashigang is high up on a mountain. The town remains the center of religious and secular activity in the east and is a growing commercial center. The 17th century Dzong is built on the top of a cliff on the edge of town. Trashigang is also used as the market place of the nomadic people of Merak and Sakteng who are known for their exceptionally sharp features and for their costumes which are brightly colored and different from customary Bhutanese clothing.
The road from Trashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar was completed in the early 1960s and enables the eastern half of the country to access the benefit from the trade in the south as well as providing a border crossing to India. It is possible to exit Bhutan and drive from Samdrup Jongkhar to Phuentsholing via the Indian territories of Assam and West Bengal.The journey from Trashigang passes through Kanglung, a small hamlet where Bhutan's only college, Sherubtse or Peak of Knowledge is located. Further south along the road is Khaling where one can visit a weaving center and a school for the blind. Pemagatshel is an independent district with its own dzong. The road descends fairly abruptly through thick jungle before arriving at Samdrup Jongkhar. This town is small and bustling and acts as a commercial hub and entry and exit point in the southeast.Phuentsholing is the southwest is a border town and can be used as an exit point from Bhutan.
The mode of transport within Bhutan is by motor vehicles only. There are no domestic airlines and trains. However, motor roads are well maintained and smooth and connect all major sightseeing places. The mountainous terrain and winding roads restrict the average speed of vehicles to less than about 40km/hour.
|PHUENTSHOLING||BAGDORA (INDIA)||170||4 hrs|
|THIMPHU||WANGDUE PHODRANG||70||3 hrs|
|THIMPHU||PUNAKHA||77||3 hrs 15 min|
|PUNAKHA||WANGDUE PHODRANG||13||45 min|
|WANGDUE PHODRANG||TRONGSA||129||4 hrs 30 min|
|TRONGSA||BUMTHANG||68||2 hrs 30 min|
|TRASHIGANG||CHORTEN KORA||52||1 hr 30 min|
|TRASHIGANG||SAMDRUP JONGKHAR||180||6 hrs|
|SAMDRUP JONGKHAR||GAUHATI (INDIA)||110||3 hrs|
|SAMDRUP JONGKHAR||PHUENTSHOLING||380||9 hrs 30 min|