Bhutan Road Trip – Phuentsholing to Thimphu (165 KMs)
We have already entered Phuentsholing in Bhutan and have completed the tourist permit formalities as per our schedule. The only permit pending was for our cars which would not take much time. We were eagerly waiting for our onward journey to drive our vehicles in another country. On next day, our target was to enjoy the journey till Thimphu. The drive through Himalayas in itself is sightseeing where at every juncture nature throw on us its abundance of beauty that fills us with awe. The route set for the journey was straight forward.
Phuentsholing – Gedu – Chhukha – Chapcha – Khasakha – Thimphu
Morning at Phuentsholing
We woke up early in the morning and enjoyed the surrounding area near hotel. Since tourist permit were already in place we set off towards RTO to apply for vehicle permit for our cars. In the meanwhile others started exploring the beautiful and calm Pheuntsholing. The city has its own sense of calmness, discipline, and cleanliness. There is a lot to learn from them. The roads, streets, monasteries, temple, and parks were well maintained and very clean. Within an hour vehicle permit was done and we were all set to roam around in the land of thunder dragon.
A junction at Phuentsholing
Beautiful drive to Thimphu
It was a beautiful sunny day with clear blue sky adding that additional awe to the journey. We started @ 12:30 p.m. from Phuentsholing with trip meter at 1760 KM. Although distance from Phuentsholing to Thimphu is approximately 170 KM’s but it takes anywhere around 6 to 7 hours to complete the journey. It’s not because of poor road conditions but because of mellowness of drivers and numerous stop over to enjoy the infinite beauty.
Just after crossing 5 KM’s from town the road climbs up through steep gradient to Richending, where at Check Post permit to enter Bhutan are checked and stamped by the Police. Our guide has the custody of permit of all members and got everything done on our behalf. The view of plains from this point was awesome and this was the first time that we were looking at our own country from another from land. It was altogether a different feeling. After clearing the papers we drove along the highway through various twist and turns with few hamlets along the way. From Gedu onwards the vistas of Himalaya are bit different with tropical jungles, spectacular landscapes, beautiful waterfalls, small villages, rivers, and a few temples and monasteries. Once we reached top the weather also became pleasant and there was a drizzle as well for a while. At one stretch we drove through thick cloud as well.
Driving in Bhutan is very relaxing as everyone follows traffic rules and is disciplined with no honking. There are a plenty of shops in the middle of the journey for getting snacks and stretching legs. We took a halt at 2:30 p.m. for lunch and enjoyed the buffet at Bhutanese restaurant. The best part that one will observe is uniformity in the architectural structures be it a small house or an official building. They look so organised and amazing. Another beautiful aspect while travelling in Bhutan is the prayer flags flattering at regular interval that delivers a message of peace and spirituality.
Thereafter, the drive was a combination of upward and downward drive till Chapcha from where the road descends down and follows the river till the confluence of Paro and Thimphu River at Chunzom where again we went through a check post. In between, we took a halt near waterfall and relaxed by its side with a backdrop of cascading water. At few stretches the road were narrow and it isn’t a hassle to drive smoothly in Bhutan. Largely roads were in good conditions and are maintained by Indian Army. From this junction the left road leads to Paro and the main road continues alongside the river to Thimphu. We continued our onward journey and entered Thimphu @ 7:30 p.m. We checked into our hotel “Gyelsa Boutique” in the heart of Thimphu. We covered 165 KM’s during the day in 7 hours but we never felt tired and enjoyed the journey that was indeed very refreshing!
Confluence of Paro and Thimphu River