Q: We are a family group of 6 to 10, aged 40 to 80 years, who would love to visit Bhutan for a week to 10 days. The sooner the better. What is the best time to visit in terms of weather? Your recommendations for three- or four-star hotels? Could we drive or hire a taxi? Please suggest a cost-effective tour plan. We are all vegetarians and we’ll be travelling from Bengaluru.

Marco Says: 

 Of course, the sooner the better. But I suggest that you go in April-May when the country experiences spring, and the weather is absolutely lovely. Also, an added bonus will be the jacaranda blossoms at Punakha Dzong, a postcard shot. Now, getting there is the issue. It’s best to fly from Bengaluru to Kolkata (return flights are as low as 8,000 approx.), and then, the following day, fly to Paro, either via Druk Air or Bhutan Airlines (return approx. 20,000 onwards). The good thing is that Indians don’t require a visa, but you will need permits. Those for Paro and Thimpu are easy, but for other places, you will need to get them from the immigration office.

A week in Bhutan will be comprehensive. Choose Paro, Thimpu and Punakha. I would suggest hiring a car as you will be flying in. The rates are affordable, and there are plenty of operators to choose from (RS Travels, PrePaidCar.com, AB Travel, etc.). Do visit the National Museum, Jangtsa Dumtseg Lhakhang (Buddhist temple) and Rinpung Dzong (monastery and fortress) in Paro. Paro Taktsang or the Tiger’s Nest, the famous cliff-side monastery, is nearby. But whether to trek up there or not, I leave up to you, considering the age range of the group. Thimpu is a little over an hour away. Don’t miss Tashichho Dzong, which houses the government. The Dechencholing Palace nearby is where the royal family lives. Also go to the Buddha Dordenma, and visit Changangkha Lhakhang perched on a ridge above the city to take in beautiful views. Head to Punakha, which is about three hours away, to see the Dzong, and go rafting on Mo Chhu if feeling adventurous. You will cross the beautiful Dochula Pass on the way.

Basic vegetarian food will not be a problem. Restaurants also serve Indian food. If you are keen to try the cuisine of the country, finding vegetarian options like ema datshi (the national dish) is easy. Thimpu stay options are Le Meridian (from 25,000) and Hotel Druk (from 9,000), breakfast included. In Paro, Naksel Boutique Hotel (from 12,000) is a good option, while in Punakha, you can try the Dhensa Boutique Resort (from 18,000).