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Johor Kaki Bhutan Thimphu Paro Itinerary · 4 Days 3 Nights

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✍️ 26 Dec 2023. My visit to Bhutan was a too short three nights in Thimphu and Paro, but it was a fascinating introduction to the interesting Himalayan kingdom, it's unique cuisine, places, people and culture.

This is just the summary itinerary. For each location, I am writing a detailed article, so I am updating this post over time. Just follow the links.

Day 1  · 19 Dec Tues

We flew into Paro International Airport, Bhutan with Drukair (Royal Bhutan Airlines) Airbus A319 aircraft from Bangkok with a 30 minute stopover at Bagdogra Airport in India (Sikkim province). Total flight time was slightly over three hours.

Drukair is a comfortable airline to fly.

In-flight service was professional, as good as the best that I've experienced in other airlines. 

View of the Himalayas on the 30 minute leg from Bagdogra to Paro. To get this view, sit on the left side of the plane (flying into Paro).

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We arrived at Paro Airport at 11:30am via flight KB131.

My detailed article on my experience with Drukair 👈 click

Paro International Airport is not big, but it is one of the most beautiful that I've been. Immigration clearance was professional and efficient. Visa is required.

Paro has the most beautiful baggage claim area that I've seen. In the middle is a model of a Dzhong. The historic fortress-monasteries were built in the 17th century to administer regions across Bhutan.

From Paro we drove about 40 km to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. The road is well paved and well maintained. Not a single pothole anywhere along the whole stretch of mountain road. There was also no toll collection.

We paused frequently for photos because I couldn't resist the beautiful valleys, streams, rice fields, monuments, etc.

Welcome to Thimphu, capital city of the Kingdom of Bhutan.

Thimphu capital city of Bhutan.

My first meal in Bhutan was at Chuningding Food in Thimphu. It was a tomza - it was a convenience food pack with rice and side dishes wrapped in banana leaf, aluminium foil and cloth. It was delicious and I quickly learned that Bhutanese like their food spicy hot, they use a lot of cheese, and their air dried pork is my favourite.

My detailed article on the tomza 👈 click

Then, I was whisked to the iconic Buddha Dordenma statue.

Buddha Dordenma statue at the top of around 290 steps.

The 51.51 metre tall Buddha Dordenma statue was consecrated in 2015 to commemorate the Sixtieth birthday of Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the fourth hereditary king of Bhutan.

Also known as Buddha Point, this is my detailed article on the Buddha Dordenma statue 👈 click

View of Thimphu city as we drove down from the Buddha Dordenma statue. No skyscrapers in Thimphu.

Sightseeing around Thimphu town. This is the Clock Tower Square.

There are no electric traffic lights in the whole of Bhutan. Only human traffic control. Don't fool around, you can see and feel the seriousness in the policeman's razor sharp, watchful gaze.

Checked in at Zhiwaling Ascent Hotel 4 ⭐.

Not a big or complicated place. I like it as it is very clean and the view is beautiful. I like places with a countryside feel.

The mountain and greenery backdrop was simply amazing and therapeutic.

The simple but comfortable dining area.


Thimphu by night.

For supper, we went out to town to try Chick A Zaa, a local version of Western style fried chicken.

My detailed article on Chick A Zaa 👈 click

We came back to the Buddha Dordenma statue at night.

Buddha Dordenma statue by night with the moon and Saturn above.

My detailed article on Buddha Dordenma statue 👈 click

Day 2  ·  20 Dec Weds

Came back to the Buddha Dordenma statue to catch the sunrise. I came here three times within 24 hours. Grateful that my guides accommodated my quirkiness 😂

There was an aura around the Buddha Dordenma statue at daybreak.

After visiting the Buddha Dordenma statue, we had breakfast at Zombala Restaurant, the kind of gritty place where locals go for simple, affordable, staples and comfort dishes.

Price per serving ranges from Nu100 - Nu200 (USD1.20 - USD2.50 ).

We shared simple dishes like noodles, rice and dumplings (known as Momo here).

Bhutanese style dumplings have skin of buckwheat flour and filled with minced pork or chicken, or just shredded vegetables with cheese.

Enjoyed with chili paste. Bhutanese like their food spicy hot and have a high tolerance for spicy pain.

I took a Bhutanese cooking class. Chef Diki showed me how to prepare five Bhutanese dishes. Chef Diki is the owner of The Musk Restaurant at Clock Tower Square and also a catering firm known as Diki's Setup.

My detailed article on Bhutanese cooking class by Diki 👈 click

Next stop, Kelzhang Handicraft to witness the whole process of traditional handwoven cloth production from dying, weaving to sale at the shop.

The white cotton yarn are dyed with natural colours from boiled flowers, fruits, nuts, etc.

The intricate patterns are handwoven. The most elaborate patterns can take up to one year to weave.

Jungshi handmade paper factory is the last surviving traditional paper maker in Bhutan now.

The paper is made from tree bark which is soaked, boiled, and pulped. The pulp with a starchy binder is sieved into thin sheets of pulp which are heat dried into sheets of paper.

My detailed article on Jungshi handmade paper 👈 click

Nado Poizokhang incense factory.

Fragrant sandalwood, juniper, spices and many other natural ingredients are pulped, then coloured, rolled into long strings, cut to incense stick length, and packed. 

All processes are by hand and can be observed at the factory except for the pulping part which is by machine now. In the old days, even pulping was done manually with a stone miller (like milling flour).

My detailed article on Nado Poizokhang incense making factory 👈 click


Checking out some hangouts around the Clock Tower. Tower Cafe is popular among young Bhutanese for coffee, fried instant noodles, and Western style bites like burgers, fries and cakes.

Day 3  · 21 Dec Thurs

Departed Zhiwaling Ascent 4 ⭐ at 6am for Paro. We took the 40 km drive from Thimphu to Paro.

Then, had a heavy traditional Bhutanese breakfast to store up enough energy for the average 5 hour round trek at the Tiger's Nest Monastery with is perched on a cliff face 3,120 metres high.

In the end, we took 7 hours for the round trek as I stopped frequently for photos.

My article on climbing the Tiger's Nest 👈 click 

Night @ Zhiwaling Heritage 5 ⭐ is one of the most unique and beautiful hotels that I have ever been.

The entire hotel is rich with ornate Bhutanese traditional carvings and art.

Room was huge and complete with all modern 5 ⭐ hotel amenities.

For dinner at Zhiwa Ling Heritage Hotel, I opted for the Bhutanese set.

Day 4  · 22 Dec Fri

I wanted a Bhutanese breakfast at Zhiwaling Heritage Hotel but buckwheat pancake was the closest they could give me 🤭

Not an issue, as we already arranged brunch at Chencho Farm Stay. So we had a sumptuous and scrumptious traditional Bhutanese meal right after a light Western breakfast.

Burp 🤭

My detailed article on Chencho Farm Stay where I experienced authentic Bhutanese hot stone bath, meal and traditional Bhutanese clothes.

Dropped by CSI (Cottage & Small Industry) market in Paro town for local products.

The local fruit, vegetable, rice and meat market. I didn't see any fish been sold.

Paro Dzhong is still the most imposing building in Paro town for the last 400 years.

Dzhongs were fortresses built in the 17th century during the time of Ngawang Namgyal, to control the regions of a unified Bhutan. Today, Dzhongs still serve as government offices and often homes to monasteries as well.

Paro International Airport, high altitude, short runway surrounded by hills. Only specially qualified pilots can fly from Paro.

Bidding farewell to my guides Sonam (left) and Kencho. Thanks for the great time together guys.

Departed Paro at 16:20pm via KB130. It is an Airbus A319. No airbridge. We walked to the aircraft and boarded the plane via the stairs.

Good bye beautiful Bhutan. That's the Himalayas in the background (but not Everest among the peaks here). To get this view, sit on the right when flying out of Paro.

The thunder dragon flew into Bangkok on a clear night.

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Written by Tony Boey on 26 Dec 2023

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic summary of your Bhutan trip. Very comprehensive and interesting. Thanks, Johor Kaki for the beautiful sharing. ( Regards from Pn Chong L H)


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