Bhutan, officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a small landlocked country in the eastern end of the Himalayas, located between the Tibet Autonomous Region of China (north) and India (south, east, and west). To the west, it is separated from Nepal by the Indian state of Sikkim, while further south it is separated from Bangladesh by the Indian states of Assam and West Bengal. Known for its unspoiled environments and harmonious society, Bhutan is thereby called "The Last Shangrila". Its capital and largest city is Thimphu.
What to see & do
Most of the attractions in Bhutan are part of cultural tours. Although Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue, and Jakar are popular destinations, the unexplored region of Zhemgang – which is considered as a bird’s paradise and offers great views of the wildlife – and Eastern Bhutan are also now open for tourism opportunities. Some of the must-visit spots in Bhutan include Taktsang Monastery (Tiger's Nest), one of the world’s most important Buddhist sites and also the most recognised and visited monument in the country; Kurje Lhakhang temple, which was built around a cave with a body print of Guru Rinpoche embedded in the wall; Tashichho Dzong, a Buddhist monastery and fortress on the northern edge of the city of Thimpu; and national parks like Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, TrumshingLa National Park, Royal Manas National, Jigme Dorji National Park, Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary, and Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary.
How to get around within Bhutan
Before travelling around, one must secure a route permit. This is required to be presented at check posts in most districts east and north of Thimphu. The route permits are processed by your local tour operator on applying for your visa and are issued by the immigration office in Thimphu (northern end of Norzin Lam). Once you secured your route permit, you can get around as you please. You should know that the roads that cross Bhutan are full of twists, turns, and steep inclines, but are generally very well-maintained and safe. It’s better to utilise the vehicle and driver provided by your local tour operator
during your stay, as compared to taking the local and inter-district bus services that are not exactly comfortable and have infrequent stops. Hitchhiking in Bhutan is a very common way to get around, although you’ll have to flag down a passing vehicle, instead of just the normal thumb in the air symbol (which is not recognised in the country) in order to get one to stop.
How to get there
Prior to scheduling your trip to Bhutan, you must know that all tourists, except nationals of Bangladesh, India, and Maldives, must obtain visa first and upon issuance of visa must book their travel through a local licenced tour operator (or international partner). The only entry point to Bhutan by air is via Paro International Airport, which is located southwest of the country and served only by the country's flag carrier Druk Air. At present, the two domestic airports that serve Bhutan, Yongphulla Airport and Bathpalathang Airport, are both not in operation; and Gelephu Airport, which was inaugurated in October 2012, hasn’t established scheduled operations due to its lack of certification from the Department of Civil Aviation of Bhutan. You can also opt to fly to Bagdogra Airport, which serves the city of Siliguri in the neighbouring Indian state of West Bengal. It is a four-hour drive from the Bhutanese border town of Phuentsholing. Other ways of getting in are by car, bus, and train, although the latter can only be done via India since there are no railways in Bhutan.
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