Bhutan- Travel Plans

We have laid out our travel calendar for the year and have rough itinerary ready for two major trips we are taking and the one we are not taking.
We started off the year plotting a trip to Maldives all excited to touch two countries in one year we researched the island country and roped in a few friends to join us on the trip.
Timing of our leaves, money and the fact that we do not have scuba certification made us rethink the trip and we scrapped it. Instead we are now going to Goa to get our scuba certification. Over all a win and a certification to explore 70% of the world – under water.

Countries on our radar.

There are two countries that we wanted to visit next- Bhutan and Thailand. both of them are quite attractive and if you are based in southern India the prospects are even more bright. Bhutan due to its tourism policy is a country which might be high on people’s wishlist but it is almost never high on there to do list. An Indian passport enables us to travel to the country without the restriction of 200-250$ per day visa. Its more like walking in after getting a permit.

Final Choice

After a bit of research and talking to a Bhutani friend it was the most obvious choice. I had been thinking of sharing our plans as they are more or less final now. Skyscanner came up with this contest and again a great way to get an entry in. Did I tell you about the freebie sunsilk sent in for submitting this entry.

Transport

As always we started with flights. Bhutan has a precariously located airport in the city of Paro. Aj came up with and interesting fact. Only 8 pilots are qualified to land in the airport. That fact alone makes it sound both life threatening and exciting. Druk Air flies from Delhi and Kolkata in India to Paro.

Sharing a border and maintaining good relations(finally!) means a possibility of land crossing. you can enter Bhutan from Puentsholing which is 3 odd hours from Siliguri.

you would remember I talked about Kolkata and its amazing food. Getting to Siliguri from Hyderabad means train to Kolkata and then forward train, bus or flight from there. Call it our bad luck but we could not find a single flight which could facilitate easy transition form Kolkata to Siliguri. Trains again emerged as our transport of choice. We will reach the border crossing after two trains and a taxi from Hasimara with over 40 hours of travel. It might not sound exceptionally smart it actually is. How you ask.

With two flight and required airport transfers we barely save 12 hours that too if a bus would ply from Puentsholing to Thimphu at 3 pm. On the other hand flights mean over 5000 Rs for one way our current transport selection comes to Rs1500. And by taking a train on both sides we should be spending around 3000 per person instead of over 10000. If we were able to get any considerable time in Bhutan it might make sense to spend that much. Keeping costs low enables us to travel more.

Accomodation

We did search agoda and other sites for hostels but what we came to understand was that it is better if we search accommodation when we get there. Our budget is 500 for a double room with hot water. Do let us know if you have any recommendations.
Then it clicked maybe we can couch-surf. after browsing through the couch-surfing page for the country I am hopeful that we will be able to find a host or stay a night with our friend. If you have been to Bhutan and know someone who wouldn’t mind hosting two travelers please let us know.

Food

Food is never a major concern as long as I can get something vegetarian to eat. Brief research online was enough to assure me of tasty meals ahead on the trip. Its going to be Bhutani cuisine all the way.

Here’s the Google Excel which works great for us while planning our itinerary. Its completely free no strings attached.

Travel With Job

Now for the part which is tough for many. How do you make time for these travel and not run short of your leaves?
We are traveling from end of September to first week of October. By planning ahead and careful planning we get 10 days off for 5 leaves that we will be taking. We have already put in a word with our immediate supervisor.
We could have done the same at last moment too. Let me again outline the benefits of planning –
1. We are prepared. We know our dates and can track and use deals as soon as they are out because we have planned our trip.
2. Our senior knows when we are going and where. Not only that helps him to schedule work well it also allows us to schedule rest of the year better.
3. We know how much and when we are going to need money. Our saving and side income can be better organized.
4. we get to put out couch-surfing requests much earlier and have better chances of getting a host.

Thailand…?

Now the Thailand trip. It was an easy replacement for the Maldives trip. After doing our calculations and looking at the costs of scuba certification we found it to be too expensive for this year. Will we be able to do do it next year. We already have our sights on Chaddar trek and will be saving up for it after we get through the scuba certification.

As always I will let you know if I win anything.

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