Bhutan – The happiest country in the world!

Bhutan makes you happy. If you are in the happiest country in the world,  you are bound to feel happy. It is the only country in the world that measures GNH(Gross National  Happiness)  and focuses on spiritual and materialistic development – hand in hand.
Bhutan: Happy and blessed!
Bhutan was never on the bucketlist. I went to Bhutan when I was single,  and the bucketlist did not even exist then. My first foreign destination- Bhutan! It was a college trip, which got together eight random beings from class, who had barely interacted with each other over the last two years.
All so emotional….
I don’t have many pictures of the trip and my memory has never been my strongest asset. This write up is short and the picture quality is not great. All pictures were clicked with a point and shoot having a 4 mega pixel zoom.Back in 2006, the now ‘dated’ camera was then, our most priced possession. Having the point and shoot made us, to an extent, feel that we have ‘arrived in life’! Faded memories and below average pictures, yet I know this will be amongst my fondest posts ever.

Bhutan: Attempts with the point and shoot camera
No stamp on the passport!
Bhutan was my first trip, where I crossed the Indian border. The passport was never stamped! In fact, the passport wasn’t needed either. No prior planning and visa application. Considering that the Indian passport does not let us pick up our bags and cross borders in a whiff, this was a welcome change. All that we Indians needed was an Indian identification from a government authority, and we could cross though the border after filling in some paper work.Whenever it comes to paper work, I outsource it to the most reliable person in the group and merrily bail out. My ‘reliable friend’ in the group was head over heels with a lovely local lady who stood in line right before us. His charm worked – the ‘lovely lady’ helped us with the entire process. Till date, we remember her as ‘My Sassy Girl’!


Bhutan: Us and ‘My Sassy Girl’

Five days – short and sweet…
As we were missing classes and bunking lectures, the trip could not have been more than five days. We did some research and decided that we would be visiting the following places: Thimpu (Dochula Pass), Punakha, Paro and Wangdue.

Racking my brains….
Here is what I remember of the above locations:

Thimpu: The capital had lots of cheap hotels. We were here in March – it was spring time. Yet, we felt the need to have a heater in the room. The Himalayas do add a chill factor to the wind, more so, when it rains.
We had heard that Thimpu has a ‘rocking nightlife’. At 10 pm on a wet spring night, we were ready to hit the bars, just to realise that they close at 11:30 pm. As we were a group of eight, a small pub owner agreed to keep the pub open until we continued to order drinks – it was a long and profitable night for him, which got over at 3am.

Dochu La Pass: Approximately 20 km away from Thimpu, it takes about 30 minutes to get here from Thimpu. We went here while we were coming back to Thimpu from Punakha. The pass is famous for 108 chortens/stupas and numerous coloured prayer flags and offers stunning views of the Himalayas. Our guide told us that we could see Mount Everest – I am not sure if that is true. However, we saw a mighty peak from a great distance, thought that it is the Everest, clicked a few pictures and piled into our car.

Bhutan: Chortens at Dochu La Pass

Punakha: All that I remember of Punakha is eating the smallest, sweetest oranges ever in my life. Oranges, the size of lemons – I think they were packed with honey! There were a couple of Buddhist temples that we visited – but all sights and senses fail when compared to the juicy oranges!

Paro: Paro is the most scenic city in Bhutan. It has every imaginable shade of green – feel the soft grass as you walk trough the pine forests. It is also the city that has the airport.

As we drove through the town, we saw an isolated temple on a hill top and decided to trek up and pay our respects. As we clambered up, we realised that we were lost – we could not sight the temple any longer. After a few hundred meters, we heard a local yell that the temple belonged to the royal family and that mean dogs guard it. We had all read the Hound of Baskervilles – none of us wanted to even come close to experiencing it in real life. We turned around and ran!

Bhutan: Enchanting Paro

Wangdue: Until 2012, Wangdue was the windiest city that I had ever been to. In August 2012, Mykonos blew me away – literally! I remember going to the Wangdue Dzong, where a teenage monk was extremely interested in getting a picture clicked with us girls. Boys will be boys!

Bhutan: Turning the prayer wheel – praying for happiness!

I want to take Ankur to Bhutan – I know he will love the country. Ten years is a long time, but I do hope that the country is still as pristine as it was…and even happier than what it was back in 2006!

As always…send me an e-mail if you need any further details. Glad to help!
Let the travellers’ tribe grow!


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11 Responses

  1. Hi Sonia, good capture of the happiest country. Yes. It has changed I guess in 9 years in terms of infrastructure. But people are still simple and try to be contended. Bhutan was one of my best solo travels.Pls let me know if you need any info for your next travel as I traveled this year

  2. Bhutan sounds really, really neat. A blogger I like went there last year and heaped praises on the country. Would love to see it for myself, one day! And yeah, cameras have come a long way since 2006.

  3. I remember in one of my history lessons at school, the teacher mentioned the GNH and that they didn’t have TVs (?!?) and from that moment I knew it was somewhere I would want to visit some day! If I remember correctly he also mentioned them only having one case of murder in the country’s history??! Or that might have been Iceland, I don’t know. Anyway, great read! I bet writing this was a lovely trip down memory lane for you 😀

  4. I would love to go to Bhutan, it looks like such a beautiful country. It is on my bucket list and hopefully one day soon I will visit. There looks to be so much to see and do there, I can’t wait 🙂

  5. My boyfriend and I would love to visit Bhutan but it’s quite expensive for us Canadians and from what I read, we need to have a guide with us at all times (which is something we don’t usually like). It’s great that as an Indian native you could just get up and go!

  6. Wow, this was 9 years ago… I can imagine how much it has changed since then, like the rest of the world. I’d love to visit the happiest place in the world – I mean, who wouldn’t 🙂 great post and nice photos!

  7. This is such a great and informative guide! I’d like to visit the happiest country myself 🙂 I’ve heard a lot of amazing things about Bhutan lately!

  8. I would love to visit Bhutan! You are so lucky to be so close to it and to be able to visit it so easily. I bet it would be different for me. The country sounds very beautiful, with a lot of unspoiled places to see. I’d love to visit the happiest country on the planet 🙂

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