Our group of seven just returned from a 7D6N trip (4th to 10th Aug 19) to the Western part of Bhutan. I'm so glad that we booked our Bhutan holidays through Druk Asia. From the moment of contact with Ms Ugyen Dewa from Druk Asia to departure, everything was so efficient. We received the proposed itinerary and hotel recommendations through email. I only visited the office once to discuss the final itinerary and hotel accommodations. Henceforth any queries were done through emails. Ms Ugyen was super prompt and clear in responding to all the emails. I truly appreciated Ugyen's gentleness, sincerity, cheerfulness and gladness to help to make our trip booking and preparation so smooth going. Visa and flight bookings were done by her. On Day 2 of our trip, Druk Asia even called us in Bhutan to ensure that we are well and happy.
Our driver - Mr Kuenzang Namgyel, popularly known as Joker, was our driver. Our trips in Bhutan took us through narrow and winding roads and pathways. But with Joker on the wheels, we had no worries. He is a "wheelie" good driver. Through him we also experienced the Bhutanese service with a smile. He always has a warm smile for us. He also helped us greatly when we hiked up to the Yule Temple and Tiger's Nest.
Our guide is Mr Ugyen Tenzin who is tall, handsome and strong. We were indeed very blessed to have him as our guide. Ugyen speaks good English, is very knowledgable, fun and witty. Besides learning much about Bhutan from him, we also enjoyed many moments of fun and laughter together. He revised and informed us of program changes to make sure we get the best out of the day. Through it all we were able to enjoy the culture and beauty of Bhutan. Ugyen is also a great photographer, helping us to capture many wonderful memories in photo.
We enjoyed the relaxed pace of the program and there is no rush at all. Besides main meals, we had tea breaks facing mesmerising landscapes, picnic by the river and meal in a farm house after a hot stone bath (USD 25 per person). The climb to Yule Temple (1000 ft above sea level) was good preparation for the hike to the Tiger's Nest (3000 ft above sea level). Water rafting (USD 150 per raft) in the Mochu River at Punakha was fun and brought forth the child-like of the group regardless of age . It was also a nice interaction with the river flowing from the Himalayas. Life is good!
Our team also want to specially thank both Ugyen and Joker for the great assistance and care rendered in the hikes to the Yule Temple and especially the Tiger's Nest. The latter under raining conditions was definitely not an easy hike. With their help (sometimes literally firmly grabbing each of the ladies' arm) we were able to avoid skids and falls, made it all the way up to the top and safely downhill. Tiger's Nest is definitely a must go place for any tourist to Bhutan. It's a sight one will remember for a long time.
Some tips we would like to share with regards to the trip up to Tiger's Nest:
1. Make sure you wear a pair of good hiking shoes
2. Bring or purchase two hiking sticks which reduces stress on your legs as you scale up the hill and help greatly in your balance as you hike downhill
3. Have with you waterproof jacket and an umbrella in case of showers or rain.
4. Bring snacks, energy bars, chocolates and banana to eat at rest points. Don't forget drinking water too.
5. Pony ride - if you are not the athletic sort, a pony ride that takes you to the cafe is recommended.
Hotels - we stayed in Namgay Hotel in Thimphu, Hotel Lobsea in Punakha and Namgay Resort in Paro. These hotels more than met our expectations. In Namgay Hotel, depending on which wing of the hotel rooms you are in, you would hear the dogs' orchestral barks during the night. I happened to stay in a room free from the noise of dog barkings. Wifi was weak in Namgay Hotel. Rooms in Hotel Lobsea and Namgay Resort were exceptionally big and comfy with good wifi access. We were happy with the breakfasts and dinners we had in these hotels. We enjoyed the Bhutanese cuisine and found them simple yet appetizing to our taste buds.
Time flies and it's time to say goodbye to beautiful Bhutan. We left behind two good friends, Ugyen and Joker, who make our Bhutan holidays so wonderfully awesome.
To Ugyen & Joker - Kadrin chhela, Tashi delek, Log Jay Gay (thank you, best wishes, till we meet again)
~ from Team Singapore