TID 153/187: India, Bhutan & Nepal (Oct 5-20, 2008)
I got back yesterday morning. The trip to Bhutan was fantastic. It is quite different from anywhere else that I have ever been and was well worth the money. Everything in Bhutan ran very smoothly and I would particularly like to mention both Tashi the guide and Dorje the driver, who were both excellent. At one point, I lost the key to my suitcase and by ringing around, Tashi managed to locate it at the place where we had stopped for morning tea and the next day, it arrived via one of the other guides. It is hard to think of anywhere else in the world where such excellent service would operate. The standard of the hotels was far better than I expected (better than Nepal) and the food, though a bit repetitive, was plentiful and quite adequate. Everything that we saw was quite magnificent and would love to be able to see more of the country sometime.
There were a few problems. Please tell other visitors the following:
-One photograph is required for the Bhutan visa and another for Nepal
- Nepalese money cannot be spent in Delhi airport, so anyone with a long layover should keep some Indian rupees for buying food etc. at the airport.
- You did mention that 500 rupee and above notes cannot be used in Bhutan. I had read this but not knowing the exchange rate, assumed that this applied to large amounts of money, not the equivalent of around 13 euros. In fact, i had no difficulty using 500 notes in Bhutan but it's another story in Nepal, where one of our group nearly had a serious problem with customs.
My own experience in Nagakot was not too good. The hotel was fairly full and I was put up in a room that is normally used by the guides. The walls had large damp patches and the towels, though clean, looked as if they had been in continuous use for more than 10 years. It was more like Youth Hostel accommodation than a hotel. In general, this would not matter too much but it was not what I paid for. The restaurant was also poor. I declined the buffet as this kind of food is normally very bland for my taste and I am not a big eater. However, what I ordered off the "a la carte" menu turned out to be buffet food anyway, as I got the same as people sitting on the next table! My guide, Chan was very accommodating and the next day he took me to an excellent local restaurant in Kathmandu.
Finally, as you probably know there were some problems with the accommodation in Kathmandu. Although I was not personally affected, I would like to point out that our guide and Dave did there very best to resolve the situation.
Windhorse response: With regards to the photos for visa: When entering Bhutan from Phuntsholing, some of the immigration officials will demand passport size photo but not when arriving by flight into Bhutan. Nepal visa require one and sometimes 2 photos.
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