Bhutan Customised Tour – West, Central & Eastern Bhutan and Nepal.
Hotels Paro - Janka Resort
Thimphu - Hotel Druk
Bumthang - Wangchuck resort
Mongar - Wangchuk Hotel
Mongar - Trogon Villa Lodge
Bumthang - Chumey Nature Resort
Punakha - Wangdue Eco Lodge
Punakha - Phurba Farm House
Paro - Janka Resort
Firstly, many apologies for not being in touch before now. I have been meaning to write to thank you and Windhorse for organising such a fantastic trip for Gavin and I. We had a truly wonderful month in Bhutan and Nepal. Kadinche-la! You asked for feedback, so here’s my comments below. A rather long email, but I hope you find it useful!
From the moment we arrived in Paro airport, we loved it. What a beautiful country. Our itinerary was just fantastic, with every day a delight, even the long days travelling along the precipitous mountain roads. We travelled over 1600km, met so many wonderful people, trekked glorious sun-dappled forest paths, ate ema datshi and crows beaks, explored historic temples and castles, went bird watching, and attended fabulous festivals.
WINDHORSE GUIDE AND DRIVER
When you are spending 17 days together, often in close quarters (ie a car,) it is so important to have a guide and driver you connect with, and whose company you enjoy.
Karma, our guide, was absolutely terrific. He was funny, kind, considerate, knowledgeable and lovely company. (He was really good at researching birds for Gavin too, which G really appreciated.)
And Chimi, our driver, was also wonderful. He was quiet, but with an infectious giggle. He was also kind and considerate and such a good driver. I always felt 100% safe with him, despite the vertiginous roads! Chimi’s car was always immaculate.
Both Karma and Chimi were very organised and totally reliable. (We miss them both!)
I was expecting rather basic accommodation, especially in the east of Bhutan. But some places were excellent and really exceeded our expectations. By the end of our time in Bhutan, we were rather tired of one-night stops, though this was understandable due to the distances we were to cover.
Some details of the places we stayed in:
Paro: Janka Resort (4 nights) – this was rather basic – clean enough, food okay. It was noisy at night with guests talking and bumping cases along the cold echoing corridor and stairs. Three nights here at the beginning and one night at the end – four nights was too long here…though it was a good location for exploring / airport.
Thimpu: Hotel Druk (2 nights) – international standard, very comfortable, good staff, lovely restaurant. An ideal capital city hotel!
Phobjikha: Dhangsa Resort (supposed to be 2 nights, but had to move elsewhere for 2nd night). This is very new, with some teething problems. Staff were lovely and eager to help! Fab location, good food, lovely rooms. Gavin’s shower did not work. Very cold at night, but stove in bedroom was great. The second night (can’t remember name of this hotel) – staff seemed unfriendly, not very clean bathrooms, food rather poor. Very cold, though again a bedroom stove (but not much fuel!). This was probably our least favourite hotel.
Bumthang: Wangchuk Resort (3 nights) – the woman who ran this place seemed to do almost everything herself! She was lovely. It was basic but fine.
Mongar: Wangchuk Hotel (1 night) – this was a lovely surprise after a very long day travelling east. Food excellent, staff helpful, bedroom very comfortable. Very different indeed to previous Wangchuk place in Bumthang.
Yong Khola: Trogon Villa Lodge – really liked this quirky place. Owner was great. Food was lovely. Rooms were enormous and very clean and comfortable.
Chumey Nature Resort: Pretty place. But very cold indeed, and it took a while to work out how to get radiators to work. Our rooms were quite far from the restaurant, though there were hardly any guests. Food okay. I’m sure it’s lovely in the summer.
Punakha: Wangdue Eco Lodge – our favourite place in Bhutan. Fab comfortable rooms, great views of dzong, lovely staff, and the food was very imaginative and excellent. Great atmosphere. Loved it here.
Punakha: Phurba Farm House – homestay. Great! Leki, the owner, was lovely and her food was very good. Very clean. Really enjoyed this.
The Hotel Tibet in Kathmandu was a great choice of location for the first night of our trip. Comfortable, interesting place, and good restaurant.
We returned to Kathmandu after Bhutan and stayed for three nights in Balthali Village Resort. We had very mixed feelings about this place. An idyllic hilltop location, with friendly staff, and food was okay. But it was very noisy with loud music reverberating from the valley below (not the hotel’s fault!). And my room was not clean – I attach a photo of the bathroom door, horribly dirty. My bed linen had bloodstains on it. The electricity was off in the rooms from 9am to 5.45pm – dark and cold in late afternoon, and very cold at night. But we were able to relax in the sunshine and explore the valley during the day. 3 nights was too long here.
We walked to Namo Buddha resort, and Laxman arranged for our luggage transfer. Fantastic place, and great accommodation in cottages. The best food. We wished we had had more time here.
We then had the ‘issue’ re our transfer to Bhaktapur. We were so looking forward to the Milla Guesthouse and being located in the city, where we could explore the sites during the day, enjoy Diwali/Tihar celebrations, and walk to our choice of restaurants at night. Laxman texted that we would transfer to Paradise Hotel. As you had assured me the Nepal arrangements would not change, we thought this was a mistake. So we were very disappointed. The Paradise Hotel was actually okay, but it was a considerable walk from the centre of Bhaktapur, and not at all what we had wanted for this stage of the trip. But Laxman was great, and his solution of the Thagu Chhen was ideal. So, Bhaktapur was excellent. We also visited Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan etc. Fantastically interesting places.
In conclusion, we had a wonderful time and would like to thank you for organising a great itinerary. There were so many highlights – wonderful walks – amazing scenery – fascinating architecture of temples and dzongs – kind, lovely people – compelling culture – historic wall paintings in the goempas… My personal favourites were the day with the women weaving in Khoma village; the meals at farmhouses; the fabulous festivals; bird watching in the sub tropical forests of Lhuentse; and the Phobjikha valley (even though we missed the black-necked cranes by a couple of days!)
I would strongly recommended Wind Horse to anyone wishing to travel in Bhutan.