We greatly enjoyed our trip. Please find our review below:
Bhutan has achieved the perfect balance between cultural preservation and modernization. We felt as though we had a genuine experience yet at the same time we were not lacking for comfort in the hotels or with our guide Pema and driver Dowa. I am not generally a fan of guided tours and was wary of a mandatory guide but I can say without hesitation that these were the best guides I’ve ever had. Attentive and friendly, but not overbearing. Pema took us on some awesome hikes that were wild and challenging but wound up being our favorite part of the trip. For anyone who is active we highly recommend the country walking tour: it was the perfect blend between cultural sightseeing and trekking in a compressed amount of time. Haa Valley was beautiful; don’t miss the hot stone bath. Pack for a variety of weather, and bring long pants and sleeves for modesty at the temples. The food in Bhutan is healthy and tasty (watch out for the spicy!) but there is not much variety from rice, meat, and veggies. Our guides did their best to provide the best food, including Homestay cooked meals but be aware that most meals in Bhutan are set-menu or buffet. Come if you can during the cultural festivals. We happened to be here for the one in Paro and while there were crowds, it was not unreasonable and it was interesting to pop in for a couple hours at a time to see the dances. Our guide did a great job tweaking our itinerary to achieve a harmony between seeing many temples and getting outdoors, as well as accommodating our requests to attend the festival and do some shopping. Do know that touristy souvenirs, especially when bought in Paro or Thimphu are ludicrously expensive – think hundreds of dollars for the same painting, statue, scarf, etc. that would costs 10 times less in Nepal. If you buy more locally you can get nice things for a reasonable price. The locals here are generally lovely, and overall we had a fantastic time that was worth every penny.