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Bumthang Tourism And Travel Guide
16° C / 60.8° F
March to May
7 to 9 Days
Bathpalathang (18.1 kms)
Hasimara (446 kms)
The spiritual heartland of the country of Bhutan, Bumthang is one of the most travel-worthy places you would get to see in Bhutan. With four fertile mountain valleys ensconced in its precincts, bounded by parks and sanctuaries and scattered with luscious fruit orchards, the dzongkhag of Bumthang, with the Himalayan mountain peaks at the backdrop offers a holiday trip that would leave you in harmony with nature. Want to know and feel more of this beautiful place? This tourism and travel guide will take you on an enlightening trip across Bumthang.
How to Reach
You need an entry permit to enter Bhutan. All tourists from India, Bangladesh and Maldives can show their voter identity card or passport, while other nationals have to show their visa. You would be expected to hold valid documents along with passport size photos. If you are travelling by air, you can get an entry permit in Paro and if by road, at the Immigration Office in Phuntsholing. But these entry permits are valid only for Thimphu and Paro. You need a route permit to travel to Bumthang, which can be applied for in Thimphu Immigration Office. The easiest route to Bumthang would be by air, but a cost effective one would probably be choosing a route by road.
There is an International Airport at Paro which services direct flights from New Delhi, Bagdogra, Gangtok, Kathmandu and Dhaka. You can fly to Paro, which has domestic flights to Bathpalathang Airport in Bumthang. This could be the easy and speedy route to Bumthang.
This would give you the choice of taking a train from Kolkata to Hasimara, a small Indian town that is quite close to the Jaigaon-Phuntsholing Border. From Hasimara Railway Station, get a taxi to Phuntsholing or Thimphu straight. From Thimphu you get buses to Bumthang. Travel time from Thimphu to Bumthang would be around 11 and half hours.
Weather and the Best Time to Visit
It seems beautiful Bumthang refuses to be confined to the constraints of a poor season. Every season in Bumthang brings out the exquisiteness of the four valleys. But if you were to travel extensively across the district, spring, autumn and winter would be the best time to visit.
Spring is quite pleasing, what with all the wild flowers poking their heads out to greet the warmth of the sun. It is a good weather for trekking and all kinds of adventure sports in Bumthang.
The rains are here, though far in between, yet unpredictable. Weather is warm, windy, and to a certain extent balmy. It’s not exactly bad weather, if you wouldn’t mind a sudden downpour.
This is another good season for a visit to Bumthang. Days are dry and quite warm, though the nights may get cold. It’s lovely, trekking up the mountain slopes in Autumn, listening to the chirping of birds.
The days are pleasant. You could even feel the sun at times. But the nights are very cold. Resorts have room warmers, so get proper winter clothes for Bumthang and enjoy the season. Winter in Bumthang is when you see migrating Black necked cranes fly down from the high Tibetan plateau.
Things to Do
With its undulating mountain valleys, pristine rivers and little hamlets tucked among the fields and orchards, Bumthang is bound to keep you busy. There are monasteries and temples to visit, festivals to participate in, trekking up and down the valleys and of course, lots of shopping to be done.
Bumthang offers you a variety of treks across its beautiful landscape. One of the best is the Bumthang Owl Trek that takes you across forests of spruce, blue pine and maple trees. You can see the peak of Gangkar Puensum, the highest unclimbed mountain peak in the world. Or choose the Bumthang Cultural Trek across Choekhor and Tang Valleys.
Bhutan is an exceptionally mountainous country with more than 90% of the people living in agro based rural communities. On the lower valleys of Bumthang and in the backyards of houses and monasteries you find orchards with apples, persimmon, walnuts, chestnuts, peaches and pears. Take a tour around the orchards or better still, stay in resorts or homestays in Bumthang set amidst the orchards.
Trademarks of Bumthang:
In the upper reaches of Bumthang’s valleys, the rural folk are engaged in the creation of an assortment of things that speak volumes for the tradition of Bumthang. In Chumey valley you can buy sweaters, blankets and bags made from the dyed Yathra yarn spun from sheep or yak wool. Visit Zungney’s Yathra Weaving Centre in Eastern Bumthang for more choices.
Red Panda Beer:
Call at the Red Panda Brewery and Swiss cheese shop in Jakar town, established by Swiss immigrant Fritz Maurer. You can let the brewer take you along the brewery and sample their Swiss cheese and Weiss beir and can even buy Bumthang’s cheese, clover honey and apple brandy for that cold winter evening. If you would prefer non-alcoholic drinks, try the Apple Juice factory for the squash of their fresh apples plucked from the valleys’ orchards.
If the Yathra wool and Red Panda beer are trademarks of Bumthang, there are more Bhutanese memorabilia you can buy in the town market. Try Bumthang’s Main Market, Thokmed Yeshey Handicrafts and Yathra Production Centre for masks, traditional Bhutanese costumes of Gho and Kira, brassware, prayer bells or Thangkas.
Bumthang’s festivals are spiritual in essence, but are so much fun, with colours and gaiety and masked dances, songs and antics by the Atsaras or clowns. Bumthang’s four valleys have their own special festivals so you’d be spoilt for choice. Visit Jakar during the Jakar Tshechu, which is Bumthang’s official festival of the year, Tang Namkha Lhakhang Rabney in Tang Valley or the Buli Mani Festival in Chumey Valley.
Bumthang’s fertile fields produce rice, potatoes and buckwheat in abundance. No wonder that most of Bumthang’s cuisine includes buckwheat. Visit the Buckwheat House, a little distance away from Chamkhar town, towards Jakar Dzong. Run by a group of farmers, the Buckwheat House serves a variety of buckwheat dishes including Puta (noodles), Khuli (pancakes) and Jangbali (pasta), momos, pizzas and cakes. You could also buy mattresses and pillows stuffed with buckwheat hull.