Photography Trip to Bhutan 2017: The Land of the Thunder Dragon
We join hands with experts from Darter Photography, to take you on a photography tour to the mystic land of beautiful mountains, gurgling rivers, rice fields, happy people and Buddhist monastic traditions. As you travel, learn to make mesmeric images of the country’s rolling mountains, people and the culture in a way that leaves a lasting impression.
Dates: 14 May to 21 May, 2017
The itinerary below begins from Paro. Scroll down to see an option to travel from Bagdogra/Siliguri by road.
Dates: May 14 to 21, 2016.
- Day 01 /May 14 Sunday Arrive at Paro and relax. Introductory sessions and visit to the town.
- Day 02 /May 15 Monday Drive to Ha Valley and back. Overnight at Paro.
- Day 03 /May 16 Tuesday Drive to Thimpu (2 hours). Photograph sights along the way and in the city. Stay at Thimpu for the night.
- Day 04 /May 17 Wednesday Make the scenic drive to Punakha via Dochu La pass (3 hours). Several photography opportunities along the way and at Punakha. Overnight at Punakha.
- Day 05 /May 18 Thursday Photographing landscapes, monasteries and village life around Punakha.
- Day 06 /May 19 Friday Slow and easy drive from Punakha to Paro as we revisit the places along the way for more photography. Stay at Paro
- Day 07 /May 20 Saturday Visit the famous Tiger’s Nest (Takstang) monastery. Overnight stay at Paro.
- Day 08 /May 21 Sunday Checkout after breakfast.
Travel by road from Bagdogra (Overland option to Bhutan and back)
As air-tickets to Paro, Bhutan can be expensive, we also offer an option to begin the journey by road from Bagdogra. This itinerary begins one day earlier and ends one day later than the above itinerary.
- Day -01 /May 12 Friday Arrive at Bagdogra and drive to Phuentsholing border.
- Day 00/May 13 Saturday Drive from Phuentsholing to Paro.
- Day 01 to Day 07 /May 14 to 20 Same itinerary as above.
- Day 08 /May 21 Sunday Checkout after breakfast from the hotel in Paro and drive to Bagdogra.
- Day 09 /May 22 Monday Checkout from the hotel in Bagdogra. Tour ends.
Travellers opting to join the group from Bagdogra will arrive in Bagdogra on 12th May, stay in Phuentsholing border. On 13th May drive to Paro and stay over. On 14th May travellers flying into Paro join the group and the itinerary below follows.
Day 1, Sunday. The excitement begins today as you arrive in the small Bhutanese town of Paro. If you are coming by flight, you will see some lovely views of the mountains as the aircraft reaches Paro. If it is a clear day, we will get a good view of the Jhomolhari mountain from the town itself. We check-in at our hotel and take the day easy. Later in the day, your lead photographer will introduce you to the action that is lined up for the next one week. If time permits in the evening we will go to Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in all of Bhutan.
Day 2, Monday. This morning, a winding drive up the hills through alpine vegetation and carpeted flower decked fields will take us to the Chele-la pass ( 3810m). Chele la is a windy pass filled with white prayer flags fluttering in the breeze. En-route, we may encounter yak-herder huts and grazing yaks. Further, we drive down to the picturesque Ha valley where bridges, green hills and a charming river await your camera.
On our way back at Chela La, we will have good light to photograph the prayer flag and Jhomolhari range of snow peaks if the day is clear. We return to Paro in the evening.
Day 3, Tuesday. We head out early after breakfast today towards Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan and perhaps the only capital city in the world that doesn’t have traffic lights. It is a picturesque drive along Paro Chu River, which, somewhere along the way, joins Wang Chu River. We drive past terraced rice fields and old houses along the way before we reach Thimphu.
Later in the day, we go to Trashichhoe dzong, a large complex that houses the central monastic body of Bhutan. If we have the time this evening, we will wander the town with our cameras for interesting sights in the city. Pious people circumambulating National Memorial Chorten in the evening makes a great photography opportunity.
Day 4, Wednesday. After breakfast this morning, we will start our drive to Punakha valley where we pass through some of the most scenic landscapes that Bhutan can offer. A one hour drive up winding hilly roads will bring us to Dochu-la pass, where we can see the snow-capped mountains at a distance on a clear day. At Dochu-la is a very photogenic monument of 108 chortens packed together densely in a green surrounding. You will never be tired of photographing this monument from all possible angles.
After a leisurely lunch on the way, we drive downhill and come across the terraced fields and homesteads of the Punakha valley; a beautiful drive through pleasant rural landscapes. We will stop after descending to the banks of the small river that waters the valley and walk across the fields to a small temple on a hillock dedicated to Drukpa Kunley, a much revered monk dear to the people of Bhutan. A short walk will give us insights to rural life and agricultural activities in Bhutan, that you will cherish.
The temple itself is a charming place on a hillock, where you may get to see young monks playing football, surrounded by a thick line up of vertical prayer flags – a sight that is guaranteed to make your cameras drool.
Day 5, Thursday. We will visit Punakha dzong this morning, crossing a lovely wooden bridge lined with prayer flags. Inside the dzong are the quarters of the monks and prayer hall with peaceful courtyards. We will spend some time exploring and photographing the dzong for most of the morning hours.
In the later half of the day, we will drive up the Punakha Valley, up the west side of the Mo Chu River passing through villages and farms and stopping along way. On the way at Yambesa, we stop for a short hike through the greenery to a beautiful chorten and spend the late afternoon hours, photographing terraced fields and Mo Chu River. This is as picturesque as rural Bhutan can get.
In the evening your lead photographer will take you through an intense drill of photographing Punakha Dzong in different kind of lighting from different angles and perspectives. Beware, you may be amazed of what you may produce with your camera today, weather and light permitting.
Day 6, Friday. We make a slow and leisurely drive from Punakha back to Paro, retracing our steps and stopping along the way as long as we like to. This is your day to wander the streets of Thimphu, shop for souvenirs and if time permits, photograph the insanely colourful Thimphu Market. Overnight stay at Paro.
Day 7, Saturday. This is our day to visit and photograph one of the iconic sight of Bhutan – Tiger’s Nest Monastery, sticking out from a steep vertical slope. We begin the day easy and make the picturesque drive through farms and villages in the hills. Taktsang monastery is perhaps the most famous and most photographed of Bhutan’s monasteries, perched on a cliff side above the Paro valley. We exercise our legs today as we slowly make the three-hour walk up the hill to the monastery, photographing the landscapes along the way. We go past many beautiful views, a tea-point half-way that gives us a hard-earned resting space and even a waterfall before we arrive at the monastery.
We take our time to climb up slow and easy as the day progresses. We will have plenty of time to see and shoot from a high ground and near the monastery before we head back for a slow drive back to Paro. We time our visit here in a way that we make the best of opportunities to shoot the monastery, in best possible light.
Even before we begin the walk in the morning, we would have made a short detour and visit one of the oldest temple every to be founded in all of Bhutan, just outside Paro Town. Expect to see and photograph ochre-robed monks, mercurial young monks running around the campus and old men quietly spending their time in company of prayer wheels.
Day 8, Sunday. Breakfast and checkout.
Travellers who have opted for ground transport to Bagdogra will drive from Paro, reach the hotel in Bagdogra by evening and check-out next day.
- Visits some of the grand, beautifully built fortresses called Dzongs at Paro, Thimphu and Punakha.
- Visit to magnificent Dochula Pass and Chelela Pass, offering brilliant views of snow-peaks.
- Day-hike to Paro Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery located precariously on a cliff – one of the Bhutan’s most sought-after locations.
- Several short distance walks in open spaces and rural areas of Bhutan.
- Visits to several monastic centers and temples through the itinerary.
- Photographing monks, local people, heritage structures and landscapes along the way.
- Visit to sites specifically chosen keeping photography opportunities in mind at an easy pace suitable for photography
- Sessions during the tour that enable you to capture best images of Bhutan
- Insights to nuances of travel and landscape photography during the tour
- Constant interaction and assistance on field by photography experts having considerable experience travelling in Bhutan
- Image reviews by photography experts at the end of day, every day
Reaching Paro, Bhutan
You can reach Paro by two ways – land route or air.
Reaching By Air
Two Bhutan based airlines – Druk Air & Bhutan Airways fly to Paro. Druk Air has connections from Kolkata, Guwahati, Bagdogra, Mumbai and Delhi. Bhutan Air flies from Kolkata and Delhi. Even if you live in Mumbai or Delhi, it may sometimes be less expensive to take a flight from Kolkata instead of flying direct.
Do note that Indian Nationals may have a discounted fare available on these flights. To avail the discount, please select your nationality as ‘SAARC’ when you book on Druk Air website. With Bhutan Airlines, discounted fare is not available online, but can be booked by calling their office.
If you plan to travel by air, we recommend that you get your tickets at the earliest, as tickets often get sold out months in advance.
If you opt to fly via Kolkata, as these are international flights and leave early in the morning, you may have to reach Kolkata a day earlier.
Reaching by Land
Please visit the itinerary section to see the road-travel option. You may join the group starting from Bagdogra on Day zero. If you intend to travel by road independently, do find necessary travel information below.
The road entry to Bhutan is from a place in norther part of West Bengal, called Phuentsholing. The Indian side of the border town is called Jaigaon.
To get to Jaigaon, you can –
1) fly into Bagdogra or take a train to New Jalpaiguri.
2) take a taxi or train to Jaigaon. Jaigaon is about 150km from Bagdogra/New Jalpaiguri.
3) At the border, you need to get your entry permits at the Bhutanese immigration office, which is open between 10am and 2pm. So you may have to stay in Jaigaon for a night and proceed to Paro next day.
4) Once you get immigration clearance, you can take a bus or hire a taxi to reach Paro. This will be a simple affair where you can get an awaiting taxi across the border. Paro is 130km from the border.
You can also get to Jaigaon by taking (a) a train from Kolkata to either Hashimara (10km) or New Alipur Duar (60km) stations (b) taking a direct bus from Kolkata to Jaigoan.
About Darter Photography
Gypsy Feet Travels partners with Darter Photography for this photography tour of Bhutan. Darter Photography offers a unique outdoor photography experience to exciting destinations across India. Founded by passionate photographers and travellers, Darter Photography believes in unravelling the beauty of the world through the lens.
Accompanying Photography Expert: ARUN BHAT
Accomplished travel and landscape photographer Arun Bhat’s works have been used by publications in India and across the world, all the way from Japan to USA. He is a professional photographer who has extensively travelled across India, creating some of the finest imagery of India’s landscapes and has spent years capturing the essence of India’s cultural diversity. Having travelled the country many times over and being used to waking up at 5am in bitter cold winter days, he has seen and captured finest landscapes all the way from Himalayas to the peninsular India and has mastered the art of travel, outdoor and landscape photography.
Arun has spent nearly five months of travel experience in the Himalayas, exploring varied landscapes and the Buddhist culture of the region. His in-depth knowledge of the mountains will come handy throughout the tour as he helps you photograph the mountains and the local culture. People who have travelled with Arun on tours never forget to mention his friendly approach and a willingness to be available to everyone all the time through the tour.
Tour Price (for tour starting from Paro): Rs.68,850/- per person
Scroll down to see the price for tour starting from Bagdogra, along with road journey.
The cost includes
- Accommodation on twin sharing basis
- Transportation on all days of the tour
- All breakfast, lunch and dinner starting from lunch on Day 01 and ending with breakfast on Day 08, excluding lunch/dinner in Thimphu.
- Permits and all entry fees
- Photography sessions, expert advice and assistance, image reviews and critiques during the tour
The cost does not include
- Travel to Paro and return travel from Paro to your location
- Additional food or beverages ordered
- Lunch and dinner in Thimphu
Tour Price (for tour starting from Bagdogra): Rs.13,850 in addition to the above tour price from Paro.
This price includes
- Ground transport from Bagdogra/Siliguri to Jaigaon/Phuentsholing border on day (-01)
- Ground transport from Jaigaon/Phuentsholing to Paro on day zero
- Accommodation with breakfast in Phuentsholing on Day zero.
- Ground transport from Paro to Bagdogra on Day 08
- Accommodation in Bagdogra on Day eight
- Transfer to airport / train station on Day nine
- All the inclusions from Day 01 to 08 mentioned in the itinerary starting from Paro
This price does not include
- All meals on Day zero, eight and nine; lunch on Day one.
The prices above apply for Indian Nationals only. Price applicable to other nationals is US$2750 per person for this tour as based on minimum tariff requirement imposed by local government. Also please note that this price refers to arrival and departure from Paro by flight. If you intend to travel to Bhutan overland, please contact us for more information.
Write to us at email@example.com or call at +91-9954218653 for queries and registration.
Like all our tours, the tour of Bhutan will have a limited number of participants. We recommend booking early, which also helps you get cheaper flight tickets.
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