Paro Thimphu Highway in Bhutan

Paro Airport to Thimphu

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Bhutan is a small mystic country in South Asia. Not many people visit this hugely different country. Bhutan is a rare country that is carbon negative – it means they planted so many trees, they produce more oxygen than they emit carbon dioxide. Although the capital of Bhutan is in Thimphu, the international airport of Bhutan is in Paro. It takes about 90 minutes to travel the 48 Kilometers between Paro airport and Thimphu. This short road journey is taken on a smooth road and a beautiful one! This is a photo guide of the road journey between Paro airport to Thimphu in Bhutan.

Aeroplane in Paro Airport
Our plane has just landed in the Paro International Airport in Bhutan.

The landing at the Paro airport was memorable. It was like dancing in the sky. I was very afraid of it, however, seeing the unchanged faces of the Bhutanese on the flight, I understood that it is normal. Only a few pilots can land the plane in the Paro airport as the radar is of no use here due to the nature of the terrain of mountains.

Paro Airport in Bhutan
We have got out of the plane and going to the terminal building. The white clouds were hovering over the green mountains.

Paro airport is a small one! I saw only a few airplanes on the ground. Instead of walls like other airports, Paro airport was surrounded by green mountains. There was only one building as the terminal. You will understand instantly, how peaceful Bhutan is the moment you land there.

Paro Airport as seen from Outside
We have started our journey towards Thimphu.

We passed the immigration – some of the friendliest people with their traditional dresses. I bought a SIM from the airport and went out. There was a bunch of taxis there, I negotiated with one of them to drop me at Thimphu. Our journey began. I could see a small fence protecting the airport. The small runway was clearly visible.

Tachog Lhakhang - Paro Airport to Thimphu
Tachog Lhakhang on way to Thimphu from Paro Airport

We entered the Paro-Thimphu highway. If you go towards the other direction in the same highway, you will end up in the Haa valley – a popular valley in Bhutan. About 25 minutes of drive and 15 Kilometers journey took me to the major stoppage on our way. It’s called Tachog Lhakhang – a small private temple.

Tachog Lhakhang Old Bridge
The marvellous Tachog Lhakhang old bridge over Paro Chu (Paro river).

This was a 600 years old bridge that got washed away by a flood in 1969 was later restored. Thangtong Gyalpo, a famous engineer designed the bridge. He did the same for countless other bridges all over Bhutan. This is a special place because, for most of the tourists, this is the first visited place in Bhutan! The thunderous scream of the Paro River, the greeneries, and the iconic bridge made me ecstatic.

Prayer Relics in Bhutan
These were kept like this in an open space sheltered by mountain

I crossed the bridge and explored the other side of the river far from the highway. You can take several short hikes in any direction, it’s soothing for the eyes! There I found some white, and gold relics at the base of a mountain. I didn’t understand their purpose but looking at them, I assume they had something to do with the religious prayer.

A Grand Mountain in Bhutan
On our way to Thimphu from Paro Airport, you will see some grand mountains.

Having spent an hour or so, we resumed our journey. Although the highway was not very wide, it was in sublime condition. Considering the traffic, it was perfect! Public buses are a rarity in Bhutan. You need to either rent a four-wheeler or rent one. Don’t think, about driving here, the bend of the roads is so steep, I felt nauseated at times during my journey.

Green Mountain - Paro airport to Thimphu
The green carpets were everywhere during our journey.

As our car was racing on the highway, I was enjoying the greeneries. Bhutan is a landlocked country, it does not have any sea. However, it is blessed with mountains everywhere. The photos taken here were during my journey in March. I was pondering about my previous journey in Bhutan which took place in December.

Photographer in Bhutan during Winter
A photographer is taking photo of the landscape in Bhutan during December.

I am giving a photo during my earlier trip to Bhutan in December. The mountains were there, the sky was even brighter and sunny. However, there were no greeneries. The browns dominated everywhere along with patches of snow in some places. It seemed that I was in a different place! Depending on your preference, you may choose a favorable time for you to visiting Bhutan.

Paro Thimphu Highway in Bhutan
Most of the photos in this post are taken from the cab in motion

There were small protectors at the edge of the roads painted in white. If a car loses it’s control, it won’t be of much help. However, it gave a good directional sense. I was busy taking photos from the car which was running in full motion. I did not have to wait for taking a good photo. Every frame was precious – thanks to beautiful nature.

Small Houses in Paro Thimphu Highway
I wanna stay in one of those houses!

Had I been to any places in the world, I would have seen several high rises, fast food chains, and supermarkets. But, I am in Bhutan where Gross National Happiness (GNP) gets more priority than the Gross Domestic Products(GDP). If you look carefully, you will be able to spot one or two houses at the lap of the mountains. I felt jealous of those lucky people – this is what life should be! Surrounded by mountains – calm, quiet, and tranquil!

Dense Cloud in Bhutan
I found the purest form of clouds in Bhutan!

It was a pure joy to keep an eye on the sky. The blue was the blue I never saw anywhere else. The white clouds were the clouds I never saw anywhere else. They were near about perfectly soothing for the eyes – a type of clouds and skies which I would want to keep in my pocket and eat whenever I would like to.

Thimphu Gate in Bhutan
The cars are entering in Thimphu through the Thimphu gate in Bhutan.

I wish the journey would have continued longer. But as I said before, it was less than 90 minutes long. We saw a traditional gate that marked the entryway to the capital of the Royal Kingdom of Bhutan. Now, I could see some touches of artificial things like marking lanes, parked cars, lampposts, and so on. And, I hated them! Look, how greedy humans can be!

Thimphu Traffic Police
Thimphu city center in Bhutan.

In no time, we arrived at the Thimphu city center where police were handling the traffic manually. There is no electronic traffic signal in Bhutan – there is no need to have one. The traffic is so slim and the Bhutanese people are so disciplined, they didn’t need it! This is how my journey to Bhutan started – through a mesmerizingly beautiful journey that eventually continued throughout my trip.

Practicalities

How to I get from Paro Airport to Thimphu?

You will find taxis waiting outside of the airport. You shoud approach and negotiate with them.

How much does it cost to go to Thimphu from Paro Airport?

It will cost between 800 to 1200 Rupees. The price will depend on your negotiation skill.

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Fuad Omar

Fuad loves to travel! A lot! Carrying a Bangladeshi passport means he needs a prior visa for visiting most of the countries. He got detained in many borders because of his nationality but; he didn’t give up - he set his foot to 37 countries. He believes, if he could travel the world despite all the odds, you can, too. Fuad is a Computer Engineer by profession, and author of a travelogue in Bangla. He currently lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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