I have stayed in some really beautiful hotels this year. I should also add that the expensive and swank ones happened because of the sponsored trips. One such hotel was Naksel Boutique Hotel and Spa in Paro, Bhutan. Paro is a tranquil place to begin with and Naksel is even further away from the small and beautiful city. So, it is doubly tranquil.
This is the view of the main lobby from my room. I took it early in the morning. The mist had redrawn the mountains. I clicked the picture and went to sleep again in my comfortable room.
I had this huge room all to myself. I would actually leave a small light on at night as the surroundings were so quiet. Other than the sitting area, it had a balcony too. The room had a decent supply of tea. It is a pity that I forgot to click a picture of the bathroom with its bath tub.
The sitting area was my favorite place to sit down with a cup of tea. And then I had a balcony too! It was also the perfect spot to curl up with a book! The advantage of the sitting area over the balcony was the absence of the cold wind!
The lobby of the hotel is beautiful, done in the traditional Bhutanese style. All of us stood by the pillars to get a picture! Next to the lobby is an open balcony which offer a great view of the mountains. Dining hall is close to the lobby. The wifi connectivity was good at the lobby.
However, I will remember Naksel most fondly for its spa. I used the spa after coming back from the Tiger’s Nest Hike. It was a very beautiful hike but tiring as well, at least for me. An hour of full body massage after the hike was sheer luxury and bliss. Overall, Naksel is a beautiful hotel more so for its absolutely peaceful surroundings.
I stayed at Nakesl on my trip to Bhutam when I was invited by Makemytrip.
Visa on arrival for Indians in Bhutan is a simple process. My experience of getting was quite smooth. As only Druk Air, the national carrier of Bhutan, flies into the country, it is quite unlike other airports in the world. There are no jet planes landing one after the other, leading to huge queues at visa counters! At Paro International Airport in Bhutan, it doesn’t get crowded as there are not too many flights that are landing at the same time! And it you were wondering, Druk means dragon in the local language.
When you are flying into Bhutan you should ask for a left hand side window seat to get the views of high mountains. While coming back it is the other way round. There is no online check-in available with Druk Air so it pays to go to the airport early if you are keen on that window seat.
Indians need a valid passport or a voter’s ID card to enter into Bhutan by air. I was using my passport but a journalist in our group could easily enter on his voter’s ID card. At the immigration counter they usually ask for the name of the hotel you are going to stay at. They did not ask me for the reservation proof but I had it ready if they wanted to inspect it.
As it was only our flight that had landed and there were many counters, getting the visa on arrival was a breeze. I handed my passport, the immigration officer asked for my hotel name and just as he was about to stamp my passport, I made my request with folded hands, “Please use a used page of my passport, there are very few fresh pages remaining.” I have 5 pages left in my passport which is valid for the next five years! He was kind enough to listen to me and stamp a used page. Since I became aware that my passport pages may run out before its validity, I have been requesting immigration officers at various airports, including Delhi, not to use a fresh page. Surprisingly they are quite accommodating about it!
It was that easy, in the end, to get a visa on arrival for Bhutan on my Indian passport!
PS. I was invited by Makemytrip to visit Bhutan
As Bhutan is our neighbor I was not too worried about the dress code for women before I went! Looking at the temperatures in July I knew I would need to wrap up. So I packed accordingly. Now that it has been some time since my visit I try to construct the dress code for women in Bhutan through pictures.
I saw a lot of women (men as well) in Bhutan wearing their traditional dress. It looked pretty, demure and classy! While walking through the souvenir shops of Thimphu, I asked this lady if I could click her picture. She agreed quite easily. The Bhutanese national dress for women is called Kira. I am not sure if this is Kira or a variation of it, but it looks so pretty.
It is quite common to see women in modern attire as well. Jeans and capris were quite common, some would wear shorts too. But in the same picture, in the left hand corner you can see women in their traditional attire as well!
The younger generation usually dresses in a trendy way, like anywhere else in the world! I met the girls at the Buddha Point at Thimphu as well. They were shooting for a tourism catalog. The weather is such that it is sensible to have a warp, you never know when you would find it cold.
The was a dress code at the religious places. At the Phunaka Dzong you are not allowed to wear a sleeveless top. I was wearing one, but as I was carrying a full sleeves jacket, I just wore it over my top. What the lady in the picture is wearing is fine, even a short sleeve will do at the Dzongs. But carrying a warp or a full sleeve jacket is such a wonderful idea, it keeps the cold away and it can come in handy to meet any such dress code requirements!
Here is a full picture of the traditional Bhutanese dress, Kira. For a while I was tempted to buy one for myself but I knew I would hardly ever wear it, and shopping in Bhutan is not cheap at all.
In conclusion, to me western dresses looked fine, women commonly wore jeans and shirt. Sleeveless was fine as long as you were not visiting a religious place! I also feel that women do cover up a bit more than what may be the norm in the western world. I did not see too many low necks or short skirts or skimpy shorts.
PS. I was invited to visit Bhutan by Makemytrip.
There is something about Paro that makes me calm. Maybe it is the size, it didn’t feel big. Maybe it is the number of houses which didn’t seem excessive. Maybe it is the mountains, maybe the small and charming market. But as soon as we started getting out of the airport I said to no one in particular, “now this is exactly what a doctor would order for the frayed city nerves.” After spending 3 nights at Paro, I have still not revised my opinion. It feels as if no one can strike a discordant note in Paro, Bhutan.
We stayed at the Naksel Resort which is away from the city. But then in Paro, even the city does not feel like city. My room at Naksel was huge and it had a balcony. The nights were so silent that I would leave a small light on in my room, even though I don’t get easily scared! The only hitch in the paradise? The rooms were at a sharp incline and it was a task to walk back after dinner! But it was good in a way, that way we could digest some of the awesome dinner we would gobble everyday!
The highlight of my trip was the climb to the Tiger’s Nest in Paro. If you are even mildly fit you have to attempt it. The walk is steeply uphill but the location of the monastery is amazing. It is perched on the top of a cliff almost floating up there in the clouds! I will surely like to walk this path again with my daughter one day.
The Naksel Resort organized an evening of traditional dances from Bhutan. But let me digress for a moment. At college, a colleague asked me to join the ‘Cultural Club’ as a mentor to which I asked her, “Ma’am do I look cultured to you in any way?” That is the truth about me. I miss out on all the finer aspects of dances and such. And yet it is always a pleasure to watch the traditional dances of a country even if I can understand and appreciate so little.
They called it a market! For me it was a small place to wander! There is more to the market than I could capture in one frame but it was a small, cozy place. But shopping in Bhutan is expensive. As it has a restriction of USD 250 per person per night on tourists from many countries (but not India), the shopping reflects this. But then who wants to shop when one can roam around and click beautiful pictures! The shops had ornately beautiful windows too!
As we were staying away from the city, I could never walk next to the Paro River. It is on my agenda. I also could see the Rinpung Monastery from a distance. But then I have to simply find a way to go back to Bhutan! I am completely smitten by it. I am sure if tranquility had an address it would be Paro!
PS. I was invited by Makemytrip to visit Bhutan and I so thankful that I could easily take leaves and go!