On his second trip to Bhutan, Lester Ledesma takes a road trip along the national highway of Bhutan and gets a glimpse of life in several small towns just off the road.
Bhutan isn’t the first place that comes to mind for a cross-country road trip. In fact, up until 1962 there weren’t even roads in this remote Himalayan kingdom, which is known as ‘the last Shangri-La’. These days, a single long highway services the entire country, connecting towns and cities that were previously accessible only through long hikes through the mountains.
In the past few years, Bhutan has gradually opened to tourism, but travelling to the country is still strictly regulated with most nationalities required to obtain visas and permits through accredited travel agencies and paying a US$250 tariff per day. There are several approved travel agencies in Singapore though Druk Asia (www.drukasia.com) is the only Bhutan specialist who can arrange flights directly through Drukair (www.drukair.com), Bhutan’s national airline. Drukair is the only one offering direct flights to Paro Airport from Changi (return flights start at around $1,600, which is in addition to the daily tariff).
The tariff covers the cost of having a required tour guide who stays with you throughout your trip, plus three-star hotel accommodations, meals and ground transportation while in Bhutan. As we discovered, you’re able to customise your trip however you want for the same basic flat tariff rate (you can choose your hotels and destinations, though airfare and luxury accommodations cost extra) – road trip and private car included. Here are the highlights of our trip, which totalled nine hours on the road across four days – not much, really, but enough to make you feel like you’ve travelled centuries back in time.
Check out the full article at A road trip through Bhutan on TimeOut!
About Lester V. Ledesma | Photojournalist
Lester has written and photographed Asia for over a decade with his work appearing in publications like Hemispheres (USA), Colors Benetton (Italy), Asian Geographic (Singapore), and Cebu Smile (Philippines). He is the 2007 and 2009 PATA Gold Awardee for Travel Photography, the 2005 ATTA Silver Medalist for Travel Photography, and the 2002 ASEANTA Awardee for Excellence in Travel Photography. This veteran photojournalist shoots the region with the familiarity of home and connects with his subjects on a deeply personal level.
Lester visited Bhutan thrice over a span of 12 months since his first encounter in July 2012.
He has written about Bhutan with various publications and conducts PhotoTreks to Bhutan on a regular basis!
CNNgo - 5 reasons Bhutan is worth the US$250 daily fee
TimeOut - Bhutan: A worthwhile destination
Check out his website at Sky Light Images and Lester's PhotoTreks to Bhutan!