- I had really high expectations for this trip and whilst a lot of the tour was amazing there were a couple of things that really made me think I would have been better off booking a private guide rather than going on a group trip.
I didn't have access to money until 2/3 through the trip which was horrific. I couldn't buy so much as a drink with the rest of the group. I'd taken USD as recommended but they hadn't specified that you need high denomination notes or you can loose 25-30% of the value of the note on exchange (I hate being ripped off). The guide had access to an ATM earlier on in the tour but didn't provide access to that ATM to the group - only "black market" exchange which was fine where the rate was good but not so good for me with my $20 notes. I felt we should have been given the ability to change money in Paro before we went into the country - this can't be the first group to have come across this issue.
The hotels went from specatcuar to not so good. Some were so new the staff were still finding their feet and apart from Thimpu they were miles out of town. The last couple were dirty, one didn't have enough lights in the room to pack your bag, two of them the baths didn't drain properly. I don't minds simple hotels but I do like things to be clean.
The itinerary could have been better - I would have put one day in Thimpu away from the festival - everything that we'd looked up to see in Thimpu was either closed or had restricted hours through the festival.
More than anything else I didn't like the fact that we did everything as a group. There was no chance at all to get out and see the things that you wanted to. We were ushered from one spot to another as a herd and there was very little opportunity for getting out into the community and meeting people or just hanging around a city. I'm guessing this is a restriction that the Bhutanese government puts on tourists but for this reason I really would suggest to anyone going to get a private guide. Also until the roads are better I think smaller cars are easier to get past the landslides etc.
Our guide was wonderful and I felt really did look after us and want us to have a good trip. He was personable and kind. He could have been a little more detailed in his information on areas and sites and a little louder. The money issue really was a big thing for me though.
Published on: 23 October 2016