Just about 50 years ago, Bhutanese economy was a self-sufficient one, growing whatever they needed on their farms from cereals to spices, from fruits to nuts. However, as in other mountainous societies, one commodity had to be bought all the way from the sea – the salt.
Salt was so scarce and important in those days in Bhutan that it was accepted as a form of currency for barter. Salt came mostly from India. Once a year after the harvesting season, in winter, able-bodied men from the valleys would make a trip to India. They would take produce from Bhutan like corn flakes, dried cheese and yak hair to barter with salt in India. They would bring back salt on their back and mules to last a year for the whole valley.
The old trade route passed through mountain passes and rocky cliffs, river ravines and uninhabited jungles of Southern Bhutan. The journey was full of perils. Arriving in the plains Bhutanese traders would camp at the old trading post at Pasakha (now near Phuentsholing). The journey would take anywhere between 7 to 12 days.
This tour package would follow the old trade route to South (which is no in disuse). After seeing the cultural and historic centres of Bhutan for the first days, then you would drive south. The zigzagging road would follow the same trail that Bhutanese traders walked on foot just half a century ago. It would lead you from the mountains of Bhutan to the plains of India.
You can arrange a extend tour for you in the old kingdom of Sikkim if you would like once you are out of Bhutan.
Old Trade Route South (6Nights/ 7Nights)
Arrival at Paro
Arrive at Paro by Druk Air flight. Reception will be arranged for you on arrival. Lunch. Stroll through Paro town in the evening.
Night halt: Paro
After breakfast drive to the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong (the Fortress where Drukpas won over joint Tibetan-Mongol Invasions in 1700s). Along the way, one can view the sacred Mount Jhomolhari (7,314m) – The abode of the Goddess Jhomo. Drive back to Satsam Chorten and then hike up to view the Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) built on the face of a 1000 m rock cliff. End the day by visiting typical farmhouse to experience the daily life of Bhutanese people.
Night Halt: Paro.
Morning –Paro Taktsang. Afternoon–Drive to Thimphu
Full day excursion to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery. Evening drive to Thimphu.
Night halt: Thimphu
Sightseeing in Thimphu
Thimphu valley sightseeing for full day which includes: Memorial Chorten (Stupa), Bhutan Textile Museum, Folk Heritage Museum, National Library, School of Fine Arts, Institute of Traditional Medicine, Tashicho-dzong (the seat of the Royal Government), Zilukha Nunnery, Traditional Handmade Paper Factory and Handicrafts Emporium.
Night halt: Thimphu.
Thimphu – Punakha – Wangdue – Thimphu
Full day excursion to Punakha and Wangdue valleys with sightseeing at Dochula pass(3.050 m). Lunch at Punakha Valley. Evening drive back to Thimphu.
Night halt: Thimphu.
Thimphu – Phuentsholing
After breakfast proceed to Phuentsholing. Visit Kharbandi Gompa and Zangtopelri Lhakhang in Phuentsholing.
Night halt: Phuentsholing.
Phuentsholing – Bagdogra (India)
Transfer to Bagdogra airport in India for your departure.