While planning my trip to Bhutan, one of my biggest concern was commuting. Bhutan has poor public transportation system. Things might get a bit difficult if you are a tourist (it is necessary to pre-book a car for the entire trip at Thimpu). So I had no option but to hire a car. I called up a no. of agencies but all of them quoted a hefty figures for hatchbacks. The best deal I could get for a Santro/Wagon-R was INR 2500 per day.
One of my collage senior who had travelled Bhutan earlier, suggested me to talk to his trip driver – John. But he had no contact details of this guy. The only lead I could get was that he operates out of Jaigaon (Indian side of Phuntsholing, Bhutan). I contacted some tour operators from Jaigaon and got the lead of John from one tour agency (International Tours and Travels – A breakaway from Jaigon Tours and Travels) headed by Suraj Lama. Although he didn’t give me contact details of John directly, but he quoted me lowest figure of INR 2200 with John. I agreed.
I got the permit made from Kolkata itself and mailed the softcopy of same to Suraj and John who in turn used the same to get the driver and car permit. That’s how we got saved from the pain of getting the permit made at Phuntsholing and saved time.
I met John at Jaigaon, paid for the trip and left for Thimpu right away. It takes almost 6 hours to reach Thimpu from Jaigaon. I had asked John to book our stay in Hotel Tandin. It is the most sought after hotel in Thimpu. He did the bookings for us in Thimpu, helped us book a homestay in Phobjikha (the host don’t understand Hindi/English) and our stay in Paro as well (in a good deal).
John is an amazing fellow to travel with, an amazing driver and takes cares of his Wagon R like a sweetheart. He will take you to amazing places and more than willing to adjust himself as per your itinerary. In addition he has a pretty good eye of framing for group pictures.
One trait that stands out is his chivalrous behavior. He knows a lot of people throughout in Bhutan. In fact one of his friend whom he called Tiger accompanied us to Phobjikha and Punakha. Of course he took our permission first.
However, he talks a lot and he will make you listen to some of his favorite Nepali songs. So carry your own song collection in your pod/pen drive.
Overall, he made an awesome company. 🙂
Contact Details –
Suraj (International Tours and Travels, Jaigaon) – +91-9593842352, firstname.lastname@example.org
John – +91 8145802903 (India) | +975 16908609 (Bhutan) | FB link: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005515369152&fref=ts