A celebration of friendship, Mr. Modi’s visit to Bhutan

While Bhutan is important to India because of the friendship between the two countries, lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay said, Bhutan’s future is closely linked with that of India, particularly when it comes to the economy.

That Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes Bhutan and the region seriously, was the message lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay took from the Indian prime minister’s address to the joint session of Parliament yesterday in Thimphu.

“He wants to make sure that there’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that Bhutan is very important for India and important because we’re close friends,” lyonchhoen said at a press conference last evening. “I think the fact that he chose Bhutan as his first visit abroad aptly proves the point.”
For India and Bhutan, Prime Minister Modi’s two-day state visit was a celebration of friendship between the two countries, one where both the countries did not consider any political benefit or economic gains, lyonchhoen said.

Both prime minsters also highlighted the impact of India’s prosperity in the region in their statements. Prime Minister Modi, in his address, said only a strong and prosperous India can help alleviate the problems that its neighbours faced, while lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay said that, if India prospers, Bhutan should prosper.

“As a small landlocked country, it’s difficult for Bhutan to prosper in isolation,” lyonchhoen said. “India’s prosperity will impact Bhutan too, and we need to work hard, to prepare ourselves for that prosperity, to ensure that we can also leverage on India’s prosperity to become even more prosperous ourselves.”

Prime Minister Modi, who addressed in Hindi ,also spoke about the large share of budget Bhutan allocated to education, and said that this reflected Bhutan’s investment for the future.

India, he said, was keen to make a contribution to this investment, and announced to double the Nehru-Wangchuck scholarship to Rs 20M a year. The government of India would also provide grant assistance to establish a digital section/e-library at the National Library of Bhutan and in all 20 districts across the country.

A Bhutan-India joint press statement stated that the two governments recalled the free trade arrangement and the expanding bilateral trade between the two countries.

“The government of India conveyed its decision to exempt Bhutan from any ban or quantitative restrictions on exports of milk powder, wheat, edible oil, pulses and non-basmati rice.”
The joint statement also stated that the two countries agreed to continue with their close coordination and cooperation with each other on issues relating to their national interests, and not allow each other’s territory to be used for interests inimical to the other.

To take the relationship further, Prime Minister Modi suggested the Himalayan states in India, along with Bhutan and perhaps Nepal, could hold a sports meet annually to connect people and contribute to happiness. He said India and Bhutan could together develop a tourism circuit, combining India’s northeastern states and Bhutan because, according to him, “Terrorism divides; tourism unites.”
Opposition leader (Dr) Pema Gyamtsho, who also called on Prime Minister Modi said the Indian Prime Minister’s address was inspiring and as relevant to a common man on the street as it was to world leaders. “I am particularly impressed by his grasp of contemporary issues and challenges that we are facing at the national, regional and global scales.”

India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj also called a press conference yesterday, to convey the Indian delegation’s satisfaction on the successful visit of Prime Minister Modi’s visit.

“The prime minister affirmed that all commitments made by the last government will be fulfilled in to-to,” she said. “The commitments weren’t made by the previous government to the present government; it’s always made by one country to the other country and, therefore, we’ll fulfill in to-to whatever commitments India has made to Bhutan.”

As Prime Minister Modi is seen as a doer and one who applies the mantra of skill, scale and speed in everything he does, Sushma Swaraj said, the pace of hydropower development between the two countries would now gain speed.

Similar to the statement Prime Minister Modi made of a strong and prosperous India being in favour of SAARC countries, the external affairs minister said their government’s vision is also of a prosperous and stable government in its neighbours, who are also in favour of India.”

His Majesty The King hosted a luncheon at the Grand Kuenra of Tashichhodzong in honour of the Indian Prime Minister yesterday. His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Their Majesties the Gyalyums, Their Royal Highnesses the Princesses and Princes also graced the luncheon, where the cabinet ministers, members of the opposition, and senior government officials from Bhutan were also invited.

The luncheon was the final programme in Prime Minister Modi’s two-day visit to Bhutan, a country whose friendship with India, he said, was like milk and water – inseparable. By Sonam Pelden | Kuensel |




PM's departure


PM Modi’s Two Day State Visit Starts Tomorrow


At the invitation of His Majesty the King, newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive in the capital city, Thimphu, tomorrow on a two-day official visit.

Lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay, cabinet ministers and senior government officials will receive Prime Minister Modi and his delegation at the Paro international airport.
After his arrival in Thimphu, Prime Minister Modi, who will be accompanied by the minister for external affairs, Sushma Swaraj, national security advisor, Ajit Doval, foreign secretary, Sujatha Singh, and other senior officials of the government of lndia, will receive an audience with His Majesty the King at the Tashichhodzong.
Later in the evening, Narendra Modi will inaugurate the new Supreme Court building in Hejo, which was constructed with a Nu 700M funding from the government of India.
The prime minister will also call on lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay, who will host a banquet for the Indian prime minister at the royal banquet hall.

Prime Minister Modi, who will also receive an audience with His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, will address a joint sitting of the 3rd session of the second parliament of Bhutan on the morning of June 16, according to a press release from ministry of foreign affairs.
He will then unveil the foundation stone of the 600 megawatt Kholongchu hydropower project. Construction works for the joint venture project is expected to start between September and October this year.

His Majesty will host a lunch in honour of the prime minister and his delegation before they depart from Thimphu on June 16.

“The visit is highly significant as it is His Excellency Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first visit abroad after his swearing-in ceremony as the prime minister of lndia on May 26 in New Delhi,” stated the press release. “The visit will further strengthen the unique and special ties of friendship and cooperation between Bhutan and India.”

In an earlier interview, lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay said, “We’re honoured to have him choose Bhutan as the first country he’s visiting after assuming office. This is a historic visit, the entire world is watching, not just the SAARC region, and we’re extremely happy, we’re proud,” he had said.

Dynamic, dedicated and determined Narendra Modi, 63, became the 15th prime minister of India after he emerged as the indisputable champion of the Lok Sabha election 2014.
Prime Minister Modi served as the chief minister of Gujarat for 13 years between 2001 and 2014, becoming the longest-serving chief minister of the state.

By Rinzin Wangchuk | Kuensel | Thimphu |




Bhutan targets Thai tourists during low season – slashes daily tourist tariff to $65

Bhutan’s Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay, requested earlier this week that tour operators develop special packages to attract Thai tourists, starting in June, July and August of this year, during the country’s low season.

Today, the minimum daily tariff is US$ 250 per tourist per day during peak season, and US$ 200 during low season, which includes 3 star hotel accommodation, 3 meals per day, a professional guide and transport, from which the government retains a royalty (tax) of US$ 65 per tourist per day. For Thai guests the new minimum daily fee will now be only $65, everything else is not compulsory.

The PM commenting on the special promotion said such an initiative would help the lean low season, thereby promoting the country as an all year round tourist destination.

“For the lean months of June, July and August, we’ll offer attractive packages for Thai tourists to begin with,” The PM said, addressing over 70 tour operators. “If it works, we’ll come out with country specific products to attract tourists from each region.”

Tour operators, the PM said, should be able to attract Thai tourists, given His Majesty’s popularity in Thailand, and the diplomatic relations the two countries enjoy.

For this to work, he said, he would also request tourism stakeholders, such as hoteliers and the national airlines, to consider huge discounts during the specified months.

“Tourist season in Bhutan is just for a span of about five months, and the rest of the year is under-utilised,” he said, adding the eastern and southern belts of the country are yet to be explored.

“Let us all work together to have tourists visiting the country throughout the year,” the PM said, assuring government support.

It has been more than 40 years since the country opened to tourism, therefore we need to develop more products, “We could try out with Thailand, and make them feel special,” commented PM Tshering Tobgay.

The PM would like to invite Thai nationals this summer by waiving off the tourists tariff. They will be required to pay only US$ 65 royalty and the tour operators package and will be offered 50% discounts on Drukair. This is to celebrate the 25 year anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries and also to mark the very strong friendship and mutual respect between the two royal families.

Bhutan, a tiny, remote and impoverished kingdom nestling in the Himalayas between its powerful neighbours, India and China, has been almost completely cut off for centuries, it has tried to let in some aspects of the outside world while fiercely guarding its ancient traditions.

The Bhutanese name for Bhutan, Druk Yul, means “Land of the Thunder Dragon” and it only began to open up to outsiders in the 1970s.

Bhutan’s ancient Buddhist culture and breathtaking scenery make it a natural tourist attraction and Bhutan welcomes thousands of Thai visitors each year.

Tourism is restricted; visitors must normally travel as part of a pre-arranged package or guided tour. Backpackers and independent travellers are discouraged.

National dress is compulsory for it’s citizens, the knee-length wrap-around “gho” for men and the ankle-length dress known as the “kira” for women.

The Bhutanese monarchy has also promoted the philosophy of “Gross National Happiness” (GNH), which strives to achieve a balance between the spiritual and the material. The tiny kingdom’s philosophy recognises that there are many dimensions to development and that economic goals alone are not sufficient. A philosophy made popular by the present King’s father who abdicated in December 2006, paving the way for his son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, to become King.

For tourists from Thailand, the daily tariff is considered an impediment to growth, also tour operators have suggested that the Thai baht should be accepted instead of US$ and that the promotion be open to Thai residents.

The PM said he would raise the issue of accepting Thai baht with the Royal Monetary Authority, and also look into the financial implications. He also said that the focus should be just on Thai tourists for now.

The PM said tourism revenue was very important for the country to improve tourist amenities and to contribute towards health and education. “It’s like a golden goose for us,” he said.

President of the Association of Bhutan Tour Operators (ABTO), Karma Lotey, said it stands as a test for tour operators. “There’s nothing for tour operators to be alarmed about,” he said, adding it was a good opportunity.

“What’s important is how we package, I personally welcome the move from the government,” said Mr Lotey, CEO of the highly regarded Yangphel Adventure Travel company.

The Bhutanese Prime Minister is Chairperson of the Tourism Council Board. Present at the meeting and representing the private sector on the Council Board were the Presidents of ABTO, the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industries, and the Hotel Association.

One observer commented, “It is amazing how many Thai people know about HM King Jigme and warmly welcome Bhutanese visitors. All Thai taxi drivers know King Jigme.

Heavenly Bhutan offers cheapest and the lowest rates for all Thai Nationals starting 1st Jun, 2014 to 31-Aug, 2014..for more details and booking your trip, please visit:


Phuentsholing to Thimphu/Paro Highway

Much waited Thimphu to Phuentsholing highway is expected to delay further. Kuensel stated that “shifts the completion date of the much anticipated Damchu-Chukha bypass to 2015 end. Initially, it was March 2013, but it later shifted to mid 2014.”

Once the bypass gets completed, drive between Phuentsholing to Thimphu/Paro or vice versa will be shorten by two hours, therefore total driving hours will be not more than 4 hours one way. Once completed, tourist entering and exiting Bhutan by land would experience one of smoothest and scenic drive in Bhutan.


Bhutan Trip Feedback by Prof. S.C. Lakhotia & Mrs. Lakhotia: 19-May to 25-May, 2013

Trip Feedback by Prof. S.C. Lakhotia & Mrs. Lakhotia 19-May to 25-May, 2013

Mr. Raju
Heavenly Bhutan Travels

Dear Mr. Raju,

This small note is to record our deep appreciation for all the arrangement made for our trip to Bhutan. This has been a most enjoyable trip. It was made much more comfortable by excellent guide Mr. Tek Brd and the equally excellent driver Mr. Ram. The two of them looked after our comfort well with very good driving and guidance. Mr. Tek impressed us with his knowledge, philosophy and very polite manner. Mr. Ram’s driving was a pleasure to experience and his friendly nature and all around knowledge added to the pleasure that we had during this trip. If we come again to Bhutan, we would like to have this pair to take care of our trip. Thanking you once again for making our 1st trip to Bhutan a memorable experience.

Prof. S.C. Lakhotia
Banaras Hindu University
Varanasi 221 005, India


Bhutan Trip Feedback by Pablo & Barbara from Chile: 30-Apr to 9-May 2013

30-Apr to 9-May 2013-Pablo & Barbara from Chile

Dear Raju and team of Heavenly Bhutan Travel agency,

We hope your are all in good shape. We are now in Chile, with our families and facing once again our everyday routine. But we don’t forget you and beatiful Bhutan.
We want you to know that thanks to you and your team, our journey through Bhutan was an unforgetfull and surprising experience.
Raju, having met us on our arrival and later, when we were leaving, including presents for our daughters, was a very warm and unexpected way to receive us, which we appreciate. We are also grateful for the special care you took to meet all our demands during all our stay.
We thank Tibi, our loyal, friendly and wise guide (and good trecker, too), always attentive and mindfull during all our journey. We felt in good hands.
We thank Ram (Rambo) and his excelent good humour, his expert conduction of the car and the fishing cane which gave us the oportunity of tasting excelent trouts directly picked up from the river.
We are also thankfull for our confortable and excelent car, in which we felt almost as the royal family: Doors were opened, suitcases picked up, our desires were orders “foto, foto…please stop.”
But also for the itinerary you chosed for us which included not only the magnificent monuments of your country, incredible sightseeings, jacks, monkeys, but also long and some times tiresome treckings which made us loose some fat and plumpiness; for visiting the school of arts and crafts; arriving at excelent Hotels and restaurants, having good local food an lots and lots of chile !!!!!!!!! including a birthday cake with candles; local dances and so many other incredible experiences difficult to forget.
Finally we want to tell you that your country, with its magestic and non contaminated beauty, during the hours and hours of drive, was a perpetual cause for wonder and emotion, the same as your people, always gentle and similing. We felt always welcomed.
I highly recomend people wanting to visit this magic country, to get in touch with Raju and his Heavenly Bhutan Travel agency. I can assure all that they will not be disappointed.
I am enclosing some photographs for new clients to come.
We have many other photos, if you need more I can send them in little groups because of the weight.
Un gran abrazo para todos, Pablo y Barbara
It means “a big hug for all of you”