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Trip to Chelela Pass in Bhutan

Bhutan is called the land of happiness. With its magnificent valleys, soothing monasteries, bright colors, and truly delightful people - it is not surprising to find Bhutan on the list of almost everyone - even those who have been there at least once. I am already longing for another trip to this country. However, while waiting for this to happen. Let me help others plan their own with this Guide to Bhutan. A landlocked Himalayan country, Bhutan is a reasonably traditional nation. Entirely isolated from the world, he took care to preserve his origins. Although they welcome tourists, they are restrictive regarding the number they promote and the areas they can visit. Therefore, as a traveler, you will find that there are permits for Bhutan that you need to plan for. Here we will try to cover everything in this ultimate Chelela Pass travel guide. We hope you get down to business and start your trip to Chelela Pass in Bhutan.

Chelela Pass

Chele-La is a pass located at 3988 meters above sea level. The Pass separates the Paro valley from that of Haa. The interest of the Pass is the extraordinary view of Mount Jomolhari and, if the sky is apparent, on Kagchenjunga, the 3rd highest peak in the world and located on the border indo-Nepalese.

This fabulous place has always captivated visitors with its positive vibes. They radiate from various directions, from traditional dongs to beautiful gorges, from people and culture to quiet valleys. I had the chance to experience these countless shades of Bhutan. The Chelela Pass journey took me to the other side of Bhutan along the highest motorized gorge in Bhutan - full of rustic undertones. The Chelela Pass showcased an unusual side of Bhutan.

Facts about Chelela Pass:

  • Chelela Pass is the highest road in Bhutan. Bhutan's holiest peak, Mount Jomolhari, is visible from this place.
  • These landscapes introduce you to Chempu Monastery: a popular place of pilgrimage
  • From Paro to the Chelela Pass, it will take about an hour and a half by car to reach the Pass. The drive from Paro to the Chelela Pass offers spectacular views of the thriving flora and fauna.
  • Circulating in some caves that populate the area will make you feel in the fifteenth century.
  • The area around this gorge has several ancient trails and many untouched forest areas, making it an ideal spot for all hikers.
  • We can even witness the vast lakes of the region that house a few rainbow trout.
  • You will discover a landscape with waterfalls of about 100 m in height.

Reasons to visit the Chelela Pass

Prayer flags surround it.

From the mouths of backpackers, you will only hear wonders! It is the spiritual heart of Bhutan, the abode of enlightenment, the zone of thrills. Beyond words, this place is virtuously magical! You want to get off immediately when you see him in the chopper. Let me explain: it is the highest road pass in Bhutan. In there, you are transfixed by an ambiance of pleasantly scented pine trees and a multitude of strange flags. Better, it offers you views of the mountains, valleys, etc. You will feel happy there that you will hardly forget.

A floating view of the Haa Valley

One could still call it the abode of excesses. Indeed, everything you will see there is excellent. As early as planned, we understand why tourists find it difficult to leave its landscapes of fields, traditional houses, mysterious monasteries, etc. Choose hiking and make your route spectacular! This is an incredible opportunity where you will discover a wild nature surrounded by high Himalayan peaks. You will immerse yourself in the rural daily life of the locals, you will feel immersed in the country's millennial history, and you will apprehend the unique religious fervor of this paradise.

Ideal site for mountain bike racing games

Serene, the atmosphere is conducive to exploring this peaceful and discreet place by mountain bike tours. With a tour that you could do as a team, you'll appreciate this country's natural beauty and richness, but you'll have that joyous feeling of being transported back in time. The mountainous terrain will provide you with a fascinating adventure if you are into cycling. Take on the most significant challenges from your friends. You will be fascinated all along the route by the alpine heights, and at the end, you will have as a reward the picturesque and almost medieval villages that will seduce you.

Moments of strong sensations

This is the favorite moment for thrill-seekers. Mountaineers climb and renew the experience in such a way as to make you want to be, even if you hate being at height. As a proposal, you have two mountains: that of Jomolhari and that of Jichu Drakey. For the unaccustomed, you will initially feel vertigo which will quickly be replaced by the details of magnificence offered by the panorama. You will see the whole valley under your feet, its junipers, its rhododendrons, its firs, and it’s other gentle trees.

Temples where you will meditate deeply

Some consider this Pass sacred, a place where Buddhism and Hinduism mingle, where you will reach the climax of enlightenment. Go on the paths of meditation, starting with the most famous of all, the one that leads to the monastery of Taktshang. Above a cliff, it hides within it a sacred cave that is lucky to have hosted one of the founders of Buddhism. Waterfalls will rock you with their sound. You will feel soothed and amazed. You are carried away in a moment of eternity.

Activities to do around Chelela Pass

Most activities around Chelela Pass are aimed at exploring Bhutan's natural landscape. Here are the top activities to do in Chelela Pass:

Hiking on Chelela Pass

The pleasant weather combined with the breathtaking surroundings makes the trek between Chelela Pass and Paro one of the best activities to attend. Hikers even encounter many locals along the way, and this way, they can interact with them and learn more about the traditional Bhutanese way of life. The best time to hike here would be the months between May and November, when the weather and surrounding views are in the best shape possible. You should keep the Chelela Pass map handy if they are hiking alone.

Haa Valley

Almost like a gateway to Bhutan, the Haa Valley spanned 1,760 square kilometers between Sikkim in India and the Chumbi Valley in Tibet. The name "Haa" denotes a hidden quality, and hence it is also called the Land of Hidden Rice Valleys. A piece of green land with the mighty HaaChu River flowing through the surrounding Himalayan Mountains is one of Bhutan's smallest dzong or district districts. This is the ancestral home of the Queen's Grandmother and has quite a history when it comes to the Dorji family and Buddhism. This tourist spot in Bhutan will not disappoint you. Also known as the most beautiful valley. You can walk accompanied by the charm of beautiful forests and rivers. Interestingly, in the Haa Valley, you can also find Blue Poppy flowers cream in color.

The Haa Valley has become a strategic location near the India-China-Bhutan border. The place was close to the military strife between India and China in 2017. In fact, due to the friendly relationship and location between India and Bhutan, Haa Town is the base of the Indian Military Training camp.

Haa Valley is not only in terms of location but also in terms of access. Tourists were not allowed here until 2002. In a way, this has been one reason why the valley is still so pristine and gorgeous with Old World Charm

Haa Festival

Haa Festival is a popular event among Bhutanese people during the summer season. A festive event displays Bhutanese traditions. It consists of many religious performances, mouth-watering choices of various dishes from Bhutanese cuisine, traditional sports, and a display of nomadic cultural celebrations. The entire region is populated with locals celebrating their traditional lifestyle, scenic mountain flowers, and many ancient artifacts created by talented curators. Visitors can plan to stay the night at one of the famous Haa Valley residents and experience the hospitality.

Various birds watching

Early morning is the best time to witness various bird species in Chelela Pass to Paro. Tits can be seen flying through the canopy of conifers. Other flocks of birds that can be seen here are the white-winged grosbeak, tall-crested monal, laughing thrush, White-browed raised bullfinch, mountain finches, and nutcrackers, and many more. Snow-capped mountains and a few birds are flying around, and it is a fantastic sight.

Fun at Chele La Pass

Snow had fallen early in the morning. Not heavily, but just enough to form a light white veil over the dark greens. Fluttering prayer flags added this splash of color to the beautiful white scene. As we had reached the summit at 3988m above sea level, it was time to stop—a few clicks here to capture a moment of joy before taking the short hike to the top.

Seeking blessings in Tiger Nest Monastery.

Tiger Nest Monastery is a famous Buddhist monastery located in the upper part of Paro Valley overlooking a magnificent valley. It is a famous Himalayan holy place that is one of the most popular places to visit in Bhutan. It's a two-hour climb to the monastery. It is a challenging trek for this place with steep slopes, and the high altitude only adds to the restless feeling. However, the magnificent monastery is not worth the effort to reach this place.

Rinpung Dzong

It is built on a steep slope, and the view is stunning. It sheds light on traditional Bhutanese architecture with its stunning walls and wood carvings. It is considered one of the best places to visit in Bhutan.

National Museum

Shaped like a conch shell, this round museum is located above Paro Dzong. A unique assortment of modern and ancient Thangkas, the terrifying face masks used in tsechu dances, an egg was thrown with a mule, Guru Rinpoche's horse horn, and the original connections of several Tamchhog bridges are beautifully displayed here.

Travel tips for food in Bhutan

The food of Bhutan is full of cheese and hot pepper. And no, that's not a typo. Bhutanese food is quite heavy for them. And it's also quite delightful. Don't miss the famous Chili cheese, potato cheese, and Shamu Datshi. There are many other traditional things to try, and I will look at these better soon but in a separate post.

Bhutanese food is available everywhere, and in most cases, you will have to do this. Indian food is also widely available. It is nice to note that fast food is not so readily available - even in the capital Thimphu.

Most hotels have a fundamental breakfast - consisting of bread, jam, eggs, one fruit, and one Indian dish. You will have to pay extra for this, as this is usually not included in the hotels you book online. Food, in general, is a bit expensive in Bhutan. However, if you are on the government package, this is considered in the price.

Best time to visit Chelela Pass

Between April and June, you can enjoy pleasant weather with rhododendron blooms strewn across the vibrant landscapes of the Pass's valleys. It is an ideal time for picnics and camping with friends and family. From October to March, the winter season is experienced in this area, and one can witness the magnificent view of the high mountains covered with snow. However, care should be taken as it can get unbearably cold this season.

How to Get to Chelela Pass?

The Paro or Haa valley journey passes through dense forests that turn into an incredible adventure. On days when the surroundings are apparent, magnificent views of Mount Jumolhari, Jichu Drake, other northern peaks, and the Paro and Haa valleys can be witnessed.

Tips before visit to Chelela Pass, Bhutan

Bhutan is a country located in the Himalayas, the highest mountain in the world. When packing, make sure it includes layers and warm clothing. It can be boiling in cities like Paro and Thimphu, so you'll also want to have summer clothes.
Bhutan Travel must contain items:

  • Besides what you'd usually pack for any backcountry adventure, we've highlighted a few necessary items when traveling to Bhutan.
  • Hiking Boots are a must - Make sure you break your hiking boots, and they are waterproof and lightweight.
  • Layers - base layer, middle layer, and outer waterproof/windproof layer for changes in weather and temperature: read our guide to winter layers.
  • Hat - The sun is harsh when you are above the clouds. Put on a pointed hat to protect from sunburn.
  • Sunscreen – as mentioned above, UV rays are harsh above the clouds, be sure to protect your skin.
  • Headlight - You will be traveling to distant places, and you will have a headlight for hands-free wandering at night.
  • Portable charger - It can take several days without proper electricity to charge. Bring a USB charger to recharge your camera and cell phone batteries.
  • Personal first aid kit - chances are you won't be able to get a lot of medication or first aid in Bhutan, so bring a complete kit with you. Here is our list of travel first aid kits.
  • Sleeping Bag - If you are trekking, pack your sleeping bag for at least -10 Celsius for optimum comfort and cleanliness.
  • Gloves and Wool Hat - Temperatures vary, and gloves and hats are perfect for keeping warm and sleeping in tents.

Strolling around Bhutan might make you want to come back one day. Given that many natural charms are ready to make you fall in love. High mountains with snow, green scenery, and cool air will make a fun holiday. Not to mention that Bhutan also offers culinary tours that indulges the senses.

Final words

Bhutan is filled with mountainous landscapes that are interconnected by several passes. The highest highway of all Bhutanese routes is the Chelela Pass which connects the Paro and Haa Valleys. It is the best destination for trekking and hiking trips. Above, we have provided a detailed guide to visiting Chelela Pass in Bhutan.

Chele Le Pass hit Bhutan's highest route. But it can still be accessed by vehicle; this makes it never empty of visitors. It feels like you are in the virgin forest of the Haa Valley. You can enjoy the exciting road trips Chelela has to offer. We advise you to immediately book a trip to Chelela Pass in Bhutan and visit this incredible spot.

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