Travelling in Bhutan with 1 year old: How this family did it

November 27, 2017
  • Trekking up a mountain
    1 / 5 Trekking up a mountain

    Talk about scaling greater travel heights as a family. Elizabeth Chan and her husband, Denny Kwong, trekked with then 18-month-old Otto to Tiger’s Nest, or Paro Taktsang, in Bhutan on a 10-day trip in November three years ago.

    “To get to the Tiger’s Nest before noon, our driver had to pick us up before sunrise. At this hour, Bhutan in November is in sub-zero temperatures, but by 11am, it gets up to 20 to 25 deg C,” the 38-year-old management consultant says.

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  • Memories to treasure
    2 / 5 Memories to treasure

    “My husband carried our son on his back all through the trek. Of course, when you are carrying a toddler, the whole trek becomes slower because you need diaper changes, snack breaks, taking our son down from the baby carrier and then convincing him to get back in it.”

    Apart from the scenic splendour and colourful prayer flags, the humility of the Bhutanese and generosity of the children as they offered Otto snacks were experiences to cherish.

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  • Making new friends
    3 / 5 Making new friends

    “We encountered a big traffic jam en route to Punakha, so our guide stopped at a local village to let Otto stretch his legs and relax a bit. The local children playing nearby soon gathered around, fascinated, since they hadn’t seen toddler travellers too often on this route.

    “Otto offered them some grapes and one of the kids came back and gave him some fruit, including a big orange, and local bread.”

    By the last day, during a visit to a private temple, Otto was sick of his rice crackers and sandwiches, so he was crying and refusing to eat. “The family who were keepers of the temple offered him one of his favourite foods – chicken rice porridge, interestingly with some added cheese.”

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  • We'll be back
    4 / 5 We'll be back

    While Elizabeth and her son were fine, it was her husband who had a bit of altitude sickness, not uncommon for a trek to Tiger’s Nest, where the highest elevation is more than 3,000m.

    Apart from Paro, the base for their trek, the family cherished their time in Thimphu, the only capital in the world with no traffic lights, and Punakha, known for its Temple of Fertility.

    Elizabeth hopes to return to Bhutan soon, this time with her 11-month-old baby girl Robyn, and Otto, now 4½, to break more Bhutanese bread with the semi-nomadic yak herders of Merak and Sakteng.

    Related: Family travel hacks: Visit Maldives on a budget

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  • More holidays off the beaten track
    5 / 5 More holidays off the beaten track

    Elizabeth is also looking forward to taking them to Myanmar next year.

    She shares her travel tips: “Preparation is the key to success. Check basic necessities, simplify the travel route and explore activities that you will enjoy as a family.

    “Plan ahead and you’ll have a higher chance of a smooth and once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

    (Photos: Elizabeth Chan)

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