My seventh day in Bhutan was the beginning of yet another incredible adventure in the western region of the country. Come along with me as I enjoy some exotic Bhutanese street food on my way through the Himalayas to Haa Valley in western Bhutan!
My day began in the capital city of Thimphu. I’d soon take a 3.5-hour drive west to Haa Valley, the second least-populated place in the country, which is home to only 14,000 people. Along the way, we’d drive through the nation’s highest mountain pass in the Himalayas. We’d also have some exotic Bhutanese street food for breakfast on the way to Haa Valley, Bhutan!
My friend and guide from MyBhutan, Tsheten, and I set off toward Haa Valley with our driver Nidup. I was told that it would be a different experience for me. The valley had been closed to Westerners until 2002. There are more shopkeepers than customers there! They also make buckwheat dumplings filled with dried turnip leaves there, and they also have lots of vegetables that are different from the ones I’d had so far. They also have two 7th-century temples there: White Temple and Black Temple.
We were following the main highway, which connects the entire country. The road is high above the river valley and there are lots of restaurants and small communities along it. There are also hut-like shops where you can buy fruit and chogo (dry yak cheese).
We turned right at a river. We were close to the border town with India, which you can reach by following a road going in a different direction. Eventually, we stopped at a hut-like shop that was like part convenience store, part restaurant. Because it’s right across the river, it’s a popular spot for locals to buy sausages. Hanging outside were bunches of the chogo. There, they had the outer skin of the yak, tripe, lungs, beef sausage, pork sausage, veal, and more. It was spicy, non-veg organ meat!
I started with some ngaja, or milk tea, while Tsheten and Nidup got the suja, or butter tea. I like the milk tea better. It was a great way to start a cold day in Bhutan! Then, I dove into the most exotic breakfast I’ve ever eaten! I had beef lungs, tripe (beef stomach), two pork blood sausages, and ezay.
The pork blood sausage was super spicy and tasted like morcilla! It was nice, juicy, and dense. Then, I dug into the lungs, which was good! It had a similar consistency to kidneys. It was so soft and full of numbing spices. I loved the spice level. It was so good! The Bhutanese street food on the way to Haa Valley, Bhutan is exceptional!
Next was the tripe. I love stomach as well, but I’m not too big on intestines. The tripe was really tasty but a little hard to chew through. Then, I added more ezay to it. It tasted like a medium or overcooked flank steak! There was a fleshy side and a more gelatinous side.
The ezay wasn’t too spicy. It was more like a chili paste. It was made with chili powder, onion, tomato, and oil. The sausage was one of my favorite morcillas ever! I finished up with more lungs with ezay. Overall, the spice level was maybe a 7 out of 10. What a delicious exotic Bhutanese breakfast on the way to Haa Valley, Bhutan!
Then, I had some porridge to finish up and calm down the heat. I’m not usually a huge fan of porridge. It’s made with boiled rice, paneer, and chili powder. It was slimy and really tasty! I could feel the chilies in it!
From there, we left the stand and hit the road again. We still had 3 hours of driving ahead of us! The road directly to Haa Valley was under construction, so we took another route that would take us close to Paro, then up into the mountains, and down into the valley. I was so excited to explore a new place.
Outside of Paro, we passed through a small village called Shaba and passed some fields where they grow potatoes, chilies, and other vegetables. There was also rice fields, lots of houses, and some stupas. We continued on down the Bondey-Haa Highway, which zig-zags through the mountains of the Haa District.
We were making our way up the mountain. We passed some domesticated horses on the road. Then, we reached a viewpoint where we could get an amazing view of Paro. I could see the fortress and some monasteries with the mountains in the background. The highway has only one lane, so you have to veer to the side for cars to pass in the opposite direction.
The road was the windiest one I’d ever been on. It’s definitely the type of road you could get carsick on. Sometimes they have to shut down the road for a month because of heavy snowfall during the winter. I could see some snow on the peaks nearby. It was a tough road.
Then, we saw a cat leopard and then we began passing slushy patches of snow. I wanted to have a snowball fight! They use lots of salt on the road because of the snow, which makes the road bad. It got super bumpy and muddy with potholes. It was like a Bhutanese massage!
We stopped for a second so we could have a snowball fight! Being from Miami, I only get to see snow maybe once a year, so seeing it makes me really happy! With my hands frozen, we hopped back in the car and passed lots of yaks. To our right, we could see the second-highest mountain in Bhutan, which is 7,340 meters above sea level.
Then, we made it to the highest pass in Bhutan, Chele La. It’s 3,988 meters above sea level. The views were incredible! There were prayer flags everywhere and some prayer wheels. It was so cold and my hands were freezing. I was climbing but had to stop due to a really unfriendly yak. I could feel the altitude; it was hard for me to catch my breath. I definitely recommend wearing a jacket, a beanie, and gloves here in the winter!
From there, we had less than an hour ride to get down. The road was literally cut into the mountain. I hadn’t felt the altitude like this in a long time. There was less snow here, as it was in the sun.
We stopped at another viewpoint to see Haa Valley in all its glory. There was a military base and a town there. It’s a long valley surrounded by mountains. I could see a monastery with a red roof to the left.
We made it to the bottom of the mountain. There weren’t that many people in the town. We’d finally arrived in Haa Valley and I couldn’t wait to explore it!
I hope you enjoyed coming with me to have exotic Bhutanese street food on the way to Haa Valley, Bhutan! If you did, please give this video a thumbs up and leave a comment below. Also, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and click the notification bell so you don’t miss any of my travel/food adventures around the world!