Bhutan

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543
14 Days
Min Age : 18
Max People : 15

Tour of Bhutan

Day 1-2: U.S - Bangkok

Depart the U.S. for your flight to Thailand. Cross the international dateline and arrive at Suvarnabhumi International Airport and take the hotel shuttle to the Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel for one night.

Check into the hotel. This evening is at leisure.

 

  • Accommodations: Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel
  • Meals Included: Meals Aloft
Day 3: Bangkok - Paro - Thimphu

Take the hotel shuttle to the airport for your flight to Paro (about 3 hours, economy class). The flight from Bangkok to Paro is quite early and will take you through the airspace of Thailand, Mynamar, Bangladesh, India and finally Bhutan. As you approach Paro International Airport, you will see  magnificent views of Western Bhutan’s mountain peaks spanning some 7,000 meters high.

 

Meet your local guide at the airport and transfer to the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu.

 

After checking into your hotel, drive up to the National Takin Reserve to get a glimpse of Bhutan’s national animal – the takin. The takin is a rather strange looking creature that resembles a cross between a goat and a shaggy buffalo.

 

At the end of the day, enjoy a hike up to Wangditse Monastery. The hike is an hour’s walk up a hill that offers majestic views of Thimphu valley. The trail is comfortable and cuts through pristine forests of pines. This hike will help you acclimatizing to the altitude and the thin Himalayan air.

 

  • Accommodations: Hotel Namgay Heritage
  • Meals Included: (B,L,D)
Day 4: Thimphu

Start the day by driving up to a quaint little village known as Dodena in Northern Thimphu. From the village, enjoy a hike up to Tango Monastery. The relatively short hike (approximately 40 minutes) will take you through lush and pristene pine forests. The Monastery houses a Buddhist College where one can obtain a Master’s Degree in Buddhist Studies. The course typically takes 9 years to complete. After hiking down from the Monastery, return to town for lunch.

Visit the National Institute of Zorig Chusum. The Institute is a wonderful crafts school that trains both boys and girls in the 13 traditional crafts of Bhutan. The 13 different crafts are: lhazo (sketching and painting), shingzo (woodworking), shazo (woodturning), jinzo (clay work), lugzo (bronze casting), tsharzo (bamboo work), deyzo (paper making), troezo (gold smithy), yigzo (calligraphy), tshemzo (embroidery and tailoring), thagzo (weaving), dozo (masonry), and garzo (blacksmithery).

Tour Deysho Factory where you can see how deysho (handmade traditional paper) is made. Visit the Royal Textile Museum with beautiful exhibits of fine Bhutan textiles and the Weaving Center at Changzamtog where you can see the traditional weaving techniques.

  • Accommodations: Hotel Namgay Heritage
  • Meals Included: (B,L,D)
Day 5: Thimphu - Phobjikha

In the morning, drive to the glacial valley of Phobjikha. The drive takes 4-5 hours with beautiful scenery enroute. The winding roads cut across densely forested mountains.

The drive will take you through Dochu La (3050 m/ 10005 ft) where we will make the first stop. If the skies are clear, you can catch a glimpse of the breathtaking Eastern Himalayan Range. A few miles below the pass,  arrive at Lam Peri and hike through the Royal Botanical Park hiking trail. The forest is teeming with life, and is home to a number of different birds, insects, mammals, and plants.

Continue the descend until you arrive at the beautiful valley of Phobjikha.

Phobjikha is Bhutan’s largest wetlands and the winter home of the Black-necked cranes. A total of around 500-600 of these elegant cranes  arrive here by the peak winter period in December.

 

  • Accommodations: Hotel Phuntscholing Guesthouse
  • Meals Included: (B,L,D)
Day 6: Phobjikha

In the morning, visit the Gangtey Goenpa located on a hillock overlooking the valley. From the monastery, enjoy a hike down to the end of the marshlands on a comfortable trail. The trail takes you through a beautiful pine forest bordering the wetlands. The sound of wind blowing through the lichen covered pine trees is always a refreshing experience. There is also the possibility of witnessing the arrival of some cranes for their summer habitat.

At the end of the hike, you are picked up by your vehicle and drive to the Crane Education Center where you can learn about the conservation projects of the black necked cranes in the valley.

After lunch, continue to explore this glacial valley either by driving to the lower part of the valley or hiking or a combination of the two.

  • Accommodations: Hotel Phuntscholing Guesthouse
  • Meals Included: (B,L,D)
Day 7: Phobjikha - Bumthang

In the morning, drive to the sacred valley of Bumthang. Descend again all the way to Chendebji through sweeping pastures of dwarf bamboo where yaks and nomadic herders camp during the winter. A few miles further down the road lies the picturesque village of Rukubji, built on the head of a snake-shaped ridge. At Chendebji, stop at the impressive Nepali-styled Chendebji Stupa. From Chendibji, we drive on a relatively flat road all the way to Trongsa through the villages of Trashiling and Tshangkha.

 

About an hour before you reach Trongsa, enjoy a first glimpse of Trongsa with its massive Dzong across the breathtaking depths of the Mangde Chhu gorge. Built atop the crest of a narrow ridge, the Trongsa Dzong is the largest Dzong in Bhutan and is undoubtedly the most spectacularly situated. After making a brief stop for a photo shoot, continue on to your hotel in Trongsa.

Make several stops to enjoy the breathtaking vistas of the rolling hills, take in the cool and fresh Himalayan air, and to appreciate the many beauties that nature has to offer along the way. After dropping down from Yotong la (3,425 m/ 11,234 ft), arrive at Gyetsa, at the upper end of Chhume Valley – the first of Bumthang’s four major valleys. At the lower end of the Chhume Valley, stop and walk to the Prakar Lhakhang to witness a festival.

Bhutan is a country of festivals. The most important are the religious dance festivals, known as Tshechus, which are held in different districts, at specific times during the year. The Tshechus are celebrated for one to five days. They are not sombre formal religious affairs, but occasions to get together, renew acquaintances, and make merry.

Later in the evening, continue driving for another hour and reach your destination – the idyllic valley of Choekhor where you will be based for three nights.

  • Accommodations: Hotel Yurgharling
  • Meals Included: (B,L,D)

 

 

Day 8 & 9: Bumthang

During these two full days, you will visit the Jakar Dzong to witness the annual festival as well as explore many of the sacred valleys of Bumthang.

Tour the  Jambay Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan built in the 7th century by the great Tibetan Buddhist King, Songtsen Goenpo. It is believed that a giant ogress was lying across the Himalayan ranges, which was preventing the spread of Buddhism. So in order to subdue this ogress, 108 temples were to be built on different parts of this ogress in different parts of the Himalayas.

Visit Tamshing Lhakhang, built in 1501 by Bhutan’s greatest saint – Terton Pema Lingpa. Tamshing has beautiful religious murals on its walls (possibly the oldest extant paintings in Bhutan).

Visit the temple complex Kurjey Lhakhang, dedicated to the  Guru Rinpochhe.

After stopping at Kurjey Lhakhang, move onto Jampa Lhakhang. Jampa Lhakhang was built in the 7th century on the orders of the great Tibetan Emperor – Songtsen Gampo. It is possibly one of the oldest surviving structures in Bhutan.

There is also the option of going for an excursion to the mystical valley of Tang – the birthplace of Bhutan’s most famous native son and greatest saint – Terton Pema Lingpa. En route, stop at Mebartsho along the way. Mebartsho is considered one of the most sacred sites in the region as it is related to the renowned religious treasure revealer Terton Pema Lingpa.

 Continue towards Tang and visit the Ogyen Chholing Museum – an ancient mannor/palace of the nobles that used to rule over Tang valley. It has been converted into a fascinating museum that offers insights into the lifestyle of Bhutanese nobility in the days of yore.

  • Accommodations: Hotel Yurgharling
  • Meals Included: (B,L,D)
Day 10: Bumthang - Trongsa

Today, head back towards Trongsa. At Trongsa, visit the Trongsa Dzong and the Watch-tower, which has now been converted into a museum dedicated to the Ruling Royal Family of Bhutan.

The Trongsa Dzong was built in 1647 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It is one of the most historically significant structures in Bhutan. It is from this Dzong that the Wangchuck Dynasty, the royal family of Bhutan,  emerged and established themselves as the ruling empire of Bhutan.

 Later in the afternoon, drive south in search of the golden langur.  The Golden Langur is a rare primate that is found only in Bhutan and parts of India adjoining the Bhutanese border.

  • Accommodations: Hotel Tendrel Resort
  • Meals Included: (B,L,D)
Day 11: Trongsa - Punakha

Visit the river that cuts through the Punakha valley, PunatsangchhuFormed by two glacially fed tributaries – Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu (‘male and female rivers’),  The majestic Punakha Dzong is built on the confluence of these two rivers. It is without doubt one of the finer examples of Bhutanese architecture. It was here that the first king of Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned on 17th December, 1907. Since then, all the Kings of Bhutan have been enthroned in Punakha Dzong.

For those interested in birds, the white-bellied heron, which is one of the rarest birds in the world can often be seen feeding along the river not far from the Dzong. The global population of this critically endangered bird is estimated to be less than 60 with Bhutan harbouring the maximum confirmed sighing of about 28. Your host in Bhutan has played a crucial role in creating awareness on this extremely rare species.

Accommodations: Hotel Meri Phuensum

  • Meals Included: (B,L,D)
Day 12: Punakha - Paro

Spend part of the morning exploring the various places of interest around Punakha before driving towards Paro for the final stop of the tour.  One of the popular places around Punakha is the Chimi Lhakhang (‘Lhakhang’ is the Dzongkha word for ‘Monastery’).  According to legend, Drukpa Kuenley subdued a demon and trapped it in a rock where the monastery currently lays. Chime Lhakhang has also become famous as a fertility temple and many married couples who have problems conceiving visit this temple.

 At Paro, visit the National Musuem which is housed in the watch tower overlooking the Paro Rinpung Dzong.

In the evening, visit the family home of your host for a tour of a traditional farmhouse and learn about life in rural Bhutan in these changing times.

  • Accommodations: Heaven Resort
  • Meals Included: (B,L,D)
Day 13: Taktsang

This morning, visit the famous Tiger’s Nest Temple. This trip is an uphill walk of about 2 hours. Stop at a teahouse, which offers an excellent view of the monastery, but the view improves as we get closer. The half part of the hike from the tea house goes through fir vegetation with some rhododendrons and at some point, transverse right to an excellent view point, looking over the monastery. From here you go down the steep flight of stairs of 400 steps down to a point where two cliffs meet and past a beautiful waterfall and then up another 300 steps into the temple.

Taktsang, Bhutan’s most famous monastery, and one of the most venerated pilgrimage sites in the Himalayan world, is perched on the side of a cliff 2950 ft above Paro valley.  Taktsang, which means “Tiger’s Lair”, is so called because Guru Rinpoche, who introduced Tantric Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century, is said to have arrived at the site (where he meditated in a cave for three months) in a miraculous manner– flying on the back of a tigress.

On the way back, visit Kyichu Lhakhang – a monastery that dates back to the same time period as Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang, and is probably one of the oldest surviving structures in the country.

 Laster stroll around Paro town for souvenir shopping etc.

 

  • Accommodations: Heaven Resort
  • Meals Included: (B,L,D)
Day 14: Bhutan - Bangkok

After breakfast, transfer to Paro international airport by private vehicle for your flight back to Bangkok. It is recommended that you book an evening flight out of Bangkok or book a hotel in Bangkok and depart on the following day. (B, Meals aloft)

Tour Destinations
  • Bhutan
Tour Highlights
  • Adventure
  • Amazing Architecture
  • Amazing Sunsets
  • Beautiful Landscapes
  • Exquisite Landscapes
  • Giant Buddha
  • Hiking
  • Museums
  • Shrines and Temples
  • Tibetan Market
  • Traditional Clothing
  • Traditional cuisine
  • Traditional living experience
  • Unesco World Heritage Sites

    • Domestic U.S. and international airfare
    • Excess baggage charges
    • Gratuities to local guides and drivers on main tour
    • Liquor, wine, & beer, and other items of a personal nature
    • Passport Fees
    • Travel insurance
    • Visa processing

    • Airport Transfers
    • All accommodations as per program
    • All entrance fees
    • All meals listed in itinerary
    • All sightseeing, entertainment, and cultural activities listed in itinerary
    • All transfers and transport as per program
    • All transportation detailed in country
    • Double occupancy accommodations
    • English speaking guides
    • preparatory materials