About this tour
Travel Date Days Price Thu, Nov 17, 2016 7 days $2,370.00 CAD
For thousands of years this country was cut off to the outside. It is now allowing a lucky few to step inside and discover a mysterious medieval kingdom of sacred temples, ancient monasteries, dazzling rice fields, and villages that time forgot. It will soon become clear that you have wandered well off the beaten path and into the last remaining great Himalayan kingdom, the last Shangri-La.
Western Bhutan is known for its stunning scenery of magnificent mountains, pristine rivers and for fortresses and temples that seem to come straight from a dream. It offers an opportunity to glimpse another way of living, an alternative vision of what is truly important in life.Terms, conditions and restrictions apply; pricing, availability, and other details subject to change and/ or apply to US or Canadian residents. Please confirm details and booking information with your travel advisor.
Day 1: DAY 1: ARRIVE PARO & TRANSFER TO THIMPHU
As you fly into the Himalayas, see the incredible scenery unfold below you: silvery rivers rush along the valleys; waterfalls plunge down the forested mountainsides; and the great snowcapped peaks of the inner Himalayas rise up to the heavens.
Fly into Paro and transfer to Thimphu (2 hrs drive), the modern capital town of Bhutan, and overnight.
Day 2: DAY 2: THIMPU
After breakfast take a short drive to the Changangkha Lhakhang, a fortress-like temple and monastic school perched on a ridge above the town. The temple was established in the 12th century and features enormous prayer wheels and prayer books.
The King’s Memorial Chorten is a shrine built to honour the memory of the third king. It is continuously circumambulated by people, murmuring mantras and spinning their prayer wheels.
Trashichhodzong is an impressive fortress/monastery located on the bank of the river and houses the Secretariat building, the throne room and various government offices. The whitewashed structure has three-storey towers at the four corners and is capped by red and gold, triple-tiered roofs. Inside are peaceful courtyards full of prayer wheels, lively sculptures of the gatekeepers and murals of Bhutanese fables.
Also, visit the government-run Handicrafts Emporium to see examples of Bhutan’s fine traditional arts. Here you can buy hand-woven textiles, Thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, and jewelry.
In the evening, stroll around the Weekend Market where Thimphu’s residents and valley dwellers congregate on the banks of the river to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, socialise and swap gossip.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimpu.
Day 3: DAY 3: THIMPU TO PUNAKHA
After breakfast visit the National Library, a lavishly decorated Bhutanese building which holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist texts and manuscripts. At the nearby Institute for Zorig Chusum, also known as the Arts & Crafts School, you can see students learning the various skills of traditional Bhutanese arts and crafts. Then start your journey to Punakha (3 hrs drive). The first stop is along the Dochu-la Pass (3088metres), which gives you your first view of the central-eastern Himalayan range. Here you can admire the incredible views and see the chorten, mani wall and prayer flags that decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear you may be able to see the peaks of many of the Himalayan mountains, including Gangkar Puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.
Also, visit the Wangduephodrang Dzong and the local market. The district of Wangduephodrang is famous for its bamboo products, and slate and stone carvings.
Overnight at hotel in Punakha.
Day 4: DAY 4: PUNAKHA
In the morning take a walk (approximately 1.5 hrs) to Chimi Lakhang, a revered temple situated on a hill in the centre of the valley. The last part of the walk takes you through beautiful countryside, across lush rice fields where farmers are at work, and past tiny settlements. The temple is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who in the late 15th century used humour, songs and outrageous behaviour to dramatise his teachings. Due to this, he is now known as the ‘Divine Madman’. This temple is also considered to be a temple of fertility.
The Punakha Dzong, located at the confluence of two rivers, dominates the valley floor and is said to be the most beautiful in the kingdom. It was built in 1637 to serve as the religious and administrative centre of the region.
Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 5: DAY 5: PUNAKHA TO PARO
After breakfast, drive to Paro (4 hours). En route, visit Simtokha Dzong. This dzong, built in 1627 is the oldest in Bhutan and now houses the Institute for Language and Culture Studies.
The Paro Valley is without doubt one of the most charming in Bhutan. Willow trees line many of the roads, whitewashed farmhouses and temples complement the green terraced fields and the small town is home to brightly painted wooden shops and houses.
Overlooking the town is the Rinpung Dzong, Built in 1646, this is one of Bhutan’s most impressive and well-known dzongs, and perhaps the finest example of Bhutanese architecture you’ll see. The massive buttressed walls tower over the town and are visible throughout the valley. The approach to the dzong is through a traditional wooden covered bridge called Nemi Zam.
Above is Ta Tzong, the old watchtower. Once used to defend Rinpung Dzong, it is now home to Bhutan’s National Museum.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 6: DAY 6: PARO
In the morning set off by foot to Taktshang Lakhang (2.5 hours each way). If you had only one place to visit in Bhutan, this would be the one: Perched precariously on the side of a mountain 900m above the Paro Valley floor, it is undoubtedly one of the most famous and spectacular of Bhutan’s monasteries. The monastery buildings have been built into the almost vertical rock face and seem to hang from the cliff. The narrow track leading to it passes through pine forest that is colourfully festooned with moss and prayer flags. On many days, clouds shroud the monastery and give an eerie feeling of remoteness. The views over the valley are unrivaled, and the air is filled with the soft chanting of mantras and the mild smell of incense.
Lore has it that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery, thus the name ‘Tiger’s Nest. This is one of the holiest sites in the kingdom and should be visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime.
On the walk back, visit a local farm house and then stroll around the town of Paro. Overnight at the Hotel in Paro .
Day 7: DAY 7: DEPART
After breakfast, drive to the airport for the flight to your onward destination.
Accommodation in Twin sharing for a total of 3 nights on bed & breakfast basis.
Transport using A/C Vehicle
Meeting assistance services on arrival/departure at the airport.
All presently applicable taxes.
Service of guide (quoted separately)
Dinners (quoted separately)
Entrance fee to monuments (quoted separately)
Expenses of personal Nature such as tips, laundry, telephone, table drinks, beverages etc.