Bhutan - Discover Bhutan


Bhutan - Discover Bhutan

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 13 days
Type: PrivateExclusive departures for you, your friends and family

Dossier

Tucked away in a remote corner of the Himalayas, Bhutan is a nation unlike any other, a tranquil idyll where people still wear national dress and gross national happiness is more important that gross national product. Once closed to the outside world, Bhutan now allows a limited number of travellers to experience its charms. Our tour to this beautiful nation allows a glimpse of some of its most spectacular sights, from the amazing Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery in its dramatic cliff face location to the imposing Punakha Dzong, an incredible fortress with a turbulent past. We travel through spectacular Himalayan scenery and have the opportunity to visit traditional Buddhist temples. This trip offers you a marvellous insight into the scenery and way of life of this remote mountain kingdom.


Tour Rating

Fitness ●●●●○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●○○ | Culture ●●●●○ | History ●●●●● | Wildlife ○○○○○

Tour Pace

Busy

Tour Highlights

  • The sacred Tiger’s Nest Monastery with its spectacular location
  • The beautiful valleys and landscapes of Bhutan
  • The opportunity to observe the enduring traditional landscapes and crafts of the local people.

Tour Essentials

Accommodation: Mid-range comfortable small hotels
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunch (L) and dinner (D) as shown in the itinerary
Group Size: Maximum of 12
Start Point: Paro
End Point: Paro
Transport: Private car and bus 
Countries: Bhutan

Tour Itinerary Notes

While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.

Tour Guide

Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. On this tour you will generally have the same guide throughout your trip.

Day 1 – Paro

Arrive at Paro International Airport which is situated in a beautiful valley at 2280 metres and is a fitting introduction to this charming kingdom. Your guide will meet you and take you on a short one-hour drive along the Paro and Thimphu river valleys to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital.

Overnight in Thimphu (D)

Day 2 - Thimphu

Today we will visit the weekly market, the revered Memorial Chorten and the School of Traditional Arts. Then we visit Changangkha temple, perched on the hilltop overlooking the town. Devotees flock throughout the day to turn the prayer wheels. The temple also contains beautiful wall paintings and hundreds of religious scriptures written in gold. In the afternoon we will drive up to the Radio Tower (offering splendid views of the city from a hilltop festooned with prayer flags), visit the Takin Reserve showcasing the unique national animal, the Takin, browse the striking collection of intricate textiles at the National Textile Museum or visit the Folk Heritage Museum.

Overnight in Thimphu (BLD)

Day 3 - Punakha

In the morning we drive approximately 3 hours to the old capital, Punakha, via Dochu La pass at 3050 metres, where we will stop for a hot drink and enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the Eastern Himalaya ranges. In the afternoon, we visit the imposing Punakha Dzong, “Palace of Great Happiness”. We then take a pleasant walk for an hour or so across terraced fields to Chimi Lhakhang built in the 15th century by the ‘Divine Madman’ (Lama Drukpa Kuenley).

Overnight in Punakha (BLD)

Day 4 - Trongsa

We drive to Trongsa, the gateway to central Bhutan. Set amidst spectacular scenery, Trongsa Dzong commands the eye from miles away. Take a stroll down the town’s main street where you can take lunch, then visit the Dzong. You can also visit Ta Dzong, the museum in the watchtower dedicated to the Wangchuk dynasty, which tells the stories of the Dzong and the valley it has watched over for centuries and features personal belongings of the Kings and Queens of Bhutan.

Overnight in Trongsa (BLD)

Day 5- Bumthang

From Trongsa we ccontinue a further 3 hours through some of Bhutan’s most beautiful landscapes to Bumthang, an area of high valleys. Sightseeing in Bumthang, the spiritual heartland of Bhutan, with its many legendary monasteries, temples and palaces. Bumthang is the collective name for an area of 4 valleys - Chokhor, Tang, Ura and Chumey. Your guide will take you on a fascinating walking and/or driving tour of a variety of sacred sites including Jamba Lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang and Tamshing Lhakhang, followed by a visit to Membar Tsho ‘the Flaming Lake’, one of Bhutan’s most important pilgrimage sites.   You can also visit Bhutan’s largest Dzong (Jakar), with its picturesque location overlooking the Chokhor valley. You may be interested to see Bumthang’s famous Swiss cheese factory and dairy farm. 

Overnight in Bumthang (BLD)

Day 6 - Bumthang

Take a hike to Babzur via Petseling monastery. We will hike for around 1.5 hours to a tiny village called Changbi where you will be welcomed with hot tea and snacks arranged by your guide. Continue on to Petseling monastery, home to around 70 monks. From here you will have a panoramic view over the Bumthang valley and you can also see the finishing line of Bhutan’s most challenging trek, the Snowman trek, in the distance. Continue on to Babzur. The village is located by a beautiful meadow lined with a few prayer flags and views of Kunzangdrak Gompa. After a packed lunch here we walk for another 1.5 hours until we reach the feeder road where the hike ends.

Overnight in Bumthang (BLD)

Day 7 - Gangtey Gompa

We drive for approximately 7 hours to Gangtey to enjoy the views of the immense and remote Phobjikha valley and the Black Mountain ranges. Our guide takes us to visit Gangtey Gompa (one of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries and recently extensively renovated) and we will explore the valley where the villagers continue to live a traditional Bhutanese rural lifestyle. In this area, black-necked cranes visit in their hundreds in November each year after spending the summer in Tibet.

Overnight in Gangtey (BLD)

Day 8 – Nature trails and local villages

Today you can take a walk around the Phobjikha Valley. You start at the Dewachen hotel and walk to the Black-Necked Crane Information Centre. From here you walk to Beta Village where there is a small school, which you are welcome to visit. Continue to Gangtey Gompa from where you can walk along the Gangtey Nature Trail, past Semchubara village, through forests of blue pine trees covered with lichen known as old man’s beard. Continue from the end of the nature trail to Kingathang village where you visit a temple built by the Queen Mother. From Kingathang, you walk via Yusa village back to your hotel. (Total distance 12 to 13 km - 6 to 7 hrs)

Overnight in Gangtey (BLD)

Day 9 – Wangdi and Paro

Today we return to Paro, a drive of approximately 7 hours via Wangdi. Wangdi (also known as Wangdue Phodrang) was originally considered Bhutan’s secondary capital and it commands an important central position. After a brief stop for lunch we will continue on our way. This afternoon we will visit a local farmhouse for tea or dinner (depending on group size) and you can also try the restorative properties of a traditional hot stone bath.

Overnight in Paro (BLD)

Day 10 – Paro

This morning you can visit the National Museum. This was previously housed in the Ta Dzong (watch tower) built on top of the hill above Rinpung Dzong. Unfortunately, an earthquake in September 2011 damaged the Ta Dzong and the contents of the museum were moved to a neighbouring building. You can still see a magnificent collection of Bhutanese artefacts – costumes, religious paintings, arms, textiles and a fascinating collection of Bhutan stamps. The National Museum is due to reopen in the Ta Dzong in 2017. From the National Museum, take a leisurely 1-hour hike along the forested hillside to Zuri Dzong and then down to the Uma resort, where your driver will pick you up. The walk passes Gonsaka Lhakhang and then Zuri Dzong and provides wonderful views down over the valley and Dzong. Zuri Dzong dates from 1352 and is home to the valley’s local protector gods. On the way visit the impressive Paro Rinpung Dzong, one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. 

Overnight in Paro (BLD)

Day 11 – Haa

Today we will take a day excursion to Haa at 2670 metres – the drive is around 3 hours each way.   We will cross the Chele La pass at 3800m from where you will have a view of Mount Jomolhari to the north as well as down to the Haa valley, and then continue down to Haa town. Haa has only recently opened to tourists and the town is still very small – as yet there are only one or two basic restaurants and local lodges and no tourist hotels, so the area remains quite remote. A great opportunity to view this beautiful rural scene. From Haa you can walk or drive to Katso village and from there you can visit Lhakhang Karpo and Lhakhang Nagpo.   In the afternoon return to Paro. Then you can visit a local farmhouse for tea or dinner allowing you to experience traditional Bhutanese village life. Take the opportunity to try the restorative properties of a hot stone bath!

Overnight in Paro (BLD)

Day 12 – The Tiger’s Nest

Take a day walk to the ‘Tiger's Nest’, the sacred Taktshang monastery which clings to the rock face 900 metres above the valley floor. Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown to the site riding on a tigress.  He subsequently meditated here for three months.  It is one of Bhutan’s most holy sites and draws pilgrims not only from Bhutan but also from neighbouring Buddhist countries. You can have lunch at the Taktshang cafeteria from where you get a spectacular view of the monastery. On the way back you may be interested to visit a manor house turned museum in a local village. The house dates from the 17th Century and the museum is designed to showcase the culture of medieval rural Bhutan. Afterwards you may also have time to visit Dumtse Lhakhang, a temple built by Thangtong Gyalpo, the iron bridge builder.

Overnight in Paro (BLD)

Day 13 – Depart Bhutan

Early in the morning your guide will accompany you to the airport to see you off onto your flight and wish you Tashi Delek (goodbye and good luck). 

Inclusions:
Arrival and departure transfers
Transport throughout
All accommodation 
Daily breakfast (B), plus lunch (L) and dinner (D) as shown in the itinerary
Services of English speaking guide 
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Excluded:
International flights
Any airport taxes
Travel Insurance
Visas
Drinks
Items of a personal nature
Tips (discretionary)


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