|Trip Style||:||Cultural Tour|
|Trip Rating by Popularity||:||Excellent.|
|Physical Demand Rating||:||1|
|Tariff||:||$ 2,750 USD per person|
|Group Size||:||Maximum 20 Pax, Avg 15|
|Group Leader||:||A Certified Tour Guide|
|Transport||:||Quality and appropriate transportation will be made available.|
This, 11 days leisurely paced cultural trip is designed to give you most of what Bhutan has to offer in terms of our living culture, tradition, history, nature with people, walking through some of virgin forest, interaction with the local people and our well known hospitality. Our natural sense of hospitality is not only renowned but ticked as good reason to visit Bhutan. Every new place in this trip you come across is a spot for tourism – be it an exquisite ancient fortress or the breathtaking scenery from the Tiger’s Nest, Paro’s golden paddy fields to Bumthang’s local delicacies – this trip is one of the favorites with our guests in terms of sale numbers.
Day 1: Arrive Paro and Drive to Thimphu, (60 km, 1 hour)
If your arrival to Bhutan is on a (bright) sunny day, it could (should) begin with the panoramic view of Mount Everest and Kanchenjunga, and our very own Jomolhari and Jichu Drakey (you may change your seat, if you are not on the right side). We have been told the actual descent of the flight to the airport (Paro) is usually manual, which itself becomes a memorable experience, topped by surrounding hills and houses (Feeling you could touch them). After necessary clearance from the airport, outside you’ll be received by our local guide from ” Journey2shangrila” with a traditional welcome khadar. After lunch in Paro, you’ll proceed towards the capital city, Thimphu.
Day 2: Thimphu Sightseeing
In your second day in Bhutan and the Capital City, Thimphu – you will begin your visit from any of the following tourist sites, such as; National Folk Heritage Museum, Zorig Chusum school of 13 traditional arts/crafts, Textile Museum, Memorial Chorten (stupa), Kuenselphodrang (AKA Budha Point) and the Simtokha Dzong. These visits will showcase not only our age old heritage, tradition, customs and even fabrics (which is the present identification of a Bhutanese) but our deep commitment to preserve and promote it. Your visit to Centenary Farmers market will bring across our efforts to promote self sufficiency in agriculture produce against chemically infused vegetables imported from neighbouring states. Do visit our only Takin Reserve Center and see an unique animal (mixture of a goat and wildebeest) which is also national animal of Bhutan – the Takin. Takin is chosen as the National Animal of Bhutan, because it is unique, rare and native to Bhutan. It is closely associated to religious history and mythology of the country. The animal was called ‘Dyiong-gyem tsi’ or takin. Conclude your day with a lovely meal in one of the best restaurant with a choice of Bhutanese, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, or Thai culinary (do seek guidance from the guide).
Day 3: Drive to Punakha (77 km, approximately 4 hours drive)
On day three, we will drive to Punakha, which is approximately four hours drive from Thimphu. Besides visiting local tourist sites, trip to Punakha is never complete without visiting the Dzong (fortress). The historical Dzong is also known as Pungtang Dechen Phodrang Dzong (meaning very awesome dzong “the palace of great happiness or bliss”). It is listed as a tentative site in Bhutan’s Tentative List for UNESCO inclusion. Punakha Dzong served as the capital of the Country from 1637 to 1907 and the first National Assembly was held in 1953. The significance of the Dzong stepped up in 2011, when His Majesty the King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk married Gyeltseun Her Majesty Jetsun Pema on October 13th at Punakha Dzong. One of the beautiful aspect of Punakha Dzong is its location, the Dzong is located at the confluence of the Pho Chhu (father) and Mo Chhu (mother) rivers in the Punakha–Wangdue valley. While travelling to Punakha, you will cross Dochula Pass at 3140 m and experience a beautiful view of the mountains, hills and forest. On the pass you will also see the Druk Wangyal Chortens, a collection of 108 chortens (stupas) mainly built to illustrate the achievements of the Fourth King. While crossing Lobesa (small satellite town) on the way to Punakha, do not forget to visit the Chhimi Lhakhang, the fertility monastery. If weather permits, you could also set up camp next to the river (superb camping grounds) with a bonfire and have a wonderful stay.
Day 4: Drive to Trongsa (120 km approximately, 4 hours drive)
On day four, you will travel from Punakha to Trongsa Dzongkhag (District), which has a historical significance. It is about 120 km drive and takes approximately four hours to reach. On the way, you will go through Wangduephodrang Dzongkhag and a visit to the Dzong and see the ongoing reconstruction works. The Dzong was burnt down in 2012 and every effort is made to bring back to its old glory. The Dzongkhag is well known for Phobjikha Valley, Gangtey Goenpa and endangered Black necked crane. On the way you will also cross one of the highest passes, popularly known as Pelela pass, where you can (take a break) possibly see local yaks, up close.
Day 5: Drive to Bumthang (68 km. approximately, 2 hours drive)
As said earlier, Trongsa Dzongkhag holds an important chapter in the history of the Country, as every Monarch prior ascending the Throne, holds the post of Trongsa Penlop (Governor). During your stay at Trongsa, you should visit the Tower of Trongsa, which had served as a watchtower now developed into a museum that houses some of Bhutan’s most prized possessions including the ‘Raven Crown’ used by the first two Kings. After that, don’t forget to visit, Trongsa Dzong which holds monumental political importance that was central to unification of the country under one central administration and eventually led to the introduction of Monarchy in Bhutan. With the visit of His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo, Fourth Druk Gyalpo and the Gyalsey to Trongsa during the 109th National Day celebration, the importance of Trongsa Dzongkhag has scaled further. After these visits, have lunch at Trongsa and proceed towards Bumthang. In Bumthang, please advise your Guide (if you desire), you would like to taste some local delicacies combined with fresh trout (fish) from the local river. If you are also interested to make your evening in Bumthang little more adventurous, you could top up your dinner with some ara (home brewed local wine) that would fit perfectly with the Bumthang culinary.
Day 6: Bumthang Sightseeing
Many visitors has tipped, that your visit to Bhutan is not complete without a visit to Bumthang. On your approach to this Dzongkhag, you will be welcomed by a huge valley that stretches deep into the hills. Bhutan being a religious Country, locally we believe, visiting the religious sites would wash away your sins and pave your way for a better after life. The valley is dotted with some of Bhutan’s most important and sacred pilgrimage sites and you’ll be made witness to all the amazing stories that go with it. Visit Kurje lhakhang (temple) that is house to one of Bhutan’s biggest statue of Guru Rinpoche and more importantly the stone imprints of Guru’s body in a cave. Followed by Jambay Lhakhang, most probably the oldest temple that is believed to be one of the two in Bhutan, out of 108 temples that King Songtsen Gembo of Tibet built across the entire Himalayan region in the 6th century. Finally to Tamzhing monastery was built by Terton Pema Lingpa. We can also arrange a visit to the local cheese factory, the beer factory and the bee keeping farmers if any of these may interests you. Now with a local airport, travel to Bumthang has become more easier and short.
Day 7: Drive to Phobjikha (105 km, circa 5 hours drive)
Phobjikha is host to the endangered ‘Black necked cranes’ (Grus Nicorocolis) in the winter who migrate from Tibet and parts of China. The government has given much importance towards the preservation of the bird, and its part time migratory habitat by designating its roosting areas as restricted areas. Development of industry and electrification in the valley has been stalled lest affecting the birds, and the locals are unperturbed as the valley is gifted with extensive land area which makes it ideal for potato farming. Before you reach your hotel, we recommend you to take a walk through the village to get a feel of the rural life. If the weather is good, you also have the option to camp next to the river with a bonfire as many of our guests likes combining their cultural holiday with camping.
Day 8: Phobjikha Sightseeing
You will visit the Observatory for some information on the endangered Black Necked Cranes and if you are here towards late Fall and winter, you can have a close-up on the birds aided by a telescope. Lunch will entail a pleasant 4 km hike around the periphery of the roosting area which eloquently ends into the entrance of the Gangtey Gompa monastery sitting atop a hill overlooking the whole valley. After visiting this special temple that has been renovated recently with fine examples of Bhutanese architecture, you will be picked up by your driver and driven back to your hotel or your camp. The hike is a recommended activity as we ourselves enjoy it every single time we are there as the weather is usually superb for a photographers and the object to be captured is an underlying valley that probably prompted the early visitors to Bhutan to compare the country with Switzerland. We can also augment this day with mountain biking and motorcycles as they valley offers some good collection of dirt roads.
Day 9: Drive to Thimphu (100 km, circa 4 hours)
Upon arrival at Thimphu, you could visit the local market and do shopping for your family. In this matter you could avail advice from our guide. If you are in mood to delve into a social evening and unwind yourself, you could do so by paying a visit to some of the most interesting bars and drayangs for drink, music, dancing and conversation, we still advise you to tag our guide with you. This could be also a time, to share your observations and the experiences with our guide and advise us, how to improve our service further.
Day 10: Hiking in Thimphu and Drive to Paro (50 km, 1 hour)
On day 10, we’ll take a short drive to Begana, a small village in north Thimphu. Then hike to Tango monastery, a temple which was build in 1659 and continue hiking to Cheri Gompa, another half an hour hike to the first monastic school built by Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal, the founder of Bhutan in 1620. Here we might see, wild gorals and deer along the way, as these animals unwittingly have found shelter around the temple that offers visitors a safari experience. Visit Bhutan Post Office, to see the famous stamps of Bhutan and to post some cards to your loved ones. Continue to the Traditional Paper Factory to see how traditional paper is made from Himalayan shrubs- Daphne and Edgeworthia. Visit the Handicrafts Emporium and market for a rich collection of handicrafts and can buy some souvenirs to take home. After a tea in the evening, you will be driven to Paro.
Day 11: Paro – Hike to Taktsang Monastery ( Tigers Nest )
On day 11 at Paro, we’ll visit the world known Taktshang monastery (translated Tiger’s nest) and complete our visit to Bhutan with an unforgettable experience. It is a two hours hike that would prove its worth, just by a look of the temple hanging on a 1000 feet craggy cliff. The view of the temple as our clients have been saying is “nothing short of spectacular”. The temple was built in 1692 by Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgye and in this matter, the guide will complement the visit with its history. In the afternoon, we will visit National Museum and enrich your Bhutan experience and knowledge further by witnessing some of the most treasured collections of arts, artefacts, textiles, stamps, statues etc. In the evening, with a local theatre company, we will organize a cultural evening at the hotel which will showcase some of our traditional music and dances, mask dances and folklore at the hotel. After dinner, a dip in the traditional hot-stone bath may help you unwind and reflect about your journey before departing.
Day 12: Farewell
After breakfast you and group will be drive to Paro international Airport where you will fly/depart for your designated places.
Being with you for last 11 days, saying farewell is usually not mechanical. However, with a hope that this trip to Bhutan has build up a friendship which is more valuable than anything else and the service has been more than satisfactory, we will say goodbye with a promise of meeting each other very soon.
Additional Activities that can be included: Mountain biking, Motorcycling, Swimming, Fly Fishing, Cultural Performances, Cooking Classes, Art Classes, Attending rituals in private homes, Meditation Sessions with reputed lamas, Yoga sessions, Buddhism talks, Volunteerism like being part of a house construction, fruit-picking; Sports like Tennis, Golf, Basketball and even a Football match; Music Jam-up sessions with local musicians. If you have a burning desire to share your story with the locals, we can also have some FM radio stations or local newspapers to talk to you – you name it and we will make it possible!!
What’s Not Included