Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon
Venture high in the eastern Himalayas to one of the last untouched bastions of ancient civilisation, Bhutan. A place where mountain legends, quiet spirituality and dramatic snow-capped vistas await at every turn. Step inside mountaintop monasteries and experience the wonders of Buddhist spirituality. Trek through emerald valleys surrounded by soaring peaks and glacial rivers. And explore the rich culture of the local community, unchanged for centuries. Welcome to the Land of the Thunder Dragon.
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Day 1: Arrive Paro – Thimphu
Tashi Delek and welcome to the beautiful Kingdom of Bhutan. Receive a warm A&K welcome on arrival in Paro and continue overland to Thimphu via Simtokha Dzong, an atmospheric Buddhist fort and the gateway to Thimphu Valley. Transfer to your luxury hotel and enjoy the beautiful sights of Bhutan’s petite and pretty capital, the third highest in the world at a base altitude of 2248 metres. Later visit the Memorial Chorten, a large Tibetan-style Buddhist monastery designed to be the most visible religious structure in Thimphu.
Hotel: Taj Tashi, 2 nights
Day 2: Thimph
Step inside an exquisite monastery to watch monks as they chant their daily prayers. Receive blessings from a monk and experience the wonders of Bhutan’s spirituality lighting 108 butter lamps, a ceremony believed to awaken your spirit and focus your mind.
Delve into the country’s past at the National Library with its small collection of precious texts, the Folk Heritage Museum which provides a glimpse into Bhutanese lifestyle and the National Institute of Traditional Medicine showcasing traditional systems of healing. Continue to the National Textile Museums and the Handicrafts Emporium to admire the art of weaving that has been carefully preserved for centuries in Bhutan. Finally, visit the Tashichho Dzong, an impressive monastery built without a single drawing or a single nail.
This evening is at leisure, and you may choose to attend a talk by a well-respected local person about Bhutan’s history, politics and society to get an orientation on Bhutan or take your seat for a Bhutanese dinner with traditional dancing (additional charges).
Day 3: Thimphu – Punakha
Bid farewell to the capital and journey east over the spectacular Dochu La Pass. Breathe in enchanting views of Bhutan and the Himalaya mountains before continuing into the green vales of Punakha, an ancient capital. Stretch your legs on a short hike to Chimi Lhakhang, the temple of the Divine Madman, Bhutan’s most unorthodox saint. See the stunning 17th century Punakha Dzong, also known as ‘the palace of great happiness or bliss’ and the second largest dzong in Bhutan.
Day 4: Punakha
Take a hike through pine forests to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, set on a beautiful ridge above the Punakha Valley, providing commanding views across the Mo Chhu and up towards the mountainous peaks of Gasa and beyond from the structures rooftop. This fine example of Bhutanese architecture and artistic traditions was built by Bhutan’s Queen Mother to remove negative forces and promote peace, stability and harmony in the changing world dominates the upper Punakha Valley. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a rafting trip at Pho Chhu (additional charge).
Day 5: Punakha – Paro
Depart the green valley of Punakha for the overland trip to Paro. Begin with the impressive Paro Dzong, perhaps the finest in Bhutan. Cross a wooden bridge over the river and discover why it’s known as the ‘Fortress on a Heap of Jewels’. Continue to an ancient watchtower above the Paro Dzong and explore the National Museum. Marvel at the architecture of this unusual round building, shaped like a conch shell and discover treasure-filled rooms of art, bronze statues and paintings from different regions.
Later, enjoy Bhutanese hospitality on a visit to a local family’s colourful farmhouse, sipping tea with the locals as you get a glimpse into their lives. Take part in the cherished ritual of hanging prayer flags to send Buddhist blessing through the winds at Kyichu Lhakhang. Built in the seventh century to subdue a demoness who prevented the spread of Buddhism it is one of Bhutan’s oldest religious sites.
Hotel: COMO Uma Paro, 3 nights
Day 6: Paro
Rise early for an unforgettable hike to Taktsang Monastery (The Tiger’s Nest). Clinging to sheer granite cliffs high above the valley floor, this seemingly impregnable fortress is truly magnificent. Spend the day among the monks at this sacred pilgrimage site, where the great tantric mystic Guru Rinpoche is believed to have flown on the back of the tiger to bring the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan.
This evening, try your skills at Bhutan’s national sport on the resort’s archery field. Alternatively, you may choose to take a traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath for the perfect end to your day’s adventures (additional cost).
Day 7: Paro – Haa Valley – Paro
Head along the inspiring route to Chele La Pass and take in spectacular views of the sacred Jhomolhari and Jitchu Drake mountains. Continue over the pass into the Haa Valley, also known as “Hidden-Land Rice Valley”. Perhaps the most picturesque area in Bhutan, this valley is home to minority villages with traditional animist beliefs.
Returning to your luxury accommodation in Paro, learn to cook traditional Bhutanese food from the hotel’s executive chef. Using traditional utensils like the sume, designed to churn butter, and a tshome, similar to a mortar and pestle uncover the secrets to the fermented yak cheese and chili dish known as ema datshi, a yak milk yogurt called dau, Bhutanese buckwheat noodles and momo yak dumplings.
Day 8: Depart Paro
Farewell this enchanting kingdom and transfer privately to the airport for your onward journey.
|2020 Dates & Prices||Twin Share||Solo Traveller|
|Departs daily from Paro:||From $12,150.00||Price on Application|
|Meals:||7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners|
|Transport:||Airport transfers & Air-conditioned vehicle|
|Accommodation:||7 nights accommodation|
|Guide:||Local English Speaking Guide|
|Entrance Fees & Touring:||Entrance fees & activities as per itinerary|
* Tour departure dates are subject to availability at time of booking.
* Prices and itinerary are correct at time of publication and are subject to change without notice.