DAY01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU DAY 02: EXPLORE THIMPHU VALLEY DAY 03: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA DAY 04: PUNAKHA – PHOBJIKHA VALLEY DAY 05: EXPLORE PHOBJIKHA VALLEY DAY 06: PHOBJIKHA –THIMPHU- PARO DAY 07: HIKE TO TIGER’S NEST DAY 08: DEPART PARO
DAY01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU
DAY 02: EXPLORE THIMPHU VALLEY
DAY 03: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA
DAY 04: PUNAKHA – PHOBJIKHA VALLEY
DAY 05: EXPLORE PHOBJIKHA VALLEY
DAY 06: PHOBJIKHA –THIMPHU- PARO
DAY 07: HIKE TO TIGER’S NEST
DAY 08: DEPART PARO
DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU (Driving time 1 hour)
You will arrive in Paro either by Druk Air/ Bhutan Airlines Business Class. The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth. This beautiful valley is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries and temples, and the country’s only International airport. After being welcomed with “Khadar” (traditional scarf),
Drive to the capital, Thimphu (1.5 hours). On arrival check into Le Meridian hotel , situated in the centre of the capital city. It adopts age-old Bhutanese traditions in its architecture, and offers panoramic views of neighboring mountain peaks. Inside, you will find every modern convenience including a spa, swimming pool and multi-cuisine dining. If time permits we can visit some of the sightseeing before dinner at the hotel there will be an orientation on Bhutanese etiquette by your guide. Overnight at Taj Tashi/ Le Meridain in Thimphu.
DAY 02: EXPLORE THIMPHU VALLEY
Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, completed by the Royal Queen Mother as a memorial stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972.Visit Kuenselphodrang to witness the Largest sitting Buddha in the world. Continue on to 12th century Changangkha Temple and Zilukha Nunnery. Later visit Tashichhodzong, ‘the fortress of the glorious religion’ housing ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body. Return to Taj Tashi / Le Meridain Thimphu for dinner and overnight.
DAY 03: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA VALLEY (Driving Time – 1 and half hours)
Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. Visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’ as predicted by the great Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava). It is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. It was here in 1907 that Bhutan’s first king was crowned.
We opt for an early departure for a dramatic drive over the high mountain pass of Dochu La and on to the Punakha Valley. Sights on the way include one of Bhutan’s first fortress monasteries; the 17th century Simtokha Dzong, The journey continues over the 3,050m mountain passes where on a clear day, towering Himalayan peaks are clearly visible. After Lunch we stop at the Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility shrine built in the 15th century. Hopeful young couples wanting children may be seen making offerings to the shrine. After checking in the hotel Visit the impressive Punakha Dzong. This ancient fortress is the winter residence of the monastic order’s head and still serves as the administrative headquarters for the Punakha region.
In the evening hike to through rice fields and up to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. Perched high on a hill on the bank of the river, the Chorten houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions. Overnight and dinner at Uma Punakha/ Dhensa.
DAY 04: PUNAKHA TO PHOBJIKHA VALLEY (Driving time 4 hours)
The drive through the countryside affords a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdom.Continue on through the bustling market town of Wangduephodrang, and up winding mountain roads through mixed forests and over high passes before descending down into the wide and picturesque Phobjikha Valley. Phobjikha is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black necked cranes (November – March) migrating from the Tibetan plateau. On arrival check into Gangtey Goenpa Lodge.Dinner and overnight at Gangtey Goenpa Lodge.
DAY 05: Explore Phobijkha Valley
Following breakfast visit the Phobjikha Sanctuary to view the majestic black necked cranes (Nov-Mar only) and Gangtey Gompa (Monastery), dating back to the 16th century, After Lunch we hike for 1.5 hours over the valley through the villages and forest cover where you can feel the peace and tranquility of the place. Dinner and overnight at Gangtey Goenpa Lodge
DAY 06: PHOBJIKHA VALLEY –THIMPHU- PARO
Drive back to Thimphu by luxury 4WD where you will have an opportunity to visit handicraft and souvenir stores, and enjoy lunch. Afterwards proceed to Paro and check into the 5 star Zhiwa Ling Resort Paro, featuring elaborate handcarved wooden cornices and masterful stonework along with Swedish underfloor heating. Guestrooms are beautifully appointed with oak floors, hand-knotted rugs and rich furnishings reflecting the heritage of the country. All rooms afford incredible views over the forests and mountain ranges of Paro. Visit The National Museum the Rinpung Dzong and the Enjoy the evening at leisure with the option of relaxing at The Menlha Spa, the Tea House or Meditation House. Enjoy dinner at the Zhiwa Ling Restaurant, with the remainder of the evening at leisure. Overnight at Zhiwa Ling Resort/ Le Meridan Paro.
DAY 07: HIKE TO TIGER’S NEST
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The walk of approximately 2-3hours uphill takes you almost a kilometre above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to the viewing point). The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. The great Guru Rimpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. Refreshments and lunch will be arranged in the tent specifically pitched on the path to Taktsang Monastery.
On the return drive to Paro, visit 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. Afternoon is at leisure. Overnight at Zhiwa Ling Resort Paro / Le Meridain.
DAY 08: DEPART PARO
Enjoy breakfast at Zhiwa Ling before driving to the airport for flight to your onward destination
To be informed all the charges for luxury hotels will be charged differently.
Some of the sights/itinerary may change due to season, weather, national holidays, and special events. We maintain the rights to alter the itinerary since tours are made in advance and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve your overall travel experience in Bhutan
The driving and hiking times mentioned are approximate times and do not include breaks in the journey for sightseeing, photo/tea/meal/rest stops. There may be delays in transfer time due road conditions, road repair/widening works, inclement weather and other unforeseen circumstances. During the treks/hikes, there may be delays or diversion of hiking trails due to trail conditions, inclement weather and other unforeseen circumstances. Please note that at the moment there are numerous areas where road conditions are not very good due to road widening/repair works and you may experience rough and bumpy drives.
WHAT WE INCLUDE IN OUR TAILOR MADE BHUTAN TOURS:
• Passport (with at least 6 months’ validity from the date of your exit from Bhutan)
• Print out copy of the visa & International air tickets.
• Temperatures will fluctuate greatly depending on elevation and time of day. You should be prepared for a minimum temperature of 04 degrees and a maximum of 30 degrees. You have to plan for layered clothing to be prepared for such a wide-ranging temperature fluctuations.
• Drink only bottled water, sodas, beer, etc.
• Stay away from any cold salad! These are normally rinsed in tap water before or after being sliced and are a major cause of traveler’s gastro-intestinal distress.
• All tipping is optional and by no means mandatory, however if you feel that your staff and drivers have performed at a good or excellent level, it is a great way to let them know you appreciate their efforts.
A few reminders:
• Accept or offer items with the right hand or, more politely, with both hands. Using both hands to give or receive signifies that you honor the offering and the recipient or giver.
• When you visit Buddhist shrines or temples, it is appropriate and a sign of respect to walk around the building in a clockwise direction (so that the structure is to your right side). This is also true for mani walls (walls built of stone tablets with Buddhist mantras carved on them) and Chorten (small Buddhist shrines.)
• Your guide will give you additional tips along the way, when in doubt, check in with them. You will be travelling into areas that have had relatively few foreign visitors. Your positive attitude and interaction is needed and welcomed to maximize this adventure.
What should I bring with me for the trip?
• Good walking shoes
• Sunscreen (highest possible)
• Headgear for sunny days
• Bug/Insect repellent
• Cotton clothing for summer days, light woolen clothes for evenings. Heavy woolens for winter.
• Shorts for hiking and walking around town are fine. Out of respect, please don’t wear shorts in public buildings or monasteries. Have a pair of long pants or longer skirt for these locations.