|Trip Style||:||Cultural Tour|
|Trip Rating by Popularity||:||*****|
|Physical Demand Rating||:||1|
|Discounts||:||Applicable on this trip|
|Group Size||:||Maximum 12, Avg 5|
|Group Leader||:||A Certified Tour Guide|
|Transport||:||Quality and appropriate transportation will be made available.|
This two-week leisurely paced cultural trip in Bhutan is created, to give you most of what this Country has to offer, and much more. In this trip besides visiting famous cultural sites, interaction about our history, tradition, people, walking in the forest and test our hospitality, we also intend to give you an opportunity to enjoy this trip thoroughly. You can note, this trip is not filled with hectic journeys, but sufficient time to explore the local areas and just relax in an environment that is filled with nature and friendly people.
Day 1 : Arrive at Paro and Explore the town
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 guide(s) with a traditional welcome khadar. In Paro valley you will visit; 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang temple and other cultural other sites. In the evening you will explore Paro town and complete your evening with a taste of Bhutanese cuisine or a cuisine of your choice depending on the availability.
Day 2-3 : Paro Sightseeing
In Paro sightseeing, we’ll visit the world known Taktshang monastery (translated Tiger’s nest) to have an unforgettable experience of your visit to Bhutan. 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 4-7 : Drive to Thimphu, Sightseeing and do Multi-Activities (77 km, circa 3 hours)
Drive to Thimphu after breakfast and you can 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), Bhutan Post, Handicraft Market, Institute of Traditional medicine, National Library, Heritage Restuarant (where you can enjoy typical Bhutanese cuisine with local wine (ara) and 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. Do not forget to visit Tashichhodzong, the Main Administrative Building of the Country (which houses Office of His Majesty the King and Je Khempo (Head Abbot) in the evening (after Office hours). After that, enjoy a well deserved meal in one of the best restaurants with a choice of Bhutanese, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Thai culinary, but do tag along your guide for his expert advise. Spend the remaining time, relaxing and flexing your muscles as you’ll be hiking to Tango monastery (a temple which was build in 1659) and continue to Cheri Gompa, another half an hour hike to the first monastic school built by Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal, the founder of Bhutan in 1620. Look out for wild gorals and deer along the way as they’ve unwittingly found shelter around the temple. We can also arrange other evening activities depending on your interests such as; a meditation session with a Buddhist institute, swimming in the only pool in Thimphu, some sporting activities like tennis, basketball, golf, biking, motorcycling etc. We can also arrange a music session jam-up with local musicians. You can also visit Thimphu local market and buy souvenirs for your family and friends.
Day 8-9 : Drive to Punakha, Sightseeing and camping (70 km, approximately 4 hours)
On the 8th day, 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.. You’ll be amazed by the fabulous woodwork that represents the myriad Bhutanese architecture. 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. The next day can be spent lazily strolling around the campsite area next to the river, read, swim, cook or do any of our additional activities.
Day 10-11 : to Phobjikha, Sightseeing and Hiking (130 km, circa 5 hours)
On the way to Phobjikha, 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. Enjoy the view over the high passes of Pelela where you can take a break to see the yaks up close. 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. Next day 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 12-13 : Drive to Trongsa, Visit Museums, Hike and Rural Village Experience (50 km, 2 hours)
After breakfast, you’ll continue to Trongsa Dzongkhag, which 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.. On the second day you’ll take a hike on the ancient trail that starts from the Dzong and emerges at the Viewpoint across the valley. Continue to Tangsibje village after lunch. This is a special village, believed to produce some of the best singers in Bhutan as it is gifted by a sacred Spring water, upon drinking makes your vocal cords sing. This village is also famous for paddy cultivation in central Bhutan. You’ll be staying in a farmhouse/camping and this will enable you to interact and observe the rural lifestyles of Bhutan. We’ll make sure you’ll be treated to some local delicacies. If you are of the adventurous type, your dinner will be complete with some ara (home brewed wine) that fits perfectly with the locals too.
Day 14 : to Thimphu and explore urban nightlife. (100 km, 5 hours)
Upon arrival you could try any restaurant to your like, you could obtain advise from the guide. And if you are in mood to delve into a social evening and unwind yourself by paying a visit to some of the most interesting bars or drayang (club) for some drink, music and conversation. After all these days of showing you our heritage and culture, you may most probably be surprised to experience the most outspoken, friendly and gregarious urban dwellers of Thimphu who are keen to give your their perspective of the current affairs and the general observations of the world. If you like dancing (no age restrictions) we’ll take you to a friendly discotheque to show you some of our local choreography.
Day 15 : Drive to Paro and Farewell (50 km, 1 hour)
Being with you for last 14 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