"The Land of the Thunder Dragon"
Day 1: Bangkok – Paro
Fly into the Himalayas with Bhutan's National air carrier, Druk Air. As you enter the Paro Valley, you will see the Paro Dzong and Ta Dzong Watch Tower, now the National Museum, poised above the banks of the Paro River. Drive to Thimphu, where you will spend the rest of the day exploring this unique capital city in the heart of the Himalayas.
After getting settled in your hotel, we will visit the Tashi Dzong, arguably Bhutan's most stately and impressive national building, located on the banks of the Wangchhu River. It houses His majesty the King of Bhutan's throne room and is the summer residence of the venerated monastic community. The dzong follows the original design of a much earlier medieval structure and was built by the Third King, His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, when the capital moved from Punkakha to Thimphu. We'll end the day with a visit to the Handicraft Emporium and local shops where you can browse through examples of some of Bhutan's finest traditional arts and crafts. For those who are interested there will also be an opportunity to shop for textiles, thangkha paintings, ceramics, jewellery and more.
Overnight at Thimphu Hotel.
Day 2: Thimphu Valley
We will begin with a visit to The Memorial Chorten that commemorates the life of His Majesty, the Third King of Bhutan. We will see priceless Buddhist manuscripts that are kept at the National Library and visit Thimphu's Central Post Office to see another Of Bhutan's national treasures, its prized philatelic collection of rare stamps and commemorative stamp books.
We will take time to explore Thimphu's main street and during Thimphu's weekend market, will watch farmers from neighboring villages sell their produce and wares.Expect to see mountains of bright red chilies, fresh mushrooms, asparagus, different kinds of grains and exotic orchids. The market is a riot of activity and for those who are interested; we will shop for brightly colored Bhutanese textiles and handicrafts that are sold here.The day will end with a visit to Buddha Point where there is wonderful hillside view of Thimphu valley.
We'll walk along a short trail to visit the Min Zoo where we can see the Golden Takin, the national animal of Bhutan.
Overnight at Thimphu Hotel
Day 3: Punakha and Wangdi
The road to Punakha winds up from Simtokha Dzong into pine forests, through traditional and colorful farm villages. On reaching Dochula Pass at 10,500feet, we'll have a panoramic view of the spectacular peaks of the eastern Himalaya. The road descends to the relative lowlands of the Punakha Valley. Punakha was once the winter capital of Bhutan and because of its more temperate climate, was the home of religious and state affairs during the cold months. The Abbott, or Je Khenpo of Bhutan's religious order, leads a ceremonial procession of the monastic community between Thimpu and Punaka twice a year and if you are fortunate enough to visit at this time, you will have the opportunity to witness this breath taking event. We will visit the Punakha Dzong which was strategically built at the confluence of the Phochu (male) and the Mochu (female) rivers by the first Shabdrung of Bhutan, Ngawang Namgyal in 1637.
Over the centuries, the Punakha Dzong has been damaged fires, floods and earthquake, but the dzong has now been fully restored to its original splendor and is a commanding presence in the Punakha Valley. Later in the afternoon we'll walk 15 minutes to Chhimi Lhakhang, the temple of Divine Mad Lama.
Overnight Punakha/Wangdi Hotel
Day 4: Gangtey, Phobjikha
Gangtey Gompa is stuated just east of Wangduephodrang. It dates to the 17th century and is an excellent example of the style of monastery design found throughout Bhutan.. A few kilometers past the Gompa is the village of Phobjika. This is the home of the elegant Black Necked Cranes who migrate here from the high plains of the Tibetan Plateau. During the cold months, these elegant but shy birds enjoy the milder climate of this region and can be observed from early November to the end of March enjoying their winter home in the Phobjika region.
Overnight at Wangdi/Punakha.
Day 5: Paro
A trip to Bhutan generally begins and ends at Paro, and this charming valley is a wonderful way to experience the Land of the Thunder Dragon, as Bhutan is called in its national language. Though Paro itself is small, it commands a strategic highpoint, surrounded by rich farmlands. This is where Rinpung Dzong, or "The Fortress of Precious Things" is located and this is the center for all religious and secular affairs in the valley. It is an architectural wonder, and sets the tone for official dzongs throughout the Kingdom. The Rinpung Dzong was built in 1646 and we will visit the National Museum located in the Ta Dzong, or watchtower above it. Though recently damaged by earth quake, we will have a chance to see the museum's collections of ancient Bhutanese arts and artifact, weapons and stamps, birds and animals.. Along the way we will also visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in the kingdom.
Day 6: Trek to Taktsang Monastery
After breakfast we will trek to Taktsang ¸or "Tiger's Nest" Monastery. The "Tiger Nest" Monastery perches on a cliff more than 900 meters above Paro Valley and is one of Bhutan's most sacred and famous religious sites. It is said that Guru Rinpoche, the founding father of Tibetan Buddhism and lineage holder of Bhutan's sect of Tibetan Buddhism, arrived in Paro Valley more than a millennium ago, riding on the back of a legendry tigress. He meditated for three months in a cave that is found on the side of the steep cliff and this is where a monastery was later built. It was called it Taktsang, or " Tiger's Nest" to commemorate Guru Rinpoche's retreat at this place.. This is one of Bhutan's most sacred pilgrimage sites and all Bhutanese hope to come here during their lives. Tragically¸ the monastery suffered a fire in 1998 but reconstruction efforts are continuing. The Tvisiihe "pelphug" or holy cave where Guru Rimpoche meditated remains intact.
We will drive to Drugyel Dzong, a reconstructed fortress built in 1649, that commemorates the victory over the Tibetan invasion of 1644 and continue to Paro for a final evening of exploration and discovery .
Overnight in Paro Hotel.
Day 7: Depart Paro for Druk Air flight to Bangkok
Farewell to Bhutan. Depart Paro following an early breakfast. Return to Bangkok via Druk Air.
Land cost: $3395 per person based on double occupancy*
4 person minimum up to maximum of 12
• All accommodations as indicated in the itinerary, double occupancy.
• All meals
• All transportation
• English speaking guides
• All entrance fees
• Cook and cook helper
• Horses and horse man for luggage
• Mineral water and snacks
• Tents, dining tent, Toilet tent, mattress and cooking equipment
• Personal expenses
• Sleeping Bags
For more information please contact:
15 South Main Street
Hanover, NH 03755