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THE BEST OF BHUTAN

11 Day Cultural Tour

Day 1
Arrive to Paro, Bhutan – Hotel check-in and Welcome Briefing by your host / guide, followed by lunch either at the hotel or at a restaurant in town. Afternoon visit to Kyichu Lakhang followed by an evening exploration of Paro town for sightseeing, shopping, and cultural learning.

Day 2
Following breakfast at the hotel, drive through spectacular forest scenery to the far Western edge of the Paro Valley to explore the historic Drugyel Dzong (or Victory Dzong) constructed in 1649 and a famous location for many battles between Bhutanese and invading Tibetans. Explore the small traditional village situated there along with water-driven prayer wheels, Bhutan’s famous house paintings, and spectacular views of Mount Jomolhari (7,314 m)weather permitting!

We’ll have Lunch back in town or at one of the scenic restaurant locations along the way. Following lunch we move to the Paro Dzong (Rimpung Dzong) for a late afternoon visit and head back to our hotel with a stop at the archery grounds along the way.

Day 3
Start the morning early with a visit to the Dhuntse Lakhang (built by the famous iron bridge builder, Thangtong Gyalpo, 1385 – 1464 who constructed more than 108 bridges through-out Tibet and Bhutan) and drive up the hillside for a  visit to the National Museum(with spectacular views of the Paro valley).

Following lunch, we’ll set off for Thimphu (the nation’s capital) driving through breath-taking mountain scenery. There will be time for a walk across a traditional suspension bridge and a visit to Thamchoe Lakhang (also founded by the famous saint Thangtong Gyalpo). Our route will take us past the auspicious confluence of the Pa Chuu (Paro Water) and Wang Chuu (Thimphu Water) rivers which merge together and flow south toward the Indian border. Upon reaching Thimphu, we’ll complete our hotel check in and have time for rest or an evening walk on your own around town.

Day 4
This morning we will visit the National Textile Museum and/or the Folk Heritage Museum then drive to visit the newly constructed Buddha Statue which overlooks the valley. On the way back there will be a stop at the Memorial Chorten which was built in honor of the 3rd King followed by lunch. In the afternoon we’ll explore the Zorig Chusum (School for 13 Traditional Handicrafts) and/or the National Institute of Traditional Medicine for those who are interested. In the late afternoon we’ll pay a visit to the Tashichoe Dzong seat of both the nation’s government and official monk body.

Day 5
An early morning departure will put us on the road headed for the scenic Darchula Pass (3,140 m). This pass will provide Himalayan panorama views and a break to stretch one’s legs walking amongst the many protective stupas, chortens, and fluttering prayer flags. We will also make a visit to the newly consecrated Druk Wangyal Lhakhang dedicated to His Majesty the 4thKing of Bhutan which features beautiful detailed wall murals depicting the historical legacy of the country’s Kings.

Following lunch at the hotel in Punakha, the traditional winter residence of the monk body and the seat of the government until the reign of the second King, we’ll have an afternoon visit to the Punakha Dzong which is located at the confluence of the Mo Chhu and Po Chhu rivers in this warm and tropical valley.

Day 6
We’ll depart Punakha the next morning and as we leave the Punakha Valley we’ll make time to walk or drive through the surrounding rice fields to visit Chimi Lakhangwhich was constructed by Lama Drukpa Kunley in 1499 and is famous for its fertility powers!

We’ll then carry on to Wangdi Phoedrang and stop for lunch at the “Black Necked Crane Café” and a visit the small district Dzong which was built in 1638 by the unifier of Bhutan, Nawang Namgyel Shabdrung. Resuming our journey we’ll cross a 3,140 m pass and then drop into the beautiful glacial valley of Phobjekha which is located on the slopes of the Black Mountains. Upon arrival we’ll check in to our guest house or traditional farm house hotel and enjoy a delicious evening meal.

Day 7
On this day we’ll fully immerse ourselves in the pristine nature that the Phobjekha Valley has to offer.  Following breakfast we’ll visit the RSPN Black Necked Crane Center and also make a stop at Gantey Gompa. This monastery belongs to the Nyingmapa School of Buddhism and has recently been renovated under the guidance of Gantey Tulku.  Exploring the valley, we’ll also take time to experience traditional Bhutanese culture with a farm house visit and go for an evening walk through one of Bhutan’s most beautiful valleys.

Day 8
The next day we’ll depart early for our drive back to Thimphu. Continuing back through Wangdi up over the Darchu La, we’ll have a second opportunity to catch Himalayan views and arrive in Thimphu that evening to check in to our cozy hotel rooms.

Day 9
Back in the nation’s capital of Thimphu, we’ll continue our cultural journey! We’ll pay a visit to the Centenary Farmer’s Market (which is open only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and also see the traditional Paper Making Factory.

After lunch, if there is time and energy, we may also make a quick stop at the Takin Preserveto get up close and personal with Bhutan’s unique national animal that is said to have been created by Drukpa Kunley while demonstrating his magical powers and combined a goat’s head with the body of a cow! The evening is free for shopping on your own or city-side wanderings!

If there’s time, on the way back to town we will also stop at the Nation Library or pay a visit to the Nado Poisakhang Incense Factory where Bhutan’s best incense (including its famous “Happiness” incense) is manufactured by hand.

 

Day 10
Departing early from Thimphu will get us back to Paro where we’ll spend our final day in Bhutan. As a finishing touch to our visit we will either walk, drive (part way up) or ride up the famous pilgrimage path up to the famous Taktsang or “Tiger’s Nest” monastery– a treasured landmark and prime spiritual destination for Buddhist pilgrims. We’ll have lunch along the way amongst the whispering blue pines and upon return will be treated to either a traditional hot stone bath or cultural performance at the hotel prior to a memorable Farewell Dinner.

Day 11
Your team will transport you to the Paro International Airport for your journey home with hopefully a suitcase full of memories and amazing experiences to take back with you and share with friends as part of the living culture and amazing natural beauty of Bhutan.

 

All trips include guide, driver, transport, hotel, meals, entry fees to dzongs 
and musuems and required travel / route permits.