The land of the Thunder Dragon is a land of mystery, myths and legends. This sightseeing tour gives you the opportunity to experience the culture of Bhutan and step back in history visiting palaces and monasteries built in the early 17th century.Enchanting names with alluring meanings such as "palace of great happiness" or "temple of good message"will delight you as you travel through beautiful valleys and over passes which offer you spectacular views. Witness ancient craftsmanship such as "hand made paper" and "silver smithing" and visit local handicraft emporiums for truly unique souvenirs.
It is believed that Bhutan was inhabited as early as 2000 B.C. due to the presence of early stone implements discovered in the region.
The country was originally known by many names including Lho Jong, The Valleys of the South, Lho Mon Kha Shi, The Southern Mon Country of Four Approaches, Lho Jong Men Jong, The Southern Valleys of Medicinal Herbs and Lho Mon Tsenden Jong, The Southern Mon Valleys where Sandlewood Grows. Mon was a term used by the Tibetans to refer to Mongoloid, non-Buddhist peoples that populated the Southern Himalayas. The country came to be known as Druk Yul or The Land of the Drukpas sometime in the 17th century. The name refers to the Drukpa sect of Buddhism that has been the dominant religion in the region since that period.

 Trip Highlights:

  • The environment and pace of Life
  • Paro Sightseeings.
  • Buddhist influence.
  • Take in spectacular Himalayan scenery..
  • Experience Bhutan's unique culture..
  • Connecting treks to remote areas.

 Outline Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive Paro

Day 2: Paro sightseeing

Day 3: Paro Excursion to Taktsang Monastery

Day 4: Thimphu Sightseeing

Day 5: Thimphu Sightseeing

Day 6:Thimphu – Punakha

Day 7: Punakha – Gangtey

Day 8: Gangtey - Trongsa – Bumthang

Day 9:  Bumthang Sightseeing

Day 10: Excursion to Shingkhar & Back to Bumthang

Day 11:  Bumthang – Thimphu

Day 12: Thimphu

Day 13: Thimphu – Paro

Day 14: Paro departure

General Information:

On the roof the world, nestled on the lap of the Eastern Himalayas, is Bhutan, or the kingdom of the thunder Dragon. Here, centuries old ways of life, culture and tradition blend harmoniously with modern times to create a fairytale realm like no other. Bhutan has never been colonized and the Bhutanese are fiercely protective about their independence. After centuries of self-imposed isolation, Bhutan has emerged strongly from the shrouds of myth as a nation exemplified for choosing all the right paths. Bhutan is perhaps the only nation in the world where billboards and tobacco are banned. Their absence further heightens the nations intact forest cover of more than 70 percent of its entire land and its prestigious standing among the 10 global hotspots for environmental conservation. Bhutan is also the recipient of the Champions of The Earth Award 2005 from the United Nations Environment Program.

 

FACTS ON BHUTAN -

Location: Located in the eastern Himalayas; Bhutan is bordered Tibet in the north and the Indian states of Assam and west Bengal in the east west and south.

Local Time: +6: ahead of GMT                  Capital: Thimphu Area: 38,394. (sq.km)     

Dzongkhags (districts): 20                        Geogs (blocks): 201                                

Currency: Ngultrum                                  National Language: Dzongkha                               

Official Language: Dzongkha                    Religion: Mahayana Buddhism.

National Sport: Archery.                           National Dress: Gho (Men) & Kira (Women).

National Tree: Cypress.                            National Flower: Blue Poppy.1

National Bird: Raven.                               National: Takin.

Altitude: From 180mt to 7550mt above the sea level.

Electricity: Current is 220-240 Volts. The plug is round, 3 prong - British type.

 

GEOGRAPHY:

The Kingdom of Bhutan is wedged between India and China along the lofty mountains of the eastern Himalayas, between longitude 88°45’ and 92°10’ east and latitude 26°40’ and 28°15’. With an area of approximately 38,394 square kilometers, Bhutan is comparable to Switzerland in both size and topography, being largely mountainous. With these borders a giant staircase is formed — from a narrow strip of land in the south at an altitude of 10,000 feet. These unclimbed Himalayan peaks are among the highest on Earth.

 

TRAVEL INSURANCE:

The costs that we offer do not cover your Travel Insurance. It is imperative that you have full comprehensive insurance cover to protect against unforeseen accidents and mishaps. Such policies are not available in Bhutan. It should adequately cover baggage and travel delays etc. and helicopter evacuation, transportation and medical assistance in-case of treks.

 

ITINERARY CHANGES – INCLUDING STATED HOTELS:

You should keep in mind that this is an adventure trip into the remotest region, where many unforeseen events may contribute to the need for a change in itinerary. In such cases, your local operator or we will suggest the best alternative similar to your original.

Due to flight cancellation, weather condition and also limited tourism infra-structure, suitable hotel accommodation is very limited in some remote valleys and, on exceptionally rare occasions, a hotel room may not be available as booked. Late reservations, in particular, will often require flexibility and possible re-routing to provide the best possible accommodation options.

We kindly request you factor above possibility and any other unforeseen situation, into your planning when considering a visit to Bhutan.

 

FOOD:

Bhutanese Delicacies are limited with spicy Chillies and Cheese. However you will be served a Buffet of continental food with some local dishes too. On Treks, our trained cooks prepare dishes suitable to western tastes ranging from continental to Chinese and Bhutanese to Indian.

 

CURRENCY:

Bhutanese unit of currency is the Ngultrum. 1Nu. = 100 Chetrum. The Ngultrum is at par with the Indian Rupee. Approx. 1 USD = Nu/44.5

 

CREDIT CARDS:

Credit cards are accepted in major Hotels and Handicraft Emporium to pay against your purchase bills but not to encash money. You cannot en-cash money with your ATM Cards. It is advisable that you bring cash dollars.

 

CLOTHING:

Due to wide range of temperature and climatic conditions, it is advisable to bring appropriate clothing. From May to Sep. cotton clothes are sufficient, plus a woollen sweater or light jacket. From November to the end of April, you will need very warm clothes including long underwear or woollen tights to wear under trousers, and down jacket or coat. During visit to the monasteries, Dzongs and other religious institution, you should not wear shorts, hats and should be properly dressed.

 

WHAT TO PACK:

Clothes as per season, sunglasses/spare glasses or contact lenses, pair of casual shoes, washing kit, shaving kit, towel, hat, umbrella, camera, film and accessories, maps, insect repellent, hand cream, small sewing kit & safety pins, torch or flash light with spare batteries, mirror, sun screen cream, lip salve or soluble aspirin, antiseptic cream, preparation for the relief of sunburn. You may not be tuned to the Asian drugs so it is always better to bring own brand. If you are going on a trek, we will provide separate list.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY:

The photographic opportunities on all trips are immense. If you wish to record the local people, their houses and shops etc., you can always ask by gesture, if it’s ok to take pictures. Also while visiting Dzongs, monasteries, and religious institutions; please follow your guide’s instruction carefully. Photography inside the Dzongs and monuments are not allowed. Although films and batteries are available locally, it is best to bring it yourself.

 

MEDICAL & HEALTH:

Anyone who enjoys outdoor life and is physically fit can participate on our treks and tours. However some treks maybe rigorous and difficult because of high altitude and therefore a good training of fitness for at least a month at home is required for treks going to an altitude in excess of 4000 mts/1500 ft. there are no compulsory vaccinations for travel to Bhutan.

 

CUSTOMS AND REGULATIONS:

The Bhutanese authorities strictly prohibit the export of any religious Antiquity or antiques of any type. All personal electronics, Cameras, Video Cameras, Computers and personal electronic equipment may be brought into the country but they must be listed on the custom form provided on arrival at Paro airport and will be checked on departure. Two liters of alcohol and reasonable quantity of cigarettes may be brought into the country without duty.

 

EAR PLUGS:

Compared to other towns, Thimphu has high number of stray Dogs. You may be disturbed by the barking dogs at night so we highly advise you to bring ear plugs.

 

ELECTRICITY:

Current is 220-240 Volts. The plug is round, 3 prong - British type.

 

TIPPING & GIFT:

Tipping is at each visitor’s discretion are requested not to give candy, gum, pens, pencils, balloons, etc to children, who soon learn to demand gifts; or not to hand out medicines to local people which may be inappropriate for their medical problems and delay their seeking professional help. if you want to give children pens, pencils, etc. it is better to give them to local schools. We will be happy to arrange a visit to a local school if you indicate at the time of booking. Instead of gifts, you can show them books and pictures of your country, your home, your children, etc. or teach them a song or game.

 

SHOPPING:

All visitors are welcome to visit the Handicraft Centre or all local shops, which contains a very wide range of traditional and modern items. Beautiful hand woven textiles, postage traditional handmade paper, colorful bamboo baskets, thangkas, centuries, ceramics, musical instruments and masks are some of many favorite items for purchase from Bhutan. The textiles with intricate patterns that take months to weave are made of cotton, wool or raw silk. Ethnic silver jewelry can also be found. The best shopping to be found is in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.

 

DISTANCE & DRIVING TIME BETWEEN VARIOUS PLACES IN BHUTAN

All mode of transport within Bhutan is by motor vehicle as there is no domestic airline or trains. However, motor roads are well maintained and link all parts of the country.

From

To

Approx. Distance (Km)

Approx. Driving Time

Paro

Thimphu

65 kms

01 hour

Paro

Haa

65 kms

1.5 - 02 hours

Thmphu

Haa

115 kms

03 - 04 hours

Thimphu

Phuentsholing

176 kms

07 - 08 hours

Thimphu

Wangduephodrang

70 kms

03 hours

Thimphu

Punakha

77 kms

03 hours

Thimphu

Phobjhika (Gangtey)

135 kms

5.5 - 06 hours

Punakha

Wangduephodrang

13 kms

45 minutes

Punakha

Gangtey (Phobjikha)

78 kms

03 hours

Punakha

Bumthang

212 kms

08 hours

Bumthang

Gangtey (Phobjikha)

188 kms

05 - 06 hours

Gangtey (Phobjikha)

Trongsa

120 kms

4.1/2 - 05 hours

Gangtey

Wangduephodrang

65 kms

2.5 - 03 hours

Trongsa

Wangduephodrang

129 kms

4.5 - 05 hours

Trongsa

Punakha

142 kms

06 hours

Trongsa

Bumthang

68 kms

02 hours

Bumthang

Mongar

198 kms

07 - 08 hours

Mongar

Lhuentse

76 kms

03 hours

Mongar

Trashigang

91 kms

03 - 04 hours

Trashigang

Chorten Kora

52 kms

02 hours

Trashigang

Samdrup Jongkhar

180 kms

07 hours

Trashigang

Trashiyangtshe

55 kms

02 hours

Samdrup Jongkhar

Guwahati (Assam, India)

110 kms

03 hours

Samdrup Jongkhar

Phuentsholing

400 kms

10 hours

Phuentsholing

Bagdogra (West Benal, India)

165 kms

4.1/2 hours

Phuentsholing

Siliguri (West Bengal, India)

155 kms

04 hours

Phuentsholing

Darjeeling (West Bengal, India)

200 kms

06 hours

Phuentsholing

Kalimpong (West Bangal, India)

185 kms

05 hours

Phuentsholing

Gangtok (Sikkim, India)

220 kms

07 hours

Phuentsholing

Dooars (Chalsa) (West Bengal, India)

110 kms

2.1/2 hours

 

 

NATIONAL EMBLEM (ROYAL CREST):

The National emblem, contained in circle, is composed of a double diamond thunderbolt placed above a lotus, surmounted by a jewel and framed by two dragons. The double diamond thunderbolt represents the harmony between secular and religious power; which results from the Buddhist religion in its varying form. The lotus symbolizes the purity; the jewel-sovereign power; and the two dragons, male and female stand for the name of the country-the thunder.

 

NATIONAL DAY:

National Day is celebrated on the 17th December in commemoration of the ascension of Ugyen Wangchuk, the first King of Bhutan to the throne, at Punakha Dzong.

 

NATIONAL FLAG:

The rectangular national flag of Bhutan is diagonally segmented and depicts a wide dragon across the middle. The upper part of the flag is golden yellow, which represents the secular power of the King, while the lower part is orange, which is indicative of the Buddhist influence. The Dragon, whose white color is associated with purity, represents Bhutan. It holds jewels in its claws, which represents the wealth and perfection of the country. 

CLOTHING:

Due to wide range of temperature and climatic conditions, it is advisable to bring appropriate clothing. From May to Sep. cotton clothes are sufficient, plus a woollen sweater or light jacket. From November to the end of April, you will need very warm clothes including long underwear or woollen tights to wear under trousers, and down jacket or coat. During visit to the monasteries, Dzongs and other religious institution, you should not wear shorts, hats and should be properly dressed.

 

WHAT TO PACK:

Clothes as per season, sunglasses/spare glasses or contact lenses, pair of casual shoes, washing kit, shaving kit, towel, hat, umbrella, camera, film and accessories, maps, insect repellent, hand cream, small sewing kit & safety pins, torch or flash light with spare batteries, mirror, sun screen cream, lip salve or soluble aspirin, antiseptic cream, preparation for the relief of sunburn. You may not be tuned to the Asian drugs so it is always better to bring own brand. If you are going on a trek, we will provide separate list.

Cost Details

  •  US$ 250 per person per night on twin sharing basis
  • US$ 80 surcharge for any booking for Visa, money transfer and communication fees
  •  Flights  are not included in the price

Small group surcharge:

1 person $ 40 per night

2 person group $ 30 per person/night

3 person group $ 20 per person/night

Single supplement $ 50 per night

 Note: Special surcharge apply for Snowman trek and any strenuous treks

Detail Itinerary

Day 1. Arrive Paro

You will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel o/n at hotel.

 

Day 2. Paro sightseeing

After breakfast, drive to the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, 16km up the valley, this dzong was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders in1644; in fact the dzong's name means "victorious Druk". The Dzong was used as an administrative center until 1951 when a fire caused by a butter lamp destroyed it. After the dzong we visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of Bhutan's oldest and most sacred monasteries, and Rimpung Dzong (Paro Dzong) built in 1646 and currently housing administrative offices. After lunch we visit the Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower, which has been the national museum of Bhutan. since 1967. A short distance further is one of the innumerable archery grounds (archery is the national sport of Bhutan and if we are lucky, we may catch a match in action). The evening ends with a walk through Paro's main shopping district. o/n at hotel.

 

Day 3. Paro Excursion to Taktsang Monastery

A very special day, with an excursion to view one of the major highlights of Bhutan, the spectacular Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) monastery. After breakfast you will take a short drive to Satsam Chorten, from there a 2 hour horse ride to the viewpoint of the monastery. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. You stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until we see Taktsang monastery. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 metres into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, flew here in the form of Dorji Drolo, mounted on a flaming tigress in the 747A.D Lunch will be served at the cafeteria and after lunch you will return to your hotel, check out and drive to Thimphu. o/n at hotel.

 

Day 4. Thimphu Sightseeing

The day begins with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten (1974) built in honour of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and the Dupthop Lhakhang one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan. You then visit the National Library, stocked with ancient Buddhist manuscripts, and the Painting School where traditional art is still kept alive through instructions in the art of painting Thangkas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls). After lunch you are driven to the Traditional Medicine Institute where medicines are prepared according to ancient practices, and to Lungtenzampa to observe the Royal silver smiths and Bhutanese paper factory at work. Other highlights include a visit to the Tashichho Dzong, seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan). The Tashichho Dzong is open to visitors only in winter when the Je Khenpo and the monks move to Punakha the ancient winter capital of Bhutan. We drive to Simtokha Dzong; the oldest Dzong of Bhutan built by Shabdrung in 1627 and finally visit the Handicrafts Emporium followed by shopping for souvenirs in the shops of Thimphu o/n at hotel.

 

Day 5. Thimphu Sightseeing

Today's sightseeing tour in Thimphu commences with a visit to the Folk Heritage Museum, the morning also includes the Textile Museum, Changangkha Lhakhang and the Philatelic office. After lunch you visit a "hand made paper" factory and see silversmiths at work o/n at hotel.

 

Day 6. Thimphu - Punakha

After breakfast you commence your 3 hour drive to Punakha via Dochula pass. If the weather is clear, you can stop for a while at Dochula pass, at just over 3000m this pass offers one of Bhutan's most enchanting views. After lunch at Punakha you can visit Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal for many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the Government. The construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche, who predicted, "..a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant". There was a smaller building here called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Shabdrung Namgyal ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, and while Palep was sleeping, the Shabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From his vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which in keeping with the tradition, was never committed to paper. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). The war materials captured during the battle with Tibetans are preserved here. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk convened the new national Assembly here in 1952 o/n at hotel.

 

Day 7. Punakha - Gangtey

This morning enjoy a drive to the beautiful valley of Gangtey. On the way, stop a while to view Chime Lhakhang, which was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley who subdued the demons with his "Magical Thunder bolt". The Temple is also known as "the Temple of Fertility". Enroute, sightseeing in the valley of Wangdiphodrang includes a visit to Wangdiphodrang Dzong built in 1638 (seen from outside). Legend relates that as the people were searching for the site of the Dzong, four ravens were seen flying away in four directions. This was considered auspicious sign, representing the spread of religion to the four points of the compass. A picnic lunch will be served enroute to Gangtey. On arrival check in to Gangtey Gompa House before visiting Gangtey Gompa Monastery founded in 1613 (seen from outside). It is a Nyingmapa monastery and is affiliated to other Nyingmapa monasteries including Tamshing in Bumthang. Explore the Phobjikha valley, famous for the Black Necked Cranes during winter o/n at guest house.

 

Day 8. Gangtey - Trongsa - Bumthang

Drive to Trongsa where you can visit Trongsa Dzong, the most impressive dzong in Bhutan, built in its present form in 1644 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the official who was sent by Shabdrung to unify eastern Bhutan. It was enlarged at the end of the 17th century and is the ancestral home of the present Royal Family. Then visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watch tower before traveling to Bumthang. o/n at hotel.

 

Day 9. Bumthang Sightseeing

Visit Jakar Dzong, which literally means "The Castle of White Bird". The current structure was built in 1667 and is said to be the largest Dzong in Bhutan, then visit Lamey Goemba, a large palace and monastery built in 18th century by Dasho Phuntsho Wangdi, then on to Jambay Lhakhang said to have been built by King Srongsen Gampo of Tibet in the year 659. The temple was visited by Guru Rimpoche during his visit to Bumthang and was renovated by Sindhu Raja after Guru Rimpoche restored his life force. Under the temple is said to be a lake in which Guru Rimpoche hid several Terma. In October one of the most spectacular festivals, "Jambay Lhakhang Drup" is staged here. After lunch visit Chakhar (Iron Castle) Lhakhang, it is the site of the palace of the Indian King, the Sindhu Raja who invited Guru Rimpoche to Bumthang. The original palace was made of iron and hence the name Chakhar. You then visit Kurjey Lhakhang and Tamshing Lhakhang (Temple of the good message) which was established in 1501 and is the most important Nyingmapa temple in the kingdom o/n at hotel.

 

Day 10. Excursion to Shingkhar & Back to Bumthang

Today you drive to Shingkhar village. Then in the evening, visit Membartsho (means Burning Lake) a short distance up the road leading to Tang valley. The Terton Pema Lingpa discovered several of Guru Rimpoche's hidden Terma relics here. o/n at hotel.

 

Day 11. Bumthang - Thimphu

An early breakfast before the 212 km drive to Thimphu o/n at hotel.

 

Day 12. Thimphu

Morning sightseeing to Tango and Cheri Monastery. After lunch you can visit the Mini Zoo and Sangay Gang view point o/n at hotel.

 

Day 13. Thimphu - Paro

Visit the oldest dzong in Bhutan, Simtokha Dzong built in 1627 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, this dzong presently houses a Monastic school. Then stroll through the town and visit a handicraft emporium. Return to Paro after lunch o/n at hotel.

Day 14. Paro departure

Early morning transfer to airport for international departure.