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 Facts:

  • Duration:6 nights / 7 days.
  • Visit several Monasteries.
  • Beautiful sceneries of  Himalayas, Valleys’ and passes.
  • Distance & Driving time:
    Punakha to Wangdue    – 17 Km – 40 Mins
    Wangdue to Gangtey     --  66 Km – 2.5 Hrs.
  • Highest altitude:Dochu-La Pass (3140m)

 Outline Itinerary:

Day 01   Arrive Paro (Altitude 2280 m) (By Druk Air)

Day 02   Paro, Excursion to Taktsang Monastery – Thimphu (Altitude 2320 m)

Day 03   Thimphu Sightseeing: (Altitude 2320 m).

Day 04   Thimphu - Punakha (Altitude 1310 m) (72 Km, 3 hrs drive)

Day 05   Punakha - Gangtey (Altitude 3120 m) - Wangdiphodrang

Day 06   Wangdiphodrang - Thimphu: (Altitude 2320 m)

Day 07   Departure: (Altitude 2280 m) Early morning, drive to the airport and farewell

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. 

Detail Itinerary:

Day 01: Arrive Paro (Altitude 2280 m) (By Druk Air):

Our Representative from Bhutan will receive you at the Airport and drop you to the hotel. After lunch, visit Ta Dzong (built in1656 and renovated in 1968), an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. Below the museum is the Paro Rimpung Dzong  (literally meaning “Heap of Jewels”, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley. A short walk takes you to the base of the dzong and across a traditional cantilevered, covered bridge. 

Dinner and overnight in Tashi Namgay Resort or similar. www.tnr.bt

 

Day 02. Paro, Excursion to Taktsang Monastery – Thimphu (Altitude 2320 m):

 A very special day, with an excursion to view the spectacular Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) monastery.  After breakfast, drive to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong 16 km up the valley built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the Dzong was destroyed by accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. Explore the ramparts and on a clear day experience an unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m). On the way back, visit Kichu Lhakhang, built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan king Srongsen Gampo.

  • Srongsen Gampo: He was a Tibetan king who married a Chinese princess, Wenchen in 641, as a apart of her dowry was a statue called “Jowo” which was an Indian image of Buddha, Sakyamuni as a small boy. In 659, He decided to build 108 Temples in a single day to pin the Ogress to the earth forever and, at the same time, convert the Tibetan people to Buddhism. 6 of these Temples lie in Bhutan, most prominent of them are Jambay Lhakhang in Bumthang and Kichu Lhakhang in Paro. Kichu Lhakhang is said to hold the left foot of the Ogress and Jambay Lhakhang pins the left knee.

Then a short drive takes us to Satsam Chorten, from there a 2 hour walk till the viewpoint point 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. We stop for a rest and lunch at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until we see, clearly and seemingly within reach, Taktsang monastery. The primary Lhakhang was built around

Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in the 1684by the Penlop of Paro Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo, said to be his favourite consort.

 In the evening, drive to Thimphu. On the way, view Tamchog Monastery built by Thangthong Gyalpo (Popularly known as Lama Chazampa, which literally means, the Iron Bridge builder) in the 15th century.

  • Thang Thong Gyalpo (1385 – 1464) was a wonder working saint from Tibet who came to Bhutan in 1433 looking for Iron Ore. He built 108 bridges across Tibet and Bhutan, out of which 8 were built in Bhutan. His only surviving bridge is in Duksum (Tashi Yangtse in Eastern Bhutan).

 Dinner and overnight in Hotel Migmar or similar. www.hotelmigmar.bt

 

Day 03. Thimphu Sightseeing: (Altitude 2320 m).

The day begins with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten (1974) built in honour of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, Sangaygang view point to see the Tallest Statue of Buddha, Takin Preserve center, Dupthop Lhakhang one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan and Changangkha Lhakhang.

After lunch, excursion to Cheri monastery. Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal built this monastery in 1620 and established the first monk body here. A silver chorten inside the goemba holds the ashes of the Shabdrung’s father. 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) and finally visit the Handicrafts Emporium followed by shopping for souvenirs in the shops of Thimphu. Dinner and overnight in Hotel Migmar or similar.

 

Day 04. Thimphu - Punakha (Altitude 1310 m) (72 Km, 3 hrs drive):

After breakfast, drive to Punakha via Dochula pass.  If the weather is clear, we stop for a while at Dochula pass to view Higher Himalayas. On the way, view Chime Lhakhang, which was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley. He subdued the demons with his “Magical Thunder bolt”. The Temple is also known as “the Temple of Fertility”.

  • Lama Drukpa Kuenley (1455 – 1529) was one of the Bhutan’s Favourite Saints who was born in Tibet, trained at Ralung Monastery and was a contemporary and a disciple of Pema Lingpa. He Travelled throughout Bhutan and Tibet as a “Neljorpa” (Yogi) using songs, humour and outrageous behavior to dramatise his teachings of Salvation through sex.

After lunch, visit Punakha Dzong  built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is situated between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). 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 ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, 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. Dinner and overnight in Punatshangchhu Cottages or similar. www.punatshangchhucottages.bt

 

Day 05. Punakha - Gangtey (Altitude 3120 m) - Wangdiphodrang:

After breakfast, drive to Gangtey. Enroute sightseeing in the valley of Wangdiphodrang includes visit to the Wangdiphodrang Dzong (from outside) built in 1638.  While in Gangtey, visit Gangtey Gompa. Gyaltse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa founded the Temple in 1613, and Tenzin Legpai Dhendup, the second re-incarnation, built the temple. The present Abbot, Kunzang Pema Namgyal is the ninth re-incarnation. It is a Nyingmapa monastery and is affiliated to other Nyingmapa monasteries including Tamshing in Bumthang.

After lunch, explore Phobjikha valley, famous for the Black Necked Cranes during winter and drive back to Wangdiphodrang. Dinner and overnight in Punatshangchhu Cottages or similar.

 

Day 06. Wangdiphodrang - Thimphu: (Altitude 2320 m):

After breakfast, drive to Thimphu. After lunch, visit Folk Heritage Museum and free for shopping and photography in the town. Dinner and over night in Hotel Migmar or similar.

 

Day 07. Departure: (Altitude 2280 m)

Early morning, drive to the airport and farewell.

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