The Kingdom of Bhutan Itinerary

Day 1
ARRIVE PARO BY DRUKAIR
Welcome to the land of the Thunder Dragon!

The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular of all the mountain flights. The first three gifts you will receive from Bhutan will be the cool, clean fresh air you feel as you step out of the plane. The second will be warm welcome you will receive. The third – the enchanting Paro valley. Check in and lunch at the hotel.  After lunch you will visit the Paro Dzong who now houses the offices of the district administration and the district monk body. Evening you will explore Paro town.

Meals: Lunch & Dinner
Accommodation: Tashi Namgay Resort or Similar

Day 2
PARO – THIMPHU
After breakfast you will drive to Thimphu – the capital of Bhutan. Upon arrival visit Folk Heritage Museum and the Institute for Zorig Chusum where 13 different traditional arts and crafts are taught to the students. You will also visit a Traditional Paper factory.

Check in and lunch at the hotel. Afternoon visit to Memorial Choeten, a stupa built in 1974 to honour the memory of the 3rd King, His Late Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who is known in Bhutan’s history as the “Father of Modern Bhutan” since the modern developments began during his reign. Then you will visit the Changangkha Lhakhang, which is also a focus of daily worship for many Thimphu residents. Then you will drive to Sangaygang – the view point. It is also known as “Lover’s Point” where young couples come to enjoy the bird’s eye view of the Thimphu valley. Next you will visit the Dupthob Lhakhang built by Dupthob Thangthong Gyalpo, also known as “Iron Bridge Builder.” It is now a nunnery and it has more than 70 practicing nuns. You will have time to enjoy the beautiful paintings inside the temple. Evening at leisure.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: Hotel River View or Similar

Day 3
THIMPHU TSHECHU (FESTIVAL)
After breakfast you will transfer to Tashichoe Dzong to witness the Thimphu Festival which is one of the most popular festivals in Bhutan. Festivals in Bhutan offer a complete insight into the nation’s vibrant religion and culture.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel River View or Similar

About Thimphu Festival

Thimphu Tsechu is by all means one of the biggest festivals in the capital of Bhutan. Celebrated annually in the autumn season for a period of 3- 4 days, this festival is a ceremony of colors with a happy amalgamation of the changing nature and the many moods of the Bhutanese culture. The highlight of Thimphu Tsechu is the showcase of ethnic folk dance in the famous Tashichho Dzong in Thimphu. The court yard of this Dzong is the platform for the performances that is marked by traditionally designed colorful masks.

Some Tshechus also have Wang, a collection of verbal blessing given by a high monk. Coloured threads called “Sungki” are distributed and people tie them around their neck as witness to the blessing. Sometimes the Wang is called “Mewang” literally means the “Blessing by fire” which burns away their impurities. Atsaras are clowns whose expressive masks and postures are indispensable elements in any religious festival, they confront the monks, toss out salacious jokes, and distract the crowd with their antics when the religious dances begin to grow tedious. Believed to represent Acharyas, religious masters of India, they are the only people permitted to mock religion in a society where sacred matters are treated with the highest respect. For a few days popular entertainers are allowed the freedom to express a formulaic challenge within an established framework that does not, however upset the social and religious order. Some religious festivals include only a few dances and consist mostly of readings from particular text. On these occasions, villagers assemble in a temple and participate in the prayers while they drink strong alcoholic beverages.

Each village take pride in its annual religious festival, whether it includes dances or simply prayers, and any villager who has gone to live in city, are expected to come back home for the festival. He will then sponsor a large part of the festival. For the Bhutanese, religious festivals offer an opportunity to become immersed in the meaning of their religion and gain much merit. They are also occasions for seeing people and for being seen, for social exchanges and to flaunt their success. People wear their finest clothes and most beautiful jewellery while enjoying abundant food. Men and women joke and flirt with each other. An atmosphere of convivial, slightly ribald good humour prevails.

Day 4
THIMPHU SIGHTSEEING
After a leisurely breakfast drive north of Thimphu to visit the Tango Monastery which is now a college for learning higher Buddhist Philosophy. It was founded by Lama Gyalwa Lhanampa in the 12th century. It takes about an hour and the trail takes you through a gradual ascent. The Monastery now has about 200 practicing monks. You will have time to enjoy the beautiful paintings inside the temple. Return to Thimphu.

After lunch visit the Simtokha Dzong, built in 1929 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Nambyel and is the oldest dzong in the country. It functions as a religious and administrative centre. Continue on to Institute of Management Studies in Serbithang where our local partner has organised a talk on the country’s development philosophy of Gross National Happiness propounded by the Fourth King, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The presentation will be followed by Q & A. Dinner at the institute.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Accommodation:Hotel River View or Similar

Day 5
THIMPHU – PUNAKHA
After breakfast drive to Punakha across the Dochula pass (3100m). The pass is marked by a large massive, Choeten, 108 smaller choetens (Druk Wangyal Choetens) and prayer flags. If the weather is clear you will have an opportunity to enjoy the most spectacular views of the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas. The road to Punakha descends from the pass through the magnificent pine and rhododendron forests and wanders through some of Bhutan’s most spectacular countryside. Punakha, situated at an elevation of 1400m served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955 and it stills serves as the winter residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and the Central Monk Body. Blessed with temperate climate and fed with the Po Chu (Male) and Mo Chu (Female) rivers, Punakha is one of the most fertile valleys in Bhutan. The climate allows for two crops of rice to be grown a year. And is also good for growing fruit, with oranges and bananas in abundance. Lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch hike to Chimi Lhakhang – a Buddhist temple dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenlay who is also known as “Divine Madman” in the west. It is an easy hike through the village of Yuwakha and rice fields. Evening at leisure.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Accommodation: Meri Puensum Resort or Similar

Day 6
PUNAKHA
After breakfast hike to the Khamsum Yuelay Namgyal Choeten. The hike will take you through the rice fields and the view of the Punakha valley from the Choeten is stunning. Next you will visit the Punakha Dzong which is built at the confluence of Phochu and Mochu in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. You will have time to admire the fine Bhutanese architecture and intricate wall paintings. The dzongs were built without using a single iron nail. Lunch at local restaurant. After lunch you will visit a private temple (exclusive arrangement). You will have time to interact with a young incarnate Lama, who speaks excellent English (Lama’s schedule permitting). Then you will try archery – Bhutan’s National Sport. Your guide will assist you.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Accommodation: Meri Puensum Resort or Similar

Day 7
PUNAKHA – PARO
This morning we will visit the market in Thimphu, followed by lunch in a local restaurant. This afternoon we will start a hike to Wangditse Lhakhang – it a moderate hike through pine and Oak forests. This hike offers great views of the Garden Palace where the present King resides, Tashichhoe dzong, Parliament building and the Thimphu valley.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Accommodation: Tashi Namgay Resort or Similar

Day 8
TIGER’S NEST MONASTERY
Day Excursion to Taktshang Monastery literally known as Tiger’s Nest. This is one of Bhutan’s most sacred places, and an important pilgrimage destination. You will walk along a trail that slowly rises above the valley, taking you through fields and past four large prayer wheels turned by a stream. Continuing across an open meadow, you hike up a section of trail to a ridge where prayer flags rustle in the wind next to a massive prayer wheel. Just beyond is the Taktshang Cafeteria at 9,200 feet, where you stop to enjoy a hot drink and the striking views of the Monastery across the valley. Depending on your energy level, you may relax in the pleasant atmosphere of the cafeteria until lunch or continue on for a mile of steep climbing to another dramatic viewpoint. You return to the cafeteria for a delicious buffet of typical Bhutanese food. You may want to try Emadatsi (A chili cheese dish), vegetables with cheese sauce and other dishes.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Accommodation: Tashi Namgay Resort or Similar

Day 9
DEPARTURE
Early morning breakfast and transfer to the airport for your departure flight.

Inclusions

INCLUDED WITH THIS TRIP

  • Access to country specific pre-departure information
  • Expert English speaking guide for the duration of the trip
  • Entrance fees and permits
  • Fuel plus other activities as detailed in itinerary
  • A Sustainable Tourism Royalty (US$ 65 per night)
  • Tourism Development Fund (US$ 10 per visit)
  • Visa Fees (US$ 40 per visit)
  • Bottled drinking water on daily basis
  • Wet Towels on arrival and hikes
  • Hand Sanitizers on daily basis
  • Operation of the above itinerary, with the following inclusions…

ACCOMMODATION
Bhutanese 3* accommodation

MEALS
All meals as per itinerary in regular tourist standard restaurants (NO Bottled Beverages)

TRANSPORT
bus or minibus

NOT INCLUDED WITH THIS TRIP

  • International and internal flights
  • Excess baggage (Allowance: 30 Kgs Economy Class & 40 Kgs Business Class)
  • Tips, personal telephone charges
  • Travel Insurance (compulsory) – You will need to provide us with your policy number prior to departure
  • Items of a personal nature; postage, drinks and souvenirs
  • Personal drinks at meal times (Alcoholic and Bottled Beverages)
  • Entrance and activity fees during free time which are not detailed on the itinerary
  • Other meals not mentioned on the itinerary
  • Medical Advice – Please refer to your GP or local travel clinic for up to date travel health advice for the area(s) you are visiting.

WHERE DOES TO SUSTAINABLE TOURISM ROYALTY GO?
Guided by Bhutan’s development philosophy of GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS (GNH) crafted by His
Majesty the fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck and Bhutan’s good governance ensures proper and
monitored use of the Sustainable Tourism Royalty collected from visitors to Bhutan. This royalty goes towards free education, free healthcare, poverty alleviation along with infrastructure development. In case of
emergency even foreign visitors can avail the free healthcare during your travels in Bhutan.