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Cultural Journey in Bhutan, Tour to Land of the Thunder Dragon

offered by supplier M21637 (read about supplier)

Key Information:
Tour Duration: 7 - 15 day(s)
Group Size: 1 - 21 people
Destination(s): Bhutan  
Specialty Categories: Cultural Journey   Hiking & Trekking  
Season: January - December
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 1790 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 4110 US Dollar (USD)

Land of the Thunder Dragon, one of the most mysterious and unknown of all Himalayan kingdoms, hidden in isolation behind the high peaks of the Himalayas. A trip to Bhutan is like having a magic wand transporting one back to the 15th century.

For centuries forbidden to foreigners, this timeless Buddhist Kingdom has succeeded in preserving its enchanting traditions and ancestral way of life. This is further epitomized by the state’s mandate of “Gross National Happiness”, whereby economic development, a goal for much of its humanity, is only a means to the real goal of happiness.

This trip combines the best of what Bhutan offers. Begin our tour in Thimphu, the only capital in the world without any traffic light! Catch the weekend market, giant Buddha statue and more before taking a three-hour winding scenic mountain to Punakha. Tour the impressive Punakha Dzong and enjoy nature hikes in the beautiful glacial valley of Phobjikha. Visit the ancestral home of the royal family at Trongsa Dzong and merge yourself in religious heartland of the nation and home to some of the oldest Buddhist temples and monasteries

We then re-cross Yotong La, Pele La, and Dochu La and explore the beautiful valley of most magnificent Haa provinces and ends our visit to the dramatic Taktshang Monastery, built on a sheer cliff face at a height of 2950 m.

Day 1: Arrive Paro/ Drive to Thimphu (altitude: 7,700 feet).
If we are lucky, we’ll have glorious views of the snow-capped Himalayas on the way to Paro (Try and get the left-hand seat for better view of the Himalayas). The remarkable and steep descent into the Paro Valley is an awe-inspiring beginning to our adventure. Already you can feel the pace of life slow down. Upon arrival, take an hour drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. We’ll drive to Kuensel Phodrang to visit the gigantic statue of Buddha Doderma (169 ft) and visit 12th-century Changangkha Lhakhang, see the cultural aspect of blessing and naming the newly born child from the oldest temple of Wang valley. Further up the valley, a visit to takin preserve to see Takin, Bhutan’s national animal, is a favorite along with the view of the majestic Tashicho Dzong, the seat of the government before circumventing the Memorial Chorten (1974). Later afternoon we then move on to catch the bustling weekend market, which offers the best opportunity to see the colorful vegetables, dairy products and to mix with the locals along with the Bhutanese archery game (the national sport) at Changlingmithang National Stadium. Take a walk along the streets of Thimphu and enjoy some free shopping. Overnight at Thimphu. (L) (D)

Day 2: Thimphu to Punakha (altitude: 4,500 feet).
Catch the bustling weekend market (Fri to Sun) which offers the best opportunity to see the colorful vegetables, dairy products and to mix with the locals. Leaving Thimphu, we climb up the mountain road to Dochu La at 3140 m. On clear weather, the pass commands a wonderful panorama of the Eastern Himalayas. From the pass, we begin descending through the varied forest and finally emerging into the highly cultivated valley of Punakha. Take a short hike to Chimmi Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to Drukpa Kuenley, who as a favorite saint of the Bhutanese people has known affectionately as "the Divine Madman". The temple is on a hillside in the middle of rice fields and has become a pilgrimage site for childless couples. In the afternoon, we visit Punakha Dzong. Located at the confluence of the Pho-chu (male-river) and Mo-chu (female-river), the Punakha Dzong is arguably the most impressive dzong in the country. Overnight at Punakha. (B)(L)(D)

Day 3: Punakha to Phobjikha (altitude: 9,800 feet).
In the morning, drive about 3½ hours to Phobjikha Valley. This valley is well known as one of the last winter grounds of the black-necked cranes that migrate from the Tibetan plateau from mid-October to March. The cranes are deeply revered as heavenly bird by the Bhutanese, who believed that they are the reincarnation of the Lamas from Gangtey Goemba, as the locals say when the cranes arrive; they appear in the sky above the valley and circle over the Goemba before landing in the marshy area of the valley floor. We visit the Gangtey Goemba before enjoying a 1½ hours nature trail from the monastery through the jungle before emerging to the valley floor and ending at a local school. Overnight at Phobjikha. (B)(L)(D)

Day 4: Phobjikha to Bumthang (altitude: 8,500 feet).
After breakfast, take a long but stunning scenic drive for about 7 hours to Bumthang. This is the road where the Bhutanese box office movie “Travelers and Magicians” was filmed. The road winds its way up and crosses two high passes at Pele-La (3390 m) and Yotong-La (3425 m). En route, we would make a stop at Trongsa to visit Trongsa Dzong – the ancestral home of the royal family, and both the first and second kings ruled the country from Trongsa. The Dzong sits on a narrow spur that sticks out into the gorge of the Mangde-Chu River and overlooks the routes east, west and south. It was built in such a way that in the olden days, it had complete control over all east-west traffic. This helped to augment the strategic importance of the Dzong which eventually placed its Penlop (regional ruler) at the helm of a united country when His Majesty Ugyen Wangchuk became the first king of Bhutan. To this day, the Crown Prince of Bhutan becomes the Penlop of Trongsa before ascending the throne, signifying its historical importance. Overnight at Bumthang. (B)(L)(D)

Day 5: Bumthang sightseeing.
Bumthang is the religious heartland of the nation and home to some of the oldest Buddhist temples and monasteries. The sightseeing today includes several monasteries which are of great significance to the Bhutanese and to other Buddhists. Hike through the beautiful valley visiting several ancient temples, including Tamshing Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to Saint Pema Lingpa that contains some of the oldest untouched wall paintings in Bhutan. Under protective covering, 36 paintings line the vestibule where pilgrims can atone their sins by wearing a 25-kilo iron coat of chains around the sanctuary. From here walk to Kurje, a sacred place where Guru left his body imprinted on a rock to signify the place where he meditated, subdued a wrathful deity, and converted King Sendhu Raja to Buddhism. Bumthang valley is truly the most sacred place in Bhutan. After lunch, continue a day hiking to Padmasambhava Lhakhang crossing the suspension bridge. This is another meditation site of Guru Padmasambhava. It was founded by Terton (Treasure revealer) Pema Lingpa in the 15th century. Overnight at Jakar. (B)(L)(D)

Day 6: Bumthang to Punakha.
After breakfast, re-trace our steps back to Punakha. The journey would take around 7-8 hours. Overnight at Camp, Zomlingthang, Punakha. (B)(L)(D)

Day 7: Punakha to Paro (altitude - 7,400 feet).
After breakfast, we’ll enjoy a beautiful drive alongside the Mochu River through several small villages and past traditional farmhouses till we reach Serigang village. From here, we’ll hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten (Stupa). It contains some of the best Tantric art in Bhutan, and a visit there will serve as a balance to the more traditional Buddhist statuary and wall painting visible at other temples. The shapes and forms of the Tantric statues may surprise most visitors. The terrifying divinities are manifestations of peaceful gods, which assume these forms to subdue evil spirits that are hostile to Buddhist doctrine.

The nudity of most of the deities show that this world’s conventions are of no importance on higher planes, and the persons being crushed by the wrathful deities are either spirits hostile to Buddhism or primordial negative concepts such as ignorance, jealousy, and anger. In Tantric Buddhism, numerous statues and paintings are also in the form of sexual union, which represents the union of knowledge and wisdom that permits the attainment of the sublime state of enlightenment. After the hike, we’ll enjoy 2 hours Mochu River Raft along terraces, small villages and Punakha Dzong. After lunch, drive back to Paro, re-crossing Dochu La. (B)(L)(D)

Day 8: Excursion to Haa valley.
Drive to Chelela (3988 m) the highest highway pass through blue pines and rhododendron (Etho Metho) forests for about 1 and half hours. On a clear day, the view sweeps away to snow-dome of Bhutan’s second highest peak Mt Jhomolhari (7314 m). After a bracing walk along the prayer flag-bedecked ridge, it is down into Haa valley – the whole drive should take no more than 5 hours. And drive to Haa valley one of the most magnificent provinces in Bhutan, situated in western Bhutan at an elevation of approximately 9000 feet. Haa has remained off limits to tourists until the year 2002, thanks to the proximity to Tibet. We were fortunate to be able to visit this area. This un-spoilt valley harks back to a simpler more traditional time. After picnic lunch in beautiful Haa valley, we drive the same way back to Paro. Overnight at Paro. (B)(L)(D)

Day 9: Paro (Day hike to Taktshang monastery).
This morning, we make an excursion to Taktshang Monastery – this has to be the monastery with the most outstanding setting in Bhutan. Set on a vertical cliff face at 2950m above sea level, it defies all engineering logic. For the energetic, hike 2 hours up to get a more dramatic view of the monastery. (The hike demands a certain level of fitness and a pony ride to the monastery can be arranged at additional cost). Upon descent, we enjoy a spectacular drive to the remote ruins of Drugyel Dzong and on a clear day, you would be rewarded with the view of snow-capped Mt Jhumolhari. The rest of the afternoon is free at leisure. You may wish to take a stroll along the street of Paro! (B)(L)(D)

Day 10: Departure.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight. (B)

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes:
- All meals and sightseeing
- All hotel and guesthouse accommodations
- All ground transportation
- Entrance fees
- The services of knowledgeable, English-speaking local guides

Price Excludes:
- International airfare and en-route stopovers
- Druk Air Fare
- Travel Insurance
- Luxury hotel accommodation option
- Excess baggage charges
- Personal items like laundry or toiletries
- Beverages (Alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks)
- Optional gratuities to guide and driver

About This Supplier
Location: Bhutan
Joined InfoHub: Oct 2016

M21637 is officially recognized and licensed by Tourism Council of Bhutan. We have been started to create unique trips that will give a much closer looks of our country at the best possible value to promote sustainable tourism in Bhutan. We focus on reducing the environmental impact of travel, preserve the local...

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