“Get a taste for beautiful Bhutan on this culinary adventure!”
Between the borders of India and China sits the magical country of Bhutan. With delicious food, stunning landscapes, and intricate and beautiful cultural traditions, it can feel like a fairytale. This trip gives you the opportunity to see some of the most spectacular cultural sites in the country and to try lots of incredible local cuisine. Bhutanese cuisine is influenced by Chinese, Tibetan and Indian flavors and yet carries a unique and different character to it. Master the art of Bhutanese cooking with and experience the perfect blend of food, landscape, and heritage.
This tour is all about learning to live off the land in the way local people have been doing for centuries. You will be staying in local homestays and eat home cooked authentic Bhutanese food. All of the in-country guides are local people, who know the area so you know you will get the insider’s view as well as giving back to the local economy. The tour works with rural communities to encourage homestay based experiential travel with a focus on rural micro-entrepreneurship and skill development. It sets out to promote sustainable and responsible travel in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals set out by the UN.
Arrive at Paro International Airport to be greeted by your guide. You will be transferred to Thimphu, the capital city. You will get to see some sites right from the start of your trip, beginning with the National Memorial Chorten (stupa), constructed in 1974 as a memorial for the third King of Bhutan King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is widely regarded as the father of modern Bhutan. The term ‘chorten’ literally means ‘seat of faith’ and Buddhists often call such monuments the ‘Mind of Buddha’.
After this, you can check into your homestay and settle in after so much travelling. From here you will drive to the Babesa Village Restaurant for lunch. Here, delicious local dishes are cooked using local organic produce.
In the afternoon you will visit the Thimphu Fortress “the fortress of glorious religion”. Built in 1642, it houses the secretariat building, the throne room and office of the king, and the central monk body.
The evening is yours to relax. Have an authentic Bhutanese meal in your homestay and get a good night’s sleep.
Wake up to a delicious breakfast at your homestay.
After you’ve eaten, you will take a trip to a traditional Bhutanese paper making factory. The handmade papermaking steps from a tradition which began in 8th-century Bhutanese history. This craft is a part of the national heritage and cultural identity.
Next, see how the craft of weaving intricate designs is kept alive in the National Textile Museum, then see the National Institute for Traditional Medicine, where medicinal herbs are compounded and dispensed.
Head back to the homestay for lunch, and take a cooking class to prepare the national dish Ema Datshi (chili & cheese) and other dishes like Pasha Paa (dried pork strips) with dry turnip leaves/Radish and red chilies.
Afterward, head to the School of Traditional Painting of Arts and Crafts.
In the evening, you will visit the Centenary Farmers’ Market (open from Thu-Sun only): Most of the Thimphu’s population and many valley dwellers converge on the bustling weekend market, held by the side of Wangchu River. A wide range of foodstuffs and local arts and crafts are sold at the market, which runs from Friday afternoon till Sunday evening. A visit to the market provides great photo opportunities, as well as the chance to mingle with local people.
After breakfast, head to Punakha and Wangdue, which will take you through Chunzom - the confluence of the rivers Pachu and Wangchu. On the way, you will stop by Tachog Lhakhang. This 14th-century temple located on the base of a mountain across the Pa Chu, on the Paro-Thimphu highway. It was built by the master architect Thangtong Gyalpo and is home to beautiful statues.
After crossing Chunzom, the drive will take you along the Wangchu up to Simtokha and through the Dochula Pass at 3,088m above sea level. On a clear day, you can enjoy incredible panoramas of the Himalayas. Here, you will see the 108 distinctive Chorten (Stupa) monuments built on the hillside, and visit Druk Wangyal Lhakhang temple. After refreshment, you will continue your journey to Punakha. This area has been inextricably linked to some of the most momentous events in the Bhutanese history and deserves its reputation as one of the most beautiful and significant regions at the heart of Bhutanese culture. It was the capital of Bhutan between 1637 and 1907.
On the way, you will stop to visit a local market, where farmers sell their produce. Here you can get a taste for local life. You will also visit Lobesa Village to see the Divine Madman’s Monastery - Chimi Lhakhang, known for its fertility shrine. You will have lunch in the village with the monks in Chimi Lhakhang and visit the Punakha Dzong, located on the island of the Pho – Chu (male river) and the Mo-chu (female river).
In the evening, arrive at your homestay in Punakha. Cook dinner with the family and eat with your hosts, before a good night’s sleep in Punakha.
After breakfast, you will visit the longest suspension bridge in Punakha. You will then drive down into the dense forest of the Phobjikha Valley to arrive at Gangtey village, where you will visit the monastery. The valley is a part of the stunning Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, one of Bhutan’s most important nature sanctuaries. This is one of the most remote and untouched regions in the country and is only just beginning to welcome the rest of the world to visit.
After lunch at a village farm restaurant, explore the valley and visit the Black Necked Crane Centre. In the evening, head back to your homestay.
After breakfast at the homestay, you will learn about traditional gardening techniques here and take a tour of the farm. Visit the Gangtey Monastery for lunch with the monks. Fueled up, head out on a hike in the valley so you can fully appreciate the uniquely beautiful landscape of Bhutan. For dinner, you will prepare a local dish with the family in Gangtey.
After breakfast at your homestay, drive to Paro. Arrive at your next homestay and settle in. You can spend some time visiting local attractions such as the famous Ta Dzong and Paro Dzong. Visit the local market and have a Bhutanese dinner in your homestay.
After breakfast, drive to Taktsang, where you will hike up to the monastery known as the ‘Tiger’s Nest’. The walk should take 1 - 1.5 hours and from the viewpoint, you will enjoy spectacular views of the monastery which clings to the side of the cliff. Stop for refreshments before heading further up to the monastery. After this, head back down for your lunch stop, then back to the road.
On the way back to the homestay, you will visit the Kyichu temple, one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo.
In the evening, relax in the traditional Bhutanese hot stone baths. Visit the Culture Program, where you can learn a little more about the ancient traditions of the country. Finally, enjoy a final dinner organised by the homestay.
Head home or on further adventures!
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- All Meals
- Accommodation in twin sharing in Homestays (Regional Tourist) and 3 star hotel (International Tourist)
- All transportation in Bhutan including airport transfers
- One time visa fee ($40) (international Tourist)
- Royalty & Govt.Taxes
- Entrance fees for Museums and Monuments
- Airport taxes
- Tourism Development Fund
- English Speaking Guide
- Hot Stone Bath
- Cultural Show on last dinner
- Cooking Classes
- International air tickets
- Travel Insurance
- Laundry service
- Telephone bills
- Other extras not specified