“Follow the twists and turns of the roads that will lead to you the heart of stunning Bhutanese culture!”
Drive to a land heavy with the fragrance of Rhododendrons. Nestled in the heart of the Himalayan mountains, the Kingdom of Bhutan has so much to offer. This journey will take you to the heart of the country, to the cities of Paro and Thimphu, and the lush Haa Valley. Meet people who will welcome you into their homes, explore stunning temples and museums which will take you deep into the culture of the country. The iconic Tiger’s Nest Monastery will leave you awed. This is a trip that you will remember for a lifetime.
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.
Fly into Bagdogra and transfer to Phuentsholing. Overnight at Phuentsholing.
Arrive in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. The city glitters with lights and stars. The way the natural and the new sit side-by-side like this can be seen throughout the city: the old town feel alongside the new commercialization. As well as monks clad in red and Buddhist temples, you will find bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. Experience the nightlife and indulge in local delicacies. The Traditional Arts and Craft Museum and the National Library give you wonderful insight into the cultural history of the area.
You will have a chance to get to know the city better on a sightseeing tour. Begin at 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’. Next, head to Kuensel Phodrang Nature Park. Here you can see the 169 feet bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma, Vajra Throne Buddha. It is one of the largest statues of the Buddha in the world. Finally, head to Tango Monastery. Located 14 kilometres to the North of Thimphu, the Tango Monastery was founded by Phajo Drugom Zhigpo in the 13th century. The elegant building clings to the verdant hillside. Consisting of six temples, each with unique architecture, it is a beautiful example of the aesthetic culture of Bhutan.
Enjoy a delicious breakfast then take a car to Punakha, stopping at the Dochula Pass for a break. Here, you will see the 108 Stupas (sacred structures), 108 being an auspicious number in Buddhism. They are a truly impressive sight and you will also be able to enjoy incredible vistas of the Himalayas on a clear day. Later, you will hike to the Divine Madman’s Monastery - Chimi Lhakhang, known for its fertility shrine. Continue on to Punakha Dzong, a spectacular Bhutanese creation located at the confluence of Po Chu and Mo Chu Rivers. It was the religious and administrative centre of Bhutan until 1950 when the capital moved to Thimphu. You will also visit the nearby suspension bridge, the longest bridge in Bhutan. In the evening, return to Thimphu.
Today, you will head to Phobjikha Valley, visiting Wangdue Dzong on the way. 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. Overnight in a homestay in the Phobjikha.
Drive back to Punakha and spend the day relaxing. From the homestay, you can take walks into the verdant farm or even take village farming lessons and learn about traditional life in the region.
Today you will head back towards Paro. It takes 3-4 hours by road. Settle in at your homestay and enjoy some authentic Bhutanese delicacies. Get to know your welcoming hosts and relax. You will have a chance to go shopping at the local market in the afternoon.
Today do some sightseeing around Paro. This historic town offers a plethora of sacred sites and historical buildings to explore. Later, head to Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower and home to the National Museum. It houses over 3000 artifacts, some of which may date back as far as the 8th century. Retrace your steps to visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. Also known as Rinpung Dzong, Paro Dzong is an extravagant monastery and fortress and is your next stop on the tour. It is currently a local administrative centre and a school for monks.
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. It is said that in the 8th century Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress from eastern Bhutan to this place and meditated in a cave here for 3 months.
Head westward this morning to the remote Haa Valley via the Chele la pass. The drive will take about 1.5 to 2 hours. The Torse Chu river flows through the densely forested valley among bright green rice terraces and the brilliant white of the temples. The valley is home to the Dorji Family, to which the Royal Grandmother Ashi Kesang Wangchuck belongs. You can be a part of the activities organised by the Heritage home. You can also take a walk by the beautiful river and visit the Haa Dzong.
Today you will do some sightseeing in Haa. The whole day Haa Valley hike includes the Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple) and Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple) in the village of Damchoe and the central bazaar in Haa Town. Evening drive to Paro.
Drive from Paro to Phuentsholing. You can visit the Zangto Pelri Lhakhang here.
Drive from Phuentsholing to Bagdogra and fly out with memories to cherish for a lifetime!
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