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Tucked away deep in the eastern Himalayas between the mighty neighbours – China to the north and India to the south, there lies a tiny independent country that remained isolated for centuries with the rest of the world until it opened its door to the outside world in 1960s. Bhutan is one of the most beautiful and least travelled countries in the world and the last living Vajrayana Buddhist Kingdom.
Bhutan has both natural beauty and cultural wealth so carefully preserved and passed down from generation to generation, that visitors are not surprised to hear its nickname ‘Kingdom of Happiness’.
On this 6 Days 5 Nights adventure through the hearts of 4 western districts of Bhutan, you’ll go on nature hikes and appreciate pristine natural environment, explore and ramble through rural villages and gain firsthand experience on its culture and people. Come visit Bhutan with us and explore one of the most unique and extraordinary countries in the world. Below are some of the highlights you can expect on this trip:
Paro International Airport, Bhutan
All year round
During the months of January, February, June, July, August & December
US$1240 – for single person traveller
US$1190 per person – for a couple or group of 2 people
US$1040 per person – for a group of 3 people or more
During the months of March, April, May, September, October & November
US$1490 – for single person traveller
US$1440 per person – for a couple or group of 2 people
US$1290 per person – for a group of 3 people or more
Arrive Paro International airport by Drukair, the national flag carrier of Bhutan. On the way, if the weather is clear enough you will see Great Himalayan mountain ranges and as you enter Bhutanese airspace and soon approach Paro valley, you would already notice the green mountainous landscapes and Paro river meadering down the valley. After passing through the immigration and customs formalities, your guide and driver will receive you and then drive to Thimphu.
depending on the group size
Thimphu is the capital city of Bhutan and it is 55km away from the main Paro town. The drive should not take more than 2 hours including stop overs on the way. Thimphu is home to approximately 115,000 residents. This bustling little city is the main centre of commerce, religion and government in the country. Arriving Thimphu, our guide will assist you to check into the hotel so that you can relax for a while and then have your first taste of Bhutanese cuisine for lunch. In the afternoon, you will be taken on your first excursion in the Land of the Thunder Dragon.
Note: The coverage of excursion on the first day depends on your flight arrival time. If you arrive in the morning, you should be able to visit all of the sites listed below. If it is in the afternoon, we might be able to visit one or two only.
The National Memorial Choeten: The National Memorial Choeten is the most frequented religious site and obviously an important landmark in Thimphu. The National Memorial Choeten is a Buddhist Stupa built in 1974 in memory of the Late Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who passed away in 1972. People from all walks of life come here to pray and circumambulate offering you a good opportunity to observe how Bhutanese people devote themselves to daily prayers and take refuge in the teachings of the Lord Buddha.
Buddha Dordhenma Statue – Buddha Point at Kuensel Phodrang: The magnificent 169 feet tall bronze statue of Lord Buddha is located on a hilltop overlooking the Thimphu valley. From here you can see a nice view of Thimphu city. It was built to celebrate the 60th birth anniversary of the Fourth King His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck and also for the purpose of bringing peace in the world . The giant Buddha statue houses more than 100,000 8-inch tall Buddha statues of same type. The construction began in 2006 and was completed in 2015 after almost 10 years.
National Institute of Zorig Chusum: The National Institute of Zorig Chusum (Zorig Chusum means 13 Traditional Arts & Crafts) was established to promote and preserve the thirteen traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan and to facilitate increased access in learning Zorig skills by Bhutanese youths. Many of these traditional arts and crafts are declining with the advent of modern technologies and therefore, the government is putting in lot of effort to train youths to keep the traditions alive. The thirteen arts and crafts are categorized as Shing Zo (woodwork), Dho Zo (stonework), Par Zo (carving), Lha Zo (painting), Jim Zo (sculpting), Lug Zo (casting), Shag Zo (wood turning), Gar Zo (blacksmith), Troe Zo (ornament making), Tsa Zo (bamboo work), De Zo (paper making), Tsem Zo (tailoring, embroidery and applique) and Thag Zo (weaving). These thirteen arts and crafts are an essential part of Bhutan’s cultural heritage that have been practiced from time immemorial. If the class is in session when you arrive, you will be allowed to enter the classroom and observe students as they get hands-on training.
Leisure time in Thimphu town.
Dinner and overnight in Thimphu at one of the below hotels or similar. (Lunch, Dinner)
Today, after early breakfast, we will do 2-3-hour return hike to Tango Monastery and then after lunch drive to Punakha valley via beautiful Dochu La Pass (3,150m/10,335ft.
Tango is located north of Thimphu on the other side of the same mountain where Cheri Monastery is also located. Hiking to Tango is much easier as most part of the footpath is paved and the uphill ascent is not as steep. It is roughly 14km from the main Thimphu town. Following the trail through the forests, the walk uphill takes about 1.5 hour. Tango monastery was founded in 1222 by the Tibetan saint Phajo Drugom Zhigpo, who first established the Drukpa Kagyu School of Buddhism in Bhutan and subsequently became the state religion. The present form of monastery was built later in 1689 by the Tenzin Rabgye, the 4th Temporal ruler of Bhutan. After visiting the monastery and offering prayers, we retrace our steps back to the base where a picnic lunch will be served by the river side.
depending on the group size
Dochu La Pass – 3,150m/10,335ft above sea level: About 45 min drive from Thimphu towards Punakha is a mountain pass at an altitude of 3,150 meters above sea level from where you can see, on a clear day, some of the highest peaks of Bhutan. Before the construction of these beautiful 108 Druk Wangyal Choetens (stupas) in 2004, this mountain pass remained only as a sacred place blessed by a famous Buddhist saint, Lam Drukpa Kuenley in late 15th century. From Dochu La Pass, we will continue driving towards Punakha, passing through some villages, the elevation drops gradually and the road winds through the pine trees. As you reach the lower subtropical valley, you will feel the drastic change in altitude from 3,150m just an hour and a half ago to subtropical valley at 1,200m. Arriving Punakha valley, you will be transferred to the hotel.
Dinner and overnight at one of the below hotels or similar. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
depending on the group size
After breakfast, visit the historic and the most beautiful fortress in Bhutan, Punakha Dzong and Chime Lhakhang popularly known as ‘Temple of Fertility’. After lunch drive to Phobjikha valley and venture out on a very popular nature hike. En route to Phobjikha, briefly stop at Wangdue Phodrang town and marvel at the reconstruction of the 17th century fortress which stood majestically on the ledge with steep cliff on three sides until it was gutted down by unfortunate fire in 2012.
Chime Lhakhang – The Temple of Fertility: Chime Lhakhang is located on a gentle hilltop near the village of Sopsokha. To reach the temple, you have to walk 20 – 30 minutes through beautiful terraced paddy fields and traditional farm houses. The history of Chime Lhakhang is associated with 16th century Lama Drukpa Kuenley who was affectionately known as “Divine Madman” for his obscene behavior and outrageous ways of cleansing people from religious dogmatism and egoistic self-possession by exhibiting his strong desire for sex. He would often use phallus as a tool to subdue malevolent spirits. Using the phallus was also intended to free up the social inhibitions enforced by the socially established values. Today, one of the relics of Chime Lhakhang is a phallus. The blessing of the phallus is considered sacred particularly to women who are unable to conceive a child as it brings fertility to women, giving them ability to bear offspring. Because of this belief, people like to call Chhime Lhakhang as “Temple of Fertility”.
Lama Drukpa Kuenley built a small black stupa on this hilltop to mark the burial site of demons whom he managed to subdue after chasing all the way from Dochula Pass, where the demons were terrorizing the travellers. This black stupa can be seen even today just outside of the main temple. It was Lama Ngawang Chogyel, the younger brother of Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who built the present temple in 1499 AD.
Historic Punakha Dzong: The historic Punakha Dzong was originally known as Pungthang Dewa Chenpoi Phodrang, meaning the “Palace of Great Bliss”. It was built in 1637 AD by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (Tibetan Buddhist master who came to Bhutan in 1616 and founded nation-state of Bhutan) on a small stretch of land where the rivers Phochu and Mochu converge. Punakha Dzong is the second oldest and second largest Dzong in Bhutan. The sacred wall paintings and main artifacts inside the dzong, the intricate wood works and the architectural structure of the dzong displays fine example of Bhutanese arts and craftsmanship which continues to influence Bhutanese architecture even today.
Next, we will drive towards Phobjikha and en route stop briefly at Wangdue Phodrang town.
The Wangdue Phodrang Dzong: The Wangdue Phodrang Dzong, built in 1638, was third oldest Dzong in Bhutan and stood majestically on the ledge with steep cliffs on three sides. The original Dzong which was one of the most important and historic heritage sites in Bhutan was burnt down by the tragic fire accident on 24 June 2012. Under the guidance of His Majesty the King and his father His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, all the precious sacred artifacts and objects inside the main temple of the Dzong were saved and there was no human casualty. Currently the Dzong is under reconstruction which started from January 2014 and it is expected to take few more years to rebuild to its former glory incorporating state-of-the-art technology in terms of disaster resilience measures and traditional architecture. Continue driving towards Phobjikha.
Enter the valley of Phobjikha – Today’s highlight: Phobjikha is a vast U-shaped glacial valley at an elevation of about 3,000m/9,840ft and it is a winter home for endangered Black Necked Crane from November to March and migrates back to Tibetan Plateau by the beginning of spring season. Every year on the 11th of November, Black Necked Crane Festival is held in this valley to celebrate the arrival of this endangered and majestic bird which becomes an inseparable part in the lives of the local people during winter months. As part of the conservation effort, Phobjikha valley has been declared as a protected area.
Gangtey Nature Trail: On arrival at Phobjikha valley, you will be served tea and snacks before venturing out on an exhilarating nature hike. The trail is about 5km and takes approximately 3 hours through the woods surrounded by splendid nature all around, wonderful meadows, beautiful traditional village houses, farm lands and crystalline streams. This short nature trail gives you a great feeling of the valley and understanding of the livelihood of the people living there. Lots of opportunities to take beautiful pictures!
Accommodation in Phobjikha: You have a choice to put up yourself in a 3-star standard hotel or stay at a farmhouse with local family and get insights into a typical village life in Bhutan. If you are interested for a home spa, you can soak up in a traditional hot stone bath for a fee of about US$15. Specially selected stones believed to contain minerals are heated in a wood fired fireplace and dropped into a chamber of wooden tub releasing minerals. You can lighten up with a warm cup of locally brewed liquor known as “Ara” and feast on homecooked authentic Bhutanese cuisine. You will have an unusual opportunity to participate in running the village household chores and learn how to prepare some of the most popular dishes in Bhutan.
Overnight at a hotel or a Farmhouse/Homestay in Phobjikha. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
depending on the group size
After breakfast, visit one of the largest monasteries in Bhutan – Gangtey Goenpa before driving back to Paro valley. The road journey to Paro is approximately 5.5-hours. Upon reaching Paro and if time permits, you will visit an auspicious 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang (Buddhist Temple).
Gangtey Monastery: Before we drive back to Paro, visit the famous landmark in Phobjikha valley – a 17th century Gangtey Monastery popularly known as Gangtey Goenpa (goenpa literally means “remote place” and is usually a place of religious significance). Founded in 1613, this is one of the largest monasteries in Bhutan. The monastery also has a monastic college where hundreds of monks study Buddhist philosophy for 9 years. An annual religious festival, Gangtey Tshechu, is held at this majestic monastery during autumn when the harvest season is just over. A series of dazzling sacred mask dances interspersed by Bhutanese folk dances are performed during this festival.
Lunch will be served on the way.
Visit 7th century Buddhist monastery – Kichu Lhakhang: Upon reaching Paro, check into hotel and then visit Paro Kichu Lhakhang. Located just a few minutes drive from the main town of Paro, Kyichu Lhakhang is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan. It is believed to have been built in 659 A.D. by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet in his effort to build 108 such temples across the Himalayan region to subdue the spirit of a demoness who was causing obstruction to the spread of Buddhism. Bhutan is blessed with two of these temples, one being Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang, central Bhutan. Both Kichu Lhakhang and Jampa Lhakhang are believed to have been built on the same day.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Paro. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
After breakfast, you will hike to the famed Paro Taktsang and towards the late afternoon visit a farmhouse.
Taktsang Monastery – The Tiger’s Nest: Taktsang monastery is located on the face of a sheer 800-meter rock cliff in Paro. It normally takes about 2 hours to reach the monastery from the road head. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Bhutan.Taktsang which literally translates to ‘Tiger’s Nest’, is regarded as one of the most important monasteries in Bhutan. Its history is associated with the visit of Guru Padmasambhava (known as Guru Rinpoche), the Indian saint who came to Bhutan and introduced Tantric Buddhism in the mid-eighth century AD. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava flew to Taktsang from Kurtoe Singye Dzong in eastern Bhutan, riding on a tigress. Taktsang monastery was originally built in 1692 on the sacred cave where Guru Padmasambhava meditated.
The trail takes you through the ancient path shaded by pine trees. After an hour of steep uphill hiking, you will reach a nice cafeteria from where you can see spectacular view of Taktsang monastery perched on the face of a steep rock cliff. It takes further 1 hour to reach the monastery.
Lunch will be served at the Taktsang cafeteria and then we retrace our steps back to the base where our driver will be waiting. From there we will go to visit National Museum of Bhutan.
Visit National Museum of Bhutan – Ta Dzong: The National Museum of Bhutan is located in Paro just above the Rinpung Dzong (administrative headquarter of Paro district) was established in 1968. It is housed in an ancient watch tower called Paro Ta Dzong (Ta Dzong means “watch tower fortress”) built in 1649. It displays hundreds of ancient Bhutanese artifacts and artworks including traditional costumes, armour, weaponry and handcrafted implements for daily life. The collection at the National Museum preserves a snap-shot of the rich cultural traditions of the country.
Towards the late afternoon, visit one of the beautiful farmhouses and experience the traditional Bhutanese way of life. If you are interested, you can soak in a traditional hot stone bath for an additional fee of about US$15 per person. Specially selected stones believed to contain minerals are heated in a wood-fired fireplace and dropped into a chamber of wooden tub releasing minerals. If desired, you can lighten up with a warm cup of locally brewed liquor known as “Ara”. Delicious dinner of authentic home-cooked local cuisine will be served.
Overnight in a hotel in Paro at one of the below hotels or similar. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
After breakfast, depending on your flight departure time you’ll be transferred to Paro International Airport for your onward journey. Your guide will assist you to complete all exit formalities before you check-in.
All tour services we provide are independent with flexible itineraries which can be customized to suit your interest and requirement. You can form a group to get discounts. Apart from the predesigned packages which have proven successful, Bhutan Acorn Tours & Travel can also arrange the following add-on activities to enrich your experiences in Bhutan. These activities can be fitted into any tour itineraries.
Please note that some of the activities may involve extra fees.
All your deposits and any payment less administrative fees of US$100 per person will be refunded if you notify us at least 30 days prior to your arrival date. Refer the cancellation fee schedule below to determine the applicable charges:
|DAYS TO ARRIVAL||CANCELLATION CHARGES PER PERSON|
|30+||US$100 administrative fee per person|
|16-29||20% of the total cost|
|8-15||50% of the total cost|
|0-7 days||No refund is available|
In case the trip is cut short or duration lost due to unforeseen reasons after arrival in Bhutan, no refund is available as the payment would have been already made to hotels and other logistics.
There shall be no charges for the number of days of delay either during arrivals or departures or both, due to weather conditions, communication problems, cancellation or delay in Bhutanese airline flights, sickness or any other legitimate reason as Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) may deem reasonable. However, the Tourist will be charged on the actual expenses on accommodation, food, transport and any other services provided.