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Bhutan, a tiny Kingdom hidden by the staggering mountains of the Himalayas remained on self imposed isolation until it opened door to the outside world in 1960s. Bhutan still remains largely untouched by the worldly influence and holds strongly on to its age-old traditions.
On this 10 days 9 nights journey, you will venture out into this magical Kingdom with a private expert guide and discover happiness amidst stunning landscapes dotted with impressive fortresses and temples. Meet and mingle with the local people from all walks of life who have one thing in common – smiles on their faces. Get first hand experience on what makes Bhutan a unique destination in the world.
Paro International Airport, Bhutan
All year round. Best would be in November to witness annual Black-necked Crane festival in Phobjikha which falls on 11th November OR annual festival of Kurjey Tshechu in Bumthang which falls sometime in June.
During the months of January, February, June, July, August & December
US$2200 – for single person traveller
US$2110 per person – for a couple or group of 2 people
US$1840 per person – for a group of 3 people or more
During the months of March, April, May, September, October & November
US$2650 – for single person traveller
US$2560 per person – for a couple or group of 2 people
US$2290 per person – for a group of 3 people or more
|Paro Altitude||2,195 meters (7,200 ft)|
Arrive Paro International Airport by either Drukair, the national flag carrier or Bhutan Airlines, a private airline. After you complete formalities at the immigration and customs, you will be received at the arrival gate by your guide and driver who will give you personal care throughout your journey and ensure that you are safe and happy.
|Driving Time||1 hour|
|Thimphu Altitude||2,334 meters (7,650 ft)|
Drive to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan along the rivers, passing through villages and terraced rice fields dotted with traditional houses and farmsteads. Upon arrival in Thimphu, check into the hotel. After lunch visit Bhutan Postal Museum – Postal service in Bhutan was launched only in 1962 until which time communications and delivery of mails were done by messengers on foot (building of roads started from 1961) . The museum was established in 2015. Philatelic enthusiasts can find rich collection of stamps, stamp albums and First Day Covers. A bank is also located in the same complex so you can exchange your money into local currency Ngultrum (Nu.) if you want. Hop into the class while it is in session at The National Institute of Zorig Chusum (13 Traditional Arts & Crafts) and get insights on Bhutanese arts and crafts of Woodwork, Stonework, Carving, Sculpting, Painting, Casting, Wood Turning, Blacksmith, Ornament Making, Bamboo Work, Paper Making, Weaving and Tailoring & Applique Embroidery.
Free time to stroll the town and delve yourself into atmosphere of rich Bhutanese culture. Later in the evening after 5PM, visit magnificent Tashichho Dzong “Fortress of the Glorious Religion” built without blueprint or nails. It houses the King’s Throne Hall, summer residence of the Chief Abbot of the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan and few government offices.
Return to the hotel and gather for a welcome dinner.
Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu. (Lunch, Dinner)
Early morning after hearty breakfast before driving towards Punakha Valley, visit some of the popular sites in Thimphu.
Visit this monument and pray for our safe journey ahead. A Buddhist Stupa built in 1974 in loving memory of the late Third King of Bhutan is one of the most frequented landmark in Thimphu. People from all walks of life throng here to pray and circumambulate giving you an opportunity to observe how Bhutanese people devote themselves to daily prayers and take refuge in the teachings of the Lord Buddha.
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.
|Driving Time||3 hours|
|Punakha Altitude||1,200 meters (3,930 ft)|
Enroute, stop at Dochu La Pass located at 3,150 meters (10,334 ft) and enjoy spectacular panoramic view of the distant Himalayan mountain ranges (weather permitting). This picturesque mountain pass was only a sacred site until 2004 when Her Majesty Grand Queen Mother Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck built 108 stupas adorning the pass. Continue driving to Punakha, the elevation drops gradually in a short period of time. As you reach the lower valley, you will feel the drastic change in altitude from 3,150m just an hour and a half ago to 1,200m.
Check into hotel and gather for lunch.
After lunch, do 2-hour return hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Choeten and visit Punakha Dzong.
After lucnh, you will be going for 2 hour return hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Choeten. Located on a ridge overlooking the picturesque Punakha valley, this wonderful Buddhist structure is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture used in building temples, monasteries and Zangdogpelri (copper coloured mountains). It was built over a period of almost 10 years under the command of Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck, one of the Queen Mothers of Bhutan and was consecrated in 1999.
It takes only about 20 minutes drive from the main town of Punakha to the nearest road point. From there you cross a suspension bridge over the Punakha Mochu River (female river) and the trail takes you through paddy fields. Normally it takes just under one hour to reach the serene site of the marvelous choeten. The view below is stunning with glacial fed Mochu river snaking through the fertile Punakha valley.
Later towards late afternoon visit the historic Punakha Dzong locally known as “Palace of Great Bliss” built in 1637 to guard the region against Tibetan forces. This beautiful and most impressive Dzong in Bhutan is a fine example of traditional Bhutanese architecture, painting and craftsmanship. The Dzong served as the administrative centre and the seat of the Government of Bhutan until 1955. It now serves as the office of the District Administrator (Dzongdag) and the winter residence of the Chief Abbot of Bhutan, Je Khenpo.
Overnight at a hotel in Punakha. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
|Driving Time||6 hours|
|Trongsa Altitude||2,200 meters (7,220 ft)|
Early morning after breakfast, drive to Trongsa. Enroute, visit Chime Lhakhang Temple located about 30 minutes walk from the nearest road through the beautiful terraced rice fields and farmhouses. Chime Lhakhang was built in 1499 by Lama Ngawang Chogyal on a site blessed by his older brother, Lama Drukpa Kuenley who was known as ‘Divine Madman’ for his obscene behavior and unorthodox ways of propagating Buddhism. He would often express his desire for sex and use phallus as a medium to subdue malevolent spirits. 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”. Married couples who are unable to conceive a child often come to this temple seeking blessings from the Divine Madman. As much as it sounds ‘too good to be true’, there are many stories of happy couples who are blessed with child after visiting the temple.
Continue driving to Trongsa gradually gaining altitude. Enroute, stop at Pele La Pass (3,390 meters) to enjoy the views of stunning snow-clad Himalayan peaks (weather permitting) and take some moment appreciating pristine environment. Also stop at 18th century Chendebji Choeten, a stupa built following the same structural pattern as Kathmandu’s Swayambhunath Stupa to subdue the malevolent spirit that was said to inhabit the area in the form of giant snake.
Upon arrival in Trongsa town, check into the hotel and rest for a while before visiting the inner courtyard of the largest Dzong in Bhutan, Trongsa Dzong built in 1648. It holds a significant place in the history of Bhutan as it was from here that the ancestors of Royal family of Bhutan emerged as the most powerful rulers in the 19th and early 20th century. The first and second hereditary Kings of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancient seat of power. There is a tradition that crown prince must be invested as Trongsa Penlop (Governor of Trongsa) here at Trongsa Dzong before he ascends the throne of the King. After visiting this magnificent Trongsa Dzong, walk up to the promontory where the Trongsa Ta Dzong (watch tower of Trongsa) is located. Built in 1652, this Ta Dzong guarded the Trongsa Dzong from internal rebellion. Today, it houses the fascinating museum providing visitors with an insight into the significance of Trongsa in Bhutan’s history.
Overnight at a hotel in Trongsa. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
|Driving Time||3 hours|
|Bumthang Altitude||2,800 meters (9,185 ft)|
After early breakfast, drive approximately 3 hours to Bumthang through the serene mountain pass, Yotong La at 3,425 meters (11,235 ft) above sea level and gradually descend to the village of Chumey. At Chumey stop by the roadside Yathra weaving center (Yathra is the colourful textiles hand woven out of sheep and yak hair) and get insights on the traditional attires and the weaving culture of the people of Bumthang. Continue driving towards Chamkhar, the main town of Bumthang. The valley of Bumthang is considered as the religious heartland of Bhutan and home to some of the oldest temples and monasteries in the country.
Check into hotel and gather for lunch where local cuisine will be served before visiting 17th century Jakar Dzong (Fortress of the White Bird) named after an auspicious white bird landed on the hilltop overlooking the valley. After that visit Wangduechhoeling Palace built by the father of the first King of Bhutan in 1856. It served as the principal summer residence of the first and second Kings of Bhutan when they ruled the country from Trongsa Dzong until it was moved to Punakha in 1952. It is also the birth place of the first King of Bhutan. In addition to its historical importance, the palace is also an extraordinary example of traditional Bhutanese architecture, painting, and craftsmanship that continues to influence Bhutanese architecture today.
Leisure time to stroll the town. The name of the main town of Bumthang is called Chamkhar.
Overnight at a hotel in Bumthang. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Bumthang is home to some of Bhutan’s most ancient and precious Buddhist sites. The district of Bumthang is divided into four blocks of Chhoekhor where the main town is located, Chhume, Tang and Ura all of which are broad and beautiful valleys.
After breakfast, begin the full day excursion by first visiting 7th century Jampa Lhakhang. One of the oldest lhakhangs in the Kingdom, Jampa lhakhang was founded by the King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet in the 7th century AD. The King was destined to built 108 lhakhangs to subdue the spirit of the demoness that was residing in the Himalayas. Jampa Lhakhang is one of the two which were built in Bhutan. The other one is Kichu Lhakhang in Paro, both believed to have been built on the same day.
Visit 17th century Kurjey Lhakhang (Kurje means ‘body imprint’ and Lhakhang means ‘temple’). There are three lhakhangs at Kurje. The oldest lhakhang was constructed by the Trongsa Governor Chogyel Minjur Tenpa in 1652 on the site where Guru Rinpoche (Guru Padmasambhava) meditated after subduing an evil spirit that was harming the local people and the King Chakhar Gyab popularly known as Sindu Raja. Inside the lhakhang are the statues of the Buddhas and the cave known as Dragmar Dorji Tsegpa, meaning a “red-coloured cave resembling pile of vajras”, in which Guru Rinpoche meditated. The second Lhakhang was constructed in 1900 by the 13th Trongsa Governor, Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck who later became the first hereditary King of Bhutan in 1907. The third Lhakhang was built in the 1980s under the patronage of Her Royal Grandmother Ashi Kezang Choden Wangchuck (mother of the fourth King) with guidance from her spiritual root teacher H.H. Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche.
From there, walk across the suspension bridge over Chamkhar Chhu and visit Tamshing Lhakhang and Kencho Sum Lhakhang which are located in the same neighbourhood. Tamshing Lhakhang was built by the great treasure discoverer of Bhutan, Pema Lingpa in 1501 AD and became the seat of his successive reincarnations even to this day. Among the many treasures and religious artefacts handcrafted by Pema Lingpa himself, there is an armory which stood the test of time for five centuries bearing no rust or any sign of deterioration. It is believed that you will be cleansed of all your past sins and defilement if you circumambulate the inner sanctum 3 rounds carrying that sacred armory.
In the immediate neighbourhood is Kencho Sum Lhakhang which dates back to 8th century during the time of Guru Rinpoche. Later it was restored by Terton Pema Lingpa in 1479. In February 2010, the temple was destroyed by a tragic fire sending the whole country into shock and stirred sense of mourning. However, as sacred as it is and to the solace of all the people, the sacred relics and statue of Buddha were saved from the disastrous fire. Today, the temple has been restored by Pema Lingpa’s 11th reincarnation, His Holiness Lhalung Sungtrul Rinpoche.
Leisure time in the town.
Overnight at a hotel in Bumthang. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
|Driving Time||6 hours|
|Phobjikha Altitude||3,000 meters (9,840 ft)|
Following early breakfast, drive to the valley of Phobjikha via the same route we came – Yotong La Pass, Trongsa, Pele La Pass and Chendebji. Make a brief stop at Chendebji for lunch and continue towards Phobjikha valley. Phobjikha is a vast U-shaped glacial valley at an elevation of about 3,000 meters (9,800 ft) and it is a winter home for endangered Black Necked Crane from November to March and migrates back to Tibet by the beginning of spring season. Researchers have confirmed that the same birds which migrates here in winter goes as far back as Mongolia in summer. Every year on the 11th of November, Black Necked Crane Festival is held 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. Black-necked Crane is considered as a sacred bird in Bhutan and there are songs dedicated to this revered bird. One such popular song in Bhutan title ‘White Crane! Lend me your wings’ was composed by the sixth Dalai Lama of Tibet, Tsangyang Gyatso in 17th century. Click Here to listen to the song! The song was sung by Mr. Jigme Drukpa, one of the foremost singers in Bhutan in his Album ‘Endless Songs from Bhutan’.
The famous landmark in this valley is one of the biggest monasteries in Bhutan, Gangtey Monastery popularly know as Gangtey Goenpa (goenpa literally means “high remote place” and is usually a place of religious significance) founded in 1613. The name Gangtey is derived from the fact that the Goenpa is built on a peak (Tey) of a hillock (Gang). The present abbot of this monastery is the ninth Gangtey Trulku His Holiness Kunzang Rigzin Pema Namgyal. 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 Gangtey Goenpa during autumn when the harvest season is just over. A series of dazzling sacred mask dances complemented by Bhutanese folk dances are performed during this festival.
After visiting the Gangtey Monastery, you can either relax, take a leisure walk in the valley and visit the Black Necked Crane Information Center, which has a lot of information on the migratory bird and about the valley and its role in conservation of Black Necked Crane.
You have a choice to put up yourself in a hotel or grab an unusual opportunity to stay at a farmhouse with a local family and get a glimpse of typical village life in Bhutan. You can soak up in a traditional hot stone bath later in the evening and lighten up with a cup of locally brewed liquor “Ara”. You may have to pay extra for the hot stone bath.
Overnight in Phobjikha valley. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
|Hike Distance||Approx. 5km|
|Time||2.5 – 3 hours|
|Average Altitude in Phobjikha||3,000 meters (9,840 ft)|
Spend the whole day in Phobjikha valley exploring and immersing yourself in the most beautiful valley in Bhutan. After breakfast, begin Gangtey Nature Trail Hike. The trail is about 5km long and takes approximately 3 hours including ample time to take photographs and observe pristine natural surroundings. The nature trail begins from Gangtey Monastery and leads through wonderful meadows, forests, beautiful traditional village houses, farm lands, crystalline streams. This short nature trail gives you a great feeling of the valley and understanding of the community living there.
In the afternoon, visit one of the farmhouses and get insights into Bhutanese way of life in rural Bhutan.
Overnight at Phobjikha. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
|Paro Altitude||2,195 meters (7,200 ft)|
After breakfast drive back to Paro valley via the same way we came – Wangdue Phodrang, Lobesa, Dochula Pass and Thimphu.
Enroute, if time permits, visit the first and oldest Dzong built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in the 17th century AD.
After driving for about 130km, stop at the outskirt of Thimphu and visit Simtokha Dzong which is built strategically on a ridge overlooking the Thimphu valley. The Simtokha Dzong is significant not only because it was the first Dzong built by Zhangdrung Ngawang Namgyel but also stands on the borders of three major regions: Thimphu, Paro and Wangdue Phodrang. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel built this Dzong in 1631 to consolidate his rule over the western Bhutan. Simtokha Dzong is considered as the oldest Dzong in Bhutan.
One of the main statues inside the Simtokha Dzong is the statue of Buddha of Compassion. Legend has it that fortunate visitors are able to see a light shining forth from the chest of the Buddha. The Dzong has more than three hundred slate carvings from the 17th century. Recently, His Majesty the 5th King donated statue of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel which wasn’t there initially.
We will continue to drive towards Paro, on arrival check into hotel.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
|Hiking Time||2 hours one way|
|Taktsang Altitude||3,120 meters (10,235 ft)|
After breakfast, drive to the base of the Taktsang monastery from where the hike begins. Taktsang monastery or Tiger’s Nest is located on a sheer 800-meter rocky 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. After an hour of steep uphill hiking on the ancient trails shaded by pine trees, you’ll reach a nice cafeteria from where you can see spectacular view of the Taktsang monastery perched on the face of the steep rock cliff. Hot tea and snacks will be served here. For those who are still energetic, can hike further up for 1 hour and visit the monastery, receive blessings and enjoy grand views of the Paro valley below. The history of Taktsang Monastery is associated with the visit of Guru Padmasambhava (known to Bhutanese as Guru Rinpoche), the Indian saint who came to Bhutan and introduced Tantric Buddhism in the mid-eighth century A.D. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche flew from Kurtoe Singye Dzong in eastern Bhutan riding on a tigress and meditated in the cave on which Taktsang Monastery stands today. Taktsang Monastery was built in 1692.
After lunch at the cafeteria, retrace your steps back to the base. Drive to the National Museum of Bhutan located just above the Rinpung Dzong (administrative headquarter of Paro district). 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. Ta Dzong was converted into the National Museum in 1968.
If time permits, visit one of the oldest temples in Paro, Kichu Lhakhang, which is similar to and built on the same day as Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang (see Day 5). Towards the evening, visit a beautiful farmhouse and experience the traditional Bhutanese way of life. If you are interested, you can indulge in a traditional hot stone bath for an additional fee. Specially selected stones are heated in a wood-fired fireplace. The bath tub is made of wood and a medicinal shrub is added to the hot bath. You can enjoy locally brewed warm liquor known as Ara while soaking in the relaxing bath. Delicious dinner of authentic local cuisine will be served at the farmhouse.
Back to the hotel. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the 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.