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There’s nowhere quite like Bhutan. A tiny Buddhist Kingdom, squeezed between India and China, is cautiously embracing modern development guided by the philosophy of Gross National Happiness while still preserving its age-old tradition and ancient culture.
Perfect for discerning travellers with limited time frame to getaway from busy materialistic city life into the pristine natural environment, stunning landscapes and get pampered with Bhutanese hospitality. This 4 Days 3 Nights journey will take you to remote monasteries and encounter the mindful Buddhist way of life that earned the country its nickname ‘Kingdom of Happiness’. On the 2nd day of this trip, you will hike to the famous Paro Taktsang or Tiger’s Nest built on the face of the 800m rock cliff.
Paro International Airport, Bhutan
All year round
During the months of January, February, June, July, August & December
US$760 – for single person traveller
US$730 per person – for a couple or group of 2 people
US$640 per person – for a group of 3 people or more
During the months of March, April, May, September, October & November
US$910 – for single person traveller
US$880 per person – for a couple or group of 2 people
US$790 per person – for a group of 3 people or more
Arrive Paro International airport by either of only two airlines operating in and out of Bhutan; Drukair, the national flag carrier or Bhutan Airlines, a private airline which was started in 2011. After arrival, your visa will be stamped on your passport at the immigration counter. You will be received by our guide and driver at the exit gate and then transfer you to the hotel. After checking in and settling yourself in the new surroundings, you will be taken on your first adventure into the ‘Kingdom of Thunder Dragon’. We will visit an auspicious 7th century monastery Kichu Lhakhang, the National Museum of Bhutan, an impressive Paro Dzong and later in the afternoon, if time permits, visit Sangchoekhor Monastery on the hilltop overlooking paro valley.
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 few only. Whatever it is, we’ll ensure that you are given personal care every step of this short trip so that you go back with an enriched heart and full of memories that will last a lifetime.
Paro Kichu Lhakhang is located just a few minutes drive from the main town of Paro and 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 built 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.
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. After this, we will visit Paro Dzong.
Paro Rinpung Dzong (Rinpung Dzong means “fortress of the heap of jewels”) was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1646 and established as the administrative and monastic centre of the western region. Today, the Dzong serves as the office of the governor of Paro district and head of the district monk body in Paro. A great annual festival known as Paro Tsechu is held in Rinpung Dzong from the eleventh to the fifteenth day of the second month of the traditional Bhutanese lunar calendar (usually in March or April of the Western calendar). On this occasion, holy images are taken in a procession followed by a series of traditional mask dances conveying religious stories which are performed by monks for five days.
After visiting the dzong we take a short walk to the traditional wooden cantilever bridge built across Paro river (Pa Chhu) just below the Dzong. The roofed wooden cantilever bridge is built in a traditional style and this type of bridges are called Bazam.
Sangchoekhor monastery is located on a hilltop ridge overlooking the Paro Valley and presents grand panoramic views. It takes about 30 mins drive from the main Paro town to reach the monastery. Sangchoekhor monastery is also known as Sangchoekhor Dzong because of its past connection with the reincarnations of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, a Tibetan Buddhist master who came to Bhutan in 1616 and unified Bhutan as one nation-state. Dzong means ‘Fortress’ and is the main establishment of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. The original Dzong was burnt down by a fire in 1932. It was later reconstructed at the initiative of the Chamberlain of Paro Penlop (governor of Paro). Today the monastery is turned into a Buddhist college with more than 100 monks studying Buddhist philosophy.
Free time to explore Paro town and get to know the people of the Thunder Dragon Kingdom.
You have a choice to put up yourself in a 3-star standard hotel or grab an unusual opportunity to stay at a farmhouse with a local family (subject to availability) and get a glimpse of typical village life in Bhutan. If you are interested for a home spa, you can soak up in a traditional hot stone bath for an additional fee of about US$15. Specially selected river stones 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”.
Overnight at a hotel in Paro. (Lunch, Dinner)
Today, you will hike to the famous Tiger’s Nest and later in the afternoon, drive to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan.
After breakfast, drive to Ramthangka, the base of the Taktsang monastery. 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 views of Taktsang monastery perched on the face of a steep rock cliff and beautiful valley below. 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 from many sacred relics and artifacts and enjoy grand views of the Paro valley below.
After lunch at the cafeteria, we retrace our steps back to the base where our driver will be waiting. From there we drive to Thimphu. It is a 55km road journey by luxury private SUV/Minivan/Bus depending on your group size and the drive should not take more than 1.5 hours. Upon arrival in Thimphu, check into hotel and settle down for a while. We then go to visit one of the landmarks in Thimphu, the National Memorial Choeten. Later in the evening after 5pm, visit the majestic Tashichho Dzong.
Thimphu is the capital city of Bhutan and it is home to approximately 100,000 residents. This bustling little city is the main centre of commerce, religion and government in the country. It is the only capital city (actually the whole country) in the world without traffic lights and even commercial billboards.
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.
If there is enough time before the clock strikes 5PM, you will have free time to explore the town.
Tashichho Dzong, which means “Fortress of the Glorious Religion” is opened to visitors only after 5PM during working days and from 9AM to 5PM on weekends. The original Dzong was built in 1216 AD on a location where Dechen Phodrang monastery stands today. Following a fire disaster which destroyed the original dzong in 1771, it was relocated to the present location. The Dzong suffered several earthquakes and fires and was subsequently renovated and new structures added by successive rulers.
It was late His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the third hereditary King of Bhutan, who renovated and enlarged the entire Dzong to its present form in 1962 over the period of six years. The magnificent architectural feat was achieved using traditional method without any blueprint plans or nails. It houses the Secretariat and office of the King, the Throne Room, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Central Monastic Body. It is also the summer residence of the Chief Abbot (Je Khenpo) of the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan.
Back to the hotel and gather for dinner.
Overnight in a hotel in Thimphu. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Today we spend the whole day exploring Thimphu city and visit some of the popular tourist attractions in the capital. After breakfast, we begin the excursion by first visiting Buddha Dordenma statue followed by few other places of interest.
The marvelous 169 feet tall bronze statue of Lord Buddha is located on a hilltop, Kuensel Phodrang, overlooking the Thimphu valley presenting you with a beautiful view of Thimphu valley. It was built in 2015 to celebrate the 60th birth anniversary of the Fourth King His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck and also as a monument for world peace. The giant Buddha statue houses more than 100,000 8-inch tall Buddha statues of the same type.
Bhutan Postal Museum is located in the heart of the city in the same building as Bhutan National Bank so you can also exchange your money into local currency if you wish. The Postal Museum was opened in 2015 to exhibit the story of Bhutan’s progress and development of communications and postal system in the country. If you are interested in philatelic products and stamp collection, they have a good collection of stamps, First Day Covers and stamp albums. In October of 2017, His Majesty graciously granted several rare collections of philatelic and communications products giving additional insights into the history of Bhutan’s philatelic and communications systems. The Postal Service in Bhutan was first launched in 1962 with the opening of a post office in Phuentsholing, a town in the south bordering with India.
Weaving is an integral component of the culture and tradition of Bhutan. With rapid development and exposure to the western culture, the art of weaving and production of its own handwoven textile is declining fast. To preserve and promote this living art, Her Majesty Queen Mother Sangay Choden Wanchuck established the Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan in 2005 as a non-profit organization. The Textile Museum showcases collection of artifacts to impart understanding of Bhutan’s rich textile traditions and way of life.
Located in the capital city of Thimphu, this museum was established in 2001 and provides visitors and tourists with fascinating insights into the Bhutanese material culture and way of life. The Folk Heritage Museum is set inside a three storied, 19th century traditional house. The museum gives you a glimpse of the traditional Bhutanese lifestyle, in addition to artifacts from rural households, it also displays an impressive collection of typical household objects, tools and equipment.
The museum also has a restaurant with traditional setting and ambience where a buffet lunch or dinner consisting of traditional dishes are offered. However, lunch and dinner arrangement is only available for a group of five or more people.
Lunch at the Folk Heritage Museum if your group size is five or more people. Otherwise, it will be arranged at one of the fine restaurants in the town.
Note: The Folk Heritage Museum is closed on government holidays. Hours of operation are from 10am to 4:30pm on weekdays; from 10:30am to 1pm on Saturdays and 11:30am to 3:30pm on Sundays.
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 you are interested to do souvenir shopping, buy Bhutanese attires and handicrafts, there are many shops in the town. Handicraft Emporium is located in the main town which is run by the National Women’s Association of Bhutan. It is a one-stop souvenir shop where you will find wide range of Bhutanese Handicrafts and handwoven Bhutanese attires. This souvenir emporium is one of the few shops accepting major credit cards.
Free time to explore Thimphu town.
Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
After breakfast, drive to Paro and transfer 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.