Bhutan Breakaway - 7 days
FROM USD $2,709
Come to the Kingdom of Bhutan! Nestled in the Eastern Himalayas, Bhutan has for centuries remained cautiously aloof from the rest of the world. Opening its doors to the world in 1974, Bhutan's incredible scenery & hospitable charm has been revealed to travellers hungry for new experiences.
Welcome to the Kingdom of Bhutan. Airport arrival transfer from Paro airport to Thimphu, the modern capital town of Bhutan. Driving through the Paro valley, en route to Thimphu gaze out upon silvery Pa Chu (Paro River) meandering its way through the thick forested ravine, the Paro Dzong (fortress) and Ta Dzong (watch tower). Overnight - Thimphu (D)
Day 2: Thimphu
Today’s full day of sightseeing in Thimphu valley includes the National Library which has a vast collection of ancient Buddhist texts, manuscripts, modern academic books and printing blocks for prayer flags and the Thimpu Painting School, famous for traditional thangkha paintings. The Traditional Medicine Institute is where the rich herbal medicines abundant in Kingdom are prepared here. The institute also imparts the art of herbal medicines to would be practitioners. Memorial Chorten is the beautiful stupa built in the memory of Bhutan’s third King. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy. Trashichhodzong, the beautiful fortress/monastery which houses Secretariate building, King’s Throne room and other government’s offices, is also the summer residence of Chief Abbot. To see a wide assortment of beautifully hand-woven and crafted products, visit the Handicrafts Emporium. Overnight - Thimphu (B, L, D)
Day 3: Punakha
Thimphu - Punakha. This morning drive to Punakha, an old winter capital of Bhutan. En-route stop at the lofty Dochu La Pass, 10,000ft/3,048m to view the rugged eastern Himalayas, including Bhutan's highest mountain, Gangkar Punsum, 24,770ft/7,550m. The road then drops down through varied–ever changing forest, finally emerging into the highly cultivated Punakha valley.
This afternoon visit the impressive Punakha Dzong or Pungthang Dechen Phodrang "Palace of Great Happiness," which is located on the confluence of two rivers (Phochu and Mochu). It was built in 1637 by Shubdrung Nawang Namgyal and following the ancient traditions, it serves as winter residence for chief abbot (Je-khenpo) and the monks of Central Monastic Body, who returns to Thimphu in the summer. The building was damaged and rebuilt several times, due to flooding, fire and earth quake. It is one exemplary masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture.
Later hike to the Chimi lhakhang – the temple of Divine Madman which was built by lama Drukpa Kunley in 1499. Legend has it that he subdued the demoness of the Dochu la with his ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom.’ A wooden effigy of the Lama’s thunderbolt is preserved in the Lhakhang, and childless women go to the temple to receive a wang (blessing) from the saint. It’s a 20-minute walk across the rice fields from the road at Sopsokha to the temple. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana. There are very few monks at the temple, which is surrounded by a row of prayer wheels and some very beautiful slate carvings. Overnight - Punakha. (B, L, D)
Day 4: Excursion to Wangdue
Punakha & Wangdue are two separate districts in the same valley, just 20kms apart. Located at a lower elevation, the valley has mild winters, allowing cactuses, oranges, bananas and sub-tropical plants to flourish. Punakha was once the winter capital of Bhutan, the tradition that is still held by the Central Monks and Jekhenpo, who reside here in Punakha Dzong during the winters and return to Thimphu, which is their summer capital. In Wangdue, there is a small town on the ridge and large Wangdue Phodrang Dzong. Enjoy an excursion to Wangdue today and explore the town. Overnight - Punakha (B, L, D)
Day 5: Paro Valley sightseeing
Punakha - Paro. Travel back to Paro today via the scenic Doch La Pass, where on a clear day you can enjoy spectacular views of the towering Bhutan Himalaya peaks. Enjoy a sightseeing tour of the Paro Valley. Visit Kichu Lhakang - one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, built in the 7th century, Dungtse Lhakang, an incredible 3-storey Chorten-style building which was constructed in 1433 and the impressive and iconic Paro Rinpung Dzong. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries Rinphung Dzong served as a bastion against invasion from the north. It is regarded as one of the finest Bhutanese architecture - with intricate wood work, large beams slotted into each other and held together without nails. Overnight - Paro (B, L, D)
Day 6: Trek to the Tigers Nest Monastery
Taktshang Pelphung monastery or Tiger's Nest as it often referred to, is one of the most venerated and famous of Bhutan's monasteries. It is located on the face of a sheer 900m cliff above the floor of Paro valley. Today take a scenic hike to view this spectacular and unmissable sight! The monastery is only accessible on foot or you can ride a pony part of the way (this must be arranged in advance by your guide). From the trail head (2600m), take a steep one hour walk up to a cafeteria where you can enjoy refreshments and wonderful views of Taktshang. Those who wish to proceed further must travel on foot. The trail continues uphill for another 45 minutes to a high observation point (3140m) where there is a Chorten (stupa). From this vantage point, the lookout to the monastery is incredible and seems almost close enough to touch. Continuing down a flight of cliff-hanging steps on the narrow trail you'll reach a beautiful waterfall that plunges down the deep chasm and alongside is a retreat hermitage, jammed dramatically into a rock crevice. Then climb up the flight of steep steps to the monastery. At any point on this walk, you can always return if you find it too difficult. Once inside the monastery, there are several shrines or temples to see with few monks in residence. After exploring the monastery walk back to the cafeteria for lunch, before retracing your steps back to the road to journey back to Paro.
Please note that proper walking boots or shoes are recommended for this hike. Further, if you have more time and ready for more challenging day, there are several monasteries, temples, retreat houses in the surrounding area of Taktshang. The most notable among them are Zangdopelri and Ugyen Tsemo.
Overnight - Paro (B, L, D)
Day 7: Paro
Your holiday concludes after breakfast and on onward departure transfer to Paro airport for your international flight.