Explore Bhutan

Travel through the Buddhist nation of Bhutan for eight nights and nine days, exploring Thimphu, Gangtey, Punahka and Paro, and discover the genuine beauty of its people.

Day 1: Fly to Paro / Drive to Thimphu 

Distance: 52kms/ 32 miles

Drive Time: Approx. 1 hour

Altitude: 2,350m / 7,709ft

Accommodation: Taj Tashi – Deluxe Room

Meals: Dinner

Fly into Paro by Druk Air, Bhutan’s National Airline. The great snow-capped peaks of the inner Himalayas that rise up to the heavens can be seen during clear weather. As the plane approaches Bhutan, if you look down, farmhouses as dots on the hillsides can be seen. As the aircraft enters the Paro valley, you will see Paro Dzong on the hillside overlooking the Paro Chu (river), with Ta Dzong, formerly a watchtower and now the National Museum, above it.

Drive to Thimphu (approximately 1 hour), the capital town of Bhutan. The road leads through the Paro valley to the confluence of Paro and Thimphu rivers at Chuzom. Upon arrival in Thimphu; check in to your respective rooms.

Based on your flight timings, visit the Tashichho Dzong. This impressive fortress/monastery houses the secretariat building, the throne room of His Majesty the King and various government offices. It is also the summer residence of the Chief Abbot and the central body of monks. It was rebuilt in the early 1960's after a fire destroyed most of the building. The amazing thing about this building is that it was built without a single drawing or a single nail.

 

Day 2: Drive to Gangtey

Distance: 135kms/ 84 miles

Drive Time: Approx. 5 hours 

Altitude: 3,000m / 9,840ft

Accommodation: Amankora Gangtey – Suite Room

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After early breakfast start your long journey to Phobjikha which takes approximately 5 hours. Phobjikha is a glacial valley on the western slopes of the Black Mountains and is one of the most beautiful open valleys in Bhutan. It is also one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country and the winter home (late October to early February) of the rare black necked cranes, which annually flies in from Tibet. 

Upon reaching Gangtey, you will be transferred to Aman Kora Resort.

Evening: enjoy spa / massage at the resort (Extra Cost applied)

 

Day 3: In Phobjikha (Gangtey) 

Accommodation: Amankora Gangtey – Suite Room

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast take a short hike around the most beautiful and shortest of the existing nature trails in Bhutan. The trail hike starts from the Mani (like Chhorten) stone wall to the north of the Gangtey Gonpa and ends in Khewa Lhakhang. The hike takes about an hour and a half through the pine forest and small bamboo plants. You can see the Phobjkha valley so beautifully from this hike. It is one of the best hike places for nature lovers. During the winter months, we can see the endangered species of birds, the Black-necked Cranes.

 

Day 4: Drive to Punakha

Distance: 78kms/ 48 miles

Drive Time: 4 hours approx.

Altitude: 1,300m / 4,265ft

Accommodation: COMO Uma Punakha (Valley View Room)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After early breakfast at the hotel, continue your drive to Punakha which takes approx. 4 hours' drive. On the way visit Chimi Lhakhang, located near Lobesa, Punakha that stands on a round hillock and is flanked by hundreds of prayer flags. Built in 1499, this monastery is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kinley or ‘the Divine Madman’. An accomplished master of Mahamudra Buddhist Tradition, he is also known as the ‘Mad Saint’ for his unorthodox ways of teaching Buddhism by singing, humor and outrageous behavior, which amounted to being bizarre and strong sexual overtones and inclinations. 

 

Day 5: In Punakha

Accommodation: COMO Uma Punakha (Valley View Room)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, visit the Punakha Dzong also known as Pungtang Dechen Photrang Dzong (meaning ‘the palace of great happiness or bliss’) the administrative center of Punakha dzongkhag in Punakha. Constructed by Zhabdrung (Shabdrung) Ngawang Namgyal on the 8th day and 8th month of the Fire ox year in 1673, it is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan and one of its most majestic structures. Punakha Dzong was the administrative center and the seat of the Government of Bhutan until 1955 when the capital was moved to Thimphu.

Later afternoon, drive for about an hour to Kabisa and take a short day hike to Khamsung Yuelley Namgyal Stupa that generally takes about 3 hours (approx. 3-4km). From the viewpoint at the majestic temple, we can see the Mochu river valley. This is a moderately easy hike through rice fields and picturesque untouched landscape. After descending from the temple, we will follow a well-worn path down the valley through rice fields and the small villages of Soneagasa.

 

Day 6: Drive to Paro

Distance: 122kms/ 75 miles

Drive Time: 3 hours approx.

Altitude: 2,250m / 7,382ft

Accommodation: COMO Uma Paro (Forest View Room)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After an early breakfast drive back to Paro which takes approximately 3 hours. 

Later afternoon, visit the Paro Dzong; one of the most impressive and well-known Dzongs in Bhutan. One of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture, it is also known as the Ringpung Dzong, which means ‘fortress on a heap of jewels’. It is the administrative seat of the district of Paro. The Dzong was built in the 16th century on the foundation of a monastery built by Guru Rinpoche. It was used on numerous occasions to defend the Paro Valley from invasions by Tibet.

Later, visit Kyichu Lhakhang, an important Himalayan Buddhist Temple. It is one of Bhutan’s oldest religious sites built in the seventh century. This temple is one of 108 built by Tibetan emperor Songtsen Gampo to subdue a demoness who prevented the spread of Buddhism. Temples were built across the Himalayas to pin her body down. Kyichu Lhakhang pins down her left foot and Jamba Lhakhang in Bumthang her left knee. 

 

Day 7: In Paro

Hike Time: 5 hours approx. (depends on walking pace)

Altitude: 3,120m / 10,235ft

Accommodation: COMO Uma Paro (Forest View Room)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, hike to Taktsang Monastery; Perched on the side of a vertical cliff at 3000 m altitude north of Paro, the beautiful Taktsang Monastery also known the ‘Tiger’s Nest’ is the most famous and an unofficial symbol of Bhutan. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche (Guru Padmasambhava) flew to this location from Khenpajong, Tibet on the back of a tigress and subdued a demon. He then meditated in a cave here for three months and emerged in eight incarnated forms (manifestations) and blessed the place. Guru Padmasambhava is known for introducing Buddhism to Bhutan. Today, Paro Taktsang is the best known of the thirteen caves in which Guru Padmasambhava meditated.

Taktsang Monastery is a pilgrimage site for both tourists and locals. The journey up to the monastery is filled with spiritual bliss. Keeping this spiritual side aside, the journey up to Taktsang Monastery is also a hiker’s delight. An hour hike up to a small wooden teahouse called Cafeteria provides a close view of the monastery. A further and a rather challenging hike lead you to the glorious Taktsang Monastery.

OR

If you have difficulty walking, a pony ride can be arranged which will take you till the second view point only. The pony ride is a one-way trip (this is recommended if you are not in great physical shape or have issues with altitude) and you have to make your way down the mountain by foot.

Remaining day is at leisure to relax or enjoy Spa / Massage at the Resort (extra cost applied)

In the evening, meet with an Astrologer who will do a reading of an astrological chart based on your birth date and place of birth.  The astrologer will be at the hotel to do the readings. The readings will last about 10 -12 minutes for each guest.

 

Day 8: In Paro

Accommodation: COMO Uma Paro (Forest View Room)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today take one & half hour drive to Chele La (Pass). Afterward, take a short hike to Kila Nunnery also known as Chele La Goenpa which is located on the cliffs below Chele pass at about 3,500m above sea level. There are great views from here of Paro valley below, Jele Dzong across on the far ridge and also seen to the north, are Mt Chomolhari and Jichu Drake on a clear day.  Kila in Sanskrit means a subjugating spiritual dagger that destroys the negativities

Kila Goemba is a serene retreat for 32 Anim (Buddhist nuns) who lead an undisturbed life of religious studies, prayer and meditation. The nunnery is one of the seven oldest nunneries in the Kingdom. Dupthob Chhoeje Norbu and Dupthob Temba established it in the early ninth century as a place for meditation. After being destroyed by fire, the Lhakhang was reconstructed by the 25th Je Khenpo, Sherab Gyaltsen and in 1986, the Government officially established Kila Goemba as an Anim Dratshang (nunnery). This sacred place has a timeless quality which is ample reward after the effort of the hike. 

An hour later and we are back at the road where we can saddle up on a mountain bike and freewheel down to Paro Valley.

 

Day 9: Departure. Fly Paro / Bangkok

After breakfast, transfer to the Paro Airport to board your flight for your onward destination.

 

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This is an Executive Edge Travel itinerary

Read about this itinerary

Read about our editor's journey to Bhutan on this itinerary.

Rates:

US$7,170 per person (based upon twin share & 2017 travel). Single Room Supplement US$3,355 per person.

The best season in Bhutan is March – May, mid-September – November.

This itinerary can be customised to suit individual needs.

 

Inclusions:

Arrival/Departure transfers, accommodation, all meals, sightseeing tours & transfers by air-conditioned private vehicle with English speaking local Bhutanese guide, Bhutan Visa fee, tourism development fund & Bhutan entrance fees, astrologer meeting, half day cycling in Paro.

 

Exclusions:

Airfare, travel insurance, alcoholic beverages, personal expenses, meals not specified.

 

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Weather to go

Bhutan has a varied climate depending on the location in the country and time of year, making travelling the country dynamic and exciting.  Southern Bhutan tends to be more tropical and experiences summer monsoons from late-June through late-September, while the far northern portions have cold winters due to the higher altitude.  The best times to travel are in March and April, when temperatures are mild -- though the rainy season begins in the latter half of April.
 

Best places to stay

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