Days: 12 / Difficulty: 2 of 5 (Moderate)
Culture tour of west and central Bhutan.
Your itinerary starts with a short drive to Bhutan’s bustling capital, Thimphu, with its many interesting museums and temples. You will have a full day to explore the sights of the capital. Then you head east over the Dochu La pass (where you should get some stunning views of the Himalayan range) to Punakha where you can visit the magnificent Punakha Dzong and take a short walk to a fascinating temple of fertility. Continue your journey east via Trongsa, the home of Bhutan’s royal family, to Bumthang. The Bumthang valleys are the spiritual heartland of Bhutan and are scattered with temples, monasteries and places of pilgrimage, perfect for walking or driving tours. From Bumthang you begin the return journey west, stopping first in Gangtey in the remote Phobjikha valley. Phobjikha is a beautiful protected valley where you can get a taste of rural Bhutanese life. From here you continue west to Paro via Wangdi. Your trip culminates with a hike to the famous Tiger's Nest monastery that clings to sheer cliffs over the Paro valley.
Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu and meet our staff/crew at the airport and transfer to Hotel.
Welcome drink and briefing about Bhutan trip, equipment check and relax in Hotel.
DAY 2: Arrive at Paro International Airport from Kathmandu.
Paro is situated in a beautiful valley at 2280 metres and is a fitting introduction to this charming kingdom. Your guide will meet you and take you on a short one-hour drive along the Paro and Thimphu river valleys to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital, at 2320 metres. You can stop on the way to take in the magnificent Tamchhog Lhakhang, the hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s iron bridge builder. Take a late afternoon walk around town and soak in the atmosphere of this magical capital with its busy shops and bazaars and photogenic citizens in national dress.Overnight in Thimphu
DAY 3: Thimphu Sightseeing.
We will visit the weekly market, the revered Memorial Chorten, the National Library and the School of Traditional Arts. You could visit Changangkha temple, perched on the hilltop overlooking the town. Devotees flock throughout the day to circumambulate and turn the prayer wheels. The temple also contains beautiful wall paintings and hundreds of religious scriptures written in gold. In the afternoon you can take in more of the sights and culture of the capital, with the option of a trip to Simtokha Dzong (one of the oldest fortresses in Bhutan, dating from 1629 AD). If you prefer to stay closer to town you could drive up to the Radio Tower (offering splendid views of the city from a hilltop festooned with prayer flags), visit the Takin Reserve showcasing the unique national animal, the Takin, browse the striking collection of intricate textiles at the National Textile Museum or visit the Folk Heritage Museum. If you would like to view or buy Bhutanese handicrafts you may like to visit the new market opposite Taj Tashi hotel which has an array of stalls run by local handicraft shops selling purely home made articles with no imports. Tell your guide what takes your interest.Overnight in Thimphu
DAY 4: Thimphu to Punakha.
In the morning drive approximately 3 hours to the old capital, Punakha, via Dochu La pass at 3050 metres, where we will stop for a hot drink and enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the Eastern Himalaya ranges. You will notice the change of climate and vegetation as we approach low-lying Punakha at 1250 metres. In the afternoon visit the imposing Punakha Dzong, “Palace of Great Happiness”. Built in 1637, it is strategically placed at the confluence of two rivers, the Po Chu and the Mo Chu. Then take a pleasant walk for an hour or so across terraced fields to Chimi Lhakhang (Temple of Fertility) built in the 15th century by the ‘Divine Madman’ (Lama Drukpa Kuenley).Overnight in Punakha
DAY 5: Punakha to Bumthang.
Drive approximately 4.5 hours to Trongsa, the gateway to central Bhutan at 2180 metres. Set amidst spectacular scenery, Trongsa Dzong, the ancestral home of Bhutan’s royal family, commands the eye from miles away. You can also visit Ta Dzong, the newly opened museum in the watchtower dedicated to the Wangchuk dynasty, which tells the stories of the Dzong and the valley it has watched over for centuries and features personal belongings of the Kings and Queens of Bhutan. Continue a further 2.5 hours through some of Bhutan’s most beautiful landscapes to Bumthang, an area of high valleys at 2580 to 3100 metres.Overnight in Bumthang
DAY 6: Sightseeing in Bumthang, the spiritual heartland of Bhutan, with its many legendary monasteries,
temples and palaces.
Bumthang is the collective name for an area of 4 valleys - Chokhor, Tang, Ura and Chhume. Your guide will take you on a fascinating walking and/or driving tour of a variety of sacred sites including Jamba Lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang and Tamshing Lhakhang, followed by a visit to Membar Tsho ‘the Flaming Lake’, one of Bhutan’s most important pilgrimage sites. You can also visit Bhutan’s largest Dzong (Jakar), with its picturesque location overlooking the Chokhor valley. You may be interested to see Bumthang’s famous Swiss cheese factory and dairy farm. Overnight in Bumthang
DAY 7: Drive approximately 5-6 hours to Gangtey at 2900 metres.
Enjoy the views of the immense and remote Phobjikha valley and the black mountain ranges. Visit Gangtey Gompa (one of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries and recently extensively renovated) and explore the valley where the villagers continue to live a traditional Bhutanese rural lifestyle. This is the site where black-necked cranes visit in their hundreds in November each year after spending the summer in Tibet. Overnight in Gangtey
DAY 8: Today we return to Paro, a drive of approximately 7 hours, via Wangdi.
Wangdi (also known as Wangdue Phodrang) was originally considered Bhutan’s secondary capital and it commands an important central position. Sadly Wangdi Dzong was gutted by fire in June 2012, destroying in a few hours not only a magnificent building that had stood proudly for hundreds of years, but also the painstaking work that had been in progress for many months to rebuild recent earthquake damage using traditional construction methods. There is little now to see in Wangdi and after a brief stop for lunch continue on your way.Overnight in Paro.
DAY 9: this morning you can visit the impressive Paro Rinpung Dzong, one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. You can also visit the National Museum.
This was previously housed in the Ta Dzong (watch tower) built on top of the hill above Rinpung Dzong to defend Rinpung Dzong and the Paro valley during times of war, in an unusual circular construction resembling a conch shell. Unfortunately, an earthquake in September 2011 damaged the Ta Dzong and the contents of the museum were moved to a neighbouring building. You can still see a magnificent collection of Bhutanese artefacts — costumes, religious paintings, arms, textiles and a fascinating collection of Bhutan stamps. The National Museum is due to reopen in the Ta Dzong in 2015. In the afternoon you can visit the ruined Drukgyel Dzong (fortress of victory), constructed to commemorate the victory over Tibetan invaders in 1644 and destroyed by a butter lamp fire in 1951. Nearby you can also visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, a temple of historical significance and one of the most sacred shrines in Bhutan. Overnight in Paro
DAY 10: Take a day walk to the ‘Tiger's Nest’, the sacred Taktshang monastery which clings to the rock
face 900 metres above the valley floor.
Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown to the site riding on a tigress. He subsequently meditated here for three months. It is one of Bhutan’s most holy sites and draws pilgrims not only from Bhutan but also from neighbouring Buddhist countries. You can have lunch at the Taktshang cafeteria from where you get a spectacular view of the monastery. On the way back you can visit Dumtse Lhakhang, a temple built by Thangtong Gyalpo, the iron bridge builder.Overnight in Paro
DAY 11: Early in the morning your guide will accompany you to the airport to see you off onto your flight and
wish you Tashi Delek (goodbye and good luck).
DAY 12: Final Departure:
Today, Airport representative from Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition Pvt.LTD. will transfer you to Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA) Kathmandu for your final departure.
Our Tour Package Cost includes;
* Airport/Hotel/Airport pick up and transfer by private car/van.
* 2 nights accommodation in twin bed sharing basis with breakfast at standard hotel in Kathmandu.
* Guide - guide throughout the tour from arrival to departure.
* Sightseeing - all sightseeing and entrance fees including any festival visits.
* Transport - meet on arrival, airport transfers on arrival and departure and all overland transport within Bhutan.
* Accommodation - accommodation in standard hotels.
* Food - full board throughout the trip in Bhutan
* Office Service charge.
* All Government Tax.
Our Tour Package Cost doesn't include;
* Any meals in Kathmandu other than breakfast.
* Travel insurance (if you want us to arrange your travel insurance, we would greatly be happy to assist).
* International air fare to and from Nepal and to and from Bhutan.
* Nepal Tourist Visa fee.
* Visa Fee and Fees for Tourism development Fund (USD 50)
* Items and expenses of personal nature.
* Any kind of alcoholic drinks, cold drinks, laundry, phone call, internet.
* Personal Trekking Equipments like sleeping bags, jackets (can all be hired in KTM)
* Emergency Evacuation (Helicopter Rescue).
* Any costs which arise due to a change of the itinerary, because of landslides, political disturbance, and strikes etc.
* Any other costs whatsoever, that is not mentioned in the cost included.
* Tips for guide, porters, driver...
Tipping is expected but it is not mandatory.
Customize Your Tour: This is a general itinerary, which can always individually be “tailormade”. The trek package can be redesigned or redeveloped as per your taste, For more information please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: In case of emergency during the trip, Helicopter will be arranged by Swiss Family Treks & Expedition (P) Ltd. The charges must be paid by the clients themselves.