The Dragon Kingdom, Bhutan

Paro - Thimpu - Gangtey - Punakha - Paro

8-Days / 7-Nights

From now to 15 March 2021

A trip that gives you an opportunity to explore ancient monasteries and shrines of historical and archaeological interests in the heartland of four major towns of the Dragon Kingdom, Bhutan. High in the mysterious and majestic eastern Himalayas, nestled between Tibetan autonomous region of China and India, lies the small Kingdom of Bhutan, increasingly renowned as one of the Earth’s precious unspoiled spots. This magical place speaks Buddhist culture in the daily lives of its people and spectacular mountain scenery provides a backdrop to pristine forests and picturesque valleys. The breath taking landscape is dotted with fluttering prayer flags, colorful farmhouses amidst terraced fields and impressive monasteries clinging to impossible cliffs. A memorable trip that stays with you for a lifetime.

 

THIMPHU: This unique city boasts an unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. The Kingdom’s capital city is the main centre of commerce, religion and government in Bhutan. Taste Ema Datshi - the fiery concoction of green peppers and cheese, the most famous dishes in Bhutanese cuisine. Try your hand at traditional archery at simply Bhutan museum

GANGTEY: Known for Ganteng monastery which is an important monastery of Nyingmapa school of Buddhism, located in the Wangdue Phodrang District in central Bhutan.

PUNAKHA: Blessed with a temperate climate, Punakha has been inextricably linked with momentous occasions in Bhutanese history. One of the most majestic structures in the country is located here. Walk to Chimi Lhakhang, the temple of divine madman or temple of fertility. Stop at Dochula on the way to Punakha for a perfect photography of the Himalayas.

PARO: Wide and verdant Paro valley is one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan with many sacred sites and historical buildings scattered through the area. Try traditional Hot stone bath - Unique and a very natural experience this Bhutanese Traditional Hot Stone Bath uses river rocks that therapists place in water where they crack and steam, releasing key minerals and relieving deep-set aches.

With an Accompanying English Speaking Guide

All departures on either 1st or 15th of each month, irrespective of day of week. Custom tours can be arranged. Guides in all major common languages available. Other destinations can be added.


ITINERARY
Map of Area (https://goo.gl/maps/989Y2bby7w8FnCMcA)
shows where we will be going. All routes shown are by road. Longer distances will be by air. Zoom in and out for change of details.

1st/15th, DAY 1 | ARRIVAL PARO & TRANSFER TO THIMPHU (by Road)
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular in the entire Himalayas. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills from Kolkata, the journey offers fascinating views and an exciting descent into the Kingdom. Bhutan’s first gift to you as you disembark from the aircraft will be the cool, clean, fresh mountain air.

After immigration formalities and baggage collection, you will be met by your Spiritual Journeys representative, then drive to Thimphu (1 ½ hrs), capital city of Bhutan with a stop-off at Chuzom, the confluence of Thimphu and Paro rivers. Observe three different styles of stupas: Tibetan, Nepalese and Bhutanese which adorn this confluence. Shortly before reaching Chuzom, you will see on your left Tschogang Lhakhang, “the temple of the excellent horse”. It is a private temple, built in the 15th century, as a result of the visitation from Balaha, the excellent horse, a manifestation of Chenrezig, the compassionate Buddha.

Thimphu is also the centre of government, religion and commerce. It is a unique city with an unusual mix of modern and ancient traditions and culture. Although not what one expects from a capital city, Thimphu is still a metropolitan and lively place. Home to civil servants, expatriates and the monk body, Thimphu maintains a strong national character in its architectural style. In the evening, take an exploratory walk around Thimphu’s Main Street and market area. Visit the local Crafts Bazaar and browse through some of Bhutan's fine traditional arts. Here you can buy hand-woven textiles, Thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewellery and many unique items made from local materials. Overnight: Thimphu.

2nd/16th, DAY 2 | THIMPHU
Spend the day sightseeing in the Thimphu valley including: The National Library (closed Sat, Sun & Government Holidays), housing an extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts; the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School, closed Sun & Government Holidays. On Sat open from 10:00 to 12:00. Also closed in winter (Dec-early March)) where students undergo a 6-year training course in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts. The Textile Museum (closed Sundays & Government Holidays), which provides an insight into one of the most distinct art forms in Bhutan. Visit Simply Bhutan, a living museum and studio encapsulating the cultural heritage of the Bhutanese people. After lunch, take a short drive (15 km) to Pangri Zampa, built in the 16th century and one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan located just north of Thimphu. Here is a monastic school where Buddhist monks learn Lamaism and astrology based on Buddhist philosophy. Visit the Buddha Point (Kensal Phodrang), located a short drive away from Thimphu city centre, where visitors get a panoramic view of the Thimphu valley from here. You can pay your obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha, the largest in the country. A walk in and around the premises taking in the scenic beauty of the surroundings is a popular activity even among the locals.

Visit Memorial Chorten where you will always see people from all walks of life circumambulation and chanting mantras or spinning prayer wheels. This landmark was conceived by Bhutan’s third King, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (“the Father of modern Bhutan”) who wished to erect a monument for world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and a monument to global peace.

Visit Trashichhoedzong, one of the most important dzongs in the country. This impressive fortress/monastery houses the Throne Room of His Majesty, the King and various government offices. It is also the summer residence of the Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot and the central monk body.

Spend the evening strolling through Thimphu city centre, visiting shops and local market. Overnight: Thimphu.

3rd/17th, DAY 3 | THIMPHU – GANGTEY (by Road)
Drive to Punakha (5 hrs) across the beautiful Dochula pass (3080m). In Bhutan, the passes are marked by large Bhutanese Chorten (stupa) and prayer flags. Dochula pass offers the most spectacular view of the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas on a clear day. The Druk Wangyel Stupas (hundred stupas) are a sight to behold against this backdrop. The highway follows the scenic Dang Chhu before climbing through forests of bamboo and oak into Gangtey/Phobjikha valley. In the evening, take a stroll around the fascinating Gangtey Village. Overnight: Gangtey.


4th/18th, DAY 4 | GANGTEY
Start your day long sightseeing of Gantey by a visit to Gangtey Goempa, perched on a small hill that rises from the valley floor. The Gangtey Monastery is the only Nyingmapa monastery on the western side of the Black Mountains and also the biggest one in Bhutan. The Monastery is surrounded by a large village inhabited mainly by the families of the 140 Gomchens (lay monks) who take care of the Monastery.

Later, explore the wide Phobjikha valley. A few kilometers beyond the Gangtey Monastery, on the valley floor lies the village of Phobjikha. This quiet, remote valley is the winter home of the black necked cranes, which migrate from the arid plains of Tibet in the north, to pass the winter months in a milder climate. Phobjikha, at an altitude of 2900 m, falls under the district of Wangdue Phodrang and lies on the periphery of the Black Mountain National Park. The valley boasts two beautiful meandering rivers, Nakay Chhu (Chhu Naap-black water) and Gay Chhu (Chhu Karp-white water). According to a local legend, the two rivers actually represent a snake and a boar. The two animals once raced each other with an agreement that if the snake (Nakay Chhu) won, Phobjikha valley would be able to grow rice, but if the boar won, then rice could never be cultivated in the area. The snake lost since it had to meander all the way during its journey. Rice cannot be cultivated in the valley even today.

Visit the Black Necked Crane Visitor Centre: Situated on the edge of the forest and wetland along the main road of Phobjikha valley, the Centre has an observation room equipped with a high power telescope and spotting scopes for catching the best view of the cranes. The centre also displays information that outline the natural and cultural history of the area. There is a small gift shop that sells handicrafts produced by the local people. Overnight: Gangtey.


5th / 19th DAY 5 | GANGTEY – PUNAKHA (by Road)
After breakfast drive to Punakha (3 hrs), the old capital of Bhutan. After arriving at Punakha, visit Punakha Dzong, a massive structure built at the junction of two rivers. It was the capital of Bhutan until 1955, and still serves as the winter residence of the monk body.
Next, take a short walk to Chimi Lhakhang (a 15 minute drive from your hotel up to the motor able road from where the walk starts through paddy fields and villages, a total of about 1½ hours walk to and fro). Chime Lhakhang, situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley is also known as the temple of fertility. It is widely believed that childless couples who pray at this temple are usually blessed with a child very soon. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning ‘field’. A walk through the village near the temple will give you a rare glimpse of the daily lives of the people in the community. Overnight: Punakha.


6th / 20th DAY 6 | PUNAKHA – PARO (by Road)
After breakfast, drive back to Paro (4 hrs) descending from Dochu La, following the way back up the dramatic Wang Chhu and Paro Chhu river valleys, before crossing through Paro Town towards the north end of the valley. Enroute visit Simtokha Dzong, the first of many temples built by Bhutan’s founder Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in the 17th century. The sacred shrines inside will offer you solace and peace of mind.

Later (after checking into your hotel), visit Ta Dzong, originally built as a Watchtower, which now houses the National Museum (closed on Government Holidays). The extensive collection includes antique Thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts. Bhutan’s exquisite stamps exhibited here offer another interesting collection.

Visit Rinpung Dzong, (fortress of the heap of jewels), which has a fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore such as the Four Friends, the Old Man of Long Life, and the Wheel of Life, scenes from the life of Milarepa, Mount Sumeru and other cosmic Mandala. Overnight: Paro.

 

7th / 21st DAY 7 | PARO – TIGER’S NEST HIKE
After a robust breakfast, embark on an excursion to Taktsang Monastery (approx. 5 hr walk). It is one of the most famous monasteries, perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived on the back of a tigress and meditated here and hence it is called ‘Tiger’s Nest’. This site is recognized as one of the most sacred places in Bhutan. It was also visited by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 and is now visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. On 19 April, 1998, a fire severely damaged the main structure of the building. However, this iconic monastery has been restored to its original splendor.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: - On the way back to town stop at the base of Drukgyel Dzong, a fortress that was in ruins for a long time which is now being rebuilt as an important national heritage. It is the fort from where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. The snowy dome of sacred Chomolhari, "Mountain of the Goddess'' can be seen in all her glory from the approach road to the Dzong.

In the evening, visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas by the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. The building of this temple marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan. Overnight: Paro.

 

8th / 22nd DAY 8 | DEPART PARO
After early breakfast at the hotel, drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination. Spiritual Journeys representative will help you with exit formalities and then bid you farewell.

~ ~ End of services offered by Spiritual Journeys, Inc. ~ ~

HOTELS ENVISAGED, OR EQUIVALENT *:

City
Day
Hotel, room type
Thimphu
1 - 2
Hotel Kisa, standard
Gangtey
3 - 4
Dewachen, standard
Punakha
5
Meri Puensum Resort, standard
Paro
6 - 7
The Village Lodge, standard

* IMP NOTE:
Please note that occasional hotels proposed here may not be available at time of booking. If such a situation should arise, a suitable alternative hotel will be booked. If a similar hotel is not available, the next available category will be booked and the cost difference between the two hotels will be intimated. In case there’s a reduction, we will refund the money but in case of supplements, you may have an increase in package price. If we get higher category rooms such as club rooms etc., you will need to pay the difference should they choose this option.

COSTS: US $ per person with MINIMUM two people, all arriving, traveling and departing together.

Departue Period
Twin/Double
Single
May / Sept / Oct / Nov 2020, Mar 2021
2,040.00
2,375.00
Jun / Jul / Aug / Dec 2020, Jan / Feb 2021
1,760.00
2,096.00

 

TOUR PRICE INCLUDES:
* Accommodation as per the itinerary on full board (few Lunches on the way during day journey).
* Private transfers and sightseeing as per the given itinerary
* Services of an accompanying English speaking guide.
* Entrance fees – for single visit only.
* Govt. royalty and taxes
* Bhutan Visa fee.
* All Departures are guaranteed with 2 guests
* All departures are operated with maximum 20 guests
* Please note we are able to accept guest request for vegan meals.

TOUR PRICES EXCLUDES:
• International airfares and taxes, unless otherwise specified
• Meals other than specified as included
• Travel Insurance or expenses of a personal nature (mini-bar, phone call, laundry, etc.),
• Tips or gratuities to guides/drivers/porters / hotel, restaurant or boat staff, etc.
• Drinks or personal expenses or entrance fees for any extra sightseeing or optional activities
• Hotel early check- in and late check-out
• Optional tour(s)

 

BHUTAN VISA PROCEDURE FOR ALL NATIONALS
(EXCEPT INDIAN/BANGLADESHI/MALDIVIAN)
* We require color scan of passport for visa at least 20 days prior to travel date (sooner the better).
* Color scan or take picture by your mobile phone/digicam of the passport page with face image and passport number & email us in Jpeg/pdf format.
* Remaining validity of passport after Bhutan tour must be min 6 month excluding travelling month.
* Multiple Indian visa required if you enter Bhutan from India and reinter India after Bhutan tour.
* Passengers visiting India on E- tourist visa & entering Bhutan by Air (by remaining in transit at Delhi / Kolkata airport) and re-entering India after Bhutan tour by surface (Phuentsholing, Samdrup Jonkhar & Gelephu) are required to travel with original Indian visa stamped in passport by Indian embassy/consulate at their home country as there is no facilities at these border towns to check & verify Indian E-Visa.
* No passport size photo / any pictures / any visa form etc. required for Bhutan visa – only requirement is clear/readable copy in colour of passport.
* Dual passport holders are required to use the same passport whose details are passed on to Bhutan for Visa authorization prior to arrival in Bhutan.
* It is mandatory for a tourist (except Indian/Bangladeshi/Maldivian) to buy full service tour package from a local Bhutan tour operator to avail Bhutan visa.
* Bhutan visa fee is US$ 40/ which is included in tour cost submitted by us.

Passport copies also required for ticket issuance for verifying correct names, same passport copy may not be valid for Bhutan visa if it doesn’t meet all above conditions

Registration:  Please use our Registration Form to register, and pay either the deposit or your payment by going to our secure system at Pay Now.

Additional Information: Please e-mail Deepak Singh or telephone Deepak Singh at +1-508-358-4267.