1. Bhutan Cultural Tour - 10 Days
The Kingdom of Bhutan, nestled high in the tranquil Himalayas is a haven to rich bio-diversity, vibrant religion, unique arts, rich history, cultural splendor, heritage and scenic grandeur. It is a fascinating land where time had stood still and preserved the exquisite beauty of this mystical country. The vegetation varies over very short distances ranging from tropical broadleaf forests to alpine shrubs and lush meadows. Bhutan is home to such exotic mammals as Takin (a large, musk-ox-like animal), Black necked Crane, Golden Langur, Royal Bengal tiger, clouded leopards and red pandas. Bird species range from the Himalayan black Eagle, and boreal owl to the Tiny black-throated parrot bill. Our Culture Heartlands tour provides one of the best opportunities to experience most if not all of the Bhutanese life style in all its glory. Detailed Itinerary: Day 01 - Arrival at Paro Airport You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel to settle in. After the formalities we take a short drive to Paro town to stroll through Bazaar. Overnight at a hotel. Day 02 - Sightseeing around Paro then evening drive to Thimphu We visit the Ta Dzong which houses the National Museum and visit Paro’s Rimpung Dzong, on the way down we cross the 16th century cantilever bridge. Also visiting the Drugyel Dzong victory fortress, built in 1647 which is 18 kilometres from the Paro town. Explore the magnificent ramparts of the erstwhile fortress which defended the country against several incursions. On a clear day one can also view the sacred Mount Jomolhari, from the northern battlements. We take a visit to a farm house and observe the traditional Bhutanese way of life and living. Overnight at a hotel. Day 03 - Sightseeing in and around Thimphu Early morning we take a scenic drive to Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, approx 90 mins drive from Paro. Sightseeing in and around Thimphu valley we visit the National Library, which holds a collection of ancient Buddhist texts and manuscripts, as well as the institute for Zorig Chusum commonly known as Painting School, textile and Folk Heritage Museum which provides an insight into Bhutanese material culture and everyday way of life. Also visiting the National Memorial Chorten, Trashichho dzong an impressive monastery, Bhutanese Handicrafts displaying a wide range of beautifully hand-woven textiles and craft products. In the evening we explore the vibrant Thimphu Bazaar. Overnight at a hotel. Day 04 - Drive from Thimphu to Gangtey/Phobjikha Drive to the glacial valley of Phobjikha via Dochula, this pass offers the panoramic view of Bhutan’s Himalayan Ranges. Along the slopes is the great monastery of Gangtey, established in the 17th century. This quiet and remote valley is the winter home of the black necked cranes. Explore Gangtey village and Phobjikha valley. The unique black necked crane festival is held on the valley floor every November. Overnight at a hotel. Day 05 - Drive from Gangtey to Bumthang After an early breakfast, drive to Tongsa across Pele-la pass (3,300m). The pass is marked by a white chorten and many prayer flags. There is an abrupt change in vegetation with mountain forest replaced by high altitude dwarf bamboo. Stop at Chendebji Chorten. You can see the chorten with eyes painted at the four cardinal points. It was built in the 18th century by Lama Shida from Tibet, to cover the remains of evil spirit that was subdued at this spot. Finally reaching towards Trongsa you can view the stunning Trongsa Dzong from a distance. Bumthang, 68 kms away from Trongsa, a journey of about 3 hours, over the Yutong-la pass (3,400m). The road winds steeply up to the pass, then runs down through coniferous forest into a wide, open cultivated valley known as the Chumey valley. Stopping in Chumey village there are many shops selling yathra, a woolen textile. Bumthang is famous for yathra a distinctive strip of woven woolen fabric in numerous colours and patterns mostly made using ancient dyeing techniques. The Road follows the valley down and it climbs through blue pine forests to Kiki La (2,860m). We then descent down to the Choekor Valley or central of Bumthang. Overnight at a hotel. Day 06 - Sightseeing in and around Bumthang The Bumthang valley comprises of a combination of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitudes varying from 2,600m to 4,000m. Home to many of prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries. Visiting the Jakar Dzong built in 1667 and it`s seat of district administration and regional monastic body of Bumthang. Jambay Lhakhang founded in 7th century by the Tibetan king Songsen Gampo it is one of the oldest monasteries in the country. Kurje Lhakhang, where the patron saint of Buddhism in Bhutan subdued a local demon and left his body imprint. Tamshing founded in 1501 by Terton (Treasure Revealer) Pema Lingpa the incarnation of Guru Rinpoche. The monastery has very ancient religious paintings like 1000 Buddhas and 21 Taras (female form of Buddhisattvas) in Bhutan. Visit a farmer’s house for refreshments and observe the traditional way of living. We also visit a Swiss farm which produces cottage, swiss cheese, honey, a large variety of fruit juice and spirits. The Brewery that manufactures the famous Red Panda Beer (weiss beer) also located here. Take a leisurely walk in Chamkhar town. Overnight at a hotel. Day 07 - Drive through Trongsa to Punakha Leaving Bumthang, we head for Trongsa where we will visit the Trongsa Dzong which was built in 1648 it is the biggest of all the fortresses in the country. Drive to Punakha via Wangdiphodrang after which we take a stroll through the Wangdi market. Overnight at a hotel. Day 08 - Sightseeing in Punkha with overnight accommodation in Paro Drive north to visit the majestic Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 which strategically occupies the land between the two rivers Phochu and Mochu. At Present the Dzong serve as the district administration and judiciary office as well as the winter home for Bhutan’s spiritual leader Je Khenpo and the monks of Thimphu and Punakha. We then drive onto Lobesa where you take a short hike to Chimi Lhakhang Temple. This temple is on a hill top and it is dedicated to the great Yogi known as Drukpa Kuenley or popularly known as “Divine madman” of the 14th century. It is believed that this temple blesses women who seek fertility. Overnight at a hotel. Day 09 - Sightseeing in and around Paro Excursion to the Taktsang Monastery (Tiger's Nest). The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful Pine and rhododendron forests. We stop at the tea house for rest and refreshments, the tea house offers magnificent up close view of the tigers nest and continue the hike for short while until you see, clearly and seemingly within reach, the imposing Taktsang monastery. Built in 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900m into the valley below. History states that Guru Padmasambhava, the Tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, landed here on the back of a flying tiger and meditated here for three months. It is regarded to be one of the most venerated cultural heritage sites in Bhutan. People from all over the Himalayan Diaspora frequent this place on the pilgrimage trail to Bhutan. Overnight at a hotel. Day 10 - Transfer to international airport for your final departure. After breakfast our airport representative will drop you to the Paro International Airport for your flight departure from Bhutan.