9. 15 Day Cross Countries Tour of Bhutan, Sikkim & Dharjeeling
Day 01: Arrival at Paro by Druk and Sightseeing In clear weather, Druk Air's flight to Bhutan provides a wonderful view of Himalayan scenery. Flying along the Himalayan range, it is a breathtaking journey, culminating in an exciting descent past forested hills into the kingdom. - Arrival at Paro International Airport ; receiving by our representative and transfer to the hotel & check-in at hotel & rest. - Drive to visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the holiest and oldest monasteries in Bhutan built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gyampo. Later, visit a traditional Bhutanese Farm House. Evening at leisure in Paro town. -Dinner & overnight Tiger’s Nest Resort or similar Day 02: Paro sightseeing, including Hike to Tiger's nest - Following early breakfast, drive to the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, 16 km up the valley built in 1647 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan. The Dzong was destroyed by accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. Explore the ramparts and on a clear day experience an unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 Mtrs.). - Drive back for excursion to view & visit the spectacular Takshang Monastery; “Takshang” literally means Tiger’s Nest. The Monastery is believed to have been built in 1684 on the spot where Guru Rimpoche (founder of Buddhism in Bhutan) flew on the back of a Tigress and meditated to subdue the demons in Paro valley. The trail to the Monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. This incredible Monastery clings vertically to the edge of a granite rock cliff that plunges 900 meters above the valley floor. Lunch at Takshang Cafeteria - Later visit Taa Dzong, formerly a watch tower but now houses the National Museum. Taa Dzong holds unique and varied collections, ranging from ancient armor to textiles, Thangkha paintings, stamps, coins and natural history. - Walk down the hillside terrain to visit Rimpong Dzong, built in 1646 during the time of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It now houses Paro’s monk body and offices of the civil administration. Rimpong Dzong is the venue for the famous Paro Tsechu festival, held annually in the spring. Continue to walk down-hill and through the traditional cantilever wooden bridge to Paro town. Dinner & overnight Tiger’s Nest Resort or similar Day 03: Drive to Trongsa - Following early breakfast, drive to Trongsa across the Dochula Pass (Alt.3050 Mtrs.). If the weather is clear, you will have spectacular view of the snowcapped Himalayan mountain peaks from the pass. The colourful 108 Chortens on top of the pass is spectacular to look at. Continue drive to Trongsa; Enroute visit Wangduephodrang; View of Chendbji & Rukubji villages. A short stroll in Trongsa town before you check-in at hotel; Dinner & overnight Phuenzhi Guest House or similar Day 04: Drive to Bumthang - Following early breakfast, visit Trongsa Dzong, which is the biggest Dzong in Bhutan and is the ancestral home of the ruling dynasty. It now houses the district administration office; built in split-levels, the Dzong fits narrowly on a spur that sticks out into the gorge of River Mangdechu and overlooks the routes south and west. Taa Dzong, the watch tower of Trongsa Dzong in the ancient times is converted to a museum in the present day, which displays many interesting amours used by Bhutanese soldiers during those days. Visit the newly consecrated “The Museum of Monarchy” located at Taa Dzong; this gives a glimpse of Bhutan in the last 100 years with two galleries showcasing the history of monarchy in Bhutan with many royal possessions. The museum also has a collection of ancient warfare artifacts & weapons. Later transfer to Bumthang; Check-in at Hotel & lunch Afternoon visit the Jakar Dzong & the rest of the day at leisure on foot. Dinner & overnight Yu-Garling Resort or similar Day 05: Bumthang Sightseeing - Early breakfast, and sightseeing – visit Kurjee Lhakhang, Jambay Lhakhang a 7th century monastery which is similar to Kyichu Lhakhang of Paro, Thamsing Monastery, Kenchosum temple and Karchu Dratshang - Lunch at a local restaurant; Bumthang is famous for its brightly colored and distinctively woven woolen garments called ‘Yatha’; visit its weaving centre. Dinner & overnight Yu-Garling Resort or similar Day 06: Drive to Punakha - Following breakfast, transfer to Punakha; Enroute visit Gangtey/Phobjikha valley, which is the winter home of the rare and endangered species bird “Black Necked Crane” that starts to arrive by mid November and returns to Tibetan plateau by February. Lunch stop on the way; Evening, visit Khuru town. Dinner & overnight Hotel Damchen or similar Day 07: Drive to Thimphu - Following breakfast, visit the local weekend market that mostly sells vegetable and local products. - Later short climb up-hill after breakfast to visit the Khamsum Yulley Monastery; it is a gentle climb up hill for appx. 45 minutes and the view of the valley is spectacular from the top of this monastery. Continue sightseeing visiting Punakha Dzong, a historic Dzong that looks like a ship between two rivers Pho Chu and Mo Chu. - Transfer to Thimphu; Enroute stop at Missina to visit ‘Chimmi Lhakhang’, a temple of fertility that is regarded as a pilgrimage site for barren couple. Lunch stop at Dochula Cafeteria and continue drive to Thimphu. Afternoon visit the Handicrafts, Sunday market handicrafts, and at leisure in time shopping. Dinner & overnight Hotel Jumolhari or similar Day 08: Thimpu Sightseeing - Visit the National Memorial Chorten, a huge Stupa built in memory of the third king of Bhutan HM Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who reigned the Kingdom from 1952-1972; the building of this landmark was envisaged by him as a monument to world peace and prosperity. Visit National Library, which holds an extensive collection of Buddhist texts and manuscripts, some dating back several hundred years, as well as modern academic books, mainly of Himalayan culture visit the Folk Heritage Museum, followed by the Nunnery & Dupthop Lhakhang. - Lunch at Bhutan Kitchen; continue sightseeing with a visit to the Bhutanese Hand Made Paper factory, Changangkha Monastery, Post & Telegraph Office for view of Bhutanese stamps, Takkin (national animal) Preservation Center & Buddha Point for view of Thimphu valley. Later visit Tashichhodzong, the central Secretariat building that also houses the office and throne room of the King; followed by a shopping time in town. Dinner & overnight at Hotel Jumolhari or similar Day 09: Drive to Phuentsholing - Early breakfast and transfer to Phuentsholing; Enroute visit Kharbandi Lhakhang - Lunch stop at a local restaurant; Evening sightseeing with a visit local town and Zangtopelri Monastery - Dinner & overnight Hotel Orchid or similar Day 10: Drive to Kalimpong - Following early breakfast, transfer to India after completing check-out formalities at Bhutan Immigration. Bid farewell to Bhutanese guide and driver. Note: Our guide and driver from Darjeeling will report to the clients one day earlier (on day 09 evening) at their hotel in Phuentsholing – the border town of Bhutan, so that he can brief the clients about the next day’s program. After completion of immigration formalities at the Indian Checkpost, Jaigoan, transfer to Kalimpong (180 kms, 6 hrs drive). Today you will be driving through the sub-himalayan parts in the Eastern India, which presents a large range of foothill forests, famous tea gardens, transparent rivers interspersed with quiet villages and small townships of vibrant culture before arriving Kalimpong. Once a gateway to the old Tibet trade route, Kalimpong still offers the charm of old British Raj. The sightseeing tour of Kalimpong includes visiting Zangdok Palri Phobrang Monastery, View point and later explore the inner town especially the Haat Bazar (local market). On the market days one can see traditionally dressed Lepcha and Gorkha rural folks selling their wares. Dinner & overnight at Hotel Kalimpong Park or similar Day 11: Drive to Gangtok (76 kms, 4 hrs drive) via Rumtek Monastery, the seat of HH Kamapa of Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Kalimpong (76 kms, 4 hrs drive). To-day one will immensely enjoy the driving alongside the Teesta River with its blue green water rushing over boulders which is another image not to be forgotten. Dinner & overnight at Hotel Sonam Delek or similar. Day 12: Sightseeing Tour AM: The sightseeing tour of Gangtok includes - Namgyel Institute of Tibetology, Directorate of Handicrafts, Enchey Monastery, Du Drul Chorten, View points (which offers magnificent views of the Himalayas on a clear day) and the Flower Show. Dinner & overnight at Hotel Sonam Delek or similar. Day 13: Drive to Darjeeling After breakfast transfer to Darjeeling (110 kms, 5 hrs ) through the rich farm land of Sikkim and tea gardens of Darjeeling. Evening at leisure. Dinner & overnight at The Viceroy hotel or similar. Day 14: Sightseeing Tour Early morning excursion to Tiger Hill (11 km) to view the sunrise over Mt.Kunchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. En route visit Yigacholing Ghoom Monastery. Later sightseeing tour of Darjeeling includes, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Zoological Park, Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center and the nearest tea garden to witness the orthodox manufacturing process of Darjeeling tea. Toy train ride from Darjeeling-Ghoom-Darjeeling (optional and on extra payment - USD 10 per person approx.). Dinner & overnight at The Viceroy hotel or similar. Day 15: Drive to Bagdogra Airport to connect your onward flight back home.