Highlights of Bhutan Tailormade Holiday
10 day holiday from - £1,955 per person based on 2 adults in twin/double rooms. Excluding international flights to Paro.
Return to Bhutan Holidays
- The hike to the sacred Tiger’s Nest Monastery with its spectacular location
- The beautiful valleys and mountainous landscapes of Bhutan
- The opportunity to observe the enduring traditional lifestyle and rituals of the local people.
- Stunning Bhutanese architecture, in particular the imposing Dzongs of Punakha and Paro
Suggested Highlights of Bhutan Tailormade Holiday Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrive Paro (Bhutan) – Thimphu (Driving time around 1 hour)
Arrive at Paro International Airport which is situated in a beautiful valley at 2280 metres and is a fitting introduction to this charming kingdom. Meet the guide and drive along the Paro and Thimphu river valleys to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital. Stop en route to take in the magnificent Tamchhog Lhakhang, the hereditary place of worship for Thangtong Gyalpo, who organised the building of Bhutan’s iron bridges. 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. Also visit the archery ground where local teams demonstrate amazing skill with bow and arrow as they practice the national sport of Bhutan [weekends only]. Overnight Norbuling Hotel (D)
Although Bhutan’s capital has developed over recent years and now exhibits many of the recognisable features of other cities, it still retains many of its traditional sites and attractions. While there are now vehicles, bars and restaurants, you will still mingle with local people in traditional dress and crimson clad monks, lending an enduring charm.
Day 2 - Thimphu
If today coincides with the weekend then visit the bustling and atmospheric market. If you are in Thimphu on a weekday then it is possible to visit some of the museums in town depending on your interests. Continue to the revered Memorial Chorten and the Changangkha temple. Perched on the hilltop overlooking the town, devotees flock to the temple throughout the day to turn the prayer wheels. It also contains beautiful wall paintings and hundreds of religious scriptures written in gold. We also take an easy stroll along the side of the valley through beautiful pine forest and enjoy glimpses of the valley below. This afternoon, take in more of the sights and culture of the capital with the option of a trip to Simtokha Dzong which is one of the oldest fortresses in Bhutan dating from 1629. In the centre of town there are many handicraft stalls all displaying products that are entirely made in Bhutan. Overnight Norbuling Hotel (BLD)
Walking guide – The walk today along the side of the valley should take around 1.5 hours maximum and is an easy stroll along a well-marked trail.
Day 3 - Thimphu – Punakha via Dochu La (Driving time 3 hours)
Today enjoy a scenic drive of approximately 3 hours to the old capital, Punakha, via the Dochu La pass at 3050 metres, where on a clear day you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the Eastern Himalaya ranges including peaks well over 7000m. Then descend through cool forest. You will notice the change of climate and vegetation as we approach low lying Punakha at 1250 metres situated in a fertile valley. Take a pleasant walk of 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). This afternoon, visit the impressive Punakha Dzong, “Palace of Great Happiness”; built in 1637, and strategically placed at the confluence of two rivers, the Po Chu and the Mo Chu. Close to the Dzong there is a spectacular suspension footbridge that crosses the Po Chu and it is well worth taking the short detour to cross it for the thrill and the excellent views of the river. Overnight at Hotel Lobesa (BLD)
Walking guide - The walk to the Temple of Fertility should take around 1.5 hours there and back and is an easy walk but the last approach to the temple is uphill with some steps (not steep).
Day 4 – Punakha Valley
After breakfast visit Chorten Ningpo, dating from the 17th century. The Chorten is a little-known spot with a magnificent statue of Maitreya (the future Buddha) and images of the great lamas of the Drukpa lineage. This magical spot was once a dense forest inhabited by evil spirits. The magnificent great oak tree outside the monastery is said to have grown out of the blazing log that the ‘Divine Madman’ threw (the tree’s bark is still black from where it was burnt). In 2005 the monastery began to house orphans from the nearby village, and founding a small Buddhist educational institution where the children can study traditional Buddhist scriptures and texts as well as Western subjects. Then you can take a hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten via the village of Yebisa. The walk starts from the suspension bridge below Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten. Hike at a gentle pace for around 10 minutes from the bridge through the paddy rice fields of Yebisa village. Then continue the hike for around 40 to 50 minutes up to the temple. The walk is still fairly gentle but there are some steeper parts. From the top you will see a beautiful view of the valley and surrounding villages. The temple is 30 metres tall and is dedicated to the fifth King. After visiting the temple descend for around 30 minutes until you reach the suspension bridge where you will be picked up by the vehicle. The rest of the afternoon will be at leisure. Overnight Hotel Lobesa (BLD)
Note – rafting is an optional extra this morning instead of visit to Chorten Ningpo. Rafting on the Mo Chu (Mother River) is a low grade of difficulty with some gentle rapids. The majority of the ride down the valley is nice and calm with opportunities to soak up the views and watch the many species of birds playing on the riverbanks. At the end of the 1.5 hour rafting you will cruise past the impressive Punakha Dzong. A unique perspective of this historic building. Please let us know at the time of booking if you wish to do the rafting. Lifejackets and helmets will be provided. You may get wet so wear appropriate clothing.
Day 5 – Punakha – Phobjikha Valley – Gangtey
After a leisurely breakfast we drive for 3 hours through beautiful scenery to the stunning Phobjikha valley. On arrival in Gangtey, visit Gangtey Gompa, one of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries which has recently been restored, and explore the valley where the villagers live a traditional Bhutanese rural lifestyle. This stunning valley is the area where Black-Necked Cranes visit in their hundreds in November each year after spending the summer in Tibet. They usually remain in the valley until late February or early March. Overnight Dewachen Hotel (BLD)
Day 6 – Phobjikha Valley
Today is an opportunity to truly enjoy the clear air and magnificent sweeping views of this valley on a scenic walk. Start the walk from your hotel and walk from here to the Black-Necked Crane Information Centre, which has lots of information on the valley and its famous migrating birds. From here walk to Beta Village, then continue to Gangtey Gompa from where we take the Gangtey Nature Trail, past Semchubara village, through forests of blue pine trees covered with lichen (known as old man’s beard, an indicator of the pristine environment) and where you can hopefully see some nice birds. Continue on from the end of the nature trail to Kingathang village where you can visit a temple built by the Queen Mother. From Kingathang, you can walk via Yusa village back to your hotel. Overnight Dewachen Hotel (BLD)
Walking guide – The walk today is around 12 to 13 Km in length and expect to take around 6 hours with stops. The grade is quite easy walking in the valley with spectacular views. Shorter walks are available.
Day 7 – Gangtey – Paro via Wangdi
This morning drive to Paro briefly stopping at Wangdi on the way. Magnificent Wangdi Dzong was gutted by fire in 2012 and is currently being restored so we cannot guarantee it will be open as we pass through as the date of reopening is uncertain. On arrival in Paro there will be time to go for a short walk in the valley or explore the town and the many handicraft shops. Overnight Gangtey Palace (BLD)
Day 8 - Paro
This morning you visit the impressive Paro Rinpung Dzong, one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. You also visit the National Museum which was previously housed in the Ta Dzong (watch tower), built on top of the hill above Rinpung Dzong to defend it 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, although it is still possible to 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 the near future. Nearby you can also visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, a temple of historical significance and one of the most sacred shrines in Bhutan. There may be time to also visit the archery ground to watch local people taking part in the national sport [weekends only]. Overnight Gangtey Palace (BLD)
Hiking Option – It is possible to start your adventure to Tiger’s Nest Monastery today by taking an exciting hike out of Paro and spending an adventurous overnight in a fixed camp and then unlike most visitors actually descend to the Tigers Nest Monastery the next day. Please contact us if you wish to explore this option.
Day 9 - The Tiger’s Nest Monastery
This morning embark on the amazing hike to the ‘Tiger's Nest’, the sacred Taktshang monastery which clings impossibly to the rock face 900 metres above the valley floor. It is the birthplace of Buddhism in Bhutan and Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown to the site riding on a tigress and 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 there is a spectacular view of the monastery. On the way back you may be interested to visit Dumtse Lhakhang, a temple built by Thangtong Gyalpo, who was responsible for building many of the iron bridges in Bhutan. Overnight Gangtey Palace (BLD)
Walking guide - The ascent to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery is very steep in parts and you should be sure that your level of fitness will allow you to make the hike. It is possible to rent a stick at the start of the hike. Expect the entire hike with stops including at the cafeteria to last 6 hours at a leisurely pace with plenty of time to stop and take in the views. The maximum altitude is around 3000m and the elevation gain is around 600m from the start of the walk.
Day 10 – Depart Bhutan
Early this morning your guide will accompany you to the airport and wish you Tashi Delek (Goodbye and Good Luck). (B)