Its breathtaking beauty, unpolluted air, undisturbed nature and tranquility make Bhutan an ideal place to visit. This moderate touring trip provides a wide, nearly comprehensive overview of the Kingdom and incorporates visit from the Western (contemporary) to Eastern (eccentric) part of Bhutan. From the modernizing center of Paro, fly to Tashigang "The Jewel of the East", which spans the easternmost corners of the kingdom, skirting up to the edge of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. It is the country’s largest district. Onwards to Lhuntshi, the ancestral home of our Kings and also hosts several of the sacred sites of pilgrimage. From the sacred temples of Paro, through the birthplace of the Monarchy at Trongsa and then into the spiritual sanctuary of Bumthang. You will experience wide-ranging social, cultural and ecological aspects of the landscape: taking invigorating hikes through distant village settlements through a village called as Khoma village (famous for weaving). The textile products of Khoma village in Lhuntse are stated to be the best in the country. The weaving handicraft looms are common sight in almost every household along with the rich untainted surrounding countryside; visiting some of the most venerable monasteries; and a fascinating and unpretentious fusion of high culture and everyday community life.
We recommend that you depart your home city at least two days before the start of your trip.
If opting for Bangkok or any other flight sectors, we would suggest an overnight in Bangkok en route and way back, if your schedule permits, you may opt for an additional night or two in Bangkok to recuperate from your long trip out Bhutan.
Today, you will depart to Bhutan aboard Druk Air/Bhutan Airlines. As we near Bhutan (and if the weather is clear), we can see the massive peaks of the eastern Himalayas, including Kanchenchunga (third highest mountain in the world) and Bhutan's holy mountain, Chomolhari.
After arriving in the Paro and completing visa formalities, you will be met by your guide and driver outside the Airport. Our first stop after lunch will be the impressive Ta Dzong - the ancient watchtower above the Paro Dzong, which now houses the National Museum. The museum has an interesting assortment of costumes from the different regions of Bhutan along with a wonderful collection of painted and appliquéd thangkas (scroll). We will have the opportunity to stroll in downtown Paro this afternoon. We will also visit the Oldest 7th Century Kyichu Monastery before returning to our hotel for a welcome dinner and a brief orientation session of the trip by your guide.
Fly to Yonphula Airport which is a comparatively new entrance to Eastern Bhutan. The road to the town of Trashigang journeys through villages, giving us our first real glimpse of traditional life and architecture in rural Bhutan. Also along the way, in the town of Kanglung, is Sherubtse College, the region's premiere higher education institution and part of the Royal University of Bhutan system. Trashigang has a mild climate, a relaxed atmosphere, and an interesting mix of people. It's a thriving community dependent on farming and rural activities.
Day excursion Radhi is located some 30 km/19mi east of Trashigang Dzongkhag on a north facing slope. It is partly a dry Chirpine belt in its lower part and the upper part is covered with a cool broadleaf forest. It is drained mainly by two small rivers systems, namely Chongdiri in the east and Yudiri in the west. The Gewog is surrounded by the pastoral dominated Gewog of Merak in the south-east and mixed pastoral and arable farming in the Phongmey and Shongphu Gewogs in the east and west respectively. The small commercial town of Rangjung is in the south-west of the Gewog. It is famous for its rice and Radhi-Buray textiles. The main agricultural crops that are grown by people of Radhi are paddy, maize, soybean, potatoes and vegetables, which are mostly used for household consumption except for rice which is mostly sold.
The gewog has total number of 8 Lhakhangs and a Nunnery Institution. 6 of them are public owned and 2 of them are owned by private Kuenzang Theckcho Choden Nunnery Institute was established by Dungzin Garab Rinpoche in the year 1991. It is located at Khardung village under Radhi Gewog. Presently the institute has approx. 125 nuns, 2 Khenpos, 4 teachers and a Lama making offerings and residing in the institute. They make offering and perform rituals for the well-being of the people and sustaining harmony, peace and prosperity in the country and the King. Namdrol Choling Lhakhang was established in the year 1908 by the initiative of Dronyer Ugyen Dorji and labour contribution from the people of Tshangkhar and Bongman villages. Before the Lhakhang is benefiting two villages but now the Lhakhang is spiritually benefiting seven villages via Tshangkhar, Melongkhar, Bongman, Chema, Radhi Pangthang, Dekiling and Langteng. They perform different celebrations and ceremonies on special occasions in this Lhakhang, by contributing labour and financial assistance from the people of the benefited villages.
Lhuntse (1,815m/5,955ft) Drive to Lhuntse for almost 5hours, the ancestral home of Bhutan’s monarchs and one of the most isolated districts in the kingdom, a realm of impressive forested mountains that dive into deep, winding valleys. The district holds several of the country’s sacred pilgrimage sites. The Lhuntse District is most famed for its weavers, whose unique textiles are widely considered the best in Bhutan. Looms are a common sight in almost every household. The local Kurtop women are especially adept at weaving a textile called “Kushithara”, which can take about a year to weave.
Visit to Taki La, there is a 47m/154ft tall statue of Guru Rinpoche in the form of Guru Nangsa Zelnen. The statue is said to be the tallest Guru statue in the world. If time permits, visit Dungkhar, a small village that is the birthplace of the monarchy of Bhutan, we visit the manor house in which the royal ancestors were born and may meet its caretaker.
Mongar (1,700m / 5,580ft) Drive to Mongar will be approx. 3 and half hours. The district is developing more rapidly than other parts of eastern Bhutan. It has a hospital (second biggest in country), a hydroelectric power plant namely Kuri Chu and the hub of the Eastern regions. While maize and rice are grown abundantly, citrus fruits and vegetables, dairy and poultry products are increasingly becoming important sources of cash income.
Bumthang (2,600m/8,530ft) Driving from Bumthang via Thrumshing La (3,750m/12,303ft), the second highest pass in Bhutan and winding through woods and fields to reach the Bumthang.
Upon arrival there, we will enjoy a walking tour of the Bumthang Valley, noted as one of the most beautiful and sacred in Bhutan. This valley has a history hallowed by the frequent visits of Guru Rinpoche – the Patron saint of Bhutan when he was bringing the Buddha's message to Bhutan. He meditated in many local caves which now have temples and shrines associated with them. The valley is wide, filled with fields and villagers busy with their day's work. We visit the Jambay Lhakhang (Lhakhang means temple), along with Kyichu Lhakhang in the Paro Valley, is one of the two oldest temples in Bhutan. It was built circa 750 by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet as a part of his pledge to build 108 temples to the Buddha during his lifetime. One of the most holy of Bhutan's religious sites, we will have the special permission necessary to visit this sacred temple. We continue to Kurjey, a 17th century temple next to which a spectacular new monastery is being built in traditional style. From Kurjey, we begin our walk through the countryside, crossing a bridge over the rushing Chamkhar Chu (river) and through ripening paddy fields to Tamshing. This temple complex was founded in 1501 by one of Bhutan’s most famous saints, Pema Lingpa - the treasure discoverer. It is a monastery with many young monks in training. We continue past Tamshing and end our walk with a visit to the Swiss Project -- an industrious complex that produces cheese, beer, apple juice and honey!
Next day, excursion to Tang valley. This road climbs past the trail to Membartsho and the Pema Choeling Nunnery, a large nunnery where about 100+ anim (nuns) complete 12 years of study. The road then climbs high above the river, crossing the bridge at Pangshing and then passing Gemshong, a picturesque village and Monastery perched on a ridge. Onwards to visit the Ogyen Choling Heritage House started operation in 2016. The Ogyen Choling manor built in 1898, is a historic, cultural site, with its origin going back to the 14th Century. The central tower of the manor was converted to become the first private museum in Bhutan. The Ogyen Choling Heritage House is an ideal place for guests interested in the history and culture of Bhutan, guests who appreciate the special setting with the calming spiritual ambiance and the solitude off the beaten track.
Thimphu (2,400m / 7,740ft) Drive to Airport & board domestic flight to Paro. Upon arrival, drive for an hour to Thimphu, the capital city, upon arrival visit the Memorial Chorten. The Royal Grand Mother Ashi Phuntsho Choden built this Chorten in 1974 in memory of the 3rd King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who died in 1972. You will find Bhutanese from all walks of life circumambulating the stupa for merit and for liberating sentient beings from suffering.
After lunch we continue our sightseeing, we drive to the viewpoint of Thimphu from where you can get an excellent panoramic view of the city. On your way back check at the small zoo in the pine trees to spot some Takins, The national animal of Bhutan. Our next stop is a trip to the Buddha Point. The Buddha Dordenma is seated amidst the ruins of Kuensel Phodrang, the palace of Sherab Wangchuk, the thirteenth Desi Druk, overlooking the southern approach to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. It is the largest seated Buddha stupa in the world, at a height of 52m/169ft. The other highlights are the textile museum, we will also take you to the local weavers place to show and demonstrate the process of their weaving skills along with the indigenous Bhutanese craft bazaar & the handicrafts emporium run by the National Women’s Association of Bhutan (NWAB). Takin “National Animal” enclosure, the weekend farmers market and the traditional paper making “Desho” factory.
Free time in the evening to stroll around the town and souvenir shopping.
After early breakfast, drive to Paro for an hour and half, we embark on our hike to Takstang-The Tiger's Nest. This serene monastery clings to a steep granite cliff about 800 m/2,624ft above the valley floor. Legend has it that the Guru Rinpoche flew to this rocky cave in the 8th century to meditate. He flew here on the back of a tigress hence the name. Being one of the most revered pilgrim sites, many thousands of pilgrims come here every year, some walking for a month to reach here. The surrounding area has many temples, monasteries and cells where many monks, nuns and lay people can mediate-some even for a lifetime Although we are not allowed inside the monastery we can hike up to the view point, where a cafeteria is situated. From here you can get a most spectacular and breath-taking view of Takstang. It takes about 2 and half hours to get up there and about 2 hours to return down (approx.).
We will depart this morning to catch your flights home, filled with a lifetime of memories.
Our clients love us! Here's what a few of them have to say about their visit to Bhutan with Yangphel.
How can I describe my Wandering the World tour to Bhutan? Before I left, I was in anticipation of a wonderful trip with the promise of amazing mountain scenery, fascinating Buddhist culture, an invigorating trek through the stunning forests of central Bhutan and visiting remote villages. Marketed as the last Shrangri-la and famous for the idealism of Gross National Happiness, Bhutan had a lot to live up to. And now back home, I am left with so many emotional and spiritual memories that, thankfully still refuse to disappear. Golden Box moments galore, such as listening to guide Jigme singing haunting folk songs from the front of our minibus as we meandered the winding roads on our journey. And guide Kesang, sharing Buddhist legend and folk tales creating a colourful patchwork of the tiny nation who love their King, respect their government and live life with simplicity, honour, and respect for others. Our trekking days concluded in marvellous evenings which started with the Ara ceremony, culminating in the rhythmic singing of ancient songs and dancing with our village hosts. Simultaneously grinning and tearing up as the emotion of the moment became infused in my whole body. A team of guides and helpers made sure that every minute detail was seamlessly taken care of, right down to a hot cup of tea - referred to as bed tea - on waking each morning and our evening hot water bottles around the open fire. Our gorgeous guides cared for us, and cared about us. They are perfect examples of Gross National Happiness in Shrangri-la. Thank-you Jane and Glenyce for making my dream trip one to top all others! Grace travelled to Bhutan with wonderingtheworld.com.au and Yangphel Adventure Travel