Highlights of Bhutan

Perched high in the Himalayas, the Land of the Thunder Dragon elicits visions of secret kingdoms and mysterious legends. Shadowed by snow-capped Himalayan peaks which shelter a rich, proud Buddhist culture, you visit ancient fortresses and temples and remote villages. Learn about traditional medicine and folk arts, local markets and the ornate and spectacularly-located temples and monasteries. To experience the festival of Jhambay Lakhang is truly inspiring. Trek to the Tiger’s Nest, visit the Phobjikha and Haa Valleys. This is truly a once in a lifetime experience.

This morning arrive in Paro, your gateway to Bhutan. After passing through customs, meet your local guide and Western tour leader and transfer to the capital of Thimpu. Here, discover Memorial chorten on a fascinating walking tour and wander the weekend markets. Thimpu is also home to the National Library, which contains the world’s largest book. Explore the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, and the Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums, before a visit to the spectacular Tashi Cho dzong, the town’s imposing fortress. Hotel: Wangchuk Resort or similar

The stunning drive to Punakha crosses the spectacular Dochu La pass, and allows time to stop in some of the traditional villages en route, to observe the daily lives of the locals living at these high altitudes. In Punakha, enjoy an orientation walk around the former capital. Stop at Punakha Dzong, widely considered Bhutan’s most beautiful fort, and the Divine Mad Man’s Temple. Crossing into Eastern Bhutan by road, traverse the picturesque Pele La, with a stop at Wangdue Phodrang.
Hotels: Meriphunsum Resort or similar, Yangkhil Resort or similar

Depart for the beautiful Jakhar Valley and travel on to Bumthang. After crossing the Yotong La, the second highest pass you will cross in Bhutan, visit local households and see the lovely weaving for which this area is renowned. Our itinerary is timed to arrive for the Jhambay Lakhang festival, one of Bhutan’s most important, which enlivens Bumthang with its vibrant colors and atmosphere. Enjoy this wonderful festival both during the day, and at night, when the famous ‘naked’ dance takes place. Travel into the picturesque Phobjikha Valley, as you enjoy a scenic drive to Gangtey. Take the time to enjoy the exquisite natural beauty of this untouched valley as you visit the only monastery of the Nyingmapa sect in western Bhutan before following one of the nature trails. The valley is famed for the sacred black-necked cranes that spend the winter there, and you can stop at a center devoted to these graceful and endangered birds. Hotels: Swiss Guest House or similar, Dewachen or similar

DAYS 10-12 – PARO
Drive to Paro, stopping for a delicious lunch in Thimpu,visit the Paro Rinpung dzong and National Museum. Next day, those able to climb will trek to the celebrated Tiger’s Nest goemba or Taktshang, one of Bhutan’s best known attractions. The trek is around 2 hours uphill, but fantastic views of the monastery can be seen from halfway, and for those not wishing to undertake the trek, monastery touring can be arranged. After a full day of activity you may want to indulge in the traditional hot stone bath treatment, a very soothing experience. Only recently opened to tourists, the gorgeous Haa valley is full of untouched beauty. Sitting on an ancient Tibetan trade route, this valley holds fine traditional villages and some special temples and historic settlements. Hotel: Gangtey Palace or similar

Day 13 – Depart Paro
Transfer to the airport for your departure flight.

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