13 Nights | 14 Days
Ideal for those who want to discover the true Bhutan, this ultimate cultural tour explores the cultural valleys of the west, spiritual central Bhutan & the rugged east. Journey to Bhutan traverses incredible landscapes of high mountain passes with incredible Himalayan views, mixed forests, beautiful countryside and Alpine meadows rich with diverse flora and fauna. Beginning in the gentle valley of Paro, home to the infamous Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest), you will visit ancient fortresses, sacred monasteries, remote temples, farm houses, palaces and monastic schools across the country to the eastern border town of Samdrup Jongkhar. This is a special and unique tour is designed for the enthusiastic traveler with a longer holiday program in mind and a desire to discover the true Bhutan.
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth. Our representative will meet you at Paro airport exit doors following customs formalities. After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum housing many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical, cultural, and religious past. Next, visit the Rimpong Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa. Dzong’s are large monasteries and district administrative centres, which were once strategic forts.
Before dinner at the hotel there will be an orientation on Bhutanese etiquette by your guide. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The walk of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometre above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to cafeteria). The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is an important pilgrim site for Buddhists. The great Guru Rimpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. Afterwards drive to the ruins of the 17th Century Drukgyel Dzong, and 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
Enjoy a day trip to the Haa Valley, one of the most picturesque districts in Bhutan. Reached via the beautiful Chelila Pass(3900m), Haa Valley is characterised by its surrounding rugged and mountainous terrain and unique architecture. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
Drive to the capital, Thimphu (1.5 hours). Once a rustic village sitting in a broad river valley, Thimphu is today the nation’s capital. Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, completed by the Royal Queen Mother as a memorial stupa for the Third King. Continue on to 12th century Changangkha Temple and the Zilukha Nunnery. If your visit coincides with the weekend, you can walk through the Thimphu Market. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Continue sightseeing in Thimphu. Visit the School for Arts and Crafts, The National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century, the Traditional Paper Factory and a fascinating replica of a medieval farmhouse at the Folk Heritage Museum. If there is time, you may visit the nursing pen for the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan, and Tashichhodzong, ‘the fortress of the glorious religion’ housing some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body. Other options for the day include a hike to Tango and Cheri Monasteries (45 mins), two of the most ancient monasteries in the Thimphu region. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Drive over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters), which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into the Punakha valley (3 hrs). In the Dochu-La area there are vast Rhododendron forests that grow to tree size and bloom in late April/early May covering the mountains in a riot of glorious spring color. Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. On arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. After lunch, enjoy a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of Drukpa Kuenly. He inherited the Divine Madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism in his time. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha/ Wangdue.
Transfer to Phobjikha Valley (3 hrs) via the bustling market town of Wangduephodrang. Drive up a winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forests, and over a high pass down into the picturesque Phobjikha Valley. Phobjikha is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black necked cranes (November – March) migrating from the Tibetan plateau. After lunch visit the Phobjikha Sanctuary to view the majestic black necked cranes (Nov-Mar only) and Gangtey Gompa (Monastery), dating back to the 16th century. Overnight at your hotel in Phobjikha.
Depart over the Pele La pass (3,420m) on the Black Mountain range towards Trongsa. Enroute visit the beautiful 18th century Chendebji Chorten. Trongsa is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s ruling dynasty. Visit Trongsa Dzong, the largest Dzong in Bhutan and the Ta Dzong museum housing a collection of historical artefacts of the Royal Family. Overnight at your hotel in Trongsa.
After breakfast proceed towards Bumthang (2.5 hrs), the spiritual heart of the kingdom. Bumthang is home to some of Bhutan’s oldest Palaces, Buddhist temples and monasteries. On arrival, visit Jakar Dzong (Dzong of the White Bird) and 16th century Tamshing Lhakhang containing ancient Buddhist wall paintings. After lunch visit Kurje Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom and 7th Century Jambay Lhakhang. Overnight at your lodge in Jakar, Bumthang.
The journey to Mongar takes about 6 hours with spectacular views en route. Drive through Ura village before climbing sharply to the highest point on Bhutan’s road network, Thrumsing-La Pass (4,000m). From here, the road gradually passes through picturesque alpine valleys, pine forests, maize fields and hamlets to reach Mongar town. Visit Mongar Dzong, built in the 1930’s using the traditional process without either plans or the use of nails. Overnight at your lodge in Mongar.
Drive to Trashigang (3 hrs) through leafy forests filled with ferns and over Kori-La Pass (2,450m) before descending through cornfields and banana groves to reach the famous road zigzag just below Yadi. Trashigang is the main township of the largest district in the country. After lunch visit Trashigang Dzong. Overnight at your lodge in Trashigang.
Visit the temple of Gom Kora and Doksum Village where you can see women busily weaving traditional Bhutanese fabric before reaching Tashiyangtse, the administrative centre for this district. The area is famous for its unique wooden crafts. Visit the Tashiyangtse Dzong, and the dazzling white stupa of Chorten Kora and the nearby institute for Zorig Chusum, where student are trained in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts. Overnight at your lodge in Trashigang.
After breakfast drive to Samdrup Jongkhar, the gateway to eastern Bhutan and to Assam, India. It is about 9 hours drive from Trashigang with many beautiful villages and landscapes on the way. Overnight at your hotel in Samdrup Jongkhar.
After breakfast, your guide will arrange an Indian vehicle your transfer to Guwahati, the capital town of the Indian north-eastern state of Assam, for your onward flight.