BHUTAN: Beautiful Bhutan - Cultural & Textile Tour - 14 days.
October - November 2020
Tour Grading MODERATE: Suitable for travellers with an average level of fitness and mobility
Tour Commences In: Paro
Number of Days: 14 days / 13 nights
Accommodation: 4 & 3+ Modern & Boutique Hotels
Leaders: Australian Tour Manager and professional expert guide
Tour Concludes In: Paro
Tour Style: Luxury / Deluxe Escorted Small Group Tour
Meals: Breakfasts; 14: Lunches; 6: Dinners; 8:
Transportation: Luxury / Deluxe private chauffeur driven air-conditioned vehicles
Join us and immerse yourself in the serenity that is Bhutan. Bhutan is landlocked by the mighty Himalayan peaks and this has undoubtable been a reason why this country has been protected from external influences for such a long time, and as a result, the Bhutanese traditional way of life has survived largely intact.
On our journey we experience every facet of this incredible country. Live in their culture and understand their claim on being the happiest country in the world. It is a Buddhist Kingdom trying to stay true to itself and preserving its’ unique lifestyle. Discover Bhutan's magnificent scenery, it’s stunning vistas, their amazing monastery’s and their unique traditions, but it is the people that make our tour so special.
Thimphu the capital of one of the world's most intriguing destinations, is the most modern city in Bhutan, however it still retains its’ cultural identity and values amidst the signs of modernization.
The beautiful Punakha valley has two major rivers in Bhutan the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu that converge in this valley. The famous Punakha Dzong is built at the confluence of these two rivers and is an especially beautiful sight on sunny days with sunlight reflecting off the water onto its white-washed walls. In addition to its structural beauty, Punakha Dzong is notable for containing the preserved remains of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the unifer of Bhutan as well as a sacred relic known as the Ranjung Karsapani. It is now more famous for On October 13, 2011, the wedding of the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, and his fiancé, Jetsun Pema, was held at the Punakha Dzong.
Situated in central Bhutan, Trongsa was once the seat of power over central and eastern regions. Both the first and second kings of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancient seat. The Trongsa dzong, sits high above the roaring Mangde Chhu, is perhaps the most spectacularly sited dzong in Bhutan, with a sheer drop to the south that often just disappears into cloud and mist.
Bumthang region is the religious heartland of the nation and is home to some of its oldest Buddhist temples and monasteries. According to legend Jambey Lhakhang ancient temple was built by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in 659 A.D. as part of a chain of 108 simultaneously constructed temples in order to subdue an evil demoness that lay over the Himalayan region.
The valley of Gangtey or Phobjikha is one of the most beautiful places in Bhutan. It is a bowl-shaped glacial valley on the western slopes of the Black Mountains, bordering the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. Because of the large flock of black-necked cranes that winters here, it is one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country.
Paro valley is one of the widest valleys in the kingdom and is covered in fertile rice fields and has a beautiful, crystalline river meandering down the valley. Paro is famous for its temples and monasteries but by far the most iconic landmark in Bhutan is the Taktsang Monastery, the Tiger’s Nest. This awe-inspiring temple was constructed upon a sheer cliff face, hundreds of meters above forests of oak and rhododendrons and the valley floor.
Join us as a solo traveller, couple, or a group and share our passion of the "Land of the Thunder Dragon" it truly is an enriching and unique experience.
- National Museum (fortfied tower of Ta Dzong) Watch Tower of Paro Rinpung Dzong.
- Kyichu Temple (Buddhist TempleTiger Nest Monastery ("TAKTSANG" Monastery)
- Drugyal Dzong Ancient Ruins
- Taktsan retreat 9th & 7th century
• Entrance Fees to all the amazing “Must See” Boutique Special Highlights Unique cultural experiences
• Visits to numerous World Heritage-listed sites
• Exclusive and private International airport arrival and departure transfers for the first and last day of the tour for all tour guests
• Centrally located 5 & 4/3 star modern & boutique Hotels as per your choice
• Hotel porterage (1 bag per person)
• Meals as indicated in Itinerary; B = Breakfast: L=Lunch: D=Dinner:
• Chauffeur driven luxury air-conditioned private luxury/deluxe vehicles for all transfers & sightseeing
• Fully escorted by our passionate experienced professional tour guide
• Bottled water included whilst touring in vehicle
An exclusive BT&T information travel booklet
DAY 1: Sunday 2020: Arrive Paro – Thimphu:
DAY 2: Monday 2020: Thimphu:
DAY 3: Tuesday 2020: Thimphu:
DAY 4: Wednesday 2020: Punakha
DAY 5: Thursday 2020: Punakha
DAY 6: Friday 2020: Trongsa
DAY 7: Saturday 2020: Bumthang
DAY 8: Sunday 2020: Bumthang
DAY 9: Monday 2020: Gangtey
DAY 10: Tuesday 2020: Gangtey
DAY 11: Wednesday 2020: Paro
DAY 12: Thursday 2020: Paro
DAY 13: Friday 2020: Paro
DAY 14: Saturday 2020: Depart Paro
• Ancient Ruin of Drukgyel Dzong (2012)
• Sacred Sites associated with Phajo Drugom Zhigpo and his descendants (2012)
• Tamzhing Monastery (2012)
DAY 1: Sunday : Arrive Paro – Thimphu: (L/D)
Arrive at Paro International Airport from Bangkok. Paro is situated in a beautiful valley (2280 metres above sea level) and is a fitting introduction to this charming kingdom. Our guide will meet us and we then have a one-hour drive along the Paro and Thimphu river valleys to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital. (2320 m). We can stop on the way to take in the magnificent Tamchhog Lhakhang, the hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s iron bridge builder. On arrival we will check in to our hotel enjoy lunch there maybe time to browse the bustling weekly Centenary Farmers’ Marke. A visit to the market provides great photo opportunities, as well as the chance to mingle with local people. Our guide will discuss the foods on offer at the market and browse the fragrant incense stalls. Explore the wonderful craft market on the west bank of the river – where you can find prayer flags, prayer wheels, beautiful textiles and jewellery. Soak in the atmosphere of this magical capital with its busy shops and bazaars and photogenic citizens in national dress..
DAY 2: Monday : Thimphu: (B/L/D)
Today we will introduce you to all of Bhutan’s traditional crafts. In the morning we will visit the School of Traditional Arts where students are taught the 13 traditional arts, including painting, embroidery, woodcarving, mask-making and statue-making. You are welcome to watch the students at work. We will then visit the National Textile museum to browse the striking collection of intricate textiles and watch a short film introducing the various styles, designs and techniques. We continue on and visit the Folk Heritage Museum to see a traditional Bhutanese farmhouse and how some of the traditional crafts were put to use. Later we will explore the modern day practice of traditional crafts with a visit the local Weaving Centre where you can watch women weaving intricate fabric for the traditional Bhutanese dress of gho (for men) and kira (for women). Browse through their pleasant showroom, which displays the finished articles. If you are interested there is a local incense factory in the same area where you can watch how the herbs are mixed, ground, coloured and formed into incense sticks. We will then visit the Goldsmiths workshop where you can watch metalworking. The craftspeople here make sacred objects to decorate temples and Dzongs, such as the Serto (golden pinnacle), which you will see in the middle of the roof of all temples and Dzongs. They also make smaller objects used in religious rituals, jewellery and metal tools used by the Bhutanese people for everyday tasks. If there is time we will visit the Choki Traditional Art School in the village of Kabesa, 10km north of Thimphu, which trains disadvantaged young people in the traditional arts of painting, sculpture and carving.
DAY 3: Tuesday : Thimphu
Thimphu sightseeing. This morning we will see some of Bhutan’s traditional crafts in their traditional home – Bhutan’s temples and dzongs. We will visit Changangkha temple, perched on the hilltop overlooking the town. Devotees flock throughout the day to circumambulate and turn the prayer wheels. The temple also contains beautiful wall paintings and hundreds of religious scriptures written in gold. We will then visit Simtokha Dzong, widely considered to be the first dzong built in Bhutan. The dzong contains a line of over 300 fine slate carvings depicting saints and philosophers and the dark murals inside the central temple are some of the oldest and most beautiful in Bhutan.
In the afternoon, we will visit the Jungshi Handmade Paper factory, which produces traditional Bhutanese paper from the daphne bush. You can watch the process of cooking and soaking the daphne bark before forming it into sheets of beautiful paper for pressing and drying. Again, a small showroom on site displays the finished articles, including sheets of paper, notebooks and beautiful paintings done on traditional paper. If you would like to view or buy Bhutanese handicrafts you may like to visit the new market opposite Taj Tashi hotel which has an array of stalls run by local handicraft shops selling purely home made articles with no imports.
In the later afternoon we will visit Tashicho Dzong, built in 1641, which housed the original National Assembly and is now home to Government offices, the throne room and offices of the King. The Dzong was renovated and enlarged in the 1960s by the royal architect in traditional fashion, without using nails or architectural plans, the utse (central tower) and its chapels are older.
DAY 4: Wednesday : Thimphu - Punakha:
Thimphu to Punakha. In the morning drive approximately 3 hours to the old capital, Punakha, via Dochu La pass at 3050 metres, where we will stop for a hot drink and enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the Eastern Himalaya ranges. We will stop at the Dochu La resort where the proprietor (a graduate of the School of Traditional Arts) makes thangkas and watch the students at work in their small studio. If you are lucky, you might see them making a thongdrel, the huge banner for temples and dzongs, which is unveiled on the last day of a festival. You may also like to visit the Rhododendron festival in the Lamperi Botanical Gardens. In the later afternoon continue 2 hours to Punakha. You will notice the change of climate and vegetation as we approach low-lying Punakha at 1250 metres.
DAY 5: Thursday ; Punakha
This morning take a pleasant walk for 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). Stop to admire the traditional fertility paintings on the walls of houses in the nearby village. In the afternoon visit the imposing Punakha Dzong, “Palace of Great Happiness”. Built in 1637, it is strategically placed at the confluence of two rivers, the Po Chu and the Mo Chu. You may be interested to view an exhibition of traditional Bhutanese cantilever bridges (known as bazams) in the tower of the Puna Mo Chu Bazam. If you are visiting the Dzong after 5 pm then you can also view the Kuenray, the coronation hall of all Bhutanese Kings since time immemorial.
DAY 6: Friday : Pinakha - Trongsa
Drive approximately 4.5 hours to Trongsa, the gateway to central Bhutan at 2180 metres. Set amidst spectacular scenery, Trongsa Dzong commands the eye from miles away. We will explore the rambling complex of the dzong with its many temples and then visit the Tower of Trongsa Museum in the nearby Ta Dzong, which focuses on the history of the Bhutanese monarchy and Buddhist art and features personal belongings of the Kings and Queens of Bhutan
DAY 7: Saturday : Trongsa - Bumthang
This morning we will drive for a further 2.5 hours through some of Bhutan’s most beautiful landscapes to Bumthang, the collective name for an area of 4 valleys - Chokhor, Tang, Ura and Chhume at 2580 to 3100 metres. We will stop on the way at Zungney village in Chhume. Here you can watch women weaving the traditional yathras, hand-woven wool strips with geometric patterns. These are used locally to produce blankets and bedcovers or are made into warm jackets for the cold winters. You might be interested to browse the local shops that sell the yathras directly from the makers. Bumthang is the spiritual heartland of Bhutan, with its many legendary monasteries, temples and palaces. After lunch in Jakar town, your guide will take you on a fascinating tour of a variety of sacred sites in the valley including Jamba Lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang and Tamshing Lhakhang. Later visit Bhutan’s largest Dzong (Jakar), with its picturesque location overlooking the Chokhor valley.
DAY 8: Sunday : Bumthang:
Drive to Tang valley, the most remote of Bumthang's valleys. The road climbs past the trail to Membar Tsho (the burning lake), which is one of Bhutan’s most important pilgrimage sites. Then on to Drangchel, Pema Lingpa's birthplace. You will also see some picturesque villages and temples and can walk up to visit Ugyenchholing Palace, which is now a museum and gives an interesting insight into life in an aristocratic family in the last century. Return to Bumthang for the night.
DAY 9: Monday : Bumthang - Gangtey
Drive approximately 5-6 hours to Gangtey at 2900 metres. Enjoy the views of the immense and remote Phobjikha valley and the black mountain ranges. Visit Gangtey Gompa, one of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries. This is the site where black-necked cranes visit in their hundreds in November each year after spending the summer in Tibet.
DAY 10: Tuesday : Gangtey
Today you can do a day walk around the Phobjikha Valley. You can start your walk at the Dewachen 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 you can walk to Beta Village where there is a small school, which you are welcome to visit if you are interested. Then continue your walk to Gangtey Gompa from where you can walk along the Gangtey Nature Trail, past Semchubara village, through forests of blue pine trees covered with lichen (known as old man’s beard) and where you can hopefully see some birds. Continue 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. Total distance 12 to 13 km (6 to 7 hrs).
DAY 11: Wednesday : Gangtey - Paro
This morning we will visit the small Wangmo hand-woven carpet factory, established by a local woman, which trains local girls in carpet making. We will then return to Paro, a drive of approximately 7 hours, via Wangdi. Wangdi (also known as Wangdue Phodrang) was originally considered Bhutan’s secondary capital and it commands an important central position. Sadly Wangdi Dzong was gutted by fire in June 2012, destroying in a few hours not only a magnificent building that had stood proudly for hundreds of years, but also the painstaking work that had been in progress for many months to rebuild recent earthquake damage using traditional construction methods. There is little now to see in Wangdi and after a brief stop for lunch continue on your way. You should see plenty of flowering rhododendrons, orchids and magnolia to enhance the drive.
DAY 12: Thursday : Paro:
This morning you can visit the impressive Paro Rinpung Dzong, one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. You can also visit the National Museum. This was previously housed in the Ta Dzong (watch tower) built on top of the hill above Rinpung Dzong to defend Rinpung Dzong 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. You can still 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 2017. Nearby you can also visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, a temple of historical significance and one of the most sacred shrines in Bhutan.
DAY 13: Friday : Paro:
Take a day walk to the ‘Tiger's Nest’, the sacred Taktshang monastery which clings to the rock face 900 metres above the valley floor. Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown to the site riding on a tigress. 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 you get a spectacular view of the monastery. On the way back you may be interested to visit a manor house turned museum in a local village. The house dates from the 17th Century and the museum is designed to showcase the culture of medieval rural Bhutan. Afterwards you may also have time to visit Dumtse Lhakhang, a temple built by Thangtong Gyalpo, the iron bridge builder.
DAY 14: Saturday : Depart Paro:
Early in the morning your guide will accompany you to the airport to see you off onto your flight and wish you Tashi Delek (goodbye and good luck).
You may choose to mix your hotels, if you wish to do so please contact us for a new quote.
If you have Salary Packaging at your workplace, you may be entitled to claim for accommodation and or meals. Contact us to discuss this further.