Trip reference number: 141276

Trip Operator: Wexas Travel

Highlights Of Bhutan

From: £3830.00

Holiday overview

In 1974, Bhutan’s mountainous borders and lush green valleys opened up to the world. And, thanks to careful limits, its proud, unique culture remains fully intact complete with hilltop monasteries, village jumbles clinging to valley slopes and nunneries straddling ridge lines. In just over a week, you’ll be exposed to all parts of Bhutanese life from kingly throne rooms and giant fortress monasteries or dzongs to traditional arts and craft centres and untouched townships. You’ll visit the Bhutanese capital, Thimphu, before traversing mountain passes to reach the charms of its valley towns, Punakha and Paro, after enjoying a taste of village life in Gangtey.

Holiday itinerary

Day 1: Depart UK

After your overnight flight, board your connection to Bhutan the next morning.

Day 2: Arrive Bhutan/Thimphu

Between Himalayan ranges and Kolkata’s foothills, the flight into Bhutan is not only one of the least travelled but is among the most spectacular. On arrival among Paro’s mountains, you’ll be met and transferred to Thimphu. Along the way you’ll stop at Chuzom where three styles of stupas – one Buddhist, one Nepalese and one Bhutanese – mark the confluence of the Thimphu and Paro rivers. You’ll also find the 15th century Tschogang Lhakhang or ‘Temple of the Excellent Horse’.

After checking into your hotel in Thimphu you’ll explore the local market area where fruit, vegetables and handicrafts are traded busily. You’ll then drive up to Buddha Point, home to stunning valley views and the country’s largest statue. In the evening, you’ll visit King’s Memorial Chorten whose golden spire is continuously circled by devotees to the click-clack of prayer wheels and the hum of mantras.

Stay: Druk Hotel (Superior) or Taj Tashi (Deluxe)

Day 3: Thimphu

Today will be spent exploring the natural beauty and fabled history of Thimphu Valley. You’ll start by interacting and speaking with the monks of Pangri Zampa, a 16th century monastery. After learning about their studies in astrology and Lamaism, a leisurely one-hour walk will bring you to Tango Goemba. Set on an impossibly green incline, its gold roofed buildings and 18th century towers are home to intricate sandalwood statues. In the afternoon, a city tour of Thimphu will bring you to the priceless Buddhist manuscripts of the National Library, the Textile Museum and Zorig Chusum, where students are trained in the country’s 13 traditional arts and crafts. You’ll then enjoy an evening visit to Trashi Chhoe Dzong, a majestic fortress that combines ceremonial brilliance with monastic gravity in its throne room and government offices. End the day with a stroll through a local crafts bazaar.

Stay: Druk Hotel (Superior) or Taj Tashi (Deluxe)

Day 4: Thimphu/Gangtey

After breakfast, you’ll set off on a drive over Dochu La, a 3,000-metre high mountain pass before descending through dense oak and rhododendron forests into the Phobjikha Valley. You’ll then follow – with the Himalayan Peaks as a backdrop – the Dang Chhu River before climbing back up through forests of bamboo and oak to arrive at Gangtey Village. Here, you’ll visit the tiered roofs and whitewashed pillars of Gangtey Gompa, the only Nyingmapa monastery in this region, before descending to the village floor, the winter home of black necked cranes.

Stay: RKPO Gangtey (Standard) or Gangtey Lodge (Deluxe)

Day 5: Gangtey

This morning, you’ll visit the Black Necked Crane Information Centre on the edge of the valley’s forest, bordering its wetlands. Make full use of its high powered telescopes for sightings of what has become one of Asia’s most iconic birds with its proud neck and skipping legs. After lunch, you’ll hike southeast through the dwarf bamboo to get closer to the birds and local villages. Then, after crossing through vegetable fields and orchards, you’ll reach Yeshi Gempo, a 16th century temple dedicated to Lord Buddha. After crossing a wooden bridge back, celebrate the day with a locally distilled, traditional drink. Lunch is included at Gangtey Lodge.

Stay: RKPO Gangtey (Standard) or Gangtey Lodge (Deluxe)

Day 6: Gangtey/Punakha

On today’s drive to Punakha you’ll stop off for a short excursion where you’ll walk through verdant paddy fields to Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple set on a hillock in the centre of the valley. Blessed by Drukpa Kunley – known as ‘The Divine Madman’ – and built in 1499, it features phallic decorations alongside traditional ornamentation. You’ll also visit the tiny settlement of Pana for a rare insight into the daily life of Bhutanese villagers. On arriving in Punakha, you’ll visit Punakha Dzong; once the capital of Bhutan, this grand fortress is elaborately painted in golds and reds, the perfect contrast to its black carved wood and whitewashed walls.

Stay: Dhensa Boutique Resort (Standard) or Uma by COMO, Punakha (Superior)

Day 7: Punakha

Start the day with a hike up through fields of chillies, cabbages and rice to follow the banks of Mo Chhu once more, this time to reach Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, a quadruple-decker monument that looks out over the entire valley. Your next stop is a nunnery that straddles the ridge between the twin valleys of Punakha and Wangduephodrang, offering breathtaking views of both. Here, you’ll find some of the country’s finest statue works along with a learning and meditation centre. In the afternoon, you’ll visit Talo village. Scattered along the hillsides, there’s farmhouses, flower gardens and sweet pea fields to explore.

Stay: Dhensa Boutique Resort (Standard) or Uma by COMO, Punakha (Superior)

Day 8: Punakha/Paro

Crossing back over the Dochu La, you’ll follow the banks of Wang Chhu and Paro Chhu to reach Paro at the northern reaches of the valley. En route, you’ll stop off at Simtokha Dzong, a castle monastery home of tantric teachings and language studies. Then, after checking into your hotel, you’ll head to Ta Dzong. Originally built as a giant watchtower, today it houses Bhutan’s Nation Museum, a collection of antique paintings, textiles, weapons, armour and household objects. T...

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