Kingdom in the Clouds
This unique holiday package is customized to immerse you among the tranquil settings and rare flora and fauna of an explored and mystical country hidden in the folds of the eastern Himalayas. Natural landscape and beautiful scenery, awe-inspiring monasteries and stupas, spectacular mountain ranges and innocent happy people, Bhutan awaits to charm you in more ways than one! Welcome to a spree of explorations in Thimphu, Punakha and Paro, Bhutan’s finest tourist destinations and go back with fond life-long memories….
“ Bhutan is a unique blend of the old and new. Here is a country that is slowly opening up to the modern world in a fine balance with its ancient traditions.”- Tourism Council of Bhutan(www.tourism.gov.bt)
Activity: Cultural tours and natural sightseeing combined with walking and light hiking.
- Viewing spectacular Himalayan scenerie
- Walking the pristine and beautiful valleys
- Driving over the Dochula Pass (over 10,000 ft)
- Experiencing Bhutan’s unique tradition and culture
- Visiting Bhutan’s old capital city, Punakha
- Hike tothe Tiger’s Nest
- Enjoying the flower studded Himalayan meadows, thick forests and cascading waterfalls
- Driving through winding roads flanked by terraced rice fields and traditional village houses
- Constantly changing vegetation from sub-tropical through alpine
Day 1: Arrive Paro; travel to Thimphu and sightseeing in Thimphu (55 km / approx one hour)
During the journey to Paro, you will experience breathtaking views of Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga and other famous Himalayan peaks, including the sacred Mt. Jomolhari and Mt. Jichu Drake in Bhutan.
Upon arrival at Paro International Airport and completion of immigration formalities and collection of your baggage, you will be welcomed by our tour representative who will be your tour guide during your entire trip to Bhutan.
The drive from Thimphu will take you along the Paro Chu (Chu means water or river) downstream to the confluence with the Wang Chu, then turn upstream and travel along the Wang Chu to Thimphu.
In the afternoon, visit the Memorial Chorten (a huge stupa) built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned the Kingdom from 1952-1972. Then, visit the Institute of Zorig Chusum (Painting School) where traditional arts and crafts are still kept alive. The school show cases the 13 arts and crafts of Bhutan. Students at the school receive training for six years on thangka painting, slate curving, tailoring, stone carving, embroidery, etc., Upon completion of the training, they either find employment in the government or the private sector and some even start their own arts and crafts enterprises. If you are interested to avail some students made products, they are available for sale.
In the late afternoon, visit Tashichhodzong, the seat of the Royal Government of Bhutan since 1952 and presently housing the throne room of His Majesty and the secretariat and witness the national flag hoisting down ceremony. Tashichhodzong is also home of the Central Monastic Body which is the apex organization of the country’s main spiritual order.
Overnight stay at a hotel
Day 2: Sightseeing in Thimphu
After breakfast, we will start exploring Thimphu City with a visit to its cultural sites:
Textile Museum serves as the living art of Bhutanese weaving culture. It is located at the heart of Thimphu town. We can see the intricately designed local fabrics used for making dresses worn by men and women and used for making souvenirs. There is a small group of weavers working on looms to demonstrate this artistic works who come from Lhuentse district, the ancestral home of Bhutan’s royal family in eastern Bhutan. Weaving a complete set of Gho or Kira, the national dress of Bhutan, would take a weaver five to six months or a year and their price would vary from US$ 1,000 to 2,000.
Then visit National Library, which has a stock of holyscriptures especially on Buddhism. Mini Zoo located at the upper side of Thimphu houses, Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. The 4th King at one point wanted the animals to be released to the forest but they kept moving around Thimphu town and had to be re-confined at the enclosure. Afterward, take a ride to Sanjaygang to have a bird’s eye view of Thimphu valley as well as to have some snap shots of the big apple of Bhutan.
Traditional Handmade paper factory specializes in the art of traditional paper making and is one form of arts and crafts practiced in Bhutan. Paper is made out of inner pulp of daphne and edgeworthia plants. Before it is being processed into paper, the pulp is soaked, boiled, and grinded to a fine pulp and only then laid into a layer of sheets. The process is quite labour intensive, but worth it. In Bhutan it is mainly used for printing Buddhist Holy Scriptures, souvenirs and some are exported to international markets such as North America, Asia and Europe. They have a showroom where the products are on display. We will be able to see the whole process of paper making at the factory.
Next, visit the Royal Botanical Garden, which has a collection of various plant species and located at Serbithang about 15 km drive from the Thimphu city. The area provides a calm, serene and excellent picnic spot for the Thimphu residents, especially on weekends.
Day 3: Thimphu – Punakha (71 km / approx 2½ hours):
In the morning, take a ride to the Buddha Point (Kuenselphodrang), where the tallest Buddha statue, which is 160 ft is under construction and enjoy the view of southern parts of Thimphu valley.
Visit Bhutan Post to see the various collection of Bhutanese stamps. They also can print stamps using your photos at a nominal charge, which you can take as souvenirs from Bhutan.
An hour’s drive will take you to Dochula Pass (10,130ft/3150m), from where you can experience panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges on a clear day. On the way down the hill towards Punakha valley, you will notice change of vegetation from sub-alpine to sub-tropical.
Enroute, visit the Lamperi Botanical park, which is known for rhododendrons as well for various birds species such as Satyr’s Tragopan and a host of mixed species that dwell in the cool broadleaf forests. Further on the way to Punakha, you can spot the Grey Bushchat and Rufous-breasted Accentor, Red-flanked Bluetail, and Golden Bush-RobinIdentify the Red-tailed and Chestnut-tailed Minlas, Blue-winged, Rufus-winged, White-browed and Nepal Fulvetta and Whiskered, Stripe-throated, Rufus-vented, Black-chinned and White-bellied Yuhinas. You will be able to espy a good number of Laughing Thrushes and Barwings before reaching Punakha.
Have lunch en-route. Overnight stay at hotel Meripunsum Resort
Day 4: Explore Punakha
In the morning, take a mini hike/walk uphill (30-40 min) to Khamsum Yuellay Namgyal Chorten (stupa) built by the Queen Mother to bring peace and harmony for Bhutan and the world.
Upon return, visit the Punakha Dzong. Punakha Dzong is placed strategically at the junction of the Po Chu and Mo Chu rivers. It was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative centre of the region. Damaged over the centuries by four catastrophic fires, an earthquake and floods, the dzong has been fully restored in recent years by the Royal Government.
Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955 and is still the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot). Blessed with a temperate climate and fed by the Pho Chu (male) and Mo Chu (female) rivers, Punakha is the most fertile valley in the country.
In the afternoon, drive for 15 minutes and then, on the way, take a hike to Chimi Lhakhang (Temple of Fertility). The walk will take about one hour (two ways) and would entail a gentle climb to a hillock, where the monastery dedicated to Divine Madman, Drukpa Kunley is located. The Divine Madman came to Bhutan from Tibet in the 15th Century to introduce Drukpa Kagyugpa sect of Buddhism.
Day 5: Travel to Paro; Sightseeing in Paro (126 km, 3 ½ hours)
After breakfast, drive to Paro. The beautiful Paro valley provides a visitor with all the essential elements of Bhutan, in general ancient temples, massive forts, monasteries, picturesque villages, scenic hikes, and drives.
Upon arriving in Paro, take a 16 km drive to the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, 16km up the valley. This dzong was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders in 1644 (in fact the dzong’s name means “victorious Bhutan”). The Dzong was used as an administrative center until 1951 when a fire caused by a butter lamp destroyed it.
While returning back to Paro, en-route visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of Bhutan’s oldest and most sacred monasteries, and then the Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong) built in 1646 and currently housing the district administrative offices. Enjoy view of Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower, which has been the national museum of Bhutan since 1967 and currently under renovation.
A short distance further is one of the innumerable archery grounds. Archery is the national sport of Bhutan and if we are lucky, we may catch a match in action. In the evening, take a walk through Paro’s main town.
Overnight stay at hotel Bhutan Mandala Resort
Day 6: Hike to Taktshang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest).
After breakfast, you will take a short drive to the base of Taktsang Monastery. The climb up to Taktsang will take around 3-4 hours. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. You stop for a rest and light refreshments at the only cafeteria mid-way and then further walk a short distance until we see Taktsang monastery.
The monastery was built in this holy place in 1684 A.D. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, flew here in the form of Dorji Drolo, mounted on a flaming tigress in 747 A.D. and meditated for 3 months. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900m into the valley below.
Lunch will be served at the cafeteria and after lunch we will return to the hotel.
Day 7: Depart Paro
After breakfast at the hotel, you will be taken to the Paro International Airport for your onward flight to Kathmandu. It is end of your tour.
Thank you & Tashi Delek!