Finding Shangri La 10 Days
Today, Bhutan or the land of the Thunder Dragon is one of the most highly acclaimed travel destinations in the world. This is a land of remarkable natural beauty with a pristine and intact environment and a friendly, tradition-bound people. To the discerning international traveler, Bhutan has become an exotic and enticing final frontier. Bhutan’s present travel status comes as no surprise given that this tiny kingdom, the size of Switzerland, was zealously sequestered from the world for centuries. Travel to Bhutan is still regulated through a policy of high-value tourism and the door to this mythical Buddhist kingdom was opened only three decades ago. Come see, before it changes.
Cost Inclusions & Exclusions
- Sustainable Development Fees
- Bhutan Visa fee
- Accommodations in 3/4/5 star hotel/Resorts on Double Occupancy basics.
- Lunch, Dinner, Evening Tea and Snacks(Dinner & Lunch will be served at Tourism board certified restaurant only)
- All transfers and sightseeing with entrance fees to the sights visited.
- Local English Speaking Tour Leader/Guide.
- Full time luxury SUV or luxury Coaster Bus.
- All necessary permits and their fees.
- Plenty of drinking mineral water.
- All necessary trekking arrangements (1 tent for 2 guest for trekkers).
- Individual’s special gifts hamper.
- Free Bhutan tourist maps and other information pamphlets.
- Wearing of Bhutanese dress during your stay in Bhutan only if you are interested.
- Visit traditional Bhutanese house and dinner with Bhutanese locals.
- International & Domestic Airfare
- Travel / Medical Insurance (recommended)
- Personal expenses and any alcoholic, non-alcoholic beverages
- Tips to guide, driver, trekking staff, hotel service, etc.
- Single room supplement charge for two Pax and above
- Specialized /language guides available on supplement cost
- Travel / Medical Insurance
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. This beautiful valley is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries and temples, and the country’s only International airport. After being welcomed with “Khadar” (traditional scarf), a Bhutan Tours & Luxury Exclusive representative will provide you with the necessary assistance for completion of all immigration and 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, considered as the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime. Dzong’s are large monasteries and district administrative centres, which were once strategic forts. Afterwards, drive to the capital, Thimphu (1.5 hours). Overnight 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 balmy Punakha valley (about 3 hrs total driving time). The drive through the countryside affords a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdoms. 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 colours. Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. On arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the zhabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’. It is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers) and is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. 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. It was here in 1907 that Bhutan’s first king was crowned. After lunch, enjoy a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenley who is also known as the Divine Madman. He inherited the Divine Madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism in his time. He taught the people that religion is an inner feeling and it’s not necessary that one should be an ordained monk. He is also considered a symbol of fertility and most childless couples go to his temple for blessing. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha/ Wangduephodrang.
After breakfast drive to the beautiful valley of Gangtey. On the way, stop a while to view Chime Lhakhang, which was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley. He subdued the demons with his “ Magical Thunder bolt”. The Temple is also known as “the Temple of Fertility”. Enroute sightseeing in the valley of Wangduephodrang, it includes: visit to Wangduephodrang Dzong (from outside) built in 1638. Legend relates that as the people were searching for the site of the Dzong, four ravens were seen flying away in four directions. This was considered auspicious sign, representing the spread of religion to the four points of the compass. The Dzong is situated at the confluence of Mo Chu and Tang Chu rivers. Drive to Gangtey. Picnic lunch would be served enroute. On arrival check in to Gangtey Gompa House. Visit Gangtey Gompa Monastery, from outside. Gyaltse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa founded the Temple in 1613, and Tenzin Legpai Dhendup, the second re-incarnation, built the temple. The present Abbot, Kunzang Pema Namgyal is the ninth re-incarnation. It is a Nyingmapa monastery and is affiliated to other Nyingmapa monasteries including Tamshing in Bumthang. Explore Phobjikha valley, famous for the Black Necked Cranes during winter. Dinner and overnight at the Guest House.
Places of interest in and around Gangtey & Phobjikha ValleyBlack Necked Crane Information Centre After easy breakfast visit Black Necked Crane Information centre Situated on the edge of the forest and wetland along the main road of Phobjikha valley, the black-necked crane information Centre has an observation room equipped with high power telescope and spotting scopes for catching the best view of the cranes. The centre also offers display information that outline the natural and cultural history of the area. There is a small gift shop, which sells handicrafts produced by the local people. Gangtey Nature Trail This pleasurable walk provides opportunity to get nice feel of Phobjikha valley. From the small hilltop overlooking Gangtey Goemba, you head downhill through flower meadows to Semchubara village and from here through beautiful forests and into open valley. The trail ends at the local community school after passing a chorten and Khewa Lhakhang. Distance: 5.5 km, Time: approx. 2 hours, Difficulty level: Easy
After breakfast drive to Punakha. Afternoon visit Punakha Dzong, a massive structure built at the junction of two rivers. Punakha was Bhutan's capital until 1955, and Punakha Dzong still serves as the winter residence of the central monk body. Bhutan's first King, Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned here in 1907. The fortress has withstood several damages from fire, earthquake and flood over the centuries. The latest flood, in October 1994, caused great damages to the fortress but miraculously spared its most holy statue. Also visit Khamsum Yuelly Namgyal Chorten, the newly built stupa. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha / Wangduephodrang.
Drive to Haa valley from Thimphu through the Confluence in Chuzom. Picnic lunch en route. On arrival in the picturesque Ha Valley, stroll through quaint town and begin the first part of the trek starting from Katso village (alt. 8840 ft.). This is a fairly easy trek of about one hour walk through Katso village and fields. Opposite Katso village, one can see the famous Katso Lhakhang (temple) of Guru Rimpoche built against the rocky ledge & overnight at Haa in the hotel.
Today, you will take another nice drive from Haa Valley to Paro. Ascending along the winding road, you will get to Chele La Pass (Alt: 13,084ft/ 3,988 m), which delivers dramatic views on both sides. Stop there to admire the spectacular view of snow-capped mountains of Himalayan Ranges in Tibet and enjoy the awesome fluttering colored prayer flags. In spring, there are many lovely blossoms in the valley can be seen from the pass. Hot tea and noodles are available at a mobile food van. Then continue your adventure tour with an hour’s trekking to Kila Nunnery, a mediation site with seven small temples clinging to a rocky cliff. It is believed as the oldest nunnery, which can be dated back to 9th century. The trekking trail through the pristine forests is stunning and interesting. After the visit to Kila Nunnery, you will drive to Kyichu Lhakhang, a lovely ancient temple. Just like famous Jokhang Temple in Tibet, it was built by Songtsen Gampo to subdue demonesses in 659. In this temple, you can admire many exquisite murals. One statue of Shakyamuni in the monastery attracts many pilgrims to get blessings. Overnight Hotel at Paro.
Start the day with short drive to Paro’s upper valley. If the day is clear, you’ll have an unforgettable view of the “Goddess” – Mt. Jhomolhari (23,640 feet). Afterward, it’s a short drive to Taktsang trail ahead. Take a challenging but necessary 2~3 hours’ trek to Taktsang Monastery, the most famous monastery in Bhutan, also known as “Tiger Nest Monastery, because Guru Rinpochoe reportedly flew to the site on the back of a flying tiger late in the 7th century. Between blue pines and a blue sky, the monastery perches miraculously on a cliff nearly 2,700 feet above Paro’s valley floor. Break along the way for tea and snacks in small teahouse, and the view of both Taktsang Monastery and Paro Valley is magnificent & Overnight Hotel in Paro.
Your journey in Bhutan comes to an end today! After breakfast, your guide will pick you up from the hotel to the airport in time for the scheduled flight to your next destination. Before that, you can take a rest at the hotel or go for a walk nearby.
Finding Shangri-la 10 Days
This Finding Shangri-La 10 days trip is a combination of Western and Central Bhutan, the best what Bhutan has to offer. Western Bhutan is the heartland of the Drukpa people, home to the only airport, the capital of Bhutan, the oldest and most spectacular Dzongs in the Kingdom. Whereas Central Bhutan is believed to be the first part of Bhutan to have been inhabited, with evidence of prehistoric settlements, there is a great variety of people, architecture, and scenery to be explored.
The highlight of the trip is visiting the famous Taktsang Monastery, which is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Buddhists. The view of Taktsang Monastery built in the cliff is an amazing sight. In central Bhutan, Bumthang is another great site; it is a magical region of saints and treasure-seekers, great demon-subduing struggles and fabulous miracles, rich with relics from the visits of Guru Rinpoche and Pema Lingpa.
The Taktshang Temple
Taktshang Monastery is one of the famous monasteries of Bhutan. The Taktshang Temple is balanced on a cliff 900m above the Paro Valley. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche reached here on the back of a tigress and meditated here at the monastery and so it’s called the tiger’s nest’. The Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime visit this sacred monastery. On 19 April 1998, a fire severely damaged the main structure of building but now this Bhutanese jewel has been restored to its original splendor.
Those not keen to trek can visit the Chele-la pass (alt 4200 meters). The beautiful road hikes up towards the pass through blue pine & rhododendron forest for about 45 km. The Chele La viewpoint offers an outstanding view of 7314 meters Chomolhari peaks &Jichu Drakey. It is about one and half hour drive from Paro city to the pass. A short walk around the viewpoint can be taken to smell the grand view of the Eastern Himalayan range, Finding Shangri-La.
On your way back to Paro, visit Drukgyel Dzong, it is a delightful village nestling at its foot, was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to honor his victory over the Tibetan invaders.