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Expedition At A Glance

10 days, 9 nights

Difficulty Level: 3

Price (US$): From $2,130.00

Months Available: March through June and September through December

OVERVIEW


If you are dreaming of experiencing Bhutan’s unique culture as an insider, then this is the trip for you. Enjoy the unique opportunity to live with a local farm family for a few days, all the while helping them with farming duties and the tasks of daily life. Perhaps you’ll help milk the yaks, make cheese, or tend the garden. Explore the neighborhood, take a short hike, perhaps visit a school.  Get to know the children, and practice English with them. You will all be forever touched by this deeply personal experience.

Then you’ll move deeper into Bhutan, getting a sense of the arts, crafts, nature and culture of this beautiful kingdom.  In Thimphu, see the next generation of Buddhist artisans being trained in the traditional arts, and witness the beautiful textile traditions first hand as they are being created. Moving deeper into the Central Valley and further off the main road, observe the revered Black-necked cranes’ nesting grounds (October – January only.) Visit historic dzongs (forts) and get a true sense of this very special kingdom.

HOMESTAY PROGRAM
There are two farm houses for our homestay program in Haa. 10 minutes apart, each can accommodate upto 6 people. The hosts, Deki and Ugyen have three children. Deki’s father, Jho Wangchu, is a retired solider who has lots of stories to tell.

Your activities here may include making butter and cheese, helping in the kitchen and tending the farm. There is no attached bathroom and the guests should be prepared for squat toilets and bucket baths. Homes provide mattresses and blankets. You may also visit the village monastery and interact with the little monks or take a day hike to the ridge for views of Mt. Kanchenjunga. Food is simple and prepared in traditional style.

A traditional Bhutanese hot-stone bath facility is available for visitors to the farm.

 

Highlights:

  • Stay with a local family for two nights
  • Hike to the Taktsang (Tigers Nest) Monastery
  • Visit the “painting school” to learn about the 13 forms of traditional arts and crafts
  • Touch handmade textiles by local women and learn about their weaving traditions
  • Walk in the footsteps of warriors through historic forts dating from the 14th Century
  • Visit the nesting grounds of the famed Black-necked crane of Bhutanese folklore

DETAILED ITINERARY


Day 01 - Bangkok to Paro Depart early from Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. The flight leaves at 5:40 a.m. or 6:50 a.m. Bangkok time, depending on the day of departure. You will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel upon arrival in Bhutan, before 10 a.m. Rejuvenate with refreshments at the hotel. Drive to nearby Ta-Dzong, where you’ll be introduced to Bhutan with a visit to the National Museum which houses art, handicrafts, costumes and ancient weapons displays. Stroll the streets of Paro in the evening. Overnight at hotel. (All meals) Day 2 and 3 - Paro to Haa Valley (Dorikha Homestay) A pleasant 2.5 hour drive takes you to the Haa Valley (8,580 ft) over the Chele La Pass (12,540 ft), which is marked by colorful prayer flags.The drive then descends into the Haa Valley, which has been open to tourism only since 2004. We will head off the main road onto a brand new spur road constructed in 2008 that leads to the village of Dorikha - the home of your guide.  You will be set up in a home stay. Enjoy dinner and get settled in. Share stories and learn about farming and Bhutanese architecture; get involved in domestic chores such as making cheese and butter by hand, if interested. Your activities here may include making butter and cheese, helping in the kitchen and tending the farm. There is no attached bathroom and the guests should be prepared for squat toilets and bucket baths. Homes provide mattresses and blankets. You may also visit the village monastery and interact with the young monks or take a day hike to the ridge for views of Mt. Kanchenjunga. Food is simple and prepared in traditional style. By Fall 2011, a traditional Bhutanese hot-stone bath facility will be available for visitors to the farm Overnight at local home. (All meals) Day 4 and 5 - Thimpu After breakfast and goodbyes we drive to Thimphu (four hours) In Thimphu, sightseeing options include:
    • Visit the National Institute for Zorig Chusum, the 13 forms of traditional arts and crafts commonly referred to as “the painting school” to see how a new generation of Bhutanese artists is being trained.
 
  • The Takin Preserve, a former zoo but closed down because the king did not think a zoo was in line with the country’s Buddhist philosophy. The animals were set free but the Takins were too tame and wandered the streets, and so they were put back in the reserve where you can visit them at close range. With its strange look, the Takin (the national animal of Bhutan) does live up to its legendary creation. You have to see it to believe it.
  • Local textile houses, which churn out many of the intricate designs that the stores carry. One can also witness different weaving techniques.
  • Weekend farmer’s market, where farmers from nearby valleys come together to sell their produce
  • Kunselphodrang in the evening; feel the grandeur of the world’s largest sitting Buddha. Enjoy a great bird’s eye view of the Thimphu valley.
Overnight at Hotel. (All meals) Day 06 - Thimpu to Punakha After breakfast, we leave for Punakha Valley. Leaving town, the road gradually climbs through a forest of pine and cedar, festooned with hanging lichen high up near Dochula Pass (3,050 m/10,000ft). This pass offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges. After a brief stop to catch the breathtaking view, we  descend along a series of hairpin bends to the fertile valley of Punakha (1,350 m/4,430 ft), which was the capital for over 300 years (until 1955). The fortress located here is called Punakha Dzong and is situated at the confluence of two rivers that represent the feminine and masculine. Punakha Dzong and is one of the most impressive buildings in Bhutan. It was built in 1637 and has 6 stories and astonishingly intricate decorative paintings and wood work. The fortress is now used as the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (the Spiritual head of Bhutan). Overnight at hotel. (All meals) Day 07 - Punakha and Phojibka Valley Proceed to the beautiful Phobjikha valley driving through the town of Wangdi phodrang. The broad valley of Phobjikha is also home to the Black-Necked cranes, an endangered species of bird that migrate from the plateau of Tibet. The birds migrate sometime in late October and they return to Tibet in March. Overnight at hotel. (All meals) Day 08 -  Paro In the morning take a pleasant 30-minute hike through rice paddies and villages and visit Chimi Lhakhang (temple) on a small hilltop. This temple is dedicated to the great Yogi in 15th century known as Lama Drukpa Kuenley or popularly known as the “Divine madman.” He preached in the way that is unlike the stiffness of clergy and society of the time; it is also believed that this temple blesses couples having fertility problems. A popular pilgrimage spot for the Bhutanese, it is frequently visited by childless couples and parents who have difficulty raising children. Drive to Paro via Thimphu. Spend the rest of the evening exploring the streets of Paro.  Overnight at hotel. (All meals) Day 09 -  Paro (Tiger's Nest excursion) After early breakfast, drive to the trailhead to visit the Tiger’s Nest monastery. The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with lichens, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. Built in 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. It is believed that in the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, landed here on the back of a flying tigress to subdue a demon. Guru Rimpoche is believed to have meditated here for three months and it is considered one of the holiest sites for Buddhists. After lunch, time permitting, visit the ancient ruins of Drukgyal Dzong, built in 1647 by Zhabdrung. The Dzong was destroyed by fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. The fortress was featured on the cover of the US National Geographic magazine in 1914. Spend the evening exploring Paro town. Overnight at hotel. (All meals) Day 10 - Depart for home Transfer to airport for flight home. (Breakfast)

PHOTO AND VIDEO GALLERY


COST AND INCLUSIONS


Per person Price - valid till Dec 31, 2017 1 person:  $ 2,590 USD (includes single supplement) 2 persons: $ 2,450 USD per person 3 or more persons: $ 2,130 USD per person Single Supplement: $ 400 USD Extra – airfare into Paro (subject to change): Bangkok – Paro – Bangkok airfare: $ 640 per person Bangkok – Paro – Kathmandu airfare: $560 per person Delhi – Paro – Delhi airfare: $660 per person Kathmandu – Paro – Delhi airfare: $640 per person Prices above are based on the best 3 star accommodations available. Upgrades to 4 or 5 star accommodations would be an additional US$500 per person per night depending on hotels selected. Please contact us for details of options available. Price includes:
  • Expert pre-trip advice and detailed information
  • Meeting and assistance at airport and transfers to hotels
  • All in-country transportation
  • Meals as indicated on itinerary
  • Homestay accommodations and program
  • Tours and excursions outlined on itinerary
  • Bhutan Visa and Tourism Development Fee
Price does not include:
  • Your international airfare
  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Travel insurance (Required)
  • Other expenses of a personal nature (soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, mineral water, laundry, phone calls, internet, battery charging, comfort food etc.)

DATES AND AVAILABILITY


Daily private departures available for 2 or more participants subject to availability of airtickets to Paro, Bhutan.

BOOK THIS TRIP


Step 1: Contact Us We like to talk to our customers! Call us at 1-888-586-7750 for a free phone consultation and receive $25 off the cost of your journey when you book. Or if you prefer, send us an email to confirm availability for your preferred travel dates, and get started planning your dream trip today!

Step 2: Send Deposit and Registration Information Make a copy of the photo page of your passport. If your trip involves a trek in Nepal, email or send us a passport-sized color photo. Mail a check for $500 per person for Nepal Treks or $1,000 for other journeys (non-refundable deposit), passport copy, photo and completed reservation form.

Our mailing address is: Grand Asian Journeys PO Box 608 Indianola, WA 98342 USA

Once we receive your payment and documents we will send you additional details of your trip including travel details, VISA information, packing list, specific trip information and insurance options.

If you are traveling to Bhutan, we are required to purchase your airfare. When you are booking your trip with us we will let you know the current cost of the Druk Air flights into Bhutan from your chosen port. We will need to collect payment for those flights in addition to the trip deposit at the time of booking.

Cancelation Policy

If you cancel:
  • More than 60 days prior to departure; deposit is forfeited, the remainder is refunded
  • 60 to 30 days prior to departure, 50% of tour cost subject to refund
  • No refunds will be provided for any unused services or cancellations made within 30 days prior to departure
“I’ve just returned from the best vacation I’ve ever had! I booked my trip to Bhutan through Grand Asian Journeys. I’m an experienced traveler and prefer to travel in a small group. Many travel agencies advertise, “small group travel” but 16 people is not a small group in my mind. The daily itinerary planned by Pam was individually designed to meet my wishes and desires. It was perfect! Each day had something special to see or experience. The sweetness of a festival, the fortress built in the 14th century, the history of Buddhism, stunning views of the Himalayan Mountains, and so much more. My favorite memory was taking a hot stone bath in a tiny village on my 66th birthday. It was unbelievable! I will definitely travel with Grand Asian Journeys again and highly recommend them to others.”

– Jo Benwell., Healdsburg, CA – Gangtey Crane Festival – 2013

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