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Expedition At A Glance

12 days, 11 nights

Difficulty Level: 2

Price (US$): From $2,510.00

Months Available: March through June and September through December

OVERVIEW


Walking Bhutan

So you want to hike in the Himalayas, be active, see Bhutan, experience the rich Buddhist culture AND sleep in hotels at night? Then this is the trip for you!  On this adventure, you have the opportunity to soak in the culture of Bhutan with visits to the many palaces and monasteries and also to experience its natural beauty on day hikes planned in each of the magical valleys of Paro, Thimpu, Punakha and Phobjikha. Hike to the legendary Taktshang Monastery (also called Tiger’s Nest) near Paro, the Cheri Monastery near Thimpu, and in the Phobjikha valley in Gangtey. But unlike a trek, each night you will sleep in hotels instead of tents.

Your journey starts in Paro where you will acclimate to the altitude by taking small day hikes. Explore the forts (dzongs) and palaces that are sometimes many centuries old.

The capitol city, Thimphu, is a gallery of traditional Bhutanese culture. Explore the Thimphu market to shop for handicrafts and immerse with locals in their daily routines.

Engage with Bhutanese people in Punakha. Immerse in a wondrous environment on hikes to some of the holiest places in this Buddhist wonderland. The serene views are continuous throughout Phobjikha Valley and on the return journey to Paro.

The tranquil kingdom of Bhutan is often called the “last Shangri-La.” Come see why Bhutan is one of the most intriguing, rugged and unique of the world’s destinations.

Highlights

  • Hike to the cliff hanging Tiger’s Nest
  • Explore monasteries and dzongs of Paro, Thimpu and Punakha
  • Experience Bhutan’s natural beauty in the Phobjikha valley
  • Be active by day, but sleep in comfortable hotels at night

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 02 - Paro (Tiger's Nest hike) Begin the day with breakfast before a short drive to Taktshang Monastery. The trail to the monastery climbs through pine trees festooned with Spanish moss and occasional fluttering prayer flags. Hike at your own pace for about two to four hours. Built in 1600s, the monastery clings to the edge of a sheer-rock cliff that plunges 2,952 feet 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. Packed lunch will be served. Drive further up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong, the fortress of the victorious Drukpas. From Drukgyel Dzong, the Tibet border is only a two-day hike away. Overnight at Hotel. (All meals) Day 03 - Paro to Thimpu Depart Paro for Thimphu (two-hour drive) after breakfast. Thimphu, the Bhutanese capital (7,609 feet), is situated in a valley surrounded by terraced rice fields. The main street in Thimphu, Norzim Lam, is lined with shops. Visit Memorial Chorten, built in memory of the third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. Drive to Drubthop Lhakhang, the nunnery temple. Learn more about the culture through visits to the Bhutanese Indigenous Hospital and Traditional Painting School. Overnight at Hotel. (All meals) Day 04 - Hiking in Thimpu There are several options for hikes in Thimpu. They include a 900 ft. one to two hour climb to the Tango Goemba, an hours climb to Cheri Goemba, a 5 Kilometer hike to the Phajoding Goemba at approximately 12,000 ft. or a three to four hour hike from Dochu La to Lungchuzekha Goemba. Overnight at Hotel. (All meals) Day 05 - Thimpu to Punakha Drive to Punakha after breakfast at the hotel. The road climbs steeply through a scenic forest of pine and cedar trees, to Dochula pass (10,000 feet). The pass offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges, on the descent to the fertile valley of Punakha (4,430 feet). Before proceeding further to the town of Punakha, hike about 30 minutes to the Chimi Lhakhang (temple) on a small hilltop. The temple was dedicated to the great Yogi in the 14th century, known as Drukpa Kuenley, as well as the “Divine madman.” He dramatized Buddhist teachings using songs and outrageous sexual humor. Bold phallus symbols and paintings on the houses and temples are a result of his influence. It is believed that this temple blesses women who seek fertility. After lunch, continue to Punakha Dzong (fortress) situated between the two rivers, Pho Chu and Mochu (male and female river). The fortress is now used as the winter seat of Je Khenpo (the spiritual head of Bhutan). The Dzong served as the capital seat of the Kingdom for more than 300 years. The intricate Buddhist paintings inside the monastery are spectacular. Overnight at hotel. (All meals) Day 06 - Hiking in Punakha Today's hikes include: Easy hike to Khamsum Yueley Namgyel lhakhang/temple: We drive (20 minutes) upstream the mo-chu/female river from Punakha Dzong/fortress and take an invigorating hike through lush farmland to the temple located on the hilltop. The hike begins from the suspension bridge. A 40-minute gradual uphill hike lead us to the stupa. This magnificent stupa was built by Her Majesty the Queen Mother for the well being of the kingdom and the benefit of all sentient beings. Built over a period of several years, the Bhutanese craftsmen including carpenters, painters, and sculptors consulted Holy Scriptures rather than engineering manuals, to construct this 4-storey temple that presents a great view of the mo-chu valley below. Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang/temple & Nunnery: The nunnery is situated on a ridge amid pine trees and overlooking valleys of Punakha and Wangduephodrang. The nunnery complex houses a permanent higher learning and meditation centre for nuns where, apart from religious trainings, it provides life skill training such as tailoring, embroidery, statue making and thangka painting. The main temple houses a 14-foot main bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara (Chenrigzig chagtong chentong), one of the biggest in the country. Facing the main courtyard is also a goenkhang, housing the nation’s guardian deities. The unique feature of the structure is the skillfully carved black marble blocks surrounding the stupa, depicting the 84 Mahasiddhis, 16 Arhats, and the great lamas of Drukpa Kagyu lineage. Overnight at hotel. (All meals) Day 07 - Punakha to Gangtey Drive to Phobjikha Valley. After crossing the Pele La pass, we will make a left turn on another road that will lead us to the expansive and beautiful valley of Phobjikha. The valley serves as the winter home for the rare black-necked cranes that migrate from the plateau of Tibet when it gets extremely cold. Overnight at Hotel. (All meals) Day 08 - Explore Phojibka Valley A peaceful hike leads us through a local village on the way to the Gangtey Monastery. Continue downhill into the picturesque Phobjikha valley. We will continue our hike to the hotel where we will be served with our lunch. The remainder of the day is free to explore the village or observe the black-necked cranes when they have migrated from Tibet. Overnight at hotel. (All meals) Day 09 - Drive to Wangdiphrodang Return to Wangdiphrodang. Overnight at Hotel. (All meals Day 10 - Wangdi to Paro Return drive to Paro. Overnight Hotel. (All meals) Day 11 - Hiking in Paro Drive to Cheli La pass (12,500 ft.) for a short hike to view Jhomolhari. Overnight at hotel. (All meals) Day 12 - Depart for home Transfer to airport for flight home. (Breakfast)

PHOTO AND VIDEO GALLERY


COST AND INCLUSIONS


Per person Price - valid till Dec 31, 2018 1 person:  $ 3,850 USD (includes single supplement) 2 persons: $ 3,550 USD per person 3 or more persons: $ 3,200 USD per person Single Supplement: $ 550 USD Extra – airfare into Paro (subject to change): Bangkok – Paro – Bangkok airfare: $ 800 per person Bangkok – Paro – Kathmandu airfare: $650 per person Delhi – Paro – Delhi airfare: $600 per person Kathmandu – Paro – Delhi airfare: $600 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
  • 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 for 1 or more participants.

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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