LAND OF THE THUNDER DRAGON

  
visit asia - tours to asiaAN 8 DAY FULLY ESCORTED FULLBOARD PRIVATE TOUR, WITH 4* HOTELS. Code BHU.
£1,195 PER PERSON

PARO-THIMPU-PUNAKHA-HAA-TAKTSANG
JAN-JUN & SEP-DEC ONLY

This tour gives you an insight into the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, which nestles in the heart of some of the world’s highest peaks. Travel through the beautiful valleys of Paro, the capital Thimphu, the picturesque and sub tropical Punakha, Wangdue and Haa valleys in West Bhutan. Experience the magic of the Bhutanese way of life, meet monks in monasteries during their chant or other monastic activities.

Price is per person sharing twin or double room.
Price includes : Private car & English speaking local guides, hotels with daily breakfast, main meals from lunch on day 2 to dinner on day 6, visits & excursions as per programme, admission fees, visa to Bhutan.

Price excludes : International flights *, insurance, local airport tax, tipping and any service not specified. Single room supplement is £395 per person.

We reserve the right to amend tours in case of unexpected problems caused by weather, airlines, transport companies and local organisations.
* To make your holidays even more hassle free, we can purchase international flights on your behalf at competitive prices. Call us for more information.

visit asia - tours to asiaDAY 01 Departure from London Heathrow. Fly to Paro via Delhi or Kathmandu.

DAY 02 PARO / THIMPU (-/L/D)
Fly on Druk Air to Paro. The flight to Paro is one of the most amazing experiences as on clear days you will enjoy breathtaking views of the Himalayan Mountains including Mt.Everest, Jichu Drakey and Chomolhari in Bhutan. Flight attendants will help you fill in disembarkation forms in which you will have to declare your address in Bhutan. Please put the name of our Bhutanese representative : C/o AHKE Adventure Travel. Your visa will be made available & paid in advance and our representative will be at the airport to assist you. Transfer to Paro Town (20 minutes from airport). After lunch stroll along the old streets for a glimpse of Paro before overland transfer to Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu (65 km). Perhaps the most unusual capital in the world, bustling Thimphu is the seat of the Bhutanese government, and home to Bhutan’s Royal family, civil servants, and foreign embassies and consulates. On arrival, transfer to your hotel. After dinner, evening at leisure to explore local area.

DAY 03 THIMPHU / PUNAKHA (B/L/D)
After breakfast embark on a sightseeing trip of Thimphu valley including The National Memorial Chorten built by the third King, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, as a monument to World Peace and Prosperity. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy. The National Library houses a vast collection of Buddhist texts and manuscripts, some dating back several hundred years, as well as modern academic books mainly on Himalayan culture and religion. The Institute for Zorig Chusum (known as the Painting School) where students undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. The National Institute of Traditional Medicine where medicinal herbs, minerals and animal organs are available and dispensed by traditional pharmacists and medical practitioners. This indigenous healing method is popular amongst all Bhutanese people, and runs in parallel to modern medicine. After lunch drive to Punakha (77 km) via Dochula pass (3,088 m altitude), visiting en route the oldest fortress of the Kingdom, Simtokha Dzong (Dzong means Fortress), built in 1627. It now houses the Institute of Languages and Culture studies. Driving further up you will come across farmers selling their produce such as apple, peach, plum, pear, asparagus, cucumber, and wild mushroom. Stop at Hongtso to fill in another immigration form required for foreign tourists before driving on to Punakha. Until 1955 Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan and it is still the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (chief Abbot). Visit Punakha Dzong built in the 17th century at the junction of Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. Damaged by fire, floods and earthquakes over the centuries, the Dzong has recently been fully restored to its original glory. Dinner and overnight at the beautiful hotel in Punakha.

DAY 04: PUNAKHA / PARO (B/L/D)
Early start with a short hike up to the16th century Temple of the God of Fertility before driving to Paro (140 km). Paro sightseeing includes a visit to Ta Dzong which houses the National Museum, the ruins of Drugyel Dzong and the courtyard of Kichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan - dated back to 7th century AD. The National Museum, built as a tower to spot invaders, shelters a rich collection of Bhutanese Arts & Crafts. Different themes are depicted on each floor showcasing a wide range of antique thankas, religious objects, texts, and different symbols of religious value. Afternoon walk down to Rinpung Dzong “Fortress of Jewels”, built in the middle of the 17th century. Your guide will tell you fascinating stories behind the history of this Dzong. Like in all Dzongs around the country, Rinpung Dzong also has two divisions: one housing the monks’ bodies and the other for office and district administration. Walk accross an old wooden bridge over Pachu river, used by the director Bernardo Bertolucci to film scenes of “Little Buddha”, to Kyichu Lhakhang monastery, originally built in 7th century to tame the demon of Himalaya, and is now one of the famous pilgrimage places in Western Bhutan. Dinner and overnight in Paro.

visit asia - tours to asiaDAY 05 HAA (B/L/D)
Early morning drive to Haa Valley (130 km) via Chele-la pass (4,200 m altitude). This stunning mountain road zigzags in a forest of blue pines and rhododendrons, at the end of which appear Mount Chomolhari & Jichu Drakey. This is the best place to pause for a walk to enjoy the incredible view. Drive on to Haa reaching the military base of Haa Dzong. After a picnic lunch, visit the famous Monastery of Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple) followed by Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple). The central shrine in Lhakhang Nagpo is said to have no difference with that of Lhasa JOWO in Tibet. The construction of the Lakhang Karpo is believed to have been assisted by the locality. As a result the place came to be locally known as 'Hay' meaning 'surprise' which later became 'Haa' due to the difference in pronunciations over time. The three giant hills looming over the fringes of Haa valley were called 'Me Rig Puen Sum' after the construction of the Lhakhang Kdarpo. Today they are popularly known as 'Rig Sum Goenpa' meaning three deities: Jambayang, Chana Dorji and Chenrizig. Later, other Buddhist saints like Guru Rinpoche and 'Machi Labdorn' came to the Jungney Drag in Haa and blessed the locality. The principal religion followed is Drukpa Kagyud. After the arrival of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the chief guardian deity of Haa became Ap Chundu. Dinner & overnight in Paro.

DAY 06 PARO / TAKTSANG EXCURSION (B/L/D)
After breakfast, drive to Drukgyel Dzong (Dzong in ruins), initially constructed in mid 17th century. Drive back to Ramthongkha and then hike to the viewpoint of Taktshang, the Tiger's Nest (1 ½ hours). This magical monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff 3,000 ft above the valley floor. The trail is broad and the walk uphill takes you a little more than a 1000ft above Paro valley. The view of Taktsang monastery on the cliff is spectacular. It is a great pilgrimage destination for Buddhists and also one of the most sacred sites in the Himalayan world. For a close look at the cliff-hanging site, hike about 2 hours up hill. From here, Taktsang can be clearly seen clinging to a sheer rock wall 1000 m above the valleys floor, at an altitude of 3,000m. The main deity of Taktsang is Dorje Drolo, the wrathful form of Guru Rinpoche, the precious Teacher, also known as Padmasambhava. The great tantric mystic is said to have flown here on the back of a tiger, a manifestation of his consort, Yeshi Tsogyal, when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th century. The image of Dorje Drolo inside the temple is shown standing on a tiger. There are 13 sacred sites at Taktsang, and several meditation caves in the cliffs above. Many saints have meditated here, not only Guru Rinpoche but also Milarepa and the female yogin Machig Labdronma. Here you can meditate for a while before starting to descend. On the way back, stop at a farm house for a short visit. Dinner at local restaurant and overnight in Paro.

DAY 07 DEPARTURE (B/-/-)
All departure formalities will be made available in advance, and assisted by your guide. Early breakfast at the hotel and drive to the Paro airport for your flight home via Delhi or Kathmandu.

DAY 08 Arrive home.