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Bhutan - The Last Shangri-La

A country with a mosaic of cultures, lifestyles, language and belief systems, Bhutan’s rich and unique cultural heritage has largely remained intact. Traditional arts, age-old ceremonies, festivals, social conduct and structures are not remnants if a bygone era but are practiced as they were done hundreds of years ago. It is paradise of unparalled scenic beauty with majestic virgin peaks, lush valleys, unspoilt countryside and terraced rice fields. Fascinating architecture, monumental fortresses, fluttering prayer flags, hospitable people and a devout Buddhist culture makes the kingdom of Bhutan extraordinarily special. With monasteries and prayer flags dotting every hill and valley, Bhutan is predominantly a Buddhist country. The influence of religion is highly visible in everyday life as it permeates every aspect of life in Bhutan.

 

Day 1 and 2 Los Angeles/Bangkok

Day 3 Bangkok - Paro - Thimphu (L, D)
Arrive Paro - On a clear day, the flight to Paro is breathtaking, with views of major Himalayan peaks such as Everest, Kanchenjunga and Makalu, and on the final approach Bhutan’s own snowy peaks, the sacred Chomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tserimgang. On arrival drive to Thimphu, the modern capital of Bhutan. Afternoon sightseeing in Thimphu, visiting the National Memorial Chorten, majestic Tashichhodzong, the Handicrafts Emporium and the main shopping area.

Day 4 Thimphu - Punakha (B, L, D)
Morning sightseeing in Thimphu includes visits to the National Library, the Institute for Zorig Chusum and the National Textile Museum, as time permits. After lunch drive to Bhutan’s former capital Punakha, stopping en route at Dochu-la pass (10,130ft). In the evening visit Punakha Dzong, a 17th century fortress.

Day 5 Punakha - Wangduephodrang - Gangtey (Phobjikha) (B, L, D)
After breakfast drive to Gangtey via Wangduephodrang, where you will stop to visit the remarkable Wangduephodrang Dzong, a spur at the confluence of two rivers. Then drive up a winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forest, and over a high pass down into the Phobjikha valley. In the evening take a stroll around Gangtey village and visit Gangtey Gompa, the only Nyingmapa monastery in the kingdom.

Day 6 Gangtey - Tongsa (B, L, D)
In the morning, explore Phobjikha valley, chosen winter home of black necked cranes, migrating from the Tibetan Plateau. After lunch drive to Tongsa, crossing Pele-la pass (10,830ft). Evening visit the Tongsa market.

Day 7 Tongsa - Bumthang (B, L, D)
Morning visit to Tongsa Dzong, a masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture. Also see Ta Dzong, the watchtower was built to defend this dzong. After lunch, proceed to Bumthang, the religious heartland of the nation.

Day 8 Bumthang (B, L, D)
Bumthang is the general name given to a group of four valleys - Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura, with altitudes varying from 8,530 - 13,125ft. This area is home to many ancient Buddhist temples and monasteries. You will visit Tamshing hakhang, which contains interesting and ancient Buddhist wall paintings. Later on will visit Jakar Dzong, “the castle of the white bird”, the administrative center of the region. In the afternoon, visit Kurje Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in Bhutan, and later on Jambey Lhakhang which was erected in the 7th century, when Buddhism was first introduced into Bhutan.

Day 9 Bumthang - Wangduphodrang (B, L, D)
After an early morning visit to Bumthang’s market, you will set off a long drive back to Wangduphodrang.

Day 10 Wangduphodrang - Paro (B, L, D)
After breakfast drive to Paro via Thimphu. Evening visit Paro market and town.

Day 11 Paro (B, L, D)
In the morning, visit Ta Dzong, formerly a watchtower but now housing the National Museum. Then walk down a hillside trail to visit Paro Dzong. In the afternoon, drive up valley to Drukgyel Dzong or “the Fort of Drukpa Victory”.

Day 12 Paro (B, L, D)
In the morning hike to the view point of Taktsang monastery.

Day 13 & 14 Paro/Bangkok/Los Angeles (B)
Depart Paro in the morning for Bangkok and connect flight to Los Angeles.

 

Trip date:
October 7 - 20, 2016

Trip cost:
including flights $ 6,150 per person
excluding flights $ 4,750 per person

Included in the trip cost:
Flights, tour coordinator/guide, accommodation on full meal basis, Monument admission fee, ground
transportation, internal flights, Visa fees for Bhutan

Excluded in trip cost:
Insurance, additional programs, gratuities

Flights:
Los Angeles/Bangkok/Paro

Our Hotels (or similar):
Paro: Kichu Resort ***(*)
Thimphu: Riverside ****
Punakha: Zhangtho Pelri ****
Gangtey: Dewachen ****
Tongsa: Yangkhil Resort or similar ***
Bumthang: Wangduecholing ****