Exploring Bhutan: The Dragon Kingdom

            When you think of the Buddhist land of Tibet, you picture incredible mountain views with hidden Buddhist monasteries where the faithful study for enlightenment. This is definitely an accurate view of Bhutan. Bhutan is indeed a land of spirituality, but also a land full of surprises. In 12 days, you  discover Bhutan’s wonderful secrets through the guidance of Asia Buddhist Tours & Treks.

            Asia Buddhist Tours & Treks is a different type of travel company. We are all Buddhists who specialize in Buddhist tours. In our trips to Bhutan, you will have an opportunity to explore first-hand the unique spirituality of Mahayana Buddhism which is the foundation of their unique Buddhist experience.

            There are amazing snowcapped peaks of the eastern Himalayas. Bhutan is the last of the Himalayan kingdoms, who’s king is a revered leader that practices the ancient ways of his faith. There are sacred temples to walk to as you meet the monks who smile and welcome you on your path of enlightenment.

            Bhutan is a land of isolated, tiny villages. Thimphu, its capital is a clean and wonderful city that will make you feel at home right away. The highlight of any trip to Bhutan is the Taktsang Monastery. Called The Tiger’s Nest, this amazing monastery hangs off the side of the cliff nearly 1000 meters above the Paro Valley floor. You will visit there to see this amazing place.

            Bhutan is a must trip for anyone who wants to learn more about not only the Himalayas, but also Mahayana Buddhism. The right guide and company for your Bhutan trip is Asia Buddhist Tours & Treks. Come and enjoy the wonders of this amazing land, known by the locals as the Land of the Thunder Dragon.

AVAILABILITY

Trip Details

CodeABTB-202 FrequencyAnyday Duration12 Group Size1 Best SeasonSep-Dec Altitude2234 mts. SupportYes DifficultyEasy

Brief Itinerary to explore the Dragon Kingdom Bhutan

Day 1 – Arrival in Kathmandu
Day 2 – Fly to Paro, Bhutan
Day 3 – Travel to Thimphu (55 km, 1 hour drive)
Day 4 – Travel to Punakha (77 km, 3 hours).
Day 5 – Travel to Bumthang (212 km, 8 hours drive)
Day 6 – Explore Bumthang
Day 7 – Travel to Gangtey and Punakha
Day 8 – Travel to Paro (140 km, 4 hours drive)
Day 9 – Haa Valley Day Excursion
Day 10 – Fly to Kathmandu
Day 11 – Departure

 

Detailed Itinerary

DAY 1 – ARRIVAL IN KATHMANDU

You can feel it in the air as your plane begins its descent into Kathmandu. Here you are in the amazing Himalayas, the very center of spiritualty for the world. These sacred mountains have long been the source of inspiration for many ancient religions, whether it be Buddhism, Hinduism or the very ancient Bön religion.

The plane touches down, and you quickly deplane. Pass through passport control, grab your luggage and you’re out of the door where you see a sign welcoming you to Kathmandu. It’s your new guide from Asia Buddhist Tours & Treks who has come by private car to take you to your deluxe hotel. Travel to your hotel to relax from your long flight. Enjoy a wonderful dinner before going to bed.

DAY 2 – FLY TO PARO, BHUTAN

The wonderful mountain air of Kathmandu leaves you feeling so rested as you rise, excited about the new day dawning. Arise for a delicious breakfast. Following breakfast your guide will arrive with your private car to take you to the airport to fly to Paro, the gateway to Bhutan. It’s not a long trip, but it is one of amazing beauty. You fly over Mt. Everest and near Mt. Kanchenjunga (3rd highest peak in the world). All along the way are amazing snowcapped peaks as you pass over eastern Nepal, Darjeeling, Sikkim and finally land in western Bhutan.

Here you will meet your Bhutanese guide who takes you to your hotel. Today experience the following:

  • Chipdrel Ceremony – the traditional Bhutanese welcome.
  • Kichu Monastery – Built in the 7th century AD to subdue the demon of the Himalayan region as St. Rinpoche brought Buddhism to Bhutan.
  • National Museum (Ta Dzong). Learn of more of the unique culture of this kingdom to help you understand and appreciate what you will encounter on this trip.
  • Paro Rinpung Dzong – A flagstone path winds its way upwards from a beautiful wooden bridge to enter this Dzong (fortress). Today it is the seat of the local government as well as housing a monastic school.

Return to your hotel for the evening for dinner, followed by bed.

DAY 3 – TRAVEL TO THIMPHU

Thimphu is the new capital city of Bhutan, and is located just 55 km over a good road from Paro. As this is Himalayan country, we are passing from one lush, green valley to the next. We cross over the hill and enter Thimphu where we begin visiting some wonderful places.

  • Memorial Chhorten – a massive Buddhist chhorten (monument) in memory of the third king of the current dynasty who ruled from 1952-1972.
  • Thanka Painting School – See how the traditional Buddhist mandalas and scrolls are created as new generations are taught the intricate ways to produce these sacred paintings.
  • Handicrafts Emporium – See and purchase amazing Bhutanese textiles and handicrafts that help support the indigenous people of Bhutan.
  • Golfing! Following lunch, rent a set of clubs and play nine holes on probably the most beautiful of golf courses anywhere.
  • Tashichho Dzong – This is the main governmental building where the King’s throne room is housed as well as the main government offices. Also here is where the Chief Abbot and the central monastic body of Buddhists reside in the summer months.

DAY 4 – TRAVEL TO PUNAKHA (77 km, 3 hours)

Your stomach wakes you up as your nose can smell a good breakfast just waiting for you. Today we will leave Thimphu and head to Punakha by way of the awesome Dochula Pass. This pass rises to an elevation of 3100 m/10,171 ft. From its lofty heights, we can see the wonderful snowcapped peaks of the eastern Himalayas, including Mt. Gangar Punsum, the highest peak in Bhutan. We enjoy a cup of tea as we listen to the prayer flags flutter in the wind.

It’s downhill from the pass as we make our to the city of Punakha. Situated on the confluence of the Pochu and Mochu Rivers, it was an ancient fortress as sell as the former winter capital of the country. The monks still journey here from Thimphu to Punakha every winter as the climate is warmer. We will see the ancient fortress at the confluence of the two rivers, enjoying the alpine views in this wonderful valley. Dinner in the evening,

DAY 5 – TRAVEL TO BUMTHANG (212 km, 8 hour drive)

We journey again today, this time to the ancient city of Bumthang. On the way, we stop to see Trongsa Dzong at Trongsa. This is the ancestral home of the royal family of Bhutan. It’s watchtower dates back to 1648 AD and the structure is still in use today as the administrative center for the area. It is also home to a Buddhist monastic school. It has some incredible architecture to admire. We finally arrive at our hotel in Bumthang for dinner and sleep.

DAY 6 – TOUR BUMTHANG

It’s the start of a fascinating day in this ancient place. After breakfast, we will tour the city. Sights include:

  • Jakar Dzong – erected in 1646, it has served as fort as well as administrative center with unique architecture.
  • Several Buddhist Monasteries, including Jambay Lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang and Kencho Sum Lhakhang.
  • Journey to the sacred pilgrimage site of Membar Tso or “the flaming lake”. This sacred place attracts Buddhist pilgrims from around the world.

Return to your hotel in the evening to enjoy dinner.

DAY 7 – TRAVEL TO GANGTEY AND PUNAKHA

It’s another day of travel as we leave Bumthang and make our way to Punakha. Along the way, we enjoy some time at Gangtey. Rising to an elevation of 3000 meters, this alpine meadow offers superb views of the Black Mountains. We stop for pictures and lunch, a definite highlight of the day.

DAY 8 – TRAVEL TO PARO

We are returning to Paro, our starting point as we will spend three nights here. Paro is an amazing valley, surrounded by high cliffs with wonderful monasteries. It’s 140 km to Paro, taking us four hours. We will stop at Chhime Lhakhang, which is also called the Temple of Fertility. This sacred temple was built centuries ago by St. Lam Drukpa Kuenley. Affectionately knows as the “Mad Monk”, he attacked corrupt practices that were taking place in the Buddhist faith at that time. His teachings helped to reform Mahayana Buddhism in Bhutan. His temple, complete with the giant phallus, is a place where childless couples travel to seek divine intervention so they can conceive.

We arrive in Paro to our hotel for dinner and fellowship with our fellow travelers before its off to bed.

DAY 9 – SIGHTSEEING IN PARO

Eat hearty this morning, because you’re going to need the extra energy to complete this day! It’s a morning hike to reach the most famous place in Bhutan: Taktsang Monastery. It’s also known by its English name, The Tiger’s Nest and the monastery hangs off a cliff nearly 1000 meters above the Paro Valley floor. Twelve centures ago, the Buddhist Saint Guru Padmasambhava brought Buddhism to Bhutan. It is said the evil spirits fought against him. To combat the forces of evil, it is said that he flew to the cave behind what is now the monastery on the back of a female tiger and meditated here for three months.  

It is a beautiful hike to the monastery as we make our way upwards. We lunch near the monastery at the Taktsang Cafeteria. The entire trip takes around five hours with breathtaking views! In the evening, return to the hotel for dinner and a cultural program before bed.

DAY 10 – HAA VALLEY DAY EXCURSION

It’s a day of incredible sightseeing as we make our way after breakfast to the beautiful Haa Valley.  The Valley is separated from Paro by the Chele-La Pass (elev. 4200 m/13,780 ft.). WE stop to admire the outstanding majesty of the eastern Himalayas as well as the various valleys below us.  From up here, we have a wonderful fvuew of Mt. Chomolhari and Jichu Drakey, two of the highest mountains in Bhutan. Up here, we will have time to walk around and to do some exploring.

From Chele-La Pass, it’s an hour (22 km) to Haa Valley which we will explore. The Haa Dzong was an ancient military fortress (this area was once a constant war zone with neighboring Tibet). It is still a fortress occupied by the Bhutanese military, but we will still be able to admire its unique architecture from centuries ago.

The Haa Valley contained two important and interesting monasteries:

  • Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple)
  • Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple).

We return to Paro for dinner, enjoying the crisp mountain air and the stimulating alpine views to reach our hotel for the night. Enjoy the time with your fellow travelers at dinner before going to bed.

DAY 11 – FLY TO KATHMANDU

We rise early on our last day in Bhutan. We are thankful and feeling alive from these wonderful days in Bhutan.  We enjoy our final Bhutaneses breakfast. The bus is waiting for us to take us to the airport to fly back to Kathmandu. We fly along the same route we took to reach Bhutan, looking down at the highest mountains in the world.  Once we return to Kathmandu, it’s a free day. In the evening, we will enjoy a farewell dinner. Return to our hotel following dinner for our last night sleeping in the wonderful alpine air.

DAY 12 – DEPARTURE

Our journey to the spiritual center of the world has come to an end. These 12 days have been awesome as the spirituality as well as the beauty of the land touches our very soul. The journey has brought you closer to Buddhism and its path to enlightenment. As your soul yearns for the peace that the Lord Buddha taught, doesn’t it make sense to return to Nepal to study further? Asia Buddhist Tours & Treks features some special tours of Nepal where you can travel to sacred places and be taught tantric dance, meditation and the philosophy of Buddhism by lamas and masters who have had decades of training to be our spiritual guide.

Before making that trip by private vehicle to the airport, be sure to ask your friend and guide from Asia Buddhist Tours & Treks about these, and other such trips. The path to enlightenment is here before you. Isn’t it time to take that journey with Asia Buddhist Tours & Treks?

Cost Includes
2 Nights Accommodations in a deluxe hotel in Kathmandu A minimum of 3 star accommodations in Bhutan on twin sharing basis
A licensed Bhutanese tour guide for the extent of your stay in Bhutan. Kathmandu – Paro – Kathmandu flights
SUV car and driver All three meals with evening tea.
Farewell dinner in Kathmandu Museum entrance fees
Road Permit/Special Permits/Taxes Ponies (in Paro for Tiger’s Nest Monastery)
Cost Excludes
Drinks Personal extras such as phone calls, laundry, shopping, spa, etc.
Luxury hotels (4 & 5 star premiums available) Guide other than English language.
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No Departure Date with Pricing Available as of Yet.

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