Kingdom of Bhutan Cultural Tour - 11 Nights / 12 Days

An adventure in the Himalayas' last hidden kingdom - Druk Yul, "Land of the Thunder Dragon."

This cultural tour takes you into the hidden kingdom of Bhutan, where the charming and hospitable people have steadfastly clung to their traditions and spiritual heritage. This stunning Himalayan country is a treasure-trove of natural wonders such as mountain vistas and lush green valleys. The winding roads, traditional white-washed homesteads and the rich cultural heritage of monasteries make it a special destination for the adventurous as well as cultural tourists. Life here is infused with ancient traditions, which may seem unreal to a first time visitor.

Trip Style: Touring
Duration: 12 days
Accomodation: Hotels


Fly to Paro, Bhutan, on Druk Air, the national airline of Bhutan. If you get a seat on the left side of the plane and it is not cloudy, you can witness spectacular views of the high peaks of the eastern Himalaya, including peaks in Bhutan such as Chomolhari, Jichu Drakye, and Tsering Kang. After visa formalities at the Paro airport, we drive to our hotel. The rest of the day is free to rest and relax. (L, D) Tenzinling Resort

After breakfast we will drive to the base of the foot hill where we will begin our hike or pony ride to the viewpoint of Taktsang Monastery, 'tiger's nest', perched on a cliff 2,740 feet above the Paro valley. The climb will take about 2 hours going up to reach the viewpoint, and for those wishing to climb up farther, it will be another hours walk. We will have lunch here before returning to Paro.
Taktsang was destroyed by a fire in April 1998, but it is now completely rebuilt. Those not wishing to hike will have the option of visiting the National Museum, housed in an old watchtower above Paro Dzong (a dzong is a fortress-monastery). The museum's collections include displays of spectacular thangkas, bronze statues, Bhutan's beautiful stamps, and the Tshogshing Lhakhang (Temple of the Tree of Wisdom), with its carvings depicting the history of Buddhism. (B, L ,D) Tenzinling Resort

After breakfast, we will drive above Bondey to a trailhead where we can walk about 50 minutes to Dzongdrakha, a small monastery overlooking the Paro Valley built in the 16th century by the first local king, Chogay Dragpa. This monastery is one of five in the area. There is also a large stupa similar to that of Bodhnath in Kathmandu, Nepal. After lunch, we drive to Thimphu. The rest of the day is free to rest and relax. (B, L, D) Hotel KISA

After breakfast we drive towards the north road and hike 2 hours up a steep hill to visit Cheri Monastery which was built in 1620 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. More than 80 monks are undergoing their three-year, three-month retreat here. Inside is a silver chorten holding the ashes of the Shabdrung's father. On our return we'll visit Tango Goemba, founded in the 12th century. The present building was constructed in the 15th century. It is now a Buddhist institute for higher learning. (B, L, D) Hotel Kisa

We drive across the Dochu La 'pass' where we might see the snow-covered peaks of the eastern Himalaya if the weather permits. The pass is marked by hundreds of colourful fluttering prayer flags and is an awesome sight of one hundred and eight stupa. We continue to Punakha, winter seat of the highest lama in Bhutan until the 1950s. We will visit the ancient Punakha Dzong dating back to the 17th century, which is spectacularly situated at the confluence of the Mo and Phu Rivers.
We will also have an optional short hike across the rice paddies to visit nearby Chimi Lhakhang, built by Lama Drukpa Kunley. Legend has it he subdued the demoness of the Dochu La with his 'Magic Thunderbolt of Wisdom.' A wood effigy of the lama's thunderbolt is preserved in the lhakhang, and childless women go to the temple to receive a wang (blessing) from the saint. (B, L, D) Hotel Zangthopelri or Punastangchu

We drive to central Bhutan via Pele La (11,152' )for views of snow-clad peaks, including Chomolhari (24,000'), Bhutan's 'sacred mountain.' Descending the pass, we'll visit the Chendebje chorten, then We cross another pass, the Yotong La (11,234') and possibly do a little shopping with the weavers of the Chummi Valley before arriving in Bumthang (9,000'). Padma Sambhava (known as Guru Rinpoche, 'precious master') introduced Buddhism to Bhutan here in 746, and the area continues to thrive as a spiritual center.
(B, L, D) Wangdicholing or Jakar Village Lodge

This is the cultural heart of Bhutan and the most beautiful valley in Bhutan. Many monasteries and pilgrimage sites are located here, making it the cultural and historic center of Bhutan. One could spend weeks exploring this fascinating valley. We can see a lot from 8th century. The Treasure-Finder, Terton Pema Lingpa, found the sacred Ters of Buddhist texts after diving into Membartsho Lake, which we can visit on an optional hike. We will visit the Jakar Dzong, and the Jambey and Tamshing Lhakhangs, two of the oldest temples, dating as far back as the 8th century, and Kurje Lhakhang. (B, L, D) Wangdicholing or Jakar Village Lodge

After breakfast we drive to Trongsa through a valley where we will see numerous waterfalls. Trongsa is dominated by the large Trongsa Dzong, built in 1644 by Chhogyel Minjur Tenpa, the official who was sent by the Shabdrung to unify eastern Bhutan. The dzong is one of the most impressive in the kingdom, and can be seen from a great distance in its lofty perch above the Mangde Chu. (B, L, D) Sherubling Tourist Lodge

After breakfast to we drive to Wangdue Phodrang, the site of an impressive monastery perched on a promontory on the other side of the river. Wangdue Phodrang Dzong is noted for its silver-shingled roof and narrow courtyards with long balconies. (B, L, D) Dragon's Nest Hotel

Today we'll spend the morning exploring the beautiful monastery Wangdue Phodrang. The sightseeing will take two hours, then we drive to Thimphu, stopping on the way for lunch at the Cafe. After lunch, we continue to Thimphu, set at 7,725 feet in the Wang Chu Valley and check into our familiar hotel . (B, L, D) Kisa hotel

Transfer to the airport for the flight to Delhi. Transfer to your hotel with the rest of the day free. Lunch and dinner on your own.


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