Grand Asian Journeys - vacations and travel

Enchanted Journey Of The Thunder Dragon

Bhutan, Asia

from $2,795* per person 12 Days May, June, September-December
Comfort accommodations Exertion level: 3
Operator: Grand Asian Journeys 16 people max
  • Paro airport, paro, bhutan
  • Culture & Nature trips
Get introduced to Bhutan with handicrafts, costumes and ancient weapons in the National Museum near Paro. Hike to the legendary Taktshang Monastery, also called Tiger’s Nest, on a trail through pine trees festooned with Spanish moss and occasional fluttering prayer flags.

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.

Continue across Bhutan to Trongsa Dzong, overlooking the cascading Mangde River. Engage with Bhutanese people in Chumey Valley while they practice daily livelihoods such as traditional weaving of woolen fabrics. Immerse in a wondrous environment on hikes to some of the holiest places. 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 and unique of the world’s destinations.
Highlights

    Visit the cliff hanging Tiger's Nest
    Explore monasteries and palaces of Paro, Thimpu and Punakha
    Experience Bhutan's natural beauty in the Phojibka and Bumthang valleys

Locations visited/nearby

Bhutan, Asia

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Special information

  • This is a custom departure, meaning this trip is offered on dates that you arrange privately with the provider. Additionally, you need to form your own private group for this trip. The itinerary and price here is just a sample. Contact the provider for detailed pricing, minimum group size, and scheduling information. For most providers, the larger the group you are traveling with, the lower the per-person cost will be.

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 - 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 05 - Punakha to Trongsa
The drive to Trongsa is approximately six hours. Climb steadily through semi-tropical vegetation to Pele la Pass (10,989 feet). Views of the snow-capped peaks, including Mount Chomolhari (23,996 feet), is possible during clear weather. Descend from Pele la Pass through dwarf bamboo forests to Chendebji Chorten. According to legend, this stupa was built in the 18th century by a Lama, to nail a demon into the ground that had been terrorizing the inhabitants of the valley. Continuing our drive to Trongsa, we’ll come to the Trongsa Valley, where the huge fortress of Trongsa dominates the entire landscape on the journey. The view from the fortress, also called Dzong, extends for miles. Nothing could escape the vigilance of its watchmen in ancient times. Overnight at hotel. (All meals)

Day 06 - Trongsa to Bumthang
See the majestic Trongsa Dzong, situated on a mountain spur overlooking the cascading Mangde River. In ancient times, this fortress served as the capitol for the governors of eastern Bhutan and later it served as the capitol of the first and second king of Bhutan. Continue from Trongsa to Bumthang. The road ascends to Yotong La Pass (11,200 feet). Travel downhill to Chumey Valley (8,800 feet) from Yotong La Pass. In Chumey Valley, experience traditional weaving of woolen fabrics in the small village of Tsugney. Cross the Kiki La Pass (9,500 feet) on the way to Choekhor. Overnight at hotel. (All meals)

Day 07 - Explore Bumthang valley
Take in a visit to one of the holiest temples in the country, Kurjey Lhakhang. It is believed that in the eighth century, Guru Padmasambhava, meditated here. Begin a hike here to visit Padmasambhava Lhakhang, another renowned meditation site of Guru Padmasambhava. Padmasambhava Lhakhang was founded by Terton (treasure seeker) Pema Lingpa in the 15th century and was restored by the Grand Queen Mother of the present King. Continue the refreshing hike to Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in the early 16th century by Terton Pema Lingpa. Conclude the hike at Konchogsum Lhakhang, a temple famous for its bell, which bears an inscription from when it was built in the eighth century. Overnight at Hotel. (All meals)

Day 08 - Bumthang to Gangtey
Return to Phobjikha Valley through Trongsa. 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 09 - 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 10 - Phobjikha to Thimpu
Make the scenic return drive to the capitol city of Thimpu. Overnight Hotel. (All meals)

Day 11 - Thimpu to Paro
Relax with breakfast before the return drive to Paro. Drive to Satsham Chorten, built in memory of the late Dilgo Khentse Rimpoche, and continue on to Kyichu Lhakhang, built in the seventh century by Tibetan King Songtsen Gonpo. Take a leisurely hike down to Rimpung Dzong. The hike includes a traditional bridge to cross the stunning river below. Overnight at hotel. (All meals)

Day 12 - Depart for home
Transfer to airport for flight home. (Breakfast)

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