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Bhutan, land of the dragon 5D/4N

The Highlights

  • Paro
  • Ta Dzong
  • Rimpung Dzong
  • Thimphu
  • Taktsang monastery
  • Satsam Chorten
  • Drukyel Dzong
  • Kyichu Lhakhang
  • Tamchog Monastery
  • Punakha
  • Dochula Pass
  • Punakha Dzong
  • Changangkha Monastery
  • Tashichho Dzong

Description

Bhutan, the Himalayan kingdom, is a hidden treasure in the eastern Himalayas. It is located between China (Tibet) to the north, the Indian territories of Assam and West Bengal to the south, Arunachal Pradesh to the east and Sikkim to the west. Bhutan is famous for its Gross National Happiness.

The Bhutan government embraces a sustainable approach to tourism. By law, at least 60% of the country is protected for future generations and must remain forested. Traveling to Bhutan is quite expensive as you have to pay a minimum of 250$ a day. But for this fee everything else, like transportation, accommodation, food and an English speaking guide is provided for.

Bhutan trip feels like traveling back in time. You won’t find many western influences here, but in exchange you get to admire beautiful landscapes, many monasteries, picturesque streets and an authentic culture. A Bhutan trip should be on everyone’s bucket list!

Itinerary

Day 1: arrival in Paro

  • You are welcomed by a representative from our company at the airport and transferred to the hotel.
  • After lunch, you visit the the ancient watchtower of Ta Dzong, which has been the National Museum of Bhutan since 1967.
  • Afterwards, you go to Rimpung Dzong (Paro Dzong), built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The Dzong presently houses administrative offices.
  • Dinner and overnight stay in the Tashi Namgay Resort or similar.

Day 2: Paro sightseeing – Thimphu 

  • After an early breakfast, you go on an excursion to the Bhutan’s most famous monastery, the Taktsang Monastery. A short drive takes you to Satsam Chorten. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest and many of the trees are festooned with Spanish moss and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. We stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria), before going on a short walk to the Taktsang Monastery. The primary Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in 1684 by the Penlop of Paro, Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend claims that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo.
  • After Lunch, you visit the Drukgyel Dzong, built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders in 1644. Unfortunately the Dzong is now in ruins. Its name means “victorious Druk”. The Dzong was used as an administrative center until a fire destroyed it in 1951. From here, we lead you to Kyichu Lhakhang, one of Bhutan’s oldest and most sacred monasteries. Kyichu Lhakhang dates from the introduction of Buddhism in the 8th century. This temple is said to have been built in 659 by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet. It holds the left foot of an ogress whose body is so large that it covers Bhutan and most of eastern Tibet. On the way, you pay a visit to the Tamchog Monastery, built in the 15th century by Thang Thong Gyalpo (popularly known as Lama Chazampa, which literally means “the Iron Bridge builder”). Thang Thong Gyalpo (1385 – 1464) was a wonder-working saint from Tibet who came to Bhutan in 1433 looking for iron ore. He built 108 bridges across Tibet and Bhutan, out of which 8 were built in Bhutan. His only surviving bridge is in Duksum (Tashi Yangtse in Eastern Bhutan).
  • In the evening, you drive to Thimphu. Dinner and overnight stay in Hotel Migmar or similar.

Day 3: Thimphu – Punakha – Thimphu

  • After breakfast, you drive to Punakha via Dochula pass (3,140 m ASL). If the weather is clear, you stop at Dochula pass to admire the higher Himalayas. En route you stop to have a look at Chimi Lhakhang, also called the “temple of fertility” built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who is popularly known as “the devine mad man” in the 15th century. Lama Drukpa Kuenley (1455 – 1529) was one of the Bhutan’s favorite saints who was born in Tibet, trained at the Ralung Monastery and a disciple of Pema Lingpa. He travelled throughout Bhutan and Tibet as a “Neljorpa”(yogi) using songs, humor and outrageous behavior to dramatize his teachings of salvation through sex.
  • After lunch, you visit Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and situated between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). For many years, until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the Government. The construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche, who predicted that, “a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant”. There was a smaller building here called Dzong Chu (small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Shabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue. The Shabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri (paradise) and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From his vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which in line with tradition, was never committed to paper. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (palace of great happiness). The war materials captured during the battle with Tibetans are preserved here. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk convened the First National Assembly here in 1952.
  • In the evening, you return to Thimphu for dinner and overnight stay in Hotel Migmar or similar.

Day 4: Thimphu sightseeing – Paro

  • After breakfast, you visit the National Memorial Chorten, a monument dedicated to the Bhutan’s 3rd king, his late majesty king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The inside paintings and statues provide a very rare insight into Buddhist philosophy.
  • Next on today’s program is a visit to the National Library, which holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts. After this visit you also go to the painting school, the Folk Heritage Museum, the Sangay Gang view point, the Takin Preserve Centre, the Changangkha Monastery and the Nunnery.
  • After lunch, you get to admire the world’s tallest Buddha statue statue, visit the weekend market and witness an archery match. Today’s last stop is at the Tashichho Dzong (fortress of the glorious religion), built in 1641 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and reconstructed in 1961.
  • In the evening, you drive to Paro. Dinner and overnight stay are at the Tashi Namgay Resort or similar.

Day 5: departure

  • After an early breakfast, you go to the airport for your flight to your next destination.

Included

  • Accommodation based on a twin sharing basis (supplement for a single room is 40$/day per room)
  • All meals
  • All transportation within the country
  • All sightseeing and excursions, as mentioned in the itinerary
  • A licensed Bhutanese tour guide during your stay
  • Visa fee (40$/person)
  • A sustainable tourism Royalty of $65. This Royalty goes towards free education, free healthcare, poverty alleviation and infrastructure.
  • Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours

Excluded

  • Insurance: we strongly advise taking a travel insurance as nature can be unpredictable in this mountainous area. 
  • Airport tax and porter
  • Flight tickets Druk Air (Royal Bhutan Airlines)
  • Personal expenses such as laundry, telephone calls, incidentals, portage, bellboy charges tips or any other services
  • Mineral water and soft drinks
  • Camera fees
  • Any cost arising due to natural calamities such as landslides, road blockage, political disturbances (strikes), etcetera (extra costs will be charged to the client and have to be paid on the spot).
  • Anything not specified in the inclusive list.

What to bring

  • Mundooz voucher
  • Things to bring
  • 12 passport pictures (many permits are necessary, depending on the regions you visit)

Visa and entry formalities

Under the policy of “High Value, Low Tourism Impact”, traveling to Bhutan is highly regulated.
All foreigners must obtain a visa before visiting Bhutan except visitors from Bangladesh, India and the Maldives. Our licensed tour operator will pre-arrange all the visa. Upon arrival, the visa is stamped in your passport. Independent traveling of citizens of non-visa exempt countries is prohibited.

FIT

FIT (Free Independent Traveler) is a surcharge by the Bhutanese government of US$30 per person per day for two people and US$40 per day for single travelers.

If you travel with a minimum of 3 people, you don’t have to pay these FIT surcharges anymore. However, it is important to know that in order to take advantage of the FIT surcharge waiver, guests must arrive and depart together on the same scheduled Druk Air flights.

Best time to visit

Bhutan has two main seasons:

  • From the end of February until the end of May
  • From the end of September until the end of December

The rainy season is in June, July, August and halfway through September. It is better to avoid these months.

Notes

Please contact us at info@mundooz.com if you have any questions about this tour.

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