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Historic Bhutan tour 11D/10N

The Highlights

  • Paro
  • Thimphu
  • Punakha
  • Gangtey
  • Trongsa
  • Bumthang
  • Dochula Pass
  • Many monasteries and other historical sights

Description

The historic Bhutan tour takes you on a journey in the history of Bhutan, as you travel along the country’s main historic sights. 

It is easy to come up with many valid reasons to plan a trip to Bhutan. Allow us to give you a few:

  • Bhutan’s nature is protected by the government and offers thousands of breathtaking views. You won’t find any plastic bags here because they are simply… banned!
  • If you currently live in a city, Bhutan is the ultimate place to enjoy vast open space.
  • How many of your friends have visited Bhutan? Probably not a lot… you will have cool stories to share after your Bhutan trip.
  • The crime rate in Bhutan is almost zero; you won’t find a safer country.
  • Bhutan is the world’s only capital with no traffic lights.
  • Bhutan is one of few countries that have kept their cultural authenticity.
  • Exploring Bhutan is like traveling back in time; many rural areas have remained unchanged for centuries.

If you are interested in the history of Bhutan, this tour is a perfect opportunity to explore Bhutan and its history under the guidance of one of the best guides in Bhutan.

Itinerary

Day 1: Paro (2,280 m ASL) 

  • Upon arrival at the airport, you are warmly welcomed by your guide and transferred to your hotel.
  • After lunch, you visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower built in 1656 and renovated in 1968. Ta Dzong now houses the National Museum. Below the museum is the Rimpung Dzong, which means “the Heap of Jewels”. It is the center of the civil and religious authority in this valley.
  • Dinner and overnight stay are at the Tashi Namgay Resort or similar.

Day 2: Paro – Chele La Pass (3,988 m ASL) – Paro

  • After breakfast, you drive to Chele La Pass at an altitude of 3,988 m ASL. This takes approximately one and a half hours.
  • The Paro Valley is the highest road pass in the country and offers an amazing view on the Himalayas. Jhomolari is Bhutan’s most sacred peak at 7,314 m ASL.
  • You hike around the pass for a few hours.
  • In the afternoon, you return to Paro for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 3: Paro – Thimphu (2,320 m ASL)

  • In the early morning, you visit the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong, situated 16 km further up the valley. Drukgyal Dzong was built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan. The Dzong was destroyed by an accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories. If the weather is good, you have an impressive view on Jhomolhari. On the way back, you visit Kichu Lhakhang, built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan King Srongsen Gampo.
  • You take the same way back towards Satsam Chorten, on a trail that climbs through beautiful pine forest. Many trees are festooned with Spanish moss and some are decorated with fluttering prayer flags.
  • After a lunch break, a short walk takes you to the viewpoint from where you can spot the Taktsang monastery. The first Lhakhang was built by the Penlop of Paro around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in 1684. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend says that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD, flew here on the back of a flying tiger.
  • In the evening, you drive to Thimphu. On the way, you visit the Tamchog Monastery built by Thangthong Gyalpo in the 15th century. Thangthong Gyalpo is popular known as Lama Chazampa, which translates as the “Iron Bridge Builder”.
  • Dinner and overnight stay are at Hotel Migmar or similar.

Day 4: Thimphu sightseeing 

  • You start your day with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten (1974), built in honor of late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, and to the Dupthop Lhakhang. Dupthop Lhakhang is one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan.
  • Afterwards, you visit the National Library, full of ancient Buddhist manuscripts. You also visit the Painting School, where traditional art is kept alive with courses in the art of Thangkas painting.
  • After lunch, you drive to the Traditional Medicine Institute where medicines are still prepared according to ancient practices. In Lungtenzampa, you can witness the Royal silver smiths and the Bhutanese paper factory at work. Another highlight for today is a visit to the Tashichho Dzong, seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body. The Tashichho Dzong also includes the summer residence of the Je Khenpo, Bhutan’s Chief Abbott.
  • The final visit of the day is the Handicrafts Emporium, where you can buy souvenirs for your loved ones.
  • Dinner and overnight stay are at Hotel Migmar or similar.

Day 5: Thimphu sightseeing

  • After breakfast, you visit the Folk Heritage Museum, the Textile Museum, the Changangkha Lhakhang and the Philatelic Office.
  • Dinner and overnight stay are at Hotel Migmar or similar.

Day 6: Thimphu – Punakha (1,310 m ASL)

  • After breakfast, you drive to Punakha via the Dochula Pass. On a clear day, you stop here for magnificent views on the higher Himalayas. You also stop at the Chimi Lhakhang, built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley in the 15th century. He subdued the demons with his “magical thunderbolt”. This temple is also known as “the temple of fertility”.
  • After a lunch break, you visit the Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and located between the Pho Chu (Male River) and the Mo Chu (Female River). For many years this Dzong served as the seat of the Government and the construction was foretold by Guru Rimpoche, who predicted that “…a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant”. There is also a smaller building called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that houses a statue of Buddha. It is said that Shabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue. While Palep was sleeping, the Shabdrung took him into his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From this vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which in according the tradition, was never designed on paper. The Dzong is named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (the Palace of Great Happiness). The war materials captured during the battle with the Tibetans are preserved in this Dzong. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo, the Chief Abbot of the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan. The third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, convened the First National Assembly here in 1952.
  • Dinner and overnight stay are at the Punatsangchhu cottages or similar.

Day 7: Punakha – Gangtey (3,120 m ASL)

  • After a lunch break, we visit the Punakha Dzong. Built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and located between the Pho Chu (Male River) and the Mo Chu (Female River). For many years until this Dzong served as the seat of the Government. The construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche, who predicted, “…a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant”. There is a smaller building here, called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that houses a statue of Buddha. It is said that Shabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue. While Palep was sleeping, the Shabdrung took him into his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From this vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which in according the tradition, was never designed on paper. The Dzong is named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (the Palace of Great Happiness). The war materials captured during the battle with Tibetans are preserved in this Dzong. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo (The Chief Abbot of the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan). The third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk convened the First National Assembly here in 1952. Dinner and overnight in Punatsangchhu Cottages or similar.

Day 8: Gangtey – Trongsa – Bumthang (2,800 m ASL) 

  • After breakfast, you drive to Trongsa, where you visit Bhutan’s most impressive dzong, Trongsa Dzong, built in its present form in 1644 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa. He was the official who was sent by Shabdrung to unify eastern Bhutan. Trongsa Dzong is the ancestral home of the present royal family. Next, you go to Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower. The chapel inside the Ta Dzong is said to be dedicated to the Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal.
  • You continue your journey to Bumthang, for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 9: Bumthang sightseeing (2,800 m ASL)

  • You start the day with a visit to Jakar Dzong, “the castle of the white bird”.
  • Next stop is the Jambay Lhakhang, built by King Srongsen Gampo of Tibet in the year 659. The temple was visited by Guru Rimpoche during his visit to Bumthang and was renovated by Sindhu Raja after Guru Rimpoche restored his life force. Some people claim there is a lake under the temple in which Guru Rimpoche hid several Terma. One of the most spectacular festivals, “Jambay Lhakhang Drup” takes place here every year in October.
  • After lunch, you go to Kurjey Lhakhang, named after Guru Rimpoche’s body print. Next visit is the Tamshing Lhakhang, the “temple of the right message”. This temple was constructed in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and is the most important Nyingmapa temple in the kingdom.
  • In the evening, you visit the Membarstho, which translates as “the burning lake”.
  • Dinner and overnight stay are at the Swiss Guest House or similar.

Day 10: Bumthang – Thimphu (2,320 m ASL) 

  • Rise and shine for an early breakfast, as today you return to Thimphu. Lunch is served along the way.
  • Dinner and overnight stay are at Hotel Migmar or similar.

Day 11: Departure

  • In the early morning, you drive to the airport for your flight to your next destination.

Included

  • Accommodation based on twin share (supplement for single room: 40$/day per room)
  • All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  • All transport within the country
  • All sightseeing and excursions, as mentioned in the itinerary
  • A licensed Bhutanese tour guide during your stay
  • Visa fee (40$/person)
  • A sustainable tourism Royalty of $65. This Royalty goes towards free education, free healthcare, poverty alleviation, along with the building of 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 tips or any other services
  • Mineral water, soft drinks, etcetera
  • Camera fees
  • Any cost arising due to 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 (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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