According to Lonely Planet, Bhutan is the top country to visit in 2020: here’s why we agree: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/lonely-planet-2020-bhutan/. A magical kingdom in the Himalayas nestled between two spiritual hubs, Tibet and India, it would be hard not to feel closer to enlightenment in this hidden paradise.. Bhutan is quite possibly the most environmentally friendly country in the world; by law, 60% of the country must remain protected national forest and the country actually absorbs more carbon than it uses.. Journey to Taktsang, commonly known as the Tiger’s Nest, the small monastery clinging to a rocky cliff 900 metres above the valley floor, and soak in its magnificence.
Bhutan is Asia’s best-kept secret. Overshadowed and nestled between China and India, it is a relatively new travel spot, with many undiscovered secrets in its natural scenery and quiet townships. The land is dotted with red-clothed monks, ancient Buddhist temples, and friendly smiles. It is one calm country, where gross national happiness is more important than money, where chilies are used as a vegetable rather than for spice, and the thunder dragon, Druk, is emblazoned on the national flag, symbolising the people of Bhutan: loyal, patriotic and living with a total sense of belonging within the kingdom.
Breakfast Included: 6 Lunches Included: 6 Dinner Included: 6
Paro - Thimphu
After arrival at Paro Airport and making your way through immigration and customs formalities, you will be greeted by your guide and driver and warmly welcomed to the enchanting Land of the Thunder Dragon. Drive for approximately 2 hours alongside mountains, rivers, and fields of red rice to Thimphu, Bhutan's capital city. After lunch, you may visit Nado Poizokhang Incense Factory, Bhutan’s famous traditional incense maker, as well as the colourful Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre. Once everyone has arrived, you’ll have a joining meeting and dinner before wandering and exploring the fascinating streets of Thimphu, the world’s only capital city without a traffic light!
Today begins with a pleasant walk that meanders gently up the valley through paddy fields, pristine woodlands, and a Tibetan village, a trail that continues uphill (1 hour) to the Cheri Dorji Dhen monastery – built in 1620 by Shabdrung, the first ruler of Bhutan. Enjoy a picnic lunch before returning to Thimpu for an afternoon of sightseeing. Begin by visiting the National Memorial Chorten – many Thimphu residents consider this to be the heart and soul of Thimphu and gather here every day to pray and walk clockwise around the chorten. Afterward, visit Drubthob Nunnery, the Choki Traditional Art School, and the incredible National Textile Museum. If you’re in the mood for a spot of shopping, the National Handicrafts Emporium offers high-quality traditional goods and a small family-run enterprise that manufactures paper and paper products using traditional methods.
This morning, drive to Punakha – the ancient winter capital of Bhutan. Stop at Dochu-La pass for a breathtaking view of the eastern Himalayas, including Bhutan's highest mountain, the majestic Gangkhar Puensum. Continue the journey before taking another break. Enjoy a short walk to visit Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple built in 1499 by lama Drukpa Kunley. With its three towers, and wonderful location at the confluence of two rivers, it is considered by many to be the most beautiful of Bhutan’s 21 Dzongs. Arrive in Punakha for a good night’s rest before another day of exploration tomorrow.
Head down to the convergence of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu Rivers, two of the main rivers of Bhutan, and admire breathtaking views of the majestic Punakha Dzong, the second oldest and second-largest Dzong in the country, as well as the cantilever bridge that spans across the river. Afterward, you might like to join your leader for an optional hike to Khamsum Yulley Monastery – an elaborately decorated chorten, built to ward off evil spirits and bring peace and harmony to all living things. As with many monasteries in Bhutan, your leader will need to hunt around for the caretaker with the keys to have a look inside!
Thimpu - Paro
This morning head back over the Dochu-La and continue to Thimphu (approximately 4 hours) The roads in Bhutan are narrow, and while the distances don’t appear to be very far, due to the nature of the roads and the many valleys they pass through, travelling can take some time – so this is a good chance to relax and refresh. After lunch in Thimpu, continue by vehicle into the Paro Valley. This evening, experience Bhutanese hospitality and a taste of tradition with a home-cooked meal at the rustic Tshering Farm House. Soak up the friendly atmosphere and try your hand at Bhutan's national sport, archery, with an introductory lesson.
Tiger's Nest Monastery
After an early breakfast followed by a short drive, prepare for your hike to the legendary Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) – a magnificent monastery, clinging on a rock cliff 900 meters above the valley floor. After approximately 1 hour ascending the mountainside, reach a small teahouse that has a wonderful panoramic view of the temple and the ideal place to enjoy lunch. For those interested, it’s possible to get a closer view by hiking another 45 minutes to 1 hour (each direction) to reach the small chorten directly across from the temple. Anyone not interested in hiking any further can relax at the teahouse and enjoy the view.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your hotel before a departure transfer to Paro airport for your flight out of Bhutan.