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Bhutan Explore Tour Package - 13 Days

Punakha Dzong
Bhutan Explore Tour Package

Bhutan Explore Tour Packages is exploring the prime location in Bhutan including the remote corners of the land of the thunder dragon. The tour allows travelers to witness the pristine landscapes, unique culture & traditions, pay a visit to the ancient monasteries & temples, go for a day hikes to the most beautiful locations in Bhutan like Khansum Chorten-Punakha, Gangtey Nature trail and the ever popular hike to the Taktsang Monastey ‘Tiger’s Nest’ located at 3120 meters outskirts of Paro town. After exploring around the colorful Paro, Thimphu – the tiny capital, Punakha – the old capital and Gangtey ‘Phobijikha Valley’- one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan, the tour proceeds to Central Bhutan toward Bumthang Valley. Bumthang is the cultural heartland of Bhutan where some of the oldest monasteries and temples are located. Bumthang consists of the Chumey, Choekhar, Tang, and Ura Valleys. In Bumthang, visit the old monasteries like Kurje Lhakhang, Jambey Lhakhang, Tamshing Lhakhang, Jakar Dzong. Next day, day-excursion to the Tang Valley, one of the most remote valleys in Bumthang valleys and back to Bumthang. You will have to pass through Membartsho – the burning lake, in order to get to Tang. Afterwards, trace the same route back to Paro passing over Gangtey, Wangdue, Dochula pass en-route visiting the Haa Valley closer to the Paro town. All in all Bhutan Explore tour is exploring the western and the central Bhutan, observing the daily lives of the people living in high Himalayas, visiting the oldest monasteries and temples and basically what the best Bhutan has to offer in around 13 days program.

Day to day itinerary:

Day 01: Arrive Paro (2250m)
Day 02: Paro – Thimphu (2350m)
Day 03: Thimphu – Punakha (1310m)
Day 04: In Punakha – Khansum Chorten hike – Gangtey (2320m)
Day 05: In Gangtey – Gangtey Nature trail hike
Day 06: Gangtey – Bumthang (2800m)
Day 07: In Bumthang (2800m)
Day 08: Bumthang – Ura (2850m) – Bumthang (2800m)
Day 09: Bumthang – Gangtey (2320m)
Day 10: Gangtey –Thimphu (2350m)
Day 11: Thimphu – Haa (3988m) – Paro (2250m)
Day 12: In Paro – Hike to Taktsang Monastery ‘Tiger’s Nest’ (3120m)
Day 13: Paro – Depart

Trip Highlights:

• Witness spectacular bird’s eye view of the Himalayas while flying in/out from Paro.
• Explore Paro exploding with colors and tradition.
• Guided city tour of the tiny capital Thimphu.
• Punakha Dzong – the most beautiful monastery in Bhutan.
• Explore the Phobjikha Valley in Gangtey, the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan.
• Bumthang- the religious heartland of Bhutan & home to oldest monasteries & temples.
• Visit Kurje Lhakhang, Jambey Lhakhang & Tamshing Lhakhang in Bumthang.
• Jakar Dzong – “the castle of the white bird” & Ura Lhakhang.
• Spectacular view of the Bhutan’s highest peak, Gangkhar Puensum (7,500 m) from Ura Valley.
• Day excursion to the Haa Valley & Chelela pass (3899m)
• Hike to Taktsang Monastery ‘Tiger’s Nest’ (3120 meters)
• Kyichu Lhakhang – the oldest & most sacred shrine in Paro.
• Witness unique culture, tradition and lifestyles of Bhutan.

What to expect:

The typical itinerary for this tour basically visits the following locations/landmarks.

Day 01: Arrival Paro & transfer to Thimphu – Meet at the airport & transfer to Paro town for lunch. Visit Paro Ringpung Dzong. Overnight at Paro.

Day 02: Drive Paro to Thimphu – Sightseeing at Thimphu visiting Buddha Terrance, Takin Preserve to see Takin- Bhutan’s national animal, Tashichoe Dzong, Memorial Chorten, Centenary Farmers Market, the new authentic craft bazaar, National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Folk Heritage Museum etc.

Day 03: Thimphu to Punakha – Drive Thimphu to Punakha. En-route pass along Dochula pass (3050m) from where great Himalayan view can be seen in a clear day. Take a short hike to Chimi Lhakang ‘the temple of fertility’ dedicated to Drukpa Kunley. Visit Punakha Dzong arguably the most beautiful dzong in Bhutan located at the confluence of Po Chu and Mo Chu Rivers.

Day 04: In Punakha, early morning hike to Khansum Chorten then drive to Gangtey (2320m)

Day 05: In Gangtey, visit Gangtey Monastery & start off the Gangtey Nature trail hike just below the monastery.

Day 06: Drive from Gangtey to Bumthang passing along Chendebji Chorten & Trongsa (Trongsa Dzong is the largest dzong fortress in Bhutan) for about 5 hours

Day 07: In Bumthang sightseeing visiting the oldest monasteries in Bhutan like Kurje Lhakhang, Jambey Lhakhang, Tamshing Lhakhang, Jakar Dzong, “the castle of the white bird”. Later on strolling around the Bumthang’s market area.

Day 08: Bumthan to Ura Valley (2850m) from where Bhutan’s highest peak, Gangkhar Puensum (7,500 m) can be spotted then back to Bumthang (2800m)

Day 09: Drive from Bumthang to Gangtey passing along Trongsa for about 5 hours drive.

Day 10: Drive from Gangtey to Thimphu again passing along Dochula pass for another spectacular mountain view for about 4 hours drive.

Day 11: Drive Thimphu to Paro, en-route visit the Haa Valley (3988m) crossing over the Chelela pass (3899 m)

Day 12: In Paro ‘Taktsang Monastery aka Tiger’s Nest Hike – Early in the morning, hike to Taktsang Monastery ‘Tiger’s Nest’ (3120m). Then visit Kyichu Lhakhang.

Day 13: Paro Depart- Transfer the airport for the onward flight.

Detailed Itinerary:

Day 01: Arrive Paro

Arrive Paro by the Bhutanese National Carrier flying over the world’s highest mountains including Mt. Everest. As you step down from the plane, a cool and clean fresh air greets the visitor, the first gift of Bhutan. After clearing customs and visa formalities, meet the representatives and the Bhutanese guide, head out to Paro town for lunch. Visit the Paro Rignpung Dzong in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan. Overnight at Hotel in Paro (Lunch/Dinner included)

Day 02: Paro – Thimphu (2350m)

After breakfast, drive to Thimphu (1 hour drive). sightseeing round Thimphu visiting many landmarks like Buddha Terrance, Takin Preserve to see Takin – Bhutan’s national animal, Tashichoe Dzong, Memorial Chorten – a monument erected in memory of Bhutan’s third king H.M. Jigme Dorji Wangchu, Centenary Farmers Market, the new authentic craft bazaar, National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Folk Heritage Museum – a 300 year old traditional house converted into a museum. Overnight at Hotel in Thimphu (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included)

Day 03: Thimphu – Punakha (1310m)

After breakfast, drive to Punakha from Thimphu for about 2-3 hours. After steeply climbing through the pine & cedar forests come Dochula pass (3,050 m). The pass commands panoramic Himalayan views of the eastern mountains in a clear day. After stopping here for tea and witnessing spectacular Himalayan panorama, the road descends along a series of hairpin bends to the fertile valley of Punakha. En-route Punakha, take a short hike to Chimi Lhakhang ‘the fertility temple’ built in 1499 dedicated to Drukpa Kunley. Today mostly visited by the women who couldn’t bear Children, thus also known as the temple of fertility. In Punakha, visit Punakha Dzong crossing the bridge. It’s the ancient capital of Bhutan connecting the Mo Chu & Pho Chu Rivers. It is also the winter capital for the monks and the Je Khenpo (chief abbot) Overnight at Hotel in Punakha (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included)

Day 04: In Punakha – Khansum Chorten hike – Gangtey (2320m)

Early in the morning, hike up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyel Chorten erected by Royal queen mother for the purpose of present king in 2002. It offers a great view of the lower valley. At the temple one could see three different sect of Mahayana Buddhism. Then drive to Gangtey via Wangdue. The drive is through winding mountain road passing along oak and rhododendron forests, over the high pass and down to the Phobijikha Valley considered one of the most beautiful glacial valleys in Bhutan. Phobijikha Valley is also the chosen home for the black necked cranes that migrate from Tibetan plateau during winter. Overnight at Hotel in Gangtey (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included)

Day 05: In Gangtey – Gangtey Nature trail hike

After breakfast, visit the Gangtey Monastery and just down below the monastery, go for the Gangtey nature trail hike for about 1 & half hour through the jungle before emerging to the valley floor. Overnight at Hotel in Gangtey (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included)

Day 06: Gangtey – Bumthang (2800m)

Drive 5 hours to Bumthang valley first climbing rapidly through a series of hairpins out of Trongsa and there are great views back to the Dzong and out across the valley. Visit the incredible Trongsa Dzong fortress. After passing through cultivated fields for a while, the trail re-enters the forest and reach the Yotong La (3400m). Descending to a low point of 2650m at a village called Chumey; the scenery is once again totally different as the route enters the wide-open Bumthang valleys. It takes about an hour to get to the roadside at Chumey, the first of the four valleys in Bumthang. Overnight at Hotel in Bumthang (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included)

Day 07: In Bumthang (2800m)

Sightseeing in Bhutan includes visit to Kurje Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom as Bhutan’s “patron saint”, Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) meditated here. From Kurje monastery, a tarmac road heads south along the right bank of the river to Jambey Lhakhang. This temple, erected by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century, is one of the two oldest in Bhutan (the other being Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro). Hike to Tamshing Lhakhang after lunch, founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa. It contains interesting and ancient Buddhist wall paintings. Afterwards, visit Jakar Dzong, “the castle of the white bird”. PM: Stroll through Bumthang’s market area before returning to the hotel. Overnight at Hotel in Bumthang (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included)

Day 08: Bumthang – Ura (2850m) – Bumthang (2800m)

Visit the Ura valley today which is 42 kilometers from Bumthang. The road reaches the Ura Shelthangla from where a magnificent view of Bhutan’s highest peak, Gangkhar Puensum (7,500 m) can be spotted. The road then descends into Ura valley by long loops across fields and pastures. Ura’s main occupation is raising sheeps, yaks and the introduction of potato farming has brought a certain degree of prosperity of people. Visit Ura Lhakhang built in the 1986 and two storey temple constructed in a traditional Bhutanese style and is dedicated to Guru Rimpoche. PM: drive back to Bumthang. Overnight at Hotel in Bumthang (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included)

Day 09: Bumthang – Gangtey (2320m)

After breakfast, re-trace the same route back towards Gangtey and the road journey today is bit longer with 8 hours of drive. Upon arrival at Gangtey, check-in hotel. Overnight at Hotel in Gangtey (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included)

Day 10: Gangtey –Thimphu (2350m)

After early breakfast, drive towards Thimphu for about 4 hours. Cross over the Dochula pass and again another nice opportunity to witness the spectacular Himalayan ranges of the eastern mountains. Overnight at Hotel in Thimphu (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included)

Day 11: Thimphu – Haa (3988m) – Paro (2250m)

From Thimphu drive towards Haa over the Chelela pass (3899m). One can witness spectacular Himalayan view including the valley beyond from the pass. Haa Valley was opened upon only from 2002 and consists of five counties. There is a military camp by the Indian Army. Visit Wangchucklo Dzong dating back to 1915 and Lhakhang Nakpo (Black temple) is said to have been built by pigeon emanation of King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and Lhakhang Karpo (white temple). Afterwards, drive back to Paro. Overnight at Hotel in Paro (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included)

Day 12: In Paro – Hike to Taktsang Monastery ‘Tiger’s Nest’ (3120m)

Early in the morning, drive to the base of Taktsang for the hike up to the monastery. Start the hike up until reaching the cafeteria which takes about 2 hours. From here enjoy spectacular view of the Taktsang Monastery. Further hike from the cafeteria (the half-way point) will reach the monastery where it’s believed that Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigress in 8th century.

After breakfast drive towards the base camp of Taktsang for the hike up to the Taktsang Monastery-Tiger’s Nest. It’s about two hours hike up the cafeteria. From this point, enjoy the spectacular view of the monastery, where Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigress in 8th century. Then visit the Taktsang Monastery and hike back to the road point then drive to Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines in Bhutan. Afterwards, back to hotel. Overnight at Hotel in Paro (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included)

Day 13: Paro – Depart

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your onward flight. Bid farewell to the remote and legendary Dragon Kingdom disappearing again behind its guardian mountains. (Breakfast only)

Cost Details:

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Includes the following service during Bhutan tour:
• Airport pick-up and drop-off by private vehicle.
• 3-star accommodation (4 & 5 stars may require an additional premium).
• Bhutan visa fee – including all necessary processing
• Route Permit
• Three meals per day during your stay in Bhutan
• A licensed Bhutanese tour guide
• All land transportation by private vehicle
• Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours
• Sightseeing as per itinerary
• Monuments entrance fees where applicable
• Drinking water
• All internal taxes and charges
• A sustainable development fee of $65. (This sustainable development fee goes towards free education, free healthcare, poverty alleviation, along with the building of infrastructure.)

Excludes in the package cost:

• Airfare & Travel Insurance
• Expenses of personal nature, Tips to guides and drivers
• Expenses occurred due to unavoidable events i.e. road wrecks, flight delays etc.

Trip Note

Visas to Bhutan
All citizens except India, Bangladesh and Maldives require visa to enter Bhutan. It requires a readable color copy of your passport and the passport should have at least six months of validity from your Bhutan exit date. Visa fee is US$40 per person. Tour’s full payment must be made before your arrival in Bhutan as per the tourism council of Bhutan – TCB.

Visa procedures
To apply for the visa, you need to send a clear copy of your passports to your travel agent in JPEG or PDF formats via mail. Upon full tour payment receipt, the tourism council of Bhutan then issues the visa clearance letter to your travel agent which in turn will send it to you. Please bring this letter and show at the Paro International Airport in order to get your passport stamped with the actual Bhutan visa. Please note that the VISA service is not offered in Bhutan, travelers have to buy the full-service package from the local tour operator. A printed copy of visa letter also needs to be shown during the check-in at the Druk Air counter. Entering Bhutan overland via Phuentsholing or Samdrup Jokhar, one needs to produce the visa letter at the immigration office.

Accommodation
There’s a wide selection of hotels in Bhutan from 3 star to world-class 5-star hotels at the prominent places like Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey etc. 3-5 star hotel are official government approved hotels. Besides, there are hundreds of standard and budget hotel scattered throughout Bhutan including homestays, farmhouse stays. Travelers daily cost includes stays at the 3 star hotels and using 4 star or 5 star will require additional premium. Top 5 star hotels in Bhutan include Le-meridian, Taj Tashi, Como Uma etc.

Meals
During Bhutan stay all meals are included from breakfast to lunch and dinner. Breakfast and dinners will be at the hotels where travelers are staying and lunch might be at the restaurant during the sightseeing tour. However, on the last day of the tour, the travel agent is obliged to provide breakfast only and any lunch/dinner will be travelers on own. Meals in Bhutan include a mix of Indian, continental including Bhutan special cuisines such as Ema Datshi, Momos etc.

Transportation
Traveling in Bhutan is easy nowadays with Bhutan rapidly developing it’s infrastructures on it’s road-system. Until 1961 traveling in Bhutan was quite difficult with no proper means of transportation in the country. One has to travel either on foot or on mule/horseback. After 1961 modern road construction began with most of the districts and towns getting interconnected via roadways. Nowadays comfortable ground transports and public vehicles are accessible in major cities. Different luxurious cars, SUVs, buses and coaster buses are available for tourists.

Guides
Every guide in Bhutan must complete a training course so that visitors get high-quality professional service. Over 1000 licensed active tours guides are working in the country. Guides specialize either in cultural or adventure tours. All Bhutanese guides are helpful and friendly and proficient in English. Many guides have also learned other languages like German, Japanese, Thai or others for better communication with travelers from these countries. All tour operators must employ only registered and certified guides.

How to get Bhutan
There are two options to get into Bhutan by air or by land. One can fly to Bhutan and land at the only international airport of Bhutan – the Paro International Airport. Alternatively, by land one can enter Bhutan via Phuentsholing from west connecting with Bagdogra Airport, Siliguri-West Bengal or Kakarbhitta-Nepal. Gelephu is the entry point if you are traveling from the central region and Samdrup Jongkhar from the east. Exiting through Samdrup Jongkhar in southeast Bhutan is to connect with Guwahati of India. From Guwahati, you may fly into other Indian cities like Delhi, Bombay or Kolkata. Even though Bhutan shares its border with Tibet, there are not treaties established yet to open the border crossing between these two countries.

Flights to Bhutan
Only two airlines connect Bhutan with the rest of the world, Druk Air (the national flag carrier) & Bhutan Airlines (Privately owned air). These airlines fly into the Paro International Airport in Paro – the only international airport in Bhutan. They too flies from certain cities only like Kathmandu, Delhi, Singapore, Bangkok, Kolkata, Bagdogra. Airlines flight schedules changes by season but there are several flights per week from Kathmandu, New Delhi, Singapore and Bangkok, either direct or via Dhaka, Kolkata or Bagdogra. Flights into Paro are dependent upon the weather conditions due to the geographical location of Paro airport, so flight timings are subject to change. Therefore, all passengers are advised to maintain a minimum of 24 hours connection time to avoid disconnection.

Best time to visit Bhutan
Best time to visit Bhutan is spring (March-May) and Autumn/fall (September-November). Weather mostly remains clear during spring during when mystifying beauty of nature can be witnessed and varieties of flowers and plants bloom. June-August is the summer season and monsoon starts from June. Fall (Sep-Nov) is another high season after spring during when a tourist arrives Bhutan for festivals like Thimphu tshechu, Gangtey tshechu, Jambay Lhakhang drup. Winter season (Dec-Feb) isn’t crowded during when temperature level goes down (even below freezing point) and Bhutan may see snowfall. Trekking won’t be possible at high elevations in winter due to snow.

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