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Bhutan Travel Agents FAM Tour


Average rating Score
100%

Bhutanese Dress
based on 1 review(s)

10 days 9 nights

Code FAM-BT18

Category Fam Tours

  • Group Size 1-16 persons
  • Difficulty Level 2
  • Highest Altitude 3425 m or 11234 ft
  • Trip Starts From Paro, Bhutan
  • Trip Ends At Paro, Bhutan
  • Type Tours
  • Destination Thimphu Phobjikha Jakar (Bumthang) Trongsa Punakha Paro
Dates & Prices

Overview

9-18 Dec, 2019

A small group travel agents FAM tour to the land of fresh air, rich religious and cultural traditions, stupendous mountains, and pristine nature. It is also a land of people who, by official proclamation that is unique in the world, measure their lives not by GNP (Gross National Product), but by GNH (Gross National Happiness)! Bhutan, a country of the size of Switzerland, tucked between Tibet and India, is truly a jewel of the Himalayas – perhaps, some would say, Shangri-La.

This is basically a motor vehicle based tour with some optional day hikes. While the highest altitude attained on this trip is 3425 m (11234 ft), we sleep in lower elevations and so altitude is not a concern. This trip covers the main highlights of western and central Bhutan, and overlaps with an annual Tsechu festival. You’ll join the festival that celebrates the great accomplishments of the Buddhist Saint Guru Padmasambhava, or Guru Rinpoche.

Each travel agent is allowed to bring one companion who could be your family, friend or a client. 

The trip cost does not include the airfare to Bhutan. If you need any help with the airfare booking, we will be happy to do that for you and bill you as it costs.

Trip Date

9-18 Dec, 2019

Trip Price

US$ 1760 Travel agent
US$ 1860 Companion
US$ 350 Private room supplement

Attractions

~Explore the fortresses, monasteries and temples of Bhutan.

~Visit a typical farmhouse to learn the lifestyle of the local farmers.

~Meet the textile weavers, time-honored thangka painters, and the traditional paper makers.

~Experience the traditional hot stone bath to heal common ailments.

~Hike Takstang Monastery, Tango Monastery, Khamsum Yuelley Temple, and the Chimi Lakhang Temple (you can skip the hikes and stay behind with the driver if you wish)

~Join Nalakhar Tsechu festival and enjoy the mask dances!

Is This Trip For You?

  • December is a winter month in Bhutan with chances of night time temperature below freezing point but day time temperature will range anywhere between 51 to 66 degree F. Most hootels do provide electric or traditional bukhari style space heaters. Some hotels do have heating features equipped.
  • There are at least two long day drive, about 6 or 7 hours (Thimphu to Phobjikha and again Phobjikha to Paro). Some sections of the roads are under repair and restoration and travel delays are expected.
  • Visiting Dzongs, temples and monasteries involved often time climbing flight of stairs.
  • There is at least one strenuous hiking-5 or 6 hours round trip but you can skip it and stay back.
  • Bhutan is not destination for fine dining. There are limited choices of dishes available. All meals are served in buffet style and all the guests in the hotel eat the same food.
  • Hotels are three star by local standard and usually small properties with 15 to 30 rooms. All the rooms provide en suite bathroom with running hot and cold water, space heaters, tea coffee makers, basic toiletry supplies. Wi-Fi is intermittent.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01~Arrive in Paro, Bhutan

Flight to Bhutan arrive from Bangkok, Kathmandu, Delhi or Kolkatta. You can book your interntional flight to one of these cities and we will book your onward flight to Bhutan. Bangkok is the most preferred gateway city unless you are traveling to India or Nepal prior to this trip.

Bhutan visa is pre-arranged by us. You will be emailed the visa document three to four weeks prior the trip date. After completing immigration and custom formalities, meet your guide and driver and transfer to the hotel.

After lunch, visit the National Museum housed at Ta Dzong. The museum gives a good introduction of Bhutan's religion, culture and history. It has a rich collection of Buddhist scriptures, murals, Bhutanese textiles, crafts, armors, and philatelic collection. Next, we descend to the impressive Rinpung Dzong Fortress, the district administrative headquarters that is believed to have been built on the heap of jewels!

Now, we take scenic one-hour drive to Thimphu, the capital, with a stop for a short walk at the 13th century temple of Tamchog Lakhang. The temple was built by the famous Tibetan iron-bridge builder Thangthong Gyalpo – architect, physician, teacher, and a saint! The temple is owned and maintained by his descendants.

In Thimphu, we’ll have time to settle in before a walking tour of the tiny city. Thimphu is probably the only capital in the world without any traffic lights! We will take a leisurely stroll and visit the memorial chorten(shrine) of the 3rd King of Bhutan Jigme Dorje Wangchuk, and whatever else time and our interest allows.

 

Overnight: Khang Residency
Meals : Lunch, Dinner
Day 02~Sightseeing and hiking in Thimphu

It will be a busy day in Thimphu. Depending on availability, we will visit some of the attractions as listed below.

Thimphu's weekend market: We begin the day from Thimphu's weekend market where local farmers come to sell their fresh produces. We may also get the chance to watch an archery tournament if any are in progress at the Changlimithang stadium ground during the weekend; Archery is the national sport of Bhutan.

The giant statue of Buddha Dordenma(180 ft tall), popularly known as Buddha point at Kuensel Phodrang.  The statue is made of Bronze and gilded in gold, and will now be one of the venerated sacred landmarks of Thimphu. This is also a popular viewpoint over Thimphu valley.

Takin Reserve in Motithang: A Takin has a cow like head but a goat like body and it is believed that the Tibetan Saint Drukpa Kuenley created this peculiar animal. Takins are the national animals of Bhutan.

Zilukha Nunnery: It's a residence of 40-65 nuns. The main shrine at the Nunnery is dedicated to the famous saint, Drubthob Thang Thong Gyalpo, popularly known as the Leonardo da Vinci of the Great Himalayas and the man who first introduced and built the chain of iron bridges in Bhutan.

Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre: This center produces colorful hand-woven Bhutanese textiles, which is a century old tradition. You are able to see the women at work as they weave the textiles. The center also creates textiles for the royalties.

Tango Goemba Monastery Hiking. The trail to the monastery is a climb of about (280 m/ 918 ft) and takes about 60-90 minutes. On the way, you will meet the commoners, monks, and possibly a caravan of donkeys carrying goods. Once you reach the top, you will be delighted to see this impressive Monastery. Founded in the 12th Century by Lama Drukpa Kuenley, the present structures here are from the 15th and 18th centuries. You will get time to meet with the resident monks here and learn about their monastic life. You can sip tea with monks, perhaps teach them some English and learn some Bhutanese phrases from them in return. The trek down will take less time. After the day of sightseeing, you are transferred back to your hotel and the rest of the evening is at your leisure.

On the way back, stop to visit the majestic Trasichhoe Dzong that houses the King's office, parliament and the central monk body!

Overnight: Khang Residency
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 03~Dhochula Pass and Phobjikha

Buckle up for a long day drive today (84 miles, 7 or 8 hours including stops)! 

Following breakfast, we leave for the isolated Phobjikha Valley. The road soon starts climbing and we will arrive at the famous Dhochula pass (Alt. 3010m/9,872 ft), where you will stop briefly for panoramic views of the snow-capped mountains. Another striking feature of this pass is a group of chortens (pagoda or stupas). Now, the road zigzags down through the changing vegetation from alpine to sub-tropical and arrive in Punakha in about two and half hour. Punakha is in lower altitude (1400m/4, 592 ft) and we will experience a warmer weather here. After lunch, stop we will proceed for another two and half hour drive to Phobjikha.

As we arrive in Phobikha, we stop to visit the prominent Gangtey Gompa of early 17th century. This is the only Nyingmapa monastery in the region.The broad valley with its best-known marshland in Bhutan, is popular for its scenic splendour and cultural uniqueness and is the winter home of black-necked cranes (Grus nigricollis) who migrate all the way from the Tibetan Plateau and Central Asia in the winter season to roost. We will see flocks of the beautiful birds along the way!

Time permitting, also stop in Royal So­ciety for Protection of Nature’s (RSPN), which has informative displays about the black-necked cranes and the valley environment. You can use the centre’s powerful spotting scopes and check what you see against its pamphlet Field Guide to Crane Behaviour.

Overnight: Dewachen Hotel
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 04~Bumthang Valley

A stunning day today, covering 188 km or 117.5 miles over 7 hours! as we backtrack to the main road and head to the east. The road gradually climbs the Black Mountain Range and crosses Pele-la pass (10,824 feet, or 3,300 meters) where the panoramic views include Mount Jhomolhari on the border with Tibet. Below is Trongsa, hometown of the present rulers of Bhutan. At the Chendebji chorten, note the large white monument, which is said to have concealed the remnants of an evil spirit that was vanquished here.

We will have our lunch stop in Trongsa and enjoy meal gazing over the striking Trongsa Dzong. From Tronga, the road climbs to the Youtongla pass (11,234 feet, or 3,425 meters) and then descends to Chume, the first of the four Bumthang valleys. Zugney Village is home to the Yathra workshops, where they make deep-colored wool textiles in a pattern typical to these parts of the country.

Check into your accommodation and balance of the day is at leisure.

Overnight: Rinchenling Lodge
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 05~Explore Bumthang Valley and join Tsechu festival in Nalakhar Temple

After breakfast, we join the Nalakhar Tsechu in Ngaa Lakhang Temple. It's an annual religious event held on the 10th day of a Tibetan lunar month. The celebration features mask dances associated with the biography of Guru Rinpoche who introduced Buddhism into Bhutan. Local devout Bhutanese, dressed in their finest attire join the festival with great enthusiasm.

If you wish, you can spend the entire day enjoying the festival or you can explore the attraction of Bumthang on the second half of the day. We visit the Jambay Lhakhang Temple, which was built in the 7th century by the King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet. Legend has it that this was one of 108 temples he built miraculously in a single night in Tibet and neighboring countries. The next stop – Kurjey Lakhang Temple – also has a story: Kurjey means “body imprint,” and it was built around a cave where Guru Rimpoche meditated and, yes, left his body imprint. 

From here, we take a short walk (30 minutes), crossing a suspension bridge to visit the Tamshing or Tamzhing Monastery, the most important Nyingma monastery of the region, founded by the great Nyingma guru Pemalingpa. Another brief walk will bring us to Kenchosum Lhakhang, probably the region’s most striking monastery. The original temple dates back to the 9th Century, but the current one was rebuilt completely after it was destroyed by fire in 2010. 


Overnight: Rinchenling Lodge
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 06~Trongsa

After breakfast, we will have time to cover more of the sights or spend more time on the festival. 

After lunch, we retrace our drive to Trongsa (68 km or 42.5 mi, 3 hours). We visit the majestic Trongsa Dzong from where the royal family of Bhutan rose into power from. The Dzong is commanding, high above the roaring Mangde Chhu River and is probably the most picturesque architecture of Bhutan. 

Overnight: Yangkhil Resort
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 07~Punakha-the former winter capital

After breakfast, we retrace our drive to Punakha (156 km or 97.5 miles, 5 or 6 hours)-the former winter capital of Bhutan!

You will have time to settle into your room before we go for a short walking tour of Chime Lakhang Temple! It's an easy hike (25 minutes one way), through the villages and the paddy fields! The temple is also known as fertility temple as childless people pay visit to the temple in the hopes of child.

Overnight: Drubchu Resort
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 08~Khamsum Yuelley Temple, Punakha Dzong and Paro

We will have an early start today. First, we go for a 45 minutes long gentle hike to the Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten. The chorten is situated atop a beautiful hillock overlooking the valley. Built by the Queen Mother, the temple is dedicated to the well being of the kingdom and for the benefit of all sentient beings.  We will begin from the Punakha Dzong Fortress, which is among the most impressive fort architectures in Bhutan. In the past, Punakha Dzong fortress served as the winter capital of Bhutan. Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot of Bhutan moved his headquarters to the Trasichoe Dzong in Thimphu. 

After lunch, we retrace our drive to Paro (160 km or 100 mi, 4.5 hours). Upon arrival, check in to your accommodation and balance of the day is at leisure.

Overnight: Khangkhu Resort
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 09~Hike Taktsang Monasery aka Tiger's Nest

Today, we will go on a hike to the legendary Takstang Monastery, also known as the Tiger’s Nest. The Monastery is situated at an altitude of (10,080ft/3150m) up on a vertical rock face overlooking the valley. This is the legendary site where Guru Padmasambhava, flew from Tibet on a tiger’s back and fought the five demons that were creating an obstacle to the path of Buddhism. After a 1-2 hour laborious climb, you will arrive at the cafeteria, which serves as a beautiful viewpoint for the Takstang Monastery. A pony ride may be taken up to this point but for the rest of the trek up to the Monastery and the return trek down; you will be on your own. You will spend some time in the cafeteria, gazing at the Monastery, and will have great photo opportunities. There will be refreshment drinks and then you will continue on the hike a further 45 minutes to get a closer look of the Monastery and the surrounding temples. The return trip is all downhill and takes about half the time it took the way up.

Rest of the day is open for your personal interests. If anybody is interested visiting the town for last minute shopping or take a leisurely stroll through, your driver will be happy to take you to the town.

Optional Hot Stone Bath:
Tonight you may experience a traditional Hot Stone Bath inside a farmhouse. Hot stone baths are an ancient Bhutanese method of curing skin ailments, joint pains, hypertension, stomach disorders, arthritis, and many other minor diseases. Even you don’t have any of these issues; this will help you feel very relaxed after a busy day’s schedule. It costs around US$ 30-35 per person and an advance notice is required. 

Overnight: Khangkhu Resort
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10~Depart Paro

After breafast, you are transferred to the airport in time for flight to your next destination. You can fly out to Bangkok, Delhi or Kolkatta. Flight arrangement will be made by us on additional cost.

Meals : Breakfast

Trip Map

Trip Info

Trip includes

  • 9 nights hotel accommodation on double occupancy basis.
  • Three meals a day. 
  • English speaking local expert tour leader
  • All transfers and sightseeing by a private vehicle
  • Bhutan visa and government royaly
  • Sightseeing admission tickets.
  • Daily bottled water (2 each)
  • Service of airfare booking

Trip does not include

  • Services in the gateway cities.
  • Airfare
  • Drinks, tipping, laundry, phone and other expenses of personal nature.
  • Travel insurance
  • Extra expenses caused due to nature and unforeseen events
  • Optional items as indicated in the itinerary

Trip difficulty, road and transport

Anyone with regular health condition can sign up for this trip, as this is largely a motor vehicle based tour with some optional hikes. You attain the highest altitude of Youtongla pass (3425m/11234 ft) where you have a brief stop only and as our accommodations are in lower altitude. 

There are a few  hiking excursions on this trip. If you are not into hiking, you can stay back with the driver. Traveling from one city to another requires 3-7 hours driving; and some parts of the road may be under paved or damaged due to monsoon erosion. Roads are often carved into hills and follow rivers. If you are traveling during monsoon, there can be temporary blockade due to monsoon. Currently, road to the central Bhutan are being restored and repaired and so travel delays are expected.

We travel in a Mini Van and Japanese coaster buses, depending on the group size. Drivers are skilled and know the Bhutan roadways. Driver may speak little or no English. The guide and driver are not the same person. Chances of tires going flat or mechanical breakdowns cannot be declined due to weather and road conditions but our drivers are capable of taking the situation under control. We just need your cooperation and flexibility, when something unexpected happens during the tour.

Accommodations

In Bhutan, majority of the hotels are 3 stars (by local standard), which are small properties with 20-30 rooms. They are built in traditional Bhutanese architecture. You will have en suite bathroom with running hot and cold water. The hotels exhibit Bhutanese decor and are generally comfortable. Most of the hotels provide free Wi-Fi and some may charge nominal fee. The lobbies and receptions are cozy. They are staffed with friendly locals. We do not expect our hotel to have a gift shop for "sundry" items. Major Cities like Paro, Thimphu and Punakha have some up market properties, which can be booked on additional cost. 

Meals


Our tour features 3 meals a day and we expect to eat most meals at our hotel. In Bhutan, meals are usually served in a buffet that includes rice, vegetables, noodles, breads etc. We will arrange some meals out in local restaurants. Caution: traditional Bhutanese food always features chilies and the most popular dish is "ema datse" which is made with large, green hot chilies in a cheese sauce. 

Guide

Our guides are college educated locals, proficient in English and trained and licensed by local tourism authorities. Most importantly they are friendly and committed to deliver the best services.

International and internal airfares


Airfares are not included. You need to buy your return international airfare from your home country to Bangkok (or Kathmandu or Delhi or Kolkatta). Unless you are traveling to India or Nepal first, most popular gateway to Bhutan is Bangkok as there are daily 2 flights from here. We will book your return airfare from Bangkok to Bhutan and invoice you separately. Please, allow a night stay in the gateway city before and after your trip to Bhutan. We are also here to help you book your international airfare on your request. 

Passport and Visa

Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the last day of your trip and there must be minimum 2 blank visa pages for the visa sticker, entry and exit seals. We apply the Bhutan visa in advance for you and we will email you the approval 3 to 4 weeks prior the trip. Your passport gets actual visa seal upon arrival at the Paro airport. If you are traveling via Indian cities, you need to obtain Indian visa before your travel begins. If you are traveling via Kathmandu, Nepal, you can obtain Nepal visa upon arrival. 

Travel agent eligibility

You must be an active and full time travel agent with IATA/CLIA/TRUE Code certified. You are allowed to bring one companion with you who could be your friend or family or a client.

Group Size

The trip is guaranteed with minimum 4 participants and maximum 16.

Booking/Deposit

When you are sure you are going to Bhutan, it will be wise to put your reservation in line as early as possible as Bhutan Air reservation is quite a tricky matter. Druk Air is the only airline flying into and out of Bhutan and operates with 2 A 319 craft with capacity less than 100 passengers and gets filled up quickly. Paro-the only airport of Bhutan is connected with Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkatta and Kathmandu and have limited operations.

A deposit of US$ 300 on land plus the cost of internal airfares is requested along with booking application and passport photocopies.

Balance Payment

The balance and final payment is due 90 days prior departure. The payment schedule may vary with customized and private trips on case-to-case basis. Credit card payment attracts additional fee which ranges from 3 to 4%. Card holder also must be the traveler. We reserve the right to refuse credit card payment. Payment within 90 days prior departure may be subject to late fees and has to be made through wire transfer or cashier’s check.

Cancellation and Refund

Notice of cancellation and refund request must be received in written form. Cancellation fee structure has been listed below:
180 days prior departure: No penalty.
90 days prior departure: US$ 150 (Administrative Fee)
60-89 day's prior departure: US$ 300 or 25% of the land cost whichever is higher.
45 days to 59 days prior departure: US$ 450 or 50% of the land cost whichever is higher.
30 days to 44 days prior departure: US$ 600 or 75% of the land cost whichever is higher.
Less than 30 days: 100%

Airfare cancellation fee will be as per respective airlines policy. Some hotels may ask a non refundable deposit which will be communicated to you accordingly.

Travel Protection Plan

While Far & High Adventure Travel does the best to ensure that your trip goes as smoothly as planned, there is always a chance of unforeseen events and conditions such as illness, accident, inclement weather, flight cancellation, missed connection, or loss of baggage etc. which may cause interruption, delay or total cancellation of your trip putting your hard earned travel investment in jeopardy. It’s also possible that you may need medical assistance, emergency evacuation or medical transportation when you get ill or involve in an accident when you are traveling in remote areas. Far & High's trip cost does not cover any of these expenses or losses and so we strongly recommend you that you should protect yourself and your travel investment against those unfavorable conditions.

Accomodation

Khang Residency Thimphu
Khang Residency Thimphu
Khangkhu Resort Paro
Khangkhu Resort Paro
Drubchu Resort Punakha
Drubchu Resort Punakha
dewachen250
Dewachen Hotel Phobjikha
Yangkhil Resort, Trongsa
Yangkhil Resort, Trongsa
rinchenling thumb
Rinchenling Resort, Bumthang

 

Note: The hotels listed are our preferred properites but they are subject to change.

Review

Average Rating Score 5star based on 1 review(s)


  • "I had a wonderful time"
    5star

    I had a wonderful time on this trip. It was an adventure of a life time. So happy we flew Qatar Airlines. They were amazing. The accommodations were very comfortable. It was like staying in a ski lodge at home with lots of character. Our hosts in both countries were so knowledgeable and kind. The driver in Bhutan was off the charts. It was unanimous, we all felt safe on the unpaved roads with him driving


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