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Glimpses of Bhutan


4 days 3 nights

Code BCT01

Category Bhutan Classic Tours

  • Group Size 2-16
  • Difficulty Level 2
  • Highest Altitude 10,240 ft (3,120 m)
  • Trip Starts From Paro
  • Trip Ends At Paro
  • Type Tours
  • Destination Thimpu Paro
Dates & Prices

Overview

Two nights: Thimphu and one night: Paro, a delightful addition to most any itinerary, especially for anyone traveling to India or Nepal. If you are visiting Sikkim or Darjeeling, you can also travel overland or by flight from Bagdogra airport.

This trip covers the two major cities of Bhutan – Paro and Thimphu, the capital city of the tiny kingdom – that together include a panorama of famous Dzong fortresses, museums, art schools, libraries, and textile emporiums that will give you insights into the Bhutanese culture and traditions. You will also have the opportunity to visit some farm houses and meet Bhutanese people and experience rural life. If you are in Thimphu during the weekends, we’ll have a chance to visit the vibrant weekend market.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01~Flight to Paro and Transfer to Thimphu

Your flight will likely include breathtaking views of Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga, and other famous Himalayan peaks, including the sacred Mount Chomolhari and Jichu Drake of Bhutan.

On arrival at Paro, Bhutan, airport, meet your guide and driver after clearing immigration and customs. You’ll need to present your Visa Approval document, which we will email to you about three to four weeks before the trip date. In Paro, you will get the actual visa sticker on your passport.

After introductions, your guide and driver will transfer you to a local restaurant for lunch. After lunch, visit the National Museum of Paro which gives an excellent introduction to Bhutan's history, culture and religion. The museum exhibits good of collection Bhutanese textiles, manuscripts, books, murals, armors, crafts, traditional utensils, philatelic collections, and more. Then, we will descend to the impressive Rinpung Dzong Fortress that houses the office of the district administration and religious body.

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

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 stroll and visit the memorial chorten (shrine) of the 3rd King of Bhutan Jigme Dorje Wangchuk, and whatever else time and our interest allow.

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

After breakfast, with our guide and driver, the adventures begin as we get a feel for the city. On the weekend, it's worth visiting the weekend market. Archery is the Bhutanese the national sport, and we’ll hope for matches while we’re there. 

Next, visit the National Institute Zorig Chusum that offers a six years course on Bhutan's traditional arts and crafts that include painting, wood carving, embroidery, and statue making. Then, visit the Simply Bhutan Museum, a living museum of Bhutan, resembling a typical village that promotes the cultural heritage and local lifestyle. Here, you will have a chance to wear traditional Bhutanese costumes and pose for photographs, if you wish.  

Next stop – the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, dispensary of traditional Bhutanese herbal and other medicines. Other attraction, if time permits and if you wish is a textile academy that preserves the centuries-old living art of Bhutan. Thimphu's latest addition is Buddha Dordenma, a massive 177 ft tall Buddha statue on a ridge overlooking the valley.

Late afternoon, take a short 10-minute hike through the forest to visit the Takin Sanctuary. Takin– a kind of sheep by way of antelope, are the National animals of Bhutan and believed to exist only in Bhutan Himalaya. On the way back to our hotel, we’ll stop at the Zilukha Nunnery in Drubthob Goemba, home to 40-60 Buddhist nuns.

Finally, we visit the Trasichoe Dzong that houses the Royal Throne, National Assembly, and the seat of Chief Abbot of the central monastic body.

An option: Hiking enthusiasts keen to experience a monastic lifestyle away from the crowds of town can take a half-day hike to Tango Goemba monastery. You’ll miss some sights listed above. Tango Goebma Monastery is Bhutan's highest learning center for Buddhist studies. All Je Khenpo, the religious head of Bhutan, must complete a nine-year program here and a three-year, three-month, three-day in mediation at the nearby Cheri Goemba Monastery! With luck, the monks will be in recess, and we can join them for tea. If you want to hike to Cheri Goemba Monastery back to back, allow another two hours.  

Are you interested in Buddhist astrology? On our way back, we can stop at Pangri Zampa Temple-an astrology school for the state clergy. More than a hundred monks study astrology in this center, and they also see the public or visitors by appointment.   

Overnight: Khang Residency or similar
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 03~Paro: Hike the Takstang Monastery hike

A big day and a special one, with an early start. After breakfast, we’ll transfer to Paro and hike to the famous Taktsang Monastery, also known as the Tiger's Nest, a highlight of any trip to Bhutan. The monastery sits dramatically on the edge of a 4000-foot cliff above the valley floor; it is an unbelievable sight. The hike up is less than three hours. With a prior arrangement, ponies can take us two-thirds of the way up, but no further. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, known as Guru Rinpoche by Tibetans and Bhutanese, flew on a tigress from Tibet and landed at the monastery’s site. Guru meditated in a cave here, it is said, and subdued the local demons and established the supremacy of Buddhism in Bhutan.

On the way back to the town, we will detour to the ruins of the historic Drukgyel Dzong. It was built in the 16th century to mark the Bhutanese victory over the Tibetan invaders. We will also stop to visit the ancient Kyichu Lakhang Temple, notable as one 108 temples that King Songsten Gampo of Tibet built miraculously over a single night in the 7th century to subdue a demoness!

Late afternoon, visit a typical Bhutanese farm family and their colorful farmhouse, made up of wood without the use of a single nail! With prior arrangement, we can share a traditional meal with the family.

Experience Traditional Hot Stone Bath (Optional):

After such an active day, we recommend a traditional Bhutanese Hot stone bath, an ancient Bhutanese method of curing skin ailments, joint pains, hypertension, stomach disorders, arthritis, and many other diseases. Your guide needs one-day advance notice to book the experience for you. Some hotels also may offer this experience, but the one in a farmhouse is more authentic. Budget $25-$30 per person.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 04~Departure

You are transferred to airport in time for your flight to your next destination.

Meals : Breakfast

Trip Map

Trip Info

Trip Includes

  • Accommodation on a double occupancy basis
  • All transfers and sightseeing by a private vehicle.
  • Three meals a day.
  • English speaking local tour guide.
  • Sightseeing admission fee.
  • Bhutan visa fee.
  • Service of airfare reservation.

Trip Does Not Include

  • Airfare to and out of Bhutan.
  • Drinks, tipping, laundry, phone, internet, and other personal expenses
  • Extra expenses due to nature and unforeseen events.
  • Travel Insurance.

Trip Difficulty Level, Road and Transport

This motor vehicle-based trip will accommodate all travelers in general good health. The trip’s highest altitude is at Dhochu La Pass (10,000 feet or 3,048 meters); our stop there is brief, and our overnight stays are all in lower, far more comfortable elevations. The trip requires some easy walking and hikes, all of which are optional. Bhutan roads – cut into steep hillsides and mountains, alone winding rivers, and sometimes unpaved – can be a challenge. We use Japanese cars, micro buses, and minibusses, depending on group size. SUVs are available for an additional charge.

Accommodations

Thimphu and Paro are the major cities of Bhutan and offers some choices of accommodation. The standard tour includes  3-star hotels by local standard. They are usually small properties with 20 or 25 rooms. They are boutique style properties with traditional decor, features en suite bathroom, running hot and cold water and are adequately comfortable. If you wish, you can upgrade to four star or five star properties. There are some high end properties such as Aman, Como, Six Senses, as well. 

Meals

Your trip features 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 3 dinners. Most meals are arranged in tourist class restaurants or at your hotels. Meals are usually set menu, served in buffet style. Most in-house restaurants don't serve a la carte, unless you have a special dietary requirement.There are not whole lot of choices but meals are hearty and plentiful.Meals include rice, bread, curried vegetables, noodles or spaghetti and chicken or pork dishes. As Bhutan is a Buddhist country, they don't slaughter animals in Bhutan and the meats are imported and so you may find meat chewy or tough. Beware: Local style meat dishes are cooked with bones and traditional dishes always features hot pepper, and the most popular dish, ema datshi, is made with large, green hot chilies in a cheese sauce.

Tour Guide

Your trip will be led by a local English speaking certified guide whom you meet at Paro airport and will accompany you throughout the trip. Our guides are college-educated Bhutanese, proficient in English, and trained and licensed by local tourism authorities. Just as important, they are friendly and committed to deliver the best services. Guide and driver are not the same person.

International and internal airfares:

Currently, there are two airlines- Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines and flight to Bhutan come from Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Kathmandu, Singapore, and Mumbai. Both Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines are partners to none of the other major international carriers, and so you are not able to buy a through ticket from Europe and the Americas. So, you need to buy a ticket to a gateway city such as Delhi or Kathmandu or Bangkok and separate ticket for onward journey. You can book a flight on Druk Air or Bhutan Airlines site, or we can help you book the reservation and bill you separately.

Passport and Visa

Remaining validity of your passport must be minimum 6 months beyond your return date. Make sure, you are not running out of blank visa pages. Bhutan visa needs one blank visa page (Not the endorsement page) and some blank spaces for entry and departure seals.

We will apply for your Bhutan visa in advance and will email you a copy of this about a few weeks before your arrival in Bhutan. You need to produce the document when you check in flight for Paro. You will get actual visa seal on your passport at Paro airport on arrival.

If your travel starts in India, you must obtain an Indian visa beforehand.

Best time for this trip:

This trip can be undertaken throughout the year but definitely October and November are the best months when temperatures are mild, skies are clear and we have clear visibility. The second best season is from March through early May.

Booking Deposit and Payment Schedule

Tour Deposit: US$ 300 per person

The second payment will be for the in-tour airfare if you ask to book one for you. 

Balance payment

The balance and final payment is due 90 days prior departure.  Balance payment by credit card attracts an additional 3.5% fee. 

Cancellation and refund

  • One hundred eighty days prior departure: No penalty unless stated as non-refundable.
  • Ninety days prior departure: Administrative fee US$ 150 per person.
  • 60-89 day's before departure: US$ 300 or 25% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Forty-five days to 59 days before departure: US$ 450 or 50% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Thirty days to 44 days before departure: US$ 600 or 75% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Less than 30 days: 100%.

Cancellation and refund of air tickets cost will be as per the airline's policy plus the consolidator's fee US$ 25 per ticket. Cancellation terms and conditions of certain services may vary which will be informed per case to case basis.

No refund or adjustment to other services will be made for any unused land or air services for any reason whatsoever, once the tour begins. We highly recommend that all travelers purchase trip cancellation insurance.

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1 866 838 5818
(Toll Free from USA & Canada)

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