The moment you arrive in Paro international airport, you are in for a cultural marathon. Culture is a matter of perception; your first encounter, being the guide who has come to pick you up, who will stand head high in his hand woven gho (traditional dress) and offer you a welcome Khada ( honorary scarf) as a gesture of warm welcome. The 9-night cultural tour is so designed to integrate Bhutan's vibrant and mystical culture. This itinerary transverses six valleys in Bhutan with its distinct aspect at the backdrop of Bhutan rich natural bio diversity.
DAY 01: FLY TO PARO (L/D)
Fly onboard Druk Air to Paro, Bhutan. On a clear day the panoramic views of the Himalaya are sensational, including Everest, but particularly exciting is the approach through the Bhutanese foothills and the landing, including a few steep turns to land at the tiny airstrip of Paro. In Paro you will be received by your Bhutanese guide and transferred to your hotel. Overnight at hotel, Paro.
DAY 02: PARO VALLEY SIGHTSEEING, DRIVE TO THIMPHU (B/L/D)
In the morning tour of Bhutan's national museum. Housed in an old watch tower above the huge Paro Dzong (monastery/fortress), it is a fascinating place with a fantastic collection of Bhutanese national treasures ranging from ancient armour to textiles and thangkha paintings.
Then, we drive to the head of the valley and visit Drukgyel Dzong built in a location that was chosen for its control over the route to Tibet. A spectacular view of Mount. Jumolhari (23,996ft /7314m) can be seen from here. Afternoon visit to a village home to see some of the private textile collections that have been handed down from generation to generation.
In the evening you will make the 2 hour drive to the least visited of all the Himalayan capitals, Thimphu. Overnight at hotel, Thimphu.
DAY 03: THIMPHU SIGHTSEEING. (B/L/D)
There are many places of interest to visit in Thimphu and your Bhutanese guide will take you to those places which are of interest to the group. In the morning you will visit the Late King’s Memorial Chorten, the National Library, the indigenous hospital specializing in herbal medicine, the handmade paper factory.
In the afternoon, tour of the school of fine arts where young students learn the traditional arts and crafts (Zo Rig Chusum – the thirteen crafts). The Handicraft Emporium and the local handicraft centers to see the weavers at work and experience the varieties of textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, jewellery etc. on display.
Overnight hotel, Thimphu.
DAY 04: DRIVE TO PUNAKHA, HIKE TO CHIMI LHAKHANG. (B/L/D)
In the morning we drive to Punakha, the old winter capital. Leaving Thimphu the road, climbs via a series of zigzags over the Dochu La Pass, 10,000ft/3,048m. On a clear day panoramic views can be had of the eastern Himalaya, including Bhutan's highest mountain, Gangkar Punsum, 24,770ft/7,550m. The road drops down through varied forest finally emerging into the highly-cultivated Punakha valley.
In the afternoon hike to Chimi Lhakhang, the divine mad monk’s temple. It is a beautiful walk through a lovely village. The temple can be visited and there is a tree outside which is supposed to have sprouted up after Drukpa Kunley sent a thunderbolt from an adjoining valley to kill some evil spirits who had gathered at the site.
Provided the head of the monastic order and his monks have not migrated from Thimphu it should be possible to view the inner courtyards of Punakha Dzong.
Overnight hotel, Punakha.
DAY 05: DRIVE TO TRONGSA. (B/L/D)
This is a long day's drive of 6-8 hours depending on road conditions but it is a journey you are not likely to forget. The scenery is certainly stunning. To begin with you carry on down the highly-cultivated valley to the town of Wangdiphodrang. Here again there is a very large fortress built in the shape of a sleeping bull. The road then gradually winds its way up towards the Pele La at 3,300 m. In places the road is literally carved out of impressive cliffsides. Descending from the other side it is a long way down to Tongsa which can be clearly seen for many miles distant. It has the largest monastery/fortress in the kingdom and it was from here that the present royal family emerged as the most powerful force at the beginning of this century. Overnight at hotel, Trongsa.
DAY 06: VISIT WINTER PALACE, DRIVE TO JAKAR. (B/L/D)
In the morning wander around Tongsa township and visit the watchtower above the main Dzong. It has a fine temple at the top containing original Mongol armour and a large prayer wheel outside. If time allows we will visit Kunga Rabten, the palace of the 2nd king, some 24 kms away, 1 hour each way. It is now vacant and dilapidated but contains a fine library of rare Himalayan books. Visit the village and farmhouses around.
From Tongsa you drive across the Yotong La and descend eventually into the valley of Bumthang and Chumey, the heart of the famous Bumthang Yatha weaving region. This central area of Bhutan is where the colourful wool weaving is found. Here we pause to visit the Yatha shops and see the weavers at work.
Overnight Lodge, Bumthang.
DAY 07: JAKAR (BUMTHANG) (B/L/D)
A full day in Bumthang to explore the valley; hike to Tamshing Gomba, the most important Nyigma Gomba with a visit to the Yatha weaving center. It may also be possible to take some of the local village walks - a visit to the homeopathic hospital, the cheese factory, the castle of the 'White Bird', one or two local temples and a walk around Jakar township.
Also worth seeing in Jakar are the woodcraft workshop, dying workshop, and the five water-wheels behind Wangdicholing Old Palace.
Overnight at Lodge, Bumthang.
DAY 08: DRIVE TO WANGDI. (B/L/D)
Leaving Jakar, we return west, stopping for lunch at the Chendebje Chorten, a large white monument said to conceal the remnants of an evil spirit vanquished here. Continuing across the spectacular Pele La Pass we come to Wangdi.
Overnight at hotel, Punakha
DAY 09: DRIVE TO PARO VIA THIMPHU (B/L/D)
Today we drive along the winding mountain road to Paro. Afternoon, we will arrange for a visit and introduction to village exorcism in one of the village homes. This is a privately arranged occasion and consist of a ceremony performed by a Conjurer (Pow) to provide an insight into the traditional beliefs and practices of the local people.
Overnight at hotel, Paro.
DAY 10: DEPART PARO. (B)
Transfer to the airport in Paro for departure flight to onward destination.
Anyone who enjoys outdoor life and is physically fit can participate in treks. If you have a heart condition, please check with your doctor to ensure that it is OK to undertake high altitude treks. Allow yourself some days in Bhutan to acclimatize before you undertake any trek. Altitude sickness can be a serious problem at the altitudes in Bhutan. If you feel sick, dizzy or have a worsening headache, stop and drink as much water as possible. If the symptoms persist, return to the base. Guides are trained to look out for altitude sickness and other ailments that can affect trekkers.
Festivals are not pageants or entertainment. They are not held as tourist attractions. They are genuine manifestations of a religious tradition from thousands of years. Obtrusive, disrespectful and discourteous behavior should be refrained from. The dance ground is not a place to eat, drink or smoke, talk or laugh loudly at inappropriate times, flash cameras or intrude on the dance space. Common courtesy should rule one’s actions when photographing the dancers or onlookers.
Do and don’ts
• Refrain from passing negative comment on religion, royal family and chief abbot
• Locals are very sensitive, you may don’t want to sound rude
• Always ask for permission if you are photographing a person
• Dress modestly. Singlet and miniskirts are not well accepted norm
• Enter temples and monasteries only if you have permission. Allow your guide to lead you
• Remove your shoes before entering the temple
• Leave your camera at a safe place, if photography is prohibited
• Refrain from using hat and sunglasses inside religious places
• Use your right hand or both hands to give or receive
• Leaving a donation at the temple is on personal discretion. Normally all Bhutanese do
• Use your palm to show rather than finger, when pointing
• Refrain from pointing your feet at anyone; cross your legs or kneel when sitting in religious places
• Pass clockwise at all chortens and mani walls (elongated chortens inscribed with mantras)
• Don’t wash, swim or throw objects into lakes, many of which are considered sacred
What to pack?
• Sun hat
• Rain deflator
• Woolen cap
• Hiking Boot
• Running Shoe
• casual shoes
• Thermal Pants
• Digital cameras
• Additional Batteries
• Additional memory cards.
• Motion Sickness
• Head Ache
• Antiseptic cream
• Anti-histamine cream
• Vitamin C
• Food Positioning
• Insect repellent
• Small First Aid Kit
• Contact lenses and solution
• Your prescribed drug, if any.
• US Dollar or Euro – Various domination
• 4-6 pieces of passport size photographs
• Mini torch lights
• Back pack
• Sun Block
• Spare glasses
• Washing kit
• Shaving kit
• Small sewing kit
• Safety pins
• lip salve
Children are welcomed; however we do not recommended adventure activities such as trek and other adventure activities for children below ten years of age. Additionally please also be reminded that no facilities or very limited facilities may be available for children.
Book for more than 20 people, contact us directly
Upon arrival to Paro international airport, a car, driver and guide will await to meet you and have you escorted to the hotel. Your itinerary is flexible and picking time for daily tours will depend on what you have communicated to the guide. Most of the time pick up location will be your hotel unless it a trekking tour. In case of tight itinerary, your guide will have the time recommended to you.