Bhutan Overlanding
Search for Shangri La - 15 Days

Season: All year
Number of Days: 15 Days
Grade: Soft
Destinations: Paro, Thimpu, Punakha, Wangdue, Gangtey, Trongsa, Bumthang, Mongar and Trashigang

Day 1: Arrival at Paro International Airport:
Fly on Druk Air to Paro. Druk Air is a Bhutan national flag bearer, which has an exclusive right to fly to Bhutan from 6 other sectors. Limited flights allow only restricted number of flyers into this beautiful Himalayan Kingdom, thereby preserving and conserving valuable culture and environment that has remained intact for centuries. On clear days, during this flight, you will experience breathtaking views of the Himalayan Mountains including Mt. Everest, Jichu Drak and Jumolhari in Bhutan. You will land in the beautiful valley of Paro, located at an elevation of 7,400 ft. At Paro International Airport you will be received by representative of Druk Yul Expeditions. White Khaddar or scarf with Buddhist blessings will be presented to you to be carried along your journey. Take a short drive to your hotel and check-in for lunch. Our representative will conduct detailed briefing about the upcoming tour program. Arrival at Paro International Airport: Overnight at the hotel

Day 2: Paro – Thimpu:
Conduct left over sightseeing from yesterday. Have lunch in Paro, and drive to the capital city of Thimpu. It is small city with about 90,000 inhabitants. This city; rather a town is known for being only capital of country without modern traffic lights. Sightseeing places in Thimphu include; Memorial Chorten built in 1970s in memory of late King, Trashicho Dzong (houses King’s office), private Zangdopelri Monastery near permanent weekend market, archery match, National Library, School of 13 arts, previously known as Painting school, National animal; Takin zoo, black smith and traditional paper factory. In the evening you can stroll around the town. No super market and malls!! Your escort can accompany you while you walk around the city. Overnight at the hotel

Day 3: Thimpu:
Today’s sightseeing in Thimpu valley includes visits to: National Memorial Chorten: The building of this landmark was envisaged by the third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, as a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it is a both a memorial to the late king (‘the father of modern Bhutan’), and a monument to world peace. The painting and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy; National Library: This holds a vast collection of Buddhist texts and manuscripts, some dating back several hundred years, as well as modern academic books mainly on Himalayan culture and religion. Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School): where student undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. National Institute of Traditional Medicine: where the medicinal herbs, mineral, and animals organs available in abundant in the kingdom are compounded and dispensed by traditional pharmacist and medical practitioners. This indigenous healing method is popular in entire Bhutan. Here you will have exclusive privilege of talking to a renowned traditional healer. Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums: These museums, both of which opened in 2001, provide fascinating insight into Bhutanese material culture and way of life. (Excursion): Handicrafts Emporium: This government-run enterprise displays a wide range of beautifully hand-woven textiles and craft products. It also carries a small collection of books on Bhutan, Buddhism and Himalayan culture.

Day 4: Thimpu - Punakha (Approx. Driving Distance / Time: 77 km / 3-3 ½ hrs):
Today after breakfast drive to Punakha across Dochu La pass (3,088m / 10,130ft). En route visit Simtokha Dzong, built in 1627 and the oldest fortress of the kingdom. It now houses the institute for language and cultural studies. Drive across Dochu La pass (3050 m), which provides a superb view of the highest peaks of Bhutan, such as Gangkar Puensum, Table Mountain, and Masakhang etc. We can stop at a cafeteria for tea and snacks. Drive further down and visit a village house in Metsina and hike up to 16th century temple where you can seek blessing from lord of fertility. This temple was initiated by Divine Madman or Erotic Lama. This lama framed Bhutanese version of erotic stories or Kamasutra in 15th Century. Here replica of Poo or religious penis will touch above your forehead to bless you with fertility. Until 1955 Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan and it is still the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot). In evening visit Punakha Dzong built in the 17th century at the junction of Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. Damaged by fires, floods and earthquake over the centuries, the Dzong has recently been fully restored to its original glory. Overnight at the beautiful hotel in Punakha

Day 5: Punakha – Jakar (Bumthang):
Early morning drive to Bumthang, visit the Trongsa Dzong and also see the Ta Dzong. Drive through Trongsa town to the beautiful valley of Bumthang. Enroute visit the Chume Valley, where local women weave the famous "Bumthang Yatra", pure woolen textile woven in the traditional method with beautiful colored patterns. Overnight at the hotel

Day 6: Bumthang (Excursion)
We will drive to the Wangdicholing, formerly the royal palace. Continuing from Wangdicholing Palace, we reach Jambay and Kurjey Monastery and then visit Jakar Dzong and Tamshing Monasteries. We stop for refreshment at the Swiss Farm House, Cheese and Beer Factory and village handicraft shops. Overnight at hotel

Day 7: Bumthang – Mongar:
After breakfast, drive to Ura village and visit Ura Lhakhang. Drive to Mongar through Thrumshing La pass (the highest pass in Bhutan). Overnight at the hotel in Mongar.

Day 8: Mongar – Trashigang:
Proceed to Trashigang. Dinner and overnight at hotel in Trashigang.

Day 9: Trashigang Day Trip to Khaling (55 km one way):
Take a day trip with packed lunch to Khaling Weaving Center to see the entire process of spinning, dyeing and weaving. This center is managed by the National Women's Association of Bhutan. Drive back to Trashigang and overnight at the hotel

Day 10: Trashigang – Mongar:
This is the beginning of the return journey. After visiting the important attractions in Trashigang valley, start the drive back to Mongar.

Day 11: Mongar – Bumthang:
Drive to Bumthang the same way we had come previously.

Day 12: Bumthang – Punakha:
Drive to Punakha via Trongsa. Packed lunch will be served enroute.

Day 13: Punakha - Paro:
The drive west takes us back over Dochu La. Enroute visit the Simtokha Dzong, the oldest in Bhutan, now a traditional school specializing in Dzongkha and religious studies. After lunch at Thimpu, head towards Paro which will take us one and half hour drive. Overnight at the hotel

Day 14: Taktsang Hike:
Drive to Ramthongkha and then hike to viewpoint of Taktsang, the Tiger's Nest (one and a half hours). This magical monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff 3,000 ft above the valley floor. The trail is broad and the walk uphill takes you a little more than a 1000ft above the Paro valley. The view of Taktsang monastery built on the cliff is a spectacular sight. It is a great pilgrim site for the Buddhists and also it is one of the most sacred sites in the Himalayan world. Beyond the viewpoint, the path is narrow and steep as it climbs to a point above the temple, from where walkers descend to the building itself. The main deity of Taktsang is Dorje Drolo, the wrathful form of Guru Rinpoche, the precious Teacher, also known as Padmasambhava. The great tantric mystic is said to have flown here on the back of a tiger, a manifestation of his consort, Yeshi Tsogyal, when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th century. The image of Dorje Drolo inside the temple is shown standing on a tiger. There are 13 sacred sites at Taktsang, and several meditation caves in the cliffs above. Here you can meditate a while before beginning the descent. Nearby there is a teahouse, where you can stop for lunch or a snack. In the evening, visit a farmhouse in Paro. Overnight at hotel in Paro

Day 15: Departure:
Our escort will complete the departure formalities well in advance, and if need be assist you with it. Drive down to airport and check in at least 2 hours prior to flight departure schedule.
Trip ends

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