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adventure travel trip to Bhutan
Paro Valley homes overlook ripening rice fields.
  • Weekly Thursday departures
  • Duration 6 days
    Group Size 4-12
    Land Cost $2,050 Details
    Single Supplement $300
    Lodging 2 stars
    Grade I-II
    Best Time

    Buddhist Valleys of Bhutan

    See the Kingdom's greatest treasures and sites on this special itinerary

    Day 1      Paro/Thimphu

    Fly into Paro, enjoying extraordinary views of the Himalayas (arrival dates into Paro may vary according to city of origin). The landing in Paro is dramatic, on the single runway at the bottom of a long valley with snowy peaks on either side. Drive about an hour to Thimphu and savor the serenity of Bhutan and the opportunity to converse with your guide. The afternoon and evening are free to rest or walk around Thimphu (7,656’). This is the world’s only capital city without traffic lights. In sports fields, men and women love to practice archery, the national sport. Note the traditional dress: kiras, long wrap-around dresses, for women, and ghos, knee-length robes, for men. Here, the modern meets the medieval. There are automobiles and storefronts, but a few blocks from the main street, farmers are still plowing with oxen, and bright red chili peppers are drying on rooftops. Roads quickly become footpaths as they lead up steep mountainsides.

    Lodging: Bhutanese style lodge. Expect modern Western style bath and toilet, hot water, electricity, and colorful tantric Buddhist-themed decor. Possible internet access in lobby. Upgrades to luxury accommodations in Bhutan are available for about $300-$1000 more per room/per night.

    Meals: Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Bhutanese style lodge

    Bhutanese architecture
    Day 2      Thimpu/Cultural Institutions

    There are many choices of activities today. Thimphu is the site of many national institutions which preserve history and perpetuate the pursuit of Gross National Happiness as a national goal. You may want to visit the Folk Heritage Museum, National Library of Ancient Texts, National Textile Museum, National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Royal Academy of Performing Arts, or one of several traditional artist-training programs.

    Visit Tashichho Dzong, built in 1216 and completely renovated between 1962 and 1969 without the use of nails or written plans. Also visit Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Bliss), an active monastery with 500 monks. Earn a fantastic view at Changangkha Lhakhang, an old fortress temple and monastic school perched on a ridge above Thimphu.

    Not far from Thimphu, there are numerous Buddhist temples and monasteries. Depending on your fitness and ambition, you can choose some combination of auto and hiking to visit one or more of them and possibly observe some ceremonial activity.


    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Traditional Bhutanese style hotel

    Thimphu's School of Arts
    Day 3      Thimpu - Markets, Dzongs & Hikes (Sat)

    On your second day in Thimphu, you may want to see more of the city sites or venture a bit farther out on foot or by car. Bhutan’s most striking buildings are the dzongs huge, traditionally-designed structures that serve as municipal administrative headquarters and as religious centers.

    On Saturdays, the Weekend Market is a great way to experience local life. Throngs of Bhutanese from Thimipu and from great distances gather to sell their vegetables, traditional masks and textiles, incense, and jewelry.

    If you would like to get a taste of trekking and nature observation, consider day hikes of two to four hours to visit Drolay Gomba, Lungchuzekha Gomba, Phajoding Gomba, or Trashigang Gomba. Your guide will help you decide which is the best choice based upon weather, season, and wildlife or temple ceremonies you might witness.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Traditional Bhutanese style hotel

    You'll see an archery competition, the national sport of Bhutan
    Day 4      Thimphu/Paro

    From Thimpu to Paro (7382'), travel even further back in time to a simpler, quieter place. Paro, located on the banks of the Paro Chhu (river), is in the center of an open valley. Entering via the road from Thimpu, you pass the archery ground. Today and tomorrow, there are various options for your visit. If you want to learn more about Buddhism, archaeology, and history consider touring Paro Rinpung Dzong, one of the most impressive dzongs in all Bhutan, a large Drukpa Kagyu Buddhist Monastery and fortress housing the monastic body and government offices. From here, there are famous views of the wooden covered bridge known as Nyamai Zam. Enjoy the fantastic architecture of Ugyen Pelri Thang Palace (the residence of the Queen Mother) from the outside and fine temples including Druk Choeding, built in 1525, and Dumtse Lhakhang, built in 1433. Ta Dzong, in the shape of a conch shell, contains a superb collection of ancient and modern religious Thangka paintings.

    JOURNEYS travelers love to accept the invitations of local farmers to visit inside their colorful farmhouses. Traditionally built with mud walls and wooden frames without nails, these houses are normally three stories high, with the ground floor used for the animals, the second floor used as the family living quarters, and the third floor generally used to store food and hay.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Traditional Bhutanese style hotel

    Visit a Buddhist artists' school
    Day 5      Paro/Tiger’s Nest (Tatksang Monastery)

    Visit more of Paro or go farther afield. The most classic half-day hike in Bhutan is the climb to famous Tiger’s Nest (Tatksang) Monastery on the side of a cliff almost 2,500 feet above the Paro valley. You can make the estimated two to three hour hike up to the monastery, ride a pony most of the way up, or view the site from the road. From Tiger’s Nest, drive to the ruins of Drugyel Dzong for spectacular views of Mount Chomolhari. You might also stop at Kyichu Lhakang, one of the oldest and most beautiful temples in Bhutan, thought to have been built in 659 by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet.

    If your schedule allows you to spend another day in Bhutan, we recommend visiting the ancient Haa Valley. Occupied since before the sixth century, but first opened to foreigners in 2002, this area remains largely undeveloped and infrequently visited by tourists. Visit the Haa Dzong and the surrounding monasteries. This is an especially good option if the weather is clear; the ridge you cross between Paro and Haahas offers some of the best mountain views in this part of Bhutan.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Traditional Bhutanese style hotel

    Tatksang Monastery near Paro
    Day 6      Paro/Onward

    Transfer to the airport for your onward flight. Or consider extending your trip with a few additional days to see more of Bhutan or other neighboring countries such as Nepal, India, or Thailand.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: None

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