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A Journey through Bhutan

22 days from £4970 per person

This itinerary offers a once in a lifetime opportunity not only to spend time in one of the world’s least visited countries but to also explore parts of Bhutan that continue to remain virtually closed to the outside world. A tiny land–locked state in the high Himalayas, the one airport in the far west of the country, and one main west–east road, means that for the time–conscious visitor the central valleys remain the limit of exploration. This tour aims to offer the intrepid traveller a chance to travel through the whole of Bhutan to rarely visited parts of the country and exiting by land into India at the eastern border town of Samdrup Jongkhar.

Route: Kolkata – Paro – Thimphu – Punakha – Gangtey – Bumthang – Mongar – Lhuentse – Trashigang – Pemagatshel – Samdrup Jongkhar – Kolkata

Itinerary Highlights

Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital, is spread along a river valley. The town lies at an altitude of 2650 metres, the third highest capital in the world. Museums, temples and Dzongs enhance this delightful place.

Bumthang in central Bhutan, consists of four mainly agricultural valleys. The small villages within this region all celebrate their own colourful festivals based at their cultural centres, the Dzongs.

With links to the Bhutanese Royal Family, remote and rural Lhuentse is dominated by its Dzong. Over 350 years old, this important religious centre is home to a body of over 100 monks.

Itinerary: A Journey through Bhutan

Fly with Emirates via Dubai to Kolkata. (N)
Arrive into Kolkata, the gateway to Eastern India, is a city of extreme contrasts. Sometimes described as the forward–thinking intellectual capital of India and noted for some wonderful landmarks of the British Raj, on the other hand, the city has been called ‘the soul of India’ and is one of the most populous urban areas on earth. (N)
Accommodation in Kolkata: Oberoi Grand Hotel (or similar)
Today explore the colourful flower market and the nearby Howrah Bridge, the Maidan with its imposing white marble Victoria Memorial which was built by the British in 1921 and St John’s Church which has a memorial to the city founder Job Charnock. You may also wish to visit one of the most important temples in the city – the Kali Temple at Kalighat which is also situated close to Mother Teresa’s Home for the Destitute. (B)
Accommodation in Kolkata: Oberoi Grand Hotel (or similar)
Today return to Kolkata Airport for the spectacular flight to Paro. A beautiful agricultural valley in the West of Bhutan, the Paro Valley is characterised by its agriculture with red and white rice, apples, strawberries and asparagus grown in abundance. Numerous dzongs and temples dot this countryside in this scenic and historic landscape. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Paro: Gangtey Palace Hotel (or similar)
This morning drive through the Paro Valley to the base of the climb that leads to the famous Taktsang Monastery. A major pilgrimage site for the Bhutanese since Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal visited the monastery in 1646, Taktsang – or ‘Tiger’s Nest’ – is spectacularly located 900 meters above the valley floor perched on the edge of a cliff. The views throughout the walk, and in particular into the distance once you are at Taktsang, are not only panoramic but also spectacular. Although the path, in general, is in good condition the climb to the monastery is a fairly strenuous challenge – also due in part to the high altitude. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Paro: Gangtey Palace Hotel (or similar)
This morning drive through the Paro Valley to Thimphu, the modern capital of Bhutan. In the late afternoon, if there is time, travel by car above the capital to the hillside for sweeping views of the Thimphu Valley. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Thimphu: Bhutan Suites (or similar)
Begin your day of sightseeing at the Tibetan inspired National Memorial Chorten. Other places of interest include the National Library and the National Institute for Zorig Chusum – a painting school that teaches Bhutan’s traditional arts to students throughout the country. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Thimphu: Bhutan Suites (or similar)
Today continue to the semi–tropical Punakha Valley. Located at the confluence of the Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu Rivers, the Punakha Valley is famous for its awe–inspiring Dzong. The ancient capital of Bhutan, Punakha’s importance centres on its Dzong which, for many years, served as the seat of Government and Monastic body until the time of the second King. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Punakha: Punatsangchu Cottages (or similar)
Leave your hotel and begin your visit to Punakha Dzong. Completed in 1638 AD the Dzong has had numerous additions to its original structure – partly due to fires in the 1750s, mid–19th Century and, more recently in 1986 – and there are numerous chapels and temples within its walls. Standing nearly 200 metres long and six storeys high the Dzong is unique in having three courtyards rather than the normal two and you will have the opportunity to explore these with your guide. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Punakha: Punatsangchu Cottages (or similar)
This morning continue east climbing steeply through oak, pine and rhododendron forests to the 3,140 meter Dochu-La Pass before continuing east high into the Black Mountains to the Phobjikha Valley. A glacial valley Gangtey and the Phobjikha Valley is most renowned for its rare migrant population of Black–Necked Cranes that reside here over the winter. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Gangtey: Dewachen Hotel (or similar)
Today leave Gangtey for the drive to Bumthang stopping en–route to visit Trongsa Dzong which dates from 1543 AD, afterwards continue onto Bumthang. Comprising of four major valleys, Bumthang is the collective name of the region. Believed to have taken its name from bumpa, a valley shaped vessel and thang, or field, the valleys of Bumthang are some of the holiest, and most spectacular, of Bhutan. Distinct from Thimphu and western Bhutan, little over ten years ago it took three days to travel to the capital. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Bumthang: Wangdicholing Lodge (or similar)
After breakfast start the day at the Jampey Lhakhang, revered in Bhutan as one of the oldest temples, and believed to date back to the 7th Century. Also visit nearby Jakar Dzong, founded in 1549 and in a picturesque location high above the Choskhor Valley. From here continue to Lamey Gompa, a beautiful Royal palace and monastery built in the 19th century and end the day at Wangdichholing Palace which was built on the site of an earlier 8th century structure. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Bumthang: Wangdicholing Lodge (or similar)
Today leave Bumthang and drive to Mongar. A staging post on the road to Trashigang and Lhuentse, Mongar sits atop a ridge surrounded by eucalyptus trees. Later today visit Mongar Dzong which is set above the town. With two entrances Mongar Dzong is unique and is most renowned for its images of the Buddha of Long Life, Tshepamey, as well as those of the Guru Rimpoche. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Mongar: Wangchuck Hotel (or similar)
After breakfast, leave Mongar and drive to Lhuentse. Isolated Lhuentse is by definition very rural. Located north of Mongar, the district is home to numerous small villages and is historically known as the ancestral home of the Bhutanese Royal Family. Visit the picturesque Lhuentse Dzong, dramatically standing on a rock outcrop the Dzong dominates the landscape of the Kuri Chhu Valley. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Lhuentse: Phayul Resort (or similar)
This morning drive to Trashigang. A charming town in the far east of the country, Trashigang is the headquarters of the most densely populated district of Bhutan. Built along a slope behind a spur of land on which sits Trashigang Dzong, the surrounding region benefits from a year–round mild climate and, as a result, is alive with the colour of poinsettia and bougainvillea in the spring. Banana, orange and papaya also grow in abundance in the valley. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Trashigang: Druk Deojung Resort (or similar)
Today start your day at Trashigang Dzong which was completed in 1659 by the Drukpas after their conquest of eastern Bhutan. Sitting high on an outcrop it is of little surprise that the Dzong commanded an important strategic position on the wealthy trade route from the west to the Tibetan plateau. Later, drive out to the Radi Valley which stands at 1,600 meters above sea level and where you may be fortunate to witness the colourful local women weaving the intricate silk fabric, called menzimatra, for which this region is renowned. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Trashigang: Druk Deojung Resort (or similar)
Today leave Trashigang and continue to Pemagatshel. A staging-post midway between Trashigang to the north and the Indo–Bhutanese border town of Samdrup Jongkhar in the south, Pemagatshel is a rural town and the headquarters of one of Bhutan’s smallest districts. Built on a hillside Pemagatshel is at the heart of a region home to many interesting temples, monasteries and beautiful scenery. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Pemagatshel: Gakicholing Hotel (or similar)
This morning, wander through the little market in the centre of the town to the Pemagatshel Temple and nearby Dzong which both belong to the Nyingmapa sect of Buddhism. Afterwards continue onto the weaving centre to see the local women produce their traditional fabrics before driving out of the town to the Yongle Gompa. One of the holiest shrines of eastern Bhutan, the Gompa was once used as a religious base by Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal during the Duar War with Britain in 1865. From the summit of the monastery, which stands at over 2,350 metres, the views on a clear day are breathtaking. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Pemagatshel: Gakicholing Hotel (or similar)
Today leave Pemagatshel and drive to Samdrup Jongkhar. Much like Phuentsholing in the west of Bhutan, Samdrup Jongkhar marks Bhutan’s other land border in the south-east of the country. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Samdrup Jongkhar: TLT Hotel (or similar)
This morning cross the border back into India and continue by car to Guwahati airport in good time to catch your onward flight to Kolkata. (B)
Accommodation in Kolkata: Oberoi Grand Hotel (or similar)
Time to relax or explore the city. (B)
Accommodation in Kolkata: Oberoi Grand Hotel (or similar)
Return to Kolkata Airport for your Emirates flight via Dubai back to London Heathrow. (N)
**KEY: N = No meals, B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

What To Do Next?

We design unique, tailor-made holiday itineraries to suit you, by combining your ideas with our knowledge and experience. Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, or if you require some advice, please call us or complete the enquiry form online for a quotation.

What's included

  • International flights from the UK
  • Domestic flights
  • Private car and driver
  • Sightseeing with an accompanying English speaking guide
  • Hotel accommodation and taxes

What's not included

  • Travel Insurance
  • Expenses of a personal nature

Guide to Price

The above price is based on two people travelling together and sharing accommodation in low season. The price is only a guide and can vary according to selected airlines, hotels and date of travel. If you wish to travel with your family, friends or on your own we will be very happy to assist you with your arrangements.

Nepal & Bhutan Holiday Review

This was a wonderful holiday. Bhutan is a land that I have never before experienced. It seems an anomaly surrounded as it is by India and China. Culturally it is quite different to its neighbour to the south. It is modernising quickly and trying to hold on to its religion and traditions.

CB - Nepal & Bhutan - November 2017

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