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Bhutan - Land of the Thunder Dragon

11 days from £3560 per person

Bhutan remains one of the least visited countries in the world, a place unchanged for centuries with proud ancient traditions. A land of staggering friendliness and beauty, just being in Bhutan, the roof of the world, is to experience something unlike anywhere else. Starting in Kolkata, fly to Paro, home of the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery and drive onto the capital, Thimphu. From here cross the spectacular Dochu–La Pass to the glacial valley of Gangtey, home of the rare black–necked crane, continuing onto Punakha, the site of an awe–inspiring Dzong.

Route: Kolkata – Thimphu – Gangtey – Punakha – Paro – Kolkata

Itinerary Highlights

The Phobjikha valley is set at 3000 metres and is known as Gangtey after the 17th century monastery there. Its wide and flat glaciated valley provides a refuge for the rare Black-Necked Crane.

Punakha Dzong is spectacularly placed at the confluence of two fast-flowing rivers. This stunningly beautiful building was the administrative and religious centre of Bhutan until 1955.

Taktsang Monastery or Tiger’s Nest is perched impossibly on a vertical cliff face overlooking the upper Paro valley. The walk up is strenuous but is ultimately very rewarding.

Itinerary: Bhutan - Land of the Thunder Dragon

Fly with Emirates via Dubai to Kolkata. (N)
Arrive into Kolkata in the early hours where you will be met and transferred to your accommodation. Later 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. On your arrival you will be met and driven 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 and also stop at the small zoo to see Bhutan's national, and unique, animal the Takin. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Thimphu: Druk Hotel (or similar)
Later return to the town and 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 school that teaches Bhutan's traditional painting. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Thimphu: Druk Hotel (or similar)
Leave Thimphu and continue east climbing steeply through oak, pine and rhododendron forests to the Dochu-La Pass, which, at 3,140 meters is the highest point of the journey 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. One of the most important wildlife reserves in Bhutan, the sparse population and limited availability of electricity, which makes Gangtey and Phobjikha uniquely special. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Gangtey: Dewachen Hotel (or similar)
Today re-trace your steps west to Punakha stopping en-route in the small town of Wangdue Phodrang to visit its dramatically sited Dzong. Afterwards, continue down 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. Today, although the political heart of the nation has moved west to Thimphu, the Dzong remains the winter residence of the Dratsheng, or Central Monk Body, is the administrative headquarters of the Punakha district and remains the site of the colourful Punakha Tsechu. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Punakha: Zangto Pelri Hotel (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: Zangto Pelri Hotel (or similar)
This morning leave Punakha and return to Paro the gateway of Bhutan. Once again traverse the Dochu-La pass and continue past Thimphu and return to Paro. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Paro: Gangtey Palace Hotel (or similar)
Today make your way to Drukgyel Dzong. Built in 1649 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, Drukgyel Dzong was originally constructed to reaffirm Bhutanese control over the important land route into Tibet. There are far-reaching views from Drukgyel back down the valley and on a clear day Mount Jhomolhari, standing at 7,314 meters, looms close on the horizon. Later visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan and the National Museum, housed in a building completed in 1656 and famous for its collection of ancient thangkas before ending your day at Paro Dzong, over 400 years old, and located just below the museum on the hillside. (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)
Leave your hotel and transfer back to Paro Airport in good time to catch your return flight to Kolkata. (B)
Accommodation in Kolkata: Oberoi Grand Hotel (or similar)
Return to Kolkata Airport for your Emirates flight via Dubai 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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