- Explore Paro exploding with colors and tradition.
- Guided city tour of the tiny capital Thimphu.
- Visit Punakha Dzong – the most beautiful monastery in Bhutan.
- Hike to Taktsang Monastery ‘Tiger’s Nest’- one of the most popular monasteries in Bhutan.
Basically, the tour circulates around the prominent cities of Bhutan like Paro, the tiny capital – Thimphu and the old kingdom – Punakha.
In Thimphu, you will visit its prime tourist attractions like King Memorial Chorten, Centenary Market, authentic craft bazaar and others.
The tour then proceeds to Punakha where the beautiful Punakha Dzong, one of the most impressive in Bhutan, is located. En-route, you will hike up to the Chimmi Lakhang, popularly known as the fertility temple dedicated to Drupka Kunley.
Concluding Punakha, the tour re-traces it’s way back to Paro where another important feature of the tour awaits i.e. hike up to the Taktsang Monastery (3,120m) or ‘Tiger’s Nest’ perched in a vertical cliff.
Best of Bhutan is ideal for anyone who wishes to know more about this high Himalayan nation and get to know it’s ancient culture and traditions.
Arrive Paro by Bhutan’s national carrier, Druk Air, and it’s a scenic flight as the plane touch down the lush green Paro Valley flying past the world’s highest mountains. Steeping down from the plane, cool, clean and fresh air welcomes the visitor, the first gift of Bhutan. After clearing the customs and visa formalities met by the representatives and transfer to Paro for lunch.
Afterwards drive to Thimphu (one and half hrs) following Pa Chhu downstream. In Thimphu, drive on to the Buddha Terrance for a stunning view of the valley and take a drive to visit Takin Preserve to see Takin, Bhutan’s national animal - a strange looking beast which some say resembles a bee-stung moose!
Take a view of the majestic Tashichoe Dzong, the seat of the government before circumventing the Memorial Chorten – a monument erected in memory of Bhutan’s third king H.M. Jigme Dorji Wangchuk.
Visit Centenary Farmers Market, the new authentic craft bazaar, National Institute of Traditional Medicine that still dispenses traditional herbal medicines to the locals, the Folk Heritage Museum – a 300 year old traditional house converted into a museum.
After breakfast, drive for about 3 hours to Punakha. Climb up the mountain road to Dochula La at 3140m.
On clear weather, the pass commands a wonderful panorama of the Eastern Himalayas. From the pass, descend through varied forest and finally emerging into the highly cultivated valley of Punakha. Take a short hike through beautiful rice fields to Chimmi Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to Drukpa Kuenley, who as a favorite saint of the Bhutanese people is known affectionately as "the Divine Madman".
The temple is on a hillside in the middle of rice fields and has become a pilgrimage site for childless couples.
Enjoy some tea and snacks at the end of hike while overlooking the fields.
After an early breakfast, hike up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyel Chorten erected by Royal queen mother for the purpose of present king in 2002. It offers a great view of the lower valley.
The temple is regarded as one of the most intricate with paintings. At the temple one can see three different sect of Mahayana Buddhism.
Afternoon: visit Punakha Dzong located at the confluence of the Pho-chu (male-river) and Mo-chu (female-river), the Punakha Dzong is arguably the most impressive dzong in the country.
Drive to visit a stunning hill-top nunnery - Sangchen Dorji Lhundrup Chholing. Have a chat with the nuns and enjoy the charm of the surrounds!
The main temple is dedicated to the bodhisattva of compassion (Avaloketeshvara) and next to the temple is a beautiful Stupa and there are slate carvings of religious figures. Re-crossing Dochula and stopping at Thimphu for lunch.
Arrive Paro in the afternoon and check hotel.
After breakfast, head out of the tourist trail for a short hike to 15th century Zurig Lhakhang above Paro Dzong overlooking the valley. It offers great views of Ta Dzong (watch Tower) and Paro Rinpung Dzong.
En-route, visit the iconic 17th century Paro Rinpung Dzong which means “the fortress of the heap of jewels.” A quick descent takes us to covered cantilever bridge marked with giant stupas. Upon descend, drive 30 minutes to see the exterior of the remote ruins of Drukgyel Dzong (entry not allowed).
On a clear day, get rewarded with a view of snow-capped Mt Jhomolhari which is the third highest mountain in Bhutan.
This morning, make an excursion to Taktsang Monastery – this has to be the monastery with the most outstanding setting in Bhutan. Set on a vertical cliff face at 2950m above sea level, it defies all engineering logic.
For the energetic one, hike 2 hours up to get a more dramatic view of the monastery. (The hike demands a certain level of fitness and a pony ride to the monastery can be arranged at additional cost).
Just on the outskirts of Paro town, visit Kyichu Lhakang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan and have the opportunity to meet the local villages in a local farm house.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport to catch the onward flight. Bid farewell to the remote and legendary Dragon Kingdom disappearing again behind its guardian mountains.
- Tours Specified in the itinerary.
- Best hotel accommodations, “A” grade hotels (Government approved 3 stars and above)
- Meals (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea/Coffee with snacks as and when required)
- All land transportation by private vehicle within Bhutan as per the itinerary.
- Services of experienced and English speaking guide (Government Licensed holder)
- Medical Facilities - Free (consulting doctors and medicine)
- Mineral water on long trips both on trek and cultural tours.
- Mineral water during all meals.
- Museum fees and other special entry fees.
- All necessary permits for entering Dzongs, Monasteries, Monuments and restricted areas.
- Visa and TDF fees.
- Government royalty, tax and fees.
- Service charge.
- Travel Insurance.
- Expenses of personal nature.
- Expenses occurred due to unavoidable events i.e. road wrecks, flight delays etc.
- Tips to guides and drivers.
Our flight got delayed in Kolkata due to minor technical problem which got fixed in 3 hours. We reached Paro International Airport and realized we didn't ask for our tour guide's number as our flight was delayed for almost 3 hours. After a good 15 minutes browsing around, we found him - Namgay Tshering - and met our dedicated driver - Rinchen.
During 5 days in Bhutan, we explored tons of things about Bhutan, visited several historical and gorgeous Dzongs (fortresses), got to enjoy the Tshechu (festival) at Buddha point (the tallest Buddha statue in Bhutan), cycled uphill to see the Takin, trekked to see the Divine Mad Man's monastery and above all, hiked up to Tiger's Nest. Namgay and Rinchen were really professional and they made us feel like they were our friends. They were so punctual and had great attention to details. They took care of everything we asked for, flexibly changed the schedule due to weather change and came with us to all the destinations. I myself never went on tour as I was always the lone traveler and roamed across most of Asian countries. This was eventually the first organized tour in my life and I had to say I was really satisfied with it.
Namgay could communicate very well and I was surprised he was a bright student who got scholarship and studied in Darjeeling - India (yeah, you're right. That's where the name of the Darjeeling tea came from). He was super knowledgeable the history and religion of Bhutan. He even got each of us a set of books and Bhutanese key chain, which was a surprise to us, knowing it wasn't a part of the tour inclusivity. Namgay showed me a mirror of how each Bhutanese man lives, works and worships with a strong belief in Buddhism and a good sense of modernization. He was also an excellent hiker as he went all the way with us to the final point of Tiger's Nest while offering to carry our backpacks (great stamina!!!).
Rinchen, on the other hand, was very soft-spoken and he didn't speak much. But when he stayed behind the wheel, we all felt safe and sound although the roads in Bhutan were in poor conditions (very bumpy and majority was under construction). He maneuvered professionally through every sharp turn (you'll find lots of them in Bhutan) with great focus and dedication.
With only 5 days, we could only go around Paro - Thimphu - Punakha. The scenes were breathtaking. The food was amazing (tell me about Ema Datshi - the legendary spicy chilly cheese) and we got to taste different authentic local food every day. We also took hot stone bath and dinner at a local farm house and tried out archery for fun. The entire trip was filled with funs and great bonding between us and the crews. The price wasn't cheap with $250/ day during high season and the return Bangkok - Paro - Bangkok ticket costed us approximately $750 each. That was a high price to pay but well, for awesome experience, you certainly couldn't buy with a discount.
Would love to come back to Bhutan and of course, I am planning out a basecamp tour with Bharat very soon. I would highly recommend Breakfree Adventure to people who love outdoor, trekking, culture & sight-seeing at Nepal and Bhutan. And my sincere thanks to Bharat, Namgay and Rinchen who have made my Bhutan trip incredible and unforgettable.”