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based on 8 nights inc. flights & daily experiences
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Perfect introduction to Bhutan seeing all the major highlights on a private tour with your own driver and personal expert guide
Combine the capital Thimphu, with the fertile valley of Punakha and Paro with the amazing walk to Tiger's Nest Monastery
Choose whether you want a more cultural experience, or focus on getting into the countryside on day-walks and seeing local life in action
Stay in comfortable boutique accommodation throughout your journey
Combine with India, Nepal, Thailand or Singapore for the ultimate itinerary to the region
In the western, central and eastern Bhutan you will mostly experience cold European-like weather. Winter lasts here from November to March. The Monsoon occurs between June and August when the temperature is normally between 8° and 21°C. October and November are arguably the best months, when the monsoon has passed and the skies are clear. The spring months of March, April and May are best for the flora, but it can be stormy as the monsoon builds up for July-September.
This itinerary is ideal for a first-time visitor to Bhutan, experiencing all the must-see highlights of Bhutan with your own exclusive driver and guide. Through this eight night itinerary we have included stops for you in Thimphu, Punakha and Paro for a great first taste of this incredible country.
On arrival in Paro you’ll be met by your own team of a hand-picked expert guide and also your own private driver and vehicle, and they will be with you throughout your tour, showcasing the wonderful destination that is Bhutan. We suggest heading straight to Thimphu, a drive of just over an hour and it is Bhutan's capital city. With two nights here, you can explore the major sights of city, including the Folk Museum, Buddha Point and the Simtokha Dzong. If you want, you can do a light day trek into the rural villages around the capital. The Thimphu festival occurs in September, and if you are here at the weekend, there is a fantastic market to visit.
Next, head to Punakha which is about a three-hour drive from Thimphu and takes you over the Dochula Pass from where you should see some dramatic views of the high snow-capped Himalayan peaks in the distance. Punakha is home to Bhutan's best Dzong (or fortified monastery) and it is worth seeing it when the maroon-clad Buddhist monks are chanting in unison. The Temple of Fertility is also exceptional and involves an easy one hour walk past rice paddies and local villages. We also will take you on a short walk along the Butterfly Trail to the Khansum Yulley Namgyal Chorten and having the option of visiting a local home for tea. There is also a Saturday market in Khuruthang (the village next to the main Dzong) or Sunday in nearby Wangdue. There are festivals in February and April in Punakha and September in nearby Wangdue, and these can be incorporated into an itinerary should you travel during these times.
Next, drive back to Paro, which takes around five hours or so, with opportunities to stop at various points of interest en route. Paro contains a wealth of things to see and do, and of course the fabulous Tigers Nest Monastery which you can walk to the following day. It involves a steep 800-metre ascent, but there are numerous rest-stops on the way and your reward is absolutely amazing when you see the monastery at close range. Other highlights in Paro include the main Dzong, the National Museum and the Drukgyel Dzong. We can of course tailor your itinerary to include a little more walking, or more of a focus on the history and culture. Should you travel in March, then you can incorporate the Paro Festival.
The Chimmi Lhakhang Temple is a temple of fertility dedicated to the Buddhist saint known as the Divine Madman. A short walk through paddy fields takes you to the temple and is popular with Bhutanese families wanting to start a family.
Take a morning cycling up the beautiful Pho Chhu River, famous for the White-Bellied Heron and dramatic scenery. Take a walk into the local village for a spot of tea before having a lovely picnic lunch overlooking the river before returning to Punakha.
You can easily fill an afternoon or day exploring Thimphu. It is worth visiting the Tashiccho Dzong, where essentially Bhutan is governed from. Also of interest is the Simtokha Dzong, Memorial Chorten, Changagkka Temple & Folk Museum.
Anyone who works in Bhutan must wear traditional national dress, and you can have the chance to dress up for a few hours to see how it feels. The Bhutanese absolute love visitors doing it!
The Drukgyal Dzong is located further up the Paro Valley from the Tiger's Nest Monastery and was built in 1649 by Tenzin Drukdra to celebrate victory over an invading army from Tibet.
Giligang has a 300-year old temple and a wonderful way to escape other tourists and see an authentic side to Bhutan, and can be added on to a visit to the Khansum Yulley Namgyal Chorten and Butterfly Trail.
Take the short hike up to the Khansam Yulley Temple where you can sit back in awe at the wonderful views down the Mo Chhu Valley before heading off on the one-hour Butterfly Trail, stopping off for tea in the local home.
The Kyichu Lhakhang is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, dating from the 7th century and constructed by the Tibetan Emperor Songtsan Gampo.
Your children can have the opportunity to meet a monk their own age. 10% of Bhutan's population are monks and they can hear stories of getting up each day before first-light for prayers and their daily routines.
This fantastic experience combines the Sangchen Nunnery, the Nalanda Buddhist College and the Nobgang Village walk which takes you from the high hills above Punakha and winds gently down to the Punakha Dzong - you approach it almost vertically!
The Paro Dzong, or Rinpung Dzong as it is otherwise called, looms above the town of Paro. On the hill above the Dzong in the former watchtower you can visit the National Museum.
If you are in Paro on a Sunday then absolutely visit the local market. See a variety of vegetables on offer from 0630 until about 1000, and you can then see the archery ground following your visit.
Punakha Dzong, otherwise known as the Pungtang Dechen Photrang literally means the palace of great happiness or bliss, and is the finest of its kind in Bhutan, dating from the 17th century and located on the confluence of the Mo Chhu and Po Chhu Rivers.
Khuruthang Saturday Vegetable Market is located in the small town next to the Punakha Dzong. On Sundays, you can visit the Wangdue Market, about a 30-minute drive away. Wander around the stalls, selling local fruit and vegetables.
Take the Butterfly Trail which is a one hour trek through local villages and paddy fields, stopping for tea in a local home before hiking to the Khamsum Yulley Chorten and then rafting back to the main Dzong of Punakha.
The unspoilt Haa Valley is located close to Paro and offers a fantastic day out. Drive over the Chele Pass, Bhutan's highest road, and choose to free-wheel on bikes into the Haa Valley. Explore the local monastery, have a picnic and return to Paro.
You shouldn’t miss the weekend market in Thimphu. People from nearby valleys arrive on Thursday afternoon and stay to sell their goods – vegetables, other foodstuffs and handicrafts – until Sunday evening.
The Tiger's Nest Monastery is spectacular; legend has it that this cliffside was where Guru Rinpoche landed on the back of a flying tigress, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. Set off for the 2-hour walk to the viewpoint before continuing onto the Monastery.
Archery is the national sport of Bhutan and can be seen played throughout the Kingdom. Traditional bows are made from bamboo and witnessing an archery competition is an absolute highlight. We can easily arrange for you to have a go should you wish.
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