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The Land Of Shangri La
The Land of Shangri La
Visit: Paro
Duration: 12 Nights / 13 Days
This awe-inspiring itinerary is a perfect journey for those who want to explore the remote country in depth. The adventurous tour has only just become possible with the opening of the entry point at Samdrup-Jongkhar, a sub-tropical region which borders India. Completely off the beaten path you will be able to visit the heartlands of Bhutan including the eastern provinces and town of Trashigang and Mongar where the people are semi-nomadic. Journey onto the more frequently visited destinations of the Bumthang Valley, Punakha, Thimpu and Paro, each of which has its own attractions including dzongs, markets and stunning vistas.
 

Tour Duration : 12 Nights / 13 Days

Destinations Covered: Paro

Package Highlights:
• Climb up to Tiger's Nest Monastery in Paro
• Visit Punakha's Dzong
• Witness rural life in Bhutan in the remote Bumthang Valley
• Experience Bhutan's unique culture
• Take in spectacular Himalayan scenery


Package Inclusions:
• Accommodation on twin share
• Meals as mentioned
• Transport using the services of an air conditioned vehicle as per the itinerary
• Services of English/Language speaking local guide for all sightseeing and excursions
• Entrances to the monuments (one visit)
• Assistance on arrival/departure by a trained Hi Tours airport representative


Package Exclusions:
• Tips/gratuities to chauffeur, cleaner, guide etc
• Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
• Any domestic/international airfare
• Insurance/camera fees at the monuments etc
• Any expenditure of personal nature


Day 01: Arrive in Paro
In clear weather, Druk Air’s flight to Bhutan provides a wonderful view of Himalayan scenery. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Katmandu or over the foothills from Kolkata, it is a breathtaking journey, culminating in an exciting descent past forested hills into the kingdom.

On arrival at Paro airport and after completion of airport formalities, you will be you will be met by your representative after completion of arrival formalities.

Upon arrival check-in the hotel.

Post lunch, visit Ta Dzong, the National Museum which was once a watchtower, built to defend Rinpung/Paro Dzong during inter-valley wars of the 17th century. The museum has a collection ranging from Thanka paintings to natural history of Bhutan. Then walk down a hillside trail to visit Paro Dzong (Rinpung Dzong) built in 1646 during the time of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It now houses Paro’s monk body and the offices of the civil administration. Rinpung Dzong is the venue for the famous Paro Tsechu, held annually in the spring. Evenings at leisure/stroll around the shops! Meals included: Lunch & Dinner

Overnight at the hotel
  
Day 02: Taktshang Hike/Valley Exploration
In the morning, take an excursion to Taktshang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche, founding father of the Bhutanese form of Mahayana Buddhism, arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery. The main structure was severely damaged by fire in 1998, but after many years of painstaking restoration work, the complex has now been fully restored to its former glory. After the Taktsang hike, drive up the valley to view the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong on the north side of the valley. It was from here that the Bhutanese repelled several invading Tibetan armies during the 17th century. Evening will be at leisure.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the hotel
  
Day 03: Paro - Thimphu (1.5hrs drive)
Thimphu, perhaps the most unusual capital city in the world, is the seat of government. This bustling town is home to Bhutan’s royal family, the civil service, and foreign missions with representation in Bhutan. It is also the headquarters for a number of internationally funded development projects.

An early transfer to Thimphu Valley, upon arrival, visits National Memorial Chorten, National Textile Museum, Folk Heritage Museum and National Library. Check in Hotel and after lunch you will pay a visit to few of the capital’s cottage industries like traditional paper making and weaving centre and see the traditional weaving process and interact with the weavers. Evening at leisure.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the hotel
  
Day 04: Thimphu
This morning you will head to the north end of the valley to view Trashi Chhoe Dzong, the seat of Bhutan’s government and Royal offices. Pay a visit to Zorig Chusum (where students learn the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan). After lunch, should you wish to stretch your legs; a short hike will take you to Cheri Goemba and in the evening, visit the Takin Reserve Centre and take a stroll around Thimphu town.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the hotel
  
Day 05: Thimpu - Punakha Valley (2.5hrs drive)
In the morning, head towards to Punakha Valley.

Opt for an early departure for a dramatic drive over the high mountain pass of Dochu La and on to the Punakha Valley. Sights on the way include one of Bhutan’s first fortress monasteries, the 17th century Simtokha Dzong, and ancient wall paintings at the Hongtsho Goemba monastery. The journey continues over the 3,050m mountain pass where on a clear day, towering Himalayan peaks are clearly visible.

Upon arrival, check in hotel and following lunch, visit the impressive Punakha Dzong. This ancient fortress is the winter residence of the monastic order’s head and still serves as the administrative headquarters for the Punakha region. Visit Chimi Lhakhang, the auspicious fertility monastery built in 1499. Balance of the day, stoll around the shops.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the hotel
  
Day 06: Day Excursion to Phobjikha Valley (2hrs drive)
After breakfast depart for Gangtey via Wangdi. You will drive up a winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forest, and over a high pass down into the Phobjikha valley, surely one of the loveliest high altitude valleys in Bhutan. Phobjikha is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black-necked cranes, migrating from the Tibetan plateau. Walk around and explore Phobjikha. The endangered black necked cranes arrive in Bhutan in Nov and leave by early march. Also visit Gangtey Gompa (Monastery), the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan.

Return back to Punakha in the afternoon. Rest of the day at leisure.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the hotel
  
Day 07: Punakha - Bumthang Valley via Trongsa (6.5hrs drive)
Today’s journey onward to Jakar (Bumthang) is perhaps long, but certainly memorable with dramatic landscapes of terraced farmland, deep river valleys and precariously perched farmhouses viewed from the only east west highway that has been ingeniously carved out of the mountain faces.

Upon reaching Trongsa you may take time to stroll this quaint village and official business permitting, perhaps visit the Trongsa Dzon, ancestral home to Bhutan’s monarch where you will often find novice monks reciting mantras or practicing on sacred horns, flutes or drums.

Also see Ta Dzong, the watchtower built to defend this dzong. The drive onward to Bumthang takes you over the picturesque Yotong La and down into the Chhume Valley, home of Bhutan’s famous Yatra weaving. Here you will have a chance to browse the traditional textiles and perhaps see the weavers create their intricate handiwork. Upon Arrival, check in the hotel and rest of the day at leisure.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the hotel
  
Day 08: Bumthang
Bumthang is the general name given to a group of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura, with altitudes varying from 2,600 to 4,000m (8,530-13,125ft). This area is home to many ancient Buddhist temples and monasteries.

This morning you will explore our neighbouring palace, Wangdichhoeling, home to the 2nd King, and the auspicious prayer wheels next door. Heading back into town and across the Bumthang Chhu, you will enjoy a visit to the sin alleviating Tamshing Monastery followed by quick visits to the valleys unique cottage industries – Red Panda Brewery, Bumthang Cheese/Dairy Facility and the Bumthang Distillery, home to numerous distinctive spirits.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the hotel
  
Day 09: Bumthang - Mongar Valley (6hrs drive)
The journey continues eastwards, winding through more rugged terrain. The drive to Mongar takes about 6 hours, with spectacular views en route. We will drive up into the hills above the valley and then past Ura village, before climbing sharply to the highest point on Bhutan’s motorable road network, Thrumsing-la pass (4,000m/13,125ft).

From here, the road gradually descends to the alpine valley of Sengor, with wonderful views of cascading waterfalls and the hills of eastern Bhutan along the way. Vegetation changes from alpine to subtropical with the loss of height, and bamboos and luxuriant ferns overhang the road as we drop down to the valley floor. The descent stops at 700m/2,300ft, where we cross the Kuri Chu (river). We ascend again through pine forests, maize fields and eastern hamlets to reach Mongar town, high on a gentle slope above the valley.

We visit Mongar Dzong, built in the 1930s and one of Bhutan’s newest dzongs, but constructed in the same way as all previous dzongs, without either plans or the use of nails.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the hotel
  
Day 10: Mongar - Trashigang Valley (3hrs drive)
This trip of about 96 km, takes only 3 hours. The first part of journey is through leafy forest filled with ferns. After driving through the Kori-la pass (2,450m/8,040ft), marked by a pretty chorten and a mani wall, we descend rapidly through corn fields and banana groves to reach the famous road zigzags just below Yadi, a fairly recent and now fast-growing settlement. .

After zigzagging down the hillside, the road east runs along the Gamri River. A turnoff on the left leads up to Drametse. The temple, perched on top of a steep hill above the village, was founded by Choeden Zangmo and is the most important monastery of eastern Bhutan. This is the place of origin of the famous Drametse Nga Chham, a masked dance with drums.

About 30 km. onwards lays Trashigang (1,100m/3,610ft), which clings to a steep hillside above the Gamri River. Trashigang is the principal township of the biggest and most populated district in the country.

Post lunch, we will visit Trashigang Dzong, standing at the extreme end of a rocky outcrop far above the river gorge. It serves as the administrative seat for the district and part of the dzong is occupied by the local monastic community.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the hotel
  
Day 11: Day Excursion to Trashiyangtse Valley
After breakfast we visit the temple of Gom Kora, set on a small alluvial plateau, overlooking the river, 24 km. from Trashigang. Gom Kora is a famous place, as Guru Rinpoche is said to have subdued a demon here, trapping it in a rock. We continue on down the road to Doksum village, where you can see women busily weaving traditional Bhutanese fabric, and a chain-link swing bridge dating back to the 15th century. The road turns into the hills here, running up the side of a winding river valley to Trashiyangtse.

In former times, Trashiyangtse was an important centre because it lies on one of the caravan routes leading from western and central Bhutan. Trashiyangtse is now a rapidly growing town and the administrative center for this district. The area is famous for its wooden containers and bowls, which make inexpensive, attractive and useful souvenirs of a visit to this remote region.

Visit Trashiyangtse Dzong, which overlooks the town and was built in the late 1990s when the new district was created. If time permits, we will also visit the dazzling white stupa of Chorten Kora on the riverbank below the town, and the nearby Institute for Zorig Chusum, where students are trained in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts. In the evening we return to Trashigang.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the hotel
  
Day 12: Transfer to Samdrup Jongkhar Valley
The Trashigang – Samdrup Jongkhar road was completed in 1965, and the journey down it to the Indian border takes about 6 hours. Along the way, we pass by Sherubtse College in Kanglung, which was founded in 1978 and is a degree-granting institution affiliated to the University of Delhi.

From here, it is a further 80 km. to Deothang, which is remembered in history as the site of a famous 19th century battle fought during the Duar Wars, in which the forces of Jigme Namgyal defeated the British. The road then descends fairly rapidly to the plains through dense tropical forest with an abundance of teak, bamboo and ferns.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at the hotel
  
Day 13: Samdrup Jongkhar - Guwahati
After breakfast, drive to the Bhutan/India check point in Samdrup Jongkhar where your Indian agent will pick you up for your onward program.
  


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