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Ringed by the staggering peaks of the Himalaya, Bhutan is a remote Buddhist kingdom where age-old traditions and spiritualism hold strong. Amid verdant valleys dotted with ancient fortresses and shrines, delve into Bhutan’s rich culture with Bhutan Spicy Shangri-La, discovering how everyday life is intertwined with Mahayana Buddhism. Meet with monks, nuns, farmers, and artisans, take part in ancient rituals, and witness firsthand the rare and unique festival of Ura in central Bhutan.
The adventure begins on your way to the kingdom in the clouds, before your feet even touch the ground. On a clear day, your flight to Bhutan over the eastern Himalaya offers extraordinary views of the range’s highest peaks, including Mount Everest. Upon landing in Paro, travel to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital and the best place to witness the country’s newly embraced modernity. Meet your Bhutanese guide and driver, who will travel with you throughout your stay. Then in the afternoon pay a visit to the Buddha Dordenma, an enormous golden statue perched on a mountaintop at the edge of the city. The rest of the afternoon is spent in the city at leisure, browsing its handicraft shops, exploring neighborhoods where the old vies with the new, or mingling with locals at a karaoke bar. Overnight in hotel.
Journey to Punakha by way of the Dochu La pass (10,000 feet). With its circular formation of 108 chortens/stupas set against a panoramic backdrop of majestic mountains, the pass is an awe-inspiring and spiritual place. While there visit the Druk Wangyel Lhakhang, built to honor the nation’s Fourth King who changed Bhutan from an absolute monarchy to democracy. The lhakhang is one of the latest additions to Bhutan’s architectural and cultural landscape. Lunch will be served at the Lamperi Botanical Garden, below few miles from Dochula and where rhododendrons grow in abundance. Upon arrival in Punakha, set out on a hike through the surrounding rice paddies to Chimi Lhakhang—a temple blessed by Drukpa Kuenley, known as the “Mad Saint”. It is also called the fertility temple and is said a barren woman after being blessed by the relic of the temple- a wooden phallus- can conceive a child. Overnight in hotel.
Journey east toward Trongsa. En-route visit the construction of the Wangduephodrang Dzong in progress and gain insight into the architectural design of the fortresses of Bhutan. The dzong was razed to the ground by fire in 2012. Drive all the way to Chendebji, a Nepal Boudanath Stupa look-alike, for lunch. Arrive Trongsa a small sleepy town at the foot of the mountain. The Trongsa Dzong, the ‘fortress of the vanguard of the warriors’, rises dramatically over the town and is the biggest dzong in Bhutan. Built in 1647, the dzong holds special historical significance. It was the seat of the father of the first King of Bhutan. This is also where the prince, the heir to the throne, is instated as the governor of the Trongsa region before he assumes the role of kingship. Overnight in hotel.
In the morning, visit the historic Trongsa Dzong/fortress and then the Ta Dzong (watchtower) overlooking the fortress. Ta Dzong houses an excellent museum of Buddhist arts and royal memorabilia including a 500-year-old jacket worn by a legendary Bhutanese. Drive to Yotongla pass (4000m). If you are a bird enthusiast, you’ll be glad to sight Brown Parrot bill and Darjeeling Wood pecker among others. Drive all the way to Chumey Valley for lunch. After lunch we’ll visit a rural weaving center in Chumey where Yathra, Bhutanese clothes made from sheep’s wool, is made. Drive to Bumthang and then to our destination for the day- Ura. Soak in the unforgettable sights as only central Bhutan can offer. Overnight in farmhouse.
Journey to the gorgeous village of Ura to attend the festival. With its cobbled stoned streets and ancient medieval houses, inhabited by friendly yak herders, Ura Village will enchant you like no other place. The festival is a dazzling display of the community’s rich cultural heritage and raw and unique unlike those that are performed in the more prosperous regions like Paro. Receive blessings from the festival’s sacred relic and then enjoy a nice little picnic lunch in the exquisite meadow of Ura. Drive to Bumthang for the night in hotel.
Get a personal perspective on the spirituality of the Bhutanese while hiking to Kurjey Lhakhang through the panoramic pine tress along a meandering river. The valley is peppered with prayer flags, shrines, sacred sites and fortresses. Refresh yourself with a local beer called the Red Panda and then to the Bumthang town for lunch. Visit Jakar Dzong (fortress of the white bird) perched on the edge of a ridge overlooking the valley. Spend the evening strolling through the town. Overnight in hotel.
Drive back but this time to Phobjikha, a beautiful alpine valley (10,000 feet) which happens to be the largest wintering site for the endangered black-necked crane. Enjoy the spectacular views of the Himalayas and the lovely sights of the rolling meadows carpeted with dwarf bamboo shrubs and red rhododendron plants. Lunch at a restaurant perched on top of a hill. Overnight in hotel in Phobjikha.
Wake up to the beautiful sound of the birds chirping and sweeping vista of the valley and to the low hanging mist over the valley being slowly swallowed by the morning sun. Visit the black-necked crane center. A lone injured crane called Karma will greet you. Gain insight into rural Bhutanese life through the Gangtey Nature Trail hike, which heads up to the Gangtey Goemba temple complex, perched on top of a ridge, via plump rolling meadows and a beautiful forest of lichens known as ‘old man’s beard’. One of the oldest Nyingma monasteries in Bhutan, Gangtey Goemba has recently been renovated, allowing us to examine one of the finest craftsmanship in Bhutan. Drive for two hours to Punakha to your hotel for the night. Overnight in hotel.
This morning experience an invigorating hike through rice terraces and forests to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, a spectacularly situated temple and be rewarded for your efforts with incredible views of the valley below. Then visit the Punakha Dzong, an impressive fortress guarding the southern end of the valley at the confluence of Pho (male) and Mo (female) Rivers. Bhutan’s first king was crowned at the dzong in 1907 and since then have all the kings of Bhutan. After lunch, drive to Paro. Lunch at Dochula Pass with the sweeping vista of the Himalayas and the lush greenery. Overnight in hotel in Paro.
Spend the day discovering Paro. Explore the ruins of the Drukgyel Dzong fortress, which once defended this valley from invasions. The fortress is today being built afresh. The view of Mount Jomolhari, the mountain goddess floating in the clouds, gives this fortress a magnificent and dramatic background. Visit the seventh-century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of Bhutan’s oldest temples, and walk the archery grounds. After lunch, visit the National Museum of Bhutan, and admire the impressive architecture of the Paro Dzong, a stronghold that once defended the country from Tibetan invasions. In the evening, a stroll through the Paro browsing handicraft and souvenir shops. Overnight in hotel.
Your journey through Bhutan culminates at the kingdom’s most iconic site: Taktsang Lhakhang, famously called the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. This majestic structure is poised high above the Paro valley, built dramatically on the ledge of a granite cliff face. Legend has it that the eight century Buddhist Tantric master, Guru Padmasambhava, came to this place riding on a flaming tigress to subdue the demons wreaking havoc on the valley below. Make the steep, strenuous trek to the temple or hike to a nearby viewpoint, taking in a landscape dotted with pine trees, prayer flags, and ancient shrines. Enjoy lunch at the home of a local farmer before returning to Paro for the evening where you’ll be treated to a hot stone water bath at Taktsang Boutique Resort and Spa. Overnight in hotel.
Your guide and driver will accompany you to the airport and on behalf of Bhutan Spicy Shangri-La will bid you farewell with a fervent prayer that your life may be filled happiness and success!
This trip has an activity rating of moderate. Travelers should be physically fit and prepared for multiple hours of hiking over several days on high mountains. Excursions may include navigating uneven terrain, climbing stairs without handrails, and walking on paths with steep ascents and descents.
Throughout the trip, we stay in 3-star hotels with many amenities. With additional fee, arrangements to stay in high-end 5-star hotels can be made. Stay in traditional farm-houses come free with the tariff. Let us know what you like.
A Bhutan Spicy Shangri-La guide will accompany you for the entire journey.
|April||ONE PERSON TRAVELLER||Contact us for pricing|
|April||TWO-THREE PERSON TRAVELLER||Contact us for pricing|
|April||GROUP OF 16 (MAX)||From USD 2,692|
Prices are per person based. There is 50% discount for kids below 12 years and 20% discount for students below 25 years. From the total price a chunk goes as Royalty to the Bhutanese government which is used for providing free education and health care, build roads and bridges, and as tourism development fee. If you want to close your trip with a night stay in a high end resort, the price will be a little higher. Let us know.