BHUTAN: Boutique VIP "Beautiful Bhutan Tour" - 14 days
14th - 27th April 2019
Destinations: BHUTAN: Thimphu | Punakha | Trongsa | Bumthang | Gangtey | Paro
Tour Grading Moderate: Suitable for travellers with an above average level of fitness and mobility
Tour Commences In: Paro/Thimphu
Number of Days: 14 days / 13 nights
Accommodation: 5, 4 & 3 star
Leaders: Australian Tour Manager and professional expert local guide
Tour Concludes In: Paro
Tour Style: Luxury / Deluxe Escorted Small Group Tour
Meals: Breakfast; 14: Lunch; 13: Dinner; 13:
Transportation: Luxury / Deluxe private chauffeur driven air-conditioned vehicles
Join us and immerse yourself in the serenity that is Bhutan. Bhutan is landlocked by the mighty Himalayan peaks and this has undoubtable been a reason why this country has been protected from external influences for such a long time, and as a result, the Bhutanese traditional way of life has survived largely intact.
On our journey we experience every facet of this incredible country. Live in their culture and understand their claim on being the happiest country in the world. It is a Buddhist Kingdom trying to stay true to itself and preserving its’ unique lifestyle. Discover Bhutan's magnificent scenery, it’s stunning vistas, their amazing monastery’s and their unique traditions, but it is the people that make our tour so special.
Thimphu the capital of one of the world's most intriguing destinations, is the most modern city in Bhutan, however it still retains its’ cultural identity and values amidst the signs of modernization.
The beautiful Punakha valley has two major rivers in Bhutan the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu that converge in this valley. The famous Punakha Dzong is built at the confluence of these two rivers and is an especially beautiful sight on sunny days with sunlight reflecting off the water onto its white-washed walls. In addition to its structural beauty, Punakha Dzong is notable for containing the preserved remains of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the unifer of Bhutan as well as a sacred relic known as the Ranjung Karsapani. It is now more famous for On October 13, 2011, the wedding of the King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, and his fiancé, Jetsun Pema, was held at the Punakha Dzong.
Situated in central Bhutan, Trongsa was once the seat of power over central and eastern regions. Both the first and second kings of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancient seat. The Trongsa dzong, sits high above the roaring Mangde Chhu, is perhaps the most spectacularly sited dzong in Bhutan, with a sheer drop to the south that often just disappears into cloud and mist.
Bumthang region is the religious heartland of the nation and is home to some of its oldest Buddhist temples and monasteries. According to legend Jambey Lhakhang ancient temple was built by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in 659 A.D. as part of a chain of 108 simultaneously constructed temples in order to subdue an evil demoness that lay over the Himalayan region.
The valley of Gangtey or Phobjikha is one of the most beautiful places in Bhutan. It is a bowl-shaped glacial valley on the western slopes of the Black Mountains, bordering the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. Because of the large flock of black-necked cranes that winters here, it is one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country.
Paro valley is one of the widest valleys in the kingdom and is covered in fertile rice fields and has a beautiful, crystalline river meandering down the valley. Paro is famous for its temples and monasteries but by far the most iconic landmark in Bhutan is the Taktsang Monastery, the Tiger’s Nest. This awe-inspiring temple was constructed upon a sheer cliff face, hundreds of meters above forests of oak and rhododendrons and the valley floor.
Join us as a solo traveller, couple, or a group and share our passion of the "Land of the Thunder Dragon" it truly is an enriching and unique experience. Luxury tour of Bhutan
- The colourful weekly market in Thimp
- School of Traditional Arts in Thimphu
- Changangkha temple in Thimphu
- Tashicho Dzong in Thimphu
- Craft workshops in Thimphu
- Chimi Lhakhang, Temple of Fertility in Punakha
- Trongsa Dzong and museum
- Traditional weaving in Zungney village
- Gangtey Gompa and the Phobjikha valley
- Ugyenchholing Palace in the Tang Valley Bumthang
- Paro Rinpung DzongNational Museum (fortfied tower of Ta Dzong) Watch Tower of Paro Rinpung Dzong.
- Kyichu Temple (Buddhist Temple Tiger Nest Monastery ("TAKTSANG" Monastery)
- Drugyal Dzong Ancient Ruins
· Entrance Fees to all the amazing “Must See” Boutique Special Highlights Unique cultural experiences
· Visits to numerous World Heritage-listed sites
· Exclusive and private International airport arrival and departure transfers for the first and last day of the tour for all tour guests
· Centrally located 5 & 4/3 star modern & boutique Hotels as per your choice
· Hotel porterage (1 bag per person)
· Meals as indicated in Itinerary; B = Breakfast: L=Lunch: D=Dinner:
· Chauffeur driven luxury air-conditioned private luxury/deluxe vehicles for all transfers & sightseeing
· Fully escorted by our passionate experienced professional tour guide
· Bottled water included whilst touring in vehicle
· An exclusive BT&T information travel booklet
DAY 1: Sunday 13th April 2019: Arrive Paro – Thimphu:
DAY 2: Monday 15th April 2019: Thimphu:
DAY 3: Tuesday 16th April 2019: Thimphu:
DAY 4: Wednesday 17th April 2019: Punakha
DAY 5: Thursday 18th April 2019: Punakha
DAY 6: Friday 19th April 2019: Trongsa
DAY 7: Saturday 20th April 2019: Bumthang
DAY 8: Sunday 21st April 2019: Bumthang
DAY 9: Monday 22nd April 2019: Gangtey
DAY 10: Tuesday 23rd April 2019: Gangtey
DAY 11: Wednesday 24th April 2019: Paro
DAY 12: Thursday 25th April 2019: Paro
DAY 13: Friday 27th April 2019: Paro
DAY 14: Saturday 27th April 2019: Depart Paro
All our hotels are very good four and three star modern and boutique hotels. All rooms have modern facilities, private bathrooms with double or twin beds.
Climate & Clothing:
The climate in Bhutan varies with elevation, from subtropical in the south to temperature in the highlands and polar-type climate, with year-round snow in the north. Bhutan experiences five distinct seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. Western Bhutan has the heavier monsoon rains; southern Bhutan has hot humid summers and cool winters; central and eastern Bhutan is temperate and drier than the west with warm summers and cool winters. The temperature in April ranges from 5 C– 25 C
Currency & Money Matters:
Bhutan's currency is the Ngultrum, BTN, whose value is fixed to the Indian Rupee. The rupee is also accepted as legal tender in the country.
Note: INR (Indian Rupees) denominations of 500 and 1000 are not accepted in Bhutan. ATMs are located within some of the main towns in Bhutan, where money can be withdrawn using a Visa or MasterCard. Thimphu, Punakha, Trongsa& Paro.
The electrical current in Bhutan is 230 volts AC, 50Hz. The European two-pin plug is standard; Type F. there is also type D & G.
Bhutanese people primarily consist of the Ngalops and Sharchops, called the Western Bhutanese and Eastern Bhutanese respectively. The Lhotshampa, meaning "southerner Bhutanese", are a heterogeneous group of mostly Nepal ancestry.
You must obtain Comprehensive Travel Insurance as a condition of travelling with Boutique Tours & Travel. We recommend that you purchase insurance at the time of Booking. https://www.aussietravelcover.com.au/downloads/application_form.pdf
The national language is Bhutanese - Dzongkha, one of 53 languages in the Tibetian language family.
Our hotels offer a wonderful selection of dishes at their buffet breakfasts and dinners. There is a wide variety of both menu and venue for lunches along the way. Rice forms the main body of most Bhutanese meals. It is accompanied by one or two side dishes consisting of meat or vegetables. Pork, beef and chicken are the meats that are eaten most often. Vegetables commonly eaten include Spinach, pumpkins, turnips, radishes, tomatoes, river weed, onions and green beans
Medical Services & Facilities:
We are able to organise access to a doctor if required. The medical & hospital system continues to improve with some western trained nursing and medical specialists available. Dental care is also available. (Please ensure you have full medical coverage.)
Passports & Visas:
To enter Bhutan you require a passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of entry and with at least two blank pages. No visa is required for tourists.
Pre & Post Tour Accommodation:
Boutique Tours & Travel suggests that you may like to arrive a day before the start of your tour to allow time to relax and refresh. You are also very welcome to linger longer after the tour is completed. Boutique Tours & Travel has negotiated special overnight rates at our hotel for both pre and post tour accommodation. Please ask for details at time of booking. Local tour guides are also available on request.
Between two-thirds and three-quarters of the Bhutanese population follow Vajrayana Buddhism, which is also the state religion. About one-quarter to one-third are followers of Hinduism.
We welcome single travellers and we are able to arrange single accommodation. We negotiate strongly to keep single supplements at a reasonable cost. If you wish to share a room, we will endeavour to match you with another single guest and adjust the costs accordingly and refund any costs after you return home. We accept no responsibility for the suitability of a room partner.
Specific requests such as adjacent or connecting rooms, bedding requests, smoking or non-smoking rooms and special dietary needs or any other arrangement should be advised at time of booking. Please note that every effort will be made to secure your special request; however, they cannot always be guaranteed.
Bhutan Standard time is GMT + 6hrs. thereis only one timezone throughout the country.
Our small group tours provide you with a good balance of group activity and personal discovery.
We generally use modern luxury minibuses for tours. We also walk where and when it’s suitable.
Water & Beverages:
Our hotels offer bottled water and bottled water is provided throughout travelling days in vehicle.
Alcoholic beverages are not included in the cost of this tour except for ‘welcome cocktails’ on the first evening.
• Ancient Ruin of Drukgyel Dzong (2012)
• Sacred Sites associated with Phajo Drugom Zhigpo and his descendants (2012)
• Tamzhing Monastery (2012)
DAY 1: Sunday 15th April 2018: Arrive Paro – Thimphu: (L/D)
Arrive at Paro International Airport from Bangkok. Paro is situated in a beautiful valley (2280 metres above sea level) and is a fitting introduction to this charming kingdom. Our guide will meet us and we then have a one-hour drive along the Paro and Thimphu river valleys to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital. (2320 m). We can stop on the way to take in the magnificent Tamchhog Lhakhang, the hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s iron bridge builder. On arrival we will check in to our hotel enjoy lunch there maybe time to browse the bustling weekly Centenary Farmers’ Market. A visit to the market provides great photo opportunities, as well as the chance to mingle with local people. Our guide will discuss the foods on offer at the market and browse the fragrant incense stalls. Explore the wonderful craft market on the west bank of the river – where you can find prayer flags, prayer wheels, beautiful textiles and jewellery. Soak in the atmosphere of this magical capital with its busy shops and bazaars and photogenic citizens in national dress..
DAY 2: Monday 16th April 2018: Thimphu: (B/L/D)
Today we will introduce you to all of Bhutan’s traditional crafts. In the morning we will visit the School of Traditional Arts where students are taught the 13 traditional arts, including painting, embroidery, woodcarving, mask-making and statue-making. You are welcome to watch the students at work. We will then visit the National Textile museum to browse the striking collection of intricate textiles and watch a short film introducing the various styles, designs and techniques. We continue on and visit the Folk Heritage Museum to see a traditional Bhutanese farmhouse and how some of the traditional crafts were put to use. Later we will explore the modern day practice of traditional crafts with a visit the local Weaving Centre where you can watch women weaving intricate fabric for the traditional Bhutanese dress of gho (for men) and kira (for women). Browse through their pleasant showroom, which displays the finished articles. If you are interested there is a local incense factory in the same area where you can watch how the herbs are mixed, ground, coloured and formed into incense sticks. We will then visit the Goldsmiths workshop where you can watch metalworking. The craftspeople here make sacred objects to decorate temples and Dzongs, such as the Serto (golden pinnacle), which you will see in the middle of the roof of all temples and Dzongs. They also make smaller objects used in religious rituals, jewellery and metal tools used by the Bhutanese people for everyday tasks. If there is time we will visit the Choki Traditional Art School in the village of Kabesa, 10km north of Thimphu, which trains disadvantaged young people in the traditional arts of painting, sculpture and carving.
DAY 3: Tuesday 17th April 2018: Thimphu
Thimphu sightseeing. This morning we will see some of Bhutan’s traditional crafts in their traditional home – Bhutan’s temples and dzongs. We will visit Changangkha temple, perched on the hilltop overlooking the town. Devotees flock throughout the day to circumambulate and turn the prayer wheels. The temple also contains beautiful wall paintings and hundreds of religious scriptures written in gold. We will then visit Simtokha Dzong, widely considered to be the first dzong built in Bhutan. The dzong contains a line of over 300 fine slate carvings depicting saints and philosophers and the dark murals inside the central temple are some of the oldest and most beautiful in Bhutan. And be in awe when we visit the world's tallest sitting Buddha at Kuensel Phodrang.
In the afternoon, we will visit the Jungshi Handmade Paper factory, which produces traditional Bhutanese paper from the daphne bush. You can watch the process of cooking and soaking the daphne bark before forming it into sheets of beautiful paper for pressing and drying. Again, a small showroom on site displays the finished articles, including sheets of paper, notebooks and beautiful paintings done on traditional paper. If you would like to view or buy Bhutanese handicrafts you may like to visit the new market opposite Taj Tashi hotel which has an array of stalls run by local handicraft shops selling purely home made articles with no imports.
In the later afternoon we will visit Tashicho Dzong, built in 1641, which housed the original National Assembly and is now home to Government offices, the throne room and offices of the King. The Dzong was renovated and enlarged in the 1960s by the royal architect in traditional fashion, without using nails or architectural plans, the utse (central tower) and its chapels are older.
DAY 4: Wednesday 18th April 2018: Thimphu – Punakha: (B/L/D)
This morning we drive approximately 3 hours to the old capital, Punakha, via Dochu La pass at 3050 metres, where we will stop for a hot drink and enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the Eastern Himalaya ranges. We aslo stopover at studio where students & masters make thangkas. If we are lucky, we might see them making a thongdrel, the huge banner for temples and dzongs, which is unveiled on the last day of a festival. You may also like to visit the Rhododendron festival in the Lamperi Botanical Gardens. In the later afternoon continue 2 hour drive to Punakha. You will notice the change of climate and vegetation as we approach low-lying Punakha at 1250 metres.
DAY 5: Thursday 19th April 2018: Punakha: (B/L/D)
This morning take a pleasant walk for an hour or so across terraced fields to Chimi Lhakhang (Temple of Fertility) built in the 15th century by the ‘Divine Madman’ (Lama Drukpa Kuenley). Stop to admire the traditional fertility paintings on the walls of houses in the nearby village. This afternoon we visit the imposing Punakha Dzong, “Palace of Great Happiness”. Built in 1637, it is strategically placed at the confluence of two rivers, the Po Chu and the Mo Chu. You may be interested to view an exhibition of traditional Bhutanese cantilever bridges (known as bazams) in the tower of the Puna Mo Chu Bazam. If we visit the Dzong after 5 pm then we also view the Kuenray, the coronation hall of all Bhutanese Kings since time immemorial.
DAY 6: Friday 20th April 2018: Punakha – Trongsa: (B/L/D)
Today we drive to Trongsa, the gateway to central Bhutan at 2180 metres. Set amidst spectacular scenery, Trongsa Dzong commands the eye from miles away. We will explore the rambling complex of the dzong with its many temples and then visit the Tower of Trongsa Museum in the nearby Ta Dzong, which focuses on the history of the Bhutanese Monarchy and Buddhist art and features personal belongings of the Kings and Queens of Bhutan.
DAY 7: Saturday 21st April 2018: Trongsa – Bumthang: (B/L/D)
This morning we will drive through some of Bhutan’s most beautiful landscapes to Bumthang, the collective name for an area of 4 valleys - Chokhor, Tang, Ura and Chhume at 2580 to 3100 metres. We will stop on the way at Zungney village in Chhume. Here we can watch women weaving the traditional yathras, hand-woven wool strips with geometric patterns. These are used locally to produce blankets and bedcovers or are made into warm jackets for the cold winters. You might be interested to browse the local shops that sell the yathras directly from the makers. Bumthang is the spiritual heartland of Bhutan, with its many legendary monasteries, temples and palaces. After lunch in Jakar town, we will take a fascinating tour of a variety of sacred sites in the valley including Jamba Lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang and Tamshing Lhakhang. Later visit Bhutan’s largest Dzong (Jakar), with its picturesque location overlooking the Chokhor valley.
DAY 8: Sunday 22nd April 2018: Bumthang: (B/L/D)
After breakfast we drive to Tang valley, the most remote of Bumthang's valleys. The road climbs past the trail to Membar Tsho (the burning lake), which is one of Bhutan’s most important pilgrimage sites. Then on to Drangchel, Pema Lingpa's birthplace. Here we will see some picturesque villages and temples and can walk up to visit Ugyenchholing Palace, which is now a museum and gives an interesting insight into life in an aristocratic family in the last century.
DAY 9: Monday 23rd April 2018: Bumpthang – Gangtey: (B/L/D)
Today’s drive is approximately 5-6 hours to Gangtey which is at 2900 metres. Her we can enjoy the wonderful views of the immense and remote Phobjikha valley and the black mountain ranges. We visit Gangtey Gompa, one of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries. This is the site where black-necked cranes visit in their hundreds in November each year after spending the summer in Tibet.
DAY 10: Tuesday 24th April 2018: Gangtey: (B/L/D)
Today there are options including a day walk around the Phobjikha Valley or visiting local arts and crafts workshops in the area.
This morning we take a short walk to the Black-Necked Crane Information Centre, which has information on the valley and its famous migrating birds. From here we can walk to Beta Village where we visit a small school. (A vehicle is available for those who do not wish to walk.)
Involves around 2 to 2.5 hours walking depending on speed and includes all of the main sights on the walk. This route follows the Gangtey Nature Trail which makes up part of the longer walk.
Continue our walk to Gangtey Gompa from here we walk along the Gangtey Nature Trail, past Semchubara village, through forests of blue pine trees covered with lichen (known as old man’s beard) and where we can hopefully see some birds. Continue from the end of the nature trail to Kingathang village where we visit a temple built by the Queen Mother. From Kingathang, you can walk via Yusa village back to your hotel. Total distance 12 to 13 km - 6 to 7 hrs.
Regarding arts and crafts, there may be the opportunity to see incense sticks being manufactured and carpenters working on the renovation of Gangtey Gompa and here they sometimes make handicrafts and sell them to visitors. There are a few small handicraft stalls in the valley and visit a Hand-Woven Carpet Factory in a local village.
DAY 11: Wednesday 25th April 2018: Gantey – Paro: (B/L/D)
This morning we visit the small hand-woven carpet factory, established by a local woman, which trains local girls in carpet making. We will then return to Paro, a drive of approximately 7 hours, via Wangdi. Wangdi (also known as Wangdue Phodrang) was originally considered Bhutan’s secondary capital and it commands an important central position. Sadly Wangdi Dzong was gutted by fire in June 2012, destroying in a few hours not only a magnificent building that had stood proudly for hundreds of years, but also the painstaking work that had been in progress for many months to rebuild recent earthquake damage using traditional construction methods. There is little now to see in Wangdi and after a brief stop for lunch we continue on our way. We pass flowering rhododendrons, orchids and magnolia along the way that will enhance the drive.
DAY 12: Thursday 26th April 2018: Paro: (B/L/D)
Today we drive to Ta-Dzong, the National Museum of Bhutan. The Ta-Dzong in Bhutanese is referred to as ‘watch tower’. It is built in an unusual circular structure resembling to a sacred conch shell, and is placed on strategic location over looking Rimpung Dzong and Paro Valley. The museum has magnificent collection of Bhutanese artifacts, centuries old costumes, sacred religious paintings, arms, textiles and fascinating collections of stamps. Later visit Paro Rinpung Dzong, one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture and later walk down the stone foot path to cross over the Bhutanese cantilever bridge. After lunch, you can visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, a temple of historical significance and one of the oldest shrines in Bhutan.
DAY 13: Friday 27th April 2018: Paro: (B/L/D)
This morning we walk to the ‘Tiger's Nest’, the sacred Taktshang monastery which clings to the rock face 900 metres above the valley floor. Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown to the site riding on a tigress. He subsequently meditated here for three months. It is one of Bhutan’s most holy sites and draws pilgrims not only from Bhutan but also from neighbouring Buddhist countries. Lunch is at the Taktshang cafeteria from where you get a spectacular view of the monastery. On the way back you may be interested to visit a manor house turned museum in a local village. The house dates from the 17th Century and the museum is designed to showcase the culture of medieval rural Bhutan. Afterwards you may also have time to visit Dumtse Lhakhang, a temple built by Thangtong Gyalpo, the iron bridge builder.
DAY 14: Saturday 28th April 2018: Depart Paro
Early this morning your guide will accompany you to the airport to see you off onto your flight and wish you Tashi Delek (goodbye and good luck).