For those who wish to spare no expense in their experience of Bhutan, but have a limited amount of time, this is the trip for you. Ultimate Bhutan begins with your arrival by business class on Druk Air. Your first class accommodation options may include Taj Tashi, Uma Punakha, Gangtey Goenpa Lodge, Uma Paro, ZhiwaLing and Amankora providing you the finest in luxury with services including massage, spa, wellbeing therapies and fine dining. Your transfers are by the highest in luxury 4WD vehicles in Bhutan, whilst your excursion from Bhutan’s spiritual heartland Bumthang back to the western valley of Paro is undertaken mountain flight. You will be accompanied by our most senior guide and driver, as well as an interpreter if required. To truly immerse you in all things Bhutanese, we will arrange a private dinner and culture show, a traditional private tented lunch, and an audience with a Rinpoche (if available). All of these options can easily be tailored to suit your level of luxury.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE ULTIMATE BHUTAN TOUR
The ‘Ultimate Bhutan’ Luxury Tour is ideal for those who wish to spare no expense in their experience of Bhutan, but have a limited amount of time. It explores all of the highlights of Bhutan’s western valleys, as well as the central Bumthang Valley utilising the most luxurious accommodations and services available in the kingdom.
- Stay in a boutique range of luxurious resorts and lodges offering every modern comfort.
- Discover some of the most sacred Buddhist monasteries and temples in the Himalaya.
- Indulge in a range of holistic therapies including Ayurveda, massage and facials and meditation.
- Visit many cultural attractions including medieval fortresses (Dzongs), markets and museums.
- Traverse beautiful landscapes from lush valleys to dense forests.
- Hike up to the famous Taktsang Monastery, perched on a cliff 900m above the valley floor.
DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth. Our representative will meet you at Paro airport exit doors following customs formalities.
After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum housing many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical, cultural, and religious past. Next, visit the Rimpong Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa, considered as the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime. Dzong’s are large monasteries and district administrative centres, which were once strategic forts. Afterwards, drive to the capital, Thimphu (1.5 hours) following the Pachu River. Before dinner at the hotel there will be an orientation on Bhutanese etiquette by your guide. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 02: THIMPHU
Once a rustic village sitting in a broad, fertile river valley, Thimphu is today the nation’s bustling capital. Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to the National Memorial Chorten depicting the Buddhist faith in the form of paintings and statues. This temple was first initiated by the Third King as a protection from the negative elements of modernisation, and as a monument to world peace. The Royal Queen Mother completed it as a memorial stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972. Continue on to 12th century Changangkha Temple and Drubthob monastery housing the Zilukha Nunnery.
Other sites to visit include: the School for Arts and Crafts where students are taught the 13 types of Bhutanese art, The National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century, the Traditional Paper Factory displaying the Bhutanese paper making process, and a fascinating replica of a medieval farmhouse at the Folk Heritage Museum.
If there is time, you may visit the nursing pen for the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan, and Tashichhodzong, ‘the fortress of the glorious religion’. Initially erected in 1641 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was rebuilt in the 1960s during the reign of Bhutan’s third king in the traditional style, without plans or nails. Tashichhodzong houses some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body.
If your visit to Thimphu coincides with the weekend, you can walk through the Thimphu Market to see the variety of food of Bhutan, including basket upon basket of fiery chillies, fresh cheese and a variety of fresh greens. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. (This market is open only from Friday until mid Sunday). Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 03: THIMPHU – PHOBJIKHA VALLEY
Transfer to Phobjikha Valley (5.5-6 hrs). Drive over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters) which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into balmy Punakha valley (about 3 hrs total driving time). The drive through the countryside affords a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdoms. In the Dochu-La area there are vast Rhododendron forests that grow to tree size and bloom in late April/early May covering the mountains in a riot of glorious spring colour.
Continue on through the bustling market town of Wangduephodrang, driving up a winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forests, and over a high pass down into the wide and picturesque Phobjikha Valley. Phobjikha is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black necked cranes (November – March) migrating from the Tibetan plateau. The valley is one of the most beautiful in Bhutan. Overnight at your hotel in Phobjikha.
DAY 04: PHOBJIKHA VALLEY
Spend the day exploring the Phobjikha Valley, including a visit to the Phobjikha Sanctuary with an opportunity to view the majestic black necked cranes (Nov-Mar only) and Gangtey Gompa (Monastery), dating back to the 16th century and the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan. In the afternoon enjoy one of the many walks available traversing the stunning surrounds of this spacious valley. Overnight at your hotel in Phobjikha.
DAY 05: PHOBJIKHA VALLEY – Trongsa – Bumthang
Today we start early for the fabulous drive to the central valleys of Bhutan. The drive to Bumthang via Trongsa is about six hours crossing over Pelela Pass (3,300 m) and Yotongla Pass (3,400 m). The Central road, across the Black Mountains was completed 30 years ago, and it bough about great changes to the people in central Bhutan. We then climb steadily passing through semi-tropical vegetation and then to Pelela Pass(3,300m) with an alpine environment of rhododendrons and dwarf bamboo. This pass is traditionally considered the boundary between west and east Bhutan. If the weather is clear, the Himalayan range can be seen, particularly the peak of Jhomulhari (7314 m) to the west. En route we cross Chendebji Chorten built many centuries ago to suppress a demon. After lunch, we go out to view the impressive Trongsa Dzong, ancestral home of the ruling dynasty. In olden days the Dzong commanded the passage between east and West Bhutan. We then drive to Bumthang valley (described as “one of the most beautiful spot in the Himalayas” across the Yotongla Pass (3,400 m), overnight at hotel.
This is one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heartland of Buddhism. The Guru and his lineage of Tertons (treasure finders), have led to the sprouting of many temples in the valley. In the morning we visit Jambay Lhakhang (one of the oldest temple in Bhutan built in 7th century) and visit Kurjey Lhakhang (where the Guru Rinpoche subdued a local demon and left his body imprint on a rock). Hike to visit the Tamshing Monastery (one of the oldest monastic schools built by Terton Pema Lingpa), After lunch, hike to Thangbi valley across the suspensions bridge and visit the Thangbi Lhakhang built in the 14th century, on the way back visit Jakar Dzong, (seat of the district administration).Evening stroll in Chamkhar Town. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
DAY 07: BUMTHANG-WANGDI-PUNAKHA
The drive to Punakha via Wangdue takes about seven hours over the Pelela Pass and Yotongla Pass. Lunch served at Chendebji Chorten. Dinner and overnight at hotel at Punakha.
DAY 08: PUNAKHA-PARO
After breakfast, we drive to visit Punakha Dzong, winter seat of the Je Khenpo and the Monk Body, remarkably located between the rivers of the Mo (Female) Chu and Pho (Male) Chu. The Dzong is open to visiters only in summer when the Je Khenpo and the monk body are in Thimphu. After visiting Punakha Dzong drive to Thimphu over the Dochula Pass. In the afternoon sightseeing at Paro. Drive to Drukgyal Dzong (a ruined fortress – 16 km away from town). The Dzong, although in ruins, holds great historical significance. It was from this fortress that the Bhutanese repelled many Tibetan invasions. The name means the victorious Bhutanse. This spot offers a magnificent vista of Mount chomolhari “Mountain of Goddess” (7,329). Visit a typical Bhutanses farmhouse on the way back. A short distance south of the road is Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, built in 7th century. This temple is said to have been built in 659 by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet. It holds down the left foot of an ogress whose body is so large that it covers Bhutan and most of eastern Tibet. Also visit Rimpung Dzong, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first temporal ruler of Bhutan, it is now house of Paro monastic body and the office of the Dzongda (governor) and Thrimpons (judge) of Paro district. It is the venue of the Paro Tshechu(festival) held once in every year. Then visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watch tower. This Dzong was converted into National Museum in 1968. The museum boasts antique Thangka, textiles, weapons and armour,household objects and rich assortment of natural and historical artifacts. Evening stroll through the main town of Paro. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
DAY 09: HIKE TO TAKTSANG
Morning drive till Satsam Chorten to hike up to the Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s nest). The hike up to the cafeteria will take around two hours of average walking speed and is located above 2,950 meters (9,678 feet) above sea level. At the view point enjoy the stunning view of the monastery where Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigress in the 8th century. After lunch at cafeteria walk back to the road point where your car will pick up and then drive to your hotel. Evening, do some last minutes shopping. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
DAY 10: DEPART PARO
After breakfast, drive to the airport for departure. Our representative will bid you farewell.
- Bhutan Tourist Tariff Royalty & Visa fees.
- All private excursions and transfers in superior air-conditioned vehicle.
- Local English speaking guide/tour leader.
- Experienced driver.
- Accommodation in carefully selected, highest standard goverment approved hotels & guesthouses.
- All meals in Bhutan.
- All entrance fees and permits.
- All personal expenses such as bars, beverages, laundry, telephone and tips.
- Medical / Travel Insurance.