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The Bhutan Heritage Tour offers a captivating journey through the cultural treasures of this enchanting Himalayan kingdom. Immerse yourself in the charm of old cities adorned with traditional architecture, and visit hilltop monasteries and nesting sites of the endangered Black-necked Cranes. A night spent in a local farmhouse promises a taste of authentic Bhutanese hospitality. With its pristine environment and abundant greenery, Bhutan provides a rejuvenating experience.
This tour unveils centuries-old dzongs (fortresses) and lakhangs (temples) constructed by Bhutanese monarchs and spiritual leaders. Step into monasteries that serve as the epicenter of significant religious and social ceremonies. Explore bustling local markets for unique souvenirs. It’s one of the finest tours in Bhutan, offering a profound immersion into the rich culture and heritage of the Bhutanese people.
Travel through picturesque Bhutanese landscapes, visiting ancient cities and passing through sparsely populated small towns. The itinerary includes a visit to Kichu Lhakhang and Simtokha Dzong, the oldest surviving Buddhist temple and palace in the country. Drive to the highest motorable pass in Bhutan, Chelela Pass (3,988m), and embark on a hike to the Sky Burial ground, a place of great cultural significance.
The tour also leads you to Phobjika (Gangtey Valley), the winter roosting site of endangered black-necked cranes migrating from Tibet. Gain deeper insights into Bhutanese life with a night spent in a traditional Bhutanese home. Stroll through paddy fields and indulge in a relaxing soak at a traditional hot stone bath. The journey culminates in an adventurous hike to the clifftop Taktsang Monastery, famously known as Tiger’s Nest, in Paro.
This Bhutan Heritage Tour promises an unforgettable exploration of Bhutan’s cultural treasures, natural wonders, and warm hospitality.
Here are the main highlights of the Bhutan Heritage Tour:
1. Explore cultural hubs like Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Haa, and Gangtey (Phobjika) Valley.
2. Discover ancient traditional dzongs (fortresses) and Lakhangs (Buddhist temples) dating back to the 7th century.
3. Immerse in the traditional Bhutanese lifestyle by staying with a local family.
4. Witness the roosting site of the endangered Black-Necked Cranes.
5. Enter Gangtey Monastery, the oldest Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan.
6. Embark on hikes to Tiger’s Nest, Sky Burial Ground, and Kila Gompa.
7. Indulge in a rejuvenating soak at a traditional hot stone bath.
Here’s a concise overview of your itinerary:
This itinerary promises a well-rounded exploration of Bhutan’s cultural and natural wonders. Safe travels!
Your Bhutan adventure begins with an international flight to the picturesque Paro, home to Bhutan’s only international airport, surrounded by lush green hills. Take in the breathtaking views of the verdant mountains before your plane gracefully touches down. Upon arrival, your Bhutanese guide will warmly welcome you at the airport’s terminal. Proceed to a restaurant for a delightful lunch or refreshment.
Next, embark on a journey to explore two of Paro’s esteemed historical landmarks. Rinpung Dzong, also known as Paro Dzong, stands as an ancient fortress, originally a monastery built by the revered Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche in the 17th century. It is aptly referred to as the ‘Fortress on a Heap of Jewels.’ Today, it serves as both a government office and a monastery, and even played a part in the filming of the Hollywood movie ‘Little Buddha.’
Kichu Lhakhang, on the other hand, holds the distinction of being one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Bhutan. Constructed by the Tibetan emperor Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century, it stands as a testament to Bhutan’s rich spiritual heritage. Within its walls reside some of Bhutan’s oldest and most cherished religious relics.
Following your enriching sightseeing tour, retire to your hotel for a restful overnight stay in Paro.
An early start sets the tone for your journey to Thimphu, the capital city, just a short drive away from Paro. As you arrive in the city, your sightseeing adventure commences. Begin by visiting the Memorial Chorten, a monument built in memory of the third King of Bhutan, Jigme Dorje Wangchuk. Next, explore the Thangton Dewachen Nunnery, a significant Buddhist establishment.
Proceed to Changangkha Lakhang, an ancient Buddhist temple that traces its origins back to the 12th century. Perched atop a hill, it offers a commanding view of the city. Many parents bring their newborns here to receive blessings and have them named by the resident monks.
Your journey continues with a visit to Simtokha Dzong, the oldest surviving traditional palace and fortress in Bhutan, constructed by Zabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the ruler who unified Bhutan. Delight in a stroll through the vibrant Crafts Bazaar, where you can find an array of unique souvenirs, including Bhutanese textiles, bamboo and wooden items, traditional paper, traditional jewelry, and Thankha paintings.
No visit to Thimphu is complete without a stop at Taschichho Dzong, a grand structure that houses the government’s secretariat and the king’s throne room. Marvel at the regal ambiance within its walls.
Round off your sightseeing escapade with a short drive to a hilltop vantage point, where the imposing Buddha Dordenma statue, standing at an impressive 51 meters, gazes over the valley. This statue, built on the ruins of an old palace known as Changri Kuensel Phodrang, is a magnificent sight to behold.
After your enriching day of exploration, retreat to your hotel for a well-deserved rest in Thimphu.
Begin your day early with a scenic drive to Gangtey Valley, a haven for the endangered Black-Necked Cranes during their nesting season. En route, you’ll pass through the breathtaking Dochula Pass, offering a panoramic 360-degree view of the Himalayan peaks. The pass is adorned with chortens, poignant Buddhist memorials dedicated to the Bhutanese soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
Descending from the pass, you’ll arrive in Wangduephodrang, a tranquil town characterized by terraced farms and scattered residences. Phobjika, the glacial valley nestled in central Bhutan, beckons. Every winter, this valley plays host to a multitude of black-necked cranes, an endangered avian species, who migrate here from Tibet. These revered birds hold special significance for the Bhutanese, symbolizing longevity. According to local lore, the first of these avian visitors to enter Bhutan during their annual migration make a ritualistic circle around the Gangtey Monastery before settling in the marshlands.
Upon reaching Gangtey, check into your hotel, freshen up, and take some time to relax. In the afternoon, amble through the village, immersing yourself in its rustic charm. Later, return to your hotel for a well-deserved rest in Gangtey.
Rise early and embark on a journey to Gangtey Monastery, a stunning architectural gem perched atop a hill. The monastery showcases the traditional Bhutanese style, with a picturesque façade, adorned balconies, and a multi-tiered roof that exude grandeur. It is enveloped by a quaint village inhabited by Gomchens, dedicated caretakers of the monastery. Each winter, the monastery’s courtyard transforms into the venue for the Black-Necked Crane Festival, a cherished event commemorating the arrival of these graceful birds from Tibet. This 17th-century edifice stands as the largest Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan. Explore its inner sanctum and engage with the young monks who reside within.
Following this enriching experience, embark on a scenic drive to Punakha. The journey offers vistas of lush birch and pine forests, with pristine rivers winding their way through the verdant hills.
Your Bhutan tour also includes a visit to one of the holiest temples dedicated to the ‘Divine Madman,’ Chimi Lakhang. This temple venerates Drukpa Kuenley, the 14th-century Buddhist saint renowned for bestowing blessings of fertility upon women. As Drukpa Kuenley is revered as the patron saint of Bhutan, this pilgrimage site holds great significance.
Conclude your day with a restful overnight stay in Punakha.
Embark on a visit to the renowned Punakha Dzong, a masterpiece of traditional architecture nestled at the confluence of the Po (Father) Chhu and the Mo (Mother) Chhu rivers. To access the dzong, you’ll traverse the wooden cantilever bridge, adding to the charm of the experience. Within its walls, you’ll discover government offices, sacred Buddhist relics, and sacred temples. Serving as the winter capital, this stronghold also serves as the residence for the country’s religious leader and his attendants during the colder months.
Following your captivating sightseeing excursion, embark on a scenic drive that will lead you back to Paro. Upon arrival, you’ll be escorted to a local farm, where you’ll have the unique opportunity to meet and engage with your host family. This evening promises an authentic experience of the Bhutanese way of life as you partake in a local ‘home-stay’.
Prepare for a restful night’s stay in Paro, where the genuine warmth of Bhutanese hospitality surrounds you.
Embark on a fascinating day trip to the sky burial ground in Haa via the impressive Chele La Pass, one of the highest motorable mountain passes in Bhutan. The sky burial ground is a place of great cultural significance, where Bhutanese tradition dictates that the deceased are left for nature to reclaim. According to Vajrayana Buddhist belief, the body is considered an empty vessel, and its disposal is seen as an act of benefiting other living beings. The natural process, involving scavengers like vultures and wild animals, is regarded as a form of spiritual release.
At Chele La Pass, revel in the breathtaking panoramas of Jomolhari and other Himalayan peaks, offering you a truly awe-inspiring experience. From here, descend to Kila Gomba, an ancient nunnery. Take the opportunity to meet and interact with the Anis, devoted Buddhist nuns, who reside here. Finally, make your way back to the highway and continue your journey to Paro.
Upon your return to Paro, settle into your hotel for a well-deserved overnight stay, reflecting on the unique cultural insights you’ve gained during this enriching excursion.
Rise with the sun and embark on an early morning drive to the trailhead leading to the awe-inspiring Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery. Poised dramatically on the side of a sheer rocky cliff, this monastery stands as an iconic symbol of Bhutan. Legend has it that Padmasambhava, or Guru Rinpoche, the revered figure known as the Second Buddha in the Himalayas, arrived at this very spot by riding on the back of a tiger. The trail ascends steeply, offering a challenging yet immensely rewarding journey. For those who prefer, ponies are available for hire, though please note that they are not permitted beyond the halfway point. From there, you’ll continue on foot to reach the monastery. Upon arrival at the pinnacle, you’ll be greeted by breathtaking vistas of the monastery itself and the surrounding mountain panorama, momentarily easing any fatigue you may have felt. Take your time to explore the monastery, capturing cherished moments with photographs and selfies.
As you descend back down to the highway, your awaiting vehicle will be ready to transport you to your next destination.
Later in the day, make your way to a local farmhouse for a soothing soak in a traditional hot stone bath, offering a delightful opportunity to unwind and rejuvenate.
Settle in for a peaceful night’s rest in Paro, relishing in the memories of this remarkable journey.
Your extraordinary journey through Bhutan comes to a close today. Say farewell to this enchanting land and the wonderful people you’ve encountered along the way. You’ll be escorted to the international airport in a timely manner, ensuring you catch your departing flight. Safe travels, and may the memories of your Bhutanese adventure stay with you always.