Picturesque and soul-stirring Bhutan
Coyly nestled in one corner of the world, the last surviving Himalayan kingdom Bhutan is all about scenic mountain paths, pristine nature treasures, hypnotic Buddhist art and welcoming civilization, all scattered across numerous enchanting valleys. With prominent regions of The Promised Land - Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey, Bumthang and Paro, all lined in a row, it would be a heartfelt retreat in euphoric traditions, heritage, nature, history, holistic and scrumptious gastronomy at the wonderful Bhutan.
Itinerary idea in details
Day 1 and 2
Accommodation: Amankora ThimphuThe eccentric Bhutan journey commences from Thimpu, the capital region and a collocation of the old and the new; intriguing shades to explore for a trailblazer. Flying across spectacular Himalayan peaks and above the enchanting green, you will be landing early morning at Paro, wherein you would be escorted to the 1.5 hour drive away Thimphu. Thimphu, in all its charm is an exuberant blend of the commercial and the traditional that sometimes go highly esoteric. Nevertheless, you would be feeding your curiosity first with historic spots like School of Arts and Crafts, Folk Heritage Museum and National Memorial Chorten, before settling in the comforts of the exotic Amankora hotel. The quaint streets of Thimphu call for an evening stroll that might go as far as the country side zigzag leisure forest trail of Wangditse. Worry not, for the Ayurvedic hot-oil head massage; Amakora’s signature spa treatment, will be arranged upon your arrival at the hotel.
Spirituality, being the prime module of Bhutan’s traditional heritage, has its spell still cast on its ever transforming outlook. And so, we start off the next day with an uphill hike to Cheri Goemba monastery. Built in the 17th century, the monastery is famed as the first and among the most iconic of the monasteries in Bhutan. The perseverance of being isolated has its perks; unspoiled collection of ancient heritage and traditions, and that is what the inner city line of Thimphu offers to its guests. Following which, you would be exploring the Himalayan artifacts at the different cottage industries and the Craft Bazar.
Next up is the stunning Trashi Choo Dzong - monastery and a fortress, transformed into the royal seat of Bhutan. Spend your evening exploring the enchanting Takin Animal Sanctuary – a haven of the National animal of Bhutan. Alternatively, enjoy a game of golf at the Thimphu golf club, amidst beautiful Chortens and the scenic setting sun.
Inquisitive about Buddhism? A meeting with the 12th incarnate lama of the renowned Mynak Rinpoche – Mynak Trullu, can be arranged upon your arrival back at the hotel.
Day 3 and 4
Accommodation: Amankora PunakhaBhutan’s natural wonders will continue to play a trajectory of amazements; the spectacular mountain pass of Dochu La, the alluring Punakha valley and the majestic fortress monasteries, as you drive to Punakha early in the morning. Savor the beautiful sight of the towering Himalayan peaks with white-washed monasteries settled at different heights, as you make a halt for lunch midway.
Punakha, unlike many other scenic valleys, holds a special mention, for it being a prominent watershed fertile region in the vicinity. Squeezed between Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu rivers , the valley encompasses numerous pristine monasteries – starting with the fertility monastery of Chimi Lhakhang and numerous paddy fields along the way. Upon arrival at the hotel, indulge in the comforts of Amankora’s signature spa treatments.
You will be starting early the next day for the invigorating hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, a striking piece of Bhutanese architecture built by the country’s Queen Mother. Following the hike, make your way to the imposing Punakha Dzong –ancient home of the remains of the country’s first ruler. Punakha, being layered with paddy fields across gurgling rivers, offers the luxury of intimate dining or lunch in the mist of alluring nature.
Day 5 and 6
Accommodation: Amankora GangteyFurther ahead to Punkaha, is the much beautiful Gangtey, traditionally known as Phobjikha valley. The dramatic journey from Punakha to Gangtey offers a throwback of the signature Bhutanese image; serene and untouched natural beauty, delightful traditions and culture. Begin exploring the local side of Gangtey first with a tour of the historic settlements comprising the ancient Gangtey Goemba.
Gangtey, one of the most naturally beautiful destinations in the whole of Bhutan is dotted with scented flower meadows and pine forests, the likes of which calls to be explored on foot. We suggest a bit challenging yet exhilarating Longtey Hike, which will take through the breathtaking Rhododendron forest. Gangtey is also reputed to be a great hub of Black Neck Cranes, and so, you get to visit these exotic creatures at the centre for migratory birds.
When back at the hotel, immerse yourself in the soothing comforts of the traditional Bhutanese spa offered through an open-air hot stone bath. To round off an intimate Bhutanese evening, you would be served a delicious candle-lit dinner; meals of which are cooked in a traditional bhukhari wood burning stove.
Day 7 and 8
Accommodation: Amankora BumthangWonderments never seem to take a back seat at Bhutan! Isn’t it? You will agree to it when you will embark on a five hour drive to the valley of Bumthang, which will let you through dramatic landscapes of terraced farmland and deep ravines. Enroute, make a halt at the scenic Yotong La pass - to ward off your tiredness in the blissful sightings of nature.
With buckwheat, millet and potato, Bumthang is surfaced with a country feel, while on the inside; it dons spiritual attire, the likes of which were woven in the historic times. As you arrive, feel free to explore the neighborhood - the historic village of Wangdichhoeling and the auspicious prayer wheels.
Bumthang in the north of Bhutan encloses a group of valleys, following which, stopovers would be first at the doorsteps of the legendary temple of Jambay Lhakhang and Kurjey Lhakhang. On the way back, make a short visit to the alleviating Tamshing Monastery and the unique cottage industries- Red Panda Brewery and Cheese/Dairy facility.
Day 9, 10 and 11
Tang and Paro
Accommodation: Amankora Bumthang, Amankora ParoHead further and deep in Bumthang to the incredible Tang valley, which is a completely off-beaten and remote land of sacred temples and monasteries. Enroute, make a halt at the Burning Lake (Membartsho). Legend has it that a famous Buddhist saint had a dream that he carried a dove on his hand while crossing the river pool and returned with treasures and a lamp that is still burning. Besides, a visit of the highly sacred Ta Rimochen Lhakhang temple and the wonderful museum of Ugen Chhoeling Palace depicting traditional Bhutanese cluture and lifestyle will also be on the cards.
To relish the last of the amazing Bhutan experiences, you will be flown to the magnificent Paro valley, where short strolls in scenic villages; settled across the spiritual lines of Drukgyel Dzong, would be arranged.
Bhutan perpetually stresses on its gross national happiness quotient being the highest at the world stage, and so, informative lectures on the subject plus cultural performances shall be arranged at the hotel in the evening.
In the morning, begin your hike to one of the most theatrically built and placed monuments in Bhutan, the Taktsang Goemba (also known as Tiger’s Nest); perched on a rock 900 m above sea level. Later in the day, take an excursion to Paro town, which will include a tour of the National Museum and the Paro Dzong; another spectacular example of Bhutanese architexture, on the outer lines of the town.
Bid farewell to Bhutan as you will be dropped at the Paro International Airport for your return journey back home.