PASSAGE TO BHUTAN
|From:||Jan 15, 2012|
|To:||Jan 15, 2013|
|Hotel:||All Standard Twin bedded Tourist Lodge|
DAY 01 BKK/CCU/DEL/KTM-PARO/THIMPHU
If we are lucky, we’ll have glorious views of the snow capped Himalayas on the way to Paro (Try and get the left hand seat for better view of the Himalayas). The remarkable and steep descent into the Paro Valley is an awe-inspiring beginning to our adventure. Already you can feel the pace of life slow down.
Upon arrival, take an hour drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. Although Thimphu is the capital in Bhutan, it is a village compared to other Asian countries.
A visit to Takin Preserve to see Takin, Bhutan’s national animal, is a favorite along with the Bhutanese archery game (the national sport) at Changlingmithang National Stadium.
Further up the valley, take in the view of the majestic Tashichoe Dzong, the seat of the government before circumventing the Memorial Chorten. We then move on to the Heritage Folk Museum and Textile Museum.
Take a walk along the streets of Thimphu and enjoy some free shopping time in the handicraft emporiums.(Lunch, dinner included)
DAY 02 THIMPHU/PUNAKHA
Catch the bustling weekend market (Fri to Sun) which offers the best opportunity to see the colorful vegetables, dairy products and to mix with the locals.
Leaving Thimphu, we climb up the mountain road to Dochu La at 3140m. On clear weather, the pass commands a wonderful panorama of the Eastern Himalayas. From the pass, we begin descending through varied forest and finally emerging into the highly cultivated valley of Punakha. Take a short hike to Chimmi Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to Drukpa Kuenley, who as a favorite saint of the Bhutanese people is known affectionately as "the Divine Madman". The temple is on a hillside in the middle of rice fields and has become a pilgrimage site for childless couples.
In the afternoon, we visit Punakha Dzong. Located at the confluence of the Pho-chu (male-river) and Mo-chu (female-river), the Punakha Dzong is arguably the most impressive dzong in the country.
(Breakfast, lunch, dinner included)
DAY 03 PUNAKHA/PHOBJIKHA
In the morning, drive about 3½ hours to Phobjikha Valley. This valley is well known as one of the last winter grounds of the black necked cranes that migrate from the Tibetan plateau from mid-October to March. The cranes are deeply revered as heavenly bird by the Bhutanese, who believed that they are the reincarnation of the Lamas from Gangtey Goemba, as the local say, when the cranes arrive; they appear in the sky above the valley and circle over the Goemba before landing in the marshy area of the valley floor.
We visit the Gangtey Goemba before enjoying a 1½ hours nature trail from the monastery through the jungle before emerging to the valley floor and ending at a local school.(Breakfast, lunch, dinner included)
DAY 04 PHOBJIKHA/BUMTHANG
After breakfast, take a long but stunning scenic drive for about 7 hours to Bumthang. This is the road where the Bhutanese box office movie “Travelers and Magicians” was filmed. The road winds its way up and cross two high passes at Pele-La (3390m) and Yotong-La (3425m). En route, we would make a stop at Trongsa to visit Trongsa Dzong – the ancestral home of the royal family.
(Breakfast, lunch, dinner included)
DAY 05 BUMTHANG
Bumthang is the religious heartland of the nation and home to some of the oldest Buddhist temples and monasteries. After breakfast, we drive to Jambay Lhakhang, the venue for the religious festival of Jambay Lhakhang Drup. We spend the full morning participating in the festival. It’s an outstanding colorful occasion with brilliant performances and locals dressed in the best!
The festival is also an occasion for seeing people and for being seen. Men and women joke and flirt and it is said that many marriages in central Bhutan occur during the festival, beneath a full moon in October.
In the afternoon, we enjoy a hike starting from the impressive Kurjey Lhakhang on the western side of Bumthang chu (river) to Tamshing Monastery, founded in the 15th century and ends at a cheese farm.(Breakfast, lunch, dinner included)
Note: During the festival, the town is full of tourists with limited accommodation. Lest we try our best to provide you in the best available local accommodation; a good sense of travel humor helps.
DAY 06 BUMTHANG/PUNAKHA
After breakfast, re-trace our steps back to Punakha. The journey would take around 7-8 hours.
(Breakfast, lunch, dinner included)
DAY 07 PUNAKHA/PARO
Drive back to Paro, re-crossing Dochu La and breaking at Thimphu for lunch.(Breakfast, lunch, dinner included)
DAY 08 PARO
We begin our tour with a visit to Paro Museum (Closed on Sun/Mon) and Paro Dzong, which means “the fortress of the heap of jewels.” This complex houses the administrative and religious headquarters for the Paro district. A part of Bernardo Bertolucci’s movie, “Little Buddha,” was filmed inside this dzong. From the dzong, we will enjoy a short and easy walk to the Pachu river and cross to the other side over a traditional cantilever (wooden covered) bridge. Just on the outskirts of Paro town, we visit Kyichu Lhakang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner included)
DAY 09 PARO
This morning, we make an excursion to Taktshang Monastery – this has to be the monastery with the most outstanding setting in Bhutan. Set on a vertical cliff face at 2950m above sea level, it defies all engineering logic. For the energetic, hike 2 hours up to get a more dramatic view of the monastery. (the hike demands a certain level of fitness and a pony ride to the monastery can be arranged at additional cost).
Upon descent, we enjoy a spectacular drive to the remote ruins of Drugyel Dzong and on clear day, you would be rewarded with view of snow-capped Mt Jhumolhari.
The rest of the afternoon is free at leisure. You may wish to take a stroll along the street of Paro or indulge in a hot-stone bath! (Breakfast, lunch, dinner included)
DAY 10 PARO/BKK/CCU/DEL/KTM
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight. (Breakfast included)
|Most memorable part of trip||Land of the Thunder Dragon, one of the most mysterious and unknown of all Himalayan kingdoms, hidden in isolation behind the high peaks of the Himalayas. For centuries forbidden to foreigners, this timeless Buddhist country has succeeded in preserving its enchanting traditions and ancestral way of life.|
This is an in-depth trip which brings you all the way to the central valley at Bumthang. Besides the natural beauty, the valley is bountifully blessed with numerous ancient temples and is the revered birthplace of many saints.
And we have timed this trip to catch the most important festival Jambay Lhakhang Drup, held in Bumthang from Nov 2 to 6, 2009. This is also the mysterious “Naked Monks Dance”, conducted at mid-night in the inner courtyard during the festival. Legend has it that long ago, demons came and destroyed the construction of a monastery every night. In order to prevent this, the monks came up with a cunning ruse and performed a naked dance every night to distract the demons and hence the monastery was successfully constructed. Since then, this tradition has continued….. (but unfortunately, is forbidden to tourists these days)
|Useful tips||BEFORE YOU TRAVEL|
When is the best time to visit Bhutan?
All the seasons are best time for travelling throughout the country; especially Spring and Autumn are the ideal time for trekking, when skies are clear and the high peaks are visible. You may also arrange your trip during annual Tshechus (festivals). There are many regional and local Tshechus that are equally fascinating as well.
Most of our trips take place during peak season and major festivals. It is difficult to secure reservations on Druk Air and Hotels in every place. We request you to book as far in advance as possible to confirm the reservation you choose but do not hesitate to contact us at the last minute if free time suddenly comes your way.
Do I need a visa and a passport to visit Bhutan?
A visa is necessary for you to enter Bhutan but it is not issued abroad. You can travel to Bhutan only through all-inclusive package tours or treks for which the tariff is set by the government. Tourist visa applications must submit through a government-licensed local tour operator like Bhutan Home Expeditions. Druk Air will not allow you to check in without a visa clearance. Before departing to Bhutan you must obtained Visa Clearance from Thimphu. Visas will be approved in advance with a reference number and will be stamped in your passport upon arrival in Paro airport or Phuntsholing (if you travel overland from Nepal or Indian cities).
Your passport should have at least 6 months validity. You must always carry 2 extra passport photographs with you in case of emergency (if your passport is incidentally misplaced)
Will Bhutan Home Expeditions arrange my visa?
Yes, once we receive your completed trip reservation form, we will process your visa as per your information provided there.
How do I get to Bhutan?
There are no direct flights to Bhutan. The best way to enter and exit Bhutan is by Druk Air (the national airline), which li
• Bangkok (daily)
• Delhi (twice a week)
• Katmandu (twice a week)
• Dhaka (once a week)
• Calcutta (five times a week)
You will have to buy international Air ticket and book hotel in any of the above gateway cities that you choose to connect to Druk Air.
You can also enter and exit Bhutan overland from Indian cities of Sikkim, Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Siliguri or Guwahati using Bagdogra or Guwahati domestic airport in West Bengal (India). There are daily flights from Calcutta and New Delhi to Bagdogra and Guwahati airports. The car journey takes about 3 hours from Guwahati to Samdrup Jongkhar and about 4 hours from Bagdogra to Phuentsholing.
1. Druk Air operation is totally dependent on weather conditions, sometimes flights can be delayed so avoid tight connecting schedules for your ongoing flights. We suggest you to spend a day or two in Bangkok, Kathmandu or Delhi, before joining the trip in Bhutan if time permits.
2. Connect Druk Air from Bangkok (Thailand) if you are coming from North America, Australia or Asia,
3. Connect Druk Air from Delhi (India) if you are coming from Europe or the Middle East.
4. Connect to Druk Air from Kathmandu (Nepal), Calcutta (India) and Dhaka (Bangladesh), but there are only a limited number of direct flights to these places.
5. Spend a few days exploring a different culture in any of Bhutan neighbouring countries: Thailand, Tibet, India and Nepal to enhance your trip to Bhutan.
How do I buy Druk Air tickets?
We book Druk Air seats as soon as we confirm your reservation and we will buy and email you the e-ticket after you send us the payment. Check out Druk Air website for more details - http://www.drukair.com.bt
Will BHE handle my international air ticketing and enroute stopover hotel booking?
You will need to arrange international air tickets and hotel booking in whatever place you choose to connect to Druk Air flight. As most travelers like to use or book air tickets and hotel through their preferred agents or internet sites, we leave International air ticketing and hotel booking up to the guests to arrange on their own.
How do I pay for my trip?
Transfer the trip payment through a Citibank branch, Standard Chartered Bank Ltd or an international bank in your region/country.
Arrival at Paro International Airport in Bhutan
Your Bhutanese visa will be stamped in your passport. As soon as we receive the completed visa application form from you, we will process your visa. Therefore, your visa has been already cleared and the concerned Druk Air offices informed in advance.
You will have to fill out a customs declaration form listing all your electronic goods like cameras, Personal videos, personal computers, etc. and hand it over to the customs authorities on arrival at Paro airport. The carbon copy of the form will be given to you. Don't lose this document as you will be required to present it to the customs official on the day of your departure from the country. Exports of antiques, plants or animal products are strictly prohibited.
Tour Guide and Driver through out your time in Bhutan
You will meet your tour guide and driver just outside the airport exit door. They will accompany you throughout your time in Bhutan and back to the airport on the day of your departure.
Airport facilities charges are already included in your Druk Air ticket price.
Free Baggage Allowance
You will have to make sure that your baggage is within the allowable weight (Druk Air: 20kgs-economy class & 30kgs-Executive class). If you have excess baggage you will have to keep aside enough money for an excess baggage charge.
Bhutan Home Expeditions Trips
What kind of trips does Bhutan Home Expeditions offer?
We offer both custom designed and pre-designed private tours and treks. All our trips are all-inclusive packages. You pay one price and everything is included for your complete trip within Bhutan.
Price of all our tour/trek packages are ba
What is included in the price of Bhutan Home Expeditions trip?
• All hotel and guesthouses accommodation
• All meals and sightseeing
• Specialist designed itineraries
• Services of knowledgeable, English-speaking local guides
• Excellent camping equipment, highly experienced trekking guides, support staff and porters for trekking trips
• All ground transportation
• All entrance fees
• Pre-departure information and extras listed on trip itineraries
What is not included in the price of Bhutan Home Expeditions trip?
• International airfare and en-route stopovers
• Druk Air airfare
• Travel Protection Insurance
• Excess baggage charges
• Transfers, expenses and services outside of Bhutan
• Personal expenses like Beverages (alcohol, soft drinks & bottled water), gratuities to guides & drivers as appropriate, and laundry, mail, phone calls and cables.
Can I extend my trip?
It is possible to li
Very Useful Information
No particular inoculations are required to enter Bhutan, but you are advised to be advanced on all vaccinations such as tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A and B. Diarrhea and the upper respiratory infections (colds) are the most common illness acquired by travelers to Bhutan. It is basically due to change in diet or climate. Be self-sufficient with all your usual medicines in addition a thermometer, sleeping pills (altitude and time-change can hamper your sleeping), anti-nausea pills, anti-diarrhea pills, water purifying tablets, oral dehydration packets, eye drops, antibiotic ointment and anti-histamine ointment.
We will send you all the detailed information once you sign up for a trip
Because of the different climate you may feel and experience different weather in one day so choose clothes which can be covered or can be worn in la
We will send you all the detailed information once you sign up for a trip
Dzongkha is the National language. However, most of the people speak English. The language of education in the schools is English, so most educated people speak it fluently. All over the country, books, signs, road signs, menus and even government official documents are written both in Dzongkha and English.
American Express Credit Cards & Exchanging Money
Personal checks and credit cards are not accepted in Bhutan. Visa credit cards are accepted in few shops in capital and important towns. American Express Credit cards are accepted in few hotels and shops at a higher commission. Traveller cheques (American Express) and US$ cash is accepted almost everywhere. The money exchange counters at the airport, banks and hotels can exchange cash with traveler’s checks. Don’t forget to change money before you travel east or leave for a trek.
Tipping and Gifts
It is customary to bring a gift, if you are invited to a Bhutanese home. Small gifts are very important in Bhutanese tradition. Long angle socks, ready to wear garment, books, pen and pencils, reading glasses, key-chains and other small souvenirs are highly appreciated. At the end of your trip, your tour guide and driver will appreciate a tip. Beside some money, you may also leave some of your used garment and personal items that you do not wish to carry all the way back home.
Telephone, Internet, Email, Fax & Mail
Reliable all-digital telephone and fax services are available in all towns. International direct dialing services (both telephone & fax) are excellent. On cultural tours almost all the places you travel have some basic internet and email services. Until you get back to a town from trek you can’t be able to call or fax anyone.
Bhutan Post (EMS) and DHL provide efficient international courier service to and from Bhutan.
Shopping & Photo shop
Bhutan has very beautiful postage stamps and most attractive handmade products like Thangkha paintings, wooden masks and bowls, bamboo products, silver crafts and the most beautiful hand woven textiles-all made using ancient methods and skill passed down to generations. Buying and selling of antiques is strictly forbidden in the country. There are numerous photo shops in Bhutan, but they hardly sell equipment and the quality of their work is unreliable. Bring as much film as you think you will require. You will be unhappy if you run out of film in Bhutan.
The voltage in Bhutan is the same as in India (220/240), Thailand and Nepal: 230V, 50 cycle’s alternating current (AC). To use your U.S-purchased electric-powered equipment, bring a converter and an adapter. Wall outlets take either two flat prongs, like outlets in the United States or Continental-type plugs, with two round prongs. There are plenty of electrical shops in Thimphu that can make an adapter if you have trouble plugging in an appliance.
Bhutan Standard Time with only one time zone is:
• 15 minutes ahead of Nepal time
• 30 minutes ahead of Indian time
• 1 hour ahead of Bangkok time
• 2 hours ahead of Singapore & Hong Kong time
• 6 hours ahead of GMT
Government and most private offices open at 9 am and close at 5 pm in summer and 4 pm in the winter, Monday to Friday.