Journey into Far East13 Nights 14 Days
Journey into Far East
In 14 days, travel through the historical and cultural bastions of the Kingdom and enrich yourselves with a very comprehensive picture of the Kingdom. Apart from history and culture, the different lifestyles of the people in each valley not to speak of the immeasurable natural beauty and a plethora of flora and fauna await you.This cultural-tour can be equaled with Bhutan’s most challenging trekking route, the Snow Man Trek in the high Himalayas.
- ParoZoom into a cluster of quaint farmhouses that embroiders the beauty of Paro Valley. Visit National Museum, 1400-year-old Kichu temple, Rinpung Fotress, The best in Paro is hike to Taktsang Monsatry, the most renowned Buddhist structure in the entire Himalaya, built on sheer cliff wall 900m above the valley. Only the sounds are murmurs of winds, waterfall, birds and the chanting of monks.
- ThimphuCapture the unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient tradition in Thimphu. Visit academy of Art & Craft, World Biggest Buddha Statue, Takin Enclaves, Memorial Stupa, Textile Factory, Indigenous paper factory, Tashi Cho Dzong “ The Glorious Fort of Happiness” & weekend market to mix with locals and get a closer view of their traditions.
- Punakha & WangdueStop over at Dochula for the breath taking view of Eastern Himalaya. Visit Dochu-la Temple and 108 Stupas. Drive through a beautiful dense forest of spruce, pine, rhododendron and larch. Stopover at Chimi Lhakhang the “ Temple of Fertility”. The best for the day is the visit to the magnificent Punakha Fortress considered the best specimen of Bhutanese architecture and epitome of beauty and ancient political power. Also sock in the beauty at Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel another an impressive fine Bhutanese Art & Architecture and capture the beautiful landscape of Punakha valley with farms, rice fields and the part of Jigme Dorji National Park
- GangteyCapture some breathtaking view of Phubjikha valley, home of the graceful endangered Black –Necked Crane, the Biggest Nymimapa Monastery in Western Bhutan. Weave your journey through beautiful villages, springs, waterfall, and numerous species of birds, mammals & flowers.
- Trongsa & BumthangHead interior to Mangde valley, the bastion of power exemplified by Trongsa Dzong and the watch tower” The Museum of Kings” Drive to Bumthang “The Valley of one thousand Plains” The beautiful spiritual heartland teeming with monuments and temples built more than a thousand years ago.
- 1 Arrival in ParoAs the plane banks over the mountain slopes, the Paro Valley greet you with luminous paddies rippling in the breeze and tiny houses sprinkled on the bank of the meandering river. The air is crystal clear, light translucent and on horizon, snowcapped mountains frame the idyllic like painting. It does not matter how many times you land in Paro, the bucolic valley unfolds like a dream. If you are lucky, you will have a glorious view of the Snowcapped Himalayas. After visa formalities and collection of baggage, you will meet by our representative from “Journey To Discover Bhutan" Afternoon: Visit Kyichu Lhakhang: Our journey begins with a visit to the auspicious kyichu Lhakhang. The 7th century monastery is one of the oldest and most sacred temples in the Kingdom where the seed of Buddhism was won in Bhutan. The Tibetan King, Songsten Gempo ordered the establishment of monasteries in the Himalayan region to subdue evil spirits and to spread Buddhism. Of the 108 monasteries, which were to be built, two major ones were built in Bhutan namely the Kyichu Lhakhang and the Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang. Paro Dzong built in 1646, which houses the administrative center of the Paro district and religious institute for monks. The Paro Dzong may be familiar to people who watched Bertolucci’s film “The Little Buddha” walk down to the coach crossing over the traditional wooden covered bridge called “Nymezampa” which spans over the Paro rive. Evening leisure at hotel. Dinner & Over night at Hotel
- 2 BumthangParo-Bumthang (30 Mins flight) Bumthang is the most eastern point of your pilgrimage through the Land of the Thunder Dragon. It is considered by the Bhutanese as the spiritual hub of the country. Visit the place of interest in Bumthang: Jambay Lhakhang: The monastery is believed to have been built in the year 659 AD by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo, on the same day as Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro, in order to subdue a demons. It was here that Guru Rinpoche conducted the first sermon on Tantric Buddhism for his host King Sindhu Raja, the local ruler and his family. Kurjey Lhakhang: The monastery is named after the body (kur) print (jey) of Guru Rinpoche who was invited to meditate here in 746 AD to subdue evil spirits and demons. There are three temples; the oldest temple was built in 1652 on the rock face where Guru Rinpoche meditated. The body imprint of the great master can be seen distinctly in the rock cave enshrined in the temple. A wall of 108 chortens surrounds the temple grounds and symbolizes Buddha’s victory over the evil spirits. The Cypress tree which is seen near the temple is believed to have grown from the Guru’s walking stick. Tamshing Lhakhang (temple of good message): The monastery is located in a village across the river from Kurjey. It was built by Pema Lingpa in 1501 and is the most important Nyingma Lhakhang in the Kingdom. Being a skilled tantric master and an artist, Pema Lingpa sculpted the main statues and painted the frescoes, which can be seen even today, mostly in original state. He also created a 25 kg suit of chain-mail armor and it is believed that you will be freed from your sins if you carry it around the lhakhang three times. Evening leisure at Hotel
- 3 Bumthang (Jakar) – Tang UgyenchoilngThis morning we depart to Tang valley, it is 24kms following the dirt road which gives access to this valley. Enroute visit the Mebartsho (flaming Lake), where the Terton Pema ling has discovered the religious treasure from this lake and view the Kunzangdra monastery, built by Teteron Pemalingpa and continue your journey passing through several villages and Tang Primary school and Rimochen monastery. After 20 minutes drive, you will reach to Kizom where you will hike about an hour to Ugyencholing. Brief historical account of Ugyen Choling begins with a visit of the great Tibetan master of Buddhism, Longchen Rabjam (1308 -63). He is the most celebrated writer and philosopher of Nyingmapa School of Tibetan Buddhism and is regarded as the synthesizer of the doctrine and methods of Dzongchen “school of great perfection”. With its size and magnitude of the complex has initiated to house as a historical museum to ensure its continuity with the following commitments: Preserving and maintaining Ugyen Choling as a religious and cultural legacy.- Continuing the traditional religious observance and rituals Providing a place for religious studies, research and solitude. Reviving and enhancing traditional skills and providing an outlet for local handicrafts. After noon visit the Museum and evening walk in the village.
- 4 BumthangBumthang: Tharpaling Monastery is situated above Chumey valley at 3,600m. A 10 km feeder road goes up to the monastery from Gyetsa village in Chumey valley. The main part of the monastery was founded by Longchenpa or Lonchen Rabjam (1308-1363). This monastery was also used as place of meditation by Jigme Lingpa, Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Chodrak Monastery: A place where Guru Rinpoche is said to have meditated and the first settlement here is attributed to the Drukpa Kagyupa master, Lorepa (1187-1250), who founded Choedrak. Above Chodrak Monastery, there is a meditation cave of Guru Rinpoche, and Longchenpa, where Longchenpa wrote part of the Seven Treasures. Longchenpa was a critical link in the transmission of the Dzogchen teachings. He was abbot of Samye, one of Tibet’s most important monasteries and the first Buddhist monastery established in the Himalaya, but spent most of his life travelling and retreat. Samteling Goempa: Situated on a hill in the middle of upper Chumey Valley and in front of Tharpaling Goempa, Samteling is home to the descendants of Longchen Rabjam (1308 - 1363), settled here when he first arrived in Bhutan in the 14th century. Evening Leisure at Hotel and Archery session at Farm House
- 5 Bumthang –MongarToday’s drive is without doubt one of the most spectacular Journey! The drive will take us through magnificent forests, prayer flags fluttering in the breeze, countless waterfalls, and villages little changed for centuries. Eastern Bhutan is more remote than the western regions and each day in this medieval land will evoke perennially special memories. Driving about 2 we will reach the most lovely valley of Ura (10168 feet). A little before Ura we should get an even better view of Gángkár Puensum. The bird life along this route is very rich and we should always be alert to coveys of Blood Pheasants scuttling by. Upon reaching on the pass we will descend through a wonderland of moss-draped trees and into the village of Sengor. As we drive further down, the scenery gets even more magical and layers after layers of mountains keeping appearing just like a Chinese wall painting. After an hour we will have lost over 10,000 feet of altitude and you can see the changes in vegetation. The stretch of road from the Thrumsingla pass down to Limethang is considered by many experts as the best birding circuits in the country. After having driven to the bottom of the valley we shall cross the Kurichu River, which is the only river in Bhutan that originates from Tibet (all others are from snow melt and glaciers), we will again ascend through Chirpine forests and lemon grass carpeted hills to Monggar (5248 feet). Monggar has recently become the most important town in Eastern Bhutan. The Lemon Grass grows wild in most parts of Eastern Bhutan and the extraction of its oils is a major source of income for the relatively poorer farmers of East Bhutan.
- 6 Mongar – LhuntshiWith early breakfast drive to Lhuntshe visit to newly concreted 154 feet Statue of Guru Rinpoche ( The World’s Tallest Guru Rinpoche Statue) in Takila. It was prophesied by lord Buddha and the great Dzongchen masters to bring peace and harmony in the world. If time permit visit Lhuntshi Dzong Dinner and over night at Hotel
- 7 Lhuntshi ExplorationDungkar Nagtshang Dungkar Nagthang in northern Lhuentse is the original home of Bhutan’s royal family, the Dungkar Choeje. Of the two remaining Nagtshangs, one was built by the first king, Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck. A trip to Dungkar is a journey not only retracing the advent of Bhutan’s Wangchuck dynasty but also of the origins of much of Bhutanese nobility which traces their roots to this village. Village of Kishuthara ( Khoma) Kishuthara is a beautiful and highly coveted cloth carefully hand-oven over months and sometimes years by women from Khoma and Kurtoe gewogs in Lhuentse. These women are taught the art of weaving when they are barely about 7 years and a trip to, say, Khoma village is greeted by a row of women in a makeshift textile cottage, weaving intricate designs and patterns, an art that has taken centuries to evolve. The clioths are woven using the backstrap loom (Pangtha).
- 8 Lhuntshi - Mongar- BumthangEarly morning departure to Jakar, in the Choekhor Valley, for this second and final longer drive on your journey through the Kingdom. The route between Mongar & Jakar is one of the most spectacular drives in the country. When crossing the Thrumsing La (Bhutan’s highest pass at 3780 metres) you are now officially departing eastern Bhutan & entering western Bhutan. En route visit the Ura valley, the highest valley in Bumthang, and believed by some to have been the home of Bhutan’s earliest inhabitants. The cobbled streets of the very traditional village of Ura give a medieval feel and the old women of this region still wear sheepskin shawls on their backs which double as a blanket and cushion. Overnight at Hotel
- 9 Bumthang- GangteyBumthang - Gangtey ( 8 hrs Drive) Phobjikha Valley is one of the most stunning areas in the country. The wide flat valley without any trees after the hard climb through dense forest is an extremely rare experience in Bhutan. In contrast to some parts of Bhutan, where modern development is already very apparent, Phobjikha is a place with natural beauty, untouched scenery, local traditions and culture, and unconstrained peacefulness. Today our pilgrimage takes us back towards west Bhutan following the only east west highway over Yotong la Pass into Trongsa valley. We will briefly visit the Trongsa Museum housed in the Ta Dzong (watch tower). This watch tower on the hill above the Dzong has been converted in to a state of art museum in 2008. We will also visit the Trongsa Dzong. This commanding Dzong is perhaps the biggest and the most spectacular sited Dzong in Bhutan. The Dzong’s strategic location gave it great power over this part of the country. The Dzong is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s royal family. The first two hereditary kings ruled from this dzong. After the visit we will continue driving through the alpine forest of fir, juniper, hemlock and rhododendron where you will arrive at Chendebje Chorten. The chorten is at a lovely spot by the river side. The large chorten was built in the 19th century by a lama from Tibet to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was killed there. Chendbji is considered as boundary between eastern and western Bhutan. Our journey continues over Pelela pass (3400 m) and wind our way into glacier valley of Phobjikha filled with dwarf bamboos. The valley is one of the most important wildlife preserve in the country, because of the large flock of black necked cranes that migrates from Tibet in the winter.
- 10 Gabgety-PunakhaIn the Morning we will go on a beautiful 1 hrs hike ‘The Gangtey the nature trail’. It is one of the most beautiful hike in a valley. Their after visit Gangtey Goemba that overlooks the large green expanse of the valley. The monastery is surrounded by a large village inhabited mainly by the families of the Gomchens (lay monk) who take care of the monastery. We will decent 1600 meters just in 2 hrs winding our way through Wangdi into Punakha valley. Stop briefly to view the ruin of Wangdiphodrang Dzong. The Dzong was destroyed by fire in June 2012. Afternoon: Visit Beautiful Punakha Dzong: The Dzong is considered one of the most important and beautiful Dzongs in the Kingdom. It was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1637, and was the seat of the government every winter until Thimphu was established as the permanent capital in 1955. It is still the winter residence of the Dratshang (Central Monastic Body). Take time to admire the impressive, colourful and detailed artistry of the surroundings, including huge statues of Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, as well as paintings of one-thousand Buddhas. Evening leisure at Hotel
- 11 Punakh-Thimphu ( 3hrs Drive)After breakfast we will travel up the valley north and cross the Mo Chhu to hike up and pay respect to the grand Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten. The Chorten is 30 meters (100 feet) tall and can be seen in the distance when driving. The three-leveled chorten took eight and a half years to build and was consecrated in 1999. Dedicated to the Fifth King, it was built to remove negative forces and to provide peace, stability, and harmony in an ever- changing world. It is therefore filled with every form of colorful protector imaginable. Afternoon Drive to Thimphu Over a Dochu-La Pass dotted by 108 Stupas.This pass is one of the most beautiful pas in country. Evening leisure at Hotel
- 12 Thimphu-ParoMorning visit places of interest in Thimphu: The Mini Zoo The mini zoo used to exhibit various indigenous wild animals, which were later released back into the wild by order of the 4th King, who declared that such a facility was not in keeping with the Bhutan’s environmental and religious convictions. The zoo now only features the Takin, which is the national animal of Bhutan. Takins are one of the larger and stockier goat antelopes. They were originally released with the rest of the animals, but had become so familiar with people that they were found wandering Thimphu’s streets looking for food. The only solution was to put them back into captivity. The preserve is located on the way to the Radio Tower. Post Office: Bhutan being one of the best stamp designing in the world, it worth to make a short visit to post office and you can make your own postage stamp. Kuengzang Phordang: To see World Biggest seated Buddha & for a bird wye of Thimphu Valley. Afternoon: drive to Paro
- 13 Taktsang HikeWith Early Breakfast a hike to the Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s Nest). The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of tress festooned with Spanish moss and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. Legend has it that Guru Rimpoche, founder of Buddhism flew from Eastern Bhutan on a tigress, bringing Buddhist teachings and meditated here in this cliff. This is one of the most venerated and sacred of all Buddhist site around the world. After visiting the monastery, we will walk down to Taktsang cafeteria for lunch. Free time to scroll in and around Paro city.
- 14 DepartureDrive to Paro Airport for your onward flight.
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What our clients say
Our ten day trip through Bhutan was a truly amazing experience. Bhutan is a beautiful kingdom and thanks to our excellent guide Tsheten, we could explore it thoroughly.
Tine Raeymaekers & Cis Verbeeck
I visited Bhutan in January/February 2007 for 11 days, and it was an incredible experience. Tsheten took very good care of me and introduced me at easy pace to Bhutan culture, customs, history and people.
It was clear that Bhutan had captured everyone's attention when my fellow taking photos the minute they stepped off the plane - and we hadn't even entered the airport yet! I was met at the airport by Tsheten himself, and from start to finish, he was organized, charming and attentive.