March 29 – April 3, 2024
You’ll be very surprised to learn that this kingdom which had been closed to outsiders since nearly Medieval Times is now among the most popular tourist destinations in Asia. And no wonder! In our turbulent times this Zen Kingdom seems almost mythical.
NEPAL, INDIA or BHUTAN
This page details the post-tour in Bhutan after the main tour to Nepal, but you also have the option to include a pre-tour in India.
|2024 Costs per Person||Sharing||Single|
|March 11 – 18||Opulent Kingdoms: India||$ 5,750||$ 8,705|
|March 18 – 28||The Land of Shere Khan: Nepal||$ 7,265||$ 9,315|
|March 29 – Apr 3||Kingdom of Happiness: Bhutan||$ 4,280||$ 5,715|
As with Nepalese flights, Bhutan flight schedules are more fluid than the westerner is accustomed to! As we approach March it may even be better that you fly to Bhutan Thursday right after your return from Nepalgunj. But given current schedules the departure is around 8:30a this morning from Kathmandu with a scheduled arrival into Paro at 9:30a.
By the way this flight trumps any “Everest Sightseeing” you can optionally buy from Kathmandu! It’s absolutely one of the most spectacular flights on earth.
Because Bhutan’s geography is so spectacular its national airport was built in the agricultural valleys that are flatter, rather than in the mountainous areas of its ancient and modern government. After check-in at Le Meridien-Paro you’ll visit the Memorial Chorten, a stupa built in the memory of Bhutan's third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who is considered the Father of modern Bhutan. The paintings and statues inside illustrate Buddhist philosophy. If time further allows you’ll continue to the National Library stocked with ancient Buddhist manuscripts and the Painting School, where traditional art is taught with the regimen of a medical school.
The evening is independent. Overnight at Le Meridien-Paro.
After breakfast drive about 90 minutes into the mountains and to the country’s capital and intellectual center, Thimphu. An included lunch is followed by a visit to the Folk Heritage Museum, where you can better understand the upcoming sightseeing of the Buddhist dzongs. Dzongs were traditionally, and continue to be, centers of government and education. In earlier days they were also fortresses and used very much like castles in Europe as one Buddhist sect protected itself from others. The first dzong visit is Trashichhoedzong, the Fortress of The Glorious Religion. This is Bhutan’s government and religious center, the monarch’s throne room and the seat of Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot. Built in 1641, it was reconstructed in 1960s in the traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or blueprints. Continue to the Simtokha Dzong, the oldest in the country built in 1627.
Dinner is included. Overnight at Le Meridien-Thimphu.
After breakfast drive over the breathtaking Dochula Pass. If the weather is clear a number of scenic stops will be made on this 3-hour journey. A stop is also made at Chime Lhakhang built by the Lama Drukpa Kuenley who was reported to have subdued the kingdom’s demons with his magical thunderbolt. The temple is also known as the Temple of Fertility. The afternoon visits in Punakha include its famous Dzong built in 1637 between two rivers that are considered divine, the Pho Chu and Mo Chu (Male and Female). This is the famous Dzong Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). It’s also the country’s war center, not something often presumed of this fairytale land, but wars with the Tibetans were often and regular throughout its history. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel Meri Puensum.
Drive up to the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong built in 1647 by the one of Bhutan’s most famous leaders, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who is honored for having united many disparate Buddhist kingdoms emerging from Medieval times. The area provides some exceptional scenery of the Himalayas. Later visit the ruins of Kichu Lahkhang, built in 659 by the Tibetan king Srongsen Gampo during a lengthy occupation. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel Meri Puensum.
Today features what is undoubtedly the country’s most popular attraction, the excursion to the spectacular Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s Nest). This takes some agility and strength particularly because of the altitude, so an excursion to the Chelela Pass is included for those who opt out.
The monastery ascent begins with a short drive to Satsam Chorten where you pick up horses for a 2-hour ride to the viewpoint of the monastery. From there it’s on foot (and arrangements can be made for you to go this far and then abort). The hike is two miles from here, four miles roundtrip from the horses. But it’s very twisty and often narrow with a few unguard-rail drops of hundreds of meters. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forests covered with moss and often groves of fluttering prayer flags. Citizens are expected to make this pilgrimage regularly. A stop is made at the Taktsang cafeteria for light refreshments before your final climb to the monastery, which is 900m above the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan, flew here on the back of a flying tiger. The roundtrip takes the very fit about 3 hours and the capable around 5 hours.
Lunch is then included followed by a visit to Ta Dzong built in 1656 which was an ancient watchtower, and then to the Paro Rimpung Dzong. Dinner and overnight back in Paro at Le Meridien-Paro.
EWT services end with your transfer to the airport and there are a variety of ways to begin your journey home today including nonstops to Singapore, Delhi and Kathmandu. EWT will be happy to assist.
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- Accommodations, meals, private transfers, organized sightseeing and gameviewing plus other activities as described in the day-by-day description.
- All taxes and fees and local, professional guides joining the trip at each venue (city).
Additional Expenses Not Included
- All air fare, including air fare that is needed for pre- and posttour, which is dynamic and is only guaranteed when purchased. As of May 10, 2023, the air fare for Nepal was $435 per person in economy and in India, $360 in economy. Air fare needed between India, Nepal and Bhutan can likely be bundled into your international air fare.
- Anything not specifically mentioned in the itinerary is not included. Such items include but are not limited to some meals and most beverages.
- The costs of obtaining requisite inoculations and documentation.
- Any items of a personal nature like souvenirs and gear