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Bhutan - The Great Himalayan Escape (Road Trip)

29 October - 7 November, 2019 | INR 27500 per person 

Trip Details

Overview

Welcome to the Land of Thunder Dragon, a country where the wealth is measured not by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but by Gross National Happiness (GNP) – This is Bhutan. This tiny strikingly beautiful Himalayan country, sandwiched between India and China still remains one of the Last Shangri-La with a charm and magic, like nowhere else in the world. Bhutan`s landscape consists of a lofty and rugged mountain ranges separated by deep fertile valleys, while 72 percent is under forest coverage.  Through centuries of self-imposed isolation Bhutan has been able to preserve its spectacular environment and nurture its unique culture.  


We take you on a lifetime journey to this tiny little country with ‘no traffic lights’ which has put happiness of its people before economic growth and set a world standard for environmental preservation. 

Itinerary

Day 01 | Siliguri – Phuentsholing (160 Kms, 4 Hours) 


Arrival in Siliguri (The nearest railway station is at New Jalpaiguri Railway Station, about 10 kms from Siliguri / and the airport is Bagdogra Airport about 13 kms). We start our trip to the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan by road at 10AM. Transfer to the Bhutan’s border town – Phuentsholing. After reaching Phuentsholing, we carry on with the immigration formalities & check-in to the Hotel. Stroll in the streets of the town. Chat with the locals. Overnight at Phuentsholing.


MEAL INCLUDED: Dinner only


Day 02 | Phuentsholing – Thimphu (170 Kms, 4.5 Hours) 


This morning after breakfast, we take the road to Thimphu, the only capital in the world with no traffic lights. The drive to Thimphu is very scenic with many tiny villages on the way. Our drive will pass through Gedu, Chukha, and Chuzom before emerging ourselves into the only multi culture city in Bhutan. We check-in to our hotel / home-stay, and relax rest of the day. Overnight at Thimphu.


MEAL INCLUDED: Breakfast & Dinner


Day 03 | Thimphu 


Today, we visit National Memorial Chorten, which houses a number of religious paintings and tantric statues.This is where many old local people gather and offer their prayers, chat with each other and pose for the photographs. 


We then visit Zorig Chusum, the School for Arts and Crafts where the students are taught 13 types of Bhutanese art such as carving, textile weaving, thangka painting and more. We can visit the classrooms and chat with the students. We also visit the National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century. Also visit, the Folk Heritage Museum which provides visitors with fascinating insights into the Bhutanese material culture and way of life and the Motithang Zoo where we can see Takin, the National Animal of Bhutan.


After Lunch, we visit the Textile Museum, the Zilukha Nunnery temple and Tashichho Dzong (depending on the availability of time). Also, walk in to the post office and get a stamp with your face printed on it. 


We end the day with a visit to the Buddha Point where a giant golden Buddha statue overlooks the city of Thimphu. Walk around in the Thimphu town to see the local life. Try out local alcohol brewed from rice and wheat known as “ARA”. Overnight stay at Thimphu.


MEAL INCLUDED: Breakfast & Dinner


Day 04 | Thimphu – Punakha via Dochu-La Pass (90 km / 3 hrs)


Today we depart Thimphu and head to Punakha via Dochu-La Pass. The road climbs steeply through a scenic forest of pine and cedar trees, to Dochu-La pass (10,200 feet). The pass where 108 stupas known as "Druk Wangyal Chortens" have been built offers 360 degree panoramic views of the snow strewn Himalayan mountain ranges. It is also marked by hundreds of Buddhist prayer flags fluttering in the wind. From here we descend to the fertile valley of Punakha (4,430 feet).  The drive through the countryside affords a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdom’s. 


After Lunch, we visit Punakha Dzong, the ‘Palace of Great Happiness’ built in 1637 situated at the confluence of 2 rivers. The dzong (fortress) has to be reached by foot and requires crossing an arched wooden bridge. The air is so clear here & the views are breathtaking. You will end up clicking hundreds of pictures here.

End the day with a 20 minute walk through a small village and the surrounding rice paddies to Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple situated on a hill-top. The temple is dedicated to Drukpa Kuenley, known as the “Divine Madman” who lived in the 14th century. From here you will have wonderful views of the entire Punakha Valley and the confluence of the two rivers. Overnight stay at Punakha.


MEAL INCLUDED: Breakfast & Dinner


Day 05 | Punakha – Bumthang (220 km / 8 hrs)


Today will be a long day of driving but it will allow you to see the real countryside and get a feel of the rural Bhutan. The driving time will be about 7 hours with stops along the way. We pass through Pele-La Pass (10,660 feet) which separates the western and central Bhutan where we stop for clicking some pictures.  We stop to stretch our legs at Chendebji Chorten, built in the 19th century by Lama Shida, from Tibet patterned on Kathmandu's Swayambhunath Stupa, with eyes panted at four cardinal points.


We reach the little town of Trongsa (7,545 feet) which is set up high in the mountains, with a feel of a medieval village. We visit the Trongsa Dzong, ancestral home of the ruling dynasty. The Dzong is a massive structure with many levels, sloping down the contours of the ridge on which it is built. In olden days the Dzong commanded the passage between East and West Bhutan. We also visit Ta Dzong, the beautiful five storied cylindrical stone structure which has been resurrected into a living museum that provides visitors with insight into the historical significance of Trongsa in Bhutan's history.


Then, we drive over Yutong-La Pass (11,155 feet) to reach the religious heart land of the kingdom, Bumthang. Here, the valleys are wide and open, filled with fields and villages, and the gentle slopes of amazingly beautiful mountains dotted with many sacred temples and monasteries make for an unforgettable experience. 


MEAL INCLUDED: Breakfast & Dinner


Day 06 | Bumthang 


Bumthang Valley is known as the heartland of Buddhism in Bhutan. In 746 AD, it is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here to exorcise a demon from the king and then converted the people to Buddhism, restoring peace to the region. Guru Rinpoche stayed in the valley to build more than 40 temples.


After Breakfast, we visit Kurje Lhakhang [where the saint Padmasambhava subdued a local demon and left his body imprint on a rock], Tamshing Lhakhang [the treasure house of interesting religious Buddhist paintings], Jambey Lhakhang [one of the oldest temple built in the 7th century] and Jakar Dzong [administrative center of the region]. Overnight stay at Bumthang.


MEAL INCLUDED: Breakfast & Dinner

 

Day 07 | Bumthang – Phobjikha (160 km / 6 Hours) 


Drive to Phobjikha Valley (9,845 feet), a paradise for nature lovers and hikers, so one can enjoy the hike around the remote valley of Phobjikha.


Phobjikha valley is one of the winter roosting grounds of the rare Black-necked Cranes, where they come in hundreds after spending their summer in Tibet and then migrates to the Himalayas of Bhutan to spend their winter – they arrive in the months of September and October and fly back to Tibet between February and March. While the cranes reside in the valley for 4-5 months, the village folks are not allowed to make loud noises or fish in the river that runs through the valley. 


We visit Gangtey Gompa, the largest and the only monastery of the Nyingmapa sect in Western Bhutan. We also visit the Black Necked Crane Information Centre which provides all the information about birds. Then stroll in the streets of Gangtey to get the rural life of the people. From Gangtey, one can closely view the picturesque Black Mountain ranges as well as the beautiful Phobjikha valley. Evening, we’ve the option to take hot stone bath. Overnight at Phobjikha. 


MEAL INCLUDED: Breakfast & Dinner

 

Day 08 | Phobjikha – Paro (176 km / 5 hrs)


Start early retracing the drive to Paro. Afternoon we visit National Museum, the first of its kind which has a collection from natural history to religious paintings. Visit 17 century Paro Dzong (Fortress) on foot and continue walking through the oldest wooden bridge still in use. Also visit the ancient and holy Kichu Lhakhang, built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gompo in the 7th century. Evening stroll old Paro town and peep into some local handicrafts stores. Overnight in Paro. 


MEAL INCLUDED: Breakfast & Dinner

 

Day 09 | Into the Tiger’s Nest


After breakfast, we head to Ramthangka from where we hike to Taktshang Monastery commonly known as Tiger’s Nest, which is built around a cave in which Guru Rimpoche (also known as Guru Padmasambhava) meditated. This magnificent monastery literally hangs from the edge of the rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Have lunch at the cafeteria, enjoying the amazing views of peaks and valleys while relishing your meal. The hike is quite a challenge and takes about 5 hours (both ways). Pony ride is available till the view point but not till the monastery.


For those of you, who are not for hiking, there are quite a lot of places to visit in Paro to spend the day. After return, if you are left with some energy, stroll in the market of Paro. Overnight stay at Paro.


MEAL INCLUDED: Breakfast & Dinner


Day 10 | Paro – Siliguri (300 km / 8 hrs)


Today after early breakfast, we bid fond farewell to the amazing kingdom and take the road to Siliguri with the memories of a lifetime trip. We bid good-bye to all the participants. Tour ends.


MEAL INCLUDED: Breakfast 



The itinerary is loosely drafted, and allows you to do as little or as much as you like.


This itinerary is just to give you an idea on the tour structure but in no means final and is subject to change.

Trip Dates

Start Date: Tuesday, 29th October 2019

End Date: Thursday, 7th November 2019 


Pick-up / Drop-off at Siliguri / Bagdogra. Pls ensure that you arrive anytime on Day 00 or latest by 9AM on the Start Date and book your return ticket for your flight after 7PM on the End Date.


If you are not in favor of road journey from Siliguri – Thimphu and back, you can take a flight to Paro directly on 30th Oct & return on 10th Nov.


NOTE: Only two airlines operate to Paro (Druk Air & Bhutan Airlines) and they are not available to book on the online portals like MMT, Goibibo, etc.


Trip Cost

INR 27500 per person (Including the Booking Fee)


These rates are for Indian Nationals only.


  • The trip will have a maximum of 14 members (13 participants + 01 facilitator). Invite your friends to join. 
  • Minimum of 6 participants required to conduct the trip. Please do check with us before booking your air tickets. 
  • Suitable for singles / solo travelers / small group of friends / couples
  • Suitable for members between the age group of 16-55 years. We do take members above 55 years too based on their physical fitness.


Inclusions & Exclusions

INCLUSIONS

  

  • Accommodation for 9 nights / 10 days on double / triple sharing basis depending on the room size in Home-stays / Hotels / Guesthouses. Married couples get a separate room
  • Half Board - Breakfast & Dinner (Set Menu) at our accommodation
  • Meal starts with Dinner on 1stDay and ends with the Breakfast on the 10th Day, as mentioned in the Itinerary
  • Morning / Evening Tea at our accommodation
  • Group airport transfer for arrival and departure in Bagdogra airport. If your flight arrival is at a different time from the others, extra charges will be applicable
  • All transfers / sightseeing trips by Non-AC  SUV / Mini-Buses
  • An Exclusive English Speaking Local Guide from start to end of the trip
  • Permits, Toll Taxes, Parking Charges
  • All applicable taxes & service charges



EXCLUSIONS

  

  • Air fare / Train fare from your place to Bagdogra / SIliguri & return
  • Food / Snacks / Beverages other than mentioned above
  • Packaged drinking water
  • Entry Fees to the places of interest
  • Camera charges
  • Additional cost arising due to mishaps, political unrest, natural calamities like – landslides, road blockage, etc. In such case extra will have to be paid on the spot by the guests directly.
  • Personal expenses such as laundry, room heater charges, bottled water, soft drinks, incidentals, porter charges, tips, medicines, etc.
  • Any item not specified in the ‘Inclusions’.

 

Booking Procedure

Please confirm your participation by paying INR 5000 (Non-refundable Booking Fee**) to book your seat. Rest to be paid 30 days before the tour start date.


Pls write to us at unusualescapes@gmail.com for our Bank Account Details to transfer the Booking Fee (or) pay via Google Pay at 9052220466. Your spot will be confirmed as soon as we receive your Booking Fee.


**If you can find anyone else to replace you, there’ll be NO cancellation charges. We will then refund your money in full including the non-refundable booking fee. 


Pls write to us for cancellation conditions & other queries.

~ TRAVEL QUOTE ~

“Travel. As much as you can. As far as you can. As long as you can. Life’s not meant to be lived in one place.”