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13 days 12-nights cultural tours


Overview

Start : Paro
Finish : Paro
Trip Style : Cultural/Trekking
Trip Rating by Popularity : ***
Physical Demand Rating : ***
Discounts : Applicable on this trip
Group Size : Maximum 10, Avg 5
Group Leader : Certified Tour Leader from The Bhutan Memorable Travels
Transport : New Model Toyota Hiace /Coaster bus/Land Cruiser not more than 3 years old

 

Guru Rinpoche or Guru Padmasambava does not need any introduction in Buddhism. He is the profound 8th century saint, believed to be born out of lotus flower in somewhere around modern day Pakistan to spread and indoctrinate the teachings of the Buddha. He had visited Bhutan during his time and in his passing left the people of Bhutan with an indelible allegiance to him. Even today, Guru Rinpoche resides in every household and continues to be part of the Bhutanese everyday life. This holiday is to pay tribute to this great master who continues to bless many of us with his compassion and wisdom. This trip is mainly undertaken by our Asian markets-Taiwan in particular. The trip is a fine combination of a spiritual soul-searching cultural experience with a trekking activity. The Nabji-Korphu Trek is not only the path taken by Guru on his way to Bumthang during his first visit, but also the piloted community-based nature trek initiated for a rich eco-tourism experience. You will leave Bhutan with a true sense of feeling blessed.

Detailed Iteinerary

Day 1 : Arrive Paro and Drive to Thimphu, (60 km, 1 hour)


If you are arriving on a bright sunny day, your holiday begins with the panoramic view of the Himalayan range from your Drukair seat, where you’ll be greeted by Mt. Everest and Mt. Kanchenjunga, and our very own Mt. Jomolhari and Mt. Jichu Drakey. An unparalleled feeling while you are descending over Bhutan is a feeling which is of total abandonment, a feeling which is inexplicably compassionate and full of suspense as visibly seen in the growing communion between the passengers. Upon arrival you’ll be received by our friendly professional guides who will help you settle into your comfortable car and will take you for a short spin around Paro valley which will include a visit to the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang temple. After lunch, you’ll be heading to the capital city, Thimphu. Call it an easy night to make sure you have ample rest to kick start your Bhutan holiday with much gusto. We have a policy to usually host you in a hotel further away from the main bustling streets of Thimphu as we understand the importance of a proper sleep for the first night, and stray dogs in the city square may just jeopardise that objective.

Day 2 : Drive to Trongsa (170 km, 7 hours)


Visit the Wangue Phodrang town and the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong on the way. The small incongruous town square is a hullaballoo of activities; cab drivers yelling names of nearby towns for customers, a gas station queued up with vehicles and power-tillers, vegetable vendors, dairy products on sale, smiling old faces out of the shop windows with dripping betel from their mouths and an unwavering smell of rubber emanating from the ubiquitous rubber boots hanging out of almost every shop. Enjoy the view over the high passes of Pelela where you can take a break to see the yaks up close. Explore the town in the evening and prepare for Nabji-Korphu Trek. Guru Padmasambava had taken this route to reach Bumthang during his first visit.

Day 3 : Trongsa Sightseeing


Visit the ‘Tower of Trongsa’ which served as a watchtower during the ancient times and developed into a museum that houses some of Bhutan’s most prized possessions including statues of Guru’s and his manifestations. It also houses the ‘Raven Crown’ used by the first two Kings. Now that is a must-see! Then you’ll visit the Trongsa Dzong, of monumental political importance that was central to unification of the country under one central administration and that eventually led to the introduction of Monarchy in Bhutan. After this, you’ll drive down to Reutala and start hiking to Nimshong. The trek starts with a steep descent of 625m to the riverbed of Mangde river; within an hour from the river, the trail begins a steep climb for about two hours to Nimshong. Nimshong is a small (circa 58-household) village, which has a population of about 465 people. The villagers welcome you with dance and songs while cooks are preparing diner. The campsite will be in the forest near the village. Good chance of spotting one of the endemic animals of Bhutan, the Golden Langur. You’ll be camping at the community campsite.

Day 4 :  Nyimshong to Nabji (total distance: about 9km; 4-5 hours)


The hike will go through a lush broadleaf forest alive with abundant bird and mammal life, with guaranteed sightings of Golden Langur and Rufous-necked Hornbill. Nabji is pretty much at the same elevation as Nimshong village; however, the trail will move up and down through a dense forest. Nabji consists of 55 households and an approximate population of 400 people. The village is situated on a foothill above terraced fields of rice. The temple of Nabji –which means ‘promise’- was built to honour the truce between two warring kings of Bumthang and Assam after Guru had mediated the dispute by making the kings seal the friendship by imprinting their fingers on a stone pillar which is in the temple. Overnight at community campsite surrounded by the rice fields of Nabji.

Day 5 : Nabji to Kudra (total distance: 12 km; about 5-7 hours hiking)


Our trek today starts on a trail to Kudra village, leaving Nabji village at the holy tree. Kudra is situated at an elevation of about 1,500m, around 6 hours walking from Nabji. Along the way you’ll find traces of Guru Rinpoche. The habitat you traverse is very attractive for tigers and leopards (though it is very rare to spot them, droppings and spores can be found). Kudra only has 3 households and the Monpa people living here are very happy to welcome you at their community campsite.

Day 6 : Kudra to Jangbi


From Kudra, the hike continuous to Jangbi village. Again traces of Guru Rimpoche can be found along the way ( stone imprints of Guru’s feet, dragger and hat). You will be walking a path that offers great vistas and pristine forest along the way. The Monpa people at your campsite will prepare a welcoming tea, which is set near Jangbi village with a beautiful view over the valley and Mangde Chhu.

Day 7 :  Drive to Bumthang (90 kms, 4 hours)


Today is the last hike and the trek finishes in Tong Tongphey where your driver will be waiting for you to be picked up. Continue to Bumthang. We’ll make sure you’ll be treated to some local delicacies and also a good bed and shower after the days of hiking. If you are of the adventurous type, your dinner will be complete with some ara (home brewed alcohol) that fits perfectly with the Bumthang culinary.

Day 8 : Bumthang Sightseeing


Today is the day that you’ll witness more significant remnants of Guru’s visit to Bhutan. Visit Kurje lhakhang (temple) that is house to one of Bhutan’s biggest statue of Guru Padmasambava and more importantly the stone imprints of Guru’s body in a cave. Followed by Jambay Lhakhang, most probably the oldest temple that is believed to be one of the two in Bhutan, out of 108 temples that King Songtsen Gembo of Tibet built across the entire Himalayan region in the 6th century.  Finally to Tamzhing monastery which was built by Terton Pema Lingpa.

Day 9 : Drive to Punakha


Drive to Punakha and explore the town in the evening. You have a choice of camping today next to the river.

Day 10 : Punakha Sightseeing and Drive to Thimphu (70 km, 3 hours)


After breakfast you will visit the most beautiful fortress of Bhutan – the Punakha Dzong juxtaposed in between a confluence of two mighty rivers. You’ll be amazed by the fabulous woodwork that represents the myriad Bhutanese architecture. After that you will continue to the temple honouring one of Bhutan’s most charming and eccentric historic figures Lam Drukpa Kuenley nicknamed ‘The Divine Madman’ at the Chhimi Lhakhang, the fertility monastery. Continue to Thimphu after lunch. Visit the Tashichhodzong fortress, which is now the central administrative office in the evening after working hours. Enjoy a fantastic meal in some of the best restaurants with choice of Bhutanese, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Thai culinary.

Day 11 : Thimphu Sightseeing


The day will be spent visiting popular tourist attractions. Visit the National Folk Heritage Museum, the Zorig Chusum school of 13 traditional arts/crafts, the Textile Museum, the Memorial Chorten (stupa), the Giant Buddha Dordenma (Shakyamuni) Statue standing at 169ft tall, and the Simtokha Dzong. Visit the colourful vegetable market where proud villagers behind pyramids of their agricultural produce greet you with stone weights in their hands and smiles on their faces. It is interesting to see what may seem to you as ‘weird vegetables and forest products’ that actually enriches the Bhutanese Palate.

Day 12 : Drive to Paro (55 kms, 2 hours)


Arriving at Paro, you will unwind your trip a bit to prepare for the most important temple associated with Guru Rinpoche the next day. One of our specialities on this trip is to give you an opportunity to reflect on your spiritual trip and meditate over a session with one of our local meditation experts, or alternatively we can have a presentation on Buddhism where an expert of the subject will be deliberating Guru Padmasambava’s teachings and how it makes it relevant in the Bhutanese way of life, all-inclusive in the package price. It’s a good idea to treat yourself to a spa treatment in one of our partner hotels after a relatively fast-paced trip.

Day 13 : Hike to Taktsang Monastery


The best example Guru Padmasambava’s greatness will be witnessed today. Hike up to Taktsang monastery, translated Tiger’s Nest. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambava came flying on a Tigress to subdue a notorious evil spirit who resided in the cliffs where the temple now stands. In the afternoon, you’ll be taken to the National Museum to further augment your Bhutan experience and knowledge by witnessing some of the most treasured collections of arts, artefacts, textiles, stamps, statues etc. An exclusive feature of ‘The Bhutan Memorable Travels’, we have teamed up with a local theatre company to provide you a cultural evening at the hotel, which will showcase some of our traditional music and dances, mask dances and folklore at the hotel. After dinner, a dip in the traditional hot-stone bath may help you unwind and reflect about your journey before departing.

Day 14 : Farewell


a few thanksgivings and words promising to keep the new found friendship, your escort will fare you well at the airport for your onward journey. You leave us with an immense sense of satisfaction on the thought that you were close enough to sense the compassion of Guru Padmasambava.

Additional Activities that can be included: Specialised Language Guides, Mountain biking, Motorcycling, Attending rituals in private homes, More Meditation Sessions with reputed lamas, Yoga sessions etc.

Inclusions and Exclusion

What’s Included

  • Bhutan Royalty ($65 per person per day).
  • Visa Fees ($40 per person).
  • All necessary permit fees.
  • All transfers and sightseeing with entrance fees.
  • All meals including evening tea.
  • All accommodation in our partner hotels, which are some of the best in the country on twin sharing basis.
  • All trekking equipments and logistics including cooks, camp personnel, horsemen and ponies.
  • English-speaking tour leader, guide and driver.
  • Trekking Insurance (Our value-added service).
  • Cultural Performance (our value-added service).

What’s Not Included

  • Airfare for flights into and out of Bhutan.
  • All personal expenses like laundry, telephone, tips, shopping expenses.
  • Meals and Beverages other than the ones mentioned above (see inclusions).
  • Spa Charges.
  • Travel and Medical insurance.

Trip Note

Accommodations and facilities:

There are limited choices of accommodations in Bhutan. With a few exceptions of highly over priced international chain properties, hotels in Bhutan are small with 15 to 20 rooms. The hotels have been categorized by local authorities as Star 1, 2 and 3, with 3 Star being on the top level 1Star at the bottom and naturally we have pick the 3 Star category hotels and resorts which are local architecture with Bhutanese décor, well maintained and staffed with the friendly locals. There is disparity in the rooms in most of the hotels and travelers of the same group may end up in two different types of rooms although you have paid the same amount. You will have private bathroom with 24 hour running cold and hot water. They provide some fundamental toiletry supplies but hair dryers, iron and ironing board etc may not be available.

Hotels in Paro and Thimphu do have internet access in office or reception areas. There are some new deluxe properties and international chain resorts which are above the traditional classification criteria and in the higher side in terms of price and can be booked with supplemental cost. Hotel listed on the itinerary are suggestions only and during peak season and tours timed with festival, we may not get the same hotels and in that case, we will book you in the similar property or upgrade you to the higher level.

Guide and Escorts

Our Tour Guides are local individuals with college degree, government certification, experienced and with knowledge on the destination, history, culture and religion and most importantly they are easy going, detailed oriented, patient and high level of customer service skills. They will uncover the wonders of the destinations for you which you would never find on your own. They ensure that everything goes well with your tour without a hitch.

Vehicle:

We use good condition Toyota SUV and Toyota Coaches for all transfers and tours. Driver and guide is not the same person. Driver may speak little or no English but they know the road and are skillful to fix the problem in case of mechanical breakdowns. Depending on group size, we will use Japanese made Sedan cars, SUVs or minivan for entire transfers and tours.

International and Internal Flights:

All internal flights are part of travel plan and are locally booked by us. You will be emailed e-ticket receipts once the reservation is booked and tickets issued. But you have liberty to book your international airfare on your own. We can certainly help you book international flight if that originates from the city that you live in. Once you receive itinerary, it’s your responsibility to verify the itinerary and reconfirm the schedules.

Visa and Permits:

Passport should be valid for 6 months or more at the time of travel. We will take care of Bhutan Visa and permits. Bhutan Visa Fees of USD 20 which will be collected with the Tour Payment in advance. You will need to provide a copy of your passport which should be sent to us by email for Bhutan Visa Processing. Bhutan visa is preprocessed by us and we will provide you a copy the Visa Approval Letter before your trip which you will need to present at Druk Air counter at the time you check in for flight to Bhutan. You will get actual visa seal on your passport upon arrival at Paro airport.

Trip Activity Level:

This trip is basically motor vehicle based sightseeing with some short hikes and village visits and suitable for all travelers with regular health conditions. When we are driving from one city to another, we will be driving from 3-6 hours with occasional stops for photography and for refreshments. Roads are narrow and some portions may be rough and damaged. The itinerary allows enough acclimatization for you and it’s advisable that you should keep physically fit and start mild exercises like jogging, swimming, cycling or practice some aerobics about 2-3 months ahead of the trip. It’s your responsibility to determine that you are fit for this trip and if you have any health conditions, please consult with your physician before you sign up for this trip.

Note on Itinerary:

We do our best to adhere to the itinerary but it should be taken as a generic guideline in terms of what you expect to do or see during the tour and may differ in the practical ground from exact sequence or order of the sights to the overnight places depending on the local conditions.

Booking:

When you are sure you are traveling, please don’t delay in booking so that we can confirm you in preferred hotels and flights. A 100% of both the Tour and Airfare is requested along with a completed trip application form plus copy of the photo page of your passport.

Cancellation:

100% Refund if tour canceled within 60 Days from the start of the tour.

50% Refund if tour canceled within 45 Days from the start of the tour.

25% Refund if tour canceled within 30 Days from the start of the tour.

No Refund if tour canceled less than 30 Days from the start of the tour.

Final Trip Dossier:

A final trip dossier with local contacts, hotel lists, check lists, travel notes and relevant information will be sent about a month ahead of the trip