Best of Nepal and Bhutan

18 Days: Kathmandu - Dhulikhel - Pokhara - Chitwan - Thimphu - Punakha - Paro

The Trehan Journeys Difference

UWHS = UNESCO World Heritage Site
Day 1

VIP Arrival Services

Day 2
Kathmandu - Dhulikhel

Explore Bhaktapur UWHS

Scenic Himalayan Drive to Dhulikhel

View of 20+ of World’s Highest Mountains

Day 3

Exploration of Dhulikhel

Unique Mewari Architecture

Ancient Trade Route

Flower Valleys

Ancient Temples and Stupas

Day 4
Dhulikhel - Chitwan

Drive to Kathmandu Airport

Fly to Bharatpur

Drive to Chitwan National Park

Rapti River

Day 5

Private Morning & Afternoon Safaris

Endangered One-Horned Rhino

Day 6
Chitwan - Pokhara

Morning Private Safari

Scenic Drive to the Annapurna Region

Sacred Fishtail Mountain

Phewa Lake

Magars and Gurungs

Day 7

Pokhara Old Trading Routes

Bazaar Walk

Phewa Lake Cruise

Hiking & Adventure Activity Opportunities

Day 8
Pokhara - Kathmandu

Flight to Kathmandu

Swayambhunath Temple (UWHS)

Day 9

Optional Everest Flight

Boudhanath Stupa UWHS

Thamel City Tour

Kathmandu Durbar Square (UWHS)

Day 10

Patan City (UWHS)

Pashupatinath Temple

Bagmati Holy River

Optional City Exploration

Day 11
Kathmandu – Paro – Thimphu

Druk Air Flight to Paro

VIP Arrival Services

Scenic Drive to Thimphu

Day 12

Hilltop Buddha Dordenma Statue

King’s Memorial Chorten

Folk Heritage Museum

Fortress of the Glorious Religion

Lowering of the Flag Ceremony

Day 13

Bhutan Post Office

Motithang Takin Preserve

National Library and Archives

Thimphu Exploration

Clock Tower Square

Day 14
Thimphu – Punakha

Scenic Drive to Punakha

Druk Wangyal Chortens

Himalayan Vistas

Divine Madman Monastery

Day 15

Punakha Scenery

Picnic at 2 Rivers Confluence

Amazing Punakha Dzong

Small Town Walk and Bazaar Visit

Day 16
Punakha – Paro

Scenic Drive to Paro

Optional Simtokha Dzong Enroute

National Museum

Fortress That Sits on a Heap of Jewels

Day 17

Tiger’s Nest Monastery

Visit Charming Kyichu Lhakhang

Day 18

VIP Departure Services

Day 1. Arrive at Kathmandu

Overnight – Dwarika's Hotel

Once upon a time, a modern jetliner landed at Nepal Airport.

This itinerary assumes an arrival in the late morning or early afternoon. Trehan Journeys will be happy to guide and/or assist you with planning your international flight logistics. Our services begin with your luxury VIP greeting as you disembark at Kathmandu airport. You are greeted after you exit from your plane and are escorted through the complete arrival process, including immigration, baggage claim, and customs. You are driven to your boutique luxury lodging in Kathmandu and assisted with your check-in.

If your arrival at your lodge is a little before 3pm, an early check-in may be possible, but is not guaranteed. If it is much before 3pm, and additional night’s stay can be added, enabling you to check in at arrival. For most of our South Asian destinations, we recommend a day at leisure upon arrival so as to both recuperate from your international flights, as well as to build a cushion for unexpected flight delays. As all Nepal bound flights originating from the United States connect somewhere and most of them arrive in Kathmandu in the morning or very early afternoon, we schedule your arrival day as your day of leisure.

You are at leisure for the rest of this day to enjoy the facilities, dining and spa at your beautiful lodge, or to enjoy walks around the surrounding area. For guests who are certain that they will want to explore on this day, your Tour Director Guide can be available to explore Kathmandu if you let us know during your tour reservation process.

Welcome to an ancient Himalayan Country that offers a fascinating culture, incredible scenery, very warm and friendly people, great trekking opportunities, and a whole lot more. With the exception of the fairly congested Kathmandu Valley, Nepal has charming and laid-back cities and towns, along with picturesque wildlife parks that are home to many endangered species.

The unfortunate picture of the effects of the 2015 earthquake as painted by the media, like much of what they do, is severely exaggerated. For example, the three ancient UNESCO World Heritage religious structures in Kathmandu survived with very little or no damage. The three Durbar Square’s (all of which are also individual UNESCO World Heritage Sites) in the queen cities of the Kathmandu Valley did suffer more damage, but most of their monuments are still standing and still provide wonderful insights into the local culture. You may want to leave part of your baggage at your lodging in Kathmandu as you will return here for your Kathmandu exploration, and the Nepal flights have weight restrictions.

Day 2. Kathmandu – Dhulikhel

Overnight – Dwarika's Resort

You are assisted with your checkout in the morning and driven to Bhaktapur, a UNESCO world Heritage Site, for a guided exploration. Bhaktapur lies on the way between Kathmandu airport and Dhulikhel and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the Kathmandu Valley’s three queen cities, and its name translates as The City of Devotees. Although this queen city suffered more damage than the two others during the earthquake, there is more than enough remaining to marvel at as you walk around the ancient square with its unique architecture and charming temples. The architecture and culture here is different from what you will experience in most of Kathmandu, as ancient Newari architecture and culture are found here in their purest form.

After this you will continue on with your hour and a quarter journey to the ancient mountain town of Dhulikhel. Arrive at your boutique luxury mountain resort and you are assisted with your check-in. Your upgraded suite has organic local charm and spectacular views from its private outdoor spaces. The top-rated Himalayan Resort offers a variety of wonderful Wellness Packages and your Trehan Journeys Concierge can provide you with information after you have reserved your tour – we recommend additional time at the resort for those guests who want more than just spa therapies and some yoga. The following activities are included as part of your suite’s benefits as per the resorts usual policies, but Trehan Journeys does not guarantee any of these activity’s will be available during your stay:

-Use of Himalayan Salt Room
-Use of Crystal House
-Use of Chakra Sound Therapy Chamber
-Use of Meditation Maze
-Use of Garden of Nine Planets
-Group Yoga Session
-Group Meditation Session
-Group Pottery Session
-Group Cine Therapy Session
-Visit to the farm
-Art and Painting Session
-Consultation with Ayurvedic Doctor

The scenic town of Dhulikhel has been an important trading post between the Kathmandu Valley and Tibet for many centuries and the views of the Tibetan and Nepalese Himalayas have to be seen to be believed. Over twenty of the tallest peaks of the Himalaya’s can be seen from different vantage points in the town, including Mt. Lhotse (8516 m – 27939 ft) and the spectacular Annapurna (8091 m – 26545 ft). Please note that the best time for good visibility of the distant Himalayas is at sunrise.

Day 3. Dhulikhel

Overnight – Dwarika's Resort

Proceed for a guided exploration of the fascinating small town of Dhulikhel. Explore the ancient Mewari houses and centuries old settlements like Shrikandapur, as well as some of the ancient temples and Buddhist Stupas. Intricate Mewari architecture is found here in one its purest forms and the culture is laid back and welcoming. Tiered valleys of flowers and cultivation dot the surrounding mountains and Dhulikhel is a golden opportunity for hiking – your guide can take you on gentle or more strenuous walks based on your preferences. One of your favorite experiences will be your visit to the part of town where pony trains from the higher peaks of Tibet arrive on a regular basis and these nomadic visitors bring their unique wares to sell and barter with the locals.

Day 4. Dhulikhel – Kathmandu Airport – Chitwan

Overnight – Taj Meghauli Serai

You are assisted with your check-out from your resort and you are driven to the Kathmandu airport and assisted with boarding your very short flight to Bharatpur, the closest town to Chitwan National Park. Arrive at Bharatpur and your Tour Director Guide will accompany you on the drive to your lodge. Please note that the last part of this drive is over a gravel/stone dirt road and it gets very bumpy. After assisting you with check-in, your Guide bids you a temporary farewell. Your luxury Jungle Lodge is the finest lodging in the Royal Chitwan National Park region. From here the lodge staff takes over – you are in great hands!

You will be staying on the banks of the scenic Rapti River, and will have spectacular river and jungle views from your charming riverside villa with its private pool. You will be cared for by the extremely efficient and charming lodge naturalists and other staff over the next 2 days. Your accommodation may not be available for check-in right upon arrival, but you can use the lodges facilities and enjoy lunch. After lunch you will experience your first safari into Chitwan National Park.

This is Nepal’s premier wildlife park and is one of the world’s two major sanctuaries (along with Kaziranga National Park in India) protecting the endangered Asian One Horned Rhino. One Horned Rhino sightings are pretty much guaranteed, and tiger sightings are not uncommon, especially on Jeep Safaris. Sightings of a diverse selection of other wildlife is a certainty. There are multiple safari options available while you are at Chitwan, including Elephant Back, Jeep, and boat rides on the Rapti River. Three safaris are included during your stay as part of your tour, one this afternoon and two on the following day. The comprehensive package we reserve here includes:

1: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner per day
2: Tea or coffee service, soft beverages
3: One Unique Dining Experience during your Villa stay
4: Two Jungle Activities per person per day from a choice of Elephant Safari, Walking Safari, Canoeing. One of these Safaris can be a Jeep Safari once during the stay with a minimum stay duration of 2 nights. Additional Jeep Safaris can be added with a surcharge
5: Park fees, Forest Guide charges and photography fees (for non-professionals)
6: Limited Daily Laundry Service

Besides the spa and other facilities, and the river facing pool, the lodge naturalists and other staff are extremely attentive and there are a variety of activities that you can indulge in during your stay.

Day 5. Chitwan

Overnight – Taj Meghauli Serai

Enjoy morning and afternoon safaris into Chitwan National Park. Your Trehan Journeys Guest Relations Manager will contact you in advance to ask for your selection of how you want to schedule your safaris, as well as other preferences. In-between safari’s you will have your choice of activities, and you can obviously choose to enjoy your beautiful villa for all or part of this time.

Day 6. Chitwan – Pokhara

Overnight – The Pavilions Himalaya Lakeview

Enjoy a morning safari into the park and return to your lodge to relax and freshen up. In the mid-morning you will be rejoined by your Nepal Tour Director and assisted with your checkout and then you will proceed on the scenic drive to the spectacular Annapurna Region. Arrive near Pokhara and you are driven to your boutique luxury tented camp and assisted with your check-in to your upgraded tented villa with its wonderful lake and mountain views. Your wonderful camp has only 8 tented villas and you will stay in the top villa category. Wonderful nature activities, village walks, and the spectacular views are part of your stay here. The town of Pokhara is about a half hour drive.

The Annapurna Region is one of those beautiful places where one can stay for a week or longer just to relax and rejuvenate in the natural beauty and relaxed ambiance, similar to South Asian towns like Kochi and Leh (Ladakh) in India, Luang Prabang in Laos, Chiang Mai in Thailand, and Thimphu in Bhutan.

You don’t have to relax in Pokhara – it is an area of lakes and mountains, and the valley and surrounding Himalayas offer some of the world’s best trekking, paragliding, and hand gliding. There is kayaking and white-water rafting, zip lining, the Pokhara Ultralight (for a unique gliding experience), mountain biking, and a whole lot more. This itinerary includes a day where our guests are at leisure to relax, or have us include one or more of the above-mentioned activities. Extended stays can easily be facilitated, for more relaxation and/or other activities. The serenity of Phewa Lake and the magnificence of the holy summit of Machhapuchhre (Fishtail Mountain) at 22,890 feet (6,977 m) are sights one has to experience to appreciate. The summit of the mountain has never been scaled – there was an attempt in 1957 when climber came withing about 500 feet, after which Nepal banned any future attempts due to the sanctity of the mountain.

Pokhara is a part of most Nepal trekking itineraries, as much of that occurs in the Himalaya’s surrounding the Pokhara valley. A very popular gentle trekking itinerary are the treks that used to be called the Sanctuary Lodge treks. These can be overnight (with 1 lodge) or multiple nights (with more lodges). The treks are 3 to 4 hours a day of not too strenuous walking, with spectacular views, charming pastoral stops at unique Gurkha villages, and a lot more.

Pokhara was a key stop on a busy trade route that extended from India to Tibet. To this day, mule trains can be seen camped on the outskirts of the town, bringing goods to trade from remote regions of the Himalaya. This is the land of the Magars and Gurungs, hardworking farmers and fierce warriors who have earned worldwide fame as Gurkha soldiers, and who are also will be your guides in case you opt for treks in the Himalayan Annapurna Range. The British Army has long recruited soldiers from this region, and continues to do so today. The Gurkha soldiers serve in the British army, and can then either retire in the United Kingdom with full benefits and a pension, or choose to return to Nepal and enjoy the added benefit of converting the pound into Nepalese currency. The small boutique tourism area around Phewa Lake (the lake is part of your amazing view from your lodge) is full of charming little café’s, bars and souvenir shops, and can be a fun destination for one evening.

Day 7. Pokhara

Overnight – The Pavilions Himalaya Lakeview

Explore the old trading area in the town of Pokhara. Decorated pony trains from the Kali Gandaki trade routes are supervised by men from the mountains that live a lifestyle from centuries ago. You will walk through the bazaar which is alive with the multiple dialects and the animated bartering of these tribals. You will also visit the Bindhyavasini Temple and the fascinating Butterfly Museum located in the grounds of the university.

After a break for lunch, you will enjoy a cruise on Phewa Lake. You will go past the simple three-story villa where the King of Nepal maintains his winter home. Stop at the small golden temple to the Hindu god Varaha which is nestled in foliage on an island in the center of the lake. You will see many fishermen and other pilgrims take their long canoes (carved from tree trunks) to the island to visit the shrine. Pokhara is at an elevation lower than Kathmandu, and has a much more tropical feel to it, which leads to the amazing diversity of bright flowers that adorn much of the valley.

Day 8. Pokhara – Kathmandu

Overnight – Dwarika's Hotel

You are assisted with your checkout in the morning and driven to the Pokhara airport and assisted in boarding your flight to Kathmandu. Your flight may offer you spectacular views of the tallest Himalayan Ranges. Upon arrival you are driven to the Swayambhunath Temple and Pagoda, Kathmandu’s signature monument, with the expressive eyes and nose painted on all four sides of its unique crown that are visible from almost all the Kathmandu Valley. With a history that may go back as far as 2500 years, this ancient complex is obviously a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is built on a hilltop.

Devout Nepalese walk up the hill from the base (365 steps), but most of our guests prefer to drive up almost all the way up and then use the few steps on the other side of the hill. Although a couple of the smaller surrounding monuments were damaged during the 2015 earthquake, the main structure still stands, along with other smaller shrines and monasteries surrounding it.

After this you are driven to your gorgeous boutique lodge and assisted with your check-in at Kathmandu’s finest luxury lodging. This boutique lodge has wonderful facilities, a great location, and amazing service. Your upgraded suite is gorgeous, with terracotta tiled floors and organic local elements throughout.

Day 9. Kathmandu

Overnight – Dwarika's Hotel

Weather permitting, you will experience the Everest flight this morning with private assisted transfers between the lodge and the airport. If weather conditions result in the flight getting cancelled, it can be substituted for the following day.

Continue your tour of Kathmandu city with the Boudhanath Stupa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is one of Kathmandu’s two landmarks. This is the largest stupa in Nepal and a major pilgrimage destination for Buddhists. Said to have been built just after Lord Buddha’s departure from the world about two and a half millennia ago, the stupa has multiple legends associated with it in both Nepalese and Tibetan Buddhism. The influx of Tibetan Buddhists escaping China’s control over the last six decades has transformed the area around it as many of them have settled here, and have also built over 50 Gompa’s (monasteries) around the Stupa. Exploring the stupa and its colorful surrounding areas is a highlight for any visitor to Kathmandu. The spire of the stupa and a few other areas received some damage in the 2015 earthquake but this has now been repaired.

After the Stupa you will enjoy a walk in Thamel, the main bazaar area of Kathmandu. Thamel is also where a lot of the inexpensive hostels and other budget lodging options are located, and its colorful alleys are always abuzz with activity. Locals and backpackers flock to this area to shop for a vast range of products, from daily requirements to souvenirs, from clothing to footwear to toys. There are also a large number of dining and street food options for the backpackers, ranging from local Nepalese delicacies to western fare.

After breaking for lunch, you are driven to the Kathmandu Durbar Square, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. A few of the ancient monuments here were damaged during the earthquake, but much of it remains intact. The monuments in the Square were built between the 12th and 18th centuries, and this is where, even today, most of the state ceremonies are performed. Start with a visit to the beautiful 17th Century three-story building called Kumari Ghar, which means the abode of the Living Goddess. Guests may want to spend a couple of minutes researching this ancient tradition before their visit. If you are fortunate, you may be graced with the anointed child’s appearance in an upstairs window. You will then explore the ancient square and its many monuments, with the opportunity to pose in front of Kal Bhairav, an ancient and impressive stone relief of Lord Shiva in one of his most fearsome manifestations.

Day 10. Kathmandu

Overnight – Dwarika's Hotel

Today you will experience a tour of Patan City, one of the three queen cities of the valley. Another UNESCO world Heritage Site, although some structures here were damaged or destroyed by the 2015 earthquake, much of the amazing historic site remains, and is more than well worth a visit. Patan is the city of fine arts, and you will start with an exploration of the Durbar Square. The museum here houses a collection of ancient bronzes and religious objects. Other noteworthy monuments are the impressive carvings at the 17th century Krishna Mandir and Mahavihar, and the 12th century Temple of the Buddha.

From here you will proceed for a tour of Pashupatinath Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most sacred Hindu shrines in the world. Originally built around 2400 years ago, the spectacular temple was reconstructed by a Nepalese king in the 15th century after the original wooden structure was (purportedly) consumed by termites. A lesser-known fact among western visitors is that Nepal’s natives are primarily Hindus (over 80%), and Pashupatinath’s surrounding area is dotted with ancient Hindu shrines and ashrams, as well as a steady stream of pilgrims and worshippers.

Nepal’s holy river Bagmati flows through here and its banks are constant witnesses to Hindu ceremonies for the dead and the living. There is a cremation area where pyres are always present, and your Guide will ask you for a mindful approach in these areas. The main temple and most of the surrounding shrines received no damage in the 2015 earthquake.

Afternoon – You can return back to your lodge or continue exploring Kathmandu with your guide and chauffeur, who are available to you until 5 PM for further excursions – there are a lot of fascinating options which you can discuss with your guide, who will tailor your tour to fit your preferences.

Day 11. Kathmandu – Paro – Thimphu

Overnight – The Postcard Dewa

You are assisted with your check-out from your lodge and driven to the airport for your morning flight to Paro. At the airport you will be introduced to your Airport VIP Services Representative who will escort you through the check-in process and then through customs and immigration, all the way until your boarding process begins. Your flight will likely offer you spectacular views of the tallest Himalayan Ranges. You are greeted at the Paro airport by your Bhutan Accompanying Tour Director and your chauffeur. They will both accompany you throughout your time in Bhutan. Your Visa for Bhutan is arranged by Trehan Journeys as part of your adventure with us.

Welcome to one of the last magical kingdoms on the planet, a peaceful country full of devout Buddhists who treasure GNH (Gross National Happiness), not GDP.

Bhutan is a country without traffic lights, and the single traffic control (by a police officer) is at the intersection of the two busiest streets of Thimphu, the capital. Yet traffic is nothing like it is in most of South Asia, partially because there are less vehicles, but also because of the unfailing politeness and consideration of the Bhutanese.

Proceed on the 90-minute drive to your amazing lodge near Thimphu. Much of the drive you will be next to the gushing Thimphu River and Bhutan’s incredible scenery will start to captivate you. Your Tour Director Guide and your chauffeur in Bhutan will continuously entertain you with anecdotes that attribute events, things, and places to results of actions by one of their legendary Buddhist Sages from past centuries. A lot of unique and/or peculiar beliefs and practices are attributed to one of the greatest miracle workers of them all, The Divine Madman, Lam Drukpa Kuenley. Arrive at Thimphu and you are assisted with your check in at your unique luxury lodge.

Thimphu was just a dzong (fortress) surrounded by a few huts when it became the permanent capital of Bhutan in 1952. In pace with the tranquil passage of time in Bhutan, Thimphu has leisurely transformed into the city it is today. All the architecture in Thimphu is of traditional Bhutanese style because a royal decree demands that the city preserve the original national character of Bhutan’s architecture.

Late afternoon – you may want to rest for the remainder of this day so as to acclimatize yourself to the 8000 to 9000-foot elevation. If you feel the need for some activity, the facilities at your lodge and the amazing scenery and walking paths around it are well worth an exploration – the lodge staff will guide you on possibilities.

Day 12. Thimphu

Overnight – Dwarika's Hotel

Start your guided exploration of Bhutan with a visit to the Buddha Dordenma, the massive Buddha statue located on a hilltop overlooking the highway entering Thimphu. This bronze Shakyamuni Buddha statue was completed in 2015 and is gilded in gold. It is 169 feet (51.5 meters) tall, and you will visit the 125,000 Buddha Dordenma (100,000 8 inch and 25,000 12 inch) gilded bronze Buddha statues which are placed inside the main statue. Its ornate base houses a large and beautiful meditation hall.

The views of Thimphu and the surrounding Himalayan ranges are spectacular from the area around the statue.

Head into Bhutan’s largest town and proceed for a visit to the King’s Memorial Chorten (Buddhist funeral monument), which is continuously circled by people, murmuring mantras and spinning prayer wheels. Construction of this landmark was the idea of Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, the father of modern Bhutan. His plan was to dedicate this monument to world peace and prosperity. It was completed in 1974 after his untimely death. Today, it serves both as a memorial to the late King and as a monument of peace.

You will also visit the Folk Heritage Museum, which houses a fascinating collection of Bhutan’s living traditions, and can chose to visit the National Textile Museums. There is a break for lunch at your lodge. You may want to change your attire at this time as the main activity today requires pants/long skirts and no bare shoulders.

Afternoon – Visit Tashichhoe Dzong, locally known as the Fortress of the Glorious Religion. Among other things, this impressive edifice is the center of the Bhutanese government. It houses the monarch’s throne room and the seat of JeKhenpo, the Chief Abbot.

Although the original dzong was built in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, it was renovated and rebuilt a couple of times over the last few centuries due to damage by fire and earthquake.

When His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk moved the nation’s capital to Thimphu in 1952, he had the dzong enlarged and renovated extensively over a five-year period. Some parts of the dzong are off limits to visitors but there are plenty of fascinating area’s that you will explore. Of particular interest is the Lowering of the Flag ceremony that is performed in the early evening. After the ceremony you will return to your lodge.

Day 13. Thimphu

Overnight – Dwarika's Hotel

This morning you will visit the Bhutan Post Office and be transported back decades when you enter. The Bhutanese are avid letter writers and this charming building is a fascinating window into their culture. Beautiful stamps are for sale and you can even have your picture taken and have stamps printed with you on them in a very short time. Mail a note to family or friends from Bhutan with you on the stamp!

Next you will enjoy a drive to Motithang Takin Preserve. This is a preserve for Bhutan’s National Animal, the Takin, which is a very rare and endangered species that is only found in Bhutan. Imagine a goat’s head on a cow’s body with a shiny thick brownish coat to protect from the wind. The creation of the Takin is also attributed to The Divine Madman. From the preserve you will return to your lodge where there is a break for lunch.

After lunch you will visit the National Library and Archives of Bhutan. This beautiful building houses the world’s largest book (protected by a glass enclosure), many other amazing Buddhist books, and great historic photos of the royal family as well as foreign dignitaries.

Later this afternoon you will walk around the quaint and charming town of Thimphu with its boutique stores, cafés, and bars. Take a short break at the Clock Tower Square, where you might get lucky and get to watch a cultural performance. Right next to it is a great photo opportunity, the only controlled intersection in Bhutan, located where the two busiest roads meet. You will return to your lodge when you are through with this excursion.

Day 14. Thimphu – Punakha

Overnight – Como Uma Punakha

You are assisted with your check-out from your lodge and driven to Dochula Pass, which lies at 10,105 feet (3,080 m). This scenic pass is home to 108 memorial Chortens (small Stupas), known as the Druk Wangyal Chortens.
There are spectacular Himalayan vistas from this pass on a clear day. The visible peaks include –

Gangkhar Puensum, the highest mountain in Bhutan at 24,836 feet (7570 m). This is widely accepted as the highest unclimbed mountain in the world.
Masagang – 23,602 feet (7,194 m)
Tsendagang – 22,835 feet 7060(6,960 m)
Terrigang – 23,163 feet (7,060 m)
Jejegangphugang – 23,484 feet (7,158 m)
Kangphugang – 23,524 feet (7,170 m)

After this you will continue on your drive to scenic Punakha. Upon your arrival in the Punakha region, you will be driven to your boutique resort that sits above Punakha and has gorgeous valley views. Enjoy a slightly late lunch and then you are free to freshen up and explore the facilities and views of your lodge.

just before you arrive at Punakha, you have the option to enjoy a stop near Chimi Lhakhand and experience a walk across fields and a village to the Chimi Lhakhand Monastery, which is located on a hillock next to a beautiful, gushing river. The small monastery of Chimi Lhakhand is dedicated to the Divine Madman. This stop is not recommended for families with children, or those who may be sensitive to what they will experience here. Please note that phallus paintings and sculptures are found in parts of Bhutan and are a part of the belief system, mainly as protectors that keep away evil spirits. The scenic village you will cross includes exposure to such explicit materials, as does the monastery to a lesser extent. This is one of The Divine Madman’s legacies.

Day 15. Punakha

Overnight – Como Uma Punakha

You are at leisure in the morning to enjoy the wonderful facilities and views of your lodge – walks around the spectacular surrounding landscape are encouraged. After a slightly early lunch you will enjoy a scenic drive to the tiny town of Punakha and proceed for a walk through the small town of Punakha with your guide and watch the locals go about their daily lives. Life here is even simpler than in Thimphu or Paro, and it takes only a short while to traverse the town.

Head further in the mid-afternoon to the awe-inspiring Punakha Dzong. All of Bhutan’s Dzong’s are a visual delight, and most are located with very scenic backdrops.

Punakha Dzong (officially Pungtang Dechen Photrang Dzong) is definitely among the very best in terms of spectacularly scenic surroundings. Located on the tip of the confluence of the Pho Chhu (father) River & the Mo Chhu (mother) River, with a scenic valley and mountains forming its backdrops, arriving at this location itself brings cheer to your heart, before you even cross the 180-foot wooden cantilevered bridge to enter the massive compound.

This is the second biggest and second oldest (1637 AD) Dzong in Bhutan and was the administrative Center of Bhutan’s government until the capital was shifted to Thimphu in 1995. Explore the structures and courtyards inside the Dzong and marvel as your guide explains how life is lived in the monastery, and tells you tales about its history and importance. Enjoy a picnic sunset drink and canapes by the river with amazing vistas – your lodge will arrange a special experience for you.

Day 16. Punakha – Paro

Overnight – Como Uma Paro

You are assisted with your check-out of your lodge and driven to Paro. On the way to Paro, you have the option of stopping for a guided visit to Simtokha Dzong. This small fortress was built in 1627 and is one of the oldest in Bhutan. The fortress currently houses the Institute for Language and Culture studies. Upon your arrival near Paro, you are assisted with your check in at your lodge. 

Enjoy lunch and a short break before your next experience.

Mid-afternoon – The valley of Paro contains many amazing attractions, crowned by the awe-inspiring Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery, which is on your schedule for tomorrow. Proceed on the short drive, or a delightful walk (a little over a mile), to the National Museum of Bhutan, Ta Dzong. Ta Dzong was originally a watchtower built to defend Rinpung Dzong during the local Bhutanese wars of the 17th century. It was inaugurated as Bhutan’s National Museum in 1968. It houses a wealth of artifacts ranging from about 4000 BC to modern times.

After the museum you will walk 5 minutes to the adjacent Rinpung Dzong (Fortress that sits on a Heap of Jewels). Like other Bhutanese Dzong’s, it has a long and fascinating history and is an excellent example of Bhutanese architecture. Along the wooden galleries lining the inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore. It was built in the 16th century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan. Currently the dzong houses the monastic body of Paro, the office of the Dzongda (District Administrative Head) and Thrimpon (Judge) of Paro district. Access to the dzong is across a traditional covered cantilever bridge called Nemi Zam. You can choose to either walk or drive back to your wonderful lodge after exploring the Dzong.

Day 17. Paro

Overnight – Como Uma Paro

Proceed for an excursion to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery, the most famous Bhutanese monastery, and the nation’s signature landmark. A packed snack will be provided by your lodge for this excursion.

Perched precariously on a small bluff on the side of a mountain, 3000 feet (900 meters) above the Paro valley, its actual elevation is 10,240 feet (3120 meters).

Guru Rinpoche (also known as Padmasambhava in Himalayan India, Tibet and surrounding regions) arrived here in the 8th century and meditated in a mountain cave for 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days and 3 hours. The original monastery was built in 1692 but has since expanded and the main building of the monastery burnt down in 1998 but has since been reconstructed. The incredibly scenic monastery has to be experienced to be believed – no photo can do it justice. The guided trek up to, and down from, the monastery takes three to five hours, depending on whether you are fairly fit, or a very experienced, trekker. There are ponies available for those who do not want to make the trek. Even if you choose not to take the trek or even go up to the monastery, visiting this valley for its incredible views is a must.

The path to Tiger’s Nest takes you to a vantage point that is actually a little above the monastery, and there is a café located here for refreshments. This is where most of the published photos of the monastery are taken from – there is no view of the whole monastery once you actually get up to it. You will now proceed to descend for a while before climbing again to arrive at the Tiger’s Nest. Enjoy an exploration of the monastery and experience the lives of the monks that inhabit this legendary campus. The Bhutanese believe that Guru Rinpoche arrived here riding on a flying tigress, which some legends say was Queen Yeshe Tsogyal (his consort, and the mother of Tibetan Buddhism) who was transformed into a tigress for this journey. The cave where Guru Rinpoche meditated is called Pel Pfuk, and the monastery is built on the bluff adjoining it and other caves, such as Tholu Pfuk, the cave that he first entered upon arrival.

Afternoon – return to the valley and drive back to Paro, stopping at Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom. The original structure of this temple was constructed in the 7th century by a Tibetan king, but many repairs and renovations have occurred over the centuries. There is a small steady stream of Paro’s residents visiting the shrine to pray, and the two orange trees in its compound are said to bear fruit throughout the year.

Day 18. Paro – International Flight

You are assisted with your check-out in the morning and driven to the airport and assisted in boarding your flight to your next destination – all flights tend to depart from Paro at some time in the morning. Bhutan has multiple daily flights to a number of cities in India, but unless you are planning to visit India, this is not an ideal solution for most guests because of India’s visa and other requirements. Flights from Bhutan cannot be ticketed in conjunction with any other airline, thereby requiring that you go through arrival and departure procedures at the connecting airport. There are fairly frequent flights to Bangkok, and two or three times a week to Singapore, both of which do not require visa’s etc. for U.S. citizens and the arrival and departure processes are easy. We are available to consult with our guests with guidance/assistance for your departure from Bhutan, and at any of the connecting countries.

Destinations Lodgings
Dwarika's Resort - Executive Suite with Terrace
Taj Meghauli Serai – Rapti Mahal Suite with Pool
The Pavilions Himalaya Lakeview – Royal Lake View Tented Villa
Dwarika's Hotel – Heritage Executive Suite
The Postcard Dewa – Luxury Room
Como Uma Punakha – One Bedroom Villa
Como Uma Paro – One Bedroom Villa

Winter 24/25 Availability is Limited
High Season Pricing Not Incl. Dec 20 – Jan 5
Please call us at 512 387 1111
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Price Per Person

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Internal Flight Costs
Business/Coach Class - $646.00* Per Person

These are Smart Fares. Cancellation and Change Fees Apply.

Business Class Flights Included In Internal Flight Costs:
Kathmandu – Paro
Coach Class Flights Included In Internal Flight Costs:
Kathmandu – Bharatpur, Pokhara – Kathmandu

Prices subject to change until booked.

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