Discover the beauty of Bhutan - Land of the Thunder Dragon - on this tailor-made tour. Stroll the busy streets of Thimphu, where the modern world meets traditional Bhutanese culture and travel to Jakar, the religious heartland of the country, located deep in the Bumthang Valleys. A hike to the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery, perched precariously on the side of a cliff will reward travellers with exceptional views of the surrounding Paro Valley.
Fly to Kathmandu.
Land in Kathmandu, Nepal. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel, where you have the rest of the day at leisure to relax and recuperate from your travels.
Return to Kathmandu airport this morning and fly to Paro in Bhutan. Land and drive to Thimphu, where you can enjoy some preliminary sightseeing if time allows. Enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel. (B,D)
Today will be spent exploring the laid-back capital of Thimphu, Bhutan's most advanced city. There are a lot of interesting things to see in the city including the national library, which is home to some excellent Bhutanese architecture and the world's largest published book. Also visit a thangkha painting school, the memorial chorten, a gold and silversmiths workshop and the nunnery at Zilukha. Enjoy a coffee in the popular Swiss Bakery. Keep an eye out for the white-gloved policeman tasked with directing traffic - there are no traffic lights in Thimpu! Overnight in Thimphu. (B,L,D)
Strike out on the three hour drive to Punakha, the former winter capital of Bhutan and the administrative seat of the district. Stop for coffee and tea at the Dochula Pass (3,150m), where you may be able to enjoy a stunning view of the Eastern Himalayas if the weather is clear. Visit the newly-built "Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chortens", an incredible monument to His Majesty the King made up of a huge cluster of Namgyel Khangzang Chortens. Further along the route, stop at Messina to take a short walk through the paddy fields and farm houses to the temple of Chimi Lhakhang. Arrive into the lower-lying (1,300m) Punakha Valley in the afternoon and visit the pretty town of Punakha Dzong. (B,L,D)
In the morning, make the scenic drive to Phobjikha (roughly three hours) through forests of oak trees. Once you have arrived, hike the Gangtey Nature Trail (one to two hours). This is a beautiful walk that takes you through hamlets, beautiful forests, flower meadows and past temples and crane feeding grounds. Alternatively, take a leisurely walk in the Phobjikha Valley and visit the Black-Necked Crane Information Centre, and the small school in the village of Beta if you are interested. (B,L,D)
Drive to Bumthang Valleys this morning, a route that usually takes five to six hours. The scenery you will pass is simply stunning, as the road wends its way upwards through forests to the Pele La (3,300m). Descend from the pass to the Trongsa, where you can visit Trongsa Dzong and a wonderful museum. Later in the day, cross the Yotong La Pass (3,425m) and begin the descent into the valley of Bumthang, the heart of Bhutan's weaving industry and home to many of the country's most impressive temples. (B,L,D)
Spend today exploring the Bumthang Valleys. These valleys are among the most sacred in the Kingdom, and innumerable legends surround the region. There is an incredible density of temples and monasteries. You have a number of sightseeing options for today, including Kurjey Lhakhang, Jambay Lhakhang (dating back to the 7th century), Tamshing Goemba, and Konchongsum Lhakhang, which has spawned many fascinating myths and stories. (B,L,D)
Catch the tiny local flight to Paro, where you will be met and driven to the National Museum. It holds a fantastic collection of Bhutanese national treasures, and its location makes it well worth a visit in its own right, as it is housed in an old watchtower above the massive fortress-monastery of Paro Dzong. Overnight in Paro. (B,L,D)
If you choose to do so, you can hike to Taktshang Monastery - also known as "Tiger's Nest Monastery". It is the iconic image of Bhutan and for many people the highlight of their holiday. The walk is truly special, with stunning scenery and architecture, and an overwhelming sense of sanctity and peace. Return to Paro and visit Kyichu Lhakhang, which dates back to the 7th century AD. (B)
Take a morning flight back to Kathmandu. Visit some of the 50 temples in the vicinity of the city, including the 17th century Durbar complex, Hanuman Dhoka, and Paravati Temple. Duck into the hustle and bustle of the market that surrounds the historical monuments, where you'll find stalls selling everything from fresh vegetables to souvenir hawkers. You'll also visit UNESCO World Heritage-listed Swayambhunath (also known as the "Monkey Temple"), believed to have been established over 2,500 years ago. (B,L)
Return to Kathmandu airport and board your flight back to the UK. (B)