09 December 2016
Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon, is certainly no ordinary place. It is a country where Gross National Happiness is seen as more important than Gross National Product, where the rice is red and where chillies aren’t just a seasoning but can be the entire dish. It’s also a deeply Buddhist land, where men wear a tunic to work. Tourism in Bhutan is also unique, and on this short trip you will discover why. What you won’t find is backpacker-style independent travel . . . this is Nepal for the jet set. It is also a country of surprises - Bhutan straddles the ancient and modern world and these days you’ll find monks transcribing ancient texts into computers as traditionally dressed noblemen chat on mobile phones. Touring here you will become one of the few who have experienced the charm and magic of one of the world’s most enigmatic countries – the ‘last Shangri La’
After arriving at the airport you will be met by one of our tour representatives and driven the 10 minutes to your hotel. After unpacking and settling in, your first foray into the Kingdom begins with sightseeing in Paro town and a visit to a local temple. In the afternoon you will have time to acclimatise to the rarefied air at this altitude and to get to know your guide, who will offer some additional sightseeing options for the rest of the day depending on your interests and energy levels.
Today you take a winding walk through pine forests high above Uma Paro to the pretty grounds of the fortress-like monastery of Zurig Dzong. Traverse across to Ta Dzong, housing Bhutan’s National Museum with magnificent views over Paro, and on down to Rinpung Dzong (Fortress on a Heap of Jewels). The trail then leads across Paro Chhu river) via the traditional covered bridge Nyamai Zam and then past the main archery ground and into Paro town. You then drive a few miles north to pay your respects at Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan with its magical orange tree that bears fruit all year round. Then drive further up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong.
One of the most amazing and important pieces of architecture in Bhutan is Taktsang Goemba. Legend has it that this cliff side was where Guru Rinpoche landed on the back of a flying tigress, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan from Tibet. To avoid the hot sun you make an early start for the two-hour climb to the Tiger’s Nest viewpoint. Descending steeply, you then climb up to the monastery, passing a waterfall and entering through the main gates which are decorated with murals. You then retrace your steps or head further up to see remote temples and monasteries. Return to Paro in the afternoon to relax and enjoy the facilities including the steam rooms, swimming pool or a Bhutanese Hot Stone Bath.
Today your short but eventful tour of this mountain Kingdom comes to an end. Time for some last minute sightseeing or souvenir shopping in Paro before you are picked up at your hotel and driven back to the airport to catch an onward flight or begin your journey home taking with you lasting memories of Shangri La.
Superior Forest View fr £1422pp
Deluxe Valley View fr £1573pp
Como Suite fr £1823pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated