The Cultural Heartland ​

4.5/5
4.5/5
DEPARTURE DATE

15 - 25 November, 2020

DURATION

11Days | 10Nights

PLACES COVERED

Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue, Bumthang, Mongar and Trashigang

FROM $2,290

  • USD 2,690 for 1 person Traveling
  • USD 2,590 for 2 person Traveling
  • USD 2,290 for 3 and more person Traveling
THE CULTURAL HEARTLAND ​

Eastern Bhutan Tour

The first portion of your tour will be in western Bhutan. Some highlights will be the visit to the Third King’s memorial stupa and Buddha statue in Thimphu and the majestic Punakha Fortress, the ancient capital city. As you drive from Punakha through pine and rhododendron forests, you will arrive Bumthang which is a vast valley comprising of four other valleys. After two days in Central Bhutan, you will start your long-awaited journey to the East. In the east, you will visit Trashigang, the largest Bhutanese district. Visit Radhi to watch the meticulous weaving of unique raw silk textiles.

The annual festival held in Trashigang is yet another highlight which is centuries-old remote local festival. You will be fortunate to find only yourself among the locals. The festival is also frequented by nearby locals and people from Merak and Sakten who are semi-nomadic yak herders. You will get to witness their indigenous culture and interesting garments. Unlike in other districts where mask dances are performed by monks, here they are done so by lay people in an unaltered form. Exit Samdrup Jongkhar for Guwahati. The drive through Indian plains is marked by small tea gardens, scattered villages and small cities. You will depart from Guwahati airport.

ITINERARY

The flight to Paro crosses the Himalayan Mountains, affording spectacular views of the majestic peaks, including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks. On arrival you will be greeted by the guide. If your flight is in the morning you will visit the Rinpung Dzong meaning “fortress of the heap of jewels”. It has a long and fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the courtyard of the Rinpung Dzong are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore. You will walk downhill till the road point crossing the traditional wooden bridge. Your vehicle will be waiting here to take you to Kichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred in the country. Evening is at your leisure, you can explore Paro town. Overnight at a hotel in Paro.

Morning, you drive to Thimphu, the capital. On arrival the visit Memorial Chorten built in memory
of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972, the Folk Heritage Museum and the world’s tallest Buddha statue at Kuenselphodrang made of bronze measuring 52m. Afternoon onwards you
can be of your own and stroll around Thimphu City. You can spend time visiting handicraft stores for souvenir shopping. Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.

After breakfast this morning, enjoy a scenic drive to Punakha with a stop for tea at the Dochu La pass (3140m), where on a clear day you can get spectacular views of the Himalayas. From the pass
we drive downhill through forests of rhododendron, fir and hemlock. You will arrive Punakha after traveling through rice fields and along the banks of Punakha River. On the way, you will stop at
Metshina Village and take a 20-minute walk through the rice fields to Chimi Lhakhang, which is a fertility temple, dedicated to the Divine Madman, a man who was known for his earthly sense of
humour and non-conventional methods of imparting teachings. After lunch, visit the Punakha
Dzong, which is stunningly situated in between the male and female rivers like an anchored ship. Overnight at a hotel in Punakha.

Today you will drive to Bumthang from Punakha. En route you will see the Wangdue Dzong which is
under construction, and as you drive up through fir and rhododendron forests you arrive at Pele La pass (3420m) marked by few roadside stands and a chorten. The road then descends through dwarf bamboo forests to Chendebji Chorten, which was built in the 18th century by Lama Shida in Nepalese style with eyes painted at four cardinal points. You will make a quick stop here. After
lunch, you can visit Trongsa Dzong, a masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture and also one of the biggest Dzongs in Bhutan. After this, you can browse through the shops in Trongsa town. On the way
from Trongsa, you will also stop at a yathra factory in Zhungney. Yathra is a textile made from sheep wool designed with patterns unique to Bumthang. You can even watch some of the weavers at their looms. Continue your drive through the vast lowland and arrive Bumthang. Overnight at a
hotel in Bumthang.

Sightseeing in Bumthang may include the historic Jakar Dzong, Kurjey Lhakhang, associated with Guru Rimpoche, who brought Tantric Buddhism to Bhutan and Tibet. You will visit Jambey Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan, dating from the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan. After lunch, you will also have a chance to tour Tamshing Lhakhang, built in 1501 by the
Buddhist saint Pema Lingpa a treasure house of interesting religious Buddhist paintings. In the evening, you can visit shops in Bumthang town. Overnight at a hotel in Bumthang.

You will begin your journey to eastern Bhutan, which is different from western and central Bhutan in terms of development and lifestyle. You’ll pass through Ura village. It has a medieval look to it because of the cobblestone streets, and the typical clothing of the women which includes a sheepskin shawl. Continue on the drive to Mongar. The steepness of the region lends itself to some
spectacular views, with rushing waterfalls and sheer drops. Drive for an exhilarating 6 hours,
particularly the Thrumshing La (pass), which peaks at 3,750 meters. Stop for your picnic lunch at the Pass enjoying the scenic views. You can walk on the certain stretches of road to relax your
muscles while your car will be following behind you. As you drive downhill you will pass through the small Sengor village and then to the Namling Waterfall. A final climb up to Yong Khola and a drop to Lingmethang to enjoy a warm breeze. After crossing Kuri Zampa bridge and further up you arrive
Mongar. Check into the hotel on arrival at Mongar. You can wander around Mongar town in the evening and sit down to a relaxing dinner. Overnight at a hotel in Mongar.

You will trace your journey back to Mongar and continue on to Trashigang. From Mongar the road ascends a while to Kori La pass (2400m) marked by a café and a few prayer flags. As you descend
from the pass you will cross Yadi, a small town. Continue your drive to cross the Sherichhu river bridge at 600m. The road from here is almost flat till Dangme Chhu river bridge from where you
ascend till Trashigang. You will notice that Trashigang is a compact and bustling town fitting its role as a business hub in eastern Bhutan. Overnight at a hotel in Trashigang.

After breakfast, you will drive to explore Rangjung, located on the bank of the river. Visit the Rangjung Monastery, founded by His Eminence Garab Rinpoche. You will then drive to Radhi and Phongmey Villages, which are renowned for “bura” gho and kira, a textile made from raw silk. You can even see women weaving it in their homes. You can have your picnic lunch in one of the farmhouses. If lucky, you will see a few Brokpas, semi-nomadic yak herders from Merak and Sakteng who have come to barter their Yak butter, cheese and dried meat with other food commodities. Later in the evening, you will drive back to Trashigang for your night halt.

Today day you will attend a full day festival in Trashigang. This festival is meant to disseminate Buddhist teachings to onlookers by way of various mask dances performed by lay people. Nearby locals and people from Merak and Sakten who are semi-nomadic yak herders also frequent this festival. This festival is rarely visited by western visitors. You will be able to mingle and rejoice
with the locals. Overnight at a hotel in Trashigang.

After breakfast, you will drive back to Samdrup Jongkhar. En route, you
will visit small towns that are on alongside the highway. Overnight at a
hotel in Samdrup Jongkhar.

In the morning, drive to the airport for departure. Our representative
will bid you farewell.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Entry, Exit and Connecting Flights

You will fly into Paro International Airport from connecting cities. Drukair and Tashi Airlines are the two local airlines which fly in and out of Bhutan from Bangkok, Delhi, Kathmandu, Singapore, Kolkotta, Baghdora, Guwahati and Dhaka. After touring across western Bhutan, central Bhutan and finally the East you will exit through Samdrup Jongkhar; in southeast bordering Assam, India. You will drive to Guwahati, the nearest airport for 110 km 3 hours to connect your flight to Bangkok, Delhi, or to other Indian cities.

The Road Journey

The drive to the East from western and central Bhutan long and exhilarating. Each moment of your drive will be a new experience because of changing landscapes, meeting people of different ethnicities and crossing over high passes and through varied vegetation.

Hotel Accommodations

We do our utmost to select and choose accommodations with good ambiance. However, as the East is comparatively less developed, the facilities are limited than in other regions. Although the accommodations will be modest and simple it will have basic necessities. We will also host you in comfortable lodges and farmhouses. The host or service providers are simple and friendly.

COST INCLUDE

  • All meals
  • Tea and snacks
  • Accommodations
  • Transport
  • Permits
  • Visa fee
  • Entrance fees
  • Guide services
  • Sightseeing

COST EXCLUDE

  • Insurance
  • Tips
  • Drinks and beverages
  • Laundry
  • Phone / inetrnet
  • Other personal bills

OTHER EASTERN TOUR

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