Into the Heart of Bhutan
Eastern Bhutan is one of the least explored regions of the kingdom and offers authentic experiences for adventure travellers. The entire region is awash in unspoiled natural beauty. The lush, breath-taking environments of Eastern Bhutan, make it a perfect location for day hikes or longer treks. The journey from Bumthang to Mongar crosses over a 4,000-metre high Thrumsingla Pass. At Lhuntse, the landscape is spectacular with stark cliffs and gorges.
Trashigang, on the old road to Tibet, is today the junction of east west highway, connecting Bhutan and India. Travelling in the East, you will experience the country’s most ancient spiritual practices while observing animistic and Bon religious rituals. During market days, you will meet semi nomadic people with costumes, even unique in Bhutan. Accommodation in Eastern Bhutan are a bit more basic than other parts of country but you will experience the unbridled warmth and hospitality of the locals during a homestay.
TRAVEL UNTAMED ON THIS 12-DAY EASTERN BHUTAN ADVENTURE...
And, experience Bhutan’s remote valleys of Trashigang, Mongar and Bumthang.
Bhutan is unsurpassed in its unique Himalayan beauty and vibrant culture. Set in the shadows of the world’s greatest concentration of mountain peaks, it is probably the last country on earth where modernisation hasn’t devalued social and cultural life. It is easy to appreciate the government of Bhutan’s decision to limit tourism to a few thousand visitors a year.
Your adventure begins in Guwahati, India from where you drive through the remote corner of Eastern Bhutan, rarely visited by Western travellers. Those who do, describe it as a unique, deeply spiritual and mystical experience.
Eastern Bhutan is the remotest and the most interesting part of Bhutan, it is like travelling back into time. The people here have simple needs; they cultivate land to produce enough for the family, anything extra is shared with others in the market. They make their own cloth and their fashion is limited to oil soot they use as mascara. There is time to contemplate, pray in gompas and meditate. For entertainment they have religious festivals which are many and for the rest of the time they have free beer (the local brew).
Next, we journey into Central Bhutan via Himalayan passes offering great vistas and visit Bumthang, the most spectacular valley in Bhutan and also the heartland of Buddhism. Then travel to Tongsa to see the most impressive dzong in Bhutan and to Punakha, the winter capital located in a sub-tropical valley and visit the stunning Punakha Dzong.
We continue our journey to Western Bhutan, with a comprehensive touring in Thimphu, Bhutan's charming capital. Explore its many cultural attractions and important Buddhist highlights. The tour concludes in Paro but not before trekking to the Tiger's Nest, a breathtaking monastery clinging to a cliff that is one of the most important icons of Bhutan.
This is our most comprehensive tour of Bhutan. It is designed with an eye on photographers and those who would like to understand its culture, history and religion in more detail. The accommodation in smaller towns/ remote areas can be basic. Sometimes there might be only one hotel available. But we have selected some of the best 5 star accommodation in major towns, such as Uma in Punakha, Taj Tashi in Thimphu and Zhiwa Ling in Paro.
Into the Heart of Bhutan Experience its culture and learn the secrets of achieving happiness.
Samdrup Jongkhar, Trashigang, Mongar, Bumthang, Punakha, Thimphu, Paro
(12 Days – Travel Any Day)
Bhutan, is a small Buddhist country amid the high Himalayas which has a huge ambition to achieve Gross National Happiness. Today the principles of the GNH as applied in Bhutan are being studied worldwide. It is probably the last country on earth where modernisation hasn’t devalued social and cultural life but has increased happiness.
Day 1 – Arrive Guwahati,India,
Samdrup Jongkhar/Bhutan On arrival at the Guwahati airport, you will be received by our representative who will escort you to your hotel in Samdrup Jonghkar in Bhutan. The drive takes about 3 hours.
Samdrup Jongkhar – B, (Local Restaurant – L, D)
Day 2 & 3 – Transfer & Explore
Trashigang The journey from Jongkhar to Trashigang is long (180 km/ 6 hr) but you will pass through some interesting scenery and locations like Deothang, the site of a famous 19th century battle against the British.
Next day visit some ancient temples like the Gom Kora, where Guru Rinpoche is said to have subdued a demon and Doksum village, known for traditional Bhutanese fabric. Also visit Trashiyangtse on the ancient caravan route and the dazzling white stupa of Chorten Kora.
Trashigang – B, (Local Restaurant – L, D)
Day 4 – Explore
Mongar Our drive to Mongar is via Drametse temple, where the famous Drametse Nga Chham (masked dance with drums) originated and is proclaimed “Masterpiece of the World Intangible Heritage” by UNESCO. (3 hr drive/91 km)
Mongar – B, (Local Restaurant – L, D)
Day 5 & 6 – Explore
Bumthang We continue our drive (193 km/ 6-7 hr) over the mountain passes to the valley of Bumthang region, located in the heart of the country and one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan. It is a group of four valleys with altitudes varying from 8,530- 13,125 feet. This is the sacred heartland of Bhutan with the revered birthplace of many saints to whom the Bhutanese royalty trace their lineage.
In Bumthang, visit the Wangdichhoeling, home to the royal family and the grand Kurjey Lhakhang, once the resting place of the Buddhist saint Padmasambhava, popularly known as ‘Guru Rimpoche’ and Jambay Lhakhang, one of 108 Buddhist temples built in the 8th century by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo, where the early winter festivals draw thousands of Bhutanese for their annual blessings.
Ya Gharling hotel – B, (Local Restaurant – L, D)
Day 7 & 8 – Explore
Punakha Our drive via Trongsa is over the Yutong-la pass (3,400m) and the Pele-la pass (3,300m) that marks the traditional boundary between the east and the west. Punakha, the old winter capital is located in a sub-tropical valley with warm summers and pleasant winters. (7-8 hr drive/257 km)
Next day in Punakha Valley begins with a hike up through the fields along the banks of the Mo Chhu to the upper end of the valley. On return, visit the impressive Punakha Dzong, the winter residence of the monastic order’s leader and his entourage of monks. Time permitting, visit Chimi Lhakhang, the temple of fertility and dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, known locally as the ‘Divine Madman’.
Uma hotel – B, (Local Restaurant – L, D)
Day 9 – Explore
Thimphu Take a comprehensive tour of Thimphu with your private guide and driver to see the highlights, including the Trashi Chhoe Dzong, the seat of Bhutan’s government, the Pangri Zampa, two 16th century buildings, and a short hike to Cheri Gompa, the monastery where the first monastic body was established in the Kingdom.
Taj Tashi hotel – B, (Local Restaurant – L, D)
Day 10 & 11 – Explore
Paro Driving back to Paro is equally interesting, catching on the Himalayan views that you might have missed on your way in. Set in a pine forest here, you will find the Amankora lodge and its spa. In the afternoon, there is an opportunity for a quick stroll to the nearby ruins, a visit to some of the valley’s oldest and holiest religious monuments or a ramble down Paro’s main street.
In the morning, take in a tour Ta Dzong (watchtower) and the dominating Paro Dzong, a fine example of Bhutanese historic architecture. Then hike to Taktsang Gompa monastery (‘Tiger’s Nest’), a breathtaking monastery clings to a sheer cliff face 900m above the Paro Valley. It is said that Guru Rimpoche, a great Buddhist sage, flew on a tigress in the 8th century and meditated in the cave there before he introduced Buddhism here. A round-trip hike takes about 3-4 hours.
Zhiwa Ling Hotel – B, (Local Restaurant – L, D)
Day 12 – Airport Transfer
Depart Paro Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
Make this your holiday
Getting There Flights are available to Bangkok or New Delhi from major UK cities on a variety of carriers. From there flights are with Druk Air. We will arrange your flight tickets and visa clearance details and forward them to the Druk office at the airport from which the flight originates.
Getting Around: Transfers from Paro airport in Bhutan for this tour will be arranged by AwimAway. On your arrival our representative will be waiting for you at the airport with your private car and driver. The car willbe available to you for sightseeing excursions or shopping trips at your convenience, and can be used to travel throughout Bhutan by road.
When to go Winter in Bhutan is from mid-November till mid-March, and at this time of the year the climate is dry and sunny for the most part, temperatures peaking at around 15c. in the daytime and falling below zero at night. During the spring months of March, April and May, Bhutan offers warm days and cool nights. It is a great time for treks and to watch the flora and the many birds of Bhutan.
By the middle of June, clouds begin to build up for the monsoon that arrives in July. By mid-September the monsoon clouds have all but dried and the skies begin to clear. The two-month window between October and November offers clear skies but it can be cold in the night. It is also a good time for trekking deep into the Himalayas, sitting around a camp fire and seeing the high Himalayas in the morning and evening golden light.
Passport/ Visa Land entry: AwimAway.com representatives will meet you at Bagdogra airport in West Bengal to escort you to the land border at Phuentsholing and handle entry formalities for you.
Air entry: If you are coming by air, we will forward your flight tickets and visa clearance details to the Druk Air station at which the flight originates. Please have ready at hand any documentation we have sent you concerning this, or your tour. Kindly be at the check-in counter two hours before the expected departure time for your flight.
Passport & visa arrangements: Your passport should be valid for at least a month after your planned date of departure from Bhutan. Passports are stamped when you arrive, and the visa is valid for two weeks, but can easily be extended in Thimphu if your stay in our country is longer.