SPRING IN THE KINGDOM OF BHUTAN

Savor beautiful spring in Bhutan as we introduce you to our favorite places and people in the Kingdom. We take you to Paro, nestled in the beautiful Paro Valley with ancient temples and monasteries and its pleasant small town vibe. Next visit Thimphu, Bhutan's small capital, but full of sights both modern and ancient, and here you will meet many of our Bhutanese friends, involved in fascinating endeavors you will find interesting and admirable, as so many of these ventures are designed to help Bhutan and its journey into the modern world, while maintaining Bhutan's commitment to self reliance and environmental safeguards. Punakha with its beautiful monasteries and forested hills makes for great hiking and offers many spectacular sights. The high altitude Phobjikha Valley is unique as its a broad glacial scoured landscape, with expansive views, great walks and quaint villages. Trongsa with its mountainside location, immense fortified monastery and lovely village like setting will dazzle you with its unique brand of Bhutanese splendor. Champaca Journeys finds this time of year in Bhutan is exceptionally beautiful. On this 14-night journey we provide an intimate look at the country and plenty of opportunity to connect with its people. You will meet our many local friends as you travel across this lovely country. Prepare for a journey that both stimulates and relaxes as we explore this remarkable land. This journey will be co-lead by Champaca Journeys' founder John Leupold and Bhutan's trailblazing fashion and culture blogger, Karma Wangchuk of Bhutan Street Fashion.

DAY-BY-DAY ITINERARY

DAY 1: TUESDAY, April 18

Arrival in Bhutan

Arrive Paro and check into hotel, and then we go into Paro town to explore this small but important and interesting town. Enjoy your first Bhutanese meal in one of our favorite restaurants. Afternoon drive to the end of Paro Valley to visit the ancient Drukyel Dzong (fortified monastery). Welcome dinner at hotel.

Overnight at Olathang Hotel.

(Lunch,Dinner)

DAY 2: WEDNESDAY, April 19

Explore Paro, onward to Thimphu

Morning visit to Paro Dzong, a fortified monastery, constructed nearly 4 centuries ago and still in use today, followed by visit to nearby museum. Ninety-minute afternoon drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. Our Bhutanese friends will join us for an evening on the town.

Overnight at Druk Hotel.

(B,L,D)

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DAY 3: THURSDAY, April 20

Get acquainted with Thimphu, capital of Bhutan

Full day to explore Thimphu. We’ll visit the famed National Textile Museum and the Folk Heritage Museum. Both of these venues provide a good introduction to Bhutan and its history. Afternoon free to explore Thimphu on your own or with guides. Dinner with our Bhutanese friends. 

Overnight at Druk Hotel.

(B,L,D)

DAY 4: FRIDAY, April 21

Hike to monastery and meet with monks

Morning 2-hour hike to Cheri Monastery. Built in 1750 and impressively perched above the Thimphu valley, surrounded by pine and rhododendron forest. Few foreigners visit this sacred site, with its impressive Buddha statues and religious school. Return to Thimphu for lunch, then we drive 3 hours to Punakha, the drive takes us over the scenic pass of Dochu-La, at 10,300 feet. 

Overnight at Dhumra Resort.

(B,L,D)

DAY 5: SATURDAY, April 22

Explore sub-tropical Punakha

The morning will be spent exploring the lovely Punakha Dzong

(fortified monastery), architecturally and aesthetically one of the most beautiful of Bhutan's dzongs. Lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, and then meet with one of Bhutan's renown weavers, for a presentation of her textile collection. Late afternoon we visit the pedestrian suspension bridge, for a thrilling walk over the river.

Overnight at Dhumra Resort.

(B,L,D)

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DAY 6: SUNDAY, April 23

Hike in the Beautiful Punakha Hills

We drive high into the hills above Punakha to visit Nalanda Monastery. Both remote and beautiful, and seldom visited by tourists, both the drive to the mountain top location and the monastery visit are fascinating. After exploring the monastery, we begin our downhill hike, though forest and field and tiny villages. Our vehicle awaits us to take us back into town for lunch and then back to hotel.

Overnight at Dhumra Resort.

(B,L,D)

DAY 7: MONDAY, April 24

Punakha to Trongsa

We depart after breakfast for the 4-hour drive across the dramatic Black Mountains, to reach Trongsa late in the day. The drive is spectacular and the destination equally so, Trongsa with its immense dzong and isolated mountain location never fails to impress visitors. Our guide is from Trongsa and will provide introductions to family and friends that will make your visit all the more memorable.

Overnight at Yangkhil Resort.

DAY 8: TUESDAY, April 25

Explore Trongsa

We will begin our day with a visit to the Trongsa Dzong, the most massive and impressive of all of Bhutan's fortified monasteries. Later in the day we will drive 20 kilometers to the south where we encounter the Winter Palace of the Third King. Little visited, you will find yourselves transported to the days of yore in Bhutan. Our guide will arrange picnic with family and friends in a beautiful location.

Overnight at Yangkhil Resort.

(B,L,D)

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DAY 9: WEDNESDAY, April 26

Trongsa to Phobjikha

This morning we say farewell to Trongsa and drive to the Phobjikha Valley, a broad glacial valley, unique in Bhutan, and renown for its beauty. The valley is great place to hike and observe scenery not seen elsewhere in Bhutan. After checking into hotel we begin our exploration of the valley. The late is afternoon free to wander near the hotel.

Overnight at ABC Eco-Lodge.

(B,L,D)

DAY 10: THURSDAY, April 27

Phobjikha

This morning we drive to the main village in the valley to visit the Gangtey

Monastery. Under renovation for the past several years, we may see craftsmen at work as we explore this ancient temple. A gentle 3 hour hike takes us from the village of Gangtey through forest and field to the valley floor. Late afternoon free to explore on your own.

Overnight at ABC Eco-Lodge.

 

(B,L,D)

DAY 11: FRIDAY, April 28

Phobjikha to Thimphu

Return to Thimphu today. Afternoon free to explore on your own or with guides. Friday night out on the town with our Bhutanese friends.

Overnight at Druk Hotel.

(B,L,D)

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DAY 12: SATURDAY, April 29

Thimphu

Today we explore more of Thimphu with visits to local artists and weavers, painting and textiles are 2 of Bhutan's most well known arts and we will introduce you to some of the best  of these artisans. You can admire their work, or purchase if you wish. For those feeling more energetic, we have an afternoon hike into the hills above Thimphu.

Overnight at Druk Hotel.

(B,L,D)

DAY 13: SUNDAY, April 30

Thimphu to Paro

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Free morning in Thimphu to relax or explore with guides. After lunch we drive to Paro and settle into our hotel, the award winning Zhiwa Ling Hotel, one of the finest hotels in the world and part of National Geographic's 'Unique Lodges of the World' collection.

 

(B,L,D)

DAY 14: MONDAY, May 1

Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery

After breakfast we drive 10 minutes to base of mountain where Taksang is located. Also known as Tiger’s Nest Monastery, and probably the most iconic building in all Bhutan, it is perched on a cliff 2,700’ above the valley floor. Bhutanese say that the Guru Rimpoche arrived here in the back of a flying tiger in 746 CE, and meditated in a mountain cave for 3 months. The site has since been sacred and a monastery has been constructed to commemorate his visit. Taksang is a pilgrimage site for all Bhutanese who gain merit by making the ascent. You too can gain merit while by making the 3-hour ascent and visiting the monastery seemingly glued to the barest concavity of the cliff face. After descending we’ll have lunch in Paro, then return to the Zhiwa Ling Hotel for optional hot stone bath or spa treatments. Farewell dinner this evening.

(B,L,D)

DAY 15: TUESDAY, May 2

Departure

Time to relax at hotel before we depart for airport mid morning for onward flight.

(B)

PRICES & REGISTRATION INFORMATION

(Inclusive of food, non-alcoholic beverages, accommodations, ground transportation, entrance fees, services of licensed Bhutanese guide and driver, services of USA based trip leader, Bhutanese visa and airport taxes.)

$7600. (Based on double occupancy)

$8600. (Based on single occupancy)

NOTE: International airfare, gratuities, alcoholic beverages with meals, laundry, souvenirs, items of a personal nature and travel insurance are NOT included.

GENERAL INFORMATION

INTERNATIONAL AIRFARE

Bhutan is accessed most easily from Bangkok, Thailand from where there are daily flights. Flights always depart in the early morning and participants should give themselves at least 24-hour layover in Bangkok in the event flight to Bangkok is delayed. Fares are subject to change without notice.

 

BANGKOK-PARO, BHUTAN-BANGKOK, $875. ROUND TRIP, economy class
BANGKOK-PARO, BHUTAN-BANGKOK, $1245. ROUND TRIP, business class

Flights are with DRUKAIR, ROYAL BHUTAN AIRLINES, operating Airbus 319 jets.