MARCH BHUTAN ADVENTURE

We offer this new itinerary to regions in Bhutan that are not typically visited by tourists; the remote southern Royal Manas National Park, home to jungle and jungle animals, unique eco-lodges and rafting on the rivers. We also visit Bumthang, known as Bhutan's cultural heartland, and the region near Gelephu and the southern mountains, called by some the most beautiful in Bhutan (though we think this is a tough call, as all the mountains are gorgeous in our opinion). We'll also visit Trongsa, home to Bhutan's largest Dzong (fortified monastery) and one of the Kingdom's best museums, sub-tropical Punakha with its many exquisite monasteries and temples, the capital of Thimphu with its laid back Himalayan vibe and finally Paro, location of Bhutan's most iconic monastery, Tiger's Nest. You will meet our many local friends as you travel across this lovely country, these people will help make your visit more interesting (and a lot more fun). 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: THURSDAY, March 9

Arrival in Bhutan

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Arrive Paro and check into hotel. Today we have relaxed day exploring Paro and some of the sights of this small town. Drive to the end of the Paro valley, enjoying the scenery along the way, and visit the ancient Drukyel Dzong, (fortified monastery), now restored to its former grandeur. Welcome dinner at hotel.

Overnight at Olathang Hotel.

(Lunch,Dinner)

DAY 2: FRIDAY, March 10

Flight to Bumthang

Morning 30-minute flight to Bumthang, in central Bhutan. Bumthang is considered Bhutan's cultural heartland, and is home to many monasteries and ancient buildings. We spend the afternoon exploring these sights.

Overnight at Swiss Guest House.

(B,L,D)

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DAY 3: SATURDAY, March 11

Bumthang to Trongsa

This morning we explore the sights of Bumthang Valley, after lunch we depart for Trongsa.

Overnight at Yangkhil Resort.

(B,L,D)

DAY 4: SUNDAY, March 12

Trongsa

The Trongsa Dzong is the largest  in the country. Exploring this ancient building is fascinating and the nearby museum provides a good introduction to Bhutan's history.

Overnight at Yangkhil Resort.

(B,L,D)

DAY 5: MONDAY, March 13

Trongsa to Manas

The road south from Trongsa takes us from temperate to tropical Bhutan in the span of a day's drive. The scenery is dramatic as these changes occur. Arrive late afternoon in remote southern Bhutan and enjoy views of the river and forest, unlike what you have already observed in Bhutan.

Overnight at Jungle Lodge.

(B,L,D)

DAY 6: TUESDAY, March 14

Explore Manas

Few visitors come to Manas, we have the day to explore this wilderness with local guides. The small villages and tropical landscape provide for a unique experience.

Overnight at Jungle Lodge.

(B,L,D)

DAY 7: WEDNESDAY, March 15

Manas to Punakha

We depart after breakfast for the 6-hour drive to Punakha. En route observe some of the most beautiful scenery in Bhutan as we climb out of the lowlands and into the lush mountains, to arrive in the beautiful Punakha Valley.

Overnight at Dhumra Resort.

(B,L,D)

DAY 8: THURSDAY, March 16

Explore Punakha

We will begin our day with a visit to the Punakha Dzong, one of the most massive and impressive of all of Bhutan's fortified monasteries. In the afternoon we will visit one of Bhutan's most renown weavers for textile exhibition. Late afternoon visit to Punakha's famed pedestrian suspension bridge, these bridges formerly common all over Bhutan have largely disappeared. Most people find traversing the bridge to be a thrill.

Overnight at Dhumra Resort.

(B,L,D)

DAY 9: FRIDAY, March 17

Further exploration of Punakha

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This morning drive high in the mountains above Punakha to visit the beautiful Nalanda Monastery. The monastery functions as a Buddhist Monastery and the monks welcome visitors, here you have unique opportunity to explore a monastery in the company of our monk friends. We then hike downhill through field and forest.

Overnight at Dhumra Resort.

(B,L,D)

DAY 10: SATURDAY, March 18

Punakha to Thimphu

Today's drive to Bhutan's capital of Thimphu takes us over the impressive 12,500 feet Dochu La Pass, graced with 108 chortens and with panoramic views of the snow capped Himalayas. Late afternoon arrival in Thimphu. Dinner with our Bhutanese friends, followed by a night out in Thimphu at local venues for those who are feeling they would like to enjoy the night life.

Overnight at Druk Hotel.

(B,L,D)

DAY 11: SUNDAY, March 19

Thimphu

Today we visit 2 of Bhutan's finest museums, the Royal Textile Museum and the Folk Heritage Museum. Rest of the day to explore Thimphu on your own or with guides.

Overnight at Druk Hotel.

(B,L,D)

DAY 12: MONDAY, March 20

Thimphu

Hike in the hills above Thimphu to one of the ancient small monasteries. Afternoon visit to the Buddha Dordenma Statue, one of the largest Buddha statues in the world, perched on a hill overlooking Thimphu.

Overnight at Druk Hotel.

(B,L,D)

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DAY 13: TUESDAY, March 21

Thimphu to Paro

Free time in morning in Thimphu, afternoon departure to Paro. Check into Zhiwa Ling Hotel, one of Bhutan's finest hotels and belonging to The National Geographic 'Unique Lodges of the World' collection.

(B,L,D)

DAY 14: SUNDAY, March 22

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: SUNDAY, March 23

Departure

PRICES & REGISTRATION INFORMATION

(Inclusive of food, non-alcoholic beverages, accommodations, ground transportation, 1 internal flight, entrance fees, services of licensed Bhutanese guide and driver, services of USA based trip leader, Bhutanese visa and airport taxes.)

$7700. (Based on double occupancy)

$8700. (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.

Following breakfast we have some free time before departure for airport and onward flights.

(B,L,D)