Autumn IN

BEAUTIFUL BHUTAN

The mild climate of Bhutan means it never gets truly cold in the Kingdom. November is characterized by warm days and cool nights, ideal sweater weather. Many of the deciduous trees are changing color yet the countryside is still mostly green. Drama is always a constant in the scenery of Bhutan, with lofty snow clad Himalayan peaks, forests of great beauty and the towns and hamlets looking like something from time immemorial. Champaca Journeys finds that this time of year in Bhutan is exceptionally beautiful. On this 14-night journey we visit 5 different areas in Bhutan, offering you a good look at the country and plenty of opportunity to meet 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.

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DAY-BY-DAY ITINERARY

DAY 1: THURSDAY, NOV 11

Arrival in Bhutan

Arrive Paro and check into the Gangtey Palace Hotel. After getting settled we go into Paro town to explore and then introduce you to Bhutanese food at one of our favorite restaurants.  Afternoon visit to Kyichu Monastery, one of the oldest and most revered temples in Bhutan. Spend the late afternoon and evening relaxing at the hotel, a former palace as the name implies. Welcome dinner at hotel.

(Lunch, Dinner)

DAY 2: FRIDAY, NOV 12

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)

DAY 3: SATURDAY, NOV 13

Get acquainted with Thimphu, capital of Bhutan

Full day to explore Thimphu. We’ll visit the famed National Textile Museum, a paper making factory still using the same centuries old method to make beautiful paper, and the Folk Heritage Museum. All 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: SUNDAY, NOV 14

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Hike to monastery and meet with monks

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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 Drubchhu Resort.

(B,L,D)

DAY 5: MONDAY, NOV 15

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. Optional afternoon hike to Chimi

Lhakhang, AKA the Temple of the Divine Madman, built in 1499

and one of the most interesting temples in Bhutan. 

Overnight at Drubchhu Resort.

(B,L,D)

DAY 6: TUESDAY, NOV 16

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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 temple temple 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. Cooking demonstration by hotel chef prior to dinner this evening.

Overnight at Drubchhu Resort.

(B,L,D)

DAY 7: WEDNESDAY, NOV 17

Drive to Bhutan's most unique valley

This morning we drive beyond Punakha to begin a rafting ride down the river, this exciting and mostly gentle 90-minute float provides unique and stunning views of the riverside towns and forest. A late morning departure for Phobjikha Valley. The 4-hour drive takes us to this broad glacial valley, unique in Bhutan, and renown for its beauty. We’ll have the afternoon free to wander near the hotel, the lovely Dewachen Lodge.

(B,L,D)

DAY 8: THURSDAY, NOV 18

Day hike in Phobjika Valley

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. From the monastery we make a

gentle downhill hike though forest and field to the valley floor and then return to

the hotel for lunch. Afternoon at leisure. 

Overnight at Dewachen Lodge

(B,L,D)

DAY 9: FRIDAY, NOV 19

Phobjika to Trongsa

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We depart after breakfast for the 5-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 fiends that will make your visits all the more memorable.

Overnight at Yangkhil Resort.

(B,L,D)

DAY 10: SATURDAY, NOV 20

Exploration of Trongsa

We will begin our day with a visit to the Trongsa Dzong, one of 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 suitable a lovely location.

Overnight at Yangkhil Resort.

(B,L,D)

DAY 11: SUNDAY, NOV 21

Return to Thimphu

Early morning departure for Thimphu. Stopping along the way for lunch and photographs, we arrive Thimphu late afternoon and check into our hotel.

Overnight at Druk Hotel.

(B,L,D)

DAY 12: MONDAY, NOV 22

Thimphu: relax on your own, or explore with us

While we have seen much of Thimphu, there still remains plenty to exlore. We'll begin the day with a visit to the recently completed giant Buddha Dordenma statue, which soars an impressive 50 meters in the air. Later we pay a visit to the Zilukha Nunnery where you can meet and chat with our nun friends. After a break for lunch we have an afternoon surprise planned for you. In the evening we'll have several of our Bhutanese friends join us for dinner and if you feel energetic can later step out with them for an evening on the town.

Overnight at Druk Hotel.

(B,L,D)

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DAY 13: TUESDAY, NOV 23

Thimphu to Paro

We return to Paro this morning and settle into our hotel. Lunch in downtown Paro, followed by the opportunity to relax, shop or take a short hike.

Overnight at Gangtey Palace Hotel.

(B,L,D)

DAY 14: TUESDAY, NOV 24

Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery

After breakfast we drive 20 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. It

is said that the Guru Rimpoche arrived here in the back of a flying tiger is

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. It 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 optional hot stone bath

at our hotel, Gangtey Palace Hotel, followed by farewell dinner.

(B,L,D)

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DAY 15: TUESDAY, NOV 25

Departure

Breakfast at hotel, then transport to airport for onward flight.

(B)

PRICES & REGISTRATION INFORMATION

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

$6100. (Based on double occupancy)

$6900. (Based on single occupancy)

NOTE: International airfare, gratuities, alcoholic beverages other than local beer 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, $980. ROUND TRIP, economy class
BANGKOK-PARO, BHUTAN-BANGKOK, $1160. ROUND TRIP, business class

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