Day 1: Arrive at Paro, drive to Thimphu.
Easy Tours can assist you with flights in and out of Bhutan upon request. You are greeted at the Paro airport by your Bhutan Accompanying Tour Director and your chauffeur. They will both accompany you throughout your time in Bhutan.
Your arrival time will vary based on how you are flying into Bhutan, although most flights will arrive during the morning. There are only a few cities with flights into Bhutan, most of which are located in India. However, since flying into India will require you to get a visa and go through immigration (twice, for arrival and departure) and security procedures due to Bhutan flights n
ot being issuable in conjunction with other international airlines. Hence, if India is not in your plans for this exploration, you may want to consider taking advantage of the daily nonstop flight from Bangkok as Thailand has no visa requirements for residents of most western nations. There is also a twice weekly 1 stop flight from Singapore.
Your Visa for Bhutan
is arranged by Easy Tours as part of your tour package.
Welcome to one of the last magical kingdoms on the planet, a peaceful country full of devout Buddhists who treasure GNH (Gross National Happiness), not GDP.
Bhutan is a country without traffic lights, and the single traffic control (by a police officer) is at the intersection of the two busiest streets of Thimphu, the capital. Yet traffic is nothing like it is in most of South Asia, partially because there are less vehicles, but also because of the unfailing politeness and consideration of the Bhutanese.
Your Tour Director in Bhutan will continuously entertain you with anecdotes that attribute events, things, and places to results of actions by one of their legendary Buddhist Sages from past centuries. A lot of unique and/or peculiar beliefs and practices are attributed to one of the greatest miracle workers
of them all, The Divine Madman, Lam Drukpa Kuenley.
Proceed on the short drive
to Thimphu. You will drive along the gushing Thimphu River and Bhutan’s incredible scenery will start to captivate you. Arrive at Thimphu and you are assisted with your check in at your lodging.
Thimphu was just a dzong
(fortress) surrounded by a few huts when it became the permanent capital of Bhutan in 1952. In pace with the tranquil passage of time in Bhutan, Thimphu has leisurely transformed into the city it is today. All the architecture in Thimphu is of traditional Bhutanese style because a royal decree demands that the city preserve the original national character of Bhutan’s architecture.
- you may want to rest for the remainder of this day so as to acclimatize yourself to the 7612 foot elevation. All of Bhutan’s main towns are great to explore on foot and, if you are up to it, we recommend that you take a guided walk around the enchanting town of Thimphu. The main square of town and most of the main bazaar areas are located adjacent to our Premium Level Hotel and a scenic drive from our Luxury Level Hotels.
Day 2: Thimphu.
Start your guided exploration of Bhutan with a visit to the Buddha Dodernma
, the massive Buddha statue located on a hilltop overlooking the highway entering Thimphu. This bronze Shakyamuni Buddha statue was completed in 2015 and is gilded in gold. It is 169 feet (51.5 meters) tall, and 125,000 (100,000 8 inch and 25,000 12 inch) gilded bronze Buddha statues are placed inside the main statue. Its ornate base houses a large and beautiful meditation hall.
The views of Thimphu
and the surrounding Himalayan ranges are spectacular from the area around the statue.
Return to the town and proceed for a visit to the King's Memorial Chorten (Buddhist funeral monument), which is continuously circled by people, murmuring mantras and spinning prayer wheels. Construction of this landmark was the idea of Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, the father of modern Bhutan. His plan was to dedicate this monument to world peace and prosperity. It was completed in 1974 after his untimely death. Today, it serves both as a memorial to the late King and as a monument of peace. You will also visit the Folk Heritage Museum, which houses a fascinating collection of Bhutan’s living traditions, and can chose to visit the National Textile Museums.
There is a break
for lunch at your hotel. You may want to change your attire at this time as the main activity today requires pants/long skirts and no bare shoulders.
- Visit Tashichhoe Dzong, locally known as the Fortress of the Glorious Religion. Among other things, this impressive edifice is the center of the Bhutanese government. It houses the monarch’s throne room and the seat of JeKhenpo, the Chief Abbot. Although the original dzong was built in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, it was renovated and rebuilt a couple of times over the last few centuries due to damage by fire and earthquake. When His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk moved the nation’s capital to Thimphu in 1952, he had the dzong enlarged and renovated extensively over a five year period. Some parts of the dzong are off limits to visitors but there are plenty of fascinating area’s that you will explore. Of particular interest is the Lowering of the Flag
ceremony that is performed in the early evening. After the ceremony you will return to your hotel.
Day 3: Thimphu.
This morning you will visit the Bhutan Post Office and be transported back decades when you enter. The Bhutanese are avid letter writers and this charming building is a fascinating window into their culture. Beautiful stamps are for sale and you can even have your picture taken and have stamps printed with you on them in a very short time. Mail a note to family or friends from Bhutan with you on the stamp!
Next you will enjoy
a drive to Motithang Takin Preserve. This is a preserve for Bhutan’s National Animal, the Takin, which is a very rare and endangered species that is only found in Bhutan. Imagine a goats head on a cow’s body with a shiny thick brownish coat to protect from the wind. The creation of the Takin is also attributed to The Divine Madman. From the preserve you will return to Thimphu where there is a break for lunch.
you will visit the National Library and Archives of Bhutan. This beautiful building houses the world’s largest book (protected by a glass enclosure), many amazing Buddhist books, and great historic photos of the royal family as well as foreign dignitaries.
Later this afternoon
you will walk around the quaint and charming town of Thimphu with its boutique stores, café’s, and bars. Take a short break at the Clock Tower Square, where you might get lucky and get to watch a cultural performance. Right next to it is a great photo opportunity, the only controlled intersection in Bhutan, located where the two busiest roads meet.
You can return to your hotel (located nearby) after this excursion, or chose to continue enjoying Thimphu’s main market on your own.
Day 4: Thimphu - Punakha.
You are assisted with your check out after breakfast and driven to Dochula Pass, which lies at 10,105 feet (3,080 m). This scenic pass is home to 108 memorial Chortens (small Stupas), known as the Druk Wangyal Chortens.
There are spectacular Himalayan vistas from this pass on a clear day. The visible peaks include
Gangkhar Puensum, the highest mountain in Bhutan at 24,836 feet (7570 m).
This is widely accepted as the highest unclimbed mountain in the world.
Masagang - 23,602 feet (7,194 m)
Tsendagang - 22,835 feet 7060(6,960 m)
Terrigang - 23,163 feet (7,060 m)
Jejegangphugang - 23,484 feet (7,158 m)
Kangphugang - 23,524 feet (7,170 m)
There is a break for lunch
for lunch or refreshments at the restaurant next to the Chortens, and there are great Himalayan views from the restaurants windows.
After lunch you will continue on your drive to scenic Punakha.
On the way to Punakha you can stop at Sopsokha Village and experience a 20 minute walk (each way) through fields and villages to the Chimi Lhakhand Monastery, which is located on a hillock next to a beautiful, gushing river. This stop is not recommended for families with children, or those who may be sensitive to what they will experience here. The small monastery of Chimi Lhakhand is dedicated to the Divine Madman.
Please note that phallus paintings and sculptures are found in parts of Bhutan and these are a part of the belief system, mainly as protectors that keep away evil spirits. This is one of The Divine Madman’s legacies. This scenic monastery excursion includes exposure to such explicit materials.
Upon your arrival
in the Punakha region you will be driven to your boutique resort that sits above the Punakha valley with views of both the gorgeous valley and the scenic, fast moving river.
Day 5: Punakha.
Enjoy a scenic drive to Punakha Dzong this morning. All of Bhutan’s Dzong’s are a visual delight, and most are located with very scenic backdrops. Punakha Dzong (officially Pungtang Dechen Photrang Dzong) is definitely among the very best in terms of spectacularly scenic surroundings.
Located on the tip of the confluence of the Pho Chhu (father) River & the Mo Chhu (mother) River, with a scenic valley and mountains forming its backdrops, arriving at this location itself brings cheer to your heart, before you even cross the 180 foot wooden cantilevered bridge to enter the massive compound.
This is the second biggest and second oldest (1637 AD) Dzong in Bhutan and was the administrative Center of Bhutan’s government until the capital was shifted to Thimphu in 1995. Explore the structures and courtyards inside the Dzong and marvel as your guide explains how life is lived in the monastery, and tells you tales about its history and importance.
Enjoy your picnic lunch at a nearby location that has amazing vista’s - your resort will have packed something special for you for this afternoon.
Afternoon - take a walk through the small town of Punakha with your guide and watch the locals go about their daily lives. Life here is even simpler than in Thimphu or Paro, and it takes only a short while to traverse the town.
Return to your resort in the mid-afternoon and you are at leisure for the remainder of the day to enjoy nature at its finest.
Day 6: Punakha - Paro.
You are assisted with your check-out of your hotel and driven to Paro. On the way to Paro you have the option of stopping for a guided visit to Simtokha Dzong.
This small fortress was built in 1627 is the oldest in Bhutan. one of the oldest fortresses in Bhutan. The fortress currently houses the Institute for Language and Culture studies. Upon your arrival at Paro you are assisted with your check in at your hotel, if an early check-in is available. If not, you can drop your bags off and use the facilities to freshen-up.
The valley of Paro contains many amazing attractions, crowned by the awe-inspiring Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery, which is on your schedule for tomorrow.
Proceed on the drive
to Rinpung Dzong, where you will start with a visit to the adjacent National Museum of Bhutan, Ta Dzong.
was originally a watchtower built to defend Rinpung Dzong during the local Bhutanese wars of the 17th century. It was inaugurated as Bhutan’s National Museum in 1968. It houses a wealth of artifacts ranging from about 4000 BC to modern times.
After the museum
you will visit Rinpung Dzong (fortress that sits on a heap of jewels). Like other Bhutanese Dzong’s, it has a long and fascinating history and is an excellent example of Bhutanese architecture. Along the wooden galleries lining the inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore. It was built in the 16th century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan. Currently the dzong houses the monastic body of Paro, the office of the Dzongda (District Administrative Head) and Thrimpon (Judge) of Paro district. Access to the dzong is across a traditional covered cantilever bridge called Nemi Zam.
Day 7: Paro.
Proceed for an excursion to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery
, the most famous Bhutanese monastery, and the nation’s signature landmark. Perched precariously on a small bluff on the side of a mountain, 3000 feet (900 meters) above the Paro valley, its actual elevation is 10,240 feet (3120 meters). Guru Rinpoche (also known as Padmasambhava in Himalayan India, Tibet and surrounding regions) arrived here in the 8th century and meditated in a mountain cave for 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days and 3 hours. The original monastery was built in 1692 but has since expanded and the main building of the monastery burnt down in 1998 but has since been reconstructed.
The incredibly scenic monastery
has to be experienced to be believed - no
photo can do it justice. The guided trek up to, and down from, the monastery takes three to five hours, depending on whether you are fairly fit, or a very experienced, trekker. There are ponies available for those that do not want to make the trek. Even if you choose not to take the trek, visiting this valley is a must.
The path to Tiger’s Nest
takes you to a vantage point that is actually a little above the monastery, and there is a café located here for refreshments. This is where most of the published photos of the monastery are taken from - there is no view of the whole monastery once you actually get up to it.
You will now proceed to descend for a while before climbing again to arrive at the Tiger’s Nest. Enjoy an exploration of the monastery and experience the lives of the monks that inhabit this legendary campus.
The Bhutanese believe
that Guru Rinpoche arrived here riding on a flying tigress, which some legends say was Queen Yeshe Tsogyal (his consort, and the Mother of Tibetan Buddhism) who was transformed into a tigress for this journey. The cave where Guru Rinpoche meditated is called Pel Pfuk, and the monastery is built on the bluff adjoining it and other caves, such as Tholu Pfuk, the cave that he first entered upon arrival.
return to the valley and drive back to Paro, stopping at Kyichu Lhakhang
, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom. The original structure of this temple was constructed in the 7th century by a Tibetan king, but many repairs and renovations have occurred over the centuries. There is a small steady stream of Paro’s residents visiting the shrine to pray, and the two orange trees in its compound are said to bear fruit throughout the year. Head back to your lodging at Paro at the end of this excursion.
Day 8: Paro - Kathmandu - Dhulikhel.
You are assisted with your check-out in the morning and driven to the airport and assisted in boarding your flight to Kathmandu. Upon your arrival at Kathmandu you are greeted by an Easy Tours Facilitator or your guide, and your chauffeur. Welcome to an ancient Himalayan
nation that offers a fascinating culture, incredible scenery, very warm and friendly people, great trekking opportunities, and a whole lot more. With the exception of congested Kathmandu, Nepal has charming, laid back cities and towns, along with picturesque wildlife parks that are home to many endangered species. The unfortunate picture
(of the effects of the 2015 earthquake) painted by the media, like much of what they do, is severely exaggerated. For example, the three ancient temples, all UNESCO World Heritage sites, in Kathmandu received very little, or no, damage. The three Durbar Square’s (all of which are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites) in the queen cities of the Kathmandu Valley did receive fairly heavy damage, but most of their monuments are
still standing and still provide wonderful insights into the local culture over the last millennia.
You are driven to Bhaktapur
, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for a guided exploration. Bhaktapur lies on the way between Kathmandu airport and Nagarkot.
Bhaktapur is a UNESCO
World Heritage Site and one of the Kathmandu Valley’s three queen cities, literally meaning The City of Devotees. Although this queen city received extensive damage during the 2015 earthquake, there still is enough remaining to marvel at as you walk around the ancient square with its unique architecture and charming temples. The architecture and culture here is different from what you will experience in most of Kathmandu, as ancient Newari architecture and culture are found here in their purest form.
After this exploration
you will be driven to the ancient mountain town of Dhulikhel. Arrive at your mountain resort and check-in. This scenic town was an important trading post between the Kathmandu Valley and Tibet for many centuries and the views of the Tibetan and Nepalese Himalayas have to be seen to be believed.
Over twenty of the tallest peaks
of the Himalaya’s can be seen from different vantage points in the town, including Mt. Lhotse (8516 m – 27939 ft) and the spectacular Annapurna (8091 m – 26545 ft). Please note that the best time for good visibility of the distant Himalayas is at sunrise.
Day 9: Dhulikhel.
Proceed for a guided exploration of the fascinating small town of Dhulikhel. Explore the ancient Mewari houses and centuries old settlements like Shrikandapur, as well as some of the ancient temples and Buddhist Stupas. Intricate Mewari architecture is found here in one its purest forms and the culture is laid back and welcoming. Tiered valleys of flowers and cultivation dot the surrounding mountains and Dhulikhel is a golden opportunity for hiking - your guide can take you on gentle or more strenuous walks based on your preferences. Pony trains from the higher peaks of Tibet arrive on a regular basis and these visitors bring their unique wares to sell and barter with the locals.
Day 10: Dhulikhel - Kathmandu.
Check-out of the resort after you freshen up and have breakfast. Join your chauffeur for the drive to Kathmandu. Arrive at Kathmandu where you are
assisted with your check-in to your hotel.
There is a break
- After lunch you will visit the Swayambhunath Temple and Pagoda, Kathmandu’s signature monument. With a history that may go back as far as 2500 years, this ancient complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple and stupa are built on a hilltop and are visible from most of the Kathmandu Valley. The devout walk up the hill from the base (365 steps), but most tourists prefer to drive up almost all the way up and then use the few steps on the other side of the hill.
Although a couple of the surrounding monuments were destroyed/damaged during the 2015 earthquake, the main structure still stands, along with other smaller shrines and monasteries surrounding it.
From here you will proceed for a tour of Pashupatinath Temple
, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most sacred Hindu shrines in the world. Originally built around 2400 years ago, the (now) spectacular temple was reconstructed by a Nepalese king in the 15th century after the original wooden structure was (purportedly) consumed by termites. A lesser known fact among western visitors is that Nepal’s natives are primarily Hindus (over 80%), and Pashupatinath’s surrounding area is dotted with ancient Hindu shrines and ashrams, as well as a steady stream of pilgrims and worshippers. Nepal’s holy river, Bagmati, flows through here and its banks are constant witnesses to Hindu ceremonies for the dead and the living. There is a cremation area where pyres are always present, and our guides will ask you for a mindful approach in these areas. The main temple and most of the surrounding shrines received no damage in the 2015 earthquake. You will return to your hotel after this exploration.
Day 11: Kathmandu.
Weather permitting, you have the option of experiencing the Everest flight
this morning – you can have us facilitate this with private assisted transfers between the hotel and the airport, or you can save a little money by having your hotel travel desk arrange this as part of their daily group airport transfers. If you decide to take this flight, on your return you will freshen up and have breakfast. If weather conditions result in the flight getting cancelled, this can be substituted for the following day.
Continue your tour of Kathmandu city
with the Boudhanath Stupa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is one of Kathmandu’s two landmarks. This is the largest stupa in Nepal and a major pilgrimage destination for Buddhists. Said to have been built just after Lord Buddha’s departure from the world about two and a half millennia ago, the stupa has multiple legends associated with it in both Nepalese and Tibetan Buddhism.
The influx of Tibetan Buddhists escaping China’s control over the last six decades has influenced the area around it as many of them have settled here, and have also built over 50 Gompa’s (monasteries) around the Stupa. Exploring the stupa and its colorful surrounding areas is a highlight for any visitor to Kathmandu. The spire of the stupa and a few other areas received some damage in the 2015 earthquake and repair work is ongoing.
After the Stupa you will enjoy a walk in Thamel
, the main bazaar area of Kathmandu. Thamel is also where a lot of the inexpensive hostels and other budget lodging options are located, and its colorful alleys are always abuzz with activity. Locals and backpackers flock to this area to shop for a vast range of products, from daily requirements to souvenirs, from clothing to footwear to toys. There are also a large number of dining and street food options, ranging from local Nepalese delicacies to western fare.
There is a break
Experience a tour of Patan City, one of the three queen cities of the valley. Another UNESCO world Heritage Site, Just like other parts of Kathmandu, although some structures here were damaged or destroyed by the 2015 earthquake, much of the amazing historic site remains, and is more than well worth a visit. Patan is the city of fine arts, and you will start with an exploration of the Durbar Square. The museum here houses a collection of ancient bronzes and religious objects. Other noteworthy monuments are the impressive carvings at the 17th century Krishna Mandir and Mahavihar, and the 12th century Golden Temple of Lord Buddha.
Day 12: Kathmandu - Pokhara.
You are assisted with your check-out from your hotel and driven to the Kathmandu Durbar Square
, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the ancient monuments here were also damaged or destroyed during the earthquake, but much of it remains intact. The monuments in the Square were built between the 12th and 18th centuries, and this is where most of the state ceremonies are performed up until today. Start with a visit to Kumari Ghar, the abode of the Living Goddess, a beautiful 17th Century three-story building. If you are fortunate, you may be graced with her appearance in an upstairs window. You will explore
the ancient square and its many monuments, possibly stopping for a photo opportunity in front of the Kal Bhairav, an ancient and impressive stone relief of Lord Shiva in one of his fearsome manifestations.
There is a break
you are driven to the airport where you are assisted with boarding your afternoon flight to Pokhara. Arrive at magical Pokhara and you are greeted by an Easy Tours Facilitator and ushered to your chauffeur driven vehicle. You are driven to your boutique Hotel and assisted with your check-in.
Pokhara is one
of those beautiful towns where one can stay for a week or longer just to relax and rejuvenate in the natural beauty and relaxed ambiance, similar to South Asian towns like Kochi and Leh (Ladakh) in India, Luang Prabang in Laos, Chiang Mai in Thailand, and Thimphu in Bhutan.
You don’t have to relax in Pokhara - it is an area of lakes and mountains, and the valley and surrounding Himalayas offer some of the world’s best trekking, paragliding, and hand gliding.
There is excellent kayaking and white water rafting, zip lining, the Pokhara Ultralight (for a unique gliding experience), mountain biking, and a whole lot more. This itinerary includes a day where our guests are at leisure to relax, or have us include one or more of the above mentioned activities. Extended stays can easily be facilitated, for more relaxation and/or other activities. Pokhara is also a part of most of our Nepal trekking itineraries, as much of that is conducted in the Himalaya’s surrounding the Pokhara valley.
The boutique tourism area
around Phewa Lake is full of wonderful little café’s, bars and souvenir shops, and is a delightful destination for your evenings.
Pokhara was a key stop on a busy trade route that extended from India to Tibet. To this day, mule trains can be seen camped on the outskirts of the town, bringing goods to trade from remote regions of the Himalaya. This is the land of the Magars and Gurungs, hardworking farmers and fierce warriors who have earned worldwide fame as Gurkha soldiers, and who are also assist your guides during your treks in the Himalayas. The British Army has long recruited soldiers from this region, and continues to do so today. The Gurkha soldiers serve in the British army, and can then either retire in the United Kingdom with full benefits and a pension, or choose to return to Nepal and enjoy the added benefit of converting the pound into Nepalese currency.
Day 13: Pokhara. Explore the old trading area
in the town of Pokhara. Decorated pony trains from the Kali Gandaki trade routes are supervised by men from the mountains that live a lifestyle from centuries ago. You will walk through the bazaar which is alive with the multiple dialects and the animated bartering of these tribals. You will also visit the Bindhyavasini Temple and the fascinating Butterfly Museum located in the grounds of the university.
There is a break
Enjoy a boat trip on Phewa Lake. You will go past the simple three-story villa where the King of Nepal maintains his winter home. Stop at the small golden temple to the Hindu god Varahi which is nestled in foliage on an island in the centre of the lake. You will see many fishermen and other pilgrims take their long canoes (carved from tree trunks) to the island to visit the shrine. The serenity of Phewa Lake and the magnificence of the holy summit of Machhapuchhre (Fishtail Mountain) at 22,890 feet (6,977 m) are sights one has to experience to appreciate. Pokhara is at an elevation lower than Kathmandu, and has a much more tropical feel to it, which leads to the amazing diversity of bright flowers that adorn much of the valley.
Day 14: Pokhara - Kathmandu - International Flight.
You are at leisure during the morning with your guide and chauffeur driven vehicle available to you from 8 AM onwards - you will need to check out of your resort by noon. You can choose to relax in the Pokhara valley, which is surrounded by dense jungle, gushing rivers fed by Himalayan snow, emerald lakes, and of course, the amazing views of the Himalaya. Or you can choose one or more of the adventure activities illustrated earlier - additional charges will apply.
- you are driven to the Pokhara airport and assisted in boarding your early afternoon flight to Kathmandu.
Arrive at Kathmandu, collect your bags, and check-in for your international flight. If there is more than 4 hours between your Kathmandu arrival and the international flight departure, a chauffeur driven vehicle and a guide can be arranged for a nominal charge. If your flight departs in the early morning, lodging and airport transfers can also be provided for a charge. There are various departure options from Kathmandu. The best Middle Eastern and Indian airlines offer daily flights to the west with a stopover at their hubs, and there are multiple daily flights to Thailand and the Far East.
Our services end at Pokhara or Kathmandu airport.