The Last Shangri-La Tour introduce you to the rich cultural heritage of this tiny Himalayan kingdom also known as the last Shangri-La. This tour in Bhutan begins with sightseeing in the country’s capital, Thimphu, where we visit the Memorial Chhorten, mini- zoo, National Institute of Traditional Medicine, folk heritage museum and the majestic Tashichho Dzong (fortress). Next, we travel to Punakha via Dochu La pass (3,100m) and tour the Chimi Lhakhang temple on the way. We also visit the Punakha Dzong and explore the amazing Gangtey village before heading to Paro. In the beautiful Paro valley, we visit Rinpung Dzong and Kichu Lhakhang temple. Our cultural journey ends with a hike to the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery which is a perfect way to end one’s journey in the last Shangri-La
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights. One can see Mount. Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu and other peaks in Bhutan such as Jhomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsrim Khang. Received by our representative and transfer to the hotel. Afternoon visit Taa Dzong the only National Museum in Bhutan. The best among natural history museums in Asia, the Taa Dzong offers a unique collections ranging from ancient Armour to textiles and THANGKHA paintings. Then walk down the trail to visit Paro Dzong (Rinpung Dzong) built in 1646 during the time of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It now houses the Paro monastic school and office of the civil administration. Also Rinpung Dzong is venue of Paro Tshechu, held once a year in spring. Evening take a stroll through Paro market.
Paro is a picturesque valley with quaint clusters of hamlets amidst terraced paddy fields. The town still maintains traditions by way of architecture and the simple way of life. Morning Morning visit Taktsang temple. The walk uphill will be not more than two hours. The trail is broad. At the view point there is a cafeteria. Have a cup a tea or some juice here and then take a walk little higher to the closer view point of Taktsang. Then walk back for lunch in Paro town.
Afternoon drive to the Drukgyel Dzong or the Fort of Drukpa victory is almost 10 miles north from the town. From this fortress Bhutanese repelled several invasion by Tibetans throughout the course of history. Looming above the smoldered ruins is the snowcapped peak of Mount. Jhomolhari. Below the dzong we will visit traditional Bhutanese Farm House. On the way to Paro town we will visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest monastery of the Kingdom reflecting introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan.
Drive to Thimphu, the capital town passing via idyllic countryside, through villages and paddy fields. On the way visit the Simtokha Dzong the oldest fortress of the country now houses the School for Buddhist studies. Afternoon sightseeing of Thimphu valley, visit Tashichho dzong; the seat of the government. Memorial Chorten; the stupa built in the memory of Bhutan’s Third King. Handicrafts Emporium displaying rich traditional crafts of the Kingdom.
Morning, in Thimphu visit to National Library: it has fascinating collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts and texts. The Painting School famous for traditional Thangkha paintings. Traditional Medicine Institute: where centuries old healing arts still practiced. Then proceed to Punakha across Dochula pass (3050m). The pass is marked by a large Bhutanese Chorten and prayer flags. The pass offers the most spectacular view over the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas. Punakha served, as the capital town of Bhutan until 1955 and still it is the winter seat of Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot. Visit to Punakha Dzong, built by Shabdrung Ngawang, Namgyal in 17th century and situated at the junction of Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. Check in to hotel and later visit to Punakha town and market.
Drive to Wangdiphodrang and visit Dzong, which is perched on a spur at the confluence of two rivers. The position of Dzong is remarkable as it completely covers the spur and commands an impressive view over both the north- south and east west. Wangdi district is also famous for slate & stone carvings. The way to Phobjikha valley is through a forest of Oak and Rhododendron. Phobjikha is one of the few glacial valleys in Bhutan and chosen home of black necked cranes, which migrate from the central Asiatic Plateau to escape its harsh winters. Explore Phojikha valley and also visit to Gangtey Monastery, the only Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan.
Explore Phobjikha valley know for its winter residence for Black Necked Cranes. It is one of the few glacial valleys in Bhutan. Drive to Trongsa across Pelela pass (3300 m). This pass is traditionally considered as the boundary between West and Central Bhutan. Before reaching Trongsa, short break for photograph at Chendbji Chorten built in 18th century in Nepalese style. On arrival, check into the lodge. One can stroll in the town in evening.
Trongsa Dzong, situated at the altitude of 2200 m and built in 1647 by the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. Visit the Taa Dzong, standing on the side of the mountain and built to guard Tongsa. After lunch proceed to Bumthang, the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and the heartland of Buddhism. Ahead of Trongsa cross Yutongla pass (3,400m) and from here the landscape changes with dense forests of conifers. Finally to Bumthang which beings with wide, open, cultivated Chumey valley.
Bumthang is the general name given to a complex of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitude varying from 2,600 m to 4,000 m. Visit to Kurje Lhakhang, one of the most sacred place in Bhutan as Guru Rimpoche meditated here. From Kurje monastery, a tarmac road heads south along the right bank of the river to the Jambey Lhakhang. Like Kyichu Lhakhang in the Paro valley, the first temple constructed in 7th century by the King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet. Afternoon visit to Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa. It contains interesting Buddhist paintings. Later see the Jakar Dzong, the dzong of the white bird, which houses the administrative seat of the district and is the only dzong in the country that does not contain a Drukpa monastic community. Evening walk to the downtown.
The journey continues eastwards winding through more rugged terrain. The drive, with spectacular views will take about 6 hours. Pass through Ura village in Bumthang before climbing sharply to the highest motor road pass in the Kingdom, the Thrumshingla pass – 12,465 ft. Gradually drop down to Sengor, watching cascading water falls on the way. The descent stops at 2,130 ft., on a bridge over the Kurichu. Ascent again through pine forests, maize fields and eastern hamlets to Mongar town. Visit Mongar Dzong, built albeit quite recently, the dzong still maintains the architectural traditions of old dzongs.
This trip of about 96 kms takes 3 hours passing through Kori la pass (2450m), the place marked by a pretty chorten and a stone wall. The first part of journey is through a leafy forest filled with ferns. Later road descends rapidly through cornfields and banana groves arriving the famous zigzags of Yadi, which is a recent settlement. After that follow the Gamri river until the bifurcation to Dametsi, this temple perched on top of steep hill was founded by Choeden Zangmo and is the most important monastery of eastern Bhutan. This is the place from where the famous Naga Chham, mask dance with drums, originated. About 30 kms onwards lies Trashigang at 3,375 ft. Trashigang is the centre of the biggest and most populated district in the country. View the Trashigang Dzong standing at the extreme end of the spur, overhanging the Gamri river. It serves as the administrative seat for the district and Drukpa monastic community occupies part of the dzong.
24 kms from Tashigang visit the temple of Gom Kora, set on a small alluvial plateau, overlooking the river. Gom Kora is the famous place where Guru Rimpoche meditated in order to subdue a demon. Further ahead reach to Doksum village where you can see women busy in weaving traditional Bhutanese fabric. Visit to Tashiyangtse Dzong, situated at the altitude of 1,850 m, was established just after the Drukpa conquest in around 1656 and later completely renovated in 1976. Evening return to Tashigang.
The road between Tashigang and Samdrup Jongkhar completed in 1965 (distance 6 hours). Along the way see Sherubtse College, the only college in country founded in 1978. Also visit Zangtho Pelri temple built in 1978 by the late Minister of Home Affairs and represent Guru Rimpoche’s paradise. Driving ahead reach to Khaling to visit Blind School and Weaving Centre. Deothang, 80 kms from Khaling is the centre of Technical training college and road maintenance head quarters for the east. From here the road descends fairly rapidly to the plain through a dense tropical forest with an abundance of teak, bamboo and ferns.
After breakfast drive to Guwahati, the capital town of Indian northeastern state of Assam, for flight to Delhi / Calcutta or onward tour program in that region.
Footwear : Well broken-in walking shoes - these must be suitable for snow, thick socks, light socks, camp shoes.
Clothing : Down or fiber filled waterproof jacket and trousers, sweater or fleece jacket, underwear, warm and cotton trousers or jeans, shirts and T-shirts, shorts, long underwear, wool hat, sun hat, gloves, bathing suit, track suit.
Other equipment: Sleeping bag (5 seasons), lock, day pack, water bottle, sun cream, sunglasses, flashlight with spare bulbs and batteries, lip salve, gaiters.
Other items: Insect repellent, toilet articles, diary, toilet roll, laundry soap, wet ones, pocket knife, towel, sewing kit, plasters, binoculars, camera, film, cards and personal medical kit.