- Climb to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, perched precariously on the side of a cliff.
- Discover the colourful temples and majestic fort of picturesque Punakha.
- Enter into the imposing buttressed walls of the riverside Rinpung Dzong.
6 Days – Highlights of Western Bhutan
Day 01: Arrive at Paro International Airport and Drive to Thimphu
Welcome to Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon – a deeply Buddhist land shrouded in mystery and magic. On arrival at Paro Airport the representative will meet you and drive to Thimphu.
Thimpu is the country’s capital – a town of small shopping complexes, monasteries and chalet-like apartment buildings that back onto pine-covered hills.
After lunch visit:
• Buddha Point/ Kuensel Phodrang – High in the hills, the largest Buddha statue in the country sits overlooking the Thimpu Valley.
• Memorial Chorten – Built in the year 1974 in the memory of the third king of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. Watch the locals as they spin the prayer wheels and walk three times around the monument.
• Tashichho Dzong – The “fortress of the glorious religion” was built in 1641 and subsequently rebuilt in the 1960s. Tashichho Dzong houses some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body.
Day 02: Thimphu – Sightseeing
• Changangkha Lhakhang – Located above Thimphu Valley, this temple and monastic school was established in the 12th century on a site chosen by Lama Phajo Drugom Shigpo.
• Motithang Takin Preserve – Meet the Takin – the rare national animal of Bhutan! It is a vulnerable species found only in Bhutan, Nepal and Burma.
• Traditional Medicine Institute – In Bhutan, equal emphasis is given to both allopathic and traditional medicines. Rich herbal medicines made up from medicinal plants are prepared and dispensed here.
• Folk Heritage Museum – The house replicates a traditional farmhouse and is furnished, as it would have been about a century ago.
• National Institute for Zorig Chusum – At this school of arts and crafts students undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.
Day 03: Thimphu – Punakha
After breakfast drive to Punakha – approximately three hours drive through picturesque valleys and mountain slopes dotted with typical Bhutanese villages. From the Dochula pass, at over 10,000ft, panoramic views of the high snowcapped peaks of the Bhutanese Himalayas can be enjoyed on a clear day.
Just before Punakha, a half hour walk through a local village and rice field brings you to Chhimi Lhakhang, a temple of fertility founded in the 15th century by a monk known as the Divine Mad Man! Learn all about the colourful history of this unconventional monk.
Punakha is the ancient capital of Bhutan and sits in a fertile and beautiful valley at the junction of the Mo Chhu (Mother River) and Pho Chhu (Father River). Commanding the river junction is the gorgeous Punakha Dzong, perhaps Bhutan’s most impressive building. Explore the interior of this 17th century dzong encased in towering whitewashed walls.
Day 04: Punakha – Paro
After breakfast drive for four hours to Paro, a charming town that lies on the banks of the Paro (or Pa) Chhu. The main street is lined with colourfully painted wooden shopfronts and restaurants.
• Kyichu Lhakhang – One of the oldest and most sacred temples in the kingdom, dating back to the 7th century.
• Ta Dzong – The former Watch Tower which now houses the National Museum.
• Rinpung Dzong – The massive buttressed walls of this impressive Dzong tower over the town and are visible throughout the valley. A Typical Bhutanese wooden roofed bridge leads from the dzong to Paro town.
Day 05: Paro – Excursion to Taktsang (Tiger nest)
Undoubtedly the highlight of Bhutan! The Tiger’s Nest Monastery is one of Bhutan’s most incredible sights, miraculously perched on the side of a sheer cliff 900m above the floor of the Paro valley.
The hike up to the monastery takes about 5 hours (round trip) and is well worth the effort. The trail follows an ancient path marked by river-powered prayer wheels with incredible views. It is said that a legendary saint, Guru Rinpoche, flew from Tibet on the back of a tigress to tame five demons, and this is where they landed. Hence the name, Tiger’s Nest. Within the monastery is the cave where Guru Rinpoche meditated, an oil lamp chapel and a holy spring.
After descending, if time permits, visit Drugyel Dzong. From here, the Jomolhari Peak (Mountain of the Goddess) can be seen on a clear day.
Day 06: Paro – Departure
Sadly, it’s the last day and time to say goodbye to Bhutan. The guide will transfer you to Paro international airport for your onward flight.
- Sustainable Development Fee
- Accommodation in twin sharing basis
- All transportation and sightseeing within Bhutan
- Services of accompanied English-speaking guide
- Visa fee
- 3 meals a day
- Bottled water
- Entrance fees to the monuments
- Travel Insurance
- Excess baggage charges
- Any personal expenses
|City||Paro, Punakha, Thimphu|
|Theme||Adventure, Arts & Culture, Family, Walking|
Day 1/23 Nov 2020: Yangon (Lunch/Dinner)
Welcome to Myanmar, where countless ancient monuments, exotic cuisine, diverse culture, unique encounters and incredibly friendly locals await. Yangon lies in the fertile delta of southern Myanmar, on the wide Yangon River. The city is filled with tree-shaded boulevards, while shimmering stupas float above the treetops.
The guide will meet us at the arrival hall for the transfer to the hotel.
Day 2/24 Nov 2020 : Yangon (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
Let’s enjoy a full day of photography!
The highlight is the Shwedagon Pagoda covered in 60 tonnes of gold leaf, which makes for stunning photographs. We will also visit the famous Botataung Pagoda located at the waterfront and even venture into the hollow zedi.
Depending on your interest, we can explore the neighbourhood of the Strand Hotel which still features a lot of colonial style buildings. China Town is not far away with its many authentic outdoor street markets. And of course, we will find time to visit the famous Scott Market.
Day 3/25 Nov 2020: Yangon - Heho - Nyaung Shwe (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
After breakfast we will take the flight to Heho and then transfer to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway to Inle Lake. On the way we will stop at the Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery, famous for its oval windows.
The rest of the day can be spent exploring Nyaung Shwe and its surroundings. This small town has numerous shops, several restaurants, a local market, and a few stupas including an impressive mirror-tiled stupa.
Day 4/26 Nov 2020: Inle Lake - Nyaung Shwe (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
By boat, we will make our way to Inle Lake where beautiful floating gardens and entire villages are built on stilts above the water. Intha fishermen row their boats using the unique ‘one leg’ method.
We can visit some of the markets to see the different tribal groups such as the Intha and the Pa-O people buying and selling local products. At Paung Daw Oo Pagoda we can capture the five gold-leaf-covered statues.
Mine Thauk is an unusual village with half set on dry land, the other half on stilts over the water, linked by a 450-yard wooden bridge. From the peaceful forest monastery at the top of the hill we can photograph the views over the lake.
Day 5/27 Nov 2020: Inle Lake - Nyaung Shwe (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
By boat we will make our way to the south west of the lake and pass through a long narrow canal that twists and turns through scenic rice fields. At the end of the creek is the intriguing pagoda complex of Indein dating back to the 12th century. While some of the stupas have been restored to golden splendour, others are still in ruins with plants and bushes growing out of the cracks in the stone. Up a covered stairway is a collection of over 1,000 densely packed Shan-style stupas in varying states of decay. From the top of the hill gaze out across the lake and the surrounding hills.
In the afternoon we can photograph scenes in the market in Aye Thar Yar, located in the foothills.
Day 6/28 Nov 2020: Nyaung Shwe - Heho - Mandalay (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
This morning we will fly to Mandalay and transfer to the hotel.
Mandalay was the last capital of Myanmar before the British took over. The city’s Buddhist monasteries are among the most important in the country with about 60% of all the monks in Myanmar residing in the Mandalay area. The city takes its name from Mandalay Hill, the 236m-high bluff that rises just to the northeast of Mandalay Fort and its royal palace. After the British occupied the city in 1885, the fort became the colony’s government house and British Club. Mandalay Museum and Library contain fine examples of art and historic palm-leaf manuscripts.
Day 7/293 Nov 2020: Mandalay (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
Set your alarms as it’s worth getting up early for this morning’s photo opportunities. We can see the monk’s receiving alms at the Mahagandayon Monastery in Amarapura and then watch the sunrise over the beautiful U Bein Bridge. What’s more, we can do all this before the crowds arrive!
In the afternoon we will visit Kuthodaw Paya that has been dubbed ‘the world’s biggest book’, due to its 729 marble slabs inscribed with the entire Tripitaka.
Early evening we will take an easy climb up Mandalay Hill to enjoy the panoramic views over the palace and the paya-studded countryside. We will also capture the sight of the setting sun over the city.
Day 8/30 Nov 2020: Mandalay (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
There’s something magical about sunrises in Mandalay. One of the best places to observe it is Mahahamuni Paya, in the centre of which is the highly venerated Mahamuni image. In a district famous for its craftsmen and stone carvers, we can photograpth the skilled artisans at work. Just a boat ride away along the Ayeyarwaddy River is the little town of Mingun, which boasts some of the most impressive pagodas in Myanmar. In particular, the ruins of the enormous but unfinished Mingun Paya – had it been completed, its size would have dwarfed all contemporary pagodas.
Equally as grand is the Mingun Bell, a 13-foot tall bronze bell weighing 90 tonnes; and the ancient Hsinbyme Pagoda.
Day 9/01 Dec 2020: Mandalay - Bagan (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
This morning, we will set off on a road trip to Bagan with lots of photo stops.
Bagan is a vast, empty plain, nestled in the curve of the Ayeyarwaddy River, dotted with thousands of stupas and temple ruins as far as the eye can see. On arrival, there’s free time to explore some of the temples and pagodas of this vast area.
Day10/02 Dec 2020: Bagan (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
Together with the guide we will discover some of the most impressive temples and pagodas in Bagan such as Ananda temple, Dhammayangyi temple and Shwezigon pagoda. Sunset will be enjoyed at Lawkananda Pagoda along with local activities on the riverbank.
Optional tour: There is the option to experience the beauty and diversity of the temples of Bagan in a hot air balloon. This 45 to 60 minute flight offers a unique perspective, far-reaching views, and great photographic opportunities of the incredible scenery.
Day11/03 Dec 2020: Bagan (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
Today’s adventure takes us into the villages of Myanmar to experience authentic local life.
The market at Chauk is full of interesting produce and hardly visited by any tourists. At Salay, we can see the old wooden monastery and impressive colonial buildings.
Lunch will be at the Popa Mountain Resort, which overlooks the plains of Central Myanmar and the famous Mount Popa, considered to be the home of Myanmar’s most important nats (spirits). We will not actually climb up the mountain as from here we have the most spectacular views of Mount Popa and its hilltop temple shrines.
On the way back to Bagan, we will stop at remote villages specialising in agriculture and harvesting toddy juice from the palm trees.
Day12/04 Dec 2020: Bagan - Yangon (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
It’s time to leave Bagan and take the flight back to Yangon. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day13/05 Dec 2020: Yangon (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
Sadly it’s our last day, time to say goodbye to Myanmar and transfer to the airport for the departure flight.