Bhutan: Kingdom in the Clouds



nat_geogrpMar 21 - 31, 2018

12-day journey into the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan Explore Paro, Punakha, Thimphu, and mountain villages

Bhutan - Kingdom in the Clouds

Days 1 and 2 — U.S./Bangkok, ThailandDepart the U.S., cross the international date line, and arrive in Bangkok the next night.
 Novotel Suvarnabhumi Hotel.
Day 3 — Paro, BhutanFly to Bhutan's Paro Valley (7,300 feet), and visit the seventh-century Kyichu Lhakhang temple. Explore our stunning hotel—a member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World collection—before a welcome dinner tonight.
 Zhiwa Ling Hotel.
Day 4 — PunakhaThis morning, witness a Buddhist blessing ceremony for the safe passage of our group throughout the kingdom. Then journey to Punakha, Bhutan’s ancient capital.
 Meri Puensum Hotel.
Day 5 — PunakhaAfter an invigorating hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten, a spectacularly situated temple, be rewarded for your efforts with incredible views of the valley below. Then visit the Punakha Dzong, an impressive fortress guarding the southern end of the valley at the confluence of the Pho (male) and Mo (female) Rivers.
 Meri Puensum Hotel.
Day 6 — PhobjikhaTravel to the alpine valley of Phobjikha (10,000 feet), considered one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan. It is also the largest wintering site of endangered black-necked cranes, which arrive in November and stay through March.
 Dewachen Lodge.
Day 7 — PhobjikhaAgainst a backdrop of forest-clad mountains, Gangtey Goemba, one of the oldest private monasteries in Bhutan, rises dramatically from a cluster of hilltop cottages. After examining the workmanship of Bhutan’s finest artisans at this recently restored temple complex, take part in a butter-lamp-lighting ceremony. Then set off on a half-day hike, stopping to meet a family at a farmhouse and visit a local school.
 Dewachen Lodge.
Day 8 — ThimphuTravel to Thimphu (7,900 feet), the present capital of Bhutan and home to the royal family. En route, stop at the Dochu La pass (10,000 feet) to admire thousands of prayer flags fluttering in the wind and (weather permitting) 200 miles of Himalayan summits. Visit the National Textile Museum in Thimphu, where Bhutan’s finest weavings and brocades—considered spiritual expressions that are admired for their sophistication and diversity—are on display. Tonight, get a behind-the-scenes perspective on contemporary Bhutan during a lively banquet with members of the government, local dignitaries, and respected professionals.
Taj Tashi Hotel.
Day 9 — ParoThis morning, set off on a hike to the most famous pilgrimage site in Bhutan: Taktsang Lhakhang, or the Tiger’s Nest Temple (9,300 feet). Visible from afar, this stunning monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff 2,000 feet above the valley floor. Spend the afternoon exploring Paro or relaxing at our comfortable, Bhutanese-style hotel. 
Zhiwa Ling Hotel.
Day 10 — Paro/Paro Teschu FestivalPerched majestically above the town of Paro, the Paro Dzong is one of the oldest dzongs in Bhutan and still serves as the administrative and religious center of the valley. Visit the dzong and enjoy a full day of celebrations at the Paro Tsechu festival. Bhutan’s festivals are joyous expressions of its Buddhist culture. People travel from distant valleys and towns to socialize, celebrate their thriving Buddhist heritage, and enjoy one of the most important events on the Bhutanese calendar. This evening, celebrate your Bhutanese adventure at a festive farewell dinner. 
Zhiwa Ling Hotel.
Optional ExtensionAngkor Wat, Cambodia - Post-Trip Extension, 4 Days