• Call us : +84-977-343-986
  • follow
  • Gateway to Bhutan

    This "Gateway to Bhutan" cultural tour is ideal for those wishing to enter Bhutan from the Indian state of Western Bengal via the southern overland border gateway of Phuentsholing. Beginning with a breathtaking journey on roads surrounded by lush green tea plantations with breathtaking views of the Himalayan foothills, this tour explores the highlights of Bhutan’s western valleys. Enjoy the many cultural sites of Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital including the National Memorial Chorten, the National Library, the arts and crafts school and Tashichhoedzong before crossing the 3050m Dochula Pass into the sub-tropical Punakha Valley featuring the incredible the Punakha Dzong and Chimi Lhakang, temple of the ‘Divine Madman’.

    Continue on to the bustling market town of Wangdue before returning to the beautiful Paro Valley to explore the Ta Dzong Museum, Rimpong Dzong with its wooden cantilevered bridge and the incredible Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest), perched on a cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor. We highly recommend combining this tour with a visit to the renowned Indian hill station of Darjeeling and Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim.


    HIGHLIGHTS & INCLUDE

    The ‘Gateway to Bhutan’ cultural tour explores all of the highlights of Bhutan’s western valleys, and is ideal for those wishing to enter Bhutan from the Indian state of Western Bengal via the southern overland gateway of Phuentsholing.

    • Journey through the beautiful Himalayan foothills in Southern Bhutan.
    • Combine your Bhutan cultural tour with the Indian states of Sikkim and West Bengal.
    • Discover some of the most sacred Buddhist monasteries and temples in the Himalaya.
    • Experience Bhutan’s unique culture up-close with farmhouse visits and village excursions.
    • Visit many cultural attractions including medieval fortresses (Dzongs), markets and museums.
    • Hike up to the famous Taktsang Monastery, perched on a cliff 900m above the valley floor.
    • Marvel at the elaborate and ancient wall paintings and carvings in Dzongs and temples.
    • Incorporate a Value-Added Option such as a cooking lesson or meditation session with a monk.

    DETAILED PROGRAM

    Day 1

    Our Bhutan Senses Travel representative will meet you on arrival at either Siliguri or Bagdogra airport in the Indian state of West Bengal. After a drive of about three hours along roads lined with lush green tea gardens you will reach Phuentsholing, the gateway to Bhutan. This rapidly growing town is Bhutan’s commercial centre. Before dinner at the hotel there will be an orientation on Bhutanese etiquette by your guide. Overnight at your hotel in Phuentsholing.

    Recommended Hotels in Phuentsholing:

    - Druk Phuentsholing Hotel
    - Royal Orchid Hotel


    Day 2

    After breakfast, proceed to Thimphu, stopping enroute at Kharbandi Gompa. This beautiful monastery was built by Royal Grandmother, Ashi Phuntsho Choedon in 1967. There is a splendid view of Phuentsholing and the Indian plains from the splendid monastery gardens of tropical plants and flowers. From this point the road climbs steeply up and down mountainous ranges through light mountain jungle displaying lianas and orchids and small townships such as Chukha and Chimakothi. Lunch is served en route.

    After passing through Chapcha, the road reaches its highest point of about 2,800m, then descends steeply and runs along the bank of the Wang Chu (river) to Chuzom (meaning confluence), where ir meets Paro Chu. From here it is only 2 hours’ drive up the valley to Thimphu. Shortly before reaching our destination, we will stop to visit Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress in the kingdom, build by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1627. On arrival in Thimphu, check into the hotel. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.

     Kharbandi Gompa, Simtokha Dzong

    Recommended Thimphu Hotels:

    - Hotel Thimphu Towers
    - Kisa Thimphu Hotel


    Day 3

    Once a rustic village sitting in a broad, fertile river valley, Thimphu is today the nation’s bustling capital. Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to the National Memorial Chorten depicting the Buddhist faith in the form of paintings and statues. This temple was first initiated by the Third King as a protection from the negative elements of modernisation, and as a monument to world peace. The Royal Queen Mother completed it as a memorial stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972. Continue on to 12th century Changangkha Temple and Drubthob monastery housing the Zilukha Nunnery.

    Other sites to visit include: the School for Arts and Crafts where students are taught the 13 types of Bhutanese art, The National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century, the Traditional Paper Factory displaying the Bhutanese paper making process, and a fascinating replica of a medieval farmhouse at the Folk Heritage Museum.

    If there is time, you may visit the nursing pen for the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan, and Tashichho Dzong, ‘the fortress of the glorious religion’. Initially erected in 1641 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was rebuilt in the 1960s during the reign of Bhutan’s third king in the traditional style, without plans or nails. Tashichhodzong houses some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body.

    If your visit to Thimphu coincides with the weekend, you can walk through the Thimphu Market to see the variety of food of Bhutan, including basket upon basket of fiery chillies, fresh cheese and a variety of fresh greens. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. (This market is open only from Friday until mid Sunday). Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.

     National Memorial Chorten, School for Arts and Crafts, Tashichho Dzong


    Day 4

    Drive over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters), which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into balmy Punakha valley (about 3 hrs total driving time). The drive through the countryside affords a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdoms. In the Dochu-La area there are vast Rhododendron forests that grow to tree size and bloom in late April/early May covering the mountains in a riot of glorious spring colour.

    Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. On arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’ as predicted by the great Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava). It is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers) and is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. It was here on 17th December 1907, Bhutan’s first king was crowned.

    After lunch, enjoy a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman. He inherited the Divine Madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism in his time. He taught the people that religion is an inner feeling and it’s not necessary that one should be an ordained monk. He is also considered a symbol of fertility and most childless couples go to his temple for blessing. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha.

     Dochu La pass, Chimi Lhakhang, Punakha Dzong

    Recommended Punakha Hotels:

    - Meri Puensum Resort
    - Vara Hotel Punakha


    Day 5

    In the morning drive to Yabesa village and hike to through ricefields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. Perched high on a hill on the bank of the river, the Chorten houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions.

    Take a picnic lunch on a picturesque riverside before exploring the bustling town of Wangduephodrang. Visit the market in Wangduephodrang.

    Drive back to Thimphu where you will have an opportunity to visit handicraft and souvenir stores. Afterwards proceed to Paro, visiting Simtokha Dzong en route. The Dzong, built in 1627, is the oldest in Bhutan. It now houses the Institute for Language and Culture studies. On arrival in Paro, check into the hotel. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.

     Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, Simtokha Dzong

    Recommended Hotels in Paro:

    - Metta Resort & Spa
    Bhutan Mandala Resort


    Day 6

    After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The trail is broad and the walk of approximately 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometre above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to the viewing point). The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. The great Guru Rimpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. He then mediated in a cave there for three months where the monastery was later built. Nearby there is a teahouse where you can stop for refreshments.

    In the afternoon drive to the ruins of the 17th Century Drukgyel Dzong, an historic monument built by the Shabdrung to commemorate his victory against invading Tibetans in 1644. In fine weather the towering peak of the sacred Mount Jomolhari (7314m) appears as a stunning backdrop. On the return drive to Paro, visit 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo.

    Alternatively, day 6 could be spent on a day trip to the Haa Valley, one of the most picturesque districts in Bhutan. Reached via the beautiful Chelila Pass, Haa Valley is characterised by its surrounding rugged and mountainous terrain. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.

     Taktsang Lhakhang, Kyichu Lhakhang, Drukgyel Dzong,


    Day 7

    Morning drive to Paro Airport for departure to your onward destination.

     

     

    WHEN TO GO?

       MORE TOURS HERE


    Notes:

    • Prices are in USD, per person, based on two people traveling together and sharing a room. At Bhutan Senses Travel, we carefully select all hotels to ensure that your accommodations match our standards of trip and service excellence.
    • Prices include the following:
      . All hotel accommodation including all taxes and breakfast
      . Internal economy flights as stated with airport taxes
      . All transfers & sightseeing transportation in private vehicle
      . Private services of local guides
      . All special events & private tours, guest experts
      . All entrance fees into historical sights & museums
      . Drinking water and refreshing towels for touring
      . 24/7 support from the Bhutan Senses Travel Team

     

    Location
    Accommodation

    PHUENT SHOLING
    View hotels list

    Druk Phuentsholing Hotel

    • One of the oldest and best hotel in town which was earlier under management of Welcome group, it has convenient location and provides pleasant stay.
    • All 35 rooms of the hotel have attached bath with running hot & cold water, wall-to-wall carpet.
    • The other facilities here include ; restaurant serving Continental, Chinese, Indian and Bhutanese cuisine, bar with the selection of international and Bhutanese beverages, IDD telephone, shopping, laundry, money exchange, conference room, A.C in few rooms.

    THIMPHU
    View hotels list

    Hotel Thimphu Towers

    • Hotel Thimphu Tower offers accommodation in Thimphu. Free WiFi is available and free private parking is available on site.
    • Rooms have a flat-screen TV with cable channels. You will find a kettle in the room. Each room is fitted with a private bathroom fitted with a bath. Extras include free toiletries and a hairdryer.
    • The nearest airport is Paro Airport, 23 km from Hotel Thimphu Tower.

    PUNAKHA
    View hotels list

    Meri Puensum Resort

    • Lying approximately 5 kms from Punakha village and with good views of the valley area.
    • The 20 rooms are spacious and there are lovely views down across the river and the valley.
    • There is a large dining area and bar where you can relax after a day exploring the Puankha valley.

    PARO
    View hotels list

    Metta Resort & Spa

    • Metta Resort and Spa offers accommodation in Paro. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar. Free private parking is available on site.
    • All rooms come with a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. Some units include a seating area where you can relax. Every room includes a private bathroom fitted with a shower. Extras include bathrobes and slippers. Metta Resort and Spa features free WiFi .
    • There is a 24-hour front desk at the property.
    • The resort also offers car hire. The nearest airport is Paro Airport, 5 km from the property.