Bhutan Overland Tour
Bhutan, the secret Shangri la or the Land of the Peaceful Thunder Dragon is the best-kept secret in the travel industry. Due to its relative isolation, the country is not known to the outside world and until 1960, western visitors rarely visited the country. Today still, few people know of the beauty of Bhutan. The few who do visit this magical place find an ancient Buddhist culture thriving in a landscape of incredible natural beauty.
The mountains are magnificent, the countryside green, the pure air and unpolluted and the architecture striking. Our tour show you an intimate insight into Bhutan's Buddhist culture and way of life.
The mountainous road are well maintained throughout Bhutan, the tour also drives through the back roads of the country to untouched villages, reaches heights of 4000m and offers the most romantic sights of the Himalayan ranges, the drives are through various types of vegetation ranging from sub tropical to alpine vegetation, in the valleys passing through many villages of terraced rice fields and fairy tale rivers.
Nights are spent in well selected world class resorts and retreats which have won international awards in the travel industry.
DAY1. ARRIVE PARO.
Paro valley is a large open valley with many cultural sights, villages and farm roads. The only international airport is located Paro. All tours start and end at Paro valley. There are flights into and out of Paro from Bangkok, Singapore, Delhi, Kathmandu, Kolkata and Dacca.
Upon arrival based on the flight timings, our crew will receive guests with a VIP service from the airport. All assistance will be provided by our staff with luggage and immigration. Transfer to hotel and after that clients can take rest or start exploring the Paro valley, acclimitisation to the altitude or do some driving around to a monastery to get familiarized with the traffic conditions and mountain roads.
Driving: If exploring the Paro valley, there is about 40 to 50 Km driving around the valley and mountain roads to get familiarized with and also visiting some high mountain top Buddhist monasteries.
Overnight. There are a few beautiful hotels to choose from. We have the Aman resorts, Uma Paro and Zhiwaling hotel to recommend a few.
DAY2. PARO-HAA-THIMPHU. 210km 7-8hrs.
We begin early today as we will take a loop around the Haa valley to reach Thimphu the capital city of Bhutan. This is also a good day to get used to the traffic conditions; the road is very scenic and very less traffic. You might see about 10 vehicles on this entire day short of 65km reaching the capital.
About 35 km from Paro valley, you drive towards the Chelila pass at 4000m/13120ft. You have great views of the Eastern Himalayan range and weather permitting you can see some 8000m peaks from here.
Have lunch at Haa valley visit a few sights of cultural interest and proceed to Thimphu through many villages and panoramic views.
Thimphu is the capital city of Bhutan with appx. 100,000 inhabitants and same elevation as Paro valley. Time permitting have a city tour or do it the next day.
Overnight: stay at a resort with great views.
Road condition: Mostly tarmac with small mountain roads.
DAY3. THIMPHU –PUNAKHA 77km 2hrs 30 min.
Punakha altitude 1200m/3936ft.
After breakfast guests can see some interesting sights in Thimphu. Visit the Folk heritage Museum, the school of handicrafts where students are taught the 13 arts and crafts like statue making, carving, thanka or scroll painting etc. Drive to the extreme north of Thimphu towards Tango and Cherry Monastery, the route is very scenic with many apple orchards and villages and at the backdrop mountains shield the place like a great wall.
From Thimphu you have about 1 hrs of uphill ride towards Dochula pass at 3140m/10,299ft. Weather permitting once you reach Dochula pass there are great views of the Bhutan Himalayas and also there are 108 beautiful stupas marked by a large array of prayer flags. This place is a photographer’s delight. Visit Chimey Lhakhang- the Temple of the ‘Devine Mad Man’ just before reaching your Hotel. You need to walk about 15minutes from the road. Lama Drukpa Kuenley is a deeply loved saint, he built this monastery in 1499 and it is also the temple of fertility. All the phallus painting and flying phallus on the farmhouses in Bhutan are associated to this great saint. Visit the beautiful Punakha Dzong/Fort which is built at the confluence of two rivers. The marvel of Bhutanese art and architecture is visible in this building which was built in the 16th century but has undergone renovations and still in use today as a center for administration for the Punakha district.
You have the option to visit Gasa district where the road is off road and the drive is through the national park, the excursion is about 60km from Punakha one way. Or you also have the option to do rafting on the rivers of Punakha.
The drive is mostly on tarmac mountain roads till Punakha.
Overnight: we have beautiful hotels like the Aman resorts and the Como hotels/Uma Punakha here.
DAY4.PUNAKHA-KHOTOKHA-GANGTEY. 5-6HRS. Appx. 130km.
Gangtey altitude 3000m/9840ft.
After breakfast we do an unusual off the beaten track towards more secluded valleys of Bhutan. For about 20 km we drive on the highway before taking a detour on farm roads towards the Khotokha valley. About 35km we reach the pristine Khotokha valley where tourism is still untouched. This is a large valley where the villagers are mostly potato farmers and the altitude is close to 3000m. From the Khotokha valley we drive to yet another valley called Gogona valley and end the drive to the famous Phobjikha valley.
Roads: - The drive is mostly off-road on the mountain roads.
Overnight: - At Gangtey/Phobjikha valley and have the Aman resorts and Gangtey Goenpa Lodge to chose from.
DAY5.GANGTEY TO BUMTHANG 190km appx.7hrs.
Bumthang altitude 2800m/9184ft.
After completion of sightseeing and exploration of Phobjikha valley, continue towards Trongsa via the Pelila pass 3420m and along the Black Mountain range to Trongsa. The ride today does not involve steep gradients and will be a very comfortable with warm and lush winds as you approach Trongsa. You will encounter yaks depending on the season, experience vegetation from high alpine forests to dwarf bamboo vegetation to subtropical as you reach Trongsa while riding through many settlements. After reaching Trongsa can visit the Trongsa Dzong, which is the largest Dzong in the country, which is of particular importance to the Monarchy in Bhutan, it was from this Dzong that the present Wangchuck dynasty started its rule.
After visiting the Watch tower continue uphill until you reach the Yotongla pass 3425m. From then on its downhill until you reach the broad Chumey valley. Bumthang is also called the Switzerland of Bhutan given the similarity of the views and landscape.
Stop at the Yathra-traditional Bumthang woolen fabric at Chumey. Ride through pine forests and villages of Bumthang until we reach Jakar or Chamkhar Valley.
Roads: Mostly tarmac.
Overnight: Aman resorts only one high end hotel here.
DAY6. BUMTHANG to GEYLEGPHUG. 280KM 8-9HRS
Start the day early. You have a long ride as today you will pass 2 districts and vegetation from Alpine to Tropical. Pass through Zhemgang district which is again very rich in vegetation and a birding hotspot with some dramatic scenes. Geylegphug borders India and Bhutan at the Assam state of India.
The drive today will be a dramatic one as you ascend and descend altitudes and various climatic zones in very short time, certain places you drive through National park areas. Geylegphug is near sea level. You also see Golden Langurs on the way. Some places you have cliff hanging roads as well.
Roads: Mountain roads with partial road construction, tarmac plus dirt roads mixed.
Overnight: Hotel/guest house.
DAY7. GEYLEGPHUG TO THIMPHU 300KM APPX. 8HRS
Drive through the southern districts of Bhutan with very moderate climate and scenic villages throughout. Have lunch at Damphu –Tsirang district. Enroute from Tsirang to Wangdue you will see the large hydro power construction in progress which is the main engine of the Bhutanese economy. Here too you have a continuous change of landscape on the drive. The drive is through mountain scenic roads and is tarmac most of the way.
Overnight: Thimphu, various hotels to chose from.
DAY8. THIMPHU-PARO. 65km appx 1hr drive.
Your last day in Bhutan and you have the option to visit the world famous Paro Taktsang Monastery, which is a monastery that hangs on a granite cliff. A visit to Bhutan won’t be complete without making a hike to this awesome monastery. It is believed that a great Buddhist saint his name is Guru Padmasambhava meditated in a cave here in the 8th century and still pilgrims from all over the world visit this site. The hike takes about 4hrs back and forth from the road end.
We also leave this day free for people who will not participate in the hike to enjoy the facilities of the hotel like spa or Shopping at Paro and Thimphu.
In the evening farewell dinner with a cultural show with mask dances, bonfire, and barbeque.
Airport transfers and depart for Singapore, Bangkok, Delhi or Kathmandu to connect your flights back home.
• Hotels on Full board basis.
• Airport transfers.
• Guide and crew on tour.
• Back up support vehicle.
• Bhutan visa and permits.
• All sightseeing where applicable.
• Bar and beverages in Hotels.
• Hotel extras like spa, laundry, telephone calls.
• Tips to crew.
• Personal Travel Insurance.
• All flights.
Best Times for Bhutan Tour.
Feb, March, April, May, June
Sep (last 2 weeks), Oct, Nov, Dec (1st two weeks).