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Board a flight from London Heathrow to Kathmandu via Doha. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your charming heritage hotel whose traditional design is reminiscent of a bygone era.
A privately guided tour of the Kathmandu Valley will reveal wondrous temples, monasteries and elaborate courtyards. The tour includes the Hindu temple at Pashupatinath – you can’t enter but you can peer through the entrance doors to see the gold Nandi statue within – followed by the Boudhanath stupa. In the afternoon, you’ll visit the medieval town of Bhaktapur which is a protected World Heritage Site due to its rich culture, temples, and wood, metal and stone artwork.
Stay: One night in a Heritage Deluxe Room at Dwarika’s Hotel – bed and breakfast
Today you’ll board a short but magnificent flight over the Himalaya into Paro. The journey affords remarkable views of icons like Everest, Makalu, Kanchenjunga and – across the border – the sacred Chomolhari and Jichu Drake. Upon arrival, you’ll continue to Bhutan’s capital of Thimphu, where you’ll be welcomed by an array of interesting attractions. These include the buzzing Changlimithang Market, the Changangkha Monastery and the Radio Tower which offers a superb view of the Thimphu Dzong and surrounding valley.
Other highlights include the National Library with its ancient manuscripts, the School of Arts and Crafts and the National Institute of Traditional Medicine. For an insight into Bhutan’s living traditions, pay a visit to the Textile and Folk Heritage Museum. The afternoon will be spent exploring the north end of the valley and the striking Trashi Chhoe Dzong – the seat of Bhutan’s government.
Stay: Two nights in a Deluxe Room at Druk Hotel – full board
From Thimphu, you’ll drive through lush forest to the wild and remote Phobjikha Valley – the winter home of the endangered black-necked crane who migrate here from the Central Asian Plateau. Whether on foot or by mountain bike, exploring this pristine valley is an extremely rewarding experience. We recommend the Tongphu Shing Trail, a leisurely two-hour walk that will take you through pleasant pine forest, farmland and villages.
Stay: Two nights in a Suite at Gangtey Lodge – full board
Today you drive to the old capital of Bhutan. Once in Punakha, you will visit the 17th century Punakha Dzong which overlooks the Pho Chu and Mo Chu Rivers and ranks amongst the most beautiful fortresses in the country. The winter residence of the monastic body, the dzong has survived multiple fires, floods and earthquakes over the years. It houses 21 temples, the holy book of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage and the sacred Rangjung Kharsapani – a treasure considered as ‘vast as the sky’ itself.
The valley itself is incredibly picturesque with its banana and orange plantations, traditional farmhouses and rice paddies. During your stay don’t miss out on a visit to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, an elaborate shrine recently established by the royal family, and the famous Chimmi Lhakhang fertility temple dedicated to Drukpa Kuenley, the ‘Divine Madman’.
Stay: Two nights in a Suite at Dhensa Boutique Resort – full board
Your Bhutanese adventure culminates in Paro, a region celebrated for its natural beauty, rich culture and incredible monasteries. Accompanied by a guide, you’ll discover the national museum (housed inside a watchtower), the 7th-century Kyichu Lhakhang temple and great Rinpung Dzong, the centre of civil and religious authority in the valley. Plus, a traditional cantilevered bridge, ancient archery grounds and colourful shopping district.
You’ll also have the opportunity to trek up to the famed Tiger’s Nest Monastery. This iconic building perches perilously above a dizzying precipice about 900 metres above the valley floor; its white walls and red-tiled roofs reminiscent of Bhutan’s medieval Buddhist retreats. According to legend, this is the site where Guru Rinpoche landed on the back of a flying tigress and brought Buddhism to Bhutan. On the way down, you can visit one of the country’s oldest temples and its magic orange tree that bears fruit all year round. A day trip to the Haa Valley, known for its ancient cultures and traditions, can also be arranged.
Stay: Three nights in a Valley View Room at COMO Uma Paro – full board
From Paro, you’ll fly back to Kathmandu for one final night before boarding your flight home the following day.
Stay: One night in a Deluxe Room at The Inn Patan – bed and breakfast
Today you’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight back to London via Doha.
Absolutely outstanding. This was the best holiday we have ever had.- SF, Mexico