At Paro you’ll visit a ‘Fortress on a Heap of Jewels’, see Nepali, Tibetan and Bhutanese shrines created to ward off evil spirits and tour around a temple with a magical orange tree. In the Punakha you’ll visit the shrine of the Divine Madman, a local orphanage before crossing the astounding Dochu La Pass. And between the two centres you’ll be treated to some of the world’s most stunning scenery.
London – Delhi
Depart on an evening flight from London Heathrow to Delhi, arriving the following morning. Your hotel is under ten minutes from the Indira Gandhi International Airport and has all the facilities of a Marriott so you’ll be able to relax in luxury and indulge your taste for food from India, Korea and Japan.
Stay: One night in a deluxe room at the JW Marriott New Delhi Aerocity Hotel.
Delhi – Paro
The next step on your journey is a spectacularly scenic flight past the mighty Himalayas into Bhutan, arriving at Paro early in the morning. A gentle tour of Paro’s quaint town and impressive temples gives you the chance to acclimatise to the high altitude and meet your guide for your exploration of Bhutan.
Stay: One night in a deluxe valley view room at Uma Paro.
Paro – Punakha
Your ultimate destination is Punakha, but there’s so much to see on the route from Paro to that interesting town. You’ll stop at the country’s largest city, Thimpu, to tour attractions like the Buddha Dordenma statue, the National Memorial Chorten and the Folk Heritage Museum. Then it’s time for a truly breath-taking drive up the serpentine, 3,000m-high mountain pass of Dochu La, with its fabulous views over 108 shrines, forests of fluttering prayer flags and the monumental Himalayas.
The highlights of your stay in Punakha will be two tours. The first explores the verdant Punakha Valley with its banana and orange plantations, its traditional farmhouses, rice paddies and famous 15th-century fertility temple dedicated to Drukpa Kuenley, the ‘Divine Madman’. You’ll also visit the 17th century monastery fortress that is now home to 1,000 monks.
Your second tour will take you to Chorten Ningpo and Khabasa Village, an orphanage and local school where the children study Buddhist scripts. Then you can choose to relax with a COMO Shambhala wellness therapy, go white water rafting or visit Talo Nobgang Village.
Stay: Three nights in a deluxe valley view room at Uma Punakha.
Retracing your steps over the Docu La Pass gives you a different perspective of the magnificent scenery stretching away towards the mighty Himalayan Mountains. At the confluence of the Wang Chhu and Paro Chhu, you’ll see Nepali, Tibetan and Bhutanese shrines, built to ward off evil spirits.
The following day a walking tour takes you through pine forests to the fortified monastery of Zurig Dzong and then on to Bhutan’s National Museum, Rinpung Dzong (Fortress on a Heap of Jewels). You’ll cross Paro Chhu via the traditional covered bridge to see Paro’s main archery ground and Ugyen Pelri Palace. A short drive then transports you to one of the oldest temples in Bhutan with a magical orange tree that bears fruit all year round.
But you can’t stay in Paro without visiting the stupendous Tiger’s Nest Monastery. This iconic building perches perilously above a dizzying precipice; its white walls and red tiled roofs epitomising the mediaeval Buddhist retreats of Bhutan. This is an unmissable photo opportunity that will also set you wondering at the engineering feat of building a monastery in so impossible a spot.
Stay: Three nights in a deluxe valley view room at Uma Paro.
Paro – Delhi – London
This morning you’ll fly from Paro to Delhi where you’ll meet your connecting flight to London, arriving at Heathrow in the early evening.