Magical Untamed Eastern Bhutan
Click on the map to enlarge
Day 1 - Singapore - Guawhati (India) flight - Samdrup Jongkhar (Bhutan, elevation 173m).
An early morning flight (6:30am) from Singapore takes us to Guawhati, India, where our adventures begin. After checking in at the Druk Air counter at Changi Airport in Singapore we will meet as a group in the departure lounge one and a half hours before departure. We recommend group members arrive in Singapore by at least midday the day before departure.
Our flight arrives in Guawhati, India at 8:30am and after clearing Indian immigration we will be met by our Bhutanese guide and driver for the three hour journey to the border town of Samdrup Jongkhar where we overnight. There will be a chance to stretch the legs in this easy-going, low-lying border town this afternoon. A tour orientation meeting will be held this evening.
Day 2 - Samdrup Jongkhar (172m) - Kanglung (1829m) - We depart Samdrup Jongkhar after breakfast for the 6-7 hour drive northwards into Eastern Bhutan. The drive climbs through thick vegetation passing by Deothang and many other small villages before a stop in Womrong for lunch. We continue on to the village Khaling (1829m) where we check out the national handloom weaving centre and then into the cooler environment of Kanglung for our overnight stop.
Day 3 - Kanglung (1829m) - Trashigang (1070m) - This morning we drive from our beautiful hotel located amongst verdant terraced fields, through the town of Trashigang and up to the hilltop village of Ramjar where we immerse ourselves in genuine Bhutanese rural life. The views from Ramjar are incredible looking out towards Arunchal Pradesh in India and northwards towards the Trashiyangste Valley where we will spend the next two days. It is approximately a 1.5 - 2 hour drive to Ramjar where we will disembark the bus for the 40 minute optional walk to our hosts home. Here we have the opportunity to learn about the food and customs of rural Bhutanese people. Our lunch will be local fare and we even get the chance to make some ara (a corn-based alcoholic drink) and meet the locals. - Mid afternoon we drive back to Trashigang where we stay tonight.
Day 4 - Trashigang (1070m) - Trashiyangste (1700m) -
Today we head northwards into one of the most remote valleys in Bhutan for a two night stay which gives us plenty of time to soak up and experience everything this incredible valley has to offer. We travel with a packed lunch, we will do some sight-seeing en-route into the valley.
The road into the valley makes for a bumpy ride but the destination is totally worth it. Gom Kora is one of the must-see places en route to Trashiyangste, a remarkably located temple brimming with legends and lore that our local guide will regale you with. Once we get to Trashiyangste we allow some free time to wander around this delightful town. In the early evening we walk down to Chorten Kora to witness and take part in the evening circumambulation with locals around this remarkable Buddhist stupa.
Day 5 - Trashiyangste (1700m) -
We can sleep in this morning, and then go over the options for the day. Then we will head up to visit the national craft college where students learn Bhutanese traditional arts (the BEST place to shop for locally-made crafts.
Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary is located about an hour’s drive up the road for those who want to go for a one or two hour walk. Others may choose to stay back, and look around the town, visit a local school or just relax. Lots of options. We like to keep our options open.
Day 6 - Trashiyangste (1700m) - Mongar (1600m) - Approximately 4-5 hours of driving. We depart shortly after breakfast and retrace our drive to Gom Kora and then on to Mongar and our accommodation for the next two nights. We will have lunch en route and should reach our destination mid-afternoon. The rest of the afternoon is available for you to relax, catch up on washing, have a relaxing drink on the gorgeous terrace at our Hotel, explore the town or indulge in a massage.
Day 7 - Mongar (1600m) - No driving today. We offer an optional walk through the countryside towards an idyllic ridge top monastery at Pangchu. Passing by local monasteries and walking through productive farmland we reach our destination after about two and a half hours. We enjoy a packed lunch on the tops gazing over the seemingly never-ending hillsides that march into the distance. For those of you who want to stay closer to the hotel, exploring the town is a great option or just relaxing and visiting a local monastery located about 20 minutes walk from the hotel.
Day 8 - Mongar (1600m) - Autsho (920m) - After breakfast we head back onto the road for an approximately 3-4 hour drive into the Lhuentse Valley which is renowned for its incredible weavers – some of the most sought after and expensive fabrics in the country are made here using a technique more akin to embroidery than weaving. Our destination today is the village of Khoma where many of the houses have traditional back strap looms set up on their porches. We take a packed lunch and after our visit we backtrack to the village of Autsho for an overnight at a resort alongside the river.
Day 9 - Austsho (920m) – Trogon Lodge, halfway up the Thrumshingla Pass - To break up an otherwise very long drive into central Bhutan we depart Autsho at a leisurely time and make our way up the Thrumshing La pass and overnight at Trogon Lodge, a facility built specifically for bird watchers. This drive takes us along some of the most spectacular sections of road in Bhutan. For those interested, a short bird watching excursion from the lodge will be on offer.
Day 10 - Trogon Lodge – Bumthang (Jakar) 2580m - After breakfast we continue driving up towards the summit of the 3750m Thrumshing La Pass where we make a brief stop in the thin air and then onwards towards the Ura Valley and Jakar/Bumthang – one of the most important and historically significant places in Bhutan where we spend two nights. We should arrive into Bumthang mid afternoon in time for you to stretch your legs checking out the pool halls and quaint shops of this lively town.
Day 11 - Bumthang (2580m) - After breakfast we head out for a morning of sightseeing around Bumthang which includes a visit to Jhampey Lhakang (monastery), Kurjey Lhakang (monastery), the Jakar Dzong (fortress), the Swiss Cheese factory and the Red Panda Beer making facility. We get back to town in time for a late lunch, and those of you who want to try a traditional hot stone bath, later this afternoon is the time to try this out.
Day 12 - Bumthang (2580m) – Punakha (1242m) - We leave early for a big driving day that affords plenty of window sight-seeing opportunities. A stop at the Yartha shop outside Bumthang is a great place to buy some fabric souvenirs and on we go westwards past the incredible Trongsa Dzong (fortress) and in to the lower elevations of Punakha. Our goal is to reach the quintessentially scenic Punakha Dzong (fortress) by 3:30-4pm to experience this iconic place during the magic hours of the late afternoon.
Day 13 - Punakha (1242m) – Thimpu (2334m) - The roads get noticeably busier as we near the Bhutan capital of Thimpu. We stop at the scenic (and very popular!) Dochu La Pass and its 108 chortens for tea, coffee and photos and then in to bustling Thimpu city where we have lunch, some time to wander around before regrouping for a couple of hours of sight seeing. We visit the giant 51m Buddha statue that overlooks the city as the sun begins to dip behind the hills followed by a short drive to the magnificent Tashi Tso Dzong which is lit up early evening and resembles something out of a beautiful fairy tale.
Day 14 - Thimpu (2334m) – Haa (2670m) - We depart after breakfast to visit the National Takin Preserve to acquaint ourselves with the odd looking national animal of Bhutan - half goat and half cow. Morning is the best time to visit as the animals are more active. We bid farewell to the busy city, head over the highest road pass in Bhutan (Chele La 3900m) and dip down into the stunningly beautiful Haa Valley for a late lunch at what might be the most beautiful boutique lodge in Bhutan. The lodge is a renovated farmhouse with some of the best food in the country. You won’t be disappointed! Hot stone baths are on offer here, as are short walks and soaking up village life.
Day 15 - Haa Valley (2670m) - Paro (2200m) - We are in no hurry to leave this morning! Sleep in, take a stroll in the surrounding countryside or catch up on photo editing (trust us you will have a lot of photos!) We leave around 11:30am with a packed lunch for the two and a half hour return journey to Paro. We arrive in time for a leisurely stroll down the main street and its abundance of shops. We then drive to the four star Resort which will be your home for two nights. Tonight we prepare for the amazing hike tomorrow to the iconic Tigers Nest Monastery!
Day 16 - Paro (2200m) - Today we walk to the world famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery. We head off shortly after breakfast for the short drive to the trail head followed by a walk to this iconic temple that clings to the cliffside. It is all uphill but there is an option of a pony ride to the tea house which is located about two thirds of the way up.
We may spend another hour in Paro town for last minute shopping and then back to our amazing hotel to celebrate the end of incredible east to west traverse of this extraordinary country.
Day 17 - Paro (2200m)- Our return flight to Singapore departs early morning so it’s an early wakeup for the short drive to the airport and on to Singapore where we bid you farewell. We recommend you book your connecting flight for the following day and overnight in Singapore.