5 DAYS AMANKORA JOURNEY – Thimphu & Paro

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Itinerary

Day 1Arrival

Enjoy one of the world’s most spectacular descents as your early-morning flight arrives into Paro amid breathtaking views of the Himalayan peaks. On arrival you will be greeted by your local Amankora guide, who will remain with you throughout your journey across Bhutan. Your itinerary will be tailored to remain as flexible as possible, and you will be able to discuss it in advance.

A 1.5 hour drive away, Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital, lies in a steep valley at an altitude of 2,350m (7,709ft). Upon arrival at Amankora Thimphu, you will have time to settle in before exploring the area, including the National Library, the Textile Museum, the Weaving Center, Buddha Point and the National Memorial Chorten. Depending on your arrival time, you may also be able to visit the Institute of Traditional Medicines, the School of Arts and Crafts, the Folk Heritage Museum and Simply Bhutan – museums depicting Bhutan’s ancient cultural heritage.

Alternatively, opt for a mild hike with a good view,such as the Wangditse Leisure Forest trail.

You may want to end the day with Grounding Massage Ritual, Amankora Thimphu’s signature spa treatment (Chargeable Activity).

Overnight – Amankora Thimphu

Day 2Thimphu

A short morning hike will take you to Cheri Goemba monastery. On the way back, pay a visit to the 16th- century Pangri Zampa, which now houses a monastic training school for astrologers. Back in town, explore the capital’s cottage industries, from traditional paper making to hand rolled incense; browse Himalayan artefacts along the main street; and make your own stamp at the post office. The Craft Bazaar or Vegetable markets are open at weekends.

After lunch, head to the north end of the valley to visit the Trashi Chhoe Dzong, the seat of Bhutan’s government and royal offices. As the sun sets, take a stroll past the Takin animal sanctuary for a beautiful view over the Thimphu valley. According to local legend, the takins are believed to be part cow and part goat.

Alternatively, you can play a round of nine holes at Thimphu Golf Club, set among chortens and beautiful scenery. The course’s altitude – 2,350m (7,700ft) – causes the balls to fly further in the thin mountain air (chargeable activity).

In the evening, enjoy a private meeting at the lodge with the Mynak Trulku, who will answer all your Buddhism questions. He is the 12th reincarnate lama of the famous Mynak Rinpoche (chargeable activity).

Overnight – Amankora Thimphu

Day 3Journey to Paro

The one & half hour journey will begin this morning which takes you back to Paro where the international airport is located at. On the way, you may stop to visit the Tamchoe Monastery. Also known as the Tachog Lhakhang, the monastery built on top of a small hill beside the Paro River dates back to the 15th century. After crossing through Paro Town you will find the Amankora Paro lodge set in a pine forest towards the north end of the valley.

In the afternoon, visit to the National Museum. Here, an intriguing collection of artefacts provides a wonderful introduction to the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom. Just a short walk downhill lies the imposing Paro Dzong, a fine example of historic Bhutanese architecture. From the Dzong, the tour crosses Nyamai Zampa, a traditional cantilever bridge, from where you will be driven to the town temple, built in 1525, to view ancient wall paintings. Later, try your hand at the ancient sport of archery. We have for you a set of traditional bows and arrows to enjoy our national game with reduced distance of about 70 meters between the two targets.

Evenings at Amankora Paro may include informative lectures on Gross National Happiness, traditional cultural performances, prayer flag printing or an intriguing movie on the Himalayas.

Overnight – Amankora Paro

Day 4Paro

In the morning hike up to view one of Bhutan’s most dramatic monuments, the Taktsang Goemba, more commonly referred to as the Tiger’s Nest, built on a sheer cliff face at a height of 2,950 m (9,678 ft). The four-hour trek offers spectacular views of this sacred monastery perched on a cliff face 900m above the valley floor. Accommodating mules and donkeys will be on hand to lessen the exertion for the climb up, if so desired. Your guide will check with you in advance if you would like to avail this service.

After lunch, you can drive to the outskirts of Paro town where you will find the twin temples of 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the first Buddhist temples built in the country. Spend time lighting 108 butter lamps (chargeable activity) and learn about the ancient Buddhist traditions that are still practiced today.

Alternatively, take an excursion to the town of Paro.

As this is your last evening with us, soak in our Hot Stone Bath and relax your body with a Grounding Body Polish & Wrap Ritual massage (chargeable activity).

Overnight – Amankora Paro

Day 5Departure

This morning you bid farewell to Bhutan. Your driver will take you to Paro International Airport, a journey of around 30 minutes from the lodge. We recommend you arrive two hours before the flight is scheduled to depart.

Details

Our Short Loop Journey of four nights allows you to experience two valleys with two nights at Thimphu and two nights in Paro. The loop starts in Thimphu, then takes you to Paro where you will end your journey.

We have compiled the most popular activities and hikes in each valley. For some, we recommend that you pre-book to ensure you can enjoy the activity on your preferred date and time.

Inclusions

  • All meals, and house beverages including house wines & spirits
  • Airport transfers to/ from Paro Airport to Amankora Paro/ Amankora Thimphu
  • A Hot Stone Bath in Paro
  • A game of traditional archery/darts at any of these two lodges
  • A private vehicle, guide and driver for the entire journey
  • A time 60 minute Holistic massage per person (adult only) once taken at Thimphu
  • All applicable Bhutanese government fees, long road and monument permits (Entry Visa Fee and Sustainable Development / Royalty fee) and visa processing

Exclusions

  • Tips to guide and driver
  • All optional/chargeable activities at the lodge
  • Flights to and from Bhutan (can be arranged by us on additional charges)
  • Anything not mentioned in the inclusions and other expenditures of personal nature
Map

FAQ

I'm a solo traveller, is it possible to arrange a private tour?

Yes, all of our tours are on private basis (unless specified otherwise) and you do not have to join another group.

Can I customize this itinerary?

Yes, we can customize the itineray for you to get the best of Bhutan during your trip. You can add a short trek, upgrade your hotel stays, coincide your travel to witness a festival, or even add a cooking class.

Do I need to use a tour operator to book my travel?

It is a government regulation that you must use a licensed Bhutanese tour operator to book your travel to Bhutan.

All International tourists wishing to enter Bhutan require a visa which must be pre-arranged through a license Bhutanese Tour Operator such as Drukair Holidays prior to travel. For Indian passport (or VIC) holders, Bangladeshi nationals and persons from the Maldives may obtain a visa on entry.

We will be applying for your Visa on your behalf if you are purchasing the tour package from us.

When is the best time to visit Bhutan?

Bhutan has four distinct seasons and each season has its own beauty and charm. Bhutan is an year-round destination. So, it is entirely up to you to decide your travel period.

Spring (March, April and May) is a botanist’s delight as various flowers start to bloom.and plants start budding after their long dormancy in winter.Flowers such as rhododendron, wild azaleas, and edelweiss cover the meadows like carpet and add a new sense of wonder.to the Bhutan’s landscape.

Summer (June, July and August) is an abundant time of the year as flowers are in full bloom and valleys are covered in green, weeping willows sweep the banks of many of the river and pine cone glisten in the sun, so full with risen they are ready to plummet to the ground.

Autumn (September, October and November) is the time when the entire landscape turns into golden color. The farmers harvesting their crops in the golden colored paddy fields under the crisp blue skies is just an amazing view of Bhutan’s landscape in the Autumn season.

Winter (December, January & February) has its moments. The days are full of sunshine while evenings can turn chilly. Soft turfs of clouds drape lazily over mountain tops as if waiting for new life to blow it across the landscape. The winter season in Bhutan gives one a clear view of the world’s highest Himalayan mountain ranges covered in snow.

What’s the food like in Bhutan?

The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese cuisine is its spiciness. Chillies are an essential part of nearly every dish and are considered so important that most Bhutanese people would not enjoy a meal that is not spicy.

Rice forms staple Bhutanese diet. It is accompanied by one or two side dishes consisting of meat or vegetables. Pork, beef and chicken are consumed most often. A wide selection of western and Indian food is also available in many of the restaurants around the country.

What currency is used in Bhutan? Can I pay with my credit card for my personal expenses when in Bhutan?

Bhutanese currency is known as the Ngultrum. Its value is tied to the Indian Rupee which is widely accepted in the country. Some of the banks that you can use to change currencies to local local currency while in Bhutan are the Bank of Bhutan Limited, the Bhutan National Bank, the Druk PNB and the Tashi Bank.

In addition, POS (Point of Sale) services are available nationwide, meaning visitors can pay by credit card at most handicrafts stores (for your souvenir shopping) and other shops frequented by tourists.