The Cloud Kingdom

THE CLOUD KINGDOM

7 days

ITINERARY OVERVIEW

DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU
DAY 02: THIMPHU
DAY 03: THMPHU – PUNAKHA
DAY 04: PUNAKHA
DAY 05: PUNAKHA – PARO
DAY 06: PARO
DAY 07: DEPART PARO

Add a little bit of indulgence to your exploration of Bhutan’s western valleys. Spend your days exploring the historical, cultural and scenic splendors of Paro, Thimphu and Punakha by luxury 4WD in the capable hands of our most experienced guide and driver. In the evenings you will return to your boutique accommodations with options including Taj Tashi, Amankora, Uma Paro, Uma Punakha, Six Senses, Le Meridian, DustiD2 and Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary to experience their first-class service and luxurious faculties including massage, spa, wellbeing therapies, pool and fine dining. We can organize a range of add-on experiences to really create a tour to remember such as a private dinner and culture show, a traditional private tented lunch, and an audience with a Buddhist master (if available). All of these options can easily be tailored to suit your level of luxury.

Highlights of this Tour

The Cloud Kingdom’ Luxury Tour adds a little bit of indulgence to your exploration of Bhutan’s western valleys. Spend your days exploring Bhutan’s historical, cultural and scenic splendors by SUVs before returning to your boutique accommodations to experience first class service and luxury faculties including massage, spa, wellbeing therapies, pool and fine dining.

  • Stay in a boutique range of luxurious resorts and lodges offering every modern comfort.
  • Discover some of the most sacred Buddhist monasteries and temples in the Himalaya.
  • Indulge in a range of holistic therapies including Ayurveda, massage and facials and meditation.
  • Visit many cultural attractions including medieval fortresses (Dzongs), markets and museums.
  • Enjoy 5-star cuisine, including an opportunity to sample some of Bhutan’s fiery Chilli dishes.
  • Hike up to the famous Taktsang Monastery, perched on a cliff 900m above the valley floor.
  • Marvel at the elaborate and ancient wall paintings and carvings in Dzongs and temples.
  • Traverse beautiful landscapes from lush valleys to dense forests.
  • Incorporate a Value-Added Option such as a cooking lesson or meditation session with a monk.

To view more information about some of the townships that are featured in this tour, please visit the Township Highlights page.

Detailed Itinerary

DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth. This beautiful valley is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries and temples, and the country’s only International airport. After being welcomed with “Khadar” (traditional scarf), a BTB representative will provide you with the necessary assistance for completion of all immigration and customs formalities.

After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro transported by SUV, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum housing many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical, cultural, and religious past. Next, visit the Rimpong Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa, considered as the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime. Dzong’s are large monasteries and district administrative centers, which were once strategic forts. Afterwards, drive to the capital, Thimphu (1.5 hours) following the Pachu River. On arrival check into your luxury accommodation in Thimphu.

DAY 02: THIMPHU
Once a rustic village sitting in a broad, fertile river valley, Thimphu is today the nation’s bustling capital. Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, completed by the Royal Queen Mother as a memorial stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972. Continue on to 12th century Changangkha Temple and the Zilukha Nunnery. Visit the School for Arts and Crafts, The National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century, the Traditional Paper Factory and a fascinating replica of a medieval farmhouse at the Folk Heritage Museum.

If there is time, you may visit the nursing pen for the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan, and Tashichhodzong, ‘the fortress of the glorious religion’ housing some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body. Other options for the day include a hike to Tango and Cheri Monasteries (45 mins), two of the most ancient monasteries in the Thimphu region or a hike to Phajoding Monastery providing a splendid view of the valley. It’s a day hike. Return to Thimphu for dinner and overnight.

DAY 03: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA
Drive  over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters), which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into balmy Punakha valley (about 2 hrs total driving time). The drive through the countryside affords a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdoms. In the Dochu-La area there are vast Rhododendron forests that grow to tree size and bloom in late April/early May covering the mountains in a riot of glorious spring colour.

Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. On arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’ as predicted by the great Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava). It is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move from Tashichoedzong in Thimphu to this warmer location. The three-story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. It was here in 1907 that Bhutan’s first king was crowned. Overnight in Punakha.

DAY 04: PUNAKHA
In the morning drive or walk to Yabesa village and hike to through ricefields and up to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. Perched high on a hill on the bank of the river, the Chorten houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions.

After lunch walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman. He inherited the Divine Madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism in his time. He taught the people that religion is an inner feeling and it’s not necessary that one should be an ordained monk. He is also considered a symbol of fertility and most childless couples go to his temple for blessing. Overnight in Punakha.

DAY 05: PUNAKHA – THIMPHU – PARO
Drive back to Thimphu where you will have an opportunity to visit handicraft and souvenir stores. Afterwards proceed to Paro, visiting Semtokha Dzong en-route. The Dzong, built in 1627, is the oldest in Bhutan. It now houses the Institute for Language and Culture studies. On arrival in Paro, check into your luxury accommodation.

Enjoy an afternoon at leisure with the option of indulging in a Spa Treatment (subject to availability. Overnight in Paro.

DAY 06: PARO
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The trail is broad and the walk of approximately 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometer above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to the viewing point). The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 meters above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. According to legend, the great Guru Rimpoche and his consort are said to have meditated in a cave here for three months when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. After meditation, they manifested themselves in the forms of Guru Dorji Drolo and a tigress to subdue demons in the valley below. The cave, where the monastery was later built is said to be the origin of Buddhism in Bhutan. Refreshments and lunch will be arranged in the tent specifically pitched on the path to Taktsang Monastery.

On the return drive to Paro, visit 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. Afternoon is at leisure with the option of resting in the beautiful surrounding grounds, or enjoying an optional Spa Treatment (subject to availability). Dinner in Paro.

DAY 07: DEPART PARO
Enjoy breakfast at Hotel before driving to the airport for flight to your onward destination

Tailor-Design This Tour

TAILOR-DESIGN THE CLOUD KINGDOM TOUR

We understand that every traveller is different, so we design holidays to suit you. Our consultants are experts in creating the most unique Bhutan tour just for you. Whether you are solo traveller, a couple, group of friends, or a large group, we are here to help you open the doors to your himalayan dream. Use the form below to let us know what you are interested in adding or excluding to customise The Cloud Kingdom tour.

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Value-Add Options

VALUE-ADDED OPTIONS

In addition to offering independent, flexible tour options, Bhutan Travel Bureau can also arrange a variety of “add on” options to provide a more in-depth experience of Bhutan. These include:

  • Cooking lessons
  • A farmhouse stay
  • “Ara” (rice liquor) brewing lessons
  • Monastery experience
  • Evening dinner & culture show

Alternatively, you can awaken your senses with a range of wellbeing and spa retreats offering yoga, pilates, meditation, healing bodywork, hot stone baths and massage.

These activities can easily be incorporated into any itinerary. Please note that some activities may attract additional fees.

BHUTAN TOUR DATES:

All of our Bhutan tours are private, tailor-made journeys for independent travel on dates of your choosing. We can easily customise your Bhutan tour to spend more in the places doing the activities that you are interested in. Please click on the ‘Tailor-Design This  Tour’ tab above to begin customising this tour to your requirements. This tour can be experienced all year around.

WHAT WE INCLUDE IN OUR TAILOR MADE BHUTAN TOURS:

  • Bhutan Tourist Tariff Royalty & Visa fees.
  • All private excursions and transfers in superior air-conditioned vehicle.
  • Local English speaking guide/tour leader.
  • Experienced driver.
  • Accommodation in carefully selected, highest standard government approved hotels & guesthouses.
  • All meals in Bhutan.
  • All entrance fees and permits.

NOT INCLUDED:

  • All personal expenses such as bars, beverages, laundry, telephone and tips.
  • Medical / Travel Insurance.