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With its ancient culture and the Himalayas as a backdrop, mountainous Nepal is a wealth of centuries-old stupas and temples. Bhutan, with the happiest citizens on earth, is an oasis of tranquillity. On this trip you will enjoy VIP treatment at a traditional mask dance and cultural show, explore the bustling streets of Thamel by rickshaw and flex your culinary skills preparing some Bhutanese delicacies.
Your complimentary, private transfer takes you to your local departure airport. On arrival at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport, you will be greeted and transferred to your hotel. At 17:00, visit the bustling Thamel neighbourhood, and explore the streets on a rickshaw. Gather with your fellow travellers and enjoy a delicious Welcome Dinner at Le Sherpa Restaurant.
The beating heart of Kathmandu is Durbar Square and the ancient Royal Palace complex, laced with myriad temples, courtyards, statues and home to the Living Goddess. Visit the holy shrine of Swayambhunath then head on to Patan's temple of Teleju and the Statue of Yogendra Malla, before enjoying lunch. This evening, journey to Boudhanath stupa where you will meet with the monks for a private puja ceremony (blessing ceremony). A stupa is a hemispherical-like structure that is used as a place for meditation. During this sacred experience, hear traditional chanting, drumming and tales of the monks lives inside the temple. Visiting a monastery and seeking blessing from the Buddha is a very sacred moment and an experience to cherish. Later head back to your traditional hotel, an agreeable nod to the cultural splendour of the valley, with its décor and furniture all influenced by the local area.
Kathmandu, Paro and Thimphu.
Transfer to the airport for your flight over the Himalayas. You are welcomed on arrival in Paro and transferred to Thimphu, the modern capital of Bhutan, the last great Himalayan kingdom. In the evening, join your Travelling Concierge for a walk through the centre of town to experience your first taste of Bhutan life up-close.
Head to Thimphu, the centre of government, religion and commerce for this small mountain kingdom. Home to civil servants and the monk body, Thimphu is an eclectic mix of tradition and modernity. Visit the National Memorial Chorten, a monument to world peace, and Tashichho Dzong, the 'fortress of the glorious religion'. Later, visit the bustling weekend market, full of photo opportunities and the chance to mingle with locals. In the evening, you join will a local family to share a home-cooked meal.
Sightseeing continues with a visit to the National Library to see a vast collection of ancient Buddhist texts and manuscripts and the Textile and Folk Heritage Museum. You'll also visit the Institute for Zorig Chusum - the School for the Arts - to see students learning the 13 traditional arts of Bhutan. Travel on to Punakha Dzong, the capital of Bhutan until 1955, and still the winter residence of the monk body. This afternoon is at leisure, why not enjoy the spa facilities at the Boutique Resort?
In the morning, enjoy a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, a sacred destination for Buddhists. The temple was built in the 15th century by Lama Drukpa Kunley, who travelled throughout Bhutan and Tibet using outrageous antics to provoke people to discard their preconceptions. The views from the temple are spectacular and are worth the walk! The afternoon is at leisure.
Punakha to Paro.
Today you journey to Paro. On the way, participate in a prayer flag hoisting ceremony, an integral part of Bhutanese landscape, at Dochula pass. It is believed that when prayer flags flutter, they carry a blessing to everyone around. In Paro, explore Ta Dzong, built to defend Rinpung Dzong during the 17th century. It now serves as Bhutan's National Museum. Later, walk down a hillside trail to see Rinpung Dzong, ‘fortress of the heap of jewels' and visit Kyichu Lakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines in the kingdom. You'll also visit Drukgyel Dzong, built to commemorate the 1646 victory over the Tibetan invaders. Experience Paro Your Way with a choice to enjoy a private traditional mask dance and cultural show where you will witness a showcase of fascinating dance performances. Alternatively, attend an archery range to interact with the locals and learn about their passion for the national sport. Join a local chef for a cooking demonstration showing you how local Bhutanese delicacies are prepared. Try your hand at the preparation and taste Bhuthan's national dish. Enjoy a private traditional mask dance and cultural show, the leading way Bhutanese people transmit social values.
Paro and Tiger’s Nest Hike.
Embark on a hike to the Taktshang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest. The monastery clings to a cliff face 3,120 metres above sea level, however the elevation of the walk is done at a gentle pace over approximately 500 metres from start to finish, with plenty of time to rest and take in the experience.
After an early morning flight to Kathmandu, spend the day exploring in this fantastic capital city. See one of the holiest Hindu shrines, Pashupatinath Temple, on the banks of the Bagmati. Learn about the traditional pottery-making process and try your hand at a pottery making class, with a local craftsman. In the evening, toast to your newfound friends at a Celebration Dinner at your hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel, you will be transferred to the Tribhuvan International Airport for your onward flights. On arrival at your home airport, your driver will greet and escort you to your waiting car for your private transfer home.
Dwarika's Hotel, Kathmandu.
Kathmandu (Traditional) - Nepal
Thimphu (Traditional) - Bhutan
Punakha (Resort) - Bhutan
Zhiwa Ling Heritage, Paro.