The Kingdom of Bhutan, "Land of the Thunder Dragon," has been isolated and hidden from the outside world for centuries. In the last few years the borders have been very carefully opened, and it remains one of the world's most exclusive destinations, it is only very recently that modern tourism has begun to be seen in Bhutan. This tour is designed to introduce you to the main towns and valleys of Bhutan, Paro and Thimphu. Enjoy the impressive mountain scenery, visit some of the most important places of cultural and historical interest and gain an insight into the daily life of the Bhutanese people. It is an unforgettable tour that will stay in your memory forever.
You are met upon arrival at the airport in Paro and transferred to a restaurant for lunch. Afterwards, visit the National Museum and the imposing Paro Dzong (fortress). Later this afternoon, embark on a 2-hour drive to Thimphu, check in to your hotel and spend your evening at leisure.
Spend your day in Thimphu visiting sights such as the School of Arts and Crafts and the National Library which was built in the style of a traditional temple. The Library houses a large collection of religious books and manuscripts in Dzongkha and Classical Tibetan, a collection of English-language books and a copy of the largest published book in the world.
Later, enjoy a trip to the Folk Heritage Museum, which provides insight into the traditional rural life of Bhutan. Visit a paper factory and the must-see Textile Museum on the main street with its display of exquisite Bhutanese textiles from the 1600s to the present day. Journey to Zilukha Nunnery, Dechen Phodrang Monastic School and The Memorial Chorten that dominates the skyline of Thimphu.
After lunch, drive towards the north end of the valley through the forests and visit the Tango and Cheri Monasteries. This evening, return to your hotel and take some time to stroll around town.
This morning, bid farewell to Thimphu and start your drive back to Paro. Park at the base of a hill and hike to the famous Taktshang Monastery, also known as the Tiger's Nest, the most famous monastery in Bhutan. It hangs on a cliff at 3,120 meters elevation (10,200 feet), some 700 meters (2,300 feet) above the bottom of Paro valley. The monastery includes seven temples which can all be visited.
Enjoy lunch in the cafeteria on the way back down. After lunch, continue hiking back to the road and drive to your hotel. In the evening, explore the charming town of Paro, visiting the many small shops that sell everything from betel-nut to exquisite traditional fabric.
Early this morning, transfer to Paro Airport for your departure flight back home.
What are the visa requirements for visiting Bhutan?
Visas are required for entry into Bhutan. After booking your tour, you will be sent our Visa Application Form, and two weeks prior to your arrival into Bhutan, you will be sent a visa clearance letter which will let you board your flight to Bhutan. The actual visa is approved upon your arrival at the airport.
I am flying to Bhutan from India. Do I need a re-entry permit for India?
If you are planning to enter India multiple times within a 2-month period, recent updates to Indian visa regulations may impact your travel. Further clarification was issued stating that if the visa holder is traveling to multiple countries on the same itinerary, no permit is needed, as long as the trip follows the itinerary exactly. The visa holder must carry a copy of their itinerary to show the Immigration Officer upon their first entry to India.
What is the best time of year to visit Bhutan?
Peak seasons are from mid-February to mid-June and August to mid-November. The weather is a bit cooler from November to February, but the views of the snow-capped peaks during this time are stunning. Mid-June to mid-August is monsoon season, where the landscape changes dramatically with greener trees and paddy fields everywhere. Our tours run year-round.
Are there any particular monuments or sights that are closed on specific days?
Yes, the National Museum in Paro is closed on Sundays and Mondays. The Painting School and National Library in Thimphu are both closed on Sundays.
What is your policy on children taking the tour?
Children ages 5 and under may travel free of charge with their parents. Children between the ages of 6 and 12 enjoy a 50% fare.
Is there a timed itinerary available?
There is no timed itinerary currently available, which means that you can vary the time spent at a particular monument/sight.
How strenuous are the hiking excursions?
The hiking excursions, specifically to the "Tiger's Nest" are quite strenuous, and are not recommended for guests in poor health. For an average hiker, this steep uphill hike will take approximately 2 hours.
What type of vehicle transport is utilized?
For 1-2 passengers, we use a new Toyota Prado, Hyundai Tuscon or Santa Fe SUV. For 3-7 passengers, we use a Toyota Hiace minibus. For groups larger than 7 passengers, a Toyota Coaster bus is utilized. As Bhutan is a mountainous country with cooler temperatures, air-conditioning is not necessary; however, all of our vehicles are equipped with heaters.
What type of cuisine is served on the tour?
During the peak touring season, the hotels we will stop at have buffet meals consisting of at least five dishes with dessert. During dinner, soup is also served. If you have special dietary requirements, please inform Palace Tours at the time of booking so that we may ensure that your requests (ie: vegetarian) can be accommodated. The food served throughout the tours is mostly continental mixed with Chinese, Indian or Bhutanese.
Is the water safe for drinking?
We recommend that you do not drink the tap water. Bottled water will be provided in all of the hotel rooms and in the sightseeing/touring vehicles.
Is there internet or telephone access?
Internet facilities are available at most of the hotels, and you may make international calls at the hotels as well (on your own account). Cell phone service may be limited in Bhutan.
What is the recommended gratuity?
Gratuities are at your discretion and should be extended based on your enjoyment of the journey and quality of service provided. As a general guideline, you might expect to tip approximately $50-$100 per week, per couple.
What is the recommended currency? Are there currency exchange facilities available?
International currency can be exchanged at Bhutan Bank to the local currency, however, the US dollar bill ($) is accepted everywhere, including the small shops. The exchange rate for smaller USD bills ($1-$20) has less value than larger bills. Unfortunately, there are no ATM's. The only credit card that is accepted is Visa, and this is at only very few of the larger stores.
Is there a dress code or recommended clothing for the tour?
There is no dress code; however, you must wear clothes that fully cover your body when visiting the temples. Please dress according to the weather conditions for your time of travel.
Are there any customs to be aware of?
Yes. Shoes are not permitted inside temples and photography is not permitted inside the temples. It is considered highly disrespectful to point fingers at others. Your guide will inform you of other customs as you are taking the tour.
What types of electrical outlets are there?
The electric outlets are mainly 220v and use round pin. You will be required to bring your own converter, as they are not provided at the hotels.
Is travel insurance required?
It is not required for the cultural tours, but is absolutely ESSENTIAL if undertaking a tour that involves trekking.
What is the level of safety that passengers can expect?
We have a very clean history with no robberies, etc. Your baggage is safe in the hotels and in the vehicles, however we do advise that you carry your passports and wallets with you at all times.
Unfortunately, we don't offer Visa assistance but we can provide you with all the information that you need for getting a visa to India
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