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19634
Bhutan

The Best of Bhutan: Hidden Treasures of a Himalayan Kingdom

Explore Bhutan, one of the world’s most isolated countries, with experts and locals who share their enduring culture, history and natural wonders.
Rating (5)
Program No. 19634RJ
Length
17 days
Starts at
4,449
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.
Flights start at
1,200
Bhutan

The Best of Bhutan: Hidden Treasures of a Himalayan Kingdom

Explore Bhutan, one of the world’s most isolated countries, with experts and locals who share their enduring culture, history and natural wonders.
Length
17 days
Starts at
4,449
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.
Flights start at
1,200
Program No. 19634 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
airfare
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climate
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itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Nov 30 - Dec 16, 2021
Starting at
4,449
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited!

Itinerary Note

This departure may spend time at the Dochala Festival; festival dates are subject to change.

Dec 7 - Dec 23, 2021
Starting at
4,449
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited!

Feb 8 - Feb 24, 2022
Starting at
4,449
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited!

Mar 1 - Mar 17, 2022
Starting at
4,999
Apr 1 - Apr 17, 2022
Starting at
4,999
Jun 14 - Jun 30, 2022
Starting at
4,449
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited!

Aug 16 - Sep 1, 2022
Starting at
4,449
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited!

Sep 13 - Sep 29, 2022
Starting at
5,099
Oct 3 - Oct 19, 2022
Starting at
5,099
Oct 18 - Nov 3, 2022
Starting at
5,099
Nov 1 - Nov 17, 2022
Starting at
5,099
Dec 6 - Dec 22, 2022
Starting at
4,449
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Nov 30 - Dec 16, 2021
Starting at
4,449
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited!

Itinerary Note

This departure may spend time at the Dochala Festival; festival dates are subject to change.

Dec 7 - Dec 23, 2021
Starting at
4,449
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited!

Feb 8 - Feb 24, 2022
Starting at
4,449
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited!

Mar 1 - Mar 17, 2022
Starting at
5,749
Apr 1 - Apr 17, 2022
Starting at
5,749
Jun 14 - Jun 30, 2022
Starting at
4,449
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited!

Aug 16 - Sep 1, 2022
Starting at
4,449
Special Offer

No extra cost for single rooms! Free singles are limited!

Sep 13 - Sep 29, 2022
Starting at
5,849
Oct 3 - Oct 19, 2022
Starting at
5,849
Oct 18 - Nov 3, 2022
Starting at
5,849
Nov 1 - Nov 17, 2022
Starting at
5,849
Dec 6 - Dec 22, 2022
Starting at
4,449

At a Glance

Shrouded in mystique, the tiny Kingdom of Bhutan sits wedged amongst the mighty Himalayas in a mountainous landscape cut by deep river valleys and terraced rice fields. Known to its people as Druk Yul, or “Land of the Thunder Dragon,” it is the last bastion of authentic Himalayan Buddhism.

Extend Your Adventure

This program offers an optional program extension.

Extension: Nepal: The Best of the Kathmandu Valley

Delve deeper into the ancient spaces and sacred places of Kathmandu! Explore sites of Hindu and Buddhist importance and hike to the town of Changu in search of views of the Himalaya.
Activity Level
Let's Go!
Walking up to two miles daily over varied terrain; some stairs without railings. Elevations of 7,000-10,000 feet. Some bus rides up to 6 hours with rest stops and sightseeing along the way
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Encounter the warmth and hospitality of Bhutanese people.
  • Learn about Bhutan's Gross National Happiness philosophy.
  • Hike to a remote village, a tiny monastery tucked in the midst of rice paddies and the awesome Tiger’s Nest.

General Notes

The elevation of areas traveled on this program range from 7,000-10,000 feet for the entire duration of the stay in Bhutan. This program has a maximum of 18 participants. Looking to extend your stay? This program has a post-extension on corresponding dates, program "Nepal: The Best of the Kathmandu Valley" (#22616). Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Raven Crown
by Michael Aris
Aris chronicles the rise of the Wangchuk dynasty in this beautifully illustrated history of the kingdom and its 20th-century monarchy, featuring 106 rare photographs.
The Circle of Karma, A Novel
by Kunzang Choden
The first novel by a Bhutanese woman, this lyrical coming-of-age story explores the rituals of daily life in Bhutan. When Tsomo's mother suddenly dies, the young girl must travel alone across Bhutan and into India.
The Blessings of Bhutan
by Russ and Blyth Carpenter
Head-over-heels in love with Bhutan, the Carpenters introduce their adopted home, its people, customs, religion and history.
Married to Bhutan
by Linda Leaming
Enraptured by the customs, land and people of Bhutan, where she has lived and worked for ten years, Leaming writes with humor and candor about her often-bumpy cultural immersion, her romance with a Buddhist artist and her unexpected path to happiness.
So Close to Heaven, The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas
by Barbara Crossette
Asia correspondent for the New York Times, Crossette portrays Bhutan and neighboring Ladakh and Sikkim as strongholds of Tantric Buddhism in an increasingly homogenized world.
Bhutan, The Land of Serenity
by Matthieu Ricard
A Buddhist monk, photographer, and French interpreter for the Dalai Lama, Ricard, draws on his time in Bhutan over the last 25 years for this intimate portrait. With illuminating chapters on the remarkable Khyentse Rinpoche, sacred art, architecture, dancing monks and ceremonies.
Bhutan Map
by ITMB
A double-sided traveler's map at an excellent scale of 1:345,000 with a larger scale map of Northern India on the reverse.
Turning the Mind Into an Ally
by Sakyong Mipham
A guide to meditation and practical introduction to teachings of the Shambhala Buddhist community, which has strong ties to Bhutan.
Essential Tibetan Buddhism
by Robert Thurman
The foremost Western scholar of Tibetan Buddhism, Thurman has chosen well from that tradition's sacred literature and helpfully includes suggested further reading, explanatory notes and a directory of sacred sites.
Photographic Guide to Birds of the Himalayas
by Bikram Grewal
A pocket guide to 250 birds found from the foothills up to high elevations ranging from the Hindu Kush and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh in the Eastern Himalayas. With brief descriptive information, maps and 260 full-color illustrations.
Bhutan, A Trekker's Guide
by Bart Jordans
A compact, practical guide to 27 treks and walks throughout the mountain kingdom with color photographs and detailed sketch maps throughout.
Travellers and Magicians
by Khyentse Norbu (Director)
The first feature shot on location in Bhutan, this film, directed by a respected lama, follows a young official on his odyssey across the country. Along the way he is joined by a mischievous monk, an elderly peddler and an old man with his daughter.
Beyond the Sky and the Earth
by Jamie Zeppa
Zeppa's memoir of her time as teacher in a remote village shows her growing love and commitment to the people and culture.
Radio Shangri-La
by Lisa Napoli
Napoli's memoir of her time working on a fledgling Bhutanese radion station. She writes with frankness and clarity about the contradictions, poverty and reality of much mythologized Bhutan.
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17 days
16 nights
41 meals
14 B 13 L 14 D
DAY
1
Departures
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrival Kathmandu
Kathmandu
Hyatt Regency Kathmandu

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 2:00 p.m. Please note that there is no official programming on this day. A local Road Scholar representative will connect with everyone today and inform participants about travel plans and logistics to Bhutan tomorrow morning. Your group leader will meet you in Bhutan tomorrow.

Afternoon: Arrivals in the afternoon and evening. For all participants who purchased their air arrangements through Road Scholar and arrive today, a Road Scholar representative will meet you at the airport and coordinate the transfer from the airport to the program hotel. During this transfer to the hotel, the representative will advise everyone the schedule for the following day and all the travel logistics for your flight to Bhutan. If you are arriving at an earlier time/date or are a program-only participant, you cannot check into the hotel on this day until 2pm. Rooms might be available before then, but there is no guarantee. Our local vendor in Kathmandu will be given your flight arrival information to Nepal and will get in touch with you on this day. Additionally, at check-in at the hotel, a welcome letter should be given to you with helpful information on how to reach our local coordinator if you have questions.

Dinner: At own arrangements. Due to participants arriving throughout the day and evening, dinner is not provided today. The hotel has a selection of restaurants and bars and offers room service.

Evening: At leisure. Settle in and get a good night’s rest for the days ahead.

DAY
3
Fly to Bhutan, National Museum, Drive to Thimpu
Thimphu
B,L,D
Namgay Heritage Hotel

Activity note: The flight from Kathmandu to Paro is approximately 1½ hours. Flight times are based on seasonal schedules and departure times are subject to change. Visas and flights to and from Bhutan are pre-arranged and the schedule and travel documents will be given out in Nepal. Once in Bhutan, we will take a private motorcoach from Paro to Thimphu, a distance of approximately 43 miles, or around 1½ hours. The elevation over the next 3 days will be about 7,700 feet.

Breakfast: In the hotel café, enjoy the breakfast buffet with water, coffee and tea. The café opens at 6am and is located on the first level overlooking the landscaped gardens and pool.

Morning: A Road Scholar representative will greet everyone in the morning and coordinate our early-morning transfer to the Kathmandu airport for the flight to Paro, Bhutan. We will meet our Group Leader in Bhutan Once arrived in Bhutan, our Group Leader will greet us with a warm welcome and introduce everyone. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Join a staff-led visit to the National Museum, located next to the ancient watch tower, which visually introduces Bhutan’s history and culture. The museum provides a good introduction to the Kingdom’s rich culture and heritage. We then take a scenic drive to Thimphu along the Paro and Thimphu Rivers.

Dinner: We have a Welcome Dinner at the hotel with included bottled water, coffee and tea; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Traditional Arts & Crafts, Gross National Happiness
Thimphu
B,L,D
Namgay Heritage Hotel

Activity note: The National Memorial Stupa is a 600-meter (0.4 mile - 15 minutes) walk from the hotel. The private bus transfer is 1 mile to the National Institute for Traditional Arts and Culture and a further 1.5 miles to the National Textile Museum. Walking and standing up to 3 hours indoors and out.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We begin the day as many locals do with a morning walk to the National Memorial Stupa built in 1974 in memory of the late third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. This place is popular among the pious, young and old alike, who make it part of their daily ritual to visit. We continue to the National Institute of Traditional Arts and Crafts, also known as the painting school, where 13 different forms of Bhutanese traditional Arts and Crafts are taught to young and enthusiastic students. It is the trained students ad practitioners who keep these age-old Bhutanese traditions alive. They are responsible for passing on the valuable ancient knowledge and skills to the next generation of Bhutanese.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Thimphu with bottled water, coffee and tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: This afternoon's field trip to the National Textile Museum introduces us to different styles of Bhutanese weaving. The weaving styles of Bhutan are distinctly recognizable, and weaving is considered a national art form. Later in the afternoon, we engage in a discussion/presentation with a representative of the Gross National Happiness Commission on Gross National Happiness, the country’s guiding development philosophy. The country’s planning agency is entrusted with a responsibility of mainstreaming Gross National Happiness. The discussion will touch upon the work of the organization, quantifying Gross National Happiness and other related areas of research.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: Evening free. Explore Thimphu at leisure.

DAY
5
Takin Preserve, Buddha Dordenma, Archery, Tashichho Dzong
Thimphu
B,L,D
Namgay Heritage Hotel

Activity note: Private motorcoach to all locations. Takin Preserve requires 10 - 20 minutes gradual uphill hike on partially-paved footpaths, tall steps and uneven ground. At the Sitting Buddha, 10 - 30 minutes walk on even ground, steps around the statue. Archery grounds, 20 - 30 minutes of standing. Farmers Market requires 30 - 45 minutes walking with some stairs. 10-minute walk to the Tashichho Dzong on even ground and steps with up to 1 hour standing.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We take a field trip to the Takin (the national animal of Bhutan) Preserve and to the site of the world’s largest sitting Buddha that is nearing completion. Later, we witness an archery match. Archery is Bhutan’s national sport and we learn about its significance in Bhutanese society.

Lunch: At a local restaurant with bottled water, coffee and tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: If operating, we explore the country’s biggest farmers' market where farmers from the neighboring valleys come to sell their produce. We then take a field trip to the Tashicho Dzong (fortress), the administrative head quarters of the government of Bhutan. While the northern half of the fortress houses monks, the southern half houses the office of the King, the Prime Minister’s office, the Ministry of Finance, the Home Ministry, and the Office of Gross National Happiness Commission.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Phobjikha Valley, Beautiful Himalayan Mountain Views
Phobjikha Valley
B,L,D
Dewachen Hotel

Activity note: The drive to the Phobjikha Valley is 80 miles (5 - 6 hours with stops along the way). We drive over the Dochola Pass at 10,100 feet and arrive in the Phobjika Valley at 9,800 feet.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: This morning we depart for the Phobjikha Valley. Our scenic drive begins with a gradual climb through a forest of pine and cedar. As our drive continues, the flora changes and hanging lichen appears high up near the Dochola Pass (3,055 meters/10,100 feet). We pause to take in the breathtaking panoramic views (weather permitting) of the Himalayan mountain range that stretch for hundreds of miles. On our drive, we may notice many prayer flags fluttering in the breeze. The views continue to entertain as the bus descends along a series of hairpin bends to the fertile Punakha Valley (1,350 meters/4,430 feet).

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Lobesa, en-route to Phobjikha Valley with bottled water, coffee and tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We drive past the majestic fortress of Wangdi Dzong, which was severely damaged by a tragic fire in July 2012. Works are underway to rebuild the dzong back to its original grandeur. We arrive in Phobjikha, a broad and beautiful valley. This area is home to black-necked cranes, a highly endangered species of crane that migrates from the Tibetan Plateau in late October and returns to Tibet in February/March. The black-necked crane is revered as a heavenly bird (lhab-bja). The birds have harmoniously coexisted with the local residents largely due to locals’ strong Buddhist beliefs. The lhab-bja appears in the Bhutanese folklore, songs, dances and historical references.

Dinner: At the hotel with bottled water, coffee and tea included; additional beverages available to purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Phobjikha Hike, Crane Center
Phobjikha Valley
B,L,D
Dewachen Hotel

Activity note: Moderate 2.5 mile hike (3 hours) on predominantly flat ground. Expect to hike on uneven trails with a gradual descent during the first 20 minutes.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After breakfast, we take a 2 – 3 hour nature hike around the valley, through the village. We explore the Crane Observation and Education Center to learn more about these amazing birds.

Lunch: Picnic lunch with bottled water and coffee or tea

Afternoon: We discover the valley's most important landmark, the 17th-century Gangtey Goemba monastery and monastic school. These are located near the lodge, overlooking the expansive Phobjikha Valley below. At the monastery, a discussion with a monk provides insight into their daily lives.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Drive to Central Bhutan, Pele La Pass, Bumthang Valley
Bumthang
B,L,D
Kaila Guest House

Activity note: Our drive today is approximately 100 miles (about 5 to 6 hours) with stops along the way. We cross over Pele La Pass arriving in the Bumthang Valley at 9,185 feet.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Today begins with an early-morning departure for Bumthang, the easternmost point of our program. The drive takes us to the central valley of Bumthang, past myriad examples of Bhutan’s rich flora and fauna into one of the most beautiful and sacred valleys in Bhutan. We cross Pele La Pass (3,300 meters/10,989 feet). With its alpine environment of rhododendrons and dwarf bamboo, the Pass is traditionally considered the boundary between west Bhutan and east Bhutan. During clear weather you can view many high, snow-capped peaks, among them Mount Jomolhari (7,314 meters/24,355 feet). We descend from the pass through the dwarf bamboo groves, where we reach Chendebji Chorten. This Chorten (or Stupa) was built in the 18th century by a Buddhist monk, known as Lama Shida, in order to subdue a demon that had been terrorizing the inhabitants of this valley and the Ada Valley just over the ridge.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Trongsa with bottled water, coffee and tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: As we continue towards Bumthang, we view the traditional woolen weaving of Yathra - a style/design specific to this region. As we watch local women work on their looms, we gain an understanding of the methods used to produce the special designs of the region.

Dinner: At the hotel with bottled water, coffee and tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
School Visit, Sherthang Pass, Ura
Bumthang
B,L,D
Kaila Guest House

Activity note: Private motorcoach 5 minute drive to school. 3-hour drive (70 miles) from Bumthang to Ura village and return. Hike to village 2.5 hours downhill on uneven dirt trail, slippery when wet. The hike involves a fairly steep descent on uneven trail. 15 minutes walk through Ura village on uneven ground and climbing over cattle stiles. Walking and standing up to 4 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We begin with a field trip to a local school. Here we meet the students and teachers and gain an introduction to schooling in Bhutan. Following our school visit, we drive to the scenic valley of Ura via the Sherthang Pass (11,778 feet). At Ura, hike downhill to the village (10,171 feet), one of the highest villages in Bhutan.

Lunch: At Ura village.

Afternoon: After lunch, we explore Ura village. We wander through the cobblestone streets of this traditional village, taking in the sights of local village life. We then return to Bumthang in time for dinner.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: After dinner, we have a lecture providing us with more information about the educational system of Bhutan.

DAY
10
Jambay & Kurjey Temples, Bumthang Valley, Spiritual Hike
Bumthang
B,L,D
Kaila Guest House

Activity note: There are walking opportunities today in both the morning and afternoon. In the morning we walk from Jambay to Kurjey, a walk of 1 mile (½ hour) on fairly flat ground. After lunch, there is an optional hike of approximately 3 miles (2 hours). Apart from a 10-minute uphill section at the start, the hike is generally on flat ground following a dirt road cutting through several villages.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Thsi morning we have a field trip to two of the most sacred monasteries in Bhutan - Jambay Lhakhang, built in the 7th century and Kurjey Lhakhang, built in the 8th century. It is believed that in the 8th century, Guru Padmasambhava (Lotus born) had meditated here and subdued the local deity known as Shelging Karpo. Guru Padmasambhava, popularly known as “Guru Rimpoche,” is the famous Buddhist saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan from India in the 8th century.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Participants can choose to explore the town of Bumthang on their own or take an optional hike around a part of the valley.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Trongsa Dzong
Trongsa
B,L,D
Yangkhil Resort

Activity note: Our private motorcoach drive from Bumthang to Trongsa is 50 miles (about 3 hours) with stops along the way. The elevation in Trongsa is 7,215 feet. Walk on uneven steps and stairs inside and outside the museum. Up to 30 - 40 minutes standing in the museum. 10-minute walk to the Trongsa Dzong on uneven ground and steps. Walking and standing up to 2 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Today we return to the Trongsa area. We visit the Trongsa Watchtower Museum. This newly-consecrated museum is located in the 300-year-old renovated watch tower overlooking the Trongsa Dzong below. The museum provides a glimpse of Bhutan in the last 100 years with two galleries showcasing the history of monarchy in Bhutan with many royal possessions. The ancient monument showcases some of the rare and priceless artefacts of the Kingdom.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Trongsa, with bottled water, coffee and tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We walk through the alley of what used to be a medieval village, now Trongsa Dzong, sitting high above the Mangde River. The Dzong is the ancestral home of the royal family. Tradition dictates that the crown prince serves as the governor of Trongsa prior to ascending to the throne.

Dinner: At the hotel with bottled water, coffee and tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Scenic Drive to Punakha Valley, Chimi Lhakhang Temple
Wangdue Phodrang
B,L,D
Hotel Lobesa

Activity note: The drive to Wangdue Phodrang and the Punakha Valley is 80 miles (about 6 hours) with rest stops along the way. The elevation in Punakha Valley is 4,430 feet. The hike to Chimi Lhakhang and return is more than an hour on gentle slopes, uneven steps and dirt trails through rice terraces. Walking and standing up to 2 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: This morning we have a scenic drive to Wangdue Phodrang and the scenic Punakha Valley.

Lunch: At a village with views of rice paddies.

Afternoon: This afternoon we take a walk through rice fields in the tiny village of Lobesa to Chimi Lhakhang (the Temple of the Divine Madman) located on a small hilltop. This temple is famous for its fertility blessings. It is dedicated to the great 15th-century Yogi, Lam Drukpa Kuenley, known as the “Divine Madman”. Lam Drukpa Kuenley preached in a way that ignored the general stiffness of clergy and society of the time. He dramatized his teachings using songs and outrageous sexual humor. Chimi Lhakhang is a popular pilgrimage spot for Bhutanese people. The temple is frequently visited by childless couples and parents who have difficulty raising children.

Dinner: At the hotel with bottled water, coffee and tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Hike to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Stupa, Punakha Fortress
Wangdue Phodrang
B,L,D
Hotel Lobesa

Activity note: Private motorcoach, 1 hour drive to trail head. Up to 2.5 hour hike to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Stupa and return. About half a mile steep ascent/descent with switchbacks. Hike on uneven ground through rice terraces, slippery when wet. Private motorcoach 15 minutes drive and 10 minutes walk to Punakha Dzong crossing a wooden cantilever bridge. Steep wooden ladder and uneven steps. About 1 hour exploring the dzong. Walking and standing up to 4 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We take a pleasant 2 - 3 hour hike through rice fields to the Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Stupa. This magnificent stupa was built by Her Majesty the Queen Mother for the wellbeing of the Kingdom and to benefit of all sentient beings. It was built to remove negative forces and promote peace, stability and harmony in a changing world. Built over a period of many years, Bhutanese craftsmen including carpenters, painters and sculptors consulted holy scriptures, rather than engineering manuals, to construct this 4-story temple. From Khamsum Yueley Namgyal, we can enjoy stunning views of the beautiful Mo Chhu river valley below.

Lunch: Enjoy a picnic lunch.

Afternoon: Thsi afternoon we have a field trip to the Punakha Dzong, the winter residence of the Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot of Bhutan. Punakha Dzong is one of the most beautiful dzongs in the country and a splendid example of Bhutan’s fine architectural and artistic traditions. It is situated between the two rivers, Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu (Male River and Female River respectively). Punakha Dzong had served as the capital seat of the Kingdom for more than three hundred years until 1955 when Thimphu became the capital.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Paro Town, Paro Dzong
Paro
B,L,D
Khangkhu Resort

Activity note: Private motorcoach, 70 miles (3 - 4 hours) drive to Paro with stops along the way. Elevation in Paro is 7,382 feet. Up to 1 hour exploring Paro covering about half a mile on the street. Paved footpaths and roads with open drains and uneven steps. 15-minute drive to hotel. Walking and standing up to 2 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We depart on the picturesque drive to Paro.

Lunch: At a restaurant along the way.

Afternoon: We continue the journey to Paro via the Dochola Pass. Upon our arrival, we explore Paro’s small town center. We have an optional excursion to the Paro Dzong, which was the setting for Bernardo Bertolucci film “Little Buddha” featuring Keanu Reeves.

Dinner: At the hotel with bottled water, coffee and tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
15
Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery
Paro
B,L,D
Khangkhu Resort

Activity note: This is an all-day hike involving steep climbs and drops, with an elevation gain of 1,900 feet under 3 hours. The hike is strenuous and you must be physically fit to complete it. For those unable to complete the full hike, there is an option to hike halfway to a viewing point at a tea house.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After an early breakfast, we drive to the trail head. Here we commence on a strenuous, but rewarding, hike to view the spectacular and famous Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery. The trail to the Monastery climbs through a beautiful pine forest, where many of the trees are festooned with lichens. We walk past an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. We hike at a leisurely pace and those who choose to can stop mid-way at a tea house for rest and refreshment.

Lunch: Picnic lunch.

Afternoon: We continue our hike further up until the imposing Taktsang Monastery is seemingly within reach. Built in the 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. It is believed that, in the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, landed here on the back of a flying tigress to subdue a demon. Guru Rimpoche is believed to have meditated here for three months. Over the centuries, numerous Buddhist Masters have meditated here as well. It is considered one of the most sacred places for Buddhists.

Dinner: Farewell Dinner at the hotel with bottled water, coffee and tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure

DAY
16
Fly to Kathmandu, Free Time, Program Concludes, Departures
In Flight
B,D

Activity note: There is no programming today. Morning flight from Paro to Kathmandu (1 hour) is pre-booked for all participants on the program. In Kathmandu, participants will be provided a hotel room for the full night, due to late night and possible next day departures (check-out,12:00 noon tomorrow).

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We transfer to Paro airport for our flight back to Kathmandu. Upon arrival, we transfer to our hotel.

Lunch: On our own. The hotel has several dining options to choose from.

Afternoon: We check in to our rooms and have the afternoon at leisure to prepare for departure to the USA.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: Program concludes. Late evening departure to the airport for your return flight home. For those of you flying out tomorrow, the hotel is booked for the night. Check-out is 12:00 noon tomorrow. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Pleases join our Facebook or Instagram page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

DAY
17
Arrive home
In Flight

Activity note: Hotel check-out 12:00 noon today for those with later departures from the program.

Morning: Hotel check-out 12:00 noon today for those with later departures from program






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