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Amazing Bhutan

  • Destination: Asia & India, Bhutan
  • Duration: 9 days
  • Start: 10/27/2017
  • End: 11/04/2017
  • Price: $4799

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The mountain kingdom of Bhutan remains one of the old world’s last few strongholds against an encroaching modern civilization. In the charmed isolation of the Himalayan heights, Bhutan’s ancient and alluring ways of Mahayana Buddhism continue richly intact to this day, and permeate every aspect of Bhutanese life and culture. Our Coda trip visits the highlights of this tiny kingdom and our accommodations are luxurious and often spectacular. Although the trip can be physically challenge (with heights up to 12,000 ft and climbs lasting up to 5.5 hours), our experience has been that everyone can enjoy this trip who is reasonable healthy. This is a unique opportunity to see an authentic part of the world.
Start & End in Bangkok (BKK)

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Please click ( + ) signs by each day for detailed information.

Day 1

Fri, Oct 27, 2017 • Depart The USA

travelForward
Depart the USA on any regularly scheduled flight to Bangkok.

Day 2

Sat, Oct 28 • Arrive Bangkok

mbday11Arrive Bangkok and transfer to the Hotel at the airport for overnight.

Hotel: Hotel Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi
Meals: None

Day 3

Sun, Oct 29 • Bangkok | Paro | Thimpu

After breakfast, check out of hotel and transfer to the airport for flight to Paro. The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular in the entire Himalayas. The journey offers fascinating views and an exciting descent into the Kingdom. Bhutan’s first gift to you as you disembark from the aircraft will be cool, clean fresh mountain air. After immigration formalities and baggage collection, you will be met by our representative and welcomed to Bhutan. (A VISA IS REQUIRE FOR ENTRY INTO BHUTAN. IT IS ARRANGED BY OUR BHUTANESE PARTNERS AND STAMPED INTO YOUR PASSPORT UPON ARRIVAL IN BHUTAN.)

Afterwards drive to Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan with an en-route stop at Chuzom, the confluence of Thimphu and Paro rivers. Three different style of stupas, Tibetan, Nepalese and Bhutanese, adorn this confluence. Shortly before reaching Chuzom, you will see on your left Tschogang Lhakhang, “the temple of the excellent horse”. It is a private temple, built in 15th century, as the result of visitation from Balaha, the excellent horse, a manifestation of Chenrezig, the compassionate Buddha.

After lunch, visit Textile Museum which provides fascinating insights into Bhutanese material culture and way of life, followed by visit to Simply Bhutan – an exclusive project under the Bhutan Youth Development Fund – it is a living Museum and Studio encapsulating the cultural heritage of the Bhutanese people. The infrastructure portrays ancient Bhutanese architecture which is being lost to modernization.

The evening is free in Thimphu. * Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu (Altitude 7800 ft).

Hotel: Room: Meals:
The Taj Tashi *
Deluxe Room
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4

Mon, Oct 30 • Thimpu

Our sightseeing program starts with a visit to King’s Memorial Chorten which is continuously circumambulated by people, murmuring mantras and spinning their prayer wheels. Construction of this landmark was the idea of Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (“the father of modern Bhutan”) who wished to erect a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as a monument to peace.

Then proceed to visit Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang). You can pay here your obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha, the largest statue in the country and then walk around and take a glimpse of the valley.
Afterwards take a short drive (15 km) to Pangri Zampa, 16th century one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan located just north of Thimphu. Here is a monastic school where Buddhist students learn Lamaism and astrology based on Buddhist philosophy.

After lunch, visit to Trashichhodzong, an impressive fortress/monastery housing a Secretariat building, the throne room of His Majesty, the King and various government offices. It is also the summer residence of Chief Abbot and central monk body.
Stop at the government-run Handicrafts Emporium and local crafts shops, to browse through examples of Bhutan’s fine traditional arts. Here you can buy hand-woven textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewellery, interesting items made from local materials.

This is followed by interesting weekend market of Thimphu. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Hotel: The Taj Tashi
Room: Deluxe Room
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5

Tue, Oct 31 • Thimpu | Punakha (75km, 3hrs Drive)

Morning after breakfast visit to the National Library, which houses an extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts, some dating back several hundred years, as well as modern Academic books mainly on Himalayan culture and religion. Then we visit the nearby Zorig Chusum, commonly known as the Painting school, the Institute offers a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.

Afterwards drive to Punakha via Dochu-la pass (10,130 ft) stopping briefly take in the view and admire the chorten, mani wall, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7,158m), Tsendagang (6,960m), Terigang (7,060m), Jejegangphugang (7,158 m ), Kangphugang (7,170 m ), Zongphugang (7,060 m ), a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana – finally Gangkar puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.
Afternoon take a short excursion to Chimi Lakhang, situated on a hillock in the center of the valley, is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who in the late 15th century used humor, songs and outrageous behavior to dramatize his teachings and due to this was also known as the ‘Divine Madman’. This temple is also known as the temple of fertility. It is widely believed that couples who do not have children and want one, if they pray at this temple, they are usually blessed with a child very soon. It is about 30 minute walk across field from the road to the temple. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning ‘field’. It then follows a tiny stream downhill to Yoaka and across more fields before making a short climb to Chimi Lhakhang.

Punakha (alt. 4265ft) served as the capital of Bhutan before Thimphu and is still the winter seat of Je Khenpo (the chief abbot). Blessed with temperate climate and owing to its natural drainage from Pho Chhu (male) and Mo Chhu (female) rivers, the Punakha valley produces abundant crops and fruits.

Evening at leisure in Punakha. *Dinner and overnight at the Hotel in Punakha (Altitude 4265 feet).

Hotel: Uma Punakha*
Room: Deluxe Room
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6

Wed, Nov 1 • Punakha | Paro (125km, 4-1/2 hrs Drive

After breakfast visit the Punakha Dzong, built strategically at the junction of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative center of the region. Punakha Dzong has played an important role in Bhutan’s history. Damaged by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the Dzong has been fully restored by Bhutan’s fourth King.

Later drive back to Paro descending back down from Dochu La, follow the way back up the dramatic Wang Chhu and Paro Chhu river valleys, before crossing through Paro Town towards the north end of the valley.
Upon arrival in Paro check in at the hotel.

The beautiful valley of Paro encapsulates within itself a rich culture, scenic beauty and hundreds of myths and legends. It is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest temples and monasteries, National Museum and the country’s only airport. Paro is also one of the most fertile valley in the Kingdom producing a bulk of the locally famous red rice from its terraced fields. This afternoon you will explore Paro and its surrounding.

Start with a visit of Ta Dzong, originally built as a Watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armor, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts. After the visit walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, meaning (“fortress of the heap of jewels”), which has a long and fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore such as four friends, the old man of long life, the wheel of life, scenes from the life of Milarepa, Mount Sumeru and other cosmic Mandala. *Dinner and Overnight at the hotel in Paro (Altitude 7200ft).

Hotel: Uma Paro*
Rooms: Deluxe Room
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7

Thu, Nov 2 • Paro

The morning is reserved to visit Taktsang Monastery (5hrs hike total), one of the fabulous locations in the world. The Taktsang Monastery is one of the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries, perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor.

It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery and hence it is called ‘Tiger’s Nest’. This site has been recognized as a most sacred place and visited by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 and now visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. On 19 April, 1998, a fire severely damaged the main structure of building, but now this Bhutanese jewel has been restored to its original splendor.

On the way back to the hotel, will visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. The building of this temple marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan.

We enjoy our Farewell Dinner at the hotel in Paro.

Hotel: Uma Paro
Rooms: Deluxe Room
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8

Fri, Nov 3 • Paro | Bangkok | USA

After breakfast transfer to the airport for onward flight to Bangkok. Upon arrival in Bangkok. Connect with your flight back to the USA.

Meals: Breakfast

Day 9

Sat, Nov 4 • Arrive the USA

Arrive the USA.

Hotels

Novotel Airport Hotel

5star

Only Novotel is situated right next to the airport terminal. A leisurely 5 mins stroll via air-conditioned underground walkway. The hotel boasts five restaurants and bars, VOUS Spa, outdoor swimming pool, fitness center.

The Taj Tashi

5star

Guest rooms adorned with swirls of hand-painted murals of clouds – a recurring motif in Bhutanese art – take in sweeping views of the surrounding mountains. Elegant, expansive and luxuriously appointed, the rooms, in the manner of all Taj Hotels, pamper guests with the finest amenities.

Uma Punakha

5star

From its cosmic position over the Mo Chu River, the nine-room sanctuary has perhaps the most extraordinary views of any hotel in Bhutan: below, the lazy river snakes through emerald paddy fields; in the far distance, the snow-capped Himalayas soar above the clouds.

Uma Paro

5star

Perched on a pine-covered Himalayan mountainside, the elegant and imposing Uma by Como, Paro hotel is one of Bhutan’s best boutique properties. From its peaceful surroundings – the pool offers postcard-beating views. Delicious dining, local art and the blissful Como Shambhala spa complete the picture.

Rates

Double Single
6-10 travelers $4799 $6699

BANGKOK/PARO/BANGKOK AIRFARE
Coach $900
Business $1200

Inclusions
  • Accommodation in sharing twin as listed in the Itinerary
  • All meals from dinner on Day 2 through Breakfast on Day 8
  • All transfers and sightseeing as required per the itinerary
  • English speaking accompanying guide throughout in Bhutan
  • Government Royalty and Taxes
  • Entrance Fees for sites listed in the itinerary
  • Bhutan Visa Fee
  • Coda Representative on minimum participation
  • Pre-departure assistance & final document packet
Exclusions:

International and Intra-tour airfares and airport taxes. (These are sold separately; Insurance of any kind / medical expenses; Beverages with meals on land; Expenses of personal nature (laundry, telephone/fax calls, camera/video fees etc.); Gratuities to guides, drivers, hotels, porters & shipboard personnel; All the extras mentioned above as ‘Supplements’ if any

Weather

Elevation: 7544 feet Latitude: 27 32N Longitude: 089 43E

THIMPHU JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
HIGH 54 57 61 68 72 75 66 77 73 71 64 58
LOW 27 33 39 44 55 59 56 60 59 50 41 30
RAINFALL 0.6 1.6 0.9 2.3 4.8 9.6 14.5 13.5 6.0 1.5 0.3 0.1

Elevation: 15128 feet Latitude: 27 38N Longitude: 089 50E

PUNAKHA JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
HIGH 61 67 70 75 81 88 89 89 88 85 82 72 59
LOW 39 41 48 53 58 67 70 67 68 66 65 46 46
RAINFALL 7.3 15.0 25.7 33.2 29.9 54.4 100.0 106.2 60.9 24.1 6.3 2.2

Visas & Passports

You will need a passport valid for at least six months following the date of your arrival to Bhutan and a visa to enter and exit Bhutan. All visas are approved from Thimphu and are only issued to tourists booked with a local licensed tour operator, directly or through a foreign travel agent.

Bhutan Visa

In order to process Bhutan visa we require clear readable colour copy of passport (page containing passport no and face picture in JPEG or PDF format) at least 30 days prior to date of entry into Bhutan. Remaining validity of passport should be minimum 6 months from the date of entry into Bhutan.

Currency Exchange

The Bhutanese Ngultrum is the currency of Bhutan. The currency code for Ngultrum is BTN.
EXCHANGE AS OF October 29, 2013
NU.61.39=$1.00

Time Zone

Bhutan’s time zone is UTC+ 06:00
When it is 12:00 PM in New York it is 10:00 PM Thimphu

Shopping

There will be plenty of things to spend your money on and you’ll have ample time for shopping. Common purchases of items made IN Bhutan include: tapestries, thangkas, traditional clothing, and some food items (such as tea and snacks). Bhutan is not a manufacturing-haven. Many of the items in the souvenir shops are imported from Thailand, India, and Nepal. And they are EXPENSIVE. Even items manufactured in Bhutan are expensive. For those of you used to shopping in the developing world, readjust your expectations here.

Language

Dzongkha is Bhutan’s official language. It literally means ‘the language spoken in the dzongs and administrative centers in all the districts of Bhutan’. It has its roots in the old-Tibetan language, spoken by the people of Western Bhutan. In 1992 the first edition of a book was published, describing the grammar of Dzongkha. Besides Dzongkha there are two major languages spoken by the people of Bhutan: Sharchokpa (spoken in Eastern Bhutan) and Nepali (spoken in Southern Bhutan).
Because of the ethnic diversity of the Bhutanese people, there are also 19 dialects and languages spoken throughout the country. You will be able to communicate with many in English though; it’s the instruction language in schools and therefore widely spoken.

Health

Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.

Gratuities

Tipping is a purely personal matter. We leave it up to you as to whether you want to give a gratuity to your guides and drivers. However, if doing so, we recommend that you place the gratuity in an envelope. We will provide guidelines for tipping in final documents.

Clothing

We expect visitors to dress modestly and respectfully especially if you are planning a visit to the monasteries, Dzongs and other religious institutions. Long pants and long sleeved tops should be worn when visiting such places. As a mark of respect, be kind enough to remove your hats, caps etc. as you enter religious and administrative premises, institutions and in any other place that you come across with the national flag being raised.

Airport Taxes

International and domestic airport taxes are charged. Most of the time, these taxes are already in your air ticket.

Electricity

All major towns are well connected with electricity that runs on 220/240 volts with round hole two-pin and three-pin power outlets.
It is recommended that you bring flat-to-round pin converters for your electronics if necessary, however, most hotels offer multi plug sockets. Bhutan is a carbon neutral destination. Our energy is clean and green generated by hydro power.