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"Wow! A rare treat indeed. Unlike any other travel experience I’ve had."
Jim K, Indianapolis, IN
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Bhutan: A Group Journey to the Himalaya’s Last Shangri-La - 10 Days

GEC Trip Type: GROUP TOUR

*Solo Travelers: You're in luck! Free roommate matching provided - unless you'd prefer to purchase a single room.

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TRIP DESCRIPTION:

The group will travel October 6 - 15, 2017

Ranked as the “Happiest Country on Earth” the secluded kingdom of Bhutan is regarded by many as the last Shangri La. Nestled along the southern slopes of Himalayan Mountains and insulated from the world for centuries, this remote country is rich with a storied history and culture that has changed little over the past centuries.

Anchored in the peaceful teachings of Buddhism, Bhutan just recently opened its doors to foreigners, yet still aggressively protects its culture by adopting a “High Value, Low Impact Tourism” approach. By severely limiting the number of tourists who can visit the country each year to about 100,000, Bhutan is a very rare gem that strives to maintain its unique identity and remain unspoiled by the ways of the Western World.

Starting and ending in the exciting nearby Himalayan city of Kathmandu, Nepal, join this small group locally guided trip and you can be one of the select few to have the rare privilege to see and experience Bhutan… the last Shangri La.

NOTE 1: Bhutan travel permits are issued on a first come basis and are VERY limited. Once they are sold out, this trip will close. Please book your space early to avoid permits selling out!

NOTE 2: while in Nepal, why not add on the Tibet & Nepal: 13 Day Classic Overland Through the Himalaya, with Mt. Everest Base Camp which is running immediately before this trip.

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GET THE SCOOP! Want to see what previous travelers are saying about the Global Expeditions Club? Check out the club's Testimonial Page.

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Make Friends. Travel the World. With over 50,000+ members across the US and Canada, the Global Expeditions Club is the largest and fastest growing adventure travel club in the world! GEC is a unique and exciting social travel club open to anyone interested in traveling to exciting destinations around the world with other like-minded adventurers. Membership is free.. just sign up for a trip and you are a member!


Places Visited:

Group tour to Bhutan and Nepal, Group tour of Bhutan, Kathmandu, Nepal, Taktsang Monastery, Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangdiphodrang, Bhutan National Museum


Trip Itinerary:
B: Breakfast | L: Lunch | D: Dinner


Brief Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu. Evening Group Orientation Meeting & Welcome Dinner (D)
-- NOTE: this is also the final day of the Tibet & Nepal: 13 Day Classic Overland Through the Himalaya, with Mt. Everest Base Camp. Why not do both while you are in Nepal!
Day 2: Fly Kathmandu to Paro, Bhutan (B, D)
Day 3: Paro Tour. To Thimphu (B, L, D)
Day 4: Thimphu (B, L, D)
Day 5: Thimphu to Punakha and Wangdi (B, L, D)
Day 6: Punakha to Thimphu (B, L, D)
Day 7: Thimphu to Paro. Visit Tiger’s Nest Monastery (B, L, D)
Day 8: Fly Paro to Kathmandu (B)
Day 9: Optional Guided tour of Kathmandu (B)
Day 10: Trip ends after breakfast. (B)


Detailed Itinerary:

Day 1:
Arrive in Kathmandu. Evening Group Orientation Meeting & Welcome Dinner (D)


-- NOTE: this is also the final day of the Tibet & Nepal: 13 Day Classic Overland Through the Himalaya, with Mt. Everest Base Camp. Why not do both trips back-to-back while you are in Nepal!

Arrive at the designated hotel in Kathmandu. Or, if you purchased round trip airport transfers from us, arrive at the Kathmandu airport where you will be met by one of our representatives. You will be transferred in a private vehicle to your hotel and the representative will check you in.

The trip officially begins with an early evening group orientation meeting held at the hotel (details provided before departure). Here you will get a chance to meet your GEC Local Guide, as well as all of your fellow travel companions for what is sure to be the beginning of many great friendships! Following the orientation, join your Local Guide and fellow group members for an included group welcome dinner.

If you arrive early, the day is yours to relax and enjoy the hotel or visit the exotic, energetic and vibrant streets of the Thamel neighborhood, Kathmandu's exciting tourist district. Don't forget, if you are looking for inexpensive trekking and outdoor gear, you will definitely find what you are looking for among the hundreds of trekking shops spread throughout the Thamel neighborhood.


Day 2:
Fly Kathmandu to Paro, Bhutan (B, D)


Getting an early start, you’ll fly about 1.5 hours from Kathmandu to Paro, Bhutan. During the flight you’ll experience breathtaking views of Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga and other famous Himalayan peaks, including the sacred Mount Chomolhari and Jitchu Drake in Bhutan. On arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be met and escorted to the group hotel by our company representative. Here you'll have a chance to explore the surrounding area, then enjoy an included group dinner.


Day 3:
Paro Tour. To Thimphu (B, L, D)


Morning: Drive to Drugyal Dzong - a ruined fortress 10 miles (16Kms) away from Paro town. The Dzong, although in ruins, holds great historical significance. It was from this fortress that the Bhutanese repelled many Tibetan invasions. The name means the victorious Bhutanese. This spot offers a magnificent vista of Mount Chomolhari, “Mountain of Goddess” 24,000 feet high (7329 meters). After visiting the fortress, you’ll visit a typical Bhutanese farmhouse on the way back, then enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

After lunch, you’ll visit the National Museum, Ta-Dzong. Once the watchtower for the Rinpung Dzong, a Buddhist monastery and fortress, it was converted into the National Museum in 1968. The Museum stands on a promontory overlooking the beautiful Paro valley. You’ll then visit the Paro Rinpung Dzong by following a flagstone path that rises gradually from a beautiful wooden bridge abutted by two guardhouses, up to the Dzong. Built in 1645 A.D., today the Dzong is the seat of the district administration as well as a monastic school. The central tower Utse of the Dzong, with superb woodwork, is one of the most beautiful buildings in the nation.

You’ll then enjoy afternoon tea at the hotel before driving for two hours (40 miles / 65 km.) to reach the capital city of Thimphu.


Day 4:
Thimphu (B, L, D)


Today will be spent visiting the beautiful capital city of Thimphu. In the morning you’ll visit the Memorial Chorten, a huge stupa built in memory of the third King who reigned from 1952 - 1972. Then you’ll visit the National Library where ancient manuscripts are preserved. You’ll also visit the Painting School where traditional art is still preserved and artists are taught to paint Thankas here - sacred Buddhist scroll. A stop at the Handicrafts Emporium is also included, where one can buy Bhutanese textiles and other arts and crafts. Lunch will follow at local restaurant.

In the afternoon you’ll stop at Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress in Bhutan. Built in 1629 AD by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it now houses the largest monastic school in the country. You’ll then see the Tashichho Dzong, the main government building where the King and other prominent civil servants run the country. The Head Abbot and the central monastic body also reside here during the summer. Finally, you’ll visit Pangri Zampa Monastery, situated just beyond Dechencholing Palace. This temple was the first residence of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal when he arrived in Bhutan in 1616 A.D. It was built during the first quarter of the 16th century by Ngawang Chogyel, the great ancestor of the Shabdrung.


Day 5:
Thimphu to Punakha and Wangdi (B, L, D)


After an early breakfast, you’ll travel to Punakha and Wangdi, along the way passing over the 10,000 foot Dochu La Pass (3,050m), one of the highest mountain passes in Bhutan. With its fluttering prayer flags the pass offers astounding views where on a clear day you can witness one of the most spectacular views of the Eastern Himalayan Mountain Range. Here you’ll stop at Dochula for a hot cup of tea/coffee. Lunch will be at the hotel.

Following lunch, visit the Punakha Dzong, the former winter capital and present administrative seat of the district. It is also the winter residence of the central monastic body. Built in 1637 A.D., the Dzong (fortress) lies between two rivers, the Pochu and Mochu, meaning male and female rivers. You’ll visit Wangdiphodrang Dzong, built in 1638 A.D., which is perched on a promontory 9 miles (13 kms) away from Punakha.


Day 6:
Punakha to Thimphu (B, L, D)


Continuing your journey through Bhutan, you’ll return to Thimphu with stops along the way. After lunch you’ll have time to stroll around Thimphu town for shopping and additional sightseeing.


Day 7:
Thimphu to Paro. Visit Tiger’s Nest Monastery (B, L, D)


Today is the day that everyone is has been waiting for... a visit to the famous Taktsang monastery. After an early breakfast, you’ll head back to Paro and take a trek up to Taktsang monastery. The name Taksang means “Tiger’s nest”. The monastery is perched on a rocky ledge with a sheer drop of nearly 2,600 feet (800m). It is said that in the second half of the 8th century, Guru Padma Sambhava, the second Buddha, rested here upon the back of a tigress. Picnic lunch at Taktsang cafe. The round trip hike takes about 4 hours of stairs and switchbacks, but the views are well worth the effort. It’s also possible to hire a pony and handler at the base who will take you most of the way up (your local guide will have more details). In the evening you’ll enjoy a casual stroll through Paro Town and visit some village homes.


Day 8:
Fly Paro to Kathmandu (B)


The morning is free until the appointed time when you are picked up at the hotel and transferred to the Paro airport for your flight back to Kathmandu. The evening is free to once again explore the fascinating and exciting city of Kathmandu with your fellow group members.


Day 9:
Optional Guided tour of Kathmandu (B)


Today why not join your fellow group members on the optional guided tour of Kathmandu. Your English speaking local guide will introduce you to the magic of this amazing city and its peaceful Buddhist culture. The tour will include many interesting attractions of this UNESCO World Heritage City including the old Royal Palaces in Durbar Square, the Hindu temple of Pashupatinath and Buddhist temple of Swayambhunath. You could also consider taking an early AM scenic flight around Mt Everest (speak to your Nepalese local guide or the hotel desk the evening before to schedule as it is fully weather dependent).

The afternoon is a great time to pick up any last minute gifts and personal purchases. Kathmandu is a great place to buy such things as extremely inexpensive, yet quality warm weather clothing, sleeping bags, trekking gear, etc.


Day 10:
Trip ends after breakfast. (B)


The trip ends after breakfast. If you purchased round trip airport transfer with us, then (based on your flight time) you are picked up at the designated time and transported to the airport for your flight home.



Important Information



This is a locally guided Global Expeditions Club small group trip that is open for anyone to join. You can sign up as a solo traveler* OR join with a spouse, friends or other family members. All are welcome!
*Solo Travelers: You're in luck! No mandatory single supplements. We provide free roommate matching - unless, of course, you'd prefer a single room which you can purchase during checkout.


While in Nepal, why not add on the Tibet & Nepal: 13 Day Classic Overland Through the Himalaya, with Mt. Everest Base Camp which is running immediately before this trip and do 2 amazing trips back-to-back.

This tour requires a total minimum group size to run. Please DO NOT purchase your airfare or any personal travel requirements until you receive a written confirmation of guaranteed departure.

Prices are based on double occupancy in twin rooms. If you would like your own hotel room, please choose the optional single room supplement at check out. If you do not mind being paired up with a roommate of the same gender, then the single supplement does not apply.

Visas are required for Nepal and can be purchased upon arrival in Kathmandu for citizens of most countries (about US $30). Please check the nearest Nepalese Embassy or Consulate for your country of citizenship for current requirements. NOTE: it is the traveler's responsibility to obtain any and all visas for entry to Nepal.

Bhutan Visa will be arranged by us on your behalf and are included in the price you paid. You will need to email us a scanned copy of (or photo of) the photo/detail page of your passport so that we can arrange this Visa for you.

It is highly recommended that you extend your arrival and departure by at least one day to avoid conflicts due to potential travel delays and to further explore the wonderful city of Kathmandu. Contact us for details and prices.

NOTE: Bhutan travel permits are issued on a first come basis and are VERY limited. Once they are sold out, this trip will close. Please book your space early to avoid permits selling out!

Trip ID: AS1213
PRICING
Departure Dates:

RT Group Flight Kathmandu/Paro
$525.00
Local Fee
$100.00
Optional Add-Ons
 
OPTIONAL: Kathmandu City Sightseeing UNESCO tour (Day 9)
$67.00
OPTIONAL: Airport/Hotel Transfers in Kathmandu
$35.00
OPTIONAL: Single Room (choose only if you want your own hotel room)
$719.00

Price Includes
  • 10 day Bhutan and Nepal tour
  • 9 nights in mid-range hotels
  • Local English speaking guides in Nepal and Bhutan
  • Group Orientation Meeting & Welcome Dinner
  • Private transportation in Nepal and Bhutan as per itinerary
  • Bhutan Museum & Monuments entrance fees
  • Bottled water on tour in Bhutan
  • Bhutan Visa fee
  • Airport transfer for KTM-Paro flights
  • All meals in Bhutan
  • Breakfast in Kathmandu
Price Does Not Include
  • International airfare between your home country and Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Group airfare between Kathmandu & Bhutan
  • Arrival and departure airport transfers
  • Beverages and meals other than specified
  • Nepal visas (about $30 US avail on arrival)
  • Local fee
  • Travel medical insurance (details) mandatory
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips for guides
  • Optional Kathmandu sightseeing tour
Group Leader
  • Local English speaking guides throughout
Number of Days
  • 10 days, 9 nights
Accomodation Included
  • 9 nights in mid-range hotels
Meals Included
  • Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in Bhutan
  • Breakfast in Kathmandu
Seasonal Info
  • The most popular seasons are Spring or Fall (March-May and September-October) when most of the festivals take place and the weather is at its best. The late December & January winter season can be cold and the June-August monsoon summer season can be wet.


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