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Bhutan Cultural and Hiking Experience

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“The Land Of  Thunder Dragon” – as it is rightly called, Bhutan is a little Himalayan hamlet that has gained the title to be the “Happiest Country”. And you shall feel the vibes of happiness all around you – as soon as you’ll entire Bhutan. With lofty Himalayan mountains, gusty rivulets crossing the valleys, the aroma of Momos and Datshi in the air, colorful prayer flags and huge Dzongs – Bhutan can never fail to mesmerize the visitors. This 7 – days road trip through the towns and countrysides of Bhutan will let to see the country’s diverse sides. Witness the popular Tsechu Festival, visit the numerous old forts and hike up to one of the highest monasteries in the world – and you shall return back home, being a lot happier!

While many people have a misconception thinking that traveling to Bhutan is expensive, it’s not really the case! Plan The Unplanned has curated the most amazing and budget-friendly trip to Bhutan, that’ll endow you with the best experiences ever!

Note: Just in case you are a group of 5 or more, we can offer you customized trips on your preferable dates. For more details, contact us!

Price

  • Triple Sharing - ₹
  • Twin Sharing - ₹

Bhutan Trip - An Overview

Day 0: Reach Phuentsholing

Day 1: Begin at Phuentsholing, stop at Chuzom and Check-in at Thimphu

Day 2: Thimphu Tsechu

Day 3: Dochula Pass, Lobesa Village, and Punakha Dzong

Day 4: Explore Punakha

Day 5: Hiking in Gangtey Valley

Day 6: Paro Valley

Day 7: Trek to Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest )

Day 8: Journey onwards

Price Inclusions

  • Transportation pick/drop and local sightseeing ( Phuentsholing - Phuentsholing )
  • Stay on Triple /Double sharing basis
  • Breakfast from Day 1- Day 8
  • Bhutanese Guide and Outdoor Leader from Plan The Unplanned
  • Trekking Permits
  • Visa Permits Fee
  • Experience that you gain

Price Exclusions

  • Any meals not included above
  • Any kind of personal expenses
  • Any kind of insurance (health, medical, life accidental,etc )
  • Anything not included above
  • Any Entry Fees
  • Any additional expenses arising out of unforeseen circumstances like cancellation/roadblocks/landslides/ strike or any other natural causes out of human control or any emergency evacuation expenses.

How to Reach?

Meeting Point: Phuentsholing/Jaigaon – Immigration Office – 8:00 am

  • Option 1 – There are a lot of ways to reach Bhutan. But the best way that we would recommend is, take a flight till Bagdogra(Nearest airport) and from there take a cab/bus till Phuentsholing/Jaigaon.
  • Option 2 – Also, you can take a flight directly to Paro. The permits can be taken care in Paro itself.
  • Option 3 – From Kolkata to Phuentsholing by bus: Kolkata Bus Terminal, Esplanade[ 0091 3322487734/9830723944/9831720574 ), there is a bus which goes every day(except Sunday) at 7:00 PM. The booking needs to be done offline for the same. You can find the phone number and other details here: http://www.bhutanpost.bt/plingkolkata.php

Train

There are direct trains plying from Kolkata to Hasimara although these are very few. Journey duration takes around 13 hours to 15 hours. Only the following three trains run from Kolkata to Hasimara.
 
  • Kanchankanya Express Train No. 13149, Sealdah – 20:30, Hasimara – 10:46, Daily
  • Karmabhoomi Express Train No. 22511, Howrah Junction – 21:55, Hasimara – 12:15, Thursday
  • Kolkata Alipur Duar Special Fare Train No. 03129, Kolkata – 22:45, Hasimara – 12:20, Sunday
 
From Hasimara Railway Station, the Jaigaon/ Phuentsholing Border is hardly 15 kilometers and takes only 30 minutes. At Hasimara you will get several options like auto-rickshaw, shared jeep or taxi to get to the border. Auto-Rickshaw costs around Rs. 120, a shared jeep costs around Rs. 50 per person and lastly, private taxi costs around Rs. 400.
 
For more detailed info you can also visit

For any other queries, you can give us  a call on 9035182699, 9428909952

Things to Carry

We request you to kindly carry the following. It’s better to be prepared rather than not prepared.

  • A Rucksack to stuff your clothes and all the necessities
  • Passport and Passport size photos
  • Tupperware Water bottle, avoid the use of plastic disposable water bottle
  • A small daypack to carry your trek essentials
  • Hiking shoes and Floaters
  • Warm Layers, socks, gloves, woolen caps, thermals
  • Undergarments as required
  • Raincoat
  • Sunscreen, Suncap, and Sunglasses
  • Toiletry kit
  • Medical kit with your basic medicines
  • Dry bags to stuff used clothes or wet clothes
  • Biodegradable waste bags to not litter around
  • Snacks, dry fruits

Photos

Bhutan Cultural & Hiking Experience - A Detailed Itinerary

Day 0: Reach Phuentsholing

Make sure you reach Bagdogra Airport before 12 PM.  We would recommend you to reach by 5th October 2019 to avoid any delays. The trip will start the next day at Phuentsholing – Immigration Office – 9:00 AM, 7th Oct 2019.

Overnight stay at the hotel in Phuentsholing. (Self Sponsored)

Bagdogra to Phuentsholing is 150 km which we usually travel by a local bus on 6th Oct 2019 ( 6 hours journey by bus ). Refer notes for more details

Day 1: Begin at Phuentsholing, stop at Chuzom and Check-in at Thimphu

Phuentsholing, the second largest town in Bhutan is where your adventure with us begins. We personally think of this town as the gateway to travel to heaven because every traveler stops here to enter this beautiful country. The clean air, greenery and mountain tops serve as the first glimpse of your travel destination. (Know that Indians don’t need any Visa to explore Bhutan, it’s just a travel permit that is required.) We begin by completing all immigration formalities and baggage checks and then set off on our journey to Thimphu. En-route we will stop at Chhuzom which is the confluence point of the Thimphu and Paro river. “Chhu” means river and “zom” means to join and the Bhutanese consider it as the confluence of the mother and father river. The sight of clear blue waters combining while 3 different styles of “stupas” or shrines overlooking the river is a pleasurable start to the day.

As we arrive at Thimphu, you will check-in to the hotel, freshen up after all that travel and get ready for an evening walk.

As evening comes, we stroll through Thimphu Main street and the market area. As you walk around the city, you’ll notice that it comprises of a mix of modern and ancient tradition, making it special in its own way. We’ll stay the night at Thimphu with eager anticipation of the adventures that tomorrow holds.

Day 2: Thimphu Tsechu.

One of the most important and largely celebrated festivals of Bhutan is called the Thimphu Tshechu and we will witness it live in all its greatness. Held in the capital city each year, this 3-day festival attracts thousands of people, many of whom travel from neighboring “Dzongkhags” or districts to witness attend the festivities. Prior to the start of Thimphu Tshechu, many days and nights are spent praying and conducting rituals to invoke the gods.

The festival theme underwent a pleasant change in the 1950s when the then king introduced diverse “Boed chhams” or masked performances by lay monks to the festive performances. These new additions brought with it more colour and diversity to the Tshechu. For example, the masked dances of Guru Tshengye (Eight Manifestations of the Guru) and Shaw Shachi (Dance of the Stags) were similar to stage theatre. Similarly, the dancing and jesting of the Atsaras who are referred to as the dupthobs (acharyas) are believed to entrance evil forces and prevent them from causing harm during the festival. Modern Atsaras also perform short skits to disseminate health and social awareness messages.

 

After a day full of culture, dance and diversity we head back to the hotel and get a good night’s sleep because tomorrow brings with it a new destination!

 

Day 3: Dochula Pass, Lobesa Village, and Punakha Dzong

After a good breakfast, we will move ahead on our journey by driving to Punakha through the Dochula Pass. Look out the window and witness perfect panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges that will take your breath away.

Perched at an elevation of 3,100 meters, the Dochula Pass is a mountain pass that is surrounded by the snow-capped Himalayan mountains. Dochula Pass holds within it 108 memorial chortens or stupas and is also home to a monastery called the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (temple). 

Next Stop: Lobesa Village. What’s so special about this village is that it holds within it the Chimi Lhakhang Monastery also known as the Divine Madman’s Monastery. This monastery is famously known as the fertility shrine and women pilgrims come here seeking blessings to beget children. 

We will then head to what is considered to be the most beautiful Dzongs amongst Bhutan’s 21 Dzongs ) – Punakha Dzong.

The Punakha Dzong is strategically located at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu Rivers and is one of the most majestic structures of Bhutan. In springtime, the lilac-colored jacaranda trees that encompass the dzong make it a place of true scenic beauty.

We will stay overnight at Punakha.

Day 4: Explore Punakha

After breakfast, we will go on a short hike to the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, which is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture and artistic traditions and stands out on a beautiful ridge above the Punakha valley.

This temple has been dedicated to the well being of the kingdom, its people, and all sentient beings and offers a beautiful view of the Punakha Valley.

Once here, you have the option to raft back on the Mo Chhu River (On the spot reservation).

We would also visit the famous suspension bridge and end the evening by watching the Punakha Dzong lit in beautiful colors.

Overnight stay at Punakha

Day 5: Camp Amidst Beautiful Gangtey Valley

Our next stop is the Phobjikha or Gangtey valley. From the small hilltop overlooking Gangtey Goemba, we will head downhill through flower meadows to Semchubara village and from here through beautiful forests and into the open valley.

The trail ends with a community school and a 15th-century Buddhist temple called Khewa Lhakhang which features three two-story statues of the past, present, and future Buddhas.

In the valley, we will visit the Gangteng Monastery. During winter, black-necked cranes visit central Bhutan to roost, circling the monastery three times on arrival and repeating the same when returning to Tibet.

 

We will stay the night at this culturally rich valley.

Day 6: Paro Valley

Apart from it being home to the sole international airport in Bhutan, Paro Airport, Paro is a historic town with about 155 temples and monasteries. Rinpung Dzong a fortress-monastery overlooking the valley houses within it a collection of sacred masks and costumes. The national museum, Ta Dzong, is also set in Paro. Hence, Paro preserves the rich cultural traditions of the country.

Day 7: Trek to taktsang Monastery, Tiger's Nest

The last day of our wonderful Bhutanese backpacking trip starts with an early morning excursion to the most breathtaking spot in Bhutan. The Taktsang Monastery or the Tiger’s Nest perched majestically on a cliff which is 2,950m above sea level, defies all engineering logic.

                                                                                                Tiger’s Nest

Feel the adrenaline rush and take a two-hour hike up to the cliff or a pony ride, which can be arranged at an additional cost. We will also visit one of the oldest temples in Bhutan called Kyichu Lhakhang and interact with the locals at a farmhouse. The evening will be spent exploring the outskirts of the town of Paro together.

After a long and satisfying last day, we will spend our last night in Paro.

 

Day 8: Journey Onwards

Wake up, get ready, and grab some breakfast before we depart to Phuentsholinga and make our way back home. 

Experience a soul-satisfying trek up to a rustic monastery perched on the edge of a cliff. Feel alive as you witness the traditional song and dance of Bhutan’s biggest cultural festival.

Let nature’s brilliance astound you as you see two magnificent rivers converge into one. Admire the countless heritage spots that make Bhutan famous for its unique culture.

Whether you love photography, want to embark on an exciting new trek or are drawn towards places that boast of rich cultural diversity, the beauty of Bhutan is bound to mesmerize you with a perfect blend of scenic landscapes, majestic monasteries, and terrific trek locales.

If it isn’t already, a trip to Bhutan must be on your travel bucket list. What better way than through Plan The Unplanned – Sign Up for our early bird special offer!

Overnight stay at Bagdogra ( Self Sponsored )

FAQ

I'm a solo traveller, Can I join?

The interesting thing about traveling alone is that you get to meet new people from  diverse backgrounds, and towards the end you are no longer strangers. Hence solo travelers are always welcome to join us on our trips. Read more about solo travelling here and get inspired! https://www.plantheunplanned.com/solo-yet-accompanied/ 

Is it safe for Women/Girls?

Safety and security is our priority at all times. Hence it is absolutely safe for women/girls to join us on our treks and travels. Our trek leaders accompany the team at all times, and our campsites are secured and safe for accomodation. We also have female trek leaders who accompany on most of our treks.

 

What will be the group size?

Usually, we take maximum of 15-18 people in one group. We believe bigger groups have less fun and less coordination so that’s why we prefer smaller groups.

We need at least 4 people to operate our fixed departure tours/treks.

How do I avail discounts? 

Details for availing  discounts are mentioned in the following link, https://www.plantheunplanned.com/membership/

What is cancellation policy?

Here’s the cancellation policy for Himalayan Treks/Backpacking Trips/Road Trips

  • If you cancel before 30 days – 90% of amount will be refunded
  • If you cancel between 20 -30 days – 75% % of amount will be refunded
  • If you cancel between 15-19 days – 50%  will be refunded
  • If you cancel between 7-14 days – 25 % amount will be refunded
  • If you cancel between 0- 7 days before the departure date – No amount would be refunded.

Note: For All The Above Refund Cases Transaction Fees/Internet Handling Charges will be dedcuted from the overall amount and balance amount shall be refunded. You can transfer your ticket to anyone so that you could save your hard earned money

For other trips and travels with us, and detailed terms and conditions check the      following link : https://www.plantheunplanned.com/refund-cancellation-policy

For more queries please visit our Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQ's).

Notes

  • Min number of travelers required for the event to happen is 5. Plan The Unplanned would be not responsible for any flight cancellation charges/any other cost. You can book tickets by Make My Trip Double Black which gives free cancellation
  • At Plan The Unplanned, we expect travellers to be flexible with the itinerary as there could be few minor changes depending on the situations and the tour leader decision shall hold final.
  • We expect the fellow travellers will be friendly and be accommodating the other fellow travelers and avoid any issues as regards accommodation or for any reasons whatsoever.
  • Let’s understand that we are a group that prefers travellers and not tourists.
  • It is mandatory to reach Bagdogra on/by 9th Jan before 12 PM. For other mentioned tour dates kindly contact us.
  • You need to carry the Original Passport and 3 Passport size Photographs. Make sure your passport has a validity of min 6 months.
  • Personal expenses are to be borne by you.
  • Travel Insurance isn’t required for your trip to Bhutan. If you require travel insurance please call us or email to sayhello@plantheunplanned.com
  • Currencies of INR 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500 can only be used! 2000 INR notes will not work in Bhutan. You can also exchange currency while in the country.
  • You can check the cancellation policy by clicking on the cancellation tab.
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4 Reviews
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Parvathy

Solo Traveller

I’ve been wanting to go on a solo trip outside India for so long and it’s my friend, who’s already been on a trek with PTU who suggested PTU’s Bhutan trip to me. I was a little apprehensive in the beginning because I prefer solo traveling to group but when my friend assured me that PTU gives everyone their space, I signed up for it. I disclosed my disability to PTU as the Terms and conditions required me to and to my surprise they were very chill about it. I met my tripmates at Silliguri as planned and the trek leaders, Jolly and Amit made me feel comfortable by giving me my space. From that day to the very last day of the trip, the trek leaders weren’t patronising to me even though I was the youngest. On some days I went for dinner on my own and even though Bhutan is very safe for women, Amit and Jolly were nice enough to check up on me on my ‘solo dinner explorations’. Our guide, Tiger and our driver, Guruji were genuinely nice people and I became a fan of Guruji’s driving by the end. All the hotels where we stayed in Bhutan were of good quality but I liked our stay at the homestay at Gangtey, the most. I got so many good pictures of mine clicked by The GoPro guy Pankaj, Amit and Jolly. They were patient enough to click as much photos as I wanted, the way I wanted. I don’t think I can do justice to the beauty of Bhutan in words. I wish I had 10-12 eyes, all around my head so that I could soak in the calmness and serenity of the place from all sides. PTU delivered everything promised in their itinerary except for the camping at Gangtey which we couldn’t do because it was not allowed to camp in the valley because of some local festival happening at the nearby monastery. We got to see that festival too, along with the one in Thimphu so I’m not complaining,😂. I didn’t feel worn out at all throughout the trip because Amit and Jolly were patient, accommodating and ready to be flexible with the timings. I loved playing by the river in Punakha as much as I loved the hikes to different monasteries. I could learn a lot from Pankaj, Amit and Jolly of course. I learned that one needs to be non judgemental and cooperative to be a successful traveler.
I’m so grateful to Jolly, Amit and PTU for treating me as an equal and not limiting me to my disability, gender or age. I would definitely recommend PTU cause I had so much fun that it felt surreal at times.

November 9, 2019

Sarita Fogla

Solo Traveller

f anyone planning their 1st ever solo trip, I would highly recommend to experience this with plan the unplanned.

I started my journey with bunch of strangers and i came back with beautiful memories and amazing friends. Being a 1st timer solo female traveler, I was skeptical about safety, trek difficulty, fellow travelers, transport and stay. But Jatin and Tarun were very much active online and over call to answer all the questions.

Backpacking to Bhutan could not be planned better than this. We have taken most out of this country in these 9 days. whether its Food or accommodation or transport, everything was taken care in advance and was absolutely hassle free from day 1 till the end of trip. You guys have got the great organizers in your team !!

And when it comes to experiences, Bhutan has a lot to offer. Road trips between the mountains, Camping in the freezing night with bonfire, trekking to the monasteries, River Rafting and what not. Everyday we got to experience something unique. Pub hopping in Thimphu couldn’t be so much fun if we did not find that shady pub Home stays wouldn’t be worth remembering without Bluff/UNO nights with Varun & Isha.
Another best part of traveling with Jatin will be his photography skills. Hats of to his creative eye and patience to fulfill picture demands of all the group members

Thank you so much guys.
Looking forward for another great experience with you guys !!

March 16, 2019

Aishwarya H

Solo Traveller

Our first ever trip with Plan the Unplanned – this was a truly memorable and amazing experience.One of the best part about the trip was how we were taken to a lot of the less explored- non touristy locations in Bhutan. While all the major popular and commercial tourist spots were also covered, PTU ensured that we got the chance to explore uncharted territories as well. The trip was well planned with each day filled with activities such as hiking, nature trails, rafting, exploration of the town / villages,food and nightlife etc.The most unique part about the trip was the camping experience in a serene valley in the midst of floating clouds. The trip was also planned around a couple of festivals in various towns in Bhutan which gave us the chance to explore the rich cultural heritage of the country. There is also always an option to explore the towns on our own, however with the bunch of friends one is bound to make during the trip, one would not want to be alone.

September 19, 2018

Aashish R

Solo Traveller

From organizing to taking care of travellers, they do the best job. I had extremely amazing fun with bunch of amazing travellers visiting the Himalayas. Hike to Paro,camping in Haa, Monasteries in Thimphu,night life in Bhutan,singing in the bus,watching the moonlight in the night these are the few experiences with Plan The Unplanned. There is no better way to backpack with bunch of strangers than this.

March 31, 2018