Transfer to Kathmandu Airport in time for your flight to Paro in Bhutan.
Frequently referred to as the last great Himalayan Kingdom, Bhutan is a magical and fascinating place that is quite unlike anywhere else in the world. Rich in culture and Buddhist tradition, this remote country boasts a breath-taking, pristine landscape dotted with ancient monasteries and dzongs, untainted by commercialism and modernity. The kingdom’s underlying philosophy of Gross National Happiness, which measures the prosperity of the country by the health and happiness of its people, may seem fanciful, but Bhutan has doubled life expectancy in the last 20 years, remains the only carbon negative country in the world and is home to some of the friendliest people you will have the pleasure of meeting.
On arrival into Paro, having cleared customs you will be met by your guide and transferred to Thimphu.
Thimphu is quite unlike other Asian capital cities. Whilst it’s a bustling metropolis in comparison to the rest of the country, with internet cafes and western restaurants, nightclubs and taxi ranks, it maintains a small-town, traditional feel and you’ll still observe many locals in national dress. Thimphu is in fact the only capital in the world without traffic lights.
As you arrive into Thimphu visit the recently built, 51-metre tall, bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma that sits on a hill overlooking the city. The base of the statue houses a large meditation hall and an additional 125,000 smaller bronze Buddha statues.
Continue into Thimphu and check into your hotel.
Overnight in Thimphu.
Spend the day visiting some of Thimphu’s highlights.
Begin at the National Memorial Chorten, built in 1974 as a memorial to the third King of Bhutan, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. For many locals, this Tibetan-style stupa provides the main focus for their daily worship and you will observe an endless procession of (mainly elderly) Bhutanese circumambulating the chorten to gain merit.
Then, to make the most of the morning sun’s direction, drive out of town into the hills and visit the recently built, 51-metre tall, bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma. The base of the statue houses a large meditation hall and an additional 125,000 smaller bronze Buddha statues.
Head back towards town for lunch, then continue to the Folk Heritage Museum. Set inside a three-storey, traditional-style house the museum recreates a rural Bhutanese household through demonstrations and an impressive collection of artefacts.
Within walking distance is Thimphu’s Institute for Zorig Chusum, where you will have the opportunity to understand more about Bhutanese tradition and culture. Traditionally there are 13 Bhutanese arts and crafts, and this institute was established to preserve and promote these through training and education. Students specialize in painting, wood carving, tailoring, or statue making and visitors are welcomed to watch craft demonstrations by the students.
If you happen to be in Thimphu at the weekend, visit the bustling weekend market, before the final stop of the day: the Thimphu Fortress, a.k.a Tashichho Dzong. There has been a dzong on this site since 1216, however fire destroyed many of the buildings over the decades and in 1962 King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk began a five-year project to renovate and enlarge the dzong using traditional methods (without nails or architectural plans). Nowadays, this impressive fortress houses the throne room and offices of the king, the secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance. It also serves as the summer residence of the central monastic body.
Overnight in Thimphu.