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Bhutan's highlights: Thimphu, Punakha & Paro
10 days from CAD6,205pp
Climb up to Tiger's Nest Monastery in Paro.
Experience Bhutan's unique culture.
Take in spectacular Himalayan scenery.
Visit Punakha's Dzong.
Go walking in pristine valleys.
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Day 1 Kathmandu
On arrival in Kathmandu airport you're met by an Audley representative. Drive to your hotel by private transfer. After some time to relax and recover from the flight, your local guide will show you around the chaotic metropolis of Kathmandu. Starting off in Durbar Square, visit the market quarter on Thamel and the House of the Living Goddess before exploring some of the more off-beat areas that you would only find with a local.
Day 2 Thimpu
Today drive to Kathmandu airport by private transfer to take a short one and a half hour flight to Paro. On arrival, meet your private driver and guide who will stay with you for the rest of your trip. Getting to know your personal preferences, they can suggest stops along the way that suit your personal interests. Driving the one and a half hour journey from Paro airport to Thimpu, you can stop at Simtokha village which is home to a Dzong said to guard the locals from a daemon who vanished into a nearby rock. The road into Thimpu closely follows the Paro Chhu (river) with scenic views back across the Paro valley.
Day 3 Thimpu
You have the whole day today to discover Thimpu with your driver and guide. The city is best explored on foot, but your driver is on hand if you wish to visit one of the sites of interest located on the surrounding hills. The King's Memorial is of particular interest, built in honour of the third king. Each day many Bhutanese come to pray and spin the vibrant prayer wheels - it's a great spot to people watch.
Day 4 Punakha
A scenic drive today to Punakha, over the Dochu La pass offering stunning views. The drive takes about three hours but it's worth stopping to visit the Chimi Lhakhang temple before reaching Punakha. The temple can't be reached by road so your guide will lead you on a short walk through rice paddies to the temple itself, a particularly memorable way to arrive. On arrival in Punakha check in to your hotel and have the remaining part of the day free to relax.
Day 5 Punakha
The Punaka Dzong is situated on the confluence of the Mo (Mother) and Pho (Father) river, and today your guide can show you around the temples, towers and courtyards. Over the years it has suffered from several fires and flooding but it's still one of the most impressing dzongs in Bhutan.
Day 6 Paro
Return to Paro by road today which takes about five hours. Your guide can suggest places to stop along the way to enjoy the scenery and take light refreshments. On arrival in Paro you have the rest of the afternoon to relax. Your hotel has an open-air terrace with views right across the valley.
Day 7 Paro
An early rise is recommended today as you drive 12 km (7 miles) out of Paro to Taksang, better known as Tiger's Nest Monastery. The highlight of most trips to Bhutan, the monastery is perched on a high rocky ledge with incredible views. The climb from the car park takes two to three hours depending on your fitness, with small cafes to stop off for tea or coffee along the way. Once you have reached the hermitage itself, you then retrace your steps back to the car park. If you feel you might not make it to the hermitage itself, we would still suggest a visit, climbing part of the way up to view the monastery from a viewpoint with a stunning vista of the cliff face.
Day 8 Paro
Day 9 Kathmandu
Today drive to the airport by private transfer to catch the short flight back to Kathmandu. On arrival in Kathmandu meet an Audley representative and drive to your hotel by private transfer. Depending on the time of your flight, you may have some extra time to explore Kathmandu - visit the Thamel market for some quirky souvenirs.
Day 10 Return home
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