Expert tip: This is one of the most popular yoga retreats offered in Bhutan.
Come and visit the World's Happiest Country, The Land of the Thunder Dragon and The Last Shangri-la (Paradise). The kingdom of Bhutan only allows a certain number of foreigners into the country each year, and you will be one of the lucky few to have the opportunity to explore this fascinating and mysterious land. If this isn't enough, then you will also see a glimpse of Nepal through a tour of Kathmandu.
Airport transfer included
The Kathmandu Guest House, a converted Rana dynasty mansion with fragrant gardens and airy corridors, is considered an institution in Kathmandu. It is a 15-minute drive from Tribhuvan Airport and Patan Durbar Square. Numerous dining options and the Durbar Square are within walking distance of the hotel. Rooms are surrounded by greenery and are fitted with large windows. They come with an en suite bathroom that has hot/cold shower facilities.
Maya Manor is a historic mansion turned boutique hotel. The original building of Maya Manor Boutique Hotel was built by the Commander in Chief Toran Shumsher Rana and his brother Balram SJB Rana in 1935. The Chinese Ambassador lived in this mansion for 10 years. Nestled in a manicured neo-classical garden, Maya Manor Boutique Hotel is adorned with a Victorian gazebo, exquisite Rocco works, and wrought iron verandas. It embodies the idea of a quintessential Victorian-era architecture furnished with antiques, art and artefacts.
Most hotels in Bhutan are in the two-three star level and are referred to as Standard Hotels. A few luxury four and five-star accommodations are also available in Paro, Thimphu, Punakha. The standard accommodations all offer the necessary facilities, and are properly maintained. Generally speaking, hotels in western Bhutan (Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue) are better appointed than the rest of the country.
Various styles of yoga will be offered throughout - either a flowing Vinyasa sequence to wake you up before breakfast, or a gentle or Yin yoga at sunset to cap the day. Guided pranayama and meditation will complement your practice. All levels and abilities are welcome. You can do as little and as much as you like.
Arriving at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, meet tour coordinator and transfer to hotel. Explore Kathmandu at your leisure for the rest of the day. A single room awaits for your comfort and ease. Accommodation: Kathmandu Guest House.
Cultural tour. Explore ancient and historical cities including Kathmandu's Durbar Square with its stone-paved lanes and colorful market, virgin goddess, temples of different kind of architecture. Pasupatinath, Bouddhanath Stupa, Swoyambhunath Stupa, Bhaktapur and Patan. Accommodation: Kathmandu Guest House.
On a clear day, the flight to Paro is breathtaking, with views of major Himalayan peaks such as Everest, Kanchenjunga and Makalu, and on the final approach Bhutan’s own snowy peaks, the sacred Jumolhari, Jichu Drake and Tserimgang. On arrival at Paro airport and after completion of airport formalities, you will be met by your representative (guide). Drive from Paro to Thimphu, following the Pa Chu and Wang Chu rivers.
Urbanisation in Thimphu began in the early 1960s, when it was proclaimed as a national capital. Thimphu is a small bustling city in the heart of the Himalayas. Thimphu’s charm comes not only from its wealth of museums or places of historic interest, but also from the strong national character of its architectural style.
On arrival visit the Statue of Sakyamuni Buddha (51.5-meter bronze), sitting on top of Kuensel Phodrang hill. The site offers unobstructed views of the Thimphu Valley, a quaint capital town that has grown around the banks of the Wangchu river.
Memorial Chorten is an iconic landmark of the capital, bustling with life and activity. The building was originally envisaged by Bhutan’s third king, who had wanted to erect a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it is both a memorial to the Late King (“the father of modern Bhutan”), and a monument to peace. It is now a social gathering place for the older and the retired citizens.
Amidst the sounds of pigeons and the ringing of the prayers wheel, some are sitting around in a circle basking in the winter sun while others chant their prayers and some chat and share their packed lunches. In the evenings, it is a place for the younger lot to devote their time to religion and at the same time get some exercise while circumambulating around the chorten.
Once known as the only capital city without traffic lights, it still remains to be one the cultural capitals of the Himalayas. Today’s sightseeing includes:
After lunch, visit Changangkha Temple, the oldest temple in Thimphu, built in the 12th century. This monastery houses Chenrizig (Avolokitesawara), an 11-headed, thousand armed manifestation as the central statue. The prayer books in this monastery are larger than the usual Buddhist texts. There are larger prayer wheels inside the monastery and small wheels on the walls outside the monastery. The main guardian deity is named Dom Tshang.
Then drive to Motithang to visit the Takin Preserve, located in the Motithang district of Thimphu, Bhutan is a wildlife reserve area for takin, the national animal of Bhutan. Originally a mini-zoo, it was converted into a preserve when it was discovered that the animals refrained from inhabiting the surrounding forest even when set free. The reason for declaring takin as a national animal of Bhutan on 25 November 2005 (Budorcas taxicolor) is attributed to a legend of the animal’s creation in Bhutan in the 15th century by Lama Drukpa Kunley.
Set off for Punakha (a three and a half hour drive); driving up to Dochu-la pass (3,088 meters or 10,130 feet), stopping briefly here to take in the view and admire the chortens, Mani walls, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear, the high Himalayan peaks towards the northeast will be revealed in all their glory. Punakha is located in a sub-tropical valley with warm summers and pleasant winters. Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955, when the seat of government moved to Thimphu.
On arrival, visit the Chimi Lhakhang; the auspicious fertility monastery built in 1499 and a temple dedicated to the "Divine Madman", an eccentric monk from the 16th century famous for his many amusing, Rabelaisian folklore stories.
Visit Punakha Dzong fortress which was built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative center of the region. Damaged over the centuries by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the Dzong has been fully restored in recent years by the present monarch. The Dzong is placed strategically at the junction of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. Rest of the day at leisure.
Following breakfast and a short drive along the Punakha Valley, your walk begins with a series of switchbacks to the Khamsung Yuely Namgyel Temple. From the viewpoint at this majestic place you are afforded grand views of the Mo Chu River Valley below. The walk descends from the temple and follows a well-worn path down the valley through rice fields and small villages.
Along the way are stunning views, with terraced paddies, providing a lush backdrop to the river below. Continue walking to the Punakha Dzong, which was constructed in 1637, and was the second of Bhutan’s dzongs and for many years its seat of government.
Khamsung Yuely Namgyel Temple Walk will take around approximately one hour (round trip). In the evening, drive to Nalanda University - a Buddhist monastic school located in the western part of Punakha. Monks reside here getting their Buddhist education. You will get an opportunity to socialize with the monks and observe their evening routine.
Proceed to Paro on a five-hour drive once again crossing over Dochula Pass. Enroute stop an visit the Semtokha Dzong. It was built in 1629 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who unified Bhutan. It is the first of its kind built in Bhutan. An important historical monument and former Buddhist monastery, today it houses one of the premier Dzongkha language learning institutes. It recently underwent renovation.
You will have a traditional lunch en-route at the legendary 300 year old farmhouse of Sisina. In Paro visit the auspicious Kyichu Lhakhang, a sacred monument pinning down the left foot of a treacherous ogress. This is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan dating back to the seventh century (the other being Jambey Lhakhang in Bumthang.
Today you will hike up to Tiger’s Nest Monastery (total hike time: four to five hours). Tiger’s Nest monastery, most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries, is spectacularly located on the side of a cliff 900 meters above the valley floor. It is said that in the 8th century Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress from eastern Bhutan to this place and meditated in a cave here for three months, hence its name, “Tiger’s Nest”.
There have been shrines at this sacred place for many centuries. The principal lhakhang of the present monastic complex dates from 1692. The main structure was severely damaged by fire in 1998, but after many years of painstaking restoration work, the complex has now been fully restored to its former glory. Taktsang is a place of pilgrimage which Bhutanese try to visit at least once in a lifetime.
Transfer to Paro Airport for international departure back to Kathmandu. Accommodation: Maya Manor Boutique Hotel
You will have yoga sessions in the morning and late afternoon, and a free day at your leisure. Accommodation: Maya Manor Boutique Hotel.
Transfer to airport for international departure.
Please note that some of the sights and itinerary may change due to season, weather, national holidays, and special events. Samyama Yoga maintains the rights to alter the itinerary since tours are made in advance and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve your overall travel experience in Bhutan.
The driving and hiking times mentioned are approximate times and do not include breaks in the journey for sightseeing, photo/tea/meal/rest stops. There may be delays in transfer time due road conditions, road repair/widening works, inclement weather and other unforeseen circumstances. During the treks/hikes, there may be delays or diversion of hiking trails due to trail conditions, inclement weather and other unforeseen circumstances.
Bhutan is a beautiful Buddhist Kingdom which is situated between Tibet in the north and India in the south. It is the most adventurous destination in terms of biodiversity, untouched by modernization, with stunning views of the Himalayas. If Bhutan isn't enough, you will also get a glimpse of Nepal through a tour of Kathmandu.
Daily meals will be served while you're in Bhutan.
Please book your flight to arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM). Please do not book your tickets until Samyama Yoga gives a go signal.
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