Golf, white water rafting & cultural tour (8 nights/ 9 days)
It is now easy to enjoy the perfect golf holiday in Bhutan. The scenic Royal Thimphu Golf Course, in the lap of the Himalayas, is a delight and privilege to play in.
Golf came to Bhutan only in the early 70s. An Indian Army officer posted in Thimphu requested Bhutan’s king to allow him to build the world’s highest course in what used to be paddy fields – opposite the Tashichhodzong that houses the King of Bhutan’s office.
Even today, you will not find golf pro shops but the Thimphu Golf Club has a few bags of clubs for hire. A par 34 course, the Royal Thimphu Golf area covers a total of 2,800 yards and makes for a truly amazing game. But, while the altitude can be a challenge for some, for most, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Druk Executive Travel, however, will not restrict you only to golf but also take you on a cultural and spiritual adventure. After all, the last Shangri-la does have a lot to offer.
Your itinerary around Paro, Thimphu and Punakha is designed in such a manner that you will leave rejuvenated, spiritually enlightened and most certainly wanting for more – you have our word!
Day 01: Arrive in Paro
Paro valley, at an altitude of 2280m, will surely touch your senses. Dotted with imposing monasteries fortresses, farmhouses and resorts, the region is rich in history and if you listen closely you might even hear the victory chants of the Bhutanese over the marauding Tibetan armies from a bygone era.
After lunch, and after checking in to a hotel of your preference, our guide will take you for a leisurely walk in the countryside to acclimatize you with the altitude.
Below is the list of hotels you can pick from in Paro:
- Aman Kora Resort (5 Star) amankora.com
- Uma Paro Resort (5 Star) comohotels.com/umaparo
- Hotel Zhiwa Ling (5 Star) zhiwaling.com
- Nak Sel Boutique (4 Star) naksel.com
Day 02: Paro – Thimphu
After breakfast in the hotel, you will go sightseeing and visit the Drugyel dzong and the Kichu Lhakhang.
Drugyel dzong or The Fortress of the Victorious Bhutanese is a short drive from the Taktsang base. This fortress-monastery, which was partly destroyed by fire in 1951, was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 to commemorate his victory over raiding and pillaging Tibetan armies. Although in ruins today, the fortress remains an impressive and imposing sight still. From there, you will head to Kichu Lhakhang for a first-hand experience of Buddhism as it is practiced in Bhutan. (Bhutan is the only country that follows the tantric form of Buddhism).
For lunch, you will head back to Paro town after which will be a stopover at Paro’s two most visited monuments – the Rinpung dzong and the National Museum.
The Rinchen Pung Dzong or Rinpung Dzong translates to ‘Fortress on a Heap of Jewels’ and is the finest illustration of Bhutanese architecture and craftsmanship you’ll see. So impressive it is that even Bernardo Bertolucci filmed scenes of his 1995 film Little Buddha here.
The National Museum or Ta Dzong stands atop the hill above Paro town. The unusual building in the shape of a conch shell served as a watchtower back in the day. With 2.5m-thick walls, the monument was constructed in 1656. But, it wasn’t until 1967 that the structure was renovated to house the National Museum.
In the evening, you will be driven to the capital Thimphu. The drive will take approximately an hour.
Below is the list of hotels you can pick from in Thimphu:
- Le Meridien (5 Star) lemeridienthimphu.com
- Taj Tashi (5 Star) tajhotels.com
- Aman Kora Resort (5 Star) www.amankora.com
- Namgay Heritage (4 star) nhh.bt
- Hotel Druk (4 star) drukhotels.com
Day 03: Thimphu
Yes, you guessed it right. You will be golfing the entire day. But in the evening, Druk Executive Travel will organize a private cultural program for you.
Day 04: Thimphu
One more day you get to spend in the golf course proving your mettle or just honing your skills. And in the evening, you can witness the Guard Mounting Ceremony at the Tashichhodzong.
Tashichhodzong – along the bank of the Wang Chhu, is an architectural delight and houses the Throne room, and offices of His Majesty the King and the ministries of home affairs and finance. It also is the summer residence of the Dratshang (monk body).
Day 05: Thimphu
As Thimphu has a variety of attractions like the Memorial Chorten, the National Textile Museum, the Changlimithang Stadium & the Archery Range, the Changangkha Lhakhang, the National Institute of Zorig Chusum, The Takin Preserve et al, the entire day you will be immersed in seeing the sights. In the evening, however, Druk Executive Travel will organize a talk on Gross National Happiness just to give you an idea of Bhutan’s developmental philosophy followed by dinner.
Day 06: Thimphu – Punakha
Punakha is at a lower altitude (1310m) than Paro and Thimphu. And the three-hour drive will take you across a high mountain pass (Dochula) with breathtaking stupas standing tall across the magnificent Himalayan ranges.
There, you will visit the Chimi Lhakhang and the Punakha dzong. Chimi Lhakhang is the repository of the original wooden phallus that maverick saint Drukpa Kunley or The Divine Madman brought from Tibet. It is used to bless people who visit the temple on pilgrimage, particularly women seeking blessing to beget children.
The Punakha dzong, on the other hand, is the winter residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and the monastic body of Bhutan. Constructed in 1637-38, it is the second oldest dzong in the Kingdom and the wedding of the King and Queen of Bhutan was held there.
After lunch, you will be heading towards one of the many adventure playgrounds of the Himalayan Kingdom to raft along the white waters of Mochhu and Phochhu.
Below is the list of hotels you can pick from in Punakha:
- Aman Kora(5 star) amankora.com
- Uma Punakha (5 star) comohotels.com/umapunakha
- Dhensa Resort (4 star Deluxe) dhensa.com
- Kuenzang Zhing Resort (4 star) kunzangzhingresortbhutan.com
Day 07: Punkaha – Thimphu
A hearty breakfast in the hotel and we drive back to Thimphu.
After lunch, you’ll witness an archery match full of barbs, jibes, wits and, of course, divine interventions. Bhutanese archery is perhaps the only sport in the world where drinking goes hand-in-hand with the game and where the local deities’ help is sought. In the evening, walk around Thimphu town and shop for all things Bhutanese (if you want to, that is).
Day 08: Paro
After an early breakfast, we drive to Paro and hike to the Tiger’s Nest.
No trip to Paro, or even Bhutan for that matter, is complete without a visit to the legendary Tiger’s Nest Monastery or Taktsang. The Tiger’s Nest is undoubtedly the most visited and the most photographed of all the monuments in Bhutan. Standing on the edge of a 3,120m-tall cliff, above a beautiful forest of blue pine and rhododendrons overlooking the Paro valley, the monastery is of tremendous religious significance to the Bhutanese. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche flew to this site on the back of a tigress to subdue a local demon. The monastery was built in 1692 to honor and worship the Guru. The hike up to the Tiger’s Nest is give-or-take a two-hour ascent and, the view from the top, is well worth the climb.
In the evening, you can relax in the hotel and enjoy a complimentary spa – courtesy of Druk Executive Travel.
Day 09: Departure
After breakfast, drive to Paro International airport.