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Mekong Delta day tour – Cai Rang floating market

Mr. Ninh arranged a wonderful trip for us from Saigon to the Cai Rang floating market. I tried to arrange a day trip to Cai Rang with other more reviewed Mekong delta tour groups with no luck. They would only go to Cai Be in one day, which is not the same as Cai Rang.  All in all, a great tour and just what I wanted!

Mekong Delta day tour – Cai Rang floating market

June 5, 2016

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23 days Grand Bhutan Tour Package

Day 01: Welcome to Paro, Bhutan. As your final journey takes off in the Drukair, through the shades of clouds and blue sky, you will have a close view of great Himalayas adorned with crystalline snows thus offering a dazzling scenic beauty of some world’s highest glacial peaks. As you descends down to Paro valley, […]

Day 01 Arrival by Druk-air – Paro.
Day 02 Paro Sightseeing.
Day 03 Paro to Thimphu & Sightseeing.
Day 04 Thimphu Sightseeing.
Day 05 Thimphu Sightseeing.
Day 06 Thimphu –Punakha.
Day 07 Punakha-Wangdue-Gangtay.
Day 08 Gangtay- Trongsa.
Day 09 Trongsa- Bumthang.
Day 10 Bumthang Sightseeing.
Day 11 Bumthang Sightseeing.
Day 12 Bumthang Sightseeing.
Day 13 Bumthang- Mongar.

Day 14 Mongar Dzong – Trashigang.

Day 15 Excursion to Tashiyangtse.

Day 16 Trashigang- Mongar.

Day 17 Mongar to Bumthang.

Day 18 Bumthang – Wangduephodrang.

Day 19 Wangduephodrang- Thimphu.

Day 20 Thimphu (hike to Tango and Chari Monastry)

Day 21 Thimphu- Paro.

Day 22 Paro Taktshang.

Day 23 Departure from Paro.

Day 01: Welcome to Paro, Bhutan.

As your final journey takes off in the Drukair, through the shades of clouds and blue sky, you will have a close view of great Himalayas adorned with crystalline snows thus offering a dazzling scenic beauty of some world’s highest glacial peaks. As you descends down to Paro valley, the sights that would attract your attention will be the lush green pine forest on the adjoining hills and the silvery Pa Chu (Paro river) meandering down the valley. Also visible before you could land in Paro international Airport and after landing are the strategic Paro Dzong (fortress) and Ta Dzong (watchtower) on the hills above the town. These are natural ways of welcoming you to Bhutan and at the Paro Airport, our representative will receive you and after completion of arrival formalities you will be escorted to a hotel nearby where you will spent the first night in the kingdom of Bhutan.

Day 02: Paro Sightseeing.

On your third day, your early morning treat will be a visit to Ta Dzong ( The National Museum) formerly a watchtower. The museum collection includes ancient Bhutanese art and artifacts, weapons, coins, stamps and a small natural history collection. Then walk down a hillside trail to visit Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong) situated at a commanding height overlooking Paro valley which was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646. This dzong is now the house of Paro’s monk body and the offices of the civil administration of the district and it is symbolic as the religious and secular centre of all affairs of the valley.

Next visit on the same day will be to Drukgyel Dzong the ruined fortress from where Bhutanese repelled several invasions by Tibetan armies, followed by a visit to Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom.

(Overnight hotel at Paro)

 

Day 03: Paro to Thimphu & Sightseeing.

After an early breakfast, we will drive you to Thimphu the capital city of the nation, and this will take you one hour from the hotel where you stayed in Paro. While on the way, you will be moving with the rhythm of the swift flowing Pachu, with the hills adorned with conifers on the other side.

Reaching Thimphu, the first visit you will make is to the National Memorial Chorten, which was built in memory of late third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk in 1974 by her beloved mother Azhi Phuentsho Choden. This is located in the core of Thimphu city. Next we will take you to to Changangkha monastery (Temple), which was built in 12th century, the viewpoint where we can get a bird’s eye view of the capital Thimphu.

In the afternoon, we will escort you to the animal sanctuary at Motithang, a  home to Takin (our National animal), after which we will visit the Nunnery, which is NGO in the Kingdom.

(Overnight hotel at Thimphu)

Day 04: Thimphu Sightseeing.

After early breakfast, you will be visited to the National library, Scholl of Arts and Crafts, Government Handicrafts Emporium and Traditional Handmade paper factory and Goldsmith & Silversmith unit. The next wonderful visit will be to the Tashi Chhoedzon and the house of the Parliament of Bhutan. Returning from there, you will get a leisurely walk to explore the craft bazaar which is located in the main street of the city, which will be a perfect place to buy the gifts from Bhutan.

After lunch, some highlight visits will be the Textile Museum, Folk heritage Museum and Dechen Phordrang which is a monastic School.  You will also visit the General Post Office, where you can see the finest stamps of Bhutan. A three-minute drive from there will reach you to the Traditional Medicine Institute where we can see medicines which are prepared from plants, flowers and animal’s bones according to ancient practices. Visits will also be made to the Art & Painting School, where Bhutanese students learn 13 different kinds of Bhutanese Arts.

(Overnight hotel at Thimphu)

 

Day 05: Thimphu Sightseeing.

A visit to Bhutan does not mean you will get to see only religious sites and other cultural destinations but we will also offer you a visit to the farmers market in the capital known by the name Centenary Farmers Market. It is in this market that the farmers from all over the country brings their organic products for sale to the urban dwellers.

Afternoon: Having toured extensively for five days in tow two districts of Paro and Thimphu, it would be necessary to take a rest and do something that you wish to do which is not reflected in our itinerary.

(Overnight hotel at Thimphu)

 

Day 06: Thimphu –Punakha.

For a time being, the amazing sites in Thimphu will remain a surprise for you, because soon after an early breakfast, we will drive you towards the next district, i.e. Punakha. Climbing uphill through beautiful evergreen pine forests, you will soon have an amazing sight of Druk Wangyal Chorten, a series of 108 tiny stupas surrounding a big one and a beautiful temple exhibiting the true cultural identity of the country on top of a pass called Dochu La (3,088m/ 10,130 ft. If the skies are clear, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right); Masagang (7,158m), Tsendagang (6,960m), Teri gang (7,060m ), Jejegangphugang (7,158 m ), Kangphugang (7,170 m ), Zongphugang (7,060 m ), a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana, and finally Gangkar puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.

From Dochu-la pass, it is a long, winding descent into Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang valley, which is about 1,700m below the pass. We will stop for lunch at Lobesa. After lunch, you will visit Punakha Dzong, a massive structure built at the junction of two rivers. Punakha was Bhutan’s capital until 1955 and Punakha Dzong still serves as the winter residence of the central monk body. Bhutan’s first King, Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned there in 1907. The fortress withstood several damages from fire, earthquake and flood over the centuries. The latest flood, in October, 1994, caused great damages to the fortress but miraculously spared its most holy statue, which you can see it today also.

While in Punakha region, you will get this opportunity to visit Chimmi Lhakhang temple built in 1499 by Lama Drukpa Kuenley who was famously known as the “divine madman”. Hearing how he had subdued the demons would simply shock and stun you, so this for a time being, we will keep it as a surprise for you. A wooden effigy of the Lama’s thunderbolt is being preserved in the Lhakhang, which is believed to have certain spiritual powers to restore fertility to childless women. Thus, many childless women visit the temple to get blessings.

A pleasant stay in a hotel in Punakha would add more glamour to your already stunned stay in this kingdom of happiness.

 

Day 07: Punakha – Wangdue – Gangtay.

After an early breakfast, we will drive towards Wangdue district, but I am sure, this sight of the ruins of magnificent Wangdue Dzong will sadden you, after hearing how we the Bhutanese lost this three-century-old fortress to fire in the summer of 2012, which of course was one of the biggest disaster the nation has faced.  Near the ruins, we will take you for a brief visit to the Rada Lhakhang.

Then it is about two hours drive before you land in the valley of Black Necked Cranes in Phobjikha but the Gangtey Gonpa (temple) which was built on a small hillock surrounded by blue pine trees will greet you first. A descendant of Pema Lingpa (the great Bhutanese saint of Bumthang) built the Gonpa in the 16th century and it is a Nyingmapas (Tibetain Buddhist) monastery. At the end of the 17th century, it was enlarged once and at present, it is headed by the ninth reincarnation called Gangtey Trulku. It was run by the family houses of Gomchens (layman), who worship and work at the monastery.

Further down, you will reach the Phobjikha valley, the marshes of which serves as the winter roosting place for the black Necked Cranes which fly all the way from the Tibetan plateau.  The people out here have become friendly with the endangered species and every consecutive year starting from the 2nd week of November to the 1st week of April the fields and marshes of this undisturbed valley offer a truly magnificent sight as you watch the cranes.

The journey being little long through the mountain roads, you might get tired so in a hotel with a serene environment, you will be halted for the night.

(Overnight hotel at Gangtay)

Day 08: Gangtay- Trongsa.

From the valley of Black Necked Crane, your next destination will be a central district of Trongsa. The early morning drive will be mesmerizing with the chill air kissing the our body, and moving u from Gangtey, we will cross two passes of Lawa La and Pele La, both of which are spectacular viewpoint and if you happen to visit these places in spring, the beauty of rhododendrons and other high altitude shrubs gives you a pleasant drive. In winter months, it is possible to spot yaks on the way. Further down we will pass through Rukubji, Chendipbji and Tangsibji where the great lama Drukpa Kinley returned back towards west during his visit. You wouldn’t regret stopping for a while at Chendebji where there is a magnificent stupa.

The route is along a spectacular winding road and before you enter Trongsa proper, there is a spot from where you can see the Trongsa Dzong in close proximity, hanging down the steep terrain, beneath which flows the swift Mangde chhu (river of Trongsa). Towards evening you can browse through the Trongsa shops and town. Trongsa is the ancestral home of royal family.

(Overnight at Trongsa)

Day 09: Trongsa – Bumthang.

In the morning, you will visit the interior of the Trongsa Dzong, the masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture, and you will also see the Ta Dzong, the watchtower built to defend this dzong.

After lunch drive to Jakar (Bumthang) which is about 3 hours drive from Trongsa will start and will cross the Yotong La pass. Tales of the great teacher Guru Padmasambhava dominates this holy valley of Bumthang. From the viewpoint you can see Jakar Dzong “Castle of the White bird”. Along the way you will stop at a Yathra (textile weaving) factory, where the Yathras are designed with patterns unique to Bumthang, and you can even watch some of the weavers at their looms. You can spend the evening strolling through Bumthang town.

(Overnight in Bumthang)

 

Day 10: Bumthang Sightseeing.

Bumthang region lends itself to some spectacular views. Bhutan is popularly referred to as second Swaziland to most of the tourist. It has its landscape similar to those in Swaziland, plain, green and beautifully located. The region is also the central part of the country with many feature fortresses (Kitchu lhakhang, Jampa Lhakhang, Jakar Dzong, etc) and unique architectural designs still living. Bumthang is one of the most beautiful places in Bhutan to be visited if ever anyone is interested to explore the real beauty of the country.

Other religious sites where beautiful architectural designs are erected, Jakar dzong (The fortress), Jambay Lhakhang (one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan) and Kurjey Lhakhang (temple of Guru Rinpoches body print) are some of the must visit sites in the valley, so we will escort you there.

(Overnight in Bumthang.)

 

Day 11: Bumthang Sightseeing.

You would have already experienced the taste of Bumthang but that’s not the end. After breakfast, you will visit the Tamzhing Lhakhang, where you can see the wonderful wall paintings. You will then visit the Mebar Tso (flaming lake) which has a great significance in the Bumthang region is specific and Buddhism in general. The legend that one of the greatest treasure discoverer, terton Pema Lingpa emerged in this same lake some 6 centuries ago with a butter lamp in hand, and later came out with a treasure in one arm and the butter lamp still burning in one hand, will amaze you.

We will then offer you a short hike to Thangbi valley for energize yourself with fresh and cool mountain air besides excercising you and visit other temples in the evening, depending on the availability of time.

 (Overnight in Bumthang.)

 

Day 12: Bumthang Sightseeing.

Bumthang consist of four valleys; Chumey, Choekhar, Tang, and Ura, with altitudes varying from 2600 to 4000 meter. It is home to many prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries. Today you will hike to Petsheling monastery, which is located about three hours hiking distance from Jakar. It offers panoramic views of the central Bumthang valley. You can also hike beyond the monastery across the ridge and grasp the spirit of the mountains and enjoy the scenery. Walk in the town and do shopping for those interested or drive round the valley. Make a visit to the dairy farm, Swiss cheese factory and apple juice factory.

(Overnight in Bumthang)

 

Day 13: Bumthang- Mongar.

The drive on this day is an exhilarating 8 hours, particularly the Thrumshing La (pass), which peaks at 3,750 meters and this is marks your journey from central Bhutan to the east. As the distance is long, the day will be exclusively meant for journey. However, we will stop wherever you desire for capturing the beauty in your lens.

 (Overnight in hotel/lodge in Mongar.)

 

Day 14: Mongar Dzong – Trashigang ( 3-4 hrs drive)

In the morning you will visit Mongar Dzong, which is more modern than most Dzongs in Bhutan (though architecturally it looks the same), having been built at the request of the third king in 1953.

You will then head to Trashigang, passing through several villages, which will take you some 3-4 hours on the road. In the afternoon, you can visit Trashigang Dzong and stroll through the town, absorbing the culture of eastern Bhutan.

(Overnight in Trashigang)

 

Day 15: Excursion to Tashiyangtse.

When you are in Tashigang, Tashiyangtse is not far so you will visit next district i.e. Tashiyangtse early in the morning. The people are known for making wooden bowls and containers, which are said to be the best in Bhutan. Just below the town is the Chorten Kora a magnificent stupa. Along the way to Tashiyangtse you will stop at the Gom Kora temple, behind which is a larger black rock. It is said that Guru Rinpoche meditated in a cave in the rock and that you can see the impression of his thumb, his hat, and his body on the rock. You will also visit the abandoned iron chain-link bridge behind the village of Duksum. It is said that this is the last remaining bridge of those built by a Tibetan bridge builder by the name of Thangtong Gyalpo in the 15th century. Towards the evening, we will return back to Tashigang, so that you can relax in and enjoy a nice dinner.

(Overnight in Trashigang)

Day 16: Trashigang- Mongar (3-4 hour drive)

Now that you are in the extreme east, you would have experienced the changes and differences of western Bhutan and Eastern Bhutan. Here in the morning you can visit the weaving center in Khaling (which is operated by the National Women’s Association of Bhutan), Sherubtse College in Kanglung (Bhutan’s first college), and Zangdopelri Monastery. From there after lunch, you will head back to Mongar.

(Overnight in Mongar)

Day 17: Mongar to Bumthang (8 hour drive)

Now having toured the eastern Bhutan, you will retrace your way back towards western Bhutan. The journey backward would simply add more clarity of the scenes on the way and we will stop for lunch at favourable place depending on the time.

(Overnight in Bumthang.)

 

Day 18: Bumthang – Wangduephodrang (6-7hrs drive)

Crossing the two passes of Yotong la and Pelela, you will again reach back to western district of Wangdue.

(Overnight in hotel in Wangdue.)

 

Day 19: Wangduephodrang- Thimphu (3-hourd drive)

In the morning, you will drive back to Thimphu and will spend the remaining day leisurely.

(Overnight in Thimphu)

 

Day 20: Thimphu (hike to Tango and Chari Monastry)

In the morning, you can hike to Tango monastery, which was built by the “Divine Madam” in the 15th century. It’s a centre of study for monks and it also affords a great view of the Thimphu Valley.

After lunch, you can hike to Cheri Monastery, which was built in 1620 and housed the first monk body. The Shabdrung’s father’s ashes are contained inside the monastery.

(Overnight in Thimphu)

Day 21. Thimphu.

You can spend the morning shopping in Thimphu. If it’s the weekend, you can stroll through the market to see the variety of food of the country, including basket upon basket of fiery chillies, fresh cheese, and mangoes. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. It’s fun to wander the aisles, taking in the bustling atmosphere of the market. In the afternoon, you will drive to Paro.

(Overnight in Paro.)

Day 22:  Paro (Paro to Taktsang)

After an early breakfast, you will be driven 11 km up along Pachhu (river) to the base of Taktsang cliff, which is a Must Visit site once you are in Bhutan. After getting off the car, you are required to walk uphill through zig zag paths for about 1 hour and 30 minutes till you get to the Taktsang viewpoint. There, you can rest for a while to enjoy the view over a cup of coffee/tea and then walk for another 35 minutes to reach the monastery. Taktsang meaning “Tiger’s nest” is one of the most important Buddhist centres built in the 1600s. however, its significance dates back as early as eighth century, where the legends says that Guru Rinpoche, the second Buddha in the form of Guru Dorji Drolo, one of his eight manifestations has arrived the site on the back of flying tigress to do meditation. While in the meditation, he subdued the evil spirits who were opposing to the propagation of Buddhism in the valley. Taktsang is revered by people of Buddhist faith all over the world. An accidental fire partially destroyed the monastery in 1998 but has been restored to its original glory. This journey would remain in your memoir throughout your life.

Reaching your hotel, you can prepare yourself for leaving for your home destination. At dinner, we would love to offer you typical Bhutanese dishes.

(Overnight hotel at Paro)

 

Day 23: Departure from Paro.

We will see you off from Paro International Airport for you good health and successful endeavour ahead, with the hope of seeing you back once again.

 

Tashi Delek

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