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Thimphu TashiChodzong

Tashi chho Dzong has been the seat of the government since 1952. The throne room and office of the king, His Majesty’s secretariat and the ministries of home affairs & finance ministry office occupies about 25% of the dzong space. The rest of the space belong’s to the monk body headed by His Holiness The 70th Je Khenpo Truelku Jigme Choeda. Tashi Chhoe dzong is the summer residence of the Je Khenpo and in winter he moves to Punakha dzong which is his winter residence. This trend of summer & winter residence was initiated by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in the 17th century.

The dzong is located close to Thimphu town, next to the banks of the Wangchhu River. It is an impressively large structure, surrounded by well-kept lawns and beautiful gardens. Just opposite to the dzong lies the Parliament House and the office of the Prime Minister. 

The Great Buddha Dordenma is a gigantic Buddha Shakyamuni statue inside the Kuensel Phodrang Nature Park overlooking the capital Thimphu city. The Buddha Dordenma sits amid a well-managed forest and serene environment on an approximately 943.4 acres of forest area and is the largest sitting Buddha in the world, at 169 feet (52 m).

Inside the statue is one hundred thousand smaller Buddha statues, each of which, like the Great Buddha Dordenma is made of bronze.  The main temple houses 100,000 8-inch-tall and 25,000 12-inch-tall gilded bronze Buddha Dordenma statues.

Several walking trails in and around the park has been constructed since 2015 to and fro Kuensel Phodrang through the pristine forest of Pine trees. There is an hour hike around the Buddha Statue which is popular among the tourists.  There is a biking trail which begins from the Buddha statue and ends at Debsi Phaka  which takes about an hour; and another trail which begins from the parking lot and ends above the Changangkha Lhakhang/temple that takes about almost 2 hours including the stops.

The Government is also planning to build a circular walking trail around the Buddha statue soon for all the devout Buddhists to circumambulate the Buddha.

Enjoy the panoramic view of the beautiful Thimphu valley!

More than your tour guide, I am your travel companion and a trekking friend in the Himalayas. The most positive, inspiring and consistent feedback from all of my previous guests is that they enjoy being around with me and listening to my stories of Bhutan.

I did my certificate course in Cultural Tour Guide in 2008 and ever since, I have travelled the length and breadth of my country. I also have good trekking experience in the Himalayas, and at times, I double up as head chef incase my guests needed some special customized Bhutanese food.  

I am a certified senior Cultural, Nature and Trekking Tour guide and have been working in the Tourism industry for the last 11 years. An interesting fact – It is said that within the 6 hours drive from the southern city of Phuntsholing to the capital Thimphu, you will come across as many bird species as you can find in the entire European Continent. Join me to discover, not only the age-old tradition and culture but also the wide range of Bhutan’s rich flora and fauna in the untouched pristine environment of Bhutan. 

Bhutan is the last Mahayana Buddhist Country where we practice Buddhism as a way of life and to maintain a fine balance between life and work. For me and all Bhutanese alike, Buddhism is ingrained in every little thing we do, starting from the offering of water and butter lamps in the morning, to annual rituals, chanting prayers for peace and prosperity to the beating of the religious musical instruments reminding us of the impermanence of life and to be kind and compassionate towards all sentient beings.

Join me on a spiritual tour to learn and understand Buddhism as a way of everyday normal life and to meditate in sacred monasteries and caves where great religious practitioners had been centuries ago.  We also have interactive sessions with learned monks and scholars, mingle and observe the ordinary Bhutanese as they go about their daily activities. 

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Chencho Gyeltshen (Cultural Tour Guide)

Bhutan has a very unique culture and tradition. Every rock, tree and valley in Bhutan has a story and the majestic fortresses and monasteries have its own story of origin and reasons to be built. And I love sharing these stories with our tourist guests as we explore Bhutan.

I am 29 years old, registered and certified Tour Guide of the Tourism Council of Bhutan and have been working with Bhutan Swallowtail for the last 4 years.

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Cancellation Policy?

Your Bhutan Holiday and Bhutan Tour Packages booked with Bhutan Swallowtail and subsequently cancelled shall be subject to cancellation charges as follows:

After Booking   10% of the rate
Within 30 days from the start of the program 15% of rate
Within 14 days 
50% of rate
Within 7 days 
75% of rate
Less than 7 days or without notice
100% of rate
After arrival in Bhutan   
100% of the rate
No Refund will be extended for early departure  
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Dochula Pass and 108 Stupa

Dochula Pass situated at 3150 meters above sea level and almost 30 kilometers away from Thimphu is a must stopover for every passerby travelling towards Wangdue, Punakha and eastern Bhutan. Every traveler, both international and the local Bhutanese people stop by at Dochula Pass just to breathe in the cool mountain air and greedily be immersed in the view for a few minutes out of the busy life and schedule. Dochula pass has fabulous views of some of the most beautiful and spectacular Himalayan Mountains such as the Masangang, Table Mountain, Tiger Mountain and others. 

The major eye treat is the 108 chortens/stupas built close to each other and surrounded by numerous colorful prayer flags. Yes of course one can walk in between the temples and admire the architectural splendor up close and enjoy the spectacular Himalayan ranges from amongst the temples. The 108 chortens were built by Queen Mother Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck to commemorate the victory and in memory of the soldiers who lost their lives during the war against the terrorists

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Photography in Bhutan

As you travel to Bhutan, you will learned that Bhutan is one of the least unexplored country in the world and ranked amongst the top ten ultimate tourist destination and global hotspots. Cradled in the folds of the mighty Himalayan ranges this tiny Kingdom of Bhutan- the peaceful Thunder Dragon remains an exotic destination and top of the bucket list for travelling. Situated on the eastern Himalayas, Bhutan sits inconspicuously in between two giant nations – China in the north and India to the south. Sandwiched in between two mighty nations, Bhutan is an independent country and was never colonized by any foreign power (definitely not because of lack of trying)! History records show that Bhutan was invaded by both the countries centuries ago, but were successfully chased out and defeated. 

What makes Bhutan an exotic getaway? Bhutan boasts of a vibrant culture and heritage, and Bhutan travelers have graciously honored Bhutan as a having a living culture. As the only country in the world following and ardently practicing Mahayana Buddhism, religion plays a most important part and has shaped the way of living for the Bhutanese. Bhutanese people donning their traditional dress (men wear Gho and women wear Kira) everyday and everywhere is the first thing a tourist traveling Bhutan notices and already charmed by it.

As soon as the Druk airlines- the only international airlines in the Kingdom of Bhutan, lands in Paro, the only international Airport, you are transported into another dimension where clear azure skies, fresh clean air and traditional architectural infrastructure welcome you.  Yes indeed Bhutan is not called a ‘Shangri-la’ for no reason. Since you are here on a holiday in Bhutan, the holiday mood is instantly infectious as the whole atmosphere here is complete peace, serenity like as if time has come to a standstill. No concrete jungles, traffic or crowds, no smell or sense of the rat-race, here is just a simple slow paced life – a distant cry from your home (maybe!)

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Is it Really Expensive?

The myth of travelling to Bhutan being expensive may probably have marred many travel enthusiasts from even considering visiting Bhutan. On the Contrary, travelling and holiday in Bhutan is not at all expensive if one really considers the fact and logic behind the rates levied. The minimum daily tariff of USD 200 for off season (Jan, Feb, June, July, August & December) and USD 250 for peak season fixed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan has many practical reasons. 

Firstly, the confusion should be cleared that the daily tariff is not the amount a tourist has to pay over and above the rates charged by local tour operators. In fact within the USD 200 or 250, tour operators of Bhutan have to arrange and organize all accommodations (in a hotel approved by the Council), English speaking Bhutanese guide, luxury vehicle throughout, all meals, bottled water, monumental and entry charges, Government royalty (USD 65 per person per day), and Tourism Development fees. The tour operator is also responsible for processing all visas, route permits and border permits. While in Bhutan, a tourist need not pay any additional charges, except for personal expenses, tips and gratuities.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Secondly, back packers are not allowed in Bhutan which means, you have to book your tour with a local travel agent. The travel agent will do everything to deliver their promises starting from planning, customizing itineraries, to necessary reservations and bookings. And as you know these travel agents are doing business and not charity.

Thirdly, as any other country in the world is unique in itself, Bhutan is also very unique. Indeed Bhutan is one of the last countries to practice Tantric Mahayana Buddhism. Rituals like worshipping trees and mountains are very common even in a family whose children listens to the latest songs from the Grammy Charts and goes to discos and pubs. Buildings in Bhutan are not more than 5-6 storeyed and are mandated to adhere to the aesthetic traditional styles to keep alive the age old traditions and culture. Even though the Constitution requires a minimum of 60% forest cover, Bhutan has more than 70% of land under forest and is home to numerous endangered flora and fauna. Moreover, Bhutan is one of the world’s top carbon sink – as it absorbs more carbon dioxide than it gives out and the only country whose largest export is renewable energy that sells hydroelectric power, mainly to India. As a forerunner and champion of Gross National Happiness (GNH) and GNH as a guiding principle behind every developmental works carried out by the Government, ensuring the happiness of the citizens and every visiting tourists is the top priority. 

Having never been colonized or ruled by any foreign power, Bhutan opened to the outside world quite late in the 1960’s and received the first tourist in the early 1970s. In the fore font, Bhutan has always been promoting ‘Low volume High Value’ tourism where the number of tourists visiting Bhutan is limited and regulated. This is to showcase to the world the natural beauty and well intact landscape, the well preserved age old culture and traditions, family values of internal happiness as being more important than making money and generating income and the proverbial ‘rat race’. It is not just the amount of money spent but the value and the destination that matters. 

To breathe in the fresh air of the Himalayas, look up at clear azure blue skies and experience peaceful quality holiday in the ‘land of Happiness’ where happiness matters more than your material content, Bhutan is the perfect place to be. 

Happy holidays in Bhutan!

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Attractions of Bhutan

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