14 Days in Thailand & Bhutan
“the Land of the Peaceful Dragon”
Guided by: Lama Glenn Mullin
September 21st – October 4th , 2018
w/ Options to extend your stay Thailand and explore to the Northers Hills Country
… The celestial world is a close confidant in this Buddhist nation, and religious devotion is colorful and ubiquitous. Gleaming temples and golden Buddhas frame both the rural and modern landscape. Ancient banyan trees are ceremoniously wrapped in sacred cloth to honor the resident spirits, fortune-bringing shrines decorate humble homes as well as monumental malls, while garland-festooned dashboards ward off traffic accidents. Our 6 day optional program will take us to meditation retreats in Chiang Mai, to Elephant Jungle trips and hilltop tribes. Our trip itinerary shows us the most important places in and around Bangkok.
…is a country of sprawling forests, timeless monasteries and traditions, overpowering fortresses; lush green valleys fed by bountiful rivers and age-old practices. Cultivated fields surrounded by pitched roof houses with their typical trefoil-shape windows and Dzongs (fortresses) dominate the scenery with their sheer size. Its people are hardworking, vibrantly attired and deeply religious while the land is immaculate. You’ll clearly see that riches or poverty (as we tend to measure them…) have very little to do with the true happiness that can be experienced during a lifetime.
Out of the many breathtaking sights one of the most striking is the Taktsang Monastery that is suspended on the side of a vertical cliff 3000m north of Paro. Also known as Tiger’s Nest, it is the unofficial symbol of Bhutan. A pilgrimage site for both tourists and locals, keeping the spirituality aside, it is moreover a hiker’s delight. Hiking up to a wooden teahouse provides you a close view of the monastery and is a complete joy for photographers. This trip, hosted and guided exclusively by Lama Glenn Mullin, might just change your outlook of life… forever.
Lama Glenn H. Mullin… …is a Tibetologist, Buddhist writer, translator of classical Tibetan literature, and teacher of Tantric Buddhist meditation. He is the author of over 20 books on Tibetan Buddhism. He divides his time between writing, teaching, meditating, and leading tour groups to the sacred sites of Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia and now Bhutan.
Day 01 Friday Sept 21st
After arriving in Bangkok, (via your own flight and schedule) you will proceed through immigration, collecting your luggage and passing through customs, you will be met by your guide in the Arrival Hall at Suvarnabhumi Airport. You will then be transferred to your hotel by private air-conditioned vehicle. The remaining day is free as arriving flights and times are scheduled by you. The 1st meeting of the group, and Lama Glenn, will be Day 2 at breakfast, at which time, the tour program starts. If you arrive early enough, this afternoon and evening would be a good time to explore the city some on your own… especially, the street markets in the evening. Once the sun goes down, and the stores close up, a new city opens up along the sidewalks and streets. Everything you’ve ever thought of is for sale there somewhere, and everyone with a bucket and something to burn in it, will find something to cook on it, and a new eatery is founded ! Note: if you arrive in the late evening of Sept 20th, we can arrange accommodations for you for that night,
Overnight: Adelphi Suites - Meals today are on your own
Day 02 Saturday Sept. 22nd
After meeting the group for breakfast, we’re off for a day of exploring. three of Bangkok's most revered temples; Wat Pho, Wat Traimit and Wat Arun. First we explore Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha). Built by King Rama I nearly 200 years ago, Wat Pho plays host to the gigantic Reclining Buddha (or Phra Buddhasaiyas), a distinctive image covered in gold leaf that lies 150ft long and stands almost 50ft high. Move on to visit Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha). Located in Chinatown near Hualampong Railway Station. This temple houses Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon (Golden Buddha), which is the world's largest solid gold statue weighing in at an impressive 5.5 tones. Next your guide will take you to Wat Arun for time to explore before taken to a local restaurant. After lunch, it’s off to visit the visit The Grand Palace, considered one of Bangkok's must-see attractions, and view the famous Emarald Buddha at Wat Phra Kaew - An intriguing blend of Italian Renaissance architecture and classical Thai roofing, the Grand Palace is one of the most beautiful examples of an ancient Siamese court. Your guide will then take you to see Wat Phra Kaew (also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha) Bangkok's most important and sacred temple which proudly houses the elegant Emerald Buddha, Thailand's most revered religious image. Then back to our hotel before dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight Adelphi Suites, B-L-D
Day 03 Sunday, Sept. 23rd
After breakfast we will board our coach for the 40 mile drive north to visit the Unesco World Heritage site of Ayuttaya. On the route, we will make the first stop at Bang Pa In Summer Palace, where we will see a mixture of Thai, Gothis, and Chinese architecture. We will proceed to the city of Ayutthaya and visit the first temple of the day (Wat Yai Chaimonakhol). We will have lunch locally before proceeding to see a further selection of temples, temple complexes, and see that some of the more interesting temples in the area.
Day 04 Monday Sept. 24th
After an early morning breakfast, we’re off start the day at one of Bangkok's local floating markets located 100kms west of Bangkok. Once there, board a longboat to visit Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. This old-style marketplace is set in a small klong (canal) network where floating vendors sell their wares from canoe-style boats. Switch to a smaller boat before navigating the traditional market as you drift by boats laden with tropical fruits and exotic vegetables. Some floating vendors even prepare meals from their boats, while the nearby wooden piers are also packed with delicious food stalls and noodle sellers. Once you have explored the market, continue to visit Nakorn Pathom and the site of the tallest Buddhist stupa in the world, the Phra Pathom Chedi. Next, move on to enjoy a buffet lunch at Sampran Riverside before taking an entertaining introduction into rural Thai life with the Thai Village Show. Time now for a cultural show at one of Bangkok’s most popular destinations for visitors, The Rose Gasrden Then back to the hotel in time for dinner and an evening out exploring the famous night markets of Bangkok.
Overnight Adelphi Suites, B- L-D
Day 05 Tuesday Sept. 25th
After breakfast, we’ll return to our rooms to pack-up and meet in the lobby to check out. This afternoon, we’ll be catching our flight to Paro, Bhutan… but until flight time, with luggage packed safely on the bus, we’ll have a few hours to break into small groups… or individually explore one of the World Famous Market areas of Bangkok ! Depending on flight times, this Bhutan flight might be earlier in the morning… but either way we’ll get you there, and if you don’t have time to explore the markets in Bangkok this morning, you will have time to explore Paro, Bhutan this afternoon and/or evening. After checking into our hotel here in Paro, we’re on our own until Breakfast at the hotel, tomorrow morning. From a Buddhist point of view, Paro was the first stop for Guru Rimpoche on his crusade from Tibet to Bhutan over one thousand years ago. Guru Rimpoche is said to have arrived on the back of the tigress and meditated at a monastery which is now a hallowed shrine for Bhutanese pilgrims who travel from all over the land to pray at its temple.
Overnight at Tenzeling Hotel or Similar; Meals – Breakfast in Bangkok – Dinner in Paro
Day 06 Wednesday Sept 26th
After breakfast at the Hotel, we’ll visit Sangchokhor Monastery. On the top of the hill north-west of Paro town, Sangchokhor catches your eye, 20 minute drive from Paro Town. (It is possible to walk which takes about 2 hours). This beautifully situated temple is a teaching institution for 105 monks aged 15-30. It is also the home of the young reincarnation of Terton Drugda Dorji. On school days (Monday to Saturday) you can see and listen in on lectures and gain more knowledge about the monks” nine-year educational program. We get time to interact with the monks. The building also holds two remarkable altar rooms, and offers a magnificent view of Paro Valley. Sangchokhor was originally built in the 18th Century, but was rebuilt 30 years ago after a horrible fire. The original temple was built by the first reincarnation of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The institution now receives full government support as well as support from the Father of their majestics, the four Queens of Bhutan. The lower altar room has a striking Statue of Guru Rinpoche and unique 30 year old wall paintings created under the supervision of the Chief Abbot. The upper altar room is dedicated to Zhabdrung Lineage. * This evening, Lama Glenn will lead us to pay a visit to Local Bhutanese farm house where we can experience the lifestyle of local people and their daily chores of life.
Overnight at Tenzeling Hotel or Similar; Meals – Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 07 Thursday Sept. 27th
Drive to Thimphu 1 hour approx. 32 miles Altitude: 2,350 m / 7,709 ft After breakfast at the hotel, continue our drive to Thimphu. Thimpu, perhaps the most unusual capital city in the world is a bustling town on the banks of its own river and set gloriously in the hills of its own valley. On the way to Thimphu lies Simtokha Dzong; officially known as ‘Sangkak Zabdhon Phodrang’ or the Palace of the Profound Meaning of Secret Mantras. Built in 1629 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it is often said to be the first dzong built in Bhutan and is a gateway to Thimphu Valley. The name Simtokha is derived from the name sinmo (demoness) and do (stone), the site is said to have been chosen to guard over a demon that had vanished into the rock nearby. Afternoon visit the National Library of Bhutan, first established in 1967 under the patronage of HM Queen Ashi Phuntso Choden (1911–2003), with a small collection of precious texts. The library was initially housed within the central tower (utse) of Tashichodzong. Later, due to its growing collection, it had to move to a building in the Changgangkha area of Thimphu. To provide a permanent home for the sacred religious books and manuscripts in the growing collection, construction of the present four-storied eight-cornered traditional building, which looks like the central tower temple of a Bhutanese Dzong, in the Kawajangtsa area of Thimphu was initiated. The cost of the construction of this building was covered entirely by the Royal Government of Bhutan without any foreign aid. It was inaugurated on November 23, 1984. A three storied traditional building houses the Folk Heritage Museum. The earthen and timber building was renovated and restored few years ago to appear as it was a century ago. Established in 2001 in Thimphu, the museum provides glimpse into the traditional Bhutanese material culture and way of life. The artifacts, which are kept inside the house, remind the visitors about how the rural Bhutanese live today. This 19th century traditional house provides you a glimpse of the Bhutanese lifestyle, and artifacts from the rural households. One can come across typical household objects, tools and equipment. The National Institute of Traditional Medicine was established in 1988 with the concept to merge the allopathic and traditional systems of healing. It contains an impressive, large laboratory and production facilities that ensures quality of the products, the components of which includes plants, minerals, animal parts, precious metals and gems. The Institution produces traditional Bhutanese medicine towards the needs of the public. After the closing of the Institute the visitors can walk along the compound to view it from the outside. Later evening visit Tashichho Dzong. This dzong is an impressive building also known as ‘the fortress of the Dharma Raja’. It has traditionally been the seat of the Druk Desi, the head of Bhutan’s civil government.
Overnight at Peaceful Resort or Similar; Meals – Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 08 Friday Sept. 28th
In Thimphu Total distance covered – 2.5 km / 1.5 miles - Total hiking hours: +/- 2 hrs / – Moderate After early breakfast, Lama Glenn will lead us on a short day hike to Tango Monastery. Situated north of Thimphu, one way it takes about 30 minutes’ drive and one hour walk through shaded rhododendron forests to reach the monastery. This monastery was founded by Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa in the 12th century and the present building was built in the 15th century by the "Divine Madma", Lama Drukpa Kunley. In 1616 Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal visited Tango and meditated in a cave near the monastery. His meditation helped ensure the defeat of an invading Tibetan army. The head Lama, a descendent of Lama Drukpa Kunley presented the goemba to Shabdrung, who carved a sandalwood statue of Chenrezig which he installed in the monastery. The picturesque three-storey tower and several surrounding buildings were built in the 18th century by the eighth Desi, Druk Rabgye and Shabdrung Jigme Chhogyel added the golden roof in the 19th century. You can also have an opportunity to interact with monks… (and you’ll be keenly aware that our group, being led by a Lama, turns every stop that we make into a very important visit. )
Return back to Hotel. Later afternoon visit, the Memorial Chorten, also known as the Thimphu Chorten is a large Tibetan-style Buddhist Monastery with golden spires and bells. It is a popular landmark and one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu. After touring the city’s best known sights, there will be time to wander along the main street and into shops, all of which are decorated in traditional style. Thimphu’s shopkeepers are delightfully helpful and will do their best to oblige even the smallest request. Bhutan’s famous stamp collection can be viewed and purchased in the capital’s main post office.
Overnight at Peaceful Resort or Similar; Meals – Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 09 Saturday Sept. 29th
Drive to Punakha Distance: 76kms/ 47 miles Drive Time: +/- 3 hours - Altitude: 4,265 ft. Today, drive to Punakha which takes approx. 4 hrs drive. Punakha is situated in its valley and is best known for its Punakha Dzong, home to the central monk body and the Je Khenpo during the milder winter months. A temperate climate and natural drainage from the Phochu (male) and Mochu (female) rivers, the fertile Punakha Valley produces abundant crops and fruits. En-route visit the Dochula Pass which offers a 360-degree of beautiful panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range, especially on clear winter days. There are 108 chortens that adorn this beautiful chorten were built by Queen Mother to commemorate the Bhutanese soldiers who were killed when fighting the Indian rebels in 2003. On the way, we stop at Metshina Village and take a 20-minute walk through the rice fields to Chimi Lhakhang, where many locals go to pray for progeny with great success. Lam Drukpa Kinley who was a highly unorthodox Buddhist saint whose deeds form the basis of many local legends blesses the monastery. The temple is fondly regarded as a potent fertility shrine. Later visit the glorious Punakha Dzong, also known as the “the Palace of Great Bliss”. Transfer to hotel.
Overnight at Drubchhu Resort or Similar; Meals – Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 10 Sunday Sept. 30
After leisurely breakfast with the group and Lama Glenn at the hotel, visit the Punakha Dzong, that was built by Shabdrung in 1637. Punakha Dzong has undergone flooding from a glacial lake high above in the mountains of Lunana, which periodically has broken through its barriers; and has been ravaged by fire, but has stood on its remarkable site since the 17th C. The flash flood of October 1994 caused a great deal of damage, but miraculous spared the statue of Lord Buddha. The three-story Machhen Lhakhang is a fine example of traditional architecture, crafted from cypress with four intricately embossed entrance pillars decorated in gold and silver, the inside walls are covered with elaborate murals depicting the teaching of the Buddha. The Chorten which contains the Kudung is adorned with precious jewels and took twenty craftsmen four years to construct. Later afternoon, take a short day hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten; a fine example of Bhutanese architecture and artistic traditions. Built out on a beautiful ridge above the Punakha valley, this 4-storey temple has been dedicated for the wellbeing of the kingdom, its people and all sentient beings. The Chorten was built to remove the negative forces and promote peace, stability and harmony in the ever changing world. An hour hike to the Chorten, through a moderately inclined trail surrounded by pine trees, this site offers beautiful view of the Punakha Valley. Once on the top, the place offers commanding views of the Mo Chhu and up towards the mountainous peaks of Gasa and beyond.
Overnight at Drubchhu Resort or Similar; Meals – Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 11 Monday Oct 1st
Drive to Paro - Drive Time: 4-5 hours - Distance: 75 miles After leisurely breakfast at the Hotel, continue your drive to Paro. Upon arrival at Paro, transfer to Hotel. Later afternoon visit Kyichu Lakhang, Paro Dzong and Ta Dzong. Kyichu Lhakhang is an important Himalayan Buddhist Temple. It is one of Bhutan’s oldest religious sites built in the seventh century. This temple is one of 108 built by Tibetan emperor Songtsen Gampo to subdue a demoness who prevented the spread of Buddhism. Temples were built across the Himalayas to pin her body down. Kyichu Lhakhang pins down her left foot and Jamba Lhakhang in Bumthang her left knee. Guru Rimpoche visited this temple in the eight century and concealed many spiritual treasures here. Pilgrims turn the many prayer wheels along the walls as they circumambulate the temple. The fine statues of the Bodhisattvas and the Buddha are national treasures. The wooden floor of the sanctum is inlaid with turquoise and coral gemstones offered by pilgrims.
Paro Dzong is one of the most impressive and well-known dzongs in Bhutan. One of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture Unlike most of the other dzongs in Bhutan, it survived the massive 1897 earthquake mostly unscathed, though it was almost burnt to the ground by a fire in 1907. All-important relics were lost to the fire and nothing could be salvaged except for the Thongdrol, a 20x20 meter-wide Thangka. The Thangka is displayed annually during a ceremony called Paro Tshechu. The Dzong was however rebuilt the following year.
Overnight at Tenzeling; Meals – Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 12 Tuesday Oct. 2nd
Paro Today we’ll embark on a majestic hike to Taktsang Monastery. Perched on the side of a vertical cliff at 3000 m altitude north of Paro, this monastery creates an impressive sight, and is the unofficial symbol of Bhutan. It is one of the most famous Buddhist Monasteries in Bhutan and is also referred to as the ‘Tiger’s Nest’. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche (Guru Padmasambhava) flew to this location from Khenpajong, Tibet on the back of a tigress and subdued a demon. He then meditated in a cave here for three months and emerged in eight incarnated forms (manifestations) and blessed the place. Guru Padmasambhava is known for introducing Buddhism to Bhutan. Today, Paro Taktsang is the best known of the thirteen caves in which he meditated. The first monastery was constructed 1694, but in 1998 a tragic fire destroyed most of the original buildings - which have since been painstakingly restored to their former glory. Taktsang Monastery is a pilgrimage site for both tourists and locals, it is a journey filled with spiritual bliss. Keeping the spiritual side aside, the journey up to Taktsang Monastery is a Hiker’s delight. An hour hike up to a small wooden teahouse called Cafeteria provides close view of the monastery. A further and a rather challenging hike lead you to the glorious Taktsang Monastery.
Overnight at Tenzeling Hotel or Similar; Meals – Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 13 Wednesday Oct 3rd
Morning free in Paro, evening farewell dinner with Lama Glenn and the group at a local restaurant
Hotel - Meals – Breakfast – Farewell Dinner Party
Day 14 Thursday Oct 4th
Return flight to Bangkok (arrive mid-afternoon)
Here you will catch your international return flight, remain in Bangkok on your own for as long as you wish, or join us on a 6 day
optional trip to Thailand’s North Country, where you’ll experience another world !
End of Bangkok – Bhutan Tour
Optional 6-day program into The North Country Elephant Jungle Ride, River Cruise, Northers Palace & Hill Tribes
NOTE: Lama Glenn is NOT participating in this portion of the trip. He will leave following the farewell dinner, in Bhutan, on October 3rd
Day 14 Thursday Oct 4rd
Late afternoon flight to Chiang Mai, with city get acquainted tour, Hotel check-in, and dinner
Day 15 – 16 Friday – Saturday- Oct. 5th – 6th - Chiang Mai
The country’s northern capital of Chiang Mai has sat surrounded by the nearby mountains since its inception in 1296. exploring the Hill Tribes villages, jungle visits, elephant and boat rides. (Full Itinerary to be published)
Day 17 – 18 – 19 Sunday - Tuesday Oct. 7th - 9th - Chiang Rai
Travel to the edge of Thailand Begin your exploration of Chiang Rai in one of Thailand’s most famous gems. Wat Rong Khun looks like a temple…but it’s not. It is, in fact, an unconventional contemporary ART exhibit! You will randomly spot superheroes and Hollywood motifs related to popular movies like Terminator and Harry Potter. The building is free to enter and the artist-creator made it as an offering to Lord Buddha. The whole compound comprises various other buildings with the same design, so grab your cameras and snap away! Day 20 Wednesday Oct. 10th Return flight to Bangkok to connect with your international flight home.
End of Optional Tour
14 day Thailand & Bhutan Tour w/ Lama Glenn Mullin US $ 4,495 .00 Per Person based on 15+ guests, Should 10, but fewer than 15 sign-up, the price will increase by slightly. This price is per-person, with 2 persons sharing a double room. Single Room Supplement is $ 880.00 per person.
Optional Thailand North Country Tour: $ 1,995.00 Single room - $280.00
The above cost does not include:
- Pre or post tour overnights that might be required due to international flight
- all other costs of items not specifically mentioned in the itinerary
- International Airfares (Quoted Separately).
- Meals which are not mentioned in the above program
- Any items of purely personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, tips and gratuities to drivers, guides, hotel’s staff, restaurant’s staff
- Personal, travel and health insurance
- Optional Tours
- Refreshments, bottled drinks.
- Tipping to guides and drivers
- Insurance and rescue of any form.
- Cost arising out of flight cancellation/road blockades/landslides/riots and events beyond our control.
- Expenses of personal nature and any other expenses not mentioned in the above cost.
- Photography charges in the monasteries and monuments.
- Any items, services and meals which are not included in the above cost inclusion or mentioned in the above itinerary
Runaway Journeys, LLC. has been working with Lama Glenn Mullin since 1995, and through those years we have done our best to accommodate his desire to bring the best possible travel experience to every guests. We coordinate the hundreds of details necessary into a seemingly perfectly experience for everyone. THIS is the best case scenario… The bottom line however is that it’s rare that every detail planned - works as expected, and those “issues” so often become the most memorable part of the overall experience. WE feel comfortable for the same reason that you should… Lama Glenn Mullin is designer and orchestrator of this entire tour, and he has coordinated the delivery of these services with. Thus, Runaway Journeys, LLC. and or it’s employees and representatives, has no responsibility for the performance of the program. We act for you in the capacity as agents only, and each service provider, (ie: airline, hotel, transportation company, etc.) have their own specified terms and conditions.