Travel Sketch to Bhutan with Erwin and Drukasia

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Everyone can draw and it's true! Rekindle your passion for the arts in this workshop as Erwin guides you through the basics of sketching. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of Bhutan's landscape and learn about the tools, techniques and application of sketching. Structured for beginners, Erwin will unveil the secrets involved in making effective sketches on-the-go. We will also mingle with Bhutan artists and participate in portrait drawing. All essential sketching and painting materials are provided, so you won't have to worry about packing the right items.   


Artist Biography

Erwin is an artist and an educator living and working in Singapore. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Time-Based Media Studies from the Columbus College of Art and completed his Masters of Art in Design Development from The Ohio State University. A recipient of the Charles and Lucille King Family Foundation Scholarship, Erwin is currently an associate lecturer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore. His works have been featured in various media outlets including Channel News Asia, Modern Met, The Straits Times and The Columbus Dispatch. 

Erwin's Bhutan sketches can be found in Drukasia's 2014 and 2015 calendars.


Day 1

     Arrival in Paro, Bhutan

Elevation 2,280 m     Weather in Thimphu

When you first arrive at Paro International Airport, you will be met by one of our delightful tour guides just outside the arrival hall. At 7,333 feet above sea level, the first thing you will likely notice is the effect of the high altitudes, so we will give you time to acclimatize as we take a short drive to Thimphu and check into your hotel.


Thimphu is the capital of Bhutan and the perfect location to transition from your familiar lifestyle to our unique country that is like no other place on earth. Here you will begin to appreciate our local customs as you get your first glimpse of monks dressed in traditional red robes, men in striped ghos, and women in brightly colored kiras. Once you settle into your hotel, we will begin to unlock the mysteries of Bhutan by touring Thimphu’s most important sites. The National Memorial Chorten was built in 1974 to memorialize Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the third King of Bhutan. A Chorten is a stupa, or hemispherical structure, that is used as a place of meditation. The whitewashed building with a golden finial on top is a popular location for prayer as it represents the strength and kindness of our beloved third King.


We’ll make a stop at the Bhutan Post Office Headquarters for a sketch. While there, you can also buy collectible sheets of beautifully designed stamps. There is a small museum, and the post office will take your picture and print it on a sheet of real, usable Bhutan stamps.


Thereafter we’ll head to Buddha Point located at Kuenselphodrang Nature Park. The 169 feet bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma makes it one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world. The Buddha Dordenma symbolizes indestructibility, and is said to emanate an aura of peace and happiness to the entire world. The view of the Thimphu valley from Buddha Point is spectacular, particularly at night.   


Day 2

     Thimphu Tour

Elevation 2,320 m     Weather in Thimphu

A must-visit on the weekend is the Centenary Farmers’ Market on the banks of the Wang Chhu river, where most of the population in Thimphu congregates. Villagers from the valley and other nearby places come to sell their range of agricultural produce. This market is by far the largest domestic market in Bhutan. A visit to this market provides great sketching opportunities, as well as the chance to mingle with the locals and perhaps pick up some souvenirs.        


Visit Changgangkha Lhakhang, the oldest temple in Thimphu, perched on a ridge. A short climb up the stairs will take you to a peaceful monastery where pilgrims take their children for blessings or to receive names for newborns. Built in the 12th century by Lama Phajo Drukgom Shigpo, you will find more breathtaking views and beautiful prayer wheels.  


Take a drive north along the river to Tashi Chho Dzong, an impressive fortress and monastery that is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture. In 2008, it hosted the coronation of Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, the fifth King of Bhutan. Today, it serves as the government center and houses the office of the King. A colourful Tshechu (festival) is held here every fall.             


Day 3

     Thimphu To Punakha

Elevation 1,300m     Weather in Punakha

Today we travel to Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan until 1955, and will stop off at Dochula Pass along the way. This popular tourist spot provides stunning 360-degree views of the Himalayas. It is also home to the 108 Druk Wangyal chortens that were built on a small hill to memorialize the Bhutanese soldiers killed in a 2003 battle with Assamese insurgents. We will of course stop here for a sketch session before going onwards to the Punakha Valley.


We’ll stop near Sopsokha for a short walk across terraced rice fields to the temple of Chimi Lhakhang. Located on a hillock, this temple is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenlay, an eccentric religious teacher of the 15th-century who used humor, songs and outrageous behavior to share his teachings, earning him the title of Divine Madman. It is renowned as a fertility temple. Chimi Lhakhang has a very peculiar design aesthetic, as you will find colorful phallus symbols painted on the buildings throughout. After this, we will head to Punakha Café to continue with our sketch session.


Day 4

     Punakha Tour

Elevation 1,300m     Weather in Punakha

On this day,we’ll tour what is considered among many one of the most beautiful sites in Bhutan, the Punakha Dzong. Sitting at the confluence of 2 rivers, it is a stunning example of Bhutanese architecture. Built in 1637, it is the second oldest and second largest Dzong in Bhutan. This massive structure is six stories high with a central utse (tower) that stands 3, 900 feet tall. Inside the fortress, there are three large courtyards, one of which houses the well-preserved body of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the 17-century father of unified Bhutan. It was also the location of the royal wedding of Bhutan’s current king, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck to Jetsun Pema in 2011.


We will also visit Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, which is a splendid example of Bhutanese art and architecture, and is the only one of its kind. At the direction of the third Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck, the site took nine years to build because architects, painters, sculptors, and carpenters only used holy scriptures rather than engineering manuals to construct this four-story temple. Only reachable on foot, the hour trek includes an exhilarating walk across a colourful prayer flag adorned suspended bridge that crosses the Mo Chhu. It is a stunning building with splendid views of the valley that are well worth the walk.       


Day 5

     Punakha To Paro

Elevation 2,280m     Weather in Paro

We head back to Paro, once again through the Dochula Pass. We’ll pay a visit to the dominating Paro Dzong, which is the administrative seat of the district of Paro. This Dzong was built in 1644 under the order of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is one of the sites listed in Bhutan’s tentative list for UNESCO inclusion.


We then take a short drive north of Paro to visit the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong. Built in 1647 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal the unifier of medieval Bhutan, it was used as a stronghold against invading Tibetan armies. After a fire destroyed it in 1951,  it remains a ruin as a symbol of past military victories. On clear days, you can also see the snowcapped peak of Mt. Jomolhari.


We end the day with a visit to Kyichu Lhakhang, a beautiful seventh-century Buddhist temple, one of the oldest in Bhutan. According to legend, a giant demoness lay her body across the Himalayas to prevent the spread of Buddhism. Tibetan King Songtsen Gambo built 108 temples throughout the region and around her body to pin her down, with Kyichu Lhakhang built to hold down her left foot. 


Day 6

     Paro Tour

Elevation 2,280 m     Weather in Paro

On our final tour day, we’ll take an exhilarating hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) one of the most recognizable sites in Bhutan. Built precariously on a hillside cliff, it sits more than 10,000 feet above sea level. Accessible only by foot, we follow a trail decorated with colorful prayer flags along the way to protect travelers from evil spirits. Built over the caves that Guru Padmasambhava meditated in for 3 years, this eighth-century father of Bhutan Buddhism is said to have been brought there on the back of a tigress. One of the most sacred sites in Bhutan, it offers breathtaking views to those energetic enough to make it to the top.

Post-climb, look forward to a leisurely afternoon where you can enjoy a traditional hot stone bath or head to Paro town to get some souvenirs before your flight back tomorrow. 


Day 7

     Depart Paro

Elevation 2,280 m     Weather in Paro

Today we will bid a fond farewell to this beautiful Himalayan country and take an early flight back to Singapore. We hope by now you would’ve made some friends, taken many photos (or in your case, sketches) and have lasting memories of Bhutan! And we look forward to seeing you again in this beautiful land of enchantments! Tashi Delek!

What's Included

Suitable Months
  • 3 - 9 September 2017
  • SGD 4259*
  • * Including sketching tools.
    Clients can opt out of included sketching tools and received a $200 rebate to purchase the required materials on their own
What's Excluded

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Recent Customer Reviews 5.0 / 5.0 ( Read Reviews )

100.0 % of Our Travellers Recommend This Travel Plan

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Xiaoling Akatsuki
Singapore, Jun 2017

Sketch Bhutan is the best tour ever! It was a relaxed but well organised tour, with everything done to accommodate the preferences of the entire group. There is something very special in actually stopping to take the time to observe and sketch down a scene. It allowed us to view the sights with an entirely different eye, compared to the normal snap and go tourist. Of course, without proper guidance, sketching would have been a frustrating or almost impossible endeavour, and so the artist teachers, Erwin and Rajesh were there to save the day! They were always around to help and give their tips and suggestions. Highly recommended if you are looking for a wholly new experience and would like to try your hand at sketching!

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KW Leong
Singapore, Jun 2017

This is truly one of the most memorable trips I have ever taken. The scenery is as picturesque as how it looks in the photos and the Bhutanese people is charming, friendly and their hospitality is second to none. A special thanks to our guide who went out of his way to help and take extra care of some of us who had difficulty hiking up Tiger's Nest.

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Anilú Cigüeñas
Spain, Jun 2017

The trip itself went flawlessly. DrukAsia's crew was really kind, supportive and knowledgeable. The hotels' selection and the food were also superb. But the most special part was how carefully Erwin organized the program and devoted to allowing us to have a wonderful time, not only with his lessons (he is really passionate about teaching and sharing his knowledge) but the several opportunities to interact with local people and artists.

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