Day 1: Arrive Paro Airport by Druk Air (Bhutan)
Flying into Paro, Bhutan is a unique experience altogether. The flight offers views of the majestic eastern Himalayas, and the arrival into a solitary runway at the country’s only airport is a mind-boggling event with the landscape and weather conditions dictating a steep descent into a narrow valley.
Paro Acclimatization & Sightseeing!
You will be received by our representative and driven to hotel for refreshment and a brief discussion about your tour program. Sightseeing includes, The National Museum (Ta-Dzong).Once the watch tower for the Rinpung Dzong (Fortress), it was converted into the national Museum in 1968 (one of the best museums of Asia). The museum stands on a promontory overlooking the Paro valley in all its glory. Visit the Rinpung Dzong. A flagstone path rises gradually from a beautiful wooden bridge with shingle roofing and abutted by two guard houses to the Dzong. Today, this massive fortress built in 1645 AD is the seat of the district administration as well as the home for the monastic school. The central tower (Utse) of the Dzong, with its superb woodwork, is one of the most beautiful in the nation.
Take a leisurely drive to the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong. This point offers bird eye view of the Mt. Jhomolhari (7329m). On the way back visit the oldest temple of the kingdom, Kichu Lhakhang. This temple was built in 6th century by a Tibetan King to pin down a giant demon. In the evening walk around Paro town. Overnight Paro. (Alt; 2280m)
Day 2: Exploring Punakha Valley
After an early breakfast, drive to Punakha via the winding river of Paro Chu & Wangchu from Paro (128km/ 4hr). Stop for a hot cup of coffee at Dochu La pass (3150m) where you can enjoy spectacular views of the Eastern Himalayan Mountain ranges. Walk around the 108 stupas which decorates the pass and enter Drukwangyel temple built by the four Queens and as a tribute to the beloved fourth King of Bhutan.
After lunch, visit the Punakha Dzong, “Palace of Great Happiness”. Punakha Dzong is the former winter Capital and at present day hosts the administrative seat of the district. Also the winter residence of the central monastic body and its Chief Abbot. The Dzong lies between two rivers, the Pochu and Mochu, male and Female River.
Evening, hike to Chimi Lhakhang to visit the temple of the Bhutan’s foremost saint, Lama Drukpa Kunley, also known as the “Divine Madman”. This temple is called the Temple of Fertility as it is believed that childless couples who come here to pray for a child is usually blessed with a child.
Overnight Punakha/ Wangdue. (Alt; 1300m)
Day 3: Punakha/Wangdue Phodrang – Trongsa (129km/ 5.5hr)
The journey will take you across Pele La pass (3,300m), which is marked by a chorten and an array of prayer flags. On a clear day, you can get spectacular views of the highest peaks of the kingdom and it’s quite common to spot some yaks and yak herders on this pass. This point marks the boundary between western and central Bhutan as well as the western border of Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. Beyond Pele La is Longte Valley where people raise sheep and yaks. You’ll come to the village of Rukubji Valley, with its big school and Gompa.
The houses here are clustered amid extensive fields of mustard, potatoes, barley, and wheat. As you drive down through rhododendron trees and ferns, you’ll reach Chendebji village. This was a night halt for mule caravans traveling from Trongsa during the reign of the 2nd King of Bhutan. Just below Chendebji village is the Chendebji chorten, a large white structure beside a stream. This chorten is modelled after Swayambhunath in Kathmandu.
The last village before you reach Trongsa is Tangsibji, which provides full view of Trongsa Dzong and its distinctive red roof. Trongsa Dzong, built in 1645, is a vast, white fortress that appears to grow directly up from the narrow green ridge on which it is constructed. It is one of the most powerful Dzongs and even today the crown prince of Bhutan must first become its Trongsa Penlop (governor) before he can become Bhutan’s King. On arrival visit Trongsa Dzong and walk around the sloppy town of Trongsa.
Overnight Trongsa. (Alt; 2180m)
Day 4: Bumthang Landscape Tour
After breakfast visit the ancient Watch Tower which has been now turned into a historical museum. The top part of the tower provides great view of the fortress and its surrounding villages.
Drive to Bumthang from Trongsa (68km/ 3hr), the spiritual heartland of Bhutan. This journey will take you over one of the most scenically beautiful routes in Bhutan via the Yotong La pass (3425m), which is also the habitat for the Satyr peasant. Good for photography. As you enter the Chhume Valley (the first of the four valleys that comprise the Bumthang Valley) you can visit a centre of Yathra weaving. Yathra is the name for the locally produced hand-woven woollen cloth. Distinctive patterns and bright, earthy colours enliven the fabric, which is used for a wide variety of purposes and sought after throughout the country.
After check-in resort and some rest; visit the Kharchu Draktsang, a monastery on the northern slope of Bumthang valley. This monastery is one of the biggest Buddhist College of the kingdom and a home to the reincarnation himself (Namkhaningpo Rimpoche). This point offers beautiful view of the Bumthang valley and its silent town. (Bumthang have been referred as “the little Switzerland of Asia” by many travellers. Wait here to catch the golden hour while the sun sets gently.
Evening, stroll down from the monastery to the river bank and walk around Bumthang’s local town and experience their peaceful lifestyle.
Overnight Bumthang. (Alt; 2580m)
Day 5: Bumthang Spiritual Sojourn
On rise, visit the historical Jakar Dzong (Fortress of the White Bird) situated on the hilltop overlooking Bumthang valley & river. It is probably one of the biggest Dzongs in Bhutan with the surrounding walls about 1 km in circumference
Here on, take a leisurely hike through several ancient and important monasteries such as, Jambay lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang, Kencho Sum Lhakhang, Tamshing & Pema Samba Lhakhangs. (These temple have many mythical stories linked to its origin and some of them dates back as early as 7th century. Your guide will unfold its mystery as you visit these holy sites.
In evening, drive to Menbar Tsho (the burning lake). This holy lake is located about 20km from the town. When the locals visit this lake they tie a coin inside a white scarf, make a wish and offer it to the lake. It is believed someday your wish will be fulfilled.
Overnight Bumthang. (Alt; 2580m)
Day 6: Phobjikha Rural Expedition
After an early breakfast drive to Phobjikha through different vegetation of alpine, subtropical and glacial from Bumthang (148km/ 5.5hr). Phobjikha is a glacial valley on the periphery of the north western tip of the Black Mountain National Park. The valley is a conservation area and lies on the northern boundary of the Jowo Durshing range.
People sometimes refer to the entire region as Gangtey after the name of the Gangtey Goenpa that is situated on a ridge overlooking the Phobjikha valley. According to legend that the Gangtey Goenpa was founded by the grandson (the mind incarnation) of Pema Lingpa in 1613. The Phobjikha valley is also one of the roosting grounds of the Black-necked cranes that migrate each year in winter from its northern habitats in Tibet and Siberia to these grounds.
Visit Information Centre for the cranes. Evening, take a hike through the Blue Pine forest to the village farmhouse.
Overnight Phobjikha. (Alt; 2900m)
Day 7: Phobjikha-Lungtshe hike-Thimphu (142km/ 5hr)
Early rise and take a walk out into the valley to enjoy the sunrise. As you ascend to the hilltop visit Gangtey Goenpa. This is biggest Nyingma temple of the kingdom. Drive to Thimphu taking a stop at Dochula resort for Mountain View and lunch.
From dochula pass you will start your hike enjoying a gradual uphill climb of about 2 hours to 18th century Lungchutse Lhakhang. The picturesque route passes through forests of rhododendrons, magnolias, birches, firs, hemlocks and bamboos, and occasionally meadows that are being used as yak pastures. The view from Lungchotse Lhakhang over the entire Bhutan Himalaya and its snow covered peaks is amazing. We will walk back downhill for about an hour until we get back to road on the other side of the pass.
Thimphu is a small, charming capital city nestled in the heart of the Himalayas. It is nothing like what a capital city is imagined to be. Most of the houses and buildings are painted and constructed in traditional Bhutanese style.
En route visit Simtokha Dzong, one of the oldest fortress of Bhutan built in 1629 and it houses the monastic school.
Overnight Thimphu. (Alt; 2320m)
Day 8: Thimphu Cultural Sightseeing
In the morning drive to Buddha point to enjoy the lovely view of Thimphu city. Astrologers & locals believe this spot is one of the main meeting point of the sacred energy vibe of the country hence the massive statue of Buddha facing the rising sun. On the way back circumambulate around Memorial Chorten. This huge stupa was built in memory of the late 3rd King and it’s the favourite place for the people of Thimphu to pray and show their devotion.
Later drive to the animal sanctuary where the national animal of Bhutan, the Takin, is found in captivity. Walk around the BBS tower which is surrounded by multi coloured prayer flags, and also known as the “romantic point” and lovers often come here to look at the panoramic view of the Thimphu valley. En route visit Nunnery temple. You can show your devotion here by praying with the Buddhist nuns.
Visit the National Library where ancient manuscripts are preserved. They also have on display the largest Picture Book on Bhutan in the world.
Visit the Traditional Medicine Centre which includes hospital and herbal medicine manufacturing unit based on the Tibetan system of medicine. The centre also trains indigenous medicine doctors known as “Dungtso”.
Visit the Zorig Chuksum “School for Thirteen Traditional Arts and Crafts” followed by s visit to Textile Museum, Handicraft Emporium and some local shops for antiques.
Visit the Bhutanese Paper Factory, This traditional handmade paper is still being widely used around the country.
Visit the Farmer’s Fresh Market which opens only on weekends and interact with the villagers from different villages.
Visit the Tashichhoe Dzong, the main secretariat building, the office of the King and Throne room and also the house of the State Monastic Body.
After evening tea, witness an archery match played by the locals with lots of hue & cry! Archery is the national game of Bhutan and it is also one of the best ways of expanding your public relation. After archery, free to shop!
Overnight Thimphu. (Alt; 2320m)
Day 9: Spiritual Tango & Chari Retreat
Embark on a day’s excursion to Tango & Chari. Tango monastery is situated in solitary hill covered by forest and is one of the best places to study Buddhism. The monks take pride in being a part of this beautiful Dratsang and at present there are also seven reincarnation studying here.
The 12th century Chari goemba is one of the most popular meditational retreat centre for the monks. The meditational sites are glued to the rocky cliff 300m above the river valley. Once the monks graduate from Tango Monastery most of them decides to sit for meditation around the holy temple of Chari from three years to nine years. Tango Chari is located 12km away from Thimphu city.
The hike to Tango monastery takes about 1.5hrs round trip and the Chari goemba takes about 2.5hrs round trip. Picnic lunch will be arranged amidst the nature trail. After visiting the holy shrines, you can spend some time meditating in the temple and the surrounding campus. It is believed, meditation happens own at this serene site.
Later drive to Paro, which is about an hour drive from Thimphu.
Evening at your leisure…free to shop!
Day 10: Excursion to Mystical Taktsang (Alt; 3,080m)
After a healthy breakfast, drive to till the base of the Tiger nest. On arrival, spend the day hiking up the forested path to Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan’s most famous and scenic icon. The climb is steep and takes about 4 hours round trip.
An important place of pilgrimage and refuge for more than 1200 years, Taktsang Monastery clings to sheer cliffs two-thousand feet above Paro Valley, and from your closest vantage point on a rocky ledge directly across from it, you will still need 200-300 mm lenses and a steady tripod to get tight photographs. This sacred place got its name when Guru Rinpoche rode there on the back of a flying tiger and meditated in a cave behind the present-day monastery.
Sadly, in 1998, the central temple was destroyed by fire, leaving the country in mourning for their holiest of spiritual places. But religious leaders and the King quickly developed a plan to rebuild Taktsang and donations started pouring in from Buddhist centres all over the world, and today, the magnificently rebuilt exterior is complete. Tiger’s Nest is once again the subject of cloud-shrouded posters that say, “Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon.” Picnic lunch on the hillside cafeteria. The shrines carries the beautiful auras left by the great saints who meditated in the past hence it has been said one can easily get into a meditational state by just sitting silently.
Evening, visit a typical village home for a traditional Bhutanese style dinner accompanied by the local liquor called “Ara” (tastes somewhat like the Japanese Sake). Then luxuriate in the Bhutanese equivalent of a Jacuzzi called a “dho Tso.” River rocks are heated and dunked into a large wooden tub with herbs. This type of bath is considered to have medicinal properties of healing.
Overnight Paro. (Alt; 2280m)
Day 11: Departure
Our representative will bid you farewell at the Airport. Tashi Delek!