Day 01 Arrive Paro
The flight to Bhutan is one of the most spectacular in the entire Himalayan ranges. Each flight is a mesmerizing aeronautical feat and offers an exciting descent into the Kingdom. On arrival at Paro airport, immigration and custom formalities and then received by our representative for arrival at the hotel.
In the evening, take a walk around the town’s main street. Overnight, stay at the hotel in Paro.
Day 02 Paro
Morning after breakfast excursion to Taktshang Monastery (5hrs hike), It is one of the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries, perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery and hence it is called ‘Tiger’s Nest’. This site has been recognized as a most sacred place and visited by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 and now visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. On 19 April, 1998, a fire severely damaged the main structure of building but now this Bhutanese jewel has been restored to its original splendour.
On the way back into town visit Drugyal Dzong: This Dzong, with a delightful village nestling at its foot, was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders. Historically and strategically this Dzong withstood all its glory and was featured in 1914 vide National Geographic magazine. The glory of Drukgyel Dzong remained even when it was destroyed by fire in 1951. On a clear day, one can see the commanding view of Mount. Chomolhari from the village, below the Dzong.
Also visit nearby Kyichu Lakhang: It is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom dating back to 7th century (the other is Jambey Lhakahng in Bumthang). The lhakhang complex is composed of two temples. The first temple was built by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and in 1968, H.M. Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother of Bhutan, built the second temple in same original pattern.
Day 03 Paro / Thimphu (55 Km, 1:30 Hours)
Morning visit Ta Dzong, originally built as Watch Tower, it now houses National Museum of the Kingdom and boasts antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.
Then walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, meaning 'fortress of the heap of jewels' which has a long and fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the courtyard of the Rinpung Dzong are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore such as four friends, the old man of long life, the wheel of life, scenes from the lofe of Milarepa, Mount. Sumeru and other cosmic Mandala.
After Paro sightseeing proceed to Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan. the road leads through the Paro valley to the confluence of Paro and Thimphu rivers at Chuzom (confluence). Three different style of chortens adorn the confluence. A short way beyond on the left, is Tschogang Lhakhang, the temple of the hill of excellent horse. It is private temple, built in 15th century, as the result of visitation from Balaha, the excellent horse, a manifestation of Chenrezig, the compassionate Buddha. After the narrow, rock lined section of the road opens up as Thimphu approaches, Simtokha Dzong lies enroute. Simtokha means the place of profound tantric teaching, this dzong now houses a school for the study of the Dzongkha language.
After checking into hotel visit Trashichhodzong: This impressive fortress/monastery houses Secretariat building, the throne room of His Majesty, the King and various government offices. It is also the summer residence of Chief Abbot and central monk body.
Also visit National Memorial Chorten: The building of this landmark was envisaged by the third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, as a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it is both a memorial to the Late King (“the Father of modern Bhutan”) and a monument to world peace. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.
Day 04 Thimphu
After leisurely breakfast at hotel proceed to a guided tour of Thimphu.
Start with a visit of National Library, which holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist texts and manuscripts, some dating back several hundred years, as well as modern academic books mainly on Himalayan culture and religion.
Also visit nearby Institute for Zorig Chusum: Commonly known as Arts & Crafts School or Painting School, the Institute offers a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. On a visit, one can see students learning the various skills taught at the school.
Drive towards city centre to visit Textile and Folk Heritage Museum: These museums, both of which opened in 2001, provide fascinating insights into Bhutanese material culture and way of life.
Late afternoon or early evening before dinner time visit Handicrafts Emporium: This government-run enterprise displays a wide range of beautifully hand-woven textiles and craft products. It also carries a small collection of books on Bhutan, Buddhism and Himalayan culture.
Day 05 Thimphu / Punakha (75km, 3hrs drive )
After breakfast, drive up to Dochu-la pass (3,088m/ 10,130 ft) stopping briefly here to take in the view and admire the chorten, mani wall, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7,158m), Tsendagang (6,960m), Terigang (7,060m ), Jejegangphugang (7,158 m ), Kangphugang (7,170 m ), Zongphugang (7, 060 m ), a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana - finally Gangkar puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.
After checking into hotel, proceed to visit Punakha Dzong, a massive structure built at the junction of two rivers. It was the capital of Bhutan until 1955, and still serves as the winter residence of the monk body. The first King, Ugyen Wangchuck was crowned here in 1907. The fortress has withstood several damages from fire, earthquake and flood. The latest flood of Oct' 1994 caused great damages to the fortress but miraculously spared the statue of Buddha Jojampa.
Evening can be spent exploring Punakha village located right on the bank of river.
Day 06 Punakha / Wangdi / Gangtey (70 km, 3 hours drive)
After breakfast drive to Gangtey (Phobjikha valley). Stop at Wangduephodrang Dzong to visit the majestic fort sitting on top of the hill at the confluence of Punakha Chhu and Tang Chhu rivers, the Dzong is town’s most visible features.
Continue drive through dense forests and oak, rhododendron tress to Gangtey (Phobjikha).
Afternoon take a walk around Gangtey village and visit Gangtey Gompa, the only Nyingmapa monastery in this region. The village of Phobjikha lies a few km, down from the monastery, on the valley floor. This quite, remote valley is the winter home of black necked cranes, which migrate from the arid plains of Tibet in the north, to pass the winter months in a milder climate. Explore Gangtey village and Phobjikha valley.
Day 07 Gantey / Trongsa (120 km, 4hrs)
Morning take a short nature walk in the vicinity of hotel and drive drive to Trongsa crossing Pele-la pass (3300m/10830 ft),. The Pela La (pass) is marked by a large white chorten prayer flags. There is an abrupt change in vegetation at this point, with mountain forest replaced by high altitude dwarf bamboo.
Stop en route at Chendbji Chorten, patterned on Kathmandu’s Swayambhunath Stupa, with eyes panted at four cardinal points. It was built in the 18th century by Lama Shida from Tibet, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot.
Day 08 Trongsa / Bumthang ( 68 km, 3hrs drive )
Morning visit Trongsa Dzong, built in 1648 it was the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan. Both the first and second Kings of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancient seat. All four Kings were invested as Trongsa Penlop (‘governer’) prior to ascending the throne, and the present Crown Prince now holds the post. The Dzong is a massive structure with many levels, sloping down the contours of the ridge on which it is built. Also visit Ta Dzong, recently opened fort in Trongsa. The Ta Dzong, a cylindrical stone structure rising five stories, was built in 1652 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, After more than 350 years, it has been resurrected into a classy museum, that represents a tasteful blend of tradition and modernity. The Ta Dzong is the only structure that has been restored specifically to tribute the Wangchuck dynasty as Bhutan celebrates the centenary of the Monarchy.
Drive to Bumthang, 68 km from Trongsa, a journey of about 3 hours, over the Yutong-la pass (3,400m/ 11,155 ft). The road winds steeply up to the pass, 28 km from Trongsa, then runs down through coniferous forest into a wide, open cultivated valley known as the Chumey valley.
Day 09 Bumthang
Explore the neighboring palace, Wangdicholing, home to the second King, and see the auspicious prayer wheels next door. Head up the valley and take in the grand Kurjey Lhakhang, considered one of Bhutan’s most auspicious monuments.
Traveling back into town and across the Bumthang Chhu, enjoy a visit to the sin alleviating Tamshing Monastery followed by a quick visit to the valleys unique cottage industries – Red Panda Brewery, Bumthang Cheese/Dairy Facility and the Bumthang Distillery, home to numerous distinctive spirits.
Day 10 Bumthang / Wangdiphodrang (200 kms / 7 hrs drive)
After a short stroll around the town depart for the lengthy drive to Punakha along the scenic mountain highway.
Day 11 Wangdiphodrang / Paro (125 kms, 4hr drive)
After descending back down from Dochu La, follow the way back up the dramatic Wang Chhu and Paro Chhu river valleys, before crossing through Paro Town towards the north end of the valley.
There is an opportunity for a quick stroll to the nearby ruins, a visit to some of the valley’s oldest and holiest religious monuments or a stroll down Paro’s Main Street.
Day 12 Paro
Morning Kila Goemba: It is the serene home of Buddhist nuns who have dedicated their life for spiritual fulfillment and leading undisturbed life of religious studies, prayer and meditation. The goemba is nestled in a craggy patch on mountain side below the Chelela pass and perched precariously along the rock face. From Chelela pass, the lhakhang is about an hour walk amidst magnificent wooded area..
Afternoon: Farm House (traditional village house)
The beauty of Paro valley is embellished by cluster of quaint farm houses. Bhutanese farm houses are very colorful, decorative and traditionally built without the use of single nail. All houses follow the same architectural pattern. A visit to Farm House is very interesting and offers a good glimpse into the lifestyle of a farmer.
Day 13 Paro / Haa valley excursion:
Start the day early for drive to Haa via Chele-la pass. 4 Km away at Bondey village the road to Haa diverts towards the right hand side and ascends towards the chele-la pass starts. After driving through blue pine & rhododendron forest for 45 km, reach Chele-la pass ( 4200 meters). From this point one can have a superb views of Mt. Chomolhari & Jichu Drakey.
This is a very good place to walk around for few minutes enjoying the view. Drive on to Haa, descending all the way for another 22 km (under an hours drive), finally reaching Haa. The Haa Dzong is presently occupied by military, but the view from outside is stunning. After picnic lunch visit to the famous Monastery of Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple) followed by visit to Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple).
Later in the afternoon drive to Paro same way back. The drive will be under 3 hours.
Day 14 Paro
Half day hike to the hill above Paro valley
Day 15 Paro / Departure
After early breakfast transfer to the airport for flight to onward destination.
Bhutan means “Land Of The Thunder Dragon “because of the violent storms that descend from the Himalayas. Bhutan is bordered on the North and Northwest by China and to the East, South and Southwest by India. The capital of Bhutan is Thimpu which is also the largest city of the country. Bhutan is rich in its culture as well as in its biodiversity. Nearly three quarters of the total area is covered by forests. The lush valleys, the radiant snow capped peaks, the beautiful rural landscapes and the rich Himalayan flora and fauna of Bhutan will leave you in awe. Bhutan still maintains its culture and traditions in the same way it did centuries ago.