Day 1: Arrive Paro
Fly into Paro by Druk Air, Royal Bhutan Airline. The great snowcapped peaks of the inner Himalayas rise up to the heavens can be seen during clear weather. As the plane approaches Bhutan, if you look down farmhouses as dots on the hillsides can be seen. As the aircraft enters the Paro valley, you will see Paro Dzong on the hillside overlooking the Paro Chu (river), with Ta Dzong, formerly a watchtower and now the National Museum, above it.
You will be welcomed by our representative who will be your tour guide during your entire tour in Bhutan.
Check into your hotel in Paro and after refreshments, visit the following:
National Museum: On a ridge immediately above Rinpung Dzong is the Ta Dzong (watchtower), built as a watchtower to protect the Dzong from intruders and warring factions. In 1968 Paro’s Ta Dzong was inaugurated as the National Museum, and now holds a fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings, Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps, coins and handicrafts, together with a small natural history collection.
Paro Dzong (Rinpung Dzong): Explore the Rinpung Dzong which the locals call the ‘fortress of a heap of jewels’. Built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the dzong stands on a hill above Paro Township. It is linked by the traditional cantilever bridge (called the Nemi Zam) over the Pa chu (Paro river) where one may pose a photograph. Experience a walk up a paved stone path running alongside the imposing outer walls. Once inside the Dzong, you can visit the temples inside the dzong. Farm houses: Picturesque farm houses dot the valley amongst fields and hillsides. A visit to a farm house gives an interesting glimpse into the lifestyle of a farming family.
In the evening you can stroll around Paro town and you may visit local Bhutanese handicraft stores.
Overnight at a hotel in Paro.
Day 2 : Paro-Punakha / Wangduephodrang & Punakha Tours / Sightseeings
Distance: 125 km; estimated travel time: 3 ½ hrs
After breakfast, your tour guide and driver will drive you to Punakha & Wangdue. This route will take you through Chunzom (confluence of Pachu- the river flowing through Paro valley & Wangchu –the river flowing through Thimphu valley). On the way, you may stop to visit Tachog Lhakhang (temple) , this 14th century temple located on the base of a mountain across the Pa chu on the Paro-Thimphu highway, is a must visit temple in the Paro valley. Built by the great master architect Thangtong Gyalpo, the temple houses some unique statues. To get to the temple one may actually walk over the iron chains that spans over the Pa chu.
After crossing Chunzom, you will travel along the Wangchu upto Simtokha. Here the road diversion leads you to Punakha/Wangdue through Dochula Pass (3,088m/10,130ft). In the clear sky; enjoy the panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain ranges. Then pass by the beautiful 108 chortens built on the hill by Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo (Queen Mother of Bhutan) for the security and well being of His Majesty, the King of Bhutan. And also visit Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (temple) .The temple was built to honor His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The past and future appear to merge in the details of the lhakhang that tells the story of a supreme warrior figure whose vision pierces the distant future.
Then travel onto Punakha. Punakha has been inextricably linked to some of the most momentous events in the Bhutanese history and deserves its reputation as one of the most beautiful and significant regions at the heart of Bhutanese culture. Punakha had served as the capital of Bhutan from 1637 till 1907 and the 1st National Assembly was held here. The dzong is historically important and stands as the symbol for a unified Bhutan.
On the way visit the Divine Madman’s Monastery-Chhimi Lhakhang, famously known for its fertility shrine, where one can receive a special fertility blessing.
After lunch visit the Punakha Dzong, located on the island of the Pho – Chu (male river) and the Mochu (female river). The dzong was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative seat of the region. It was here that the dual system of government was introduced in the 17th century and in 1907, enthroned the first King Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck. Damaged over the centuries by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the dzong has been fully restored in the recent years by the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. At the dzong, you can see the highest standards in woodwork. Also visit the massive Kuenray, the Coronation Hall of all Bhutanese kings, the Dzongchung at the entrance to the dzong and the cantilever bridge over the Mochu that has been recently renovated.
In the evening, drive through upper Punakha valley passing through farm houses and take a short hike through farmhouses to the beautiful Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Lhakhang (temple built by the Queen Mother of Bhutan for peace and stability in this ever-changing world. This temple is situated on the hilltop overlooking the valley below. The leisurely walk up to the temple would take about 1 hour. Visit the temple and also enjoy the breathtaking view from there.
Overnight at a hotel in Punakha/Wangdue.
Day 3: Punakha-Bumthang
Distance: 197 km; estimated travel time: 7 hrs
After breakfast,your Bhutan tour continues towards central Bhutan which leads you to Bumthang through Trongsa.The journey will take you through dense forests of oak trees and rhododendrons and through the tropical vegetation through the village of Nobding and Pele la pass (11,000ft). Throughout your trip you will come across the beautiful sceneries of rural Bhutan, with scattered settlements far from the road which makes for good photographing.You will also pass through open meadows, and valley of yak herders and several other villages via Chendebji Chorten ( Stupa) . Lunch and refreshments will be served enroute. Just before reaching Bumthang you will come across “Yathra” weaving centre at Zugney and spend some time interacting with the local weavers. Yathra is the name for the colorful, hand-woven woolen cloth (often with geometric designs) that is produced in this region and wool used for this type of textile is sheep wool as the sheep is reared in this Bumthang district.Yatra is made into jackets or bags ,etc. On arrival at Bumthang, check into your hotel and after refreshments stroll through Bumthang town , you may visit local shops and have free interaction with locals.
Overnight at a hotel in Bumthang.
Day 4: Bumthang Tours & Sightseeings
After breakfast, visit the following:
Jambay Lhakhang, built in the 7th century by the King Songtsen Goempo of Tibet. In his effort to propagate Buddhism he had a plan to build a total of 108 temples in Tibet and neighboring kingdoms.
Kujey Lhakhang (Kujey means, “Body imprint”). The temple to the right is the oldest and was built by Minjur Tempa in 1652. It was built around the cave in which Guru Rimpoche meditated and left his body imprint.
Jakar Dzong, “castle of the white bird”. According to legend, when the lamas assembled in about 1549 to select a site for a monastery, a big white bird rose suddenly in the air and settled on a spur of a hill. This was interpreted as an important omen, and the hill was chosen as the site for a monastery and for Jakar Dzong. The fortress is now used as an administrative center of the valley and summer residence of Trongsa monks.
After lunch drive to Dorjibi weaving center which is located in Dorjibi village, half an hour drive from Bumthang town, has 20 women engaged in making Bhutanese weaves using local dyes and improved looms. It is joint initiative by WWF Bhutan and Wangchuck Centennial Park aimed at providing additional source of income for the mostly potato growing communities ,preserve the culture of weaving using locally available raw materials and reduce pressure on natural resources.
In the late afternoon,drive to Trongsa- the ancestral home of the royal family.Overnight at a hotel in Trongsa.
Day 5: Trongsa Tours & Sightseeings and Trongsa-Thimphu
Distance: 199 km,; estimated travel time: 7 hrs
After breakfast visit the National Museum which is housed in the Ta Dzong (watch tower).A museum in which aspects of Bhutanese culture and history are explained by beautifully objects. Documentary will be shown too which explains a great deal about Bhutanese history and history of monarchy. And also visit Trongsa Dzong, which is the most impressive dzong in Bhutan. Built in 1644 by the Zhabdrung, the dzong is an architectural masterpiece. Then drive to Thimphu through Wangduephodrang with lunch enroute.
Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 6: Thimphu Tours & Sightseeings
After breakfast, full day sightseeing in Thimphu includes the visit to the following:
National Textile Museum which is a good place to see the art of traditional weaving being kept alive and preserved through exhibition and has a good collection of old textiles which are rich in colors and designs.You will also see people weaving with intricate designs.
Folk Heritage Museum which provides visitors and tourists with fascinating insights into the Bhutanese material culture and way of life
National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only), where medicinal herbs are compounded and dispensed, and traditional medical practitioners trained.
School of Traditional Painting of Arts and Crafts where students undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.
Centenary Farmers’ Market (open from Thu-Sun only): Most of the Thimphu’s population and many valley dwellers converge on the bustling weekend market, held by the side of Wangchu River. A wide range of foodstuffs and local arts and crafts are sold at the market, which runs from Friday afternoon till Sunday evening. A visit to the market provides great photo opportunities, as well as the chance to mingle with local people and perhaps buy souvenirs.
Tashichhoe Dzong, a fortress of the glorious religion. It was built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and was reconstructed into present structure by the late King, His majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the year 1962-1969. It houses the secretariat building, the throne room and the office of the king, and the central monk body.
Takin Preserve, which houses the national animal the Takin that is only found in Bhutan. This is an extremely rare member of the goat family. Found in herds in the very high altitudes (13,125ft and over). They live on a diet of grass and bamboo. It can weigh as much as 550 pounds.
Kuenselphodrang where the Bhutan’s largest Buddha statue is perched on the hillock overlooking the entire Thimphu valley below and the view from there is magnificent. Craft Bazaar where craftsmen and artisans from across the country display and sell their handicrafts.
Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu
Day 7: Thimphu-Paro & A Day Hike to Taktsang Ghoempa (Tiger’s Nest Monastery)
Distance: 54 km; estimated travel time: 1 hr
After breakfast, drive to Paro which takes about an hour and hike up to Taktsang Monastery, also known as ‘Tiger’s Nest’. The climb up to the viewpoint will take around 1 ½ hours and from there you will enjoy a spectacular view of the monastery clinging to the side of the cliff. Stop for refreshment at the View Point Cafeteria.Then walk further up to the monastery which will take about 1 hour. It is said that in the 8th century Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress from eastern Bhutan to this place and meditated in a cave here for 3 months. The principal Lhakhang (monastery) of the present monastic complex dates from 1692. Taktsang was damaged severely by fire in 1998 but has now been fully restored to its former glory.After visiting the monastery, walk back down to the road on the way stop for lunch at the view point cafeteria and then walk further down to the road point. Then drive back to hotel. On the way, visit Kichu temple,one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demon lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on all the points of her body. Of these 108 temples, 12 were built in accordance with precise plans. Thus, it happened that in about the year AD 638 the temple of Jokhang in Lhasa was built over the very heart of the demon.
In the evening relax and overnight at a hotel in Paro.
Day 08: Paro – Departure
In the morning, your tour guide will escort you to the airport for your onward destinations.