Day 1 Arrival, Transfer to Thimphu, o/n Thimphu
Day 2 Thimphu Exploration. Farmer’s Market o/n Thimphu
Day 3 Transfer to Punakha. Dochula, Punakha Dzong, o/n Punakha
Day 4 Transfer to Bumthang. Fertility Temple en route, o/n Bumthang
Day 5 Bumthang Valley Exploration. Farmhouse Lunch, o/n Bumthang
Day 6 Transfer to Gangtey. Trongsa & Taa Dzong en route, o/n Gangtey
Day 7 Gangtey Exploration. Gangtey Goempa, Nature Trail Hike, o/n Gangtey
Day 8 Transfer to Paro. Paro Dzong, National Museum, o/n Paro
Day 9 Paro. Tiger’s Nest Hike, Town Stroll, o/n Paro
Day 10 International Departure
Day 1: Arrival in Paro. Transfer to Thimphu
On arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be greeted by your guide upon exiting the arrival hall. From the flight in, weaving through the valley, arrival in Bhutan is like no other. Today we will take it easy to acclimatize to the altitude. Drive to Thimphu, check in to the hotel and lets have your first taste of Bhutanese cuisine and some light sight-seeing in Thimphu.
Takin enclosure – On the way to the viewpoint over Thimphu is the home of Bhutan’s national animal, the Takin; a strange looking beast some say looks like a bee stung moose.
Drive time one hour.
Day 2: Thimphu valley exploration
Folk Heritage Museum – Dedicated to connecting people to the Bhutanese rural past though exhibition of artifacts used in rural households.
Textile Museum – Witness the art of traditional weaving.
Thimphu Dzong – The largest Dzong is also houses the throne room of the King of Bhutan.
National Memorial Chorten – Which was built in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk.
Paper making Factory – witnesses the art of papermaking.
Centenary Farmers’ Market – Every Saturday and Sunday most of the Thimphu population congregate on the banks of the river where the weekend market is held. Here villagers from the valley and other nearby places come to sell their agriculture products.
Hike to Cheri Monastery is an option for more adventurous travelers. At the head of the valley, should you wish to stretch your legs, a short hike will take you to Cheri Goemba, the monastery where the first monastic body was established in the Kingdom.
Day 3: Thimphu to Punakha
Dochula Pass – the 108 chortens was built by the present Queen Mother of Bhutan Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over Indian militants and to liberate the souls of the souls lost.
Punakha Dzong – Built in 1637, the dzong continues to be the winter home for the clergy, headed by the Chief Abbott, the Je Khenpo. It is a stunning example of Bhutanese architecture, sitting at the fork of two rivers, portraying the image of a medieval city from a distance. The dzong was destroyed by fire and glacial floods over the years but has been carefully restored and is, today, a fine example of Bhutanese craftsmanship.
Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten – Built by the third Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck this Chorten is a splendid example of the Bhutanese architecture and art and is the only one of its kind in the world. It has been built over eight and a half years and its details have been drawn from religious scripture.
Drive time two hours
Day 4: Punakha to Bumthang
In the morning, we would start our drive to Central Bhutan. Before we start we will pay a visit to Chhimi Lhakhang – A 20 minutes walk across terraced fields through the village of Sopsokha from the roadside to the small temple located on a hillock in the centre of the valley below Metshina. Ngawang Chogyel built the temple in 15th century after the ’Divine Madman’ Drukpa Kuenlay built a small chorten there. It is a pilgrim site for barren women.
Passing Wangdue (left), one of the major towns and district capital of Western Bhutan. Located south of Punakha, Wangdue is the last town before central Bhutan. The district is famous for its fine bamboo work and its slate and stone carving.
We will pause to view the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong. Built in 1638, Wangdue Dzong is dramatically perched on the spur of a hill and overlooks the confluence of the Tsang Chu and Dang Chu rivers.
Drive time 7 hours
Day 5: Bumthang valley exploration
This is one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heartland of Buddhism in Bhutan. It is an area with a wide variety of fauna and flora. The Guru Rimpoche and his lineage of Tertons (treasure finders) making Bumthang his home have led to more than 40 temples being built in this peaceful valley.
In the morning, we will hike to the Tamshing Goemba, built in 1501 by the Buddhist saint Pema Lingpa. We will also visit Kurjey Lhakhang (left-bottom), one of the most sacred monasteries in Bhutan. Built by the Guru Rimpoche in 1652, it houses a rock with his body imprint. Legend has it that Guru Rimpoche manifested as a Garuda to defeat the demon Shelging Karpo who had taken the form of a white lion.
We will also visit Jambay Lhakhang, built in 659 by Tibetan King Sontsen Gampo to pin down a demoness who was obstructing the spread of Buddhism. Come October, the Jambay Lhakhang Drub is one of the most colourful festivals in Bhutan.
Jakar Dzong – pitched on a high ground overlooking the town junction, it was built as monastery in 1549 by the great grandfather of the Zhabdrung. It is now used as the administrative center for Bumthang district
Day 6: Bumthang to Gangtey
En route to Gangtey is Trongsa, the ancestral home of the ruling dynasty.
Trongsa, literally “New Town” in the Dzongkha language, is where the current monarchy had its origin in Bhutan. Each King in the line of succession has held the post of Trongsa Penlop or Governor before donning the Raven Crown.
Trongsa Dzong – The foundations of Trongsa Dzong were laid in the 16th century by Pema Lingpa. The Dzong flourished during the 17th century under Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. With its massive structure, its wall looming high above the winding Mangde ChuValley, the Dzong commands the east-west road.
Taa Dzong – Built as a watch tower the Taa Dzong has since been turned into a Heritage Museum. A book on this prominent Dzong is written by Christian Schicklgruber entitled The Tower of Trongsa, Religion and Power in Bhutan.
Drive time 5 hours
Day 7: Gangtey valley exploration
The valley of Phobjikha is well known as the winter home of the Black necked crane (Grus Nigricollis). Bhutan is home to around six hundred black-necked cranes with Phobjikha being one of the popular places that the birds migrate to in the winter months from the Tibetan plateau. The elegant and shy birds can be observed from early November to end of March.
Another significant landmark in Phobjikha is the famous Gangtey Goempa monastery. This is an old monastery that dates back to 17th century.
Nature Trail Hike – Hike through the beautiful with a visit to the Black Necked Crane Centre.
Day 8: Gangtey to Paro
Paro Valley – The beautiful valley is home to many of Bhutan’s old monasteries and temples. The country’s only Airport is in Paro. The valley is also home to mount Jomolhari (7,300 meters) situated at the northern end of the valley whose glacier water forms the Pachu flowing through the valley. The following are some of the prominent places to visit in Paro.
Paro Dzong – Also known as Rinpung Dzong, this 15th century massive fortress/monastery, is also the administrative center of the dzongkhag.
Ta Dzong – Built as a watchtower the Ta Dzong, it was converted into the National Museum in 1968. The museum boasts antique Thangka, textiles, weapons and armour, household objects and rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.
Drive time 4 hours
Day 9: Paro valley exploration
Drukgyal Dzong – A morning drive, north of Paro valley brings us to the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong. Built in 1647 by the great Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the Dzong was destroyed by an accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. Explore the ramparts and relive the memories of a glorious past.
Taktshang Monastery – A hike up to view one of Bhutan’s most revered monuments, the Taktshang Goemba, more commonly referred to as the “Tiger’s Nest”. The four to five hour return trek offers spectacular views of this sacred monastery perched on a cliff face 900m above the valley floor. The balance of the day can be spend browsing shops in
Kyichu Lhakhang – After a sumptuous local lunch, we will retrace our steps to visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan.
We will end the day with a stroll through the quaint Paro valley.
Day 10: International Departure
After breakfast, transfer to Paro airport international departure.