Welcome to the happy country of Bhutan! Let's explore the serene landscapes, ancient monasteries, lush valleys and quaint towns dotted with colorful Buddhist prayer flags. All this topped with a warm dose of happy locals that makes Bhutan, the perfect destination to travel, explore & celebrate life!
Arrive at Paro International Airport from Delhi, Mumbai, Bangkok, Calcutta, Singapore, or Kathmandu. Paro is situated in a beautiful valley on the bank of the Pachu (Paro River). It is a fitting introduction to this charming kingdom. Your guide will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel to rest and fresh up.
After lunch, you can visit Ta Dzong (‘the watchtower’) now housing the National Museum. Built on top of the hill above Rinpung Dzong, it was originally used to defend Rinpung Dzong and the Paro valley during times of war. Its unusual circular construction resembles a conch shell and it now contains a magnificent collection of Bhutanese artifacts – costumes, religious paintings, arms, textiles and a fascinating collection of Bhutan stamps.
You can also visit impressive Paro Rinpung Dzong, one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture; walk down by the Dzong and over the old bridge. It is the finest example of a traditional cantilever bridge built by our forefathers. You can also stroll around the Paro town with its busy shops and photogenic citizens.
After breakfast, drive along the Paro and Thimphu river valleys to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital. You can stop on the way to see the view of magnificent Tamchhog Lhakhang, the hereditary place of Bhutan’s iron bridge builder. Nearby you can visit the Iron Chain Bridge built in 2005 by using the original iron chains made by Dupthop Thangtong Gyalpo in the early 15th century.
Thimphu sightseeing. We will start our sightseeing by visiting Memorial Chorten; This large Tibetan-style Chorten was built in 1974 to honor the memory of the third king. Devotees flock throughout the day to circumambulate and turn the large prayer wheels. You could dive up to Kuenselphodrang and visit the statue of Buddha, perched on the hilltop overlooking the Thimphu city. This 51.5m/169ft tall Buddha is the 17th tallest Buddha in the world and tallest sitting Buddha.
Take a late afternoon walk around the town and soak in the atmosphere of this capital city with its busy shops and photogenic citizens in their national dress. This is the only city without traffic light.
After breakfast,drive to the old capital, Punakha, via Dochula pass at 3050 meters. Array prayer flags and an impressive collection of 108 chortens mark it. We can also stop for a hot drink and enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the Eastern Himalaya ranges. You should also see plenty of flowering rhododendrons, orchids, and magnolia to enhance the drive.
In the afternoon visit the imposing Punakha Dzong, “Palace of Great Happiness”. Built-in 1637, by Shabdrung, it is strategically placed at the confluence of two rivers, the Po Chu and the Mo Chu. Then take a pleasant walk for an hour or so across terraced fields to Chimi Lhakhang (Temple of Fertility) built in the 15th century by the ‘Divine Madman’ (Lama Drukpa Kuenley).
After breakfast, drive to Trongsa, the gateway to central Bhutan. It was from here that the present Royal Family emerged as a powerful force. Because of its strategic position as the only connection between east and west, Trongsa Penlop was able to control the entire eastern region efficiently from Trongsa. Trongsa Dzong commands the eye from miles away. You can also take a stroll down the town’s main street.
After breakfast, before you drive to Bumthang, visit the Trongsa Dzong. The Dzong, considered as longest dzong in Bhutan, which was built by Chhogyel Mingyure Tenpa, an official who was sent to unify and bring under control the eastern Bhutan in 1648. You can also visit Ta Dzong, the newly opened museum in the watchtower dedicated to the Wangchuk dynasty, which tells the stories of the Dzong and the valley it has watched over for centuries and features personal belongings of the Kings and Queens of Bhutan.
In the afternoon we will drive through some of Bhutan’s most beautiful landscapes to Bumthang over the Yotong La Pass-3425m. Bumthang, the cultural heart land of Bhutan has many legendary monasteries, temples and palaces.
After breakfast, your guide will take you on a fascinating tour of a variety of sacred sites includingJamba Lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang, and followed by a visit to Membar Tsho ‘the Flaming Lake’, one of Bhutan’s most important pilgrimage sites. You can also visit Bhutan’s largest Dzong (Jakar), with its picturesque location overlooking the Chokhor valley. You may be interested to see Bumthang’s famous Swiss cheese factory and dairy farm.
After breakfast, drive to Tang valley, the most remote of Bumthang's valleys. The road climbs past the trail to Member Tsho (the burning lake), which is one of Bhutan’s most important pilgrimage sites. Then drive on to Drangchel, Pema Lingpa's birthplace. You will also see some picturesque villages and temples and can walk up to visit Ugyenchholing Palace, which is now a museum and gives an interesting insight into life in an aristocratic family in the last century.
Today after breakfast, we will be driving approximately six hours through stunning scenery, including a crossing of the Thrumshing La pass (3750m). We also drive through deep forest. You will notice the change in vegetation as we enter warmer climates and will see lots of birds along the way, as this is a renowned area for bird watching.
The Mongar district forms the northern part of the ancient region of Kheng. Some of Bhutan’s finest woven textiles can be found in its villages. Mongar town was redesigned in 1997 when the eastern regional referral hospital was built so that patients did not have to travel all the way to Thimphu and the local economy has been much revitalized as a result.
Today after breakfast, we drive from Monger to Tashigang via Drametse, a monastery and small village about an hour off the main road. The monastery was founded in 1511 by the great-granddaughter of Pema Lingpa (known as the treasure Discoverer) and there are about 60 married Nyingma lay monks who live here. Tashigang is the largest district in the country with Tree sub-districts and 15 Gewogs.
Today, after breakfast, proceed for the day excursion to Tashiyangtse. Tashiyangtse is one and half hours drive from Tashigang and border the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. On the way visit the sacred temple of Gom Phug Kora about 45 minutes north of Tashigang. Guru Rinpoche meditated here and left his body print on the rock. The temple itself contains murals, said to date from the 15th century, and a variety of sacred relics.
The small town of Tashiyangtse is concentrated around the large Chorten Kora, modeled after the Bodnath Stupa of Kathmandu in Nepal and much revered and visited by pilgrims. The town is also famous for its wooden cups and bowls made using water-driven and treadle lathes; it is also a center for paper manufacture. Few Western Bhutanese have visited Tashiyangtse as it is so far east and certainly few Western tourists make it this far either! You can wander around, visit Chorten Kora and the Institute of Thirteen Arts and Crafts, and take in the experience of rural village life in this remote corner. Late afternoon, drive back to your hotel for overnight in Tashigang.
After your leisure breakfast, We will visit Rangjung, Radhi and Phongme, only recently opened to visitors. Tashigang district is home to many weavers and some of the finest raw silks can be found in villages like Radhi. At Phongme there is a tiny shop and a temple on the hill above the village that is 150 years old and contains some interesting statues and artifacts. We can also see a big Tibetan style temple on the hilltop overlooking the Rangjung town. After a picnic lunch at a suitable open area with a good view we will drive back to Tashigang, see the impressive Tashigang Dzong.
Today after breakfast, we travel back to Monger, which takes about 4 hours. However, we will take about half an hour off-road down to visit the Kurichu Hydro Project, (subjected to permission for tourist visit)
After breakfast, take a dramatic day trip to Lhuntshi, frequently taking you alongside cliffs high above river valleys, but it is a comfortable and interesting drive.
Situated in the northeast of Bhutan, Lhuntshi is one of the most isolated districts. However, it enjoys historic importance in Bhutan as the Kurtoe region of Lhuntshi is the ancestral home of the Wangchuk Dynasty, who descended from the noble family of Dungkhar Choeje (Dungkhar family clan). The district is well known for its hand-woven textiles. Many women in Lhuntshi have looms at home and especially a small village called khoma is famous for its Kushuthara (Brocade) weaving. We can see the old Lhuntshi Dzong and after the packed lunch we will drive back to Monger for the night.
Today after breakfast, we retrace our steps from Mongar to Bumthang – about a 6hour drive. On the way, we will stop to visit Ura village. Ura is the highest of Bumthang’s valleys and believed as the home of the earliest inhabitants of Bhutan. There are about 40 clustered houses along cobblestones streets, and the main Lhakhang dominates the village giving it a medieval atmosphere.
After breakfast, drive to Phobjikha (2900 meters). Enjoy the views of the immense and remote Phobjikha valley and the black mountain ranges. Visit Gangtey Gompa (one of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries and recently extensively renovated). And then hike the Gangteng Natural trail where your driver will be waiting for you at the floor of the valley. The villagers continue to live a traditional Bhutanese rural lifestyle. This is the site where black-necked cranes visit hundreds in November each year after spending the summer in Tibet.
After breakfast, we return to Thimphu via Wangdi. Visit Wangdi Dzong, built by the Shabdrung in 1638 on an auspicious site where four ravens were seen flying in four different directions.
After Lunch, you continue your drive over the Dochu La pass. You can once more stop on the pass if you have missed the view of Himalayan ranges in the mist on the other day.
Have a leisure late afternoon as you had long drives in your last few days and been busy seeing all those sights. Ask your guide what takes your interest.
Today after breakfast, we will take more sights and culture of the capital including a weekly market, Institute of Thirteen Traditional Arts and Crafts, mini Zoo where the national animal–Taken is preserved. In the afternoon you can browse the striking collection of intricate textiles at the National Textile Museum. We will also go and see the traditional papermaking factory.
We will finally go and visit the impressive Tashi Chodzong. It houses the office if the King and various ministries and also the summer residence of central monk body headed by Je Khenpo (chief abbot of Bhutan). You are allowed to visit this dzong only after office hours.
After breakfast, before you drive to Paro, take a short drive out of the capital and walk a couple of hours to visit Cheri Gompa. This is the place where Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel established the first monk body in 1620 when the gompa itself was founded. Return to Thimphu for a late lunch. Post lunch, we will drive to Paro.
After breakfast, today we will take a day excursion to Haa. We will drive over the Chele La pass at 3800m from where you will have a view of Mount Jomolhari to the north as well as down to the Haa valley, and then continue down to Haa town. Haa has only recently opened to tourists and the town is still very small – as yet there are only one or two basic restaurants and local lodges, so the area remains quite remote. You will have a good opportunity to view this beautiful rural scene. From Haa, you can drive to Katso village and from there you can visit Lhakhang Karpo and Lhakhang Nagpo. After lunch drive back to Paro for the night.
After breakfast, take a day walk to the ‘Tiger's Nest’, the sacred Taktshang monastery which clings to the rock face 900 meters above the valley floor. Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown to the site riding on a tigress. He subsequently meditated here for three months. It is one of Bhutan’s most holy sites and draws pilgrims not only from Bhutan but also from neighboring Buddhist countries. You can have lunch at the Taktshang cafeteria from where you get a spectacular view of the monastery.
Later if you would like to you can go back to Paro town for shopping. There are numerous handicraft shops through the valley most opened daily and accept credit cards. Nearby you can also visit the 7th-century Kyichu Lhakhang, a temple of historical significance and one of the most sacred shrines in Bhutan.
Early in the morning your guide will accompany you to the Paro International Airport to see you off onto your flight and wish you Tashi Delek (goodbye and good luck).
|Duration||:||20 Nights / 21 Days|
|Starting price||:||5100 Per Person|
|Route||:||Paro - Thimphu - Punakha - Trongsa - Bumthang - Mongar - Drametse - Tashigang - Tashiyangste - Lhuntshi - Phobjikha - Wangdi - Paro|