Trip overview :
Bhutan is a tiny and remote kingdom nestling in the Himalayas between its powerful neighbours, India and China .
Almost completely cut off for centuries, it has tried to let in some aspects of the outside world while fiercely guarding its ancient traditions.
The Bhutanese name for Bhutan, Druk Yul, means “Land of the Thunder Dragon” and it only began to open up to outsiders in the 1970s.
Bhutan is a beautiful and peaceful country. The surrounding mountains coupled with the wide array of vegetation and wildlife is a beautiful sight that tells you just how magical it is!
Bhutan is a very unique vacation travel destination. It is not commercialized like most vacation destinations you visit. The country cherishes a “high value low volume” tourism policy for the preservation of the country’s unique heritage and culture in a fast changing world. Relatively few travelers get to visit this tiny magical kingdom, but for those who do, the experience is unforgettable!
Brief Itinerary :
Day 1: Arrival in Paro & drive to Thimpu (54 Kms , 1 hr)
Day 2: Thimpu / trf to Punakha
Day 3: Punakha
Day 4 : Punakha /Paro
Day 5 : Paro – Tiger’s nest Monastery
On arrival at Paro Airport you are met and driven to Thimpu, the capital for a two night stay. Exquisitely beautiful and brimming with traditional Bhutanese art, architecture, and culture, this tiny capital of Bhutan is nothing less than Shangri-La.
This afternoon we take a walk through ‘downtown’ Thimpu – a cultural immersion and a step back in time. Later we drive past the Trashi Chhoe Dzong erected in 1641. Tonight enjoy a traditional Bhutanese meal.
After breakfast we undertake a morning sightseeing tour of Thimpu including the National Memorial Chorten with its finely executed wall paintings and delicately fashioned statues. We visit the nearby Institute for Zorig Chusum, commonly known as the Painting School, where students spend six years training in the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. (During some holidays the painting school is closed and we will visit the folk Heritage and National Textile Museums in its place, a fascinating testimony to Bhutan’s living traditions).
Later we drive over the Dochu-la pass, where you stop briefly to admire the 108 chorten (spiritual Stupas), mani wall (prayer slate covered stone wall), and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear you will be able to see many of the high peaks which surround the area including Gangkar Puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497 m. We then continue down the other side through the valley to Punakha for a two night stay.
Punkaha was the capital of Bhutan until 1955 after which the Third King of Bhutan shifted the Capital to Thimphu. The Punakha dzong, built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, is the winter home of the Chief and is one of the most spectacular dzongs in Bhutan. 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. We visit the Dzong this morning.
Later we explore the Punakha valley, a sub tropical area where food grains, vegetables and fruits grow in abundance. We enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and take a walk through the local village area before visiting Chimi Lhakhang, known as the temple of fertility, at Lobesa.
We return to Paro today where we visit Kichu Temple, one of the oldest temple in Bhutan built during 7th century by the Tibetan King Songtsen. If time permits we also visit Paro Rinpung Dzong or the ‘Fortress of the Heap of Jewels’, which was built in 1646. Today the Dzong 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.
Today we drive to Satsam Chorten and from there commence our hike to Taktsang Goempa. The hike to Taktsang Monastery is the highlight of the whole trip for many as it is breathtaking to see. It is believed that during the early 7th century, Guru Padma Sambhavav, known as Guru Rimpoche in Bhutan, flew here on the back of a Tigress and meditated in a cave for over 3 months to subdue the demons and also spread the Buddhist religion in the region. Later they built the Taktsang Monastery over this cave.
After viewing the monastery we enjoy lunch at the Taktsang cafereteria before walking back to our vehicle. (The hike is quite a steep uphill climb and may take up to 2 ½ hrs each way. Ponies can be hired for approx $30 and will take you one way (up) only. Even if you only make it to the lunch spot you still gain exceptional views of the monastery)
After breakfast you are taken to Paro airport for your onward flight.
- All the required airport transfers
- Airconditioned vehicle for transfers and sightseeing
- Service of english speaking tour guide
- Twin share accomodations
- Daily breakfast ,Lunch and Dinner in the local restaurant .
- Entrance fees at the places of visit
- Sightseeing and excursions as per the program .
- All the government taxes /Government Royalty
- FIT surcharge
- Visa Fee
Welcome and Farewell with KHADA Scarf , Welcome drink , 01 bottle of mineral water every day during sightseeing ).
Services exclude :
- Travel insurance
- Flight cost to and from Bhutan
- International flight cost
- Emergency rescue
- Expenses of personal nature like drinks/barbills , internet, laundry, telephone, postage, tipping.
- Expenses arising from from flight delays, flight cancellations, bad weather , road blockade,landslides, riots,political reasons ,natural calamities, incidents beyond our control.
- Room/hotle upgrading
- Services other than specified in the inclusions.
|Cultural, historical exploration and scenic excursion of Thimphu, Paro, Wangduephodrang & Punakha’
Day 01 : Arrive Paro by Flight and transfer to Thimphu (55km, approx. 1 hour and 15 minutes drive) The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular in entire Himalayas. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills from Kolkatta, the journey offers fascinating views and an exciting descent into the Kingdom. Bhutan’s first gift, as you
disembark from the aircraft will be cool, clean fresh mountain air. After immigration formalities and baggage collection, you will be met by our representative, and afterwards drive to Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan with en-route stop at Chuzom, the confluence of Thimphu and Paro rivers. Three different style of stupas ; Tibetan, Nepalese and Bhutanese adorn this confluence. Shortly before reaching Chuzom, you will see on your left Tschogang Lhakhang, ‘the temple of the excellent horse’. It is a private temple, built in 15th century, as the result of visitation from Balaha, the excellent horse, a manifestation of Chenrezig, the compassionate Buddha.
On arrival, in Thimphu check-into the hotel. The capital town of Bhutan and the centre of Government, religion and commerce, Thimphu is a unique city with unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. With the population of about 1,00,000 it is perhaps still the world’s only capital city without a traffic light.
Late afternoon visit Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang); A place for refreshing with a huge statue of Buddha on the top of the Kuensel Phodrang. The area also gives a very good view of the Thimphu valley from the west.
Then an exploratory walk around Thimphu city centre. Also visit the Local Crafts Bazaar, to browse through example of Bhutan’s fine traditional arts. Here you can buy hand-woven textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewellery, interesting items made from local materials.
Evening drive around Thimphu valley after the dusk once the lights are on, capturing the nights view of some of Thimphu’s prominent monuments.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2320m)
Day 02 : Thimphu After breakfast, sightseeing in Thimphu valley including visit to the following : the National Library, housing an extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts; the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School) where students undergo a 6-year training course in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts. Later visit Textile Museum, which provides insight into Bhutan’s one of the most distinct art form. Also visit Simply Bhutan, a living museum and studio encapsulating the cultural heritage of the Bhutanese people.
After lunch, drive to Sangaygang view point (2685 meters) to have view of whole Thimphu valley and walk through hundreds of colourful prayer flags that dot the hill overlooking the valley.
Then drive to Takin Reserve Centre. The takin, the national animal of Bhutan can be seen here. This particular animal is found only in the Himalayan region.
Changangkha Monastery, is next in itinerary. This monastery is built on a hill overlooking the Thimphu valley. It was built in 15th Century by Lama Phajo Drugom Zhipo. Many parents of Thimphu take their new born babies to this monastery to be blessed by a high lama.
Afterwards visit King’s Memorial Chorten, continuously circumambulated by people, murmuring mantras and spinning their prayer wheels. Construction of this landmark was the idea of Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (‘the father of modern Bhutan’) who has wished to erect monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as a monument to peace.
Conclude the day with visit of Trashichhoedzong. 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.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2320m)
Day 03 : Thimphu – Punakha and Wangduephodrang (75km, approx 3 hours 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.
At Dochula Pass, 108 chortens or stupas known as Druk Wangyal Chortens have been built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the eldest Queen Mother. These chortens are built in three layers, the first lowest level layer has forty five chortens, the second has thirty six and the top layer has twenty seven, built around the main chorten.
Afternoon, visit Punakha Dzong or (‘Palace of Great Happiness’), built at the junction of the Phochu and Mochu rivers in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. This majestic dzong served as both the religious and the administrative center of Bhutan in the past. It measures some 600 by 240 feet and has a six-story, gold-domed tower. Inside are courtyards and religious statuary that hint at the depth of history and spiritual tradition embodied here. Your guide will illuminate your understanding of this intricate culture that is exotic to us, though long established here.
Then embark on an interesting excursion to Chimi Lhakhang. This Lhakhang, situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley, is also known as the temple of fertility. It is widely believed that couples who do not have children and wanting one, if they pray at this temple, they are usually blessed with a child very soon. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning ‘field’. A walk through the village near the temple will give you rare glimpse into the daily life of the village folks.
Evening explore newly developed Wangduephodrang town and its local market.
Overnight at the hotel in Punakha / Wangduephodrnag. (Altitude 1300m)
Day 04 : Punakha and Wangduephodrang – Paro (125km, approx 4.1/2 hours drive) After breakfast, visit Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang nunnery. Perched on a ridge amid pine trees and overlooking valleys of Punakha and Wangduephodrang, gleams this impressive structures of Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang (temple). The temple houses a 14-foot main bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara (Chenrigzig chagtong chentong). Other statues include those of Guru Padmasambawa, Gautama Buddha, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, Tsela Namsum, the 21 Taras and Tsepamay (Buddha of longevity). The Avalokiteshvara statue, one of the biggest in the country, was the handiwork of entirely local Bhutanese artisans. The temple complex also houses a permanent higher learning and meditation centre for nuns where, apart from religious trainings, it provides life skill training such as tailoring, embroidery, statue making and thangkha painting.
Then drive back to Paro 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.
En route visit Simtokha Dzong, the place of profound tantric teaching. This oldest dzong of the country built in 1627, now houses a school for the study of the Dzongkha language.
Later in the day after checking into hotel, proceed to visit Ta Dzong, originally built as watch tower, which now houses National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons and 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 inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore such as four friends, the old man of long life, the wheel of life, scenes from the life of Milarepa, Mount. Sumeru and other cosmic Mandala.
Evening take a stroll around Paro main street, exploring its local shops and market area.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2280m)
Day 05 : Paro After breakfast excursion to Taktshang Monastery (approx. 5 hours round trip walk). 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.
Later in the afternoon, drive to the base of Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. The snowy dome of sacred Chomolhari, “mountain of goddess” can be seen in all her glory from the approach road to the Dzong. Nearby visit a traditional farm house, which offers deep insight into lifestyle of local people especially the village folks.
While returning to the hotel, along the way, visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. The building of this temple marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan.
Evening at leisure
Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2280m)
Day 06 : Depart Paro After breakfast at the hotel, drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination. Our representative will help you with exit formalities and then bid you farewell.