The flight into Bhutan takes you close to the great Himalayas, offering amazing scenic view of some of the world’s highest snow peaks. As you enter Paro valley, you will sweep past forested hills and over the silvery Pa Chu (Paro River) twisty down the valley below. Our representative will meet you at the airport and after completion of arrival formalities; you will be transferred to Hotel(less 15mins drive).
Lunch at Hotel.
After lunch sightseeing tour of the charming city of Paro (2250m). Your sightseeing at Paro includes:
After lunch visit Rinpung Dzong (fortress on heap of jewels) which has a long and fascinating history from 1600s. The site offers a great deal of monks wondering in the courtyard of Dzong. The first National Assembly of Bhutan was held here. After Paro Dzong take a short walk down for 15-20mins till you reach a beautiful traditional cantilevered bridge (photo opportunity as you walk down the way)
If time permits visit Sangachoekhor Buddhist institute located at outstanding view of entire Paro valley below. The institute offers a temple to visit however the high light of visiting this place is to talk and see hundreds of monks studying and leaving there. The goal of this visit to know and understand the life of monks in Bhutan
Leisure time in Paro town.
Recommended free time activity:
Walk along old Paro Street.
Visit stamp shop and Bhutanese traditional music CD shop.
Witness local people playing archery (national sports)
(Your guide will do a detail orientation and preparation for the hike to Tiger nest for next day, while having welcome
Dinner and overnight in hotel at Paro.
Day 02 : Paro - Paro (tiger nest)
Early start is recommended (summer 7am, winter7:30)
After an early breakfast drive north of Paro valley and take a 5-6hrs excursion to Taktsang Monastery, the most famous of all Bhutanese monasteries. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress from eastern Bhutan. He meditated in the cave and emerged in eight incarnated forms and thus, the site became holy. Subsequently, the place came to be known as the “Tiger’s Nest”. (Your guide will decide on lunch place depending on time) The journey to Tigernest is known for its hiking path through pristine environment delivering views of Paro valley and the famous Tigernest at many spots.
Later visit Kyichu Temple, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines in the Kingdom.
Free time options: Hot stone bath at a Bhutanese farm house (excluded from package)
Dinner and Overnight in a hotel at Paro.
Day 03 : Paro – Thimphu (1 ½hrs. drive)
On the way to Thimphu, a photo stop opportunity of a Buddhist temple dating back to 15th century and a short walking opportunity across the bridge at chu-zom (confluence of Paro river and Thimphu river). As you walk, you will get stunning view of three chorten (stupa) built at the confluence of two rivers.
Upon reaching at Thimphu your sights includes:
National memorial chorten (stupa) built in memory of 3rd king of Bhutan. This site will give travelers the opportunity to take pictures of senior citizen and intermingle with locals. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as a monument to peace. It has now become a vibrant center of spiritual practice and religious events
Visit Buddha point. A gigantic statue of Buddha erected on a mountain overlooking Thimphu city. The statue is made of bronze and is gilded in gold. 125,000 smaller Buddha statues have been placed within the Buddha statue- 100,000 statues of 8 inches and 25,000 statues of 12 inches. Each of these figure has also been casted in bronze and gilded. The throne that the Buddha sits upon is a large meditation hall.
Visit Changangkha monastery with 5mins walking from nearest road. A 12th century monastery active with few monks and beautiful Buddhist paintings inside. The main goal of visiting this sight is to see, feel and interact with local families coming with new born babies to do offering and occasionally you will witness monks performing ritual inside the shrine. The monastery is beautifully erected on a ridge overlooking Thimphu city.
Lunch in a local restaurant
Afternoon, visit Traditional handmade paper factory where you will be escorted inside the factory to see the traditional way of making paper followed by paper gallery where you will see how traditional paper are put in use in modern times.
Visit Centenary farmers market where you get to see local vegetable, rice, fruits and meat items being sold (expect the place to be crowded with local buyer and vendors. (The goal of going to this vegetable market is provide an opportunity to travelers to engage all six senses.
Evening at leisure
Recommended free time activity:
Take a walk in town.
Visit ambient coffee (walking distance from hotel)
Visit DSB book shop (walking distance from hotel)
Witness local folks playing archery (national sports)
Overnight in a hotel at Thimphu.
Day 04 : Thimphu - Punakha (2 ½hrs drive)
After breakfast drive to Punakha with a stop at Dochula pass (3,050m) and enjoy the most enchanting view of the 108 stupas against the setting of the majestic snowcapped Himalayans including the highest mountain of Bhutan.
Later visit the most impressive Dzong in Bhutan, Punakha Dzong, a 17th century fortress which is beautifully erect between pho chu (male river) and Mo chu (female river). This Dzong is considered as winter residence of the central monastic body. Before 1955, Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan.
Lunch at Punakha.
Later, drive for 30-45mins uphill to Talo village. En-route visit Sangchen Dorji Lhendup Nunnery, built on a pine-covered ridge above Punakha valley. The nunnery’s chapel houses a 4.5m bronze statue of Chenrezing, the bodhisattva of compassion, along with statues of the Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung in an intricately sculpted altar. It is home to a small and friendly community of nuns. A PRIVATE AUDENCE WITH A NUN WIILL BE ARRANGED BY BHUTAN TRAVELCATIONS (This feature is exclusive only for guest travelling through Bhutan Travelcations without any cost involve) The goal of this setting is to allow travelers understand real life of nuns in Bhutan). Continue driving uphill until you see a scattered village hill top. The royal queen mothers (four sisters) hail from this small village. The high light of this visit is a short walk (30mins) from top of village to bottom where you will see local farmers doing farm works. (Photo and interaction opportunities)
Dinner and Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 05 : Punakha - Gangtay (2-3hrs drive)
After breakfast drive to Gangtay, the most beautiful and scenic drive of the trip. Stop over a road side village known as Nobding. The village offer you a small vegetable market with few local vendors. Phallic symbol as painting on every house will be one attraction in this village. From Nobding village take a walk by side of road for 15-20mins will take you to lunch restaurant.
After lunch continue driving towards Gangtay (2700m) with a short stop at Lawa la pass (3100m).Gangtay/Phobjikha valley is one of the most beautiful destination in Bhutan. It is also winter home to a globally endangered black necked crane migrating every winter from Tibetan plateau. Gantay is remarkably beautiful as the valley is formed by glacial lakes thousands years back.
Visit Gangtay monastery, the one and only Nyingmapa monastery located in western Bhutan founded back in 1500.Expect to see many young monks studying and living in monastery.
The most beautiful and scenic hike at Phobjikha is Gangtay Nature Trial (1 and1/2hrs).A gentle walk through woods with breathtaking view of village on opposite side of valley. This gentle hike will give you the opportunity to see wild life of Phobjikha especially birds and occasionally wild boar. This gentle hike will also offer photo opportunity of glacial formed valley (Phobjikha) and during winter this hike is perfect for seeing black necked crane roosting in the valley.
Check in to the hotel at Phobjikha
Evening at leisure.
Free times options: Take a relax walk through Phobjikha village where you have the possibilities to see farmers grazing cattle, farmers working in field and students coming back from school.
Dinner and overnight in a hotel.
Day 06 : Gangtay – Gangtay/phobjikha
After breakfast depart for exploring Phobjikha valley mostly by trek. Start you day with a short drive by dirt road which leads to an oldest temple at gangtay known as Kumbu lhakhang. Start the gradual trek from nearest road till Kumbu Lhakhang(45mins -1hr). A beautiful trek with stunning view of Kumbu village and phobjikha village bellow. This trek also provides photo opportunity of high altitude birds and farmers working in farm land. The temple dates back to 7th century. There is hardly any literature that reads the history of temple except a verbal explanation from the family taking care of the temple.
One the way back to Phobjikha stopover to visit the Gangtay Buddhist University. This visit provides an opportunity for you to know more on life of monks. Most of monks studying here speaks English and they love practicing their English with visitors, so feel free to start a conversation. Occasionally you might see monks debating over Buddhist philosophy in an open ground.
Today’s lunch will be arranged by your local escort in a Traditional Bhutanese farm house at Phobjikha. The goal of this setting is to allow you to taste the local cuisine and also dinning with the family gives you a better opportunity to come close to understand local culture and tradition.
After lunch one member of the family will be escorting you to explore his house.
Visit Crane information Center to understand the inside stories of black necked crane with a short documentary at the Centre.
Free time options:
Rest and enjoy view from hotel.
Get a hot stone bath (reservation 1 day before through local guide and cost will be extra)
Attend evening prayer with monks at Buddhist University (guide will escort)
Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 07 : Gangtay - Trongsa (3-4hrs drive)
Proceed to Trongsa across Pelela pass (3,300m). A beautiful and nature drive will provide a lot of photo stops of villages and scenes on the way. This pass might offer yaks grazing in meadows with nomads selling their yak product by the side of road. Stop for pictures of yaks and nomads. This day you also drive through a famous national park known as Black mountain national park and your local guide will be providing a lot of walking opportunities by the side of road Stop en route at Chendbji Chorten, which was built in the 18th century by a Lama named Shida. Nepalese in style, the stupa resembles the famous Boudhnath Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal with eyes painted at four cardinal points.
Lunch at Trongsa
Drive to visit Trongsa Dzong. (Optional: stop at Trongsa town and start walking to the longest Dzong of Bhutan, 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 (‘governor’) 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.
Visit Trongsa museum or Ta Dzong (watch tower), dedicated to the Buddhist epic hero, King Gesar of Ling and the museum also displays significant Buddhist figures along with a short documentary at the lobby.
Check into hotel.
Free time options: Take a gentle and relax walk from hotel to Trongsa town (15mins)
Day 08 : Trongsa - Bumthang (3-4hrs drive)
After breakfast from hotel proceed to Bumthang crossing yotong la pass (3400m). The road winds steeply up to the pass, 28km from Trongsa, then runs down through coniferous forest into a wide, open cultivated valley known as the Chumey valley. Stopping at Chumay weaving Centre is recommended to see textiles from sheep wool and yaks hair also stop at beautiful Kiki la pass to take picture of colorful prayer flags. The drive to Bumthang will take you through many beautiful villages on the way and it’s at your discretion and guide to stop on the way (village photo stop recommended)
Lunch at bumthang
After lunch visit Tamshing Lhakhang (housing some of the oldest wall paintings in Bhutan).This beautiful walk will also provide photo opportunities of local farmers and a beautiful bridge with a lot of prayer flags. Upon reaching at Tamshing the oldest paintings on the walls of temple inside will be one highlight (flash light recommended to see painting).
Leisure time at chamkhar town
Option: take a walk from Chamkhar town to your hotel(less than 30mins)
Dinner and overnight in hotal at Bumthang
Day 09 : bumthang - Bumthang
A beautiful day with less driving and more hiking opportunities. Bumthang is the general name given to a grouping of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitudes varying from 2,600mtrs to 4,000m. It is home to many of the prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries. Its landscape and scenic beauty is very often linked to Switzerland by locals and visitors from around the world.
Drive up to Petseling monastery. The drive takes about 30-45mins, visit the monastery and start trekking downhill on the ancient path that connects Tang valley and Jakar. The old trial passes through pine forest gives stunning view of Jakar Dzong and the valley. The hike downhill takes about 1:30mins to 2hrs to reach down at Jakar valley. The hike through woods will also provide good chances of seeing high altitude birds like pheasant species.
Lunch at local resturant
After lunch visit Jambey Lhakhang, a 7th century temple and one of the 108 built by King Songtsen Gampo in one day. Start walking from Jambay lhakhang for 30-45mins on an even path to explore the religious sites, Kurje Lhakhang, where the Guru Rinpoche subdued a local demon and left his body imprint on a rock.
Dinner and overnight in hotel at bumthang.
Day 10 : Bumtang - Tang valley (Bumthang)
After breakfast drive for 1 ½hrs to Tang valley. Tang is one of the far-flung places of four valleys’ of Bumtang district located north of jakar valley. En-route visit Mebar tsho (The burning lake) located on the course of Tang river. From nearest road walk for 10-15mins by a narrow path leading to burning lake. The lake was believed to be founded back in 15th century by Pema Lingpa. The lake came to be known as burning lake after he revealed a treasure with the candle still burning on his hand.
Continue your drive through Tang valley with beautiful pine forest and villages with attractive old houses located by the by side of road will be one attraction. (Recommended to take a walk through village). The drive also offer beautiful land scape with wheat, rice, barley and millet cultivation. Drive to upper Tang valley to visit Ugyen Choeling Museum, located on a hill top by the side of Tang chu. The Museum is connected with a farm road but it is highly recommended to hike up hill by the old walking path used during olden times at Tang. (The hike will take about 45 mins-1 hour)
The museum dates back to 1300s founded by a Tibetan Buddhist master and presently its own by his lineage Ashi Kuenzang Choden. The museum have immense collection of Buddhist script, mask, art and artifacts and offer a large number of objects used in private houses during olden times.
Lunch at museum.
Ashi (regarded as queen in Tang valley) will give a detail introduction on aim and objective of museum and a brief history of the place (30-40mins). (This opportunity is Exclusive for Bhutan Travelcations guest).
Drive back to Jakar valley for overnight in same hotel.
Dinner and overnight in hotel at Bumthang.
Day 11 : Bumthang – Mongar (7-8hrs drive)
The journey continues eastwards twisting through more rugged terrain. The drive, with spectacular views of pristine nature will take about 7hrs through the Ura village. Stop at Ura village as this herder village deliver real Bhutan. A clustered village with 50-60 house hold. Walking through rural village depicts Bhutan 50-60 years ago. Continue driving towards the highest 2nd highest motor able pass in the kingdom, the Thrumshing-la pass at 37000m with 1000s of prayer flags hoisted for safe traveling. It gradually drops down to Sengor village with beautiful traditional houses with phallic paintings on wall. (Lunch at local restaurant at Sengor). Descend further through lush pine forests, maize fields and eastern hamlets. One high light of today’s drive will be the water fall at Namling cliff.(worth stopping at the look out of water fall).If you are interested in flora and fauna, the stretch after Namling cliff will offer many different types of flower like Rhododendron and magnolia(Spring).Taking a side road walk is recommended depending on time.
Visit Mongar Dzong – The Dzong is a fine example of a blend between traditional and modern architecture.
If times permits take a walk in Monger town.
Overnight at the lodge in Mongar.
Day 12 : Mongar - Tashigang (3hrs drive)
The drive to Tashigang, the eastern most part of the country, takes about 3hrs across the Kori la pass (2,450m). The first part of journey is through lush forests filled with ferns rapidly descending through corn fields and banana groves until you reach the recent settlement of Yadi village and further along the Gamririver. Yadi, a beautifull active village located by the side of road will remind you of a medieval town. A walk through the village is must to do as you will see a lot of local people involved in some kind of activity .The village extends ½ a km from start where you start walking.
Continue your drive Visit Drametsi village and a temple perched on top of a steep hill. It was founded by Choeden Zangmo and is the most important monastery of eastern Bhutan. This is the place from where the famous Naga Chham, a mask dance with drums originated. More than the temple the high light will be the drive towards Dramatse with stunning view of villages located by the side of road. Once you reach at the top of hill you will get 360 degree view around.
Tashigang is the center of the biggest and most populated district in the country.
Check in to hotel
Free time activity: you can’t leave the hotel because of amazing view.
Day 13 : Tashigang – Tashiyangtse – Tashigang, day excursion (2 ½ -3hrs drive)
After breakfast start driving and en-route visit the temple at GomKora, set on a small alluvial plateau overlooking the river. GomKora is a famous place of pilgrimage where Guru Rinpoche subdued a demon. This place offers a great opportunity to photo and talk with elderly people coming for spiritual reason .Continue your drive and stop at Doksum village – see weavers at work making intricate traditional Bhutanese fabric and also take a short walk to vegetable market. Continue driving to Tashiyangtse on a narrow bumpy road yet it is pleasant ride.
Visit the famous Chorten Kora (Stupa) Located near Tashiyangtse town. Expect to see local people circumambulating around the huge chorten.
After lunch start walking from picnic spot to school of Arts and Craft. A school where young students practice on 13 different arts and craft (painting, wood curving, embroidery, metal work etc….)
Take a walk in beautiful Tashiyaangtse town.
Evening return to Tashigang
Dinner and overnight at the lodge in Tashigang.
Day 14 : Tashigang-Samdrupjonkhar (6-7hrs drive)
After an early breakfast drive for about 6 hours to the border town of SamdrupJongkhar. Along the way, pass Sherubtse College, the first college in the country founded in 1978.
Visit the ZangthoPelri temple built in 1978 with 100s of monks. This site is an opportunity for you to talk and take some pictures of monks.
Visit the Weaving Centre at khaling, the first of its kind that was a pioneer in design and vegetable dye
Drive through Deothang, the hill station for many living in Samdrup Jongkhar and the hub of technical education.
Overnight at the lodge in Samdrup Jongkhar.
Day 15 : Depart SamdrupJongkhar-Onward destination
After breakfast transfer to the Bhutan border where you will be met by the Indian agent representative welcoming you to India.
Note: This tour can be done vice-versa (Entry to Bhutan from Guwahati by land and exiting from Paro international airport)