Day 01 : Arrive Paro by Druk Air – Thimphu (1 ½ hrs. drive)
Fly into the kingdom of Bhutan with DrukAir (Dragon Airline), Bhutan’s National Airline. It is incredibly stunning view when the weather is clear. The sight of snowcapped peaks of some of the highest mountains on earth arrests ones heart and mind. After completion of airport formalities our representative will receive you at the airport. Start driving towards capital city of Bhutan (1hr 30mins). On the way to Thimphu, a photo stop opportunity of a Buddhist temple dating back to 15thcentury 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.
Lunch in hotel/local restaurant
Later visit the Tashichhoe Dzong, the beautiful medieval fortress built in the year 1641 by the Founder of Bhutan Zhabdrung. It is the center of government and religion, His Majesty the King’s Throne Room and the seat of Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot of the monastic body. After a fire, it was reconstructed in 1961 in the traditional Bhutanese manner without nails or architectural plans. This site also offer a great deal of monks wondering in courtyard of Dzong.
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 02: Thimphu - Thimphu
After breakfast, sightseeing of Thimphu valley includes,
Visit to National memorial chorten (stupa) built in memory of 3rd king of Bhutan and over the years this site became a vibrant place for spiritual gathering. This site will give you the opportunity to take pictures of senior citizen and to mingle with locals.
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. A 12th century monastery active with few monks and beautiful Buddhist paintings inside. The main goal of visiting this sights 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.
Visit the National Library, a treasure trove of priceless Buddhist manuscripts.
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)
Dinner and overnight in a hotel at Thimphu.
Day 03 : Thimphu - Punakha (2 ½ hr. drive)
Day 03: Thimphu - Punakha (2 ½ hr. 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 4.5 meters (14ft) 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 on 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 04 : Punakha - Punakha
After breakfast, get a feel of the culture and traditions of Bhutan through an all-encompassing sightseeing tour of Punakha.
Drive for 30-45mins and a hike uphill for an hour will take you to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten that sits majestically on the ridge above Punakha valley with an amazing view of the countryside and the hills below. A beautiful hike starts with a gradual climb through red rice field and seasonally hikers get the photo opportunity of farmers working with beautiful traditional house back ground. This chorten is one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. From the top of the Chorten you can enjoy the peace and striking view of entire Punakha valley.
One way back to Punakha from KhamsumYulleyNamgyal, a short walk for 15mins from road will take you Bhutan’s longest Suspension bridge, spanning 180 m and perched high above Pho chu (male river).
Lunch at punakha
Next, visit Rinchengang village (20mins hike uphill from nearest road).This is one and only village in western Bhutan existing since 17th century (The oldest village.)The old traditional structure and basic facilities available in this village will take you hundreds of years back. This village also offers friendly people and kids (your opportunity to interact, photo, see and experience the life of rural farmers).
Dinner and overnight in hotel at Punakha.
Day 05 : Punakha - Gangtay (Phobjikha 2 ½ hr. drive)
After breakfast drive to Gangtay, the most beautiful and scenic drive of the trip. Stop at a beautiful village known as Nobding. The village offers 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 and 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 the monastery.
The most beautiful and scenic hike at Phobjikha is Gangtay Nature Trial (1 and half hour).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 through 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 a gradual trek to Kumbu Lhakhang (45mins -1hour).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 closer 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 center.
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 in hotel at Gangtay/phobjikha
Day 07 : Gangtay - Paro (6-7 hr. drive)
After early breakfast drive back to Paro. Stopover at Dochula pass. 10mins hike up the hill will take you to a Meditation Centre located in middle of woods. After Dochula continue your drive towards Paro. (Take the photo opportunity at bird’s eye view of Paro international Airport.
Late lunch at Paro.
After lunch visit Rinpung Dzong (fortress on heap of jewels) which has a long and fascinating history from 1600s. The first National Assembly of Bhutan was held here. After Paro Dzong take a short walk down hill for 15-20mins till you reach a beautiful traditional cantilevered bridge (photo opportunity as you walk down the way)
Visit Sangchenchoekhor Buddhist institute located at exceptional view of entire Paro valley below. The institute offer 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 activity:
Walk along old Paro Street.
Visit stamp shop and Bhutanese traditional music CD shop.
Witness local people playing archery (national sports)
Check in to the hotel (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 08 : Paro - Tiger's Nest, Paro
Early start is recommended (summer 7am, winter7:30)
After an early breakfast drive north of Paro valley and take a 5-6(round trek) hours 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
Visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines in the Kingdom.
Option: Hot stone bath at a Bhutanese farm house (excluded from package)
Dinner and Overnight in a hotel at Paro.
Day 09 : Paro - your onward destination.
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the airport for final departure.
Check in 3 hours before flight departure.
Your guide will hand over E-tickets to you.
Passport and E-tickets have to be handy.
Baggage allowance (30 kg check in).
Any further quarries please feel to contact local agent or guide.