BHUTAN TOUR - West to East
13 nights 14 days
Day 1 Fly in to Paro.
Fly to Paro, Bhutan, on Druk Air, the national airline of Bhutan. If you get a seat on the left side of the plane and if weather permits, you may have spectacular views of the high peaks of the Himalayas. After visa formalities at the Paro airport (7,590'), you are met by our Bhutanese guide and transferred to your hotel in Paro to provide you some rest.
Later, in the evening your guide will take you to a tiny Paro town for orientation with the place and people. After lunch, visit Paro Rinphung Dzong, Drugyal Dzong, Kichu lhakhang (temple) and a typical farm house among other sites. Overnight at hotel.
Day 2 Drive to Paro, Sightseeing. In the morning, we start sightseeing in Paro includes tour of Bhutan's national museum, a fascinating place housed in an old watchtower above the huge Paro Dzong (monastery/fortress). The museum holds a fantastic collection of Bhutanese national treasures ranging from ancient armour to textiles and thangkha paintings.Then, we drive to the head of the valley and visit Drukgyel Dzong built in a location that was chosen for its control over the route to Tibet. A spectacular view of Mount. Jumolhari (23,996ft /7314m) can be seen from here. Also visit Rinpung Dzong and a typical Bhutanese farm house. Overnight at hotel, Paro.
Day 3 Paro – Excursion to Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Today, we visit Paro valley, site of the famous Tiger's Nest, the Taktsang Monastery where the legendary Guru Padmasambhava is believed to have flown from Tibet on the back of a tiger to defeat the demons who were opposing the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan. The walk is long, and can be steep in places, but the views are stunning. After lunch at the cafeteria, return to Paro. Overnight at hotel, Paro.
Day 4 Drive to Thimphu and Sightseeing.
After breakfast drive for an hour to the capital city of Thimphu – the only capital city in the world without traffic lights. There are a good many things to see in the capital which has a very relaxed, laid-back feel about it. Thimphu is relatively small having a population of approximately 85,000 people and the streets are wide and tree lined.
In Thimphu you will visit the handmade paper factory, the view point, takin (national animal of Bhutan) preserve, Drubthob nunnery, Late King’s Memorial Chorten, Zangtopelri Lhakhang, the Handicraft Emporium and the local handicraft centers to see the varieties of textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, jewellery etc. on display. Overnight at hotel, Thimphu.
Day 5 Drive to Punakha.
Punakha is at lower elevation of approx. 1400m and therefore it is warmer and has semi-tropical vegetation with cactuses, bananas and orange grooves. Punakha Dzong used to be the winter capital of Bhutan until 1958 and even today the head Abbot and central monastic body move here from Thimphu Tashicho Dzong, during the winter months.
After breakfast in hotel drive to Punkha takes approx 3 hours en route stop at Dochula pass 3080 m above sea level for stunning view of the Bhutanese Himalayas.
After lunch visit the most impressive Punakha dzong (fortress) and drive to road head from where you can take a pleasant 20 minutes walk through the paddy fields and farm houses to visit Chimi Lhakhang temple dedicated to Bhutan’s popular saint Drukpa Kuenley, also known as the “divine madman” (1455-1529). He preached in the way that is unlike the stiffness of clergy and society of the time; he dramatized the teachings using songs and outrageous sexual humor! Bold Phallus symbols and paintings on the houses or temples come as a result his influence to date. En-route, you may be invited to village home. Overnight at hotel, Punakha.
Day 6 PUNAKHA – TRONGSA Via GANGTEY (Phobjikha valley).
Today, we drive to Gangtey (Phobjikha) via Wangdue valley for three hours. En-route stop at Wangdue to visit huge Dzong (fortress) built in the shape of sleeping bull. From Wandue, we drive uphill almost crossing over Pele La pass 3400m. Before, reaching the pass, the road diverges and we take the road least traveled by. This eventually leads into the 'hidden valley' containing the stunningly beautiful monastery of Gangtey Gompa. This lovely temple sits on top of a conical hill in the middle of the valley with a small township nestling at the foot of the hill. It is normally possible to look around the inner courtyards and meet some of the monks. The valley is also home to the famous Black Cranes that migrate in the winter from Tibet. This lovely valley is situated on the western slopes of the Black Mountains and is designated a conservation area. After brief stop for Gangtey sightseeing continue driving to Trongsa which will take another 3 hours. Overnight at hotel, Trongsa.
Day 7 DRIVE TO JAKAR (Bumthang). After breakfast, wander around Tongsa township, visit the huge and historical Trongsa Dzong and the watchtower above the main Dzong. It has a fine temple at the top containing original Mongol Armour and a large prayer wheel outside. Afternoon drive to Jakar for 3 hours. Enroute cross over Yotong La 11,234', then descend into a place called Gaytsa where you will be taken to visit Domkhar Tashicholing Monasery. It is 15-20 minutes walk from the road to the monastery. Walk back to the transport and continue drive to Chumey valley, the first of four Bumthang valleys. In Chumey, visit Yathra Weaving (a Colourful wool weaving). From Chumey, its another one hour drive to Jakar the center of Bumthang valleys.
Bumthang valley is considered one of the most sacred in the kingdom and innumerable legends surround the area. It is here that the kings were cremated and the present royal families trace their ancestry back to a famous saint called Pemalingpa, who was also a smith in Jakar Township. Overnight at hotel, Jakar.
Day 8 BUMTHANG SIGHTSEEING. After breakfast start the walk from the hotel to Jambay Lhakang (Lhakhang means temple) and continue to Kurjey Lhakang. After Kurjey, you will cross the suspension bridge over to Tamshing Lhakang. Continue walking to the Swiss farm and then on to the main town area. The vehicle will meet you at this point and drive you to visit other sights in and around Jakar; which may include homeopathic hospital, the cheese factory, the castle of the 'White Bird', perhaps one or two local temples and a walk around to visit woodcraft workshop, dying workshop, and the five water wheels behind Wangdicholing Old Palace. Overnight at Guest House, Jakar.
Day 9 BUMTHANG – MONGAR. From Bumthang, it takes about 8 hours to drive overland to Mongar. The road crosses two passes (Shertang La at 3573m and Thrumshing La at 3800m) and traverses several wild roads that cling to the side of the hills. It is one of the most spectacular drives in the country descending 3200m in a distance of 84km.
Your drive passes through wide pasturelands and fields to the valley of Ura (3000m) and just before the pass there is a magnificient view in clear weather of Bhutan’s highest peak, Gangkar Puensum (7540m) to the north. Continue drive to Mongar passing through Sengor and Namling which has the reputation for being the most hair-raising section of the road across Bhutan. From Lingmithang (650m), the road climbs through corn and potato fields for about half an hour to the small town of Mongar at 1600m. It is the first town built on a mountainous side instead of in a valley. The valleys in Eastern Bhutan are usually little more than riverbeds and mountain slopes that rise abruptly from the rivers flatten out as they approach their summits. Time permitting, stroll around tiny Mongar town (market). Overnight at Guest House, Mongar.
Day 10 EXCURSION TO LHUNTSE (KHOMA VILLAGE). Lhuntse is one of the most rural and isolated districts in Bhutan. The landscape is spectacular with stark cliffs and gorges, beautiful conifer and pine forests, and remote villages with rice, millet and corn fileds. Kurtoe region of Lhuntse is the ancestral home of kingdom’s royal family. An hour’s brisk walk from the bridge on the main Lhuntse-Mongar road will bring us to Khoma, the best-known weaving village in the country.
Visit Khoma, the best-known weaving village in the country. This region is also famed for its weavers and special textiles, considered to be the best in the country. The living art of Bhutanese weaving done with the same technologies and applications as the weavers of earlier centuries, have the degree of sophistication to match any weaving tradition in the world. We will explore some of the very interesting small villages and ancient temples by foot. Enjoy picnic lunch in Lhuntse and drive back to Mongar for overnight halt. Total drive for about 5-6 hours. Overnight at Guest House, Mongar.
Day 11 MONGAR – TRASHIGANG. In the morning, visit Mongar Dzong, built in the year 1953 and then drive to Tashigang for about 3 hours. Leaving Mongar, the road climbs past fields of corn to the Kori La pass (2400m) from where the road drops into the upper reaches of the Manas Chu drainage, switchbacking down through corn fileds. En route at Ngatshang visit Guru Lhakhang, a small private goemba that can be figured out from the small buildings alongside the road. The road descends further through the village of Yadi and following the Gamri Chu you arrive at Cha Zam (cha is iron, zam means bridge) from which point it is a gradual climb uphill for about half an hour to the town of Tashigang at 1100m. In the evening visit Tashigang dzong built in the year 1667, and Trashigang town. Overnight at hotel, Tashigang.
Day 12 EXCURSION TO TRASHIYANTSE. Today, we drive to Trashiyangtse for about 1 & ½ hours to visit Chorten Kora, a stupa built in a typical Nepali architecture. It is believed that a young virgin Princess was concealed inside the stupa in the 18th century. Later you will be taken to visit Iron Chain Link Bridge, the last surviving bridge of those built by Thongtong Gyalpo in the 15th century. Enjoy picnic lunch at Trashigang and drive back to Trashigang. Enroute, stop at Gomkora and visit Gomkora temple. Total drive of about 3-4 hours. Overnight at hotel, Trashigang.
Day 13 TRASHIGANG – SAMDRUPJHONKAR. Drive to Samdrupjhonkar takes about 7-8 hours with occasional stops enroute to enjoy the view of mountains and villages. Arrive Samdrupjhonkar in the evening. It is the biggest town in the eastern Bhutan situated on the border with India. Time permitting, visit Zangthopelri temple in the center of the town. Overnight at hotel, Samdrupjhonkar.
Day 14 SAMDRUP JONGKHAR – GUWAHATI (INDIA). After breakfast, drive to the city of Guwahati (India) for about 2 hours for onward flight to next destination.