Bhutan 7 nights 8 days
This trip provides introduction to Western Bhutan's sights and places within Paro, Thimphu, Wangdiphodrang, Punakha, Trongsa and Bumthang.
Trip Type: Cultural Tour
Duration: 8 Destinations: Bhutan
Group Size: … Trip Grade (difficulty): 1 (lot of driving)
Join In Trip: No
Trip Type: Private
Meals (B is for breakfast, L for lunch & D for Dinner indicated on each day’s itinerary): All meals included starting with first dinner and last breakfast in Bhutan.
Routes & Places: Thimphu –Punakha – Wangdue – Trongsa _ Bumthang - Paro.
Day 1, Fly Paro
Fly onboard Druk Air to Paro, Bhutan. On a clear day the panoramic views of the Himalaya are sensational, including Everest, but particularly exciting is the approach through the Bhutanese foothills and the landing, including a few steep turns to land at the tiny airstrip of Paro. In Paro you will be received by your Bhutanese guide and transferred to hotel for freshen up.
Afternoon visit Bhutan's national museum, a fascinating place housed in an old watchtower above the huge Paro Dzong. The visit might take more than an hour depending on your interest on painting, armours and collection of centuries old thankas. You will also visit Rinphung Dzong (a dzong is a fortress-monastery).
Overnight at Paro.
Day 2, Paro Sightseeing – The Tiger’s Nest Hike
Drive to north of the valley and embark on a short trek to the famed Taktsang (Tiger’s lair) monastery. For the Bhutanese or Buddhists, it is a holy pilgrimage, but for a tourist, a hike up to the viewpoint opposite the monastery is exhausting, thrilling and mystical. The Taktsang monastery clings, on seemingly impossible sheer, vertical cliff at 9680ft.
The steep uphill hike up to the Tea house opposite of Takstang, takes between 1 to 2 hours. (Optional charges - Ponies are provided on request to ride up till the tea house.)
You can get a good view from the Tea house or hike further uphill for 1 to 2 hours to the temple itself. Lunch is served at the tea house with the majestic views of Taktsang above and the Paro valley at the bottom. The return trek to the road head is downhill and takes about half the time it has taken you to come up. Meet the transport and drive north to the ruins of Drukgyal dzong built in 1649. The dzong was cut fire in 1951 and never being restored. Return back to Paro. Drive north to take a tour of the ruined Drukgyal dzong 1649, it was burned by butter lamp in 1951 and never been resorted. On your return to paro visit the oldest buddhist temple Kychu temple.
Overnight at Paro.
Day 3, Thimphu sightseeing
After breakfast at the hotel drive to Thimphu takes an hour. Sightseeing in Thimphu would include
(at 2300m) is Bhutan's capital city and center of government, religion and commerce. About two hours drive east from Paro is this a unique city with unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. Home to civil servants, expatriates and monk body, Thimphu maintains a strong national character in its architectural style. It was a wooded farming valley until 1961, when it became Bhutan's official national capital. The massive Tashicho Dzong, about 700 years old, was carefully revamped in the 1960s by the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk to house the royal and main government offices. Even today, it still only has a few streets and no traffic lights with estimated population of 70,000 people. Thimphu has many places and sights to visit, in addition to several day excursion possibilities. It has relatively more choice in terms of the accommodations.
This fortress serves as the office of the King, ministers and various government organizations. It also is the headquarters for central monastic body of Bhutan. Bhutan's spiritual leader Je-Khenpo and the monks of both Thimphu and Punakha reside here during summer. It is also the venue for Thimphu Festival in the fall season.
This white and tall landmark of Thimphu was built in 1974 in the memory of third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who is popularly regarded as Father of Modern Bhutan. It is a four-storey tall white building, containing statues and iconography of deities from complex tantric teachings and serves as an important place of worship for Thimphu residents, as well as from other parts of the country.
is housed in Drubthob Goemba (monastery). There are about 70 nuns who live and pray everyday in the monastery. There are good views of Tashicho Dzong, Golf course and upper Thimphu.
Takin (Budorcas taxicolor) has been chosen as the national animal of Bhutan is based both on its uniqueness and its association with country's history and mythology. It is said that Devine Madman, a popular saint is said to have created it with his magical power at a large congregation of devotees. It resembles a cow from back, a goat in from the front, and it continues to befuddle taxonomists, who cannot quite relate to other animal.
Traditional papers were made from the daphne plant, using simple methods. Like rice papers, these papers are said to last longer.
Sangaygang View Point (Telecom Tower)
There's a wonderful view of Thimphu valley from the hillside below the telecommunications tower (elevation 2685m), high above the town at the end of a road that branches off from the approach to the youth centre. The complex also houses the broadcasting studios of Bhutan television. Don't photograph the telecommunications installation, but the valley is worth a few snaps. The area is known as Sangaygang and it becomes a lover's lane late at night.
Day 4, Thimphu - Trongsa (6 – 7 hours)
In the morning you drive to Punakha, an old winter capital of Bhutan. En-route stop at Dochu LaPass, 10,000ft/3,048m to view the eastern Himalayas, including Bhutan's highest mountain, Gangkar Punsum, 24,770ft/7,550m. The road then drops down through varied –ever changing forest, finally emerging into the highly cultivated Punakha valley. Continue driving down the valley to the town of Wangdiphodrang. Here again there is a very large fortress built in the shape of a sleeping bull. Our road gradually winds its way up towards the Pele La Pass at 11,152ft, where we make stop for views of the snow clad peaks, including that of Bhutan’s sacred peak Mt. Chomolhari. Possibly, your picnic lunch is planned at Chedebji Chorten (Stupa) patterned after Swayambhunath in Kathmandu. It is a popular picnic lunch and pilgrimage for Bhutanese driving east-west road.
On arrival in Trongsa, you may visit the inner courtyard of historical Trongsa Dzong. Trongsa is a very popular place with largest Dzong in Bhutan and certainly one of the most impressive ones. It was from here that the present royal family emerged as the most powerful force at the beginning of this century.
Overnight Yangkhil Resort, Trongsa
Day 5, Trongsa – Bumthang (2 hours 30 minutes)
After breakfast in the hotel drive across the Yotong La 11,234'and descend eventually into the valley of Chumey, the first of four Bumthang valleys. Here we will visit the Palace used primary by the second King as his summer residence, and hike for about 15 minutes that brings us to the Prakar monastery, followed by visit to Yathra Weaving centers (a Colourful wool weaving). Then we’ll drive onto the Jakar the center of Bumthang valleys. Bumthang valley is 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.
Afternoon visit the Dzong, Jambay lhakhang, kurjey temple, tamshing, the swiss farm area, fruit and beer factory (optional – sometime does not allow permit),
Total drive of about 2 hours 30 minutes hours. Overnight at Bumthang.
Day 6, Bumthang - Punakha (6 – 7 hours)
After breakfast retrieve back to Punakha, warm place at 1400 m. Time pernmitting vist the mighty and most impressive Punakha Dzong and hike to chimi lhakhang – the temple of divine madman.
Chimi Lhakhang was built by lama Drukpa Kunley in 1499. He subdued the demoness of the Dochu la with his ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom.’ A wooden effigy of the Lama’s thunderbolt is preserved in the Lhakhang, and childless women go to the temple to receive a wang (blessing) from the saint.
It’s a 20-minute walk across the rice fields from the road at Sopsokha to the temple. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana. There are very few monks at the temple, which is surrounded by a row of prayer wheels and some very beautiful slate carvings.
Day 7, Punakha to Paro (4 hours)
After breakfast drive west via dochula pass 3080 m, weather permitting enjoy the Bhutan Himalaya peaks above 7000 mts. Continue driving to Paro for another 2 hours.
Afternoon visit the national museum and the Rinpung Dzong or any other sightseeing your guide will take.
Overnight at Paro.
Day 8, Drive to Paro airport for Departure
After early breakfast at the hotel drive to Paro airport for your sensational take-off and scenic Himalayan flight past Chomolhari, Bhutan’s second highest peak.