This short six day tour will take you to the most visited places of Western Bhutan – Thimphu, Punakha and Paro with the iconic Paro Taktsang Hike.
DAY 01: ARRIVE AT PARO (The only International Airport in the country,
PARO – THIMPHU (55 km/1.5 hour)
The flight into Bhutan takes you close to the great Himalayas, offering dazzling scenic views of some of the world’s highest glacial peaks (Remember to check in early and ask for your seat on the left side of the Plane if you are flying from New Delhi, India or Kathmandu, Nepal). As you enter Paro valley, you will sweep past forested hills with the silvery Pa Chu (Paro river) meandering down the valley below. Paro Dzong (fortress) and Ta Dzong (watchtower) on the hills above the town will be a fine sight. Our representative will receive you and will drive to Thimphu with sightseeing en route.
• Drive towards the capital city, Thimphu.
• Stop at Tachogang: Tachogang Lhakhang (Temple) was built by Thangthong Gyalpo in the fifteenth century. The temple was likely constructed in 1420. While the Tibetan master was meditating here, he had a vision of an emanation of Avalokiteshvara and decided to build a temple as well as an iron suspension bridge at this location. Tachogang lies on the way from Paro to the capital Thimphu. A new temple at Tachogang was built in the seventeenth century by the Fourth Druk Desi (local leader) Tenzin Rabgye as the original was destroyed after it served as the main seat for the Five Groups of Lamas, a coalition of local leaders who had opposed the Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (a Buddhist teacher who unified Bhutan) .
• Chuzom: The confluence of Paro (Pachu) and Thimphu (Wangchu) rivers. You can see three different types of Stupas – Bhutanese, Tibetan and Nepalese.
• Visit National Memorial Chorten: The building of this landmark was envisaged by the third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, as a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it is both a memorial to the Late King (”the father of modern Bhutan “) and a monument to world peace. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.
• Evening visit Tashichho Dzong the impressive fortress which houses the secretariat building, the throne room of His Majesty the King and various government offices. It is also the summer residence of the Chief Abbot and central monk body. Witness the Flag lowering ceremony before you enter the Dzong.
• Overnight at Hotel in Thimphu.(L & D)
DAY 02: THIMPHU SIGHTSEEING
• Drive to Kuenselphodrang (Buddha Point) where world’s tallest Buddha Statue (169 feet) sits overlooking the Thimphu Valley. Enjoy the spectacular view of Thimphu city below.
• Visit the Takin (National Animal of Bhutan) enclosure at Motithang. The unique animal is only seen in Bhutan with a story of its own as to how it came into existence (your guide will narrate the story).
• Drive down to the view point of Tashichho Dzong, the impressive fortress which houses the secretariat building, the throne room of His Majesty the King and various government offices.
• Zorig chusum (meaning 13 arts and crafts) which is popularly known as the painting school. Students in this institute learn 13 different traditional arts and crafts like painting, sculpture, wood carving, weaving, embroidery, etc.
• Folk Heritage Museum.
• Visit the Royal Textile Academy and Museum: Was instituted in May 2005 under the patronage of Her Majesty Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck as a non-government, non-profit organization with the aim to educate, promote and preserve Bhutanese Textiles. It showcases the traditional methods of weaving and has large collection of of dresses from the Royal family.
• Postal Museum – where you can also make a postage stamp with your own photo and can be posted in Bhutan.
• Centenary Farmer’s Market – popularly known as the weekend vegetable market where the local farmers sell their farm produce. Across the wooden cantilever bridge you will find handicraft shops.
• Witness an archery (National) game if one is going on during your visit.
• Traditional handmade paper factory – where age old traditional method of paper making is still followed.
• Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu. (B, L & D)
DAY 03: THIMPHU-PUNAKHA (71 KM/2-3 HOURS)
• Drive up to Dochu-la pass (3,088m/10,130ft) stopping briefly here to take in the view and admire the 108 chortens, mani wall, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear, the high Himalayan peaks towards the north east will be revealed in all their glory. On a clear day, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7,158m), Tsendegang (6,960m), Terigang (7,060m), Jejegangphugang (7,158m), Kangphugang (7,170m), Zongaphugang (7,060m) a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana, and finally, Gangkar Puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.
• Chime Lhakhang: This Lhakhang (Temple) dates back to 1499 which was built by Lama Drukpa Kinley who is till this day known as a Divine Madman. Located beautifully on a hilltop, it is about 30 to 40 minute walk passing through a charming village set in lush terraced fields.
• Visit Punakha Dzong, a massive structure built at the junction of two rivers. Punakha was Bhutan’s capital until 1955 and Punakha Dzong still serves as the winter residence of the central monk body. Bhutan’s first king, Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned here in 1907. The fortress has withstood damage from fire, earthquake and flood over the centuries. The latest flood, in October, 1994, caused great damage to the fortress but miraculously spared its most holy statue.
• Enroute visit Sangchen Dorji Lhendrup Nunnery, perched on a ridge with spectacular views of the Punakha and Wangdue valleys. The temple houses a 14 foot bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara, one of the biggest in the country.
• The 160 meters Pho Chhu Suspension Bridge is known for the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan, which gives you spectacular views of Punakha Dzong and the Pho Chhu Valley.
• Evening at leisure. River rafting optional (additional charges apply)
• Overnight at your hotel in Punakha OR you can choose to do camping by Mochu River side and enjoy the nature around while soaking in traditional hot stone bath (water heated with hot stone). After the bath you can enjoy local drink “Ara”. – additional charges apply. (breakfast, lunch & dinner)
DAY 04: PUNAKHA-PARO (140KM/4 HOURS)
• Drive towards Paro.
• Ta Dzong : Built in 1656 as a watchtower for Rinpung Dzong is now used as the National Museum which is a repository of not only precious works of art but also costumes, armour and other hand crafted objects of daily life that provide a good snapshot of the rich cultural traditions of the country. It opens 7 days a week except on National Holidays.
• Rinpung Dzong: Built in 1646 by Lama Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal and strategically located to thwart Tibetan incursions into the rest of the country, this Dzong became one of Bhutan’s strongest and most important fortresses.
• Kyichu Lhakhang: It was built in 659 by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo. The temple fell into disrepair but was superbly restored in 1839 by the 25th Je Khempo (Chief Abbot). He also contributed the outstanding statue of Avalokiteshwara, with eleven heads and thousand arms, which is located in the sanctuary.
• Evening free or can visit the Paro town with a street of typical Bhutanese traditional buildings.
• Overnight at your Hotel in Paro. (B, L & D)
DAY 05: PARO-TAKTSHANG HIKE
• Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery: The hike to Taktshang Monastery perched on a cliff at 2950m/9700ft takes anywhere from 4 to 6 hours as per your hiking ability. It is an uphill hike to the Monastery. There is a cafeteria (Taktsang Jakhang) on the half way.
Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava (the great Buddhist master) with his magical powers came to Taktshang in the eighth century, flying from the east of the country on the back of a tigress (a form that one of his consorts is believed to have taken). He is said to have meditated for about three months in a cave on the cliff and subdued the evil spirits. The primary Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in the 1692 by the fourth Desi Tenzin Rabgay. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below.
• After lunch, drive up the valley to view the ruins of the Drugyel Dzong (literally meaning the fortress of victory), which once defended this valley from several invading Tibetan armies during the 17th century. It is now being rebuilt to its former glory.
• Overnight at your Hotel in Paro. (B, L & D)
DAY 06: DEPART
• End of your travel to Bhutan. Our team will drive you to the Airport and bid farewell.