Explore Bhutan from East to West or West to East. This tour covers almost all the districts of Bhutan there by letting you see the difference in the cultures of eastern and western parts of the country. Bhutan though a small nation provides you various culture. You must opt to stay a night or two in a rural home stay to experience the life of a villager and join the host family to cook.
Day 1: Arrive Paro
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.
On arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be warmly received by a friendly, traditionally dressed representative with a traditional white welcome scarf (called Khadhar) with eight auspicious symbols printed on it.
• Transfer to hotel in Paro. Check in to your hotel and relax with a cup of welcome tea.
• Visit Ta Dzong (watch tower) which was built in 1649 by Paro Governor Tenzin Drugda to protect the fortress below. The Ta Dzong was almost destroyed in 1965 but was restored by the third king Jigme Dorji Wangchuk into the National Museum of Bhutan in 1968.
• Visit Paro Rinpung Dzong which was built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Rimpoche the Tibetain Monk who unified Bhutan. It was built to protect Paro Valley from frequent Tibetan invasions. Today this Dzong serves as the administrative office of Paro district and houses the monastic body of the district.
• Visit Kichu Lhakhang which was founded by Tibetan king Songtshen Gyambo in 659 AD. It was built to subjugate the demon occupied lands all over the Himalayas and prevented the spread of Buddhism. The legend has it that the king built 108 temples in a day to overcome the demon.
• Overnight hotel in Paro.
Day 2: Hike to Taktshang the Tiger Nest Monastery (4 to 6 hours)
• Drive up to Ramthangkha (10 Km from Paro Town) and walk to the Monastery. The name Taktsang means “Tiger’s Nest’’ The Monastery is perched on a rocky ledge with a sheer drop of nearly 4000ft overlooking the Paro valley.
• Taktsang is one of the most venerated pilgrimage sites in the Himalayas. However, most people can only visit the main site called Taktsang Pel-phu. According to legend Padmasambhava founded Taktsang Monastery in the eighth century. It is believed that the Guru came to this place on the back of a tigress from Khengpajong in the Kurtoe region and meditated here for three months in a cave before converting the Paro valley to Buddhism.
• Evening free to stroll around the Paro town with a street of traditional buildings with shops selling Bhutanese handicrafts and souvenirs.
• Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
Day 3: Paro – Thimphu (55km/1 hour)
• After breakfast drive to Thimphu (one hour) with sightseeing en route. Check into your hotel in Thimphu.
• Drive to Kuenselphodrang where world’s tallest Buddha (Dhordenma) Statue (169 feet) sits overlooking the Thimphu Valley. Enjoy the spectacular view of Thimphu city.
• Visit the memorial chorten (Stupa) located in the center of the City which was built in the memory of our beloved Third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk.
• After lunch, take a 10-min drive to Changangkha Temple (built in the 15th century by famous Lama Nima). Inside the temple is “God of Compassion” made out of platinum. You may witness blessing of a newborn baby in this temple.
• Drive to Mini Zoo, Bhutan’s only zoo to see the national animal Takin.
• Visit nunnery founded by 16th Drubthob Tshangthong Gyalpo in 1976. More than 40 nuns study Buddhism in this nunnery.
• Visit Zorichusum (Institute of 13 Traditional Arts and Crafts) which is popularly known as the painting school. Students in this school learn traditional arts and crafts like painting, sculpture, wood carving, weaving and embroidery.
• Visit the National Library which consists of 2 buildings. On the g
round floor of the old building is the largest book in the world and religious books on the upper floor. English books are kept on the ground floor in the new building.
• Evening drive to Thimphu Tashicho Dzong, a fortress built in 1772 by the temporal ruler Zhidar and Younten Thaye the Chief Abbot. It now houses the King’s Office and some Ministries. 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.
Day 4: Tango Hike (2 hours)
• After breakfast drive along the Thimphu River for 25km to the Tango monastery.
• From the open car park the hike takes about 30 to 45 minutes through the blue pine and oak forest to reach the monastery. The Tango Monastery was founded in the 12th century by Lama Gyalwa Lhananpa. Phajo Drukgom Shipo also meditated and saw the vision of God Tandin (God with Horse Head), hence the name “Tango” which means horse head. Today it is the institute of higher learning for Buddhism.
• In Thimphu visit Postal Museum where you can apart from knowing the history of postal system in Bhutan will also be able to make a postage stamp with your own picture and can be officially posted in Bhutan.
• Visit the week end market now known as Centenary Farmer’s Market where the local farmers bring their produce. Initially started as weekend market is now open all days except on Tuesdays.
• Evening free for leisure/shopping.
• Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Day 5 Thimphu – Punakha (71 km/ 3 hours)
- Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Punakha, old capital of Bhutan.
- Stop on the way at enchanting Docula pass (3040m above sea level). On a clear day one can see panoramic view of the Eastern Himalayan Mountains ranges.
- Hike to Chemi Lhakhang through a nice walk along the rice field and through farm houses. The temple was built by Lama Nawang Chogyel in 1499 and is today a popular temple where barren women come to pray for a child. The temple is popularly known as the Fertility Temple.
- Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten: About 7km drive from Punakha Dzong and about 40 to 50 minutes hike from the road point is Khamsum Yuelly Namgyal Chorten which was completed in the year 1999 after eight years of construction. Located atop a hill commands a very beautiful view of the valley below.
- Visit Punakha Dzong which played an important role in the olden days. It was Bhutan’s second monastery school after the Cheri Monastery. The first king was crowned inside this Dzong in 1907. It is residence to the Central Monastic Body and Chief Abbot in winter.
- Our accommodation tonight is set on the banks of the Mo Chu River. We camp in tents with thick mattresses, all bedding and towels. Toilet tents are provided with pit toilets. There are shower tents with hot water available as well as the chance to try out a traditional hot stone bath. There is a central area with space to relax around a camp fire and the cook team will create traditional Bhutanese meals to be served in the dining tent. Solar lamps are used for lighting the place. You will find a torch light useful.
- Overnight at Punakha: Premium Camping, Your own tent (Twin/double sharing) included.
Day 6: Punakha – Gangtey/Phobjikha (97km/3-4 hours drive)
• After breakfast drive to the beautiful valley of Gangtey. En route sightseeing in the valley of Wangdiphodrang includes: visit to the ruins of Wangdiphodrang Dzong built in 1638 was destroyed by fire in 2012. Legend relates that as the people were searching for the site of the Dzong, four ravens were seen flying away in four directions. This was considered auspicious sign, representing the spread of religion to the four points of the compass. The Dzong was situated at the confluence of Mo Chu and Tang Chu rivers. Drive further to Gangtey.
• Visit Gangtey Monastery. Gyaltse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa founded the Temple in 1613, and Tenzin Legpai Dhendup, the second re-incarnation, built the temple. The present Abbot, Kunzang Pema Namgyal is the ninth re-incarnation. It is a Nyingmapa monastery and is affiliated to other Nyingmapa monasteries including Tamshing in Bumthang.
• Take Gangtey Nature trail if you like and Explore Phobjikha valley, famous for the Black Necked Cranes during winter.
• Overnight at your hotel in Phobjikha/farm house (optional at no extra cost, just let us know your preference).
Day 7: Gangtey/Phobjikha – Bumthang (145km/6-7 hours)
• Drive to Bumthang. On the way stop at the Chendebjee Chorten (stupa) and walk around the giant Stupa which was built by uncle of first king around 200 years ago.
• Visit the Trongsa Dzong, Bhutan’s largest Dzong. The site was founded in the 16th Century by Lama Nagi Wangchuk but was enlarged in 1652 by first Governor of Trongsa, Chogay Minjur Tempa.
• And visit Trongsa National Museum which is located inside the old Watch Tower which was converted into museum in 2008.
• After lunch drive to Bumthang enjoying the beautiful scenery along the way.
• Overnight hotel in Bumthang. (You have 3 nights in Bumthang. So, you can opt to stay in a farm house to experience the local tradition /culture at no extra cost).
Day 8: Bumthang sightseeing
• Start the day by visiting the Wangdicholing Dzong built by Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal in 1851. It is considered a masterpiece of architecture in the country.
• Drive to Jampa Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan founded by the 7th king of Tibet, Songtshen Gyampo in 659 AD. This temple was one of the 108 temples built by him throughout Tibet and Himalayas to overcome a giant demon. While Kichu Lhakhang in Paro was built on the left foot, Jampa Lhakhang was built on the left knee of demon to subjugate the frontiers.
• Drive further to Kurji Lhakhang, the place where Guru Rimpoche meditated for 3 months to subdue the local deity who has taken the life force of the King Sindu Raji. You can see the body imprint of Guru Rimpoche in this temple.
• Walk half an hour to the 3rd temple Tamshing Lhakhang which means ‘temple of good message’. This temple was founded by Lama Pema Lingpa in 1501. The temple contains original wall painting from 1501 which it was never repainted.
• Evening free or visit Bumthang town.
• Overnight at your hotel/home stay in Bumthang.
Day 9: Bumthang-Tang Excursion
• Meybartsho: About 11 km drive from Chamkhar town you can visit the site of some of Terton Pema Lingpa’s (Treasure Discoverer) greatest finds – Meybartsho or ‘Flaming Lake’ which is one of the popular pilgrim sites of Bhutan.
• Ugyen Chholing Palace: Palace is located east of the district headquarters Jakar in the remote Tang Valley. The Ugyen Cholling Palace was built in the 17th century AD by Deb Tsokey Dorji, a noble man from the lineage of Buddhist saint Dorji Lingpa. It is one of the least visited national treasures of Bhutan, the palace hosts about 200 guests annually and has a small guest house which can accommodate tourists overnight, but has to be booked well in advance (if you prefer to spend a night here do let us know).
The palace also houses a museum which is cover 3 floors of the main building as well as the central tower. The traditional living quarters of the family and the household staff have been carefully recreated to capture the essence of 19th and 20th century Bhutanese noble life. The museum also houses a collection of medieval utensils and tools of everyday use, weapons including petrified yak dung which was used to make a primitive from of gun-powder, other tools like weaving equipment; tillers etc. are also a part of the main exhibit. In addition to this there is a collection of fine Bhutanese art belonging to the noble family and some ancestral heirlooms also on display at the museum.
• Overnight hotel in Bumthang.
Day 10: Bumthang – Mongar (193 km/7-9 hours)
• En route to Mongar from Bumthang is the biggest national park in Bhutan called the Thrumshingla National Park. The 768 sq.km of this national park is located within the boundaries of four districts: Bumthang, Lhuentse, Mongar and Zhemgang and it was established in 1998.
• On this long drive, enjoy the natural beauty of the undisturbed environment and take pictures of some breath taking scenery like the Namling Bra (cliff) waterfall which falls down the deepest cliff in Eastern Bhutan.
• Overnight hotel in Mongar
Day 11: Mongar – Lhuntse Excursion (150 km/6-8 hours)
• Drive to Lhuntse distict to the village of Khoma which is famous for weaving the “Kishu Thara”.
• Visit the 154 feet statue of Guru Nangsey Zilnon in Tangmachu, Lhuntse said to be the world’s tallest Guru Statue constructed by the Druk Odiyana Foundation, a non-profit organization. The foundation has received donations from devotees within the country and outside for the giant bronze statue.
• Drive back to Mongar.
• Overnight hotel in Mongar.
Day 12: Mongar – Trashiyangtse – Trashigang (122 km/5-6 hours)
• Drive to Tashiyangtse. On the way stop at Gomkora one of the most famous places where Guru Rimpoche meditated in order to subdue a demon that dwelt in the big rock. The small temple was built in the 17th century under the orders from Trongsa Penlop Minjur Tempa, contains statues of Guru Rimpoche, and Chenrezee.
• Chortenkora: It is Nepalese style Chorten, the model was brought from Boudanath Stupa in Nepal. The chorten is believed to have been founded by the 13th Je Khenpo, Younten Thai, in 1782. The chorten was restored at the time of Second King, Jigme Wangchuk.
• National Institute for Zorig Chusum (School of traditional arts & crafts), founded in 1997, to preserve, Arts and Crafts. Currently six forms of arts are taught in the school: Thangka painting, Wood carving, wood-turning, lacquer-work, embroidery and pottery.
• Drive to Trashigang.
• Overnight hotel in Trashigang.
Day 13: Trashigang-Rangjung Excursion
• Visit Trashigang Dzong Trashigang means, ‘the fortress of the auspicious mountain’.The Dzong was built by Pekar Choepel in 1659, on the order from Trongsa Penlop in 1659. The site of the Dzong was occupied in 12th century by one of the king in the eastern Bhutan, settles there and built fort which he named Bengkhar.
• Drive toward Rangjung, it is 19 km from Tashigang town. Visit Rangjung Monastery, it was founded in 1990’s by Lama Garab Rimpoche. There are 200 monks in the monastery; it is one of largest private monastery in Eeastern Bhutan.
• Drive farther North West to Radhi village, to see women weaver in the open air, in the rice field weaving raw silk cloths.
• Overnight hotel in Trashigang.
OPTION I: EXIT TO INDIA IF YOU PLAN TO VISIT INDIA: Trashigang – Samdrup Jongkhar (180 km/6-7 hours)
• Trashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar it is 180 km, it takes 6 to 7 hours drive. The high way was constructed in 1960s, opening eastern Bhutan to outside world, and benefiting marketing with neighbored Assam state.
• Visit a School for visually impaired children at Khaling.
• Visit a Private Monastic School at Barshon. The Monastic School is run by a High Monk providing free education to the monks from the surrounding areas who are mostly from modest families.
• Overnight hotel in Samdrupjongkhar.
OPTION II: TAKE DOMESTIC FLIGHT FROM YONPHULA TO PARO (45 MINUTS FLIGHT)
• Drive to Yonphula domestic Airport
• Fly to Paro.
• Afternoon at leisure or visit Paro town for souvenirs
• Evening take Traditional hot stone bath with local drinks “Ara”.
Day 15: Paro- Airport drop
• End of your travel in Bhutan. Our team will bid farewell.
For Samdrup Jongkhar exit to Assam, India our team will hand over you to your guide from India or will do the exit formalities for you if you are travelling on your own.
For Paro, will drop you to the airport.