This cultural tour leads to getting oneself into the realms of history of Bhutan. This provide our visitor with ample of time to look around the country and understand the untold history of nation, with pristine destination till central Bhutan. It is a 11 days tour in Bhutan.
DAY 01 : ARRIVE AT PARO, PARO – THIMPHU (55KM 1-1.50 HOURS)
The flight into Bhutan takes you close to the great Himalayas, offering dazzling scenic views of some of the world’s highest glacial peaks. 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. Chen-Ray Travel & Tours representative will receive you with traditional welcome scarf and will drive to Thimphu with sightseeing along the way.
• 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.
• Overnight at Hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 02 : THIMPHU SIGHTSEEING
• Start the day with visit National Memorial Chorten (Stupa): 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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 your hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 03 : THIMPHU-GANGTEY/PHOBJIKHA (144 KM/5-6 HOURS DRIVE)
• 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.
• ROYAL BOTANICAL PARK- LAMPELRI GARDEN. The Royal Botanical Park was inaugurated on 22nd October 2008. Due to its close proximity to the city the park attracts lots of visitors which include bird watchers, travelers and picnickers, etc. The park covers an area of 47 sq kms. The garden has different species of Rhododendron tress. Bhutan has 46 species of Rhododendron. There is also a small but beautiful lake.
• Drive towards Gangtey/Phobjikha and visit the Monastery which is about 4 hours drive from Dochula Pass. 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.
• Visit Black Necked Crane information centre.
• Overnight at your hotel in Phobjikha or you can opt to stay at a local farm house to experience the rural life. (please do let us know your preference of stay)
DAY 04 : GANGTEY/PHOBJIKHA-BUMTHANG (145 km/5-6 hours drive)
• Hike Gangtey Nature Trail and watch the Black Necked Cranes while enjoying the nature.
• Drive to Trongsa with stops on the way stop at various mountains passes for picture.
• Chendebji Chorten: This Napalese style stupa lies on the banks of Nikka Chu at an extremely serene spot. It was built in the eighteenth century by Lama Shida of Tibet to suppress a demon who had been troubling the inhabitants of the valley. A smaller Bhutanese style chorten was constructed nearby by the Royal grandmother in 1982.
• Trongsa Dzong: The most impressive Dzong (Fortress) in the country – it is intricately layered into the hillside, in complete harmony with its surroundings. The structure is aesthetically designed and its clean lines boast a superb sense of proportion and space while finely carved woodwork and elegant paintings suitably embellish it. Following the instruction of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel, the Dzong was built in 1644 by Chhogyel Minjur Tempa who later became the third Desi (Governor). The Dzong was named Chökhor Raptentse Dzong. The structure was enhanced by Desi Tenzin Rabgye in 1771 and now contains twenty-three temples. It is a veritable maze of corridors, courtyards and passageways leading to the multiple levels contained within the great outer impregnable shell.
• Ta Dzong: Literally meaning “Watch Tower” is located strategically above the Trongsa Dzong, it was built by Choeje Minjur Tenpa, the first governor of Trongsa, in the year 1652. The tower stood guard over the Trongsa Dzong to protect the main stronghold of the town from any external threats. It has now been turned in to a Museum.
• Continue your drive to Bumthang.
• Overnight at your hotel in Trongsa.
DAY 05 : 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.
• Drive to Maebar Tsho (The flaming lake)
• Evening free or visit Bumthang town.
• Overnight at your hotel in Bumthang.
DAY 06 : BUMTHANG-PUNAKHA (220 KM/7-8 HOURS)
• After early breakfast drive to Punakha with various stops on the way for pictures.
• Overnight at Punakha: Premium Camping, Your own tent (Twin/double sharing). Your accommodation tonight is set 8 kilometers from the centre of Punakha on the banks of the Mo Chu River. We camp in tents with thick mattresses, all bedding and towels. There are toilet and shower tents with hot water available. You will also have the chance to try out a traditional hot stone bath which will relax your body after a long drive. 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.
DAY 07 : PUNAKHA SIGHTSEEING
• 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.
• Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten hike: 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.
• Drive up to explore the picturesque villages of Talo or Nobgang, the ancestral home of the Queen Mothers of Bhutan. The villages are scattered along a ridge above the Punakha valley at an altitude of around 2,800m and is known amongst Punakha villages for its neat and clean appearance. The women here are particularly known for their beauty. You can hike through the village and explore.
• 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 statue was handcrafted exclusively by local artisans. The temple houses a complex for higher studies and meditation center for nuns. Apart from religious trainings, the nuns are also provided skills such as embroidery, tailoring and statue making.
• Overnight at the camp.
- River rafting optional (additional charges apply)
DAY 08: PUNAKHA-HAA (183km/5-6 hours drive)
• After early breakfast in the hotel drive to Paro via Haa valley one of the least visited districts of the country.
• En route do a short hike to Chime Lhakhang. This Lhakhang 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. Lama Drukpa Kinley is believed to have subdued a demoness residing in Dochu La with his ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom’ and a wooden effigy of this is preserved within. There are also statues of him along with those of Lama Zhabdrung, Sakyamuni and Avalokiteswara. Devotees receive blessings from his wooden phallus and iron Bow and arrow that lie here and childless women are said to have their wish fulfilled after visiting this Lhakhang.
• Have a packed lunch on the way to save time.
• On the way visit the Dobji Dzong, once well known as a central jail.
• Visit Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple) and Nagpo (Black Temple). These two temples/monasteries are probably the most important site in Haa valley. Lhakhang Karpo (white Temple) is the official residence of Haa monastic body (Rabdey). Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple) on the slopes nearby is a smaller chapel with a small pond (supposedly a lake) inside the shrine. Both the temples are said to have been built by Pigion emanation of Tibetan King Songsten Gampo in 7th century in a single day.
• Overnight at homestay in Haa Valley. You may join the host family to cook and also to milk cows in the morning.
DAY 09 : HAA-PARO (106km/3-4 hours drive)
• Drive to Paro
• Stop at Chelela pass (3988m). At the pass enjoy the spectacular view of the Paro and Haa valleys on either side of the pass. En route enjoy the beauty of nature with different vegetation as you climb up to the pass and then down to Paro valley.
• 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.
• Dinner and overnight at your Hotel in Paro.
DAY 10 : 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.
Drive up the valley to view the ruins of the Drugyel Dzong, which once defended this valley from several invading Tibetan armies during the 17th century. It is now under re construction to its former glory.
• Overnight at Hotel in Paro.
DAY 11 : PARO-AIRPORT DROP
• End of your travel. Our team will drop you to the airport and bid farewell.