DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU
DAY 02: THIMPHU – PHOBJIKHA
DAY 03: PHOBJIKHA VALLEY SIGHTSEEING
DAY 04: PHOBJIKHA – PUNAKHA
DAY 05: PUNAKHA VALLEY SIGHTSEEING
DAY 06: PUNAKHA – PARO
DAY 07: HIKE TO TIGERS’ NEST
DAY 08: DEPART PARO
DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU (1 hour Drive)
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth.
Arrive at Paro and drive to Thimphu. Upon arrival, drive to capital city Thimphu, Check in hotel and visit the National Memorial Chorten depicting the Buddhist faith in the form of paintings and statues. This temple was first initiated by the Third King as a protection from the negative elements of modernisation, and as a monument to world peace. The Royal Queen Mother completed it as a memorial stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972.His Late Majesty, King JigmeDorjiWangchuk. Later visit Trashichhodzong fortress of the glorious religion Tashichho Dzong has been the seat of the government since 1952 and presently houses the throne room and offices of the king, the secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance. Other government departments are housed in buildings nearby. It was first constructed in 1216 A.D. by Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa where Dechen Phodrang now stands above Thimphu. In 1641, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal acquired it but finding it too small, he built another one, known as the lower Dzong. The original dzong was destroyed by fire in 1771 and everything was moved to the lower dzong. The new building was later expanded several times over the years. It was damaged during an earthquake in 1897 and rebuilt in 1902. King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck had it completely renovated and enlarged over five years after he moved the capital to Thimphu in 1952 in traditional style using neither nails nor written plans. .Over night at hotel in Thimphu .
DAY O2: THIMPHU TO PHOBJIKHA VALLEY 3.5 HOURS
After breakfast drive towards Phobjikha valley considered the most beautiful valley. On the way after 30 minutes‟ drive from Thimphu will reach at highest pass between Thimphu and Punakha the place called Dochula pass (3140m). Dochula pass is located on the way to Punakha from Thimphu. The pass is a popular location among tourists as it offers a stunning 360 degree panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range. The view is especially scenic on clear, winter days with snowcapped mountains forming a majestic backdrop to the tranquility of the 108 chortens gracing the mountain pass. Bhutanese families enjoy visiting the pass during holidays and weekends to picnic and simply enjoy the scenery. It is common to see families and groups of friends seated amongst the chortens, enjoying a packed lunch and hot tea. For tourists this is an ideal location to capture beautiful pictures of the Himalayan mountain range during clear, warm days.
Upon reaching Dochulaa Pass start Lungchutse hike (1 to 1.5 hour), which is one of the most rejuvenating and picturesque hike. The trail will take you through a diverse forest of hemlock, rhododendrons and junipers until you reach the temple on the ridge. On a clear weather day, tourists can enjoy a 360 degree view of the Himalayas from the ridge. Some of the notable mountains include Jumolhari (7314 m), Masang Gang in the region of Laya (7158), Zongophu Gang – a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana (7060 m) and GangkharPuensum (7520 m), the highest peak in Bhutan. You can also see GasaDzong, as a tiny white speck in a sea of green almost 50 kilometers to the north.
After hike continue your journey towards Phobjikha. Upon reaching Phobjikha, to further stretch the body after long drive start a Gangtey Natural Trail Hike (50 mins) to explore the valley and the hike will be gradual descend and on the flat land.
Overnight at homestay.
DAY 03: PHOBJIKHA VALLEY
After breakfast drive for an hour to the charming village called Longte,y from here the 3 to 3.5 hours moderate hike back towards GangteyGompa starts. Head along a sloping, lined pathway that takes you through towering bushes of jade-hued bamboo, swaying together in a jumble of shadow and light. At the end of the bamboo enclave lies a small group of village houses, built in the distinct Bhutanese style, which features elevated platforms, intricately carved timber window panes and wood-lined, arched roofs.
During the spring months the woodlands on either side of the valley look particularly stunning, gloriously cloaked in a kaleidoscope of crimson, violet and candy floss coloured rhododendrons. In the winter months, the valley is splendidly shrouded in thick blankets of pearly white snow, on which mighty onyx and caramel-horned yaks graze. As you move upwards, you’ll pass ancient rhododendron forests and soaring trees that sigh in the wind, whispering the ancient secrets of this mystical region. Next, head down to the tranquil village of Kumbu, where you can choose to end your walk, or carry on to the deep valley floor and the Shedra, a renowned and mystical place of teaching.
After lunch visit GangteyGoempa, the oldest Nyingmapa temple in western Bhutan. Gangtey Goenpa or Gangtey Monastery, is an important monastery of Nyingmapa school of Buddhism, the main seat of the Pema Lingpa tradition. It is located in the Wangdue Phodrang District in the western part of Bhutan. Situated atop a hill at an altitude of 2800 m, Gangtey Monastery (also known as Gangtey Sanga Choeling Goemba) offers a stunning view of Phobjikha valley, winter home to the rare Black Necked Cranes. This venerable monastery was founded in 1613 by Je Kuenga Gyaltshen.
Then explore valley on foot is the best way to experience Gangtey as you will walk by small villages and picturesque scenery. Later visit, Crane Information Centre which gives all the information about birds. Overnight at home stay in Phobjikha.
DAY O4: PHOBJIKHA – PUNAKHA (2 hour drive)
Upon reaching Punakha valley hike to Chimi Lhakhang, The famous Chimi Lhakhang is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kunley, the 15th-century Tibetan magician, saint and exponent of ‘crazy wisdom’. It is for him that every house and shop in the nearby village is decorated with protective phallus symbols. The temple is one of Bhutan’s most popular sights, for both foreign tourists and Bhutanese pilgrims
After lunch visit the impressive PunakhaDzong, the Dzong built in 1637 by ShabdrungNgawangNamgyal to serve as the religious and administrative center of the region. Damaged over the centuries by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the Dzong has been fully restored in recent years by the present monarch. It is open for visitors during the Punakha festival (early spring) and in the summer months, after the monk body has returned to Thimphu. The Dzong is placed strategically at the junction of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. This ancient fortress is the winter residence of the monastic order‟s head and still serves as the administrative head quarters for the Punakha region. After visiting the Punakha Dzong take a leisurely walk for 5 to 10 minutes to reach the longest suspension bridge of Bhutan. We have a great view of villages on the other side of the river. Over night at hotel in Punakha
DAY 05: PUNAKHA VALLEY SIGHTSEEING
After breakfast drive to Yabesa village and hike (45 mins) to through rice fields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, Built in the year 2004 by Queen of Bhutan, Khamsum Yulley Namgyal is a chorten, or stupa, overlooking the Punakha Valley. It was built with a specific function in mind: to ward off evil spirits in Bhutan and across the world, and to bring peace and harmony to all living things.
After hike, drive for approximately 1 hour to Nalanda Buddhist University for lunch and other activities at the University. At the time when this monastery was built, the ancient Nalanda University in India was a very holy and sacred place. The original Nalanda University is located in what was known as Magadha that is now near present-day Patna, the capital of the present day state of Bihar, India.
The people in Bhutan made great efforts to visit this special holy place at least once in their lifetimes. However, there were no roads and people had to walk to India. As a result, the journey was very unsafe and people were at risk of being robbed or worse. On arrival in India, people from Bhutan faced many difficulties including dealing with differences in food, culture, and language, as well as being in an unfamiliar place.As a way of accommodating the people’s desire to visit Nalanda, Gyalwang Shakya Rinchen Rinpoche built this monastery in Bhutan and named it after the Nalanda University in India.
At the University attend the evening prayer performed by the monks and if lucky one can witness debate among the monk. In practice, the usual form is a debate between a Challenger, standing and asking questions, and a Defender, sitting and answering those questions. The attitude is as if the Challenger is respectfully approaching the Defender with a quandary. The dramatic clapping is done by the standing Challenger only, and is used to punctuate the end of the “question,” which is an argument in response to the Defender’s answer.
Overnight at the Nalanda Buddhist University
DAY 06: PUNAKHA – PARO (3.5 hour drive)
After early breakfast drive back to Paro and visit the Ringpung Dzong which was built by Shabdrung in 1644. After lunch visit the National Museumand start the hike from above the National Museum (1 hour). The hike provides wonderful views down over the valley and Dzong.
In the evening stroll around the main street for some interesting Himalayan artifacts or textiles or have a relaxing stay in the hotel. Overnight at hotel in Paro.
DAY 07: HIKE TO TIGERS’ NEST
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The walk of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometer above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to cafeteria). Taktsang Lhakhang is Bhutan’s most iconic landmark and religious site. The name Taktsang translates to “The Tiger’s Nest”. This temple is one of the most holy sites in the kingdom and clings impossibly to a sheer cliff face 900 meters above the Paro Valley. It was first built in 1692 at a cave where Guru Rimpoche meditated in the 7th century A.D. Legend states that Guru Rimpoche flew to the site atop the back of a tigress and meditated in the cave for 3 years, 3 months, 3 days and 3 hours in order to subdue evil demons residing within it. The cave has been considered a sacred site ever since and many famous saints have travelled to meditate in it.
DAY 08: DEPART PARO
Breakfast in the
hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.
Some of the sights/itinerary may change due to season, weather, national holidays, and special events. We maintain the rights to alter the itinerary since tours are made in advance and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve your overall travel experience in Bhutan
The driving and hiking times mentioned are approximate times and do not include breaks in the journey for sightseeing, photo/tea/meal/rest stops. There may be delays in transfer time due road conditions, road repair/widening works, inclement weather and other unforeseen circumstances. During the treks/hikes, there may be delays or diversion of hiking trails due to trail conditions, inclement weather and other unforeseen circumstances. Please note that at the moment there are numerous areas where road conditions are not very good due to road widening/repair works and you may experience rough and bumpy drives.
WHAT WE INCLUDE IN OUR TAILOR MADE BHUTAN TOURS: