Day 1 : Paro-Thimphu
The flight into Bhutan takes you to the great Himalayas, offering the most beautiful scenery of the world's highest glacial peaks. On arrival at Paro Airport, you will be received by your tour guide. After lunch, you will drive to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. In the evening relax at the hotel or stroll through Thimphu town. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
Day 2 : Thimphu Festival
After early breakfast attend full day Thimphu Festival, which is held outside the courtyard of Tashichhodzong. The Tshechu is a festival in honour of Guru Rimpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan and the Himalayan world. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
Day 3 : Thimphu-Punakha
After breakfast, you will catch a busy Weekend Market at the bank of Thimphu River where people from nearby villages come here to sell their farm products. You can stroll through the market to see the variety of food of the country, including basket upon basket of fiery chilies, fresh cheese, and mangoes. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. It's fun to wander the aisle, taking in the bustling atmosphere of the market. Perhaps this market scene offers wonderful opportunity for photographs and to mingle with local people. After lunch, enjoy the scenic drive to Punakha with a stop for tea at Dochu La (3,100 meters), where on a clear day you can get spectacular views of the Himalayas. From the pass, drive downhill through the forests of rhododendron, fir and hemlock. You will arrive at Punakha after traversing through rice field and along the bank of Punakha River. Visit the Punakha Dzong, which is stunningly situated in between the male and female rivers like an anchored ship. Overnight hotel in Punakha.
Day 4 : Punakha-Bumthang
After breakfast you will drive to Bumthang, the cultural heartland of the country. The route is along a spectacular winding road, crossing 3,300-meter-high Pele La pass, and at certain times of year it's possible to see yaks. You will stop in Trongsa for lunch. After lunch you'll visit Trongsa Dzong, the masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture. Then you'll proceed to Bumthang with lush valleys and hilly forests. Along the way you will stop at a yathra (textile weaving) factory, where the yathras are designed with patterns unique to Bumthang, and you can even watch some of the weavers at their looms. Check into hotel on arrival. Overnight hotel in Bumthang.
Day 5 : Bumthang
Today’s sightseeing in Bumthang includes Jakar Dzong, the administrative center of the valley; Jambey Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan, dating from the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan; and Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places, because Guru Rinpoche left his body imprint on the cave when he was meditating. After lunch, you will also have a chance to tour Tamshing Lhakhang, a treasure house of interesting religious Buddhist paintings. In the evening you can visit local shops. Overnight hotel in Bumthang.
Day 6: Bumthang-Wangdue
You'll begin the day at the Bumthang market, and then drive to Wangdue. Stop at Chendebji Chorten for your lunch. Chendebji Chorten was built in 18th century by a lama named Shida in a Nepalese style with eyes painted at four cardinal points. After long exhilarating drive passing through two spectacular high passes, you will arrive Wangdue. The nearby villages of Wangdue are known for their slate and stone carvings. Overnight hotel in Wangdue.
Day 7 : Wangdue-Thimphu
This morning you will return to Thimphu. On the way, you will stop at Metshina Village and take a 20-minute walk through the rice fields to Chimi Lhakhang, which is a fertility temple dedicated to the Devine Madman or Lama Drukpa Kuenley. If you wish, receive the blessing from the Lama’s wooden phallus! On reaching at Dochula, visit the new Druk Wangyal Monastery, which is the only of its kind in the country with elaborate paintings depicting the lineage of the present monarchy and their visionary works. After lunch at Dochula, you will continue drive to Thimphu. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
Day 8 : Thimphu
After breakfast you will visit the King's Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972). Next visit the radio tower (for a great view of Thimphu Valley and the Thimphu Dzong), and the zoo, which contains the national animal of Bhutan: the takin. From there you will visit the nunnery temple, the National Library (which houses ancient manuscripts), and the School of Arts and Crafts (also known as the Institute for Zorig Chusum). After a relaxing lunch, you will visit the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, a traditional paper factory and the majestic Tashichhodzong. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
Day 9 : Thimphu-Paro
After breakfast, you will drive back to Paro. You will visit the Ta Dzong, once a fortified lookout tower that is now the National Museum. The museum has wide assortment of ancient paintings, armors, philatelic display and “field of Buddhas”, which helps one to visualize while meditating. Then walk down the trail to visit the Rinpung Dzong meaning “fortress of the heap of jewels". After lunch, visit Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country. From there you will be taken to the Drugyal Dzong (Bhutan Victory Fort), which was built in 1646 to commemorate Bhutan's victory over Tibetan invaders during the 1600s. On a clear day you can see Mount Jumolhari, Bhutan's second-highest mountain at 7,314meters. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Day 10 : Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery
After breakfast hike to Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan's most famous monastery situated at 3180 meters. Guru Rinpoche (8th century spiritual master) is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. Lunch will be served in the Cafeteria Restaurant, located about halfway up on the mountain. The monastery is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900 meters above Paro Valley. After having explored the monastery, you will hike down to Paro. In the evening, you can visit a traditional farmhouse and, if you wish, enjoy "ara" a local wine produced by a brewery of wheat or rice. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Day 11 : Depart Paro
After breakfast, drive to the airport for departure. Our representative will bid you farewell.
Day 1: PARO (2250m)
Depart Bangkok international airport by Druk-Air (Royal Bhutan Airline). On arrival at Paro international airport, you will be received by representative from our company and escorted you to your hotel. After drive to Drugyel Dzong which is built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders. Though largely destroyed by fire in 1951, the towering outer walls and central keep remain an imposing sight. On clear day you can see the splendid view of Mount. Chomolhari from the approach road to Drukgyel Dzong. Then you'll visit the national museum (Ta-dzong). Once it was the watch tower of Paro valley from 1616 A.D to 1907 and it was converted into the National Museum in 1968. The museum stands on a promontory overlooking the Paro valley. Also visit the Paro Rinpung dzong (fortress of the heap of Jewels) which is the seat of the district administration as well as the home for the monastic school. The central tower (utse) of the dzong, with its superb woodwork, is one of the most beautiful in the country. Then the dzong was built in 1645 A.D by Shebdrung Nawang Namgyel.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 2 : PARO (2250m)Hike to Taksang (Tiger Nest)
After breakfast drive towards the road point to Taktshang. Taktshang Monastery, the most famous of Bhutan's monasteries. Taktshang means "Tiger's Nest," so named because Guru Rimpoche reportedly flew to the site of the monastery on the back of a flying tiger in the late centuries of the first millennium. The monastery is perched on a cliff nearly 3,000 ft above the Paro valley floor. This day hike is not only historically and culturally interesting, but also incredibly scenic! It takes about two hours to reach the cafeteria, which gives a breathtaking view of the Tiger's Nest. If you still feel like hiking then you can take another hour to reach the temple. Evening is optional attend half day Paro festival or you can stroll in Paro town and visit shops.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 3 : PARO (2250m)3rd day of the festival
Attend full day festival (outside the dzong)
Dance of the Lords of the Cremation Grounds (Durdag)
A dance that takes place in cremation grounds. The dancers wear skull masks and represent protectors of the religion who live in the eight cremation grounds on the periphery of the symbolic Mt. Sumeru.
Dance of the Terrifying Deities (Tungam)
Dressed in beautiful brocade and terrifying masks, this is a deeply symbolic dance where a sacrificial murder is performed. Guru Rinpoche appears in a wrathful manifestation to save the world. The dance is meant to show all beings the way to salvation.
Dance of the Heroes with six kinds of ornaments (Guan Drug Pawo)
The heroes hold six ornaments – five rings of bone ornaments and a small drum and bell in their hands. By their gestures and the sound of their melodies, the heroes lead sentient beings from the wheel of reincarnation along the path of liberation.
Kyecham is an accompanying dance to the next dance. The kyecham dancers wear knee-length yellow skirts, and animal masks.
Dance of the Noblemen and Ladies (Pholeg Moleg)
A comical play that depicts the life of King Norzang. The play is full of bawdy and rustic humour as two princes and two princesses, and old couple and clowns enact a story of misbehaviour, deceit, and mistrust. The story ends happily with the princes marrying the princesses and reconciliation takes place as a lesson to life.
Dance of the Stag and the Hounds – 2nd part
This is a conclusion of the dance began on the second day. The saint Milarepa appears in a long white dress and converts the dogs, stag and the hunter with a song. The conversion is symbolised by the hunter and his dogs jumping a rope.
During the festival, the locals also open up fair beside Ugencholing palace grounds, so one can walk down cross the cantilever bridge and visit the stalls, enjoy local festivities, shopping for handicrafts and souviniours.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 4 : PARO (2250m) - HAA VALLEY (2800m) – PARO (One day excursion) 60 KM/APPROX 2HR DRIVE
One day excurssion to Haa valley across Chela Pass 3810 meters through the blue pines, fir and oak. On the clear day you will see mount Chomolhari, other snow capped and beautiful valley below the pass. Explore nearby mountains dotted with the colourful prayer flags and blanked with dwarf rhododendrons. After a picnic lunch, you will drive further down and arrive at Haa – valley is blessed by the presence of Meri Piensum, three small mountains symbolizing Rigsum Gonpo: Jampelyang (manjushri), Chana Dorji (vajrapani) and Chenrizi (avaloketeshvara). You can explore the remote village which will take 30 minutes walk and stroll in town later. Evening drive back to Paro and stroll in town and visit shops.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 5 : 4th last day of the festival PARO (2250m) - punakha (1310M) Approx 4 hrs drive
Get up early morning at around 4 a.m to get blessing of unfurling of Great Thangka of Guru Padmasambhawa, believed as the re-incarnation of Lord Buddha who came to Bhutan in the 7th Century and introduced Buddhism in Bhutan. After lunch, 4 ½ hours drive to Punakha across Dochu-La Pass. (3116meters) snow-capped eastern Himalayan ranges can be seen on a clear day. Prayer flags will flutter you over the pass deeper into the essence of Bhutan. The beauty is further enhanced by the Druk Wangyal Chorten – 108 stupas built by the eldest Queen Mother. Once you cross the pass, you wind down into a warm fertile valley and meander along a gently flowing aquamarine river that leads you to the Punakha valley. On the way to Punakha, you will stop at Metshina Village and take a 20-minutes walk through the rice fields to Chime Lhakhang, which is a fertility temple, dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley . You may receive blessing from Lama’s wooden phallus. Check into hotel on arrival.
Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 6 : Punakha (1310M)
The sub-tropical valleys of Punakha and the surrounding mountainsides offer a large variety of attractive places to explore and discover monasteries and the most impressive Dzong in the country.
After early breakfast we will travel up the valley north and cross the Mo Chhu to hike up and pay respect to the grand Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, The Chorten is 30 meters (100 feet) tall and can be seen in the distance when driving.The three-levelled chorten took eight and a half years to build and was consecrated in 1999. Dedicated to the Fifth King, it was built to remove negative forces and to provide peace, stability, and harmony in an ever- changing world. It is therefore filled with every form of colorful protector imaginable.
Heading back down the valley we will stop for lunch. After the lunch we will visit the stunning Punakha Dzong. The Dzong is considered one of the most important and also one of the most beautiful Dzongs in the Kingdom. It was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1637, and was the seat of the government every winter until Thimphu was established as the permanent capital in 1955. It is still the winter residence of the Je khempo (chief abbot) accompanied by the Dratshang (Central Monastic Body). Take time to admire the impressive, colourful and detailed artistry of the surroundings, including huge statues of Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, as well as paintings of one thousand Buddhas.
After the visit we will drive roughly 45 minutes towards queens village to visit the Nunnery. It was built by King Jigme's maternal grandfather. Inside the monastery we can see very large statue of Chenresig (Avalokiteshvara) bodhisattva of compassion. The nunnery has stunning view of both Punakha and Wangdi Valley.
Overnight at the hotel in Punakha
Day 7 : PUNAKHA (1310M) - THIMPHU (2300 m) Approx 3hr drive 65 KM
Today drive early to Thimhu the capital city of Bhutan on the way visit Wangdue Dzong, the district is famous for its fine bamboo and its slate and stone carving and visit Druk Wangyal Lhakhang at Dochula stand on the crest of the pass. Evening stroll in Thimphu town and visit souvenir shops.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 8 : THIMPHU (2300 m)
After breakfast visit Zorig Chusum Institute , 13 traditional arts and crafts, it was established in 1971 by the Royal Government in order to preserve the invaluable heritage and promote the arts of Bhutan; Textile museum the foundation was laid in 2000 under the Royal Patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck, it was established with the aim of preserving and promoting Bhutanese textile arts; National Library and see the ancient manuscripts preserved there; Jungshi paper factory; and third king’s memorial Chorten.
Later visit Changangkha Lhakhang, mini Zoo here you can see just one animal, Bhutan's national animal the Takin. This is an extremely rare member of the goat family. Found in herds in the very high altitudes (13,125ft and over); nunnery temple; the Folk Heritage museum; and Tashichho Dzong, the main Government Secretariat building, where the government ministries, the Office of His Majesty the King and the Throne Room, the offices and living quarters of the monk body and the Chief Abbot’s housed.
Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
Day 9: THIMPHU (2300 m)- PARO (2250 m) (departure from paro international airport)
After early breakfast drive 1 ½ hours to Paro Airport for departure. Our representative will bid you farewell.
Day 1: PARO (2250m) - THIMPHU (2300 m) 65KM/APPROX 1HR
Flying into Paro is one of the most spectacular flights one can experience. While descending into Paro valley, on a clear day sky you will be greeted by the world’s highest peaks, including Everest. The flight during late autumn is absolutely beautiful, though during the summers it will be cloudy. As the flight gets closer to the only international airport in Bhutan, you will see the Paro Dzong (fortress) on the hillside over looking Paro valley, with Ta Dzong, which now is the National Museum. Upon your arrival our representative will receive you and drive to Thimphu, The capital of Bhutan, The first stop will allow you to view the magnificent Tacho Lhakhang, The hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s Iron Bridge Builder. After the visit we drive further to reach Chuzom, the confluence of Paro Chu (River) and Wang Chu (Thimphu Chu) After crossing Chuzom we enter Thimphu valley. In Thimphu we will stroll the market and mingle with local people. The Authentic Craft Market is place to visit, where you can find various Bhutanese handicrafts.
Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Thimphu
Day 2: THIMPHU (2300 m)
Today we begin our day by an early morning visit to the National memorial chorten. This is a Tibetan-style chorten built in 1974 in memory of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk who passed away in 1972. It is one of the most visible religious structures in town and for many people it is the focus of daily worship. Remember to walk around the Chorten at least once to gain merit and good luck. We will take in more of kingdom's rich culture at the Folk Heritage Museum. The museum is a restored three story traditional rammed mud and timber house inaugurated as a museum by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk in 2001. It showcases the traditional artifacts used now and in the past, which helps connect people to the Bhutanese rural life.Next we will browse the striking collection of intricate textile at the National Textile museum.The Museum introduces you to the living national art of weaving. The exhibition displays the major weaving techniques and styles of local dress and textile made by the Bhutanese women and men. We will have time to quickly visit the Bhutanese Paper factory.The art of handmade paper in Bhutan dates back to the 8th century, although usage was limited mainly to religious purposes. Today it is considered an important element in the preservation of Bhutan’s cultural heritage. The factory allows guests to view the paper making process and purchase gifts from their show room.Towards evening we will visit Tashichhoe Dzong and have glimpse king Jigme's Palace. The Dzong is popularly known as Thimphu Dzong or “the fortress of the glorious religion” it houses Bhutan’s administration, and the throne of His Majesty and other Government offices. It is also the summer residence of the Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot of Bhutan. Just below the dzong we can have a glimpse of King’s palace.
Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Thimphu
Day 3: THIMPHU (2300 m)- Punakha (1310M) Approx 3hr drive 65 KM
Journey continues as we head towards Punakha at 1300 m and a warmer region. Punakha is the winter residence of the central monk body and it is one of the richest agricultural lands. The valley is blessed with one of the biggest rivers in the country. En-route we will cross over Dochula pass at 3050 meters, and view the most dramatic panoramic view of the greater Himalayas. During summers this mountain pass is covered with mists and the views are obstructed. The dochula landmark is the Wangyel Chortens – 108 stupas built on the mountaintop in a Mandala pattern, further enhances the beauty and tranquility of the pass. From this cooler mountain pass we will descend into a warmer region of Punakha. As we descend we will notice a change in vegetation and temperature too. On arrival, drive to Punakha Dzong, the "Palace of Great Happiness"
Built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’, Punakha Dzong is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers). It is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. It was here in 1907 that Bhutan's first king was crowned.
Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Punakha
Day 4: Punakha Festival with a Visit to the Devine Mad Man Temple “Chimi Lhakhang”
Enjoy a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman. He inherited the Divine Madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism in his time. He taught the people that religion is an inner feeling and it’s not necessary that one should be an ordained monk. He is also considered a symbol of fertility and most childless couples go to his temple for blessing. Afterwards, return to Punakha Dzong to observe the continuing masked dances and rituals that take place as part of the Punakha Festival.
Day 5: Punakha Festival and hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten
After early breakfast we will travel up the valley north and cross the Mo Chhu to hike up and pay respect to the grand Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, The Chorten is 30 meters (100 feet) tall and can be seen in the distance when driving. The three-levelled chorten took eight and a half years to build and was consecrated in 1999. Dedicated to the Fifth King, it was built to remove negative forces and to provide peace, stability, and harmony in an ever- changing world. It is therefore filled with every form of colorful protector imaginable. Heading back down the valley we will stop for lunch.After the lunch we will drive back to Punakha and interact with local people at the Festival.
Day 6: Punakha (1310M) - Phobjikha Valley (2900 m) 69KM/APPROX 3 ½HR (Day excursion)
Time to pack up and head to the colder valley of Phobjikha. The valley is significant in our country’s effort in preservation and protection the Black- Necked Cranes. Every year the birds arrive on their wintering grounds between mid-October and early December and remain until March through mid- April.We will visit the famous 16th century Gangtey Goemba that overlooks the large green expanse of the valley. The monastery is surrounded by a large village inhabited mainly be the families of the Gomchens (lay monk ) who take care of the monastery. After lunch we will walk downjill from the mani stone wall at Gangtey Goenpa to Khewa Lhakhang down in the valley. The trail is a gentle walk decending into the Semchubara village leading our way to a square Chorten and the Lhakhang. Then drive back to Punakha
Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Punakha
Day 7: Punakha (1310M) – PARO (2250 m) Approx 4hr drive 142 KM
The journey west takes us back to Paro valley following thru wang Chhu and Pa Chhu rivers. lunch at Paro.
Paro Cultural Tour should always start with a casual browse through the National Museum, housed in the Ta Dzong (Watch Tower) of the Rinpung Dzong. In the Museum the intriguing collection of artifacts serves as a great introduction to the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom. The National Museum boasts a rich variety of exhibits collected from all over the country and belonging to different eras, some as early as 2000 B.C. A visit through the galleries shows the country"s transition from the later Stone Age to a modern Mahayana Buddhist kingdom.
We will then stroll down to the Paro Dzong and take in the amazing architecture of this 17th century monument, a premier example of Bhutan"s architecture. Paro Dzong, built in 17th century to defend Paro from the Tibetan invasion, is also known as Rinpung Dzong, which means the 'fortress on a heap of jewels’. This fine example of Bhutanese architecture now serves as a central monastic and administrative seat of the Paro district. From the Dzong, a leisurely walk back into Paro town crosses the scenic Nyamai zampa, a unique model of Bhutan"s traditional cantilever bridge.
Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Paro
Day 8: PARO (2250 m) - Taktsang (Tiger's nest monastery) 4-5 hrs hike
Today's exploration of Paro valley begins with a hike to Taktsang (Tiger's nest monastery) 4-5 hrs hike
Tiger"s Nest or Taktshang Goempa is one of Bhutan"s most revered monuments. It literally hangs off the face of a cliff 900 meters (2952 feet) above the valley floor. The legend states that Guru Rinpoche flew into
Bhutan on a mythical tigress and meditated in a cave before bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. The Taktshang Goempa is built around the cave, which is opened to the public once a year at the end of August. The four-hour round trip hike offers spectacular views of the Goempa and the valley below. Horses or mules can be arranged on request to help lighten the journey. After lunch drive up north to take a walk around the Drukgyel Dzong (ruins). The Dzong was built in 1649 to celebrate a decisive victory over Tibetan forces and to curtail further invasions. Under the leadership of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the Bhutanese fought twelve battles with the Tibetans in different parts of the country, whereof one took place in Drukgyel Dzong. In the later years, the Dzong became an administrative centre under the Dzongpon (Lord of the Dzong) until gutted by a fire in 1951. Heading back down the valley we will stop at the auspicious kyichu Lhakhang. The 7th century monastery is one of the oldest and most sacred temples in the Kingdom where the seed of Buddhism was won in Bhutan. The Tibetan King, Songsten Gampo ordered the establishment of monasteries in the Himalayan region to subdue evil spirits and to spread Buddhism. Of the 108 monasteries, which were to be built, two major ones were built in Bhutan namely the Kyichu Lhakhang and the Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang. Kyichu Lhakhang, which pins down the left foot of a treacherous Ogress, are a great finish to this day of cultural immersion and your journey to thisancient kingdom of Bhutan.
Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Paro
Day 9: DEPARTURE (Paro International Airport)