Day 01: Arrive Paro, Paro – Thimphu
In clear weather, Druk Air’s flight to Bhutan provides a wonderful view of Himalayan scenery. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills from Kolkata, it is a breathtaking journey, culminating in an exciting descent past forested hills into the kingdom. On arrival at Paro airport, you will be met by a New Age Bhutan Tours representative. On completion of airport formalities, there will be an interesting drive of about 2 hours’ duration to Thimphu, the modern capital town of Bhutan. Evening free after dinner. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 02: Thimphu – Punakha
Thimphu, perhaps the most unusual capital city in the world, is the seat of government. This bustling town is home to Bhutan’s royal family, the civil service, and foreign missions with representation in Bhutan. It is also the headquarters for a number of internationally funded development projects. Morning visit to Tashichhodzong, the main secretariat building which houses the throne room of His Majesty, the King. Tashichhodzong is also the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and the central monk body. Proceed to the National Library, which houses an extensive collection of Buddhist literature, with some works dating back several hundred years. Visit the nearby Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School), where a six-year training course is given in the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. Also visit (outside only) the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, where the medicinal herbs abundant in the kingdom are compounded and dispensed. After lunch, visit the National Memorial Chorten. The building of this landmark was originally envisaged by Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who had wanted to erect 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 peace. Visit the government-run Handicrafts Emporium and privately owned crafts shops, which offer a wide range of handcrafted products, including the splendid thangkha paintings and exquisitely woven textiles for which Bhutan is famous. Also visit the Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums, opened in 2001. In the early evening, drive over Dochu-la pass (3,088m/10,130ft) to Punakha. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 03: Punakha – Wangduephodrang – Paro
Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955, when the seat of government moved to Thimphu. Originally situated on the riverbank and dominated by the towering walls of Punakha Dzong, the township was relocated to a safer site a few kilometers down the valley, consequent upon extensive flooding in the early 1990s. At the same time, extensive renovation work was undertaken on Punakha Dzong itself, which is now a breathtaking and glorious sight as you first glimpse it from the road. Although four catastrophic fires and an earthquake in past times destroyed many historic documents, Punakha Dzong still houses many sacred and historic artifacts and also the embalmed body of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Later drive to Wangduephodrang, the last town on the highway before entering central Bhutan. Situated on a ridge overlooking a river junction, the formidable Wangduephodrang Dzong is the town’s most visible feature. In the 17th century, Wangdue played a critical role in unifying the western, central and southern regions of the country. Also visit the local market. After lunch drive to Paro, visiting Semtokha Dzong en route. This dzong, built in 1627, is the oldest in Bhutan. It now houses the Institute for Language and Cultural Studies. Arrive Paro and check into the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 04: Paro
The valley of Paro contains a wealth of attractions. In the morning, visit Ta Dzong. Once a watchtower, built to defend Rinpung Dzong during inter-valley wars of the 17th century, Ta Dzong was inaugurated as Bhutan’s National Museum in 1968. Afterwards, walk down a hillside trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, which has a long and fascinating history. After lunch, drive up the valley to view the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, 18 km. from Paro town on the north side of the valley. It was from here that the Bhutanese repelled several invading Tibetan armies during the 17th century. Also visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the kingdom. In the evening, visit a traditional farmhouse for an opportunity to interact with a local family and learn something of their lifestyle. Later on, take an evening stroll along the main street, and perhaps visit a few handicrafts shops, or take refreshments at a local café or bar. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 05: Depart Paro
After breakfast, drive to Paro airport for flight to onward destination.
Day 1: Arriving in paro
As soon as you land at the Paro airport, the efficient guides from our agency will receive you with Tashi Khadar (Welcome white Scarf) for your Bhutan travel and drive you to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. Check into your hotel and enjoy the exotic lunch before you begin the tour of Thimphu.
After Lunch, you will be visiting the Memorial Chorten and the School of Arts & Crafts, where students from across the region learn the skills of a myriad of traditional arts & crafts like Buddhist Thangka painting, mask making, wood carving, embroidery, slate curving, sculpture, weaving and calligraphy. You can also to see some professional Thangkha painters at work there. Next will be visiting the 169-feet bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma.The Vajra Throne Buddha, symbolizing indestructibility, seated on a vajra throne, will be erected at Kuensel Phodrang in Changbangdu, that provides a view of the entire city. It is located some 100 meters above Thimphu on a steep slope. Ratified by His Majesty the King and the government, the Buddha Dordenma project is being launched by the chairman of Menjong Chhothuen Tshogpa, Lam Tshering Wangdi, to commemorate a hundred years of monarchy in 2008. Afterwards, visit Tashichho Dzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion). Back in 1216, the lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa made Dohon (the Blue Stone) Dzong on the hillock above Thimphu, where now the Dechen Phodrang stands. Some years ahead, Lama Phajo Drugom Shigpo, who brought the Drukpa Kagyu line age to Bhutan, took the reins of Dohon Dzong. In 1641 the Zhabdrung (One who unified Bhutan) received the dzong from the descendants of lama Phajo and renamed it to 'Trashi Chhoe Dzong'. Bow the Dzong housed both monks and civil officials in the same area. Currently it is the seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body that houses the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan).
Day 2 :Thimphu- punakha
The next day, after breakfast, we will drive to Punakha, an approximate 2hrs.30 mins drive, with a stop over for tea at Dochula (3,100 m), where on a sunny day, you can get stunning views of the Himalayan ranges. Post lunch, drive towards Punakha, the ex-capital of Bhutan to have a glimpse of the Punakha Dzong, which is famous both for being one of the most beautiful Dzongs in Bhutan and also for having been built by the first Shabdrung in 1637. On the way back, stop at Metshina Village and take a short walk through the lush rice fields towards ChhimiLhakhang, a fertility temple. Here, you may choose to receive a special fertility blessing. Enjoy your dinner at the Hotel in Punakha.
Day 3: Punakha-trongsa
After an early breakfast, we will be driving down to Trongsa. Admire the view en route the valley of Wangdiphodrang. Afterwards A visit to Wangdiphodrang Dzong that was built in 1638 will me done. Legend has it that while the Bhutan people searched for a suitable site of the Dzong, four ravens flew across four directions. This was considered an auspicious sign, representing the spread of religion to the four corners of the world. This Dzong is situated at the meeting pointof Mo Chu and Tang Chu rivers. Drive a bit more to cross over the Pelela Pass at an altitude of3250 meters. Have lunch at the famous Chendebji Restaurant. Thereafter, visit the Chendebji Chorten, a tall Stupa patterned after the Swayambhunath in Kathmandu, Nepal and built in the 19th century by Lama Shida, to hide the remains of an evil spirit eliminated at this very spot. Have dinner at the Hotel inTrongsa.
After breakfast we will be visiting the Trongsa Dzong, the most emphatic dzong in Bhutan, built by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the emissary sent by Shabdrung to appease eastern Bhutan. The dzong was added to at the end of the 17th century by Desi Tenzin Rabgay. This dzong is the ancestral home of the present Royal Family; the initial two kings ruled Bhutan from this Dzong. Drive to Bumthang via Yongtala & Kilakha passes. Bumthang sightseeing includes- Bhutanese Carpet Factory, where they use Yak and Sheep wool and even pure silk to create carpets and ethnic Bhutanese Textiles. Post lunch, visiting the Jakar Dzong will happen, literally meaning 'The Castle of White Bird'. Its current structure was built in 1667. Later visit Lamey Goemba, a majestic palace and monastery built in 18th century by Dasho Phuntsho Wangdi, the great warrior. Further, you can see the JambayLhakhang, built by King SrongsenGampo of Tibet in AD 659. This temple was blessed by Guru Rimpoche during his visit to Bumthang. It was renovated by Sindhu Raja after Guru Rimpoche restored his life with his powers. Legend has it that under the temple is a lake in which Guru Rimpoche took refuge on several occasions. In the month of October, the colorful festival, 'Jambay Lhakhang Drup' unfolds at this very temple. As the evening sets, you can check out the handicrafts and all. Have your dinner downtown at Bumthang.
Day 5:Bumthang (sightseeing)
After breakfast, visit Chakhar (Iron Castle) Lhakhang, it is the site of the palace of the Indian King, the Sindhu Raja who invited Guru Rimpoche to Bumthang. The Original palace was made of Iron and hence the name Chakhar. The saint DorjiLingpa built the Current building in 14th century. Its correct name is Dechen Phodrang. We then visit Kurjey Lhakhang that is named after body print of Guru Rimpoche, built in 1652 by MinjurTempa. Visit Tamshing Lhakhang (Temple of the good message), established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and is the most important Nyingmapa temple in the kingdom. In the evening, visit Membarstho which literally means, "The burning Lake". Dinner and Overnight in Hotel at Bumthang.
Day 6:Bumthang- gangtey-wangdue
After an early breakfast, we will drive to Wangdiphodrang via Gangtey. Lunch at Gangtey valley. It is one of the most beautiful glacial valleys of the Himalayas. Visit Gangtey Gompa from outside. 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. Explore Phobjikha valley, famous for the Black Necked Cranes during winter. These cranes are very rare and endangered and highly protected by the Government. These cranes fly to Phobjikha valley which is their winter Habitat. The Cranes circle three times in a clock-wise direction around the Gangtey Gompa as a reverence to the Monastery before landing in the valley. They repeat the same practice before flying back to Tibet in early spring. You can watch the cranes. Enroute we will stop in different places for the photography and have the view of different valleys. Have a full meal at the hotel and call it a day.
After breakfast, drive to Thimphu and visit Simthokha Dzong. It is the oldest Dzong in Bhutan. After lunch drive to Paro. Dinner and overnight in Hotel at Paro.
Day 8:Hike to taktashang(Tiger nest monastery)
On the second last day, make an excursion to the Taksang Monastery - the place that offers the most spectacular view of Bhutan. Located on a sheer vertical cliff at an altitude of 800m, it defies all engineering logic. Climb for about 2-3 hours to the monastery to set the pace for adventure. (The hike can be quite hard and you can arrange for a po pony ride. In the afternoon, simple enjoy the beauty of Paro.
Say goodbye to your travel guide and take a pledge to come back again soon. We will head towards the airport to catch the homeward flight.
Day 01: Arrive Paro
On a clear day, the flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights. You will see major Himalayan peaks such as Everest, Kanchenjunga and Makalu, and then on the final approach to Paro Bhutan’s own snowy peaks, Chomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tserimgang will come into view. Bhutan’s first gift to you as you disembark from the aircraft will be cool, clean fresh mountain air. You will be met by your New Age Bhutan representative, and after completion of arrival formalities will be taken to your hotel. Afternoon free for activities or at leisure. In the evening, take a stroll around Paro market. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 02: Paro
Paro is a most picturesque valley, with quaint hamlets clustered amidst terraced paddy fields. The town still maintains tradition by way of its architecture and simple way of life. In the morning, visit Ta Dzong, formerly a watchtower but now housing the National Museum. Ta Dzong holds unique and varied collections, ranging from ancient armor to textiles, thangkha paintings, stamps, coins, and natural history. Then walk down a hillside trail to visit Paro Dzong (Rinpung Dzong) built in 1646 during the time of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It now houses Paro’s monk body and the offices of the civil administration. Rinpung Dzong is the venue for the famous Paro Tsechu, held annually in the spring. After lunch, drive up valley to Drukgyel Dzong or “the fort of Drukpa victory”. In former times, the Bhutanese repelled invasions by Tibetans from this fortress. Though largely destroyed by fire in 1951, the ruins still present an imposing sight. On a clear day, there is a splendid view of Bhutan’s sacred mountain, Chomolhari from the approach road to Drukgyel Dzong. Also visit a traditional Bhutanese house in the village nestled below the dzong. Then head back towards Paro town, en route visiting Kyichu Lhakhang, established in the 7th century and one of the two oldest shrines in the kingdom (the other is in Bumthang), marking the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 03: Paro – Thimphu
After breakfast, drive to Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, passing through idyllic countryside, with villages and paddy fields on either side of the road. En route visit Semtokha Dzong, one of the oldest fortresses of the country, which now houses the Institute for Language and Cultural Studies. Afternoon sightseeing in Thimphu valley, visiting: Tashichhodzong, the seat of the government; the National Memorial Chorten, within which there are finely executed wall paintings and delicately fashioned statues which provide deep insight into Buddhist philosophy; and the Handicrafts Emporium, which displays a wide range of the traditional handicrafts for which Bhutan is renowned. You may also be able to catch a game of archery in progress at the Changlimethang sports ground, just below the town. Take an early evening stroll around the market area before dinner. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 04: Thimphu – Punakha
In the morning, visit the following: the National Library, with its extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts; the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School) where students undergo a six-year training course in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts; the National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only), where Bhutan’s famed traditional herbal medicines are compounded and dispensed. After lunch, proceed to Punakha across Dochu-la pass (3,088m/10,130ft). The highest point on the road is marked by a large Bhutanese chorten and prayer flags fluttering on the hill. On a clear day, there is a breathtaking view over the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas from this spot. On reaching Punakha, check in at the hotel. Punakha served as the capital town of Bhutan until 1955, and it is still the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot). Visit Punakha Dzong, built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in the 17th century and situated at the junction of Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 05: Punakha – Wangduephodrang – Gangtey (Phobjikha)
After breakfast, drive to Wangduephodrang and visit the Dzong which is perched on a spur at the confluence of two rivers. The position of the Dzong is remarkable as it completely covers the spur and commands an impressive view both up and down the valley. Wangdue district is famous for its fine bamboo work, stone carvings, and slate which is mined up a valley a few kilometers from the town. Then drive up a winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forest, and over a high pass down into the Phobjikha valley, surely one of the loveliest high altitude valleys in Bhutan. Phobjikha is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black-necked cranes, migrating from the Tibetan plateau. Explore Phobjikha valley and also visit Gangtey Gompa (Monastery), the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan. Stay overnight at the guesthouse, or camp under the stars.
Day 06: Gangtey (Phobjikha) – Trongsa
In the morning explore Phobjikha valley, hopefully sighting some black-necked cranes, if you are there at the right time of year. Later, drive to Trongsa across Pele-la pass (3,300m/10,830ft). This pass is traditionally considered the boundary between western and central Bhutan. Further down the road, stop to visit Chendebji Chorten erected in the 18th century by a Tibetan lama to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot. It is built in the Nepalese style, with painted eyes at the four cardinal points. The landscape around Trongsa is spectacular and its impressive dzong, stretched along a ridge above a ravine, first comes into view about an hour before the winding road suddenly leads you into the town. On arrival, check in at the lodge. Dinner and overnight at the lodge in Trongsa.
Day 07:Trongsa – Bumthang (Jakar)
Morning visit to Trongsa Dzong. Built in 1647 by the Shabdrung, it is the most impressive dzong in Bhutan. Then visit Ta Dzong on the hillside above the town, built as a watchtower to guard Trongsa. After lunch proceed to Bumthang, one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the holy heartland of Buddhism. The 68 km. journey takes about 3 hours. The road winds steeply up to Yutong-la pass (3,400m/11,155ft), then runs down through dense coniferous forest to enter a wide, open, cultivated valley, known as Chumey valley. From here it is about an hour to Bumthang, a most pleasant run in the soft, late afternoon light. Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.
Day 08: Bumthang
Bumthang is the general name given to a group of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura, with altitudes varying from 2,600 to 4,000m/8,530 to 13,125ft. In the morning we will visit Kurje Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom as Bhutan’s “patron saint”, Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) meditated here. From Kurje monastery, a tarmac road heads south along the right bank of the river to Jambey Lhakhang. This temple, erected by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century, is one of the two oldest in Bhutan (the other being Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro). After lunch, we will visit Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa. It contains interesting and ancient Buddhist wall paintings. Later on we will visit Jakar Dzong, “the castle of the white bird”, then take a stroll through Bumthang’s market area before returning to the lodge. Dinner and overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.
Day 09: Bumthang – Mongar
The journey continues eastwards, winding through more rugged terrain. The drive to Mongar takes about 6 hours, with spectacular views en route. We will drive up into the hills above the valley and then past Ura village, before climbing sharply to the highest point on Bhutan’s motorable road network, Thrumsing-la pass (4,000m/13,125ft). From here, the road gradually descends to the alpine valley of Sengor, with wonderful views of cascading waterfalls and the hills of eastern Bhutan along the way. Vegetation changes from alpine to subtropical with the loss of height, and bamboos and luxuriant ferns overhang the road as we drop down to the valley floor. The descent stops at 700m/2,300ft, where we cross the Kuri Chu (river). We ascend again through pine forests, maize fields and eastern hamlets to reach Mongar town, high on a gentle slope above the valley. Picnic lunch at a scenic spot en route to Mongar. We visit Mongar Dzong, built in the 1930s and one of Bhutan’s newest dzongs, but constructed in the same way as all previous dzongs, without either plans or the use of nails. Overnight at the lodge in Mongar.
Day 10: Mongar – Trashigang
This trip of about 96 km. takes only 3 hours. The first part of journey is through leafy forest filled with ferns. After driving through the Kori-la pass (2,450m/8,040ft), marked by a pretty chorten and a mani wall, we descend rapidly through corn fields and banana groves to reach the famous road zigzags just below Yadi, a fairly recent and now fast-growing settlement. After zigzagging down the hillside, the road east runs along the Gamri river. A turnoff on the left leads up to Drametse. The temple, perched on top of a steep hill above the village, was founded by Choeden Zangmo and is the most important monastery of eastern Bhutan. This is the place of origin of the famous Drametse Nga Chham, a masked dance with drums. About 30 km. onwards lies Trashigang (1,100m/3,610ft), which clings to a steep hillside above the Gamri river. Trashigang is the principal township of the biggest and most populated district in the country. After lunch, we will visit Trashigang Dzong, standing at the extreme end of a rocky outcrop far above the river gorge. It serves as the administrative seat for the district and part of the dzong is occupied by the local monastic community. Overnight at the lodge in Trashigang.
Day 11: Trashigang (excursion to Trashiyangtse)
After breakfast we visit the temple of Gom Kora, set on a small alluvial plateau, overlooking the river, 24 km. from Trashigang. Gom Kora is a famous place, as Guru Rinpoche is said to have subdued a demon here, trapping it in a rock. We continue on down the road to Doksum village, where you can see women busily weaving traditional Bhutanese fabric, and a chain-link swing bridge dating back to the 15th century. The road turns into the hills here, running up the side of a winding river valley to Trashiyangtse. In former times, Trashiyangtse was an important center because it lies on one of the caravan routes leading from western and central Bhutan. Trashiyangtse is now a rapidly growing town and the administrative center for this district. The area is famous for its wooden containers and bowls, which make inexpensive, attractive and useful souvenirs of a visit to this remote region. We will visit Trashiyangtse Dzong, which overlooks the town and was built in the late 1990s when the new district was created. If time permits, we will also visit the dazzling white stupa of Chorten Kora on the riverbank below the town, and the nearby Institute for Zorig Chusum, where students are trained in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts. In the evening we return to Trashigang. Dinner and overnight at the lodge in Trashigang.
Day 12: Trashigang – Samdrup Jongkhar
The Trashigang – Samdrup Jongkhar road was completed in 1965, and the journey down it to the Indian border takes about 6 hours. Along the way, we pass by Sherubtse College in Kanglung, which was founded in 1978 and is a degree-granting institution affiliated to the University of Delhi. We also visit the nearby Zangtho Pelri temple representing Guru Rinpoche’s paradise, built in 1978 by the late Minister of Home Affairs. We then drive on to Khaling, home of the National Institute for the Disabled and the Weaving Centre. Visits to these may be arranged by prior request only, before leaving Thimphu. From here, it is a further 80 km. to Deothang, which is remembered in history as the site of a famous 19th century battle fought during the Duar Wars, in which the forces of Jigme Namgyal defeated the British. The road then descends fairly rapidly to the plains through dense tropical forest with an abundance of teak, bamboo and ferns. Overnight at the lodge in Samdrup Jongkhar.
Day 13: Samdrup Jongkhar – Guwahati