Culture and Naure Excursion in Bhutan-13 days
Day 01: Arrival in Paro Intl Airport by Druk Air
If the day is clear, the flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular of all flights you have taken. Depending on the daily route, whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over foothills from Kolkatta, the this flight offers you wonderful views of the Himalayas and finally an exciting descent into the Kingdom.
On arrival at Paro international airport, you will go through immigration and custom formalities and then will be welcomed by our representative and transfer to the hotel. In the evening you can explore around town's main street. Spend the night at the hotel in Paro.
Day 2 : Explore Paro, the airport city
After breakfast, your day begins with a visit to Ta Dzong, a former watchtower and now serves as the National Museum. The museum houses ancient Bhutanese art and artifacts, weapons, coins, stamps and a small natural history collection. Then walk down a hillside trail to visit Paro Rinpung Dzong located at a commanding height overlooking Paro valley. Like many dzongs in Bhutan, it was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646, and it now houses Paro district's monk body and the offices of the civil administration.
In the afternoon you will visit Drukgyel Dzong, the ruined fortress from where Bhutanese repelled several Tibetan invasion. You can also visit a traditional farm house which offers good insight into lifestyle of local people.
Later in the evening, visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 03: Paro to Thimphu (Drive of 1 1/2 hrs)
After breakfast in Paro, drive to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. Enroute stop at Chuzom or confluence where Paro river meets Thimphu river. Just before entering the capital city, visit Simtokha Dzong, the first dzong built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.
In the afternoon, visit the National Memorial Chhorten which was built in the memory of third king of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is considered the father of modern Bhutan. Later visit Trashichhodzong, a beautiful medieval fortress which houses the King's Throne Room, Central Monastic Body and Government Offices.
You will also visit Handicrafts Emporium, Textile and Folk Heritage Museum followed by visit to local market. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 04: Thimphu / Punakha (75 km, 2 1/2 hrs)
In the morning, visit the National Library, Painting School and Traditional Medicine Institute. Your guide will provide details.
After lunch, drive to Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan. On the way, stop at Dochula pass (3,050m) that provides the most enchanting views of Bhutan. It is a hot spot for some great shots if the weather is clear.
On arrival, check into the hotel. In the evening visit Punakha Dzong, the fortress of 17th century and later visit Khamsm Yulley Namgyal Chhorten.
Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 05: Punakha / Wangduephodrang / Gangtey (70 km, 3 hrs)
After breakfast drive to Gangtey via Wangduephodrang. Visit majestic Wangdue Dzong (which unfortunately was burnt down in 2012) and interesting local market.
As your journey continues, you will pass through dense forests and oak, rhododendron tress, reaching at Gangtey (Phobjikha).
Evening take a walk around Gangtey village and visit Gangtey Gompa, the only Nyingmapa monastery in this region. Overnight at Camp / Guest House.
Day 06: Gangtey / Trongsa (120 km, 4 1/2 hrs)
In the morning you will have opportunity to explore Phobjikha valley which is famous for Black Necked Cranes. The cranes migrate here from Central Tibetan Plateau to escape its harsh winters and enjoy the milder weather of the kingdom.
After lunch your drive continues to Trongsa crossing 3,300m high Pele la pass. Evening visit Trongsa market. You will notice how locals in this region differ from those in the districts you already visited. Overnight at the lodge in Trongsa.
Day 07: Trongsa / Bumthang (68 km, 3 hrs)
Morning visit Trongsa Dzong, the master piece of Bhutanese architecture and Ta Dzong, the watch tower which was built to defend this Dzong and surrounding region.
After lunch, proceed to Bumthang, the religious heartland of the nation. Dinner and overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.
Day 8: Bumthang, a sacred destination
Bumthang is the general name given to combination of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitude varying from 2,600m to 4,000m. It is home to many of prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries.Visit Tamshing Lhakhang, the treasure house of interesting religious Buddhist paintings. Then visit, Jakar Dzong, the administrative centre of the valley. In the afternoon visit Kurje Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places. Later visit Jambay Lhakhang, the ancient monastery dating back to the era when Buddhism was first introduced in the kingdom. Evening visit local shops. Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.
Day 9: Bumthang (Excursion to Ura valley)
Bumthang to Ura is 48 km, about one and a half hour drive. To get there, the road climbs to amazingly open and beautiful countryside occasionally running into forest. The route crosses Ura la pass (3,600m) with a magnificent view of Mt. Gangkhar Puensum. Villages in Ura have clustered houses, which is quite unusual in Bhutan. Above Ura village (3,100m) is a new temple dedicated to Guru Rinpoche. Inaugurated in 1986, it contains a huge statue of the master and remarkable paintings of the cycle of his teachings. In the last 25 years, Ura has been transformed from a marginal community to prosperous valley. Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.
Day 10: Bumthang / Wangduephodrang (205 km, 7 hrs)
In the morning , visit Bumthang market and then drive back to Wangdue. Lunch would be served enroute at one of the famous restaurant in Trongsa town. You can explore the Wangdue town more in the evening and visit shops, local market and interact with local people. Overnight at the hotel in Wangduephodrang.
Day 11: Wangduephodrang / Paro (77 km, 3 hrs)
Morning excursion to Chimi Lhakhang, situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley. It is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who in the late 15th century used humour, songs and outrageous behaviour to dramatise his teachings. He is famously known as "the Divine Madman". This temple is also known as the temple of fertility. It is widely believed that couples who do not have children and wanting one, if they pray at this temple with true heart, they are usually blessed with a child very soon. It takes roughly 30 minute by walk from the road to the temple. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning 'field'. It then follows a tiny stream downhill to Yoaka and across more fields before making a short climb to Chimi Lhakhang. After that, drive back to Paro for the night.
Day 12: Paro (Excursion to Haa valley)
Today your day starts early with a drive to Haa via Chele-la pass. After about 4-Km drive at Bondey village the road to Haa diverts towards the right hand side and the climb up towards the chele-la pass. After driving through blue pine & rhododendron forest for 45 km, reach Chele-la pass ( 4200 meters). From this point one can have a superb views of Mt. Chomolhari & Mt. Jichu Drakey, some the highest peaks in the country. This is a very good place to walk around for few minutes enjoying the view. Drive on to Haa, descending all the way for another 22 km (under an hours drive), finally reaching Haa. After picnic lunch visit the famous Monastery Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple) followed by visit to Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple). The central shrine in Lhakhang Nagpo is said to have no difference with that of Lhasa JOWO in Tibet. The construction of the Lakhang Karpo is believed to have been assisted by the locality. As a result the place came to be locally known as 'Hay' meaning' surprise' which later became 'Haa' due to the differences in interpretations and pronunciations of different people over time.The three giant hills looming over the fringes of Haa valley were called 'Me Rig Puen Sum' especially after the incidence of the Lhakhang Karpo construction. Today the three hills are popularly known as 'Rig Sum Goenpa' signifying three deities-Jambayang Chana Dorji and Chenrizig. Later, other Buddhist saints like Guru Rinpoche and 'Machi Labdorn' came to the Jungney Drag in Haa and blessed the locality. The principal religion followed is Drukpa Kagyud. After the arrival of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the chief guardian deity of Haa became Ap Chundu. Later in the afternoon drive back to Paro via same route as in the morning. The drive will be under 3 hours. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 13: Departure from Paro
After breakfast our representative will drop you off to the airport and assist with exit formalities. Once that is done, he/she will bid farewell to you.