7-Day Cultural Holiday in Bhutan
Day 1: Arrival in PARO and then drive to Thimphu (Aprox. 2hrs)
Flight into Paro with Druk Air, Bhutan’s national Airline is spectacular. While onboard you will enjoy views of the great Himalayas, offering most beautiful scenery of the world’s highest peaks. As you approach Paro valley, you will see the Paro Dzong on the hillside overlooking the Paro Chu, with Ta Dzong, a former watch tower and now National Museum, above it. On arrival you will be met by our representative and drive to Thimphu.
On your first stop on the way, you will see the magnificent view of Tachocho Lhakhang, the hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s Iron Bridge Builder. Further drive you will reach Chuzom marked by the confluence of Paro Chu (river) and the Wang chu.
At the confluence, there are three protecting stupas each built in a different style. In the evening explore the market and interact with the local people and window shop if you wish. Spend the night at hotel in Thimphu.
Day 2: Tour of the capital city, Thimphu (2320m)
Today’s exploration of Thimphu begins with a visit to National Memorial Chorten, a stupa built in memory of the Third King of Bhutan as well as for world peace. Then visit the National Library; the National Institute of Zorig Chusum where students undergo training course in Bhutan’s thirteen traditional arts and crafts; Folk Heritage Museum which will provide an insight into traditional Bhutanese farm house and rural past through exhibits and documentation of rural life.
After lunch visit Changangkha Lhakhang, a temple located on a ridge above Thimphu city. Drive to Taken Preserve to see the rare national animal of Bhutan. A further drive towards the BBS tower will provide a bird’s eye view of the capital followed by visit to the nunnery temple and later visit Tashichho Dzong which is Bhutan’s administration and religious centre and houses the throne room of His Majesty the King of Bhutan and other Government offices. It also serves as the summer residence of Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot of Bhutan. Spend the nights at hotel, Thimphu.
Day 3: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA (1300m) Approx. 3 hrs drive
Your day begins with drive towards east to Punakha through some of the Kingdom’s richest agricultural land and most dramatic river valleys. At the first stop, you have an opportunity to hike up to Hongtsho Goemba and view the stunning 15th century wall paintings before heading over Dochu La, (3050m). On this pass, you can see snow-clad eastern Himalayan ranges if the sky is clear. The beauty is further enhanced by the Druk Wangyal Chorten – 108 stupas built by the eldest Royal Queen Mother. Once you cross the pass, you will see the change in landscape and vegetation and takes you into a warm fertile valley.
On the way, you will stop at Mitsina village and visit Chimi Lhakhang, the auspicious fertility monastery dedicated to Divine Madman, and it will take about 20minutes walk through the rice fields.
After lunch visit Punakha Dzong which stands majestically between the two rivers- Pho Chu and Mo chu. The Dzong considered the most beautiful dzong in Bhutan has a marvelous structure with intense artwork, and serves as the winter residence of the Je khenpo (chief abbot). This is the second dzong built in Bhutan by Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel in the year 1637. You will spend the night in Punakha.
Day 4: PUNAKHA – THIMPHU
Here, you will enjoy a drive north of Punakha Valley along Mo Chu and then hike up to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, which serves as an example of unique Bhutanese architecture and art. In the evening you will drive back to Thimphu. On the drive back, you will take a detour drive of 30 minutes to Wangdue and visit the Wangduphodrang Dzong (in ruins after tragic fire burnt it down in 2012, but still see it), 17th century monument overlooking the typical village of Rinchengang.
You will stop at Dochu La pass again for lunch and visit Druk Wangyal Lhakhang, where the past and future appear to merge in the details an tells the story of a supreme warrior figure whose vision pierces the distant future. Further down, you will visit Semtokaha Dzong, the oldest fortress in the Kingdom that stands on a lofty ridge in Thimphu. Stay at hotel in Thimphu.
Day 5: Hiking in Thimphu
Today you will drive north of the capital city for a short hike about an hour to the 17th century Tango monastery. It serves as a school of higher learning for graduate monks and where they practice three years meditation. It is also a very important pilgrimage site for Bhutanese Buddhists. After the visit to the monastery, the return walk to the town will be along the ancient route taken by Zhabdrung on his journey to Thimphu. Travelling through the countryside, you will enjoy Bhutanese villages and spectacular scenery. The route is dotted with Bhutanese-Tibetan settlements and paddy fields.
On this hike down, you will visit of the school for the thirteen Bhutanese arts and crafts run by a private entrepreneur. You will also see some ancient ruins before you arrive at Pangrizampa. On the drive back, you will also catch a glimpse of the 4th King’s Palace hidden in the pine forest from the road. It is possible you may witness an archery game, Bhutan’s national game in Changlimithang. Spend the night in Thimphu.
Day 6: Hike to the famous Tiger's Nest, Taktshang
Today, your day starts with a drive back to the Paro valley and take a stunning hike on foot to visit the Taktshang, the Tiger’s Nest. The hike to Taktshang from the end of the road will take you through the well maintained uphill path. It takes approx. 3-4 hours at an average walking speed. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees adorned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. You can stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang cafeteria.This mysterous monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff, which plunges 900 meters into the valley below. According to the legend, Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic master who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD, flew here on the back of a flying tiger Dorji Drolo. On way back, you will visit the auspicious Kyichu Lhakhang, a scared monument pinning down the left foot of a treacherous ogress, which is built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan king Songsen Gampo. This Monastery is one of the 108 monasteries built across the Himalayan region by the Tibetan King to subdue the Demoness that lay across the Himalayan region. The rest of the monasteries lie in other neighboring countries. You will also visit Drugyel Dzong which served as strategic vantage point for numerous defeat of invading Tibetan armies. From here, you will enjoy a spectacular view of Mt. Jomolhari (7314m) provided the weather is clear. In the afternoon, drive to the beautiful valley and visit Ta-Dzong. Since 1960s, it serves as the National Musuem. This 7-floor museum highlights various aspects of Bhutanese culture and history dating back to the 7th century. Then, take a short walk downhill to the Rinpung Dzong which serves as the administrative center and school for monks, and walk further down crossing the traditional bridge into Paro Town. Enjoy your last night of stay in Bhutan here in Paro.
Day 7: Departure from Paro
Early morning, our representative will drive you to the Paro International airport, assists with exit formalities and bid farewell.