Day 1: PARO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – THIMPHU (L/D)
Upon arrival at the Paro International airport, you will be met and warmly welcomed by your guide before transferring to your hotel in Thimphu.
Before proceeding to Thimphu, visit Ta-Dzong (built in 1656 and renovated in 1968), an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. Below the museum is the Rinpung Dzong (literally meaning “Heap of Jewels”), the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley, built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.
After lunch at the Hotel Zhiwaling, drive through to Thimphu. The drive along a winding road by the Paro Chu (Chu means water or river) downstream to the confluence with the Wang Chu, then turn upstream along the Wang Chu to Thimphu, Bhutan’s scenically located capital city, takes about an hour.
In the evening, visit the Tashichho Dzong, the seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body which includes the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan).
Welcome dinner and overnight at the deluxe Amankora Resort in Thimphu.
Day 2: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA (B/L/D)
After breakfast, drive to Punakha via the Dochula Pass (3140m). On the way stop to see the spectacular array of Druk Wangyal chortens, to enjoy the superb view over the snow capped Himalayan Mountains and also to the Gasa Dzong at a distance if the weather is clear.
After lunch, take a leisurely walk for about 25 minutes along the beautiful terraced farmlands and farm houses to visit the Chimi Lhakhang, which was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley (the Devine Madman) in the 15th century. He subdued the demoness with his “Magical Thunder bolt”. The Temple is also known as “the Temple of Fertility”.
Then visit the Punakha Dzong. This impressive dzong lies between two great rivers. The names of the rivers are Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). This Dzong serves as the winter residence for the Je Khenpo, Chief Abbot of the Central Monastic Body and also the office of the district Administration.
Dinner and overnight at the luxury Dhensa Resort in Punakha.
Day 3: PUNAKHA – GANGTEY IN THE PHOBJIKHA VALLEY (B/L/D)
After an early breakfast, drive about 7 km from Punakha and cross the suspension bridge over the Mochu River before walking approximately 30-45 minutes to the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten (Stupa) which is perched on a strategic ridge overlooking the nearby villages under Kabisa geog. It was built under the sponsorship of Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangden Wangchuck to remove evil forces and promote peace, stability and harmony throughout the world. As the first of its kind in the world to have been constructed, the details and the architectural designs were drawn from scriptures as visualized by Dudjom Lingpa.
After lunch, drive through to Gangtey via Wangdiphodrang.
Dinner and overnight at the deluxe Amankora Resort in Gangtey.
Day 4: GANGTEY – THIMPHU (B/L/D)
After breakfast at your hotel, take a leisurely walk through Gangtey village and then along a nature trail through the Phobjikha valley. This glaciated valley on the western slopes of the Black Mountains is the winter home for a large flock of black-necked cranes. In addition to the cranes, there are also muntjacs (barking deer), wild boars, sambars, Himalayan Black bears, leopards and red foxes in the surrounding hills.
Here you may also have a chance to see Bhutanese archers playing their favourite sport. After lunch return through the mountains to Thimphu with a short stop at Wangdue Phodrang if time permits.
Dinner and overnight at the deluxe Taj Tashi hotel in Thimphu.
Day 5: THIMPHU – PARO (B/L/D)
After breakfast, drive to the National Institute of Zorig Chusum, famous for traditional thangka paintings. Here you will see students at work producing intricate design on cloth. If time permits also visit the Traditional Medicine Institute.
Upon arrival in Paro, visit the 7th century old Kyichu Lhakhang (a ten-minute drive from Paro town). The Kyichu Lhakhang is one of the oldest lhakhangs to have been built in Bhutan. It is one of the 108 lhakhangs built by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century AD. The king is said to have built 108 lhakhangs in a day throughout the Himalayan regions, of which the Kyichu lhakhang in Paro and the Jampa lhakhang in Bumthang are two. Most of the remaining lhakhangs can be seen in Tibet.
Dinner and overnight at the deluxe Uma Resort in Paro.
Day 6: TAKTSHANG MONASTRY OR TIGER’S NEST (B/L/D)
After breakfast, you will visit the Drugyal Dzong (a ruined fortress), 16 km away from Paro. Although it is now in ruins, this dzong has great historical importance for the people of Bhutan. It was a place where the Bhutanese finally defeated the Tibetan invasion. On a clear day one can view sacred Mt. Jomolhari (Mountain of Goddess).
We will then drive you to the trailhead to take a breathtaking and memorable hike through beautiful pine forest. You will stop for light refreshments at the Taktsang cafe before walking to the famous, Taktsang monastery or Tiger’s Nest. The primary Lhakhang or main temple was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in 1684 by the Penlop of Paro, Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900m into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo from Kurtoe Singye Dzong in the east.
In the afternoon, you will have an opportunity to explore the beautiful town of Paro.
Farewell dinner and overnight at the deluxe Uma Resort in Paro.
Day 7: PARO – PARO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (B)
After breakfast, drive to Paro International Airport where your guide will accompany you tol bid you farewell.
Purnima Patel –
We could have stayed 2 days in Bumthang instead of 3 days. The hotel in Bumthang was average. Bhutan Mandala Resort needs fine completion. The bathroom had a big hole above the sink. The hotel Meri Puensum was above average.
The overall trip was excellent and the guide Kencho gave his 100% attention to make us comfortable.
Mrs. B. Devani –
Most hotels were good, but some not so. Meals can be a lot better at some of the hotels especially for international tourists who pay a lot.
The quality of vehicle and the driver was excellent.