This journey takes you to four distinctly different, as well as breathtakingly beautiful valleys with lush green paddy fields, incredulous fortress-like monasteries known as Dzongs and majestically flowing rivers.
Day 1: Arrival, Paro valley sightseeing, o/n Paro
Day 2: Paro sightseeing, o/n Paro
Day 3: Drive to Thimphu, o/n Thimphu
Day 4: Drive to Punakha, o/n Punakha
Day 5: Drive to Wangdue Phodrang
Day 6: Drive to Paro, o/n Paro
Day 7: Departure
DAY 1: Arrival
Kuzuzangpola – Welcome to Bhutan!
The flight to Paro is an experience like no other.
During the journey, you will get inspiringly beautiful glimpses of some of the world’s most famous Himalayan peaks.
At the airport, our staff will welcome you and escort you to your hotel. Check in and begin the sightseeing with the Ta-Dzong, the National Museum (closed on Sundays and Mondays, and government holidays). The Ta-Dzong was originally the watchtower for the Paro Dzong and stands imposingly on a hillock overlooking the Paro valley. A short visit here will give you an idea of the cultural and ecological richness of Bhutan.
Ramble down to visit the Paro Rinpung Dzong, which means,“the fortress of the heap of jewels,” and then to Dungtse Lhakhang by crossing Namai Zampa (a traditional cantilever bridge).
The Dungtse Lhakhang is conceived as a ‘mandala’ with the different floors corresponding to different levels of initiation and has a remarkable collection of some of Bhutan’s most interesting paintings.
Overnight: Hotel in Paro.
DAY 2: Paro sightseeing
The main highlight of the day is the hike to one of Bhutan’s most venerated pilgrimage sites, the Taktsang Goemba, commonly referred to as the “Tiger’s Nest.”
According to legend, Guru Rinpoche miraculously flew here on the back of a tigress, meditated in a cave here for three months and converted the whole of Paro valley to Buddhism. Resting at an altitude of 900 meters above the valley, Taktsang is an architectural wonder and the spectacular four hour walk will be your most overwhelming experience ever!
Drive on to visit Drukgyel Dzong (the ruined fortress about 17 km from the town), built in 1647 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetans in 1644. Drukgyel means “the fortress of the victorious Drukpas”. The Dzong, with a delightful village nestling at its foot and Mount Jomolhari (Alt 24,000 feet) appearing as a backdrop on a fine weather is an awe-inspiring sight.
Overnight: Hotel in Paro.
DAY 3: Drive to Thimphu, Drive ~45 minutes
On the way, visit the Semtokha Dzong, the oldest Dzong in Bhutan. Today this Dzong houses the Institute for Language and Culture and also the school for the monks.
Visit the Memorial Chorten and the Changangkha Temple. Then visit the Folk Heritage Museum and the Handicrafts Emporium.
Visit the post office in town to see/buy a wondrous collection of Bhutanese stamps and postcards.
Also visit the Paper factory and the Textile museum. Drive up to the BBS (Bhutan Broadcasting Service) tower viewpoint and enjoy the stunning view of the entire Thimphu town. On the drive back, stop at the Takin Zoo (Takin is the national animal of Bhutan) and drive to Tashichhodzong, also known as the “fortress of the glorious religion”. It is a majestic fortress in all its grandeur and serves as the seat of Bhutan’s government. The Dzong houses the secretariat, the throne room, the offices of His Majesty the King and the ministries of home affairs and finance. On the drive back, you will pass the only golf course in the country.
If time permits, also visit the Zilukha Monastery, which is the only nunnery in the country with about 80 nuns studying and performing pujas.
Overnight: Hotel in Thimphu
DAY 4: Drive to Punakha (~3 hours’ drive)
On the way, stop in Dochula, a beautiful mountain pass (alt 3,140 m) with its fluttering prayer flags and a spectacular set of 108 miniature chortens (stupas). On a clear day, you will get awe-inspiring glimpses of the towering Himalayan peaks around.
Lunch at the Dochula cafeteria. The remaining part of the drive is mostly a gradual descent into Punakha valley. Check into your hotel and begin sightseeing.
Start with the Punakha Dzong, strategically built between two rivers, the Phochu (Male River) and the Mochu (Female River). The Punakha Dzong is currently the winter residence of the Je-Khenpo (the religious leader of Bhutan).
This is followed by an evening hike to Khamsum Yule Namgyel Chorten, a shrine built by the Queen Mother of Bhutan. It’s a brief 30-40 minutes’ walk uphill through terraces of paddy fields, chilly plantations, etc.
Overnight: Hotel in Punakha
DAY 5: Punakha – Wangdue Phodrang (~45 minutes’ drive)
Visit Chimi Lhakhang in the village of Lobesa (~20 minutes from Punakha), the auspicious fertility temple built by the famous divine madman, Drukpa Kinley. It’s a beautiful 30 minute walk amidst paddy fields and typical Bhutanese houses. Stop at some of the local village homes here to get a feel of the traditional Bhutanese way of living.
The temple is beautifully perched on a small hilltop overlooking the entire village.
Take a drive to the small town of Wangdue Phodrang. Right before arriving Wangdue Phodrang, you will catch a glimpse of the very distinctive Rinchengang village whose inhabitants are all celebrated stonemasons.
Overnight: Hotel in Wangdue or Punakha
DAY 6: Punakha to Paro, (~4 hours’ drive)
After a leisurely breakfast, visit the Rinchengang village in Wangdue Phodrang (About 30 – 40 minutes’ drive from Punakha). This is a very interesting village where all the houses are clustered close to each other like the villages in Tibet. You can also visit and explore some local farm houses here.
After lunch, drive to Paro. Visit the Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. The Lhakhang was built in the 13th century by the famous Buddhist Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo.
Stroll through Paro town in the evening.
DAY 7: International departure
Our package includes:
1. Accommodation in the best standard hotels available on twin sharing basis
2. All meals and evening tea
3. All transfers and sightseeing as per itinerary (itinerary is flexible)
4. Private English speaking tour guide
5. All fees (visa, entrance fees…)
6. Private car and driver