17 NIGHTS 18 DAYS -BEAUTIFUL BHUTAN TOUR
Day 01: Arrive Paro ,Paro-Thimphu
Distance: 54 km
Estimated driving time:1 hour
Arrive Paro by DrukAir.You will be received by the representative of Access Bhutan Tours and Treks who will be your Bhutan tour guide throughout your entire travel in Bhutan.
Check into the hotel. After the refreshment, visit to the National Museum, housed in the Ta Dzong (watchtower). Here an intriguing collection of artifacts provide a wonderful introduction to the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom.
Walk down to Paro Dzong, a fine example of Bhutanese historic architecture. From the Dzong, walk further down to Nyamai Zampa, a traditional cantilever bridge.
Travel to Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan. The road runs down through the Paro valley, to Chuzom (Confluence) at the entrance to the valley, where the Paro and Thimphu rivers meet. The road passes along a narrow valley with high, rocky cliffs on the left, and then the valley opens out into farmland on the approach to Thimphu. Simtokha Dzong, “the place of profound tantric teaching”, stands sentinel on a hillock a few kilometers out of town. This dzong now houses the Institute for Language and Culture Studies.Check into hotel.
Evening free after dinner. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 02 :Thimphu Tour and Sightseeing
Sightseeing in Thimphu includes visit to:
The National Library
The folk heritage museum
The School of Thangka Paintng
The Institute of TraditionalMedicine
The Memorial Chorten
The Tashichho Dzong, fortress of the glorious religion Then, visit the government-run Handicrafts Emporium and local crafts shops, to browse through examples of Bhutan’s fine traditional arts. Here you can buy hand-woven textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewelry, and other interesting items made from local materials.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 03: Thimphu Short Trekking to Tango Monastery
After breakfast, drive to the base camp of Tango Monastery and hike up to the Monastery. Tango is the center for higher studies for monks. The hike up will take approximately 45 minutes. The view from Tango Monastery is breathtaking. Drive back to Thimphu and evening free to relax /stroll around Thimphu town.
Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
In themorning, travel to Punakha (2 ½ hrs) via the Dochula pass. An hour’s drive from Thimphu will take you to this pass (3140 m) where one can have a superb view of the Eastern Himalayas on a clear day with a powerful binocular telescope. Visit the beautiful 108 chortens built on the hill by Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo for the security and well being of His Majesty the King of Bhutan.
Travel onto Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan and presently the winter residence of the central monk body. Visit the Punakha Dzong, located on the island of the Pho-Chu (male) river and the Mochu (female) river. Visit the Dho Jha Gha Lam Temple.
After lunch, walk through the Metshina Village and take a 20-minute walk through the rice fields to the Devine Madman’s Monastery-Chhimi Lhakhang, famously known for its fertility shrine, where one can receive a special fertility blessing. Drive to Wangdue and visit Wangdue Dzong, situated on a ridge overlooking a river junction. In the 17th century, Wangdue played a critical role in unifying the western, central and southern regions of the country. Overnight at hotel in Wangdue.
Day 05:Wangdue – Trongsa -Bumthang
Drive to Trongsa via Pele la pass at an altitude of 3,150 metres, a wonderful opportunity for photographs. Stop over at Trongsa to visit Trongsa Dzong, which is the most impressive dzong in Bhutan. Built in 1644 by the Shabdrung, the dzong is an architectural masterpiece.
Drive to Bumthang, this is one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heartland of Buddhism. Here the great teachers meditated and left in their wake many sacred grounds. The Guru and his lineage of Tertons, treasure finders, have led to the sprouting of many temples in the valley. Visit Yatha Weaving Center, a cooperative of the National Women Association of Bhutan where the women of the region sell their textiles and Yatha specialty.
Check into hotel and overnight in Bumthang.
Day 06 :Bumthang Tour and Sightseeing
Sightseeing includes visit to the following:
Jambay Lhakhang, built in the 7th century by the King Songtsen Goempo of Tibet. In his effort to propagate Buddhism he had a plan to build a total of 108 temples in Tibet and neighboring kingdoms. Chakhar Lhakhang. Besides the main road, a short distance beyond Jambay Temple is Chakhar (Iron Castle) Lhakhang. Although it is easy to mistake it for a house and drive right by, this is an interesting temple and is worth a short visit. It is one of the 108 monasteries built by him to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region.
Kujey Lhakhang (Kujey means, “Body imprint”). The temple to the right is the oldest and was built by Minjur Tempa in 1652. It was built around the cave in which Guru Rimpoche meditated and left his body imprint.
Tamshing Lhakhang. This temple is also known as Tamshing Lhendrup Chholing (Temple of the Good Message).
Jakar Dzong, “castle of the white bird”. According to legend, when the lamas assembled in about 1549 to select a site for a monastery, a big white bird rose suddenly in the air and settled on a spur of a hill. This was interpreted as an important omen, and the hill was chosen as the site for a monastery and for Jakar Dzong. The fortress is now used as an administrative center of the valley and summer residence of Trongsa monks.
In the evening stroll around the beautiful landscape of the Bumthang Jakar valley. Dinner and overnight in Bumthang.
Day 07: Bumthang – Mongar
This Bhutan tour continues eastwards, winding through more rugged terrain. The drive, with spectacular views, will take about 6 hours. Pass through Ura village in Bumthang before climbing sharply to the highest motor road pass in the Kingdom, the Thrumshingla Pass 12,465 ft. Gradually drop down to Sengor. Watch cascading waterfalls along the way. The descent stops at 2,130 ft on a bridge over the Kurichu. Climb again through pine forest, maize fileds and eastern hamlets to Mongar town. The Mongar Dzong, built not too long ago,yet maintains the architectural traditions of the old dzongs.
Day 08: Mongar- Lhuentse-Mongar
After early breakfast,drive about 77 km to Lhuentse with a packed lunch as there are no good restaurants and hotels in Lhuentse district. Lhuentse is one of the most isolated districts in Bhutan. The landscape is spectacular with stark cliffs,gorges and dense coniferous forests. The region is notably famous for its special skills of weavers, and special textiles and fabrics.Textiles from Lhuentse is normally considered to be the best in the country. The Kurtoe region of Lhuentse is also the ancestral home of the Royal dynasty in Bhutan.
After lunch,walk to Khoma village which is famous for textile in Bhutan.Here you will see women folks weaving different types of textiles with intricate patterns.If you would like, you may also purchase textiles at a little cheaper rate than handicraft shops.
If time permits, Lhuentse Dzong: The approach to this Dzong (fort) is through a flag-stone-paved path over the vertical drops. The Dzong houses a body of 100 monks of the country. In the 16th century Pema Lingapa’s son Kunga Wangpo set up this Dzong in the form of a small Gompa. In 1654 it was renovated by the Trongsa penlop Mingyur Tenpa.
Drive back to Mongar for overnight stay
The road from Mongar to Trashigang, the eastern most region, begins through lush forests and ferns passing over the Kori La at 8,000 ft. After driving about an hour, you reach the village of Ngatshang, the site of one of the fiefdoms before unification of the nation. Descending rapidly through corn fields and banana groves, you reach Yadi village. Follow the Gamri river until the bifurcation to Drametsi. This temple, perched atop a steep hill, was founded by Nun Choden Zangmo in the 16th century. This is the place from where the famous Drametsi Nga Chham, mask dance with drums, originated. About 30 kilometres onwards lies Trashigang, at 3,775 ft. Trashigang is the center of the biggest and most populated district in the nation. View the dzong, built strategically on a spur going out towards the Gamri Chu.
After lunch, visit Khaling, it is the weaving center under women association of Bhutan,Government of Bhutan. There you can see all the process and materials involved in weaving. Drive back to Trashigang for overnight stay.
Day 10: Trashigang – Mongar
In the morning,visit Trashigang Dzong, which was built by Pekar Chopel in 1659, and the Dzong commands a remarkable view over the surrounding countryside.Then drive to Mongar, which is 3 hours journey and 90 kilometers. Check into hotel and overnight in Mongar
Day 11:Mongar – Bumthang
After breakfast,visit Mongar Dzong, built not too long ago,yet maintains the architectural traditions of the old dzongs.
Then drive back to Bumthang which will take about 7 hours, with stops for lunch and tea in nearby villages. Overnight in Bumthang
Day 12: Bumthang (hike to Tharpaling Monastery)
After breakfast, you will hike to Tharpaling Monastery. You’ll begin the hike in the morning, since this is a fairly lengthy hike–about three hours to the monastery. It’s a picturesque trail through the forest. The monastery itself is somewhat large, with several temples, and about 100 monks live in the nearby huts. From the monastery, you will have a beautiful view of Chumey Valley , and you can have a relaxing lunch while you take in the scenery. In the evening you can relax in the town. Overnight hotel in Bumthang.
Day 13:Bumthang -Trongsa with a Short excursion to Kuenga Rabten
After breakfast, drive to Trongsa, check into hotel and after refreshment ,visit Trongsa Dzong, which is the most impressive dzong in Bhutan. Built in 1644 by the Shabdrung, the dzong is an architectural masterpiece.
Afternoon,drive to Kuenga Rabten which is about 23 km from Trongsa but takes about 1 hour due to rough road conditions. It was the winter Palace for the 2nd King of Bhutan.Although, it is mostly empty with only one room occupied for the library. This palace is under Special Commission of cultural Affairs and we do not require any permit to visit the interior.
The trip from Trongsa to Kuenga Rabten will give you an intimate insight into the early days of Bhutan’s Monarchy. Beside you will see the beautiful large expanse of rice terraces in the lower Mangdu-Chu valley and as well the big waterfall before the drive back to Trongsa for overnight stay.
Day 14:Trongsa to Punakha via Phobjikha Valley
After breakfast, drive to Phobjikha valley.The valley is also the winter home to the rare black-necked cranes (Grus Nicorocolis), which migrate, from remote parts of Tibet, China and Siberia during winter to this valley.Visit Gangtey Gompa (monastery) which now houses one of the only Nyingmapa monasteries in Bhutan. Lunch at Phobjikha and after lunch drive to Punakha.Overnight at hotel in Punakha.
Day 15: Punakha-Thimphu
After breakfast, walk to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten (50 Mins) temple built by the Queen Of Bhutan for peace and stability in this ever-changing world.
Travel back to Thimphu, visiting Simtokha Dzong en route. This dzong, built in 1627, is the oldest in Bhutan. It now houses the Institute for Language and Culture Studies.
In the evening,drive to see the Takin Zoo, which houses the national animal the Takin that is only found in Bhutan. Drive further upto Sangaygang to get a bird’s eye view of the Thimphu valley in the evening. Dinner and overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
Day 16 : Thimphu to Haa valley to Paro
After early breakfast, drive to the beautiful Haa valley ( extreme North west of Bhutan).This route will take you through villages of Doga,Susuna and Jabana villages spaced apart by forested areas, visiting typical Bhutanese farmhouses along the way and taste local wine and traditional butter tea. You will see villagers at work in their fields. Drive futher onto beautiful Haa valley ( which is open to tourists only 2 years ago)and Lunch at Haa.
Afternoon,visit two famous monasteries, Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple) and Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple) The central shrine in Lhakhang Nagpo is said to be almost identical to that of the Jowo temple in Lhasa. Legend has it that local deities assisted in the construction of Lhakhang Karpo. As a result, the place came to be locally known as Hay (meaning surprise) which later became Haa due to varying interpretations and pronunciations over time.
The three giant hills looming over the fringes of Haa valley were called Me Rig Puen Sum especially after the event of the Lhakhang Karpo construction. Today the three hills are popularly known as RigSum Gonpa signifying three deities, Jambayang, Chana Dorji and Chenrezig (known in Sanskrit as Manjushri, Varjapani and Avalokiteshvara, respectively). These are the three principal bodhisattvas (Buddhas to be) among the thousand future Buddhas to come, and representations of them are to be found in every Lhakhang (temple) and household shrine room.
Later, other Buddhist saints like Guru Rinpoche and Machi Labdorn came to this place, Jungney Drag, in Haa and blessed the locality. After Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal unified the country under the Drukpa Kagyupa sect of Mahayana Buddhism in the early 17th century, the chief guardian deity of Haa became Ap Chundu.
After that,drive to Paro through Chele-la (3,810m/12,573ft), On a clear day there is a superb view of Mts. Chomolhari and Jichu Drake from this point, so if the weather is favorable we will stop here briefly to stroll around and enjoy the lovely mountain scenery.Then drive through blue pine & rhododendron forest towards paro valley.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 17: Paro Excursion to Taktsang
After breakfast, take a morning hike up to Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest. The climb up to the viewpoint will take around 3 hours and from there you will enjoy a spectacular view of the monastery clinging to the side of the cliff. It is said that in the 8th century Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress from eastern Bhutan to this place and meditated in a cave here for 3 months. There have been shrines at this sacred place for many centuries. The principal Lhakhang (monastery) of the present monastic complex dates from 1692. Taktsang was damaged severely by fire in 1998 but has now been fully restored to its former beauty. After lunch at the viewpoint cafeteria, walk back down to the road and drive back to the hotel.On the way back, visit Kichu temple,one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demon lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on all the points of her body. Of these 108 temples, 12 were built in accordance with precise plans. Thus, it happened that in about the year AD 638 the temple of Jokhang in Lhasa was built over the very heart of the demon.
Day 18: Paro – Departure
Access Bhutan Tours & Treks, a Bhutan Travel Agent will see you off at the Paro Airport for your onward destinations.