Arrive Paro – Thimphu (L/D)
Welcome to Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Upon arrival meet your guide and transfer to Thimphu (about 2hrs drive).
Sangaygang - Drive about 15 minutes from the main city to a hillock where the Bhutan Broad Casting Tower is stationed. From there you can relish the beautiful scene of the whole of Thimphu City. On the way up or down from the hillock, you can also see Takin the national animal of Bhutan. It is a place where many Bhutanese frequent, especially on weekend.
Buddha Point - at Kuensel Phodrang will also be open to tourists once it is completed. The 169 feet bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma , Vajra Throne Buddha symbolising indestructibility will be completed soon. The Buddha statue itself is competed awaiting paintings, but visitors can drive up to the Buddha point and view the tallest statue of Lord Buddha. The view of Thimphu valley from the Buddha point is spectacular and beautiful, especially at night.
Thimphu Dzong - the largest Dzong, is also the seat of the office of the King of Bhutan. Visit the Archery Ground on the weekend.
National Memorial Chorten - which was built in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk.
Centenary Farmers' Market - Every Saturday and Sunday most of the Thimphu population congregate on the banks of the river where the weekend market is held. Here villagers from the valley and other nearby places come to sell their agriculture products.
Thimphu – Punakha (B/L/D)
Drive to Punakha via Dochula pass (3050m). On a clear day there is a superb view from here of Bhutan Himalayan range including the highest peak, Gangkar Puensum, 7440m.
Thimphu Dzong - the largest Dzong, is also the seat of the office of the King of Bhutan.
Dochula Pass - the 108 chortens was built by the present Queen Mother of Bhutan Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over indian militants and to liberate of the souls lost.
Punakha Dzong - Built in 1637, the dzong continues to be the winter home for the clergy, headed by the Chief Abbott, the Je Khenpo. It is a stunning example of Bhutanese architecture, sitting at the fork of two rivers, portraying the image of a medieval city from a distance. The dzong was destroyed by fire and glacial floods over the years but has been carefully restored and is, today, a fine example of Bhutanese craftsmanship.
Chhimi Lhakhang - A 20 minutes walk across terraced fields through the village of Sopsokha from the roadside to the small temple located on a hillock in the centre of the valley below Metshina. Ngawang Chogyel built the temple in 15th century after the ’divine Madman’ Drukpa Kuenlay built a small chorten there. It is a pilgrim site for barren women.
Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten - Built by the third Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon wangchuck this Chorten is a slpendid example of of the Bhutanese architecture and art and is the only one of its kind in the world. It has been built over eight and a half years and its details have been drawan from religious scripture.
Punakha – Bumthang (B/L/D)
In the morning, we would start our drive to Central Bhutan. Before we start we will pay a visit to Chhimi Lhakhang - A 20 minutes walk across terraced fields through the village of Sopsokha from the roadside to the small temple located on a hillock in the centre of the valley below Metshina. Ngawang Chogyel built the temple in 15th century after the ’Divine Madman’ Drukpa Kuenlay built a small chorten there. It is a pilgrim site for barren women.
Passing Wangdue, one of the major towns and district capital of Western Bhutan. Located south of Punakha, Wangdue is the last town before central Bhutan. The district is famous for its fine bamboo work and its slate and stone carving. We will pause to view the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong. Built in 1638, Wangdue Dzong is dramatically perched on the spur of a hill and overlooks the confluence of the Tsang Chu and Dang Chu rivers.
This is one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heartland of Buddhism in Bhutan. It is an area with a wide variety of fauna and flora. The Guru Rinpoche and his lineage of Tertons (treasure finders) making Bumthang his home have led to more than 40 temples being built in this peaceful valley.
In the morning, we will hike to the Tamshing Goemba, built in 1501 by the Buddhist saint Pema Lingpa. We will also visit Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the most sacred monasteries in Bhutan. Built by the Guru Rinpoche in 1652, it houses a rock with his body imprint. Legend has it that Guru Rimpoche manifested as a Garuda to defeat the demon Shelging Karpo who had taken the form of a white lion.
We will also visit Jambay Lhakhang, built in 659 by Tibetan King Sontsen Gampo to pin down a demoness who was obstructing the spread of Buddhism. Come October, the Jambay Lhakhang Drup is one of the most colourful festivals in Bhutan.
Jakar Dzong - pitched on a high ground overlooking the town junction, it was built as monastery in 1549 by the great grandfather of the Zhabdrung. It is now used as the administrative center for Bumthang district
In the afternoon, we will hike up to Thangbi Valley, crossing a suspension bridge to visit the Thangbi Lhakhang built in the 14th century via an unpaved road.
Trek Bumthang - Ngang Lhakhang (B/L/D)
14 Km, 3-4 hours. Alt 2900m
The trek route follows the Chamkhar Chu (river), taking us through meadows, forests of blue pine and scrub bamboo. We will pass by many villages and temples, on this very relaxing and easy day.
Overnight in camp.
Trek Nang Lhakhang - Ugyencholing (B/L/D)
19 Km, 7-8 hours. Alt 2670m.
The trail ascends gradually through juniper forest towards Phephe La (3360m). From there, the path descends to Tang valley, finally arriving at Ugyencholing village (2850). Camp overnight by the side of the river near village.
Trek Ugyencholing - Bumthang (B/L/D)
11Km, 4 hours.
In the morning, walk up to Ugyencholing Palace, a beautiful private mansion which also houses a small eco- museum, then drive to Jakar (Bumthang) following the Tang Chu until arriving at the main road. On the way visit the Burning Lake, where Terton (treasure discoverer) Pema Lingpa is said to have discovered religious treasures in the 15th century. This lake is very sacred, and on auspicious days many Bhutanese people go there to make butter lamp offering. Overnight in hotel.
Bumthang - Gangtey (B/L/D)
On route to Gangtey is Trongsa, the ancestral home of the ruling dynasty.
Trongsa, literally "New Town" in the Dzongkha language, is where the current monarchy had its origin in Bhutan. Each King in the line of succession has held the post of Trongsa Penlop or Governor before donning the Raven Crown.
Trongsa Dzong - The foundations of Trongsa Dzong were laid in the 16th century by by Pema Lingpa. The Dzong flourished during the 17th century under Shabdrung Ngwang Namgyal. With its massive structure, its wall looming high above the winding Mangde Chu Valley, the Dzong commands the east-west road.
Taa Dzong - Built as a watch tower the Taa Dzong has since been turned into a Heritage Museum. A book on this prominent Dzong is written by Christian Schicklgruber entitled The Tower of Trongsa, Religion and Power in Bhutan..
Gangtey - Paro (B/L/D)
The valley of Phobjikhais well known as the winter home of the Black necked crane (Grus Nigricollis). Bhutan is home to around six hundred black necked cranes with Phobjikha being one of the popular places that the birds migrate to in the winter months from the Tibetan plateau. The elegant and shy birds can be observed from early November to end of March.
Another significant landmark in Phobjikha is the famous Gangtey Gompa monastery. This is an old monastery that dates back to 17th century.
Paro Valley - The beautiful valley is home to many of Bhutan's old monasteries and temples. The country's only Airport is in Paro. The valley is also home to mount Chomolhari (7,300 meters) situated at the northern end of the valley whose glacier water forms the Pachu flowing through the valley. The following are some of the prominent places to visit in Paro.
Ta Dzong - Built as a watch tower the Ta Dzong has since been turned into the national museum.
Drukgyal Dzong - A morning drive, north of Paro valley brings us to the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong. Built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the Dzong was destroyed by an accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate.Explore the ramparts and relive the memories of a glorious past.
Drakhapo Monastery Trek - located above Shaba Villave between Paro and the capital, Thimphu, is Drakhapo. The main temple of the monastery complex is a staggering sight, perched on the edge of a rock cliff dotted with caves. To get acclimatized, we walk towards the monastery which hosts a small community of monks. While there are various sites that are not to be missed, it is the visit to the underground caves that leaves the greatest impression. One of these caves has a small ladder for the not-so-faint-hearted to climb down into a large cavern that soon turns into a very narrow crevasse. If there is a trip that takes you deep into the belly of Bhutan and its ancient Buddhist culture, then this is it.
Paro Dzong - also known as Rinpung Dzong, this 15th century massive fortress/monastery, is also the administrative center of the dzonkhag.
Paro – Tiger Nest Hike (B/L/D)
Taktsang Monastery – is a prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and temple complex located on the cliff side of Paro Valley. According to legends, it is believed that Guru Rinpochhe flew to this location from Tibet on the back of a Tigress (his consort Yeshey Tshogyal) and meditated in one of the caves. Guru Rinpochhe performed meditation and emerged in eight manifestations and the place became holy. Thus gaining the name tigers nest.
Lunch at Taktsang while enjoying the view of the monastery as well as the view of the valley below
Kyichu Lhakhang – is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. Just like the Jambhay Lhakhang in Bumthang, it is one of the 108 temples built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo to suddue and pin down an ogress that was obstructing the spread of Buddhism. According to legend, all 108 temples were built in a single night.
Depart Paro (B)
Today we bid fond farewell to this beautiful country.