Your guide and driver will pick you up from the airport and take you to your hotel. After check-in at the hotel, you will go for sightseeing around Thimphu. You will visit the National Memorial Chorten, Royal Textile Academy and the Bhutan Postal Museum.
National Memorial Chorten:
Located in the center of Thimphu town and is one of the most important monuments. You will see elderly Bhutanese people circumambulating the Chorten throughout the day. They start as early as 3 A.M in the morning. This Chorten was built in 1974 as a memorial to the Third King. The Chorten is an extraordinary example of Buddhist architecture and artwork with its gorgeous paintings and intricate sculptures.
Royal Textile Academy:
Weaving is an integral component of the culture and tradition of Bhutan. To preserve and promote this living art, the Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan was instituted in May 2005 under the patronage of Her Majesty the Royal Queen Mother. It is established as an educational center for the training of individuals in the traditional art of weaving, thereby preserving and promoting the unique textile arts of Bhutan. You can also visit the only Textile Museum in the country at Royal Textile Academy.
Bhutan Postal Museum:
The postal museum captures the story of the evolution of communication, transportation and postal services in Bhutan. The story is told through a collection of various anecdotes, artifacts and a rich assortment of stamps, Bhutan has produced over the years. At the museum shop, tourists are not only able to purchase Bhutanese stamps, but they can also produce personalized stamps featuring their portraits set against Bhutan’s iconic Tiger’s Nest Monastery (Taktsang)
Today, after breakfast you will drive to visit the Buddha Dordenma. From there you will hike the Kuensel Phodrang trail. in the afternoon, you will visit the takin preserve center and Centenary farmers market.
The Buddha Dordenma is located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and overlooks the Southern entrance to Thimphu Valley. The statue fulfils an ancient prophecy dating back to the 8th century A.D and is said to emanate an aura of peace and happiness to the entire world. This massive statue of Shakyamuni measures in at a height of 51.5 m, making it one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world.
Kuensel Phodrang Trail:
A 7 km trail with 2 hours of hiking is one of the most popular trails for locals in the capital. It starts from the park near the Buddha Dordenma and takes you through the mixed forests of blue pine, oak and rhododendrons with a spectacular view of the Thimphu city. It was initially intended to be an off-road cycling trail, a part of the 60 km cycling trail around Thimphu city which was constructed in 2016 to commemorate the 60th birth anniversary of the fourth king, but now it’s a popular weekend hiking trail amongst the locals. At the end of this trail, you can also visit Nado Poizokhang (hand-made incense manufacturer)
Centenary Farmers Market:
Located below the main town, Thimphu’s weekend market is by far the largest domestic market for farmers in Bhutan. Farmers come from all over the country to sell their farm products in the market. Vendors starts arriving on Thursday and remain till Sunday night. The best time to explore the market is within these three days when the locals come to buy the produce. It is also a great way to get acquainted with the locals and learn about the ingredients of a Bhutanese diet.
Today you will be transferred to Punakha (2 hours’ drive) en route stop at Dochula Pass. On the way, you will also visit Chhimi Lhakhang (Fertility Temple). After your visit to the temple, you will drive to your hotel. In the evening you will visit the magnificent Punakha Dzong
A mountain pass located on the way to Punakha from Thimphu. Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, the eldest Queen Mother of Bhutan built 108 memorial chortens known as ‘’Druk Wangyal Chorten’’ on the pass to honor the bravery and sacrifices of the fourth king and the soldiers who perished during the battle against the Assamese insurgents in 2003. It also offers a stunning view of the Himalayan range such as the Gangkar Puensum, the tallest unclimbed mountain in the world on a clear day.
Popularly known as the Fertility Temple, stands on a round hillock and was built in 1499 by Ngawang Choegyal. The Temple wasn’t the first structure on the site. It was Drukpa Kuenley, also known as the Divine Madman who first built a chorten at this site. Legends have it that the Divine Madman blessed the site for the Chhimi Lhakhang after subduing the demoness of Dochula at this particular location. He is also the saint who advocated the use of phallus symbols as paintings on walls and as flying carved wooden phalluses on house tops at four corners of the eaves. The Fertility Temple flocks with thousands of pilgrims who hope to have a child. You will have to walk for 20-30 minutes through the beautiful rice fields to reach the monastery.
Punakha Dzong is not only the second oldest and second largest dzong but it also has one of the most majestic structures in the country. It also served as the capital of the country from 1637 to 1907 and the first national assembly was hosted here in 1953. All of Bhutan’s kings have been crowned here.
The dzong is still the winter residence of the dratshang (official monk body). In addition to its structural beauty, Punakha Dzong is notable for containing the preserved remains of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the unifier of Bhutan as well as a sacred relic known as the Ranjung Kharsapani.
Today you will take a short hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten. After visiting the lhakhang, you will go rafting in the Mo Chhu. Rest of the evening at leisure.
Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten:
Was built by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck in Nyizergang, overlooking the Punakha valley. This chorten was built with a very specific intention, rather than being a place of communal worship, a monastic retreat or for a memorial purpose, it was built to provide spiritual protection, peace and harmony. As such, the chorten is filled with statues and paintings of wrathful deities. It is about 45 minutes walk along a trail that crosses a suspension bridge and then uphill to the chorten.
As a Himalayan country, Bhutan has many beautiful rivers ideal for water sports. The most popular rivers for rafting are Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu in Punakha. The Pho Chhu offers approximately 16 km course with about 15 rapids and the Mo Chhu river has a 10 km course with 10 rapids. Rafting in Mo chhu is easily accessible after your hike to Khamsum Yuelley, whereas for Pho Chhu you will have to drive for 45 minutes to the other side of the valley.
You will stop at Lawa la pass to hoist Lungdar (prayer flags). Then continue your drive to the valley. You will check in at the hotel and have lunch. After lunch, visit the Gangtey monastery and then hike the Nature trail.
Also called the Gangtey Sanga Choeling Monastery is situated atop a hill at an altitude of 2800m. It is an important monastery of Nyingmapa school of Buddhism, the main seat of the Pema Lingpa tradition. Today, the monastery is the seat for the 9th reincarnation of Terton Pema Lingpa. Gangtey is also the winter home to the endangered black-necked cranes. It is said that the bird circumambulates the monastery before settling down in the valley during each winter. The Black necked-crane festival is also held at the monastery on 11th November annually.
Gangtey Nature Trail:
A gentle two-hour trail starts near the Gangtey Monastery, considered one of the most beautiful day hikes in Bhutan. The hike takes you down to the Semchubara village. After a short walk through the village, you will walk through pine forests before it opens up to the vast plains of the valley. The trail ends next to the Khewang Lhakhang. The trail is 4 km in distance and offers some of the best views of the glacial valley of Gangtey.
Later in the evening, you can attend the evening prayer at Kuenzang Chholing Shedra (School) where 300 monks are undergoing their training. You can interact with the monks and learn about their life in the shedra and also maybe gain a deeper understanding of the Bhutanese way of life.
Today, you will hike the Longtey trail with packed lunch from the hotel. Later in the evening, visit the Black-necked Crane Education Center.
It is an old trail used by the locals, especially the people of Gangtey and Longtey village to commute. The locals no longer use the trails after a motorable road was constructed, now the trail is used mostly by the Yak Herders. You will drive for half an hour to reach the starting point of the trail. From there, you will walk towards the small village of Longtey. During mid-March to mid-April, you will see different species of rhododendrons in full bloom, with green meadows with wild strawberries. After walking uphill for an hour, you will reach an open area with great views of the Phobjikha valley and the Himalayas. Here you can have your packed lunch. From this point, it’s all downhill until you reach the Khumbu village. You can either end your hike here, where your car will pick you up or continue your hike along the feeder road to Gangtey valley. This hike takes about 5 hours in total.
Black-necked Crane Education Center:
The center is one of the most visited Information Centres in Bhutan. It serves as a resource and information center on sustainable ecotourism activities and environment education and conservation programs in Phobjikha valley. The center is housed in a single storey building overlooking the picturesque wetlands which is the Black-necked Crane habitat. This vantage location of the center allows visitors to relax and spot Black-necked Cranes (mid-November to Early February) and other bird species in the valley. The center’s observatory is equipped with bird watching telescopes. Here you can also watch a short documentary on the endangered black-necked cranes.
There is also a rescue shelter for the cranes beside the center. Currently, there are two cranes, Karma and Pema who have been rescued and undergoing rehabilitation.
This morning, after breakfast you will drive to Bumthang. En route you will stop in Trongsa and visit the Trongsa Ta dzong. After lunch, you will continue your drive to Bumthang. You will stop in Chumey valley and visit the Yathra weaving center.
Trongsa Ta Dzong:
This watchtower, which once guarded Trongsa Dzong from internal rebellion, stands on a promontory above the town. It was built by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the 1st Governor of Trongsa in 1652. It has four observation points resembling Tiger, Lion, Garuda, and Dragon. Climb up the path to visit Ta Dzong, which now houses a shrine dedicated to the epic hero, King Gesar of Ling. A visit to this former watchtower provides visitors with an insight into the significance of Trongsa in Bhutan’s history. As of date the Ta Dzong of Trongsa is the most fascinating museum of the nation. The Ta Dzong has now been converted into a state-of-the Art Museum (National Museum) with technical and financial support provided by Austria.
Yathra Weaving Centre:
Here you will see women skillfully weave intricate patterns on their backstrap loom. Apart from growing potatoes and apples for export, people from Bumthang don’t do much agricultural work. Most of the households in Bumthang owns a loom and women begin training to weave by the age of eight. Households from different villages in Bumthang mostly depend on the sale of Yathra for their livelihood and Chumey is the main marketing outlet. The yarn used for Yathra are usually imported and the ones made with local wool are expensive due to its limited availability. Since Bumthang has long cold winters, the thick Yathra fabric keeps them warm and are also used to make coats, bedding materials, furniture covers and bags.
Morning visit to Kurje Lhakhang and Jambay Lhakhang. After visiting the monasteries, you will walk to the village of Dorji Be and have lunch at one of the local farm houses. After lunch, you will drive to visit the Bumthang Brewery and cheese factory.
Kurje Lhakhang: This Lhakhang is named after the body (Kur) imprint (jey) of Guru Rimpoche, which is preserved in a cave inside the oldest of the three Lhakhang’s that make up the complex. Nestled on the side of a hill, surrounded by 108 chorten walls, the complex houses three revered Lhakhang’s, namely: Guru Lhakhang, Sampa Lhundrup Lhakhang and Ka Gon Phor Sum Lhakhang. The first of the three temples, the Guru Lhakhang is the oldest and was built in 1652. At the entrance to the lower floor, there is a small crawl-through rock passage. Bhutanese believe that by crawling through the narrow tunnel, you will leave your sins behind. It is one of the most holy and sacred sites for Buddhist. A short distance from the compound is the Zangdo Pelri Lhakhang. Here you can see the unique portable chorten known as the Tashi Gomang.
Jambay Lhakhang: is said to be one of the 108 temples built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Goenpo on a single day to pin down an ogress to earth forever. A supine demon was causing obstruction to the spread of Buddhism, and the temples were constructed on her body parts that spread across Tibet, Bhutan and the borderlands. The best known of these temples are Kichu in Paro, Jambay Lhakhang in Bumthang and Jokhang in Lhasa, Tibet.
Bumthang Brewery and Cheese factory: Situated right next to each other, Red Panda Brewery and Cheese Factory are quite interesting to visit and are in fact owned by Fritz Maurer, the same Swiss national who owns the Swiss Guest House. Established in the 1960s, the site produces Emmenthal and Gouda cheese. At the brewery the tour starts with a walk through of the plant and ends with the sampling of freshly brewed Red Panda Weiss beer. A popular brand amongst the locals.
This morning you will hike the Bushman trail and visit one of the remote valleys of Bumthang. Your trail will end at the village of Bebzur and from there your car will pick you up and drive to visit the Tang Ogyen Choling Naktshang (Manor). You will have lunch at the Manor. After lunch you will drive back to Chamkhar town, an hour drive. En route stop and offer your prayers at the Mebar Tsho.
Bushman Trail: This trail has been introduced as a biking trail and is a pleasant and fairly easy hike. The hike starts from Kharchu Dratshang, climb upward for around 20-30 minutes. The path then traverses through pine forest to the hilltop from where you can have a good view of Chamkhar valley. There is a very good open path at the top of the hill with a beautiful meadow to have your snacks. After a short break, continue the walk through the pine forest and when you are about to reach the end of the trail, you can see the Zangdopelri at Dungmithang and can also view the Pemacholling Nunnery.
Tang Ogyen Choling: Ogyen Choling was never so much a seat of political power as a center for religion. Throughout its history it was referred to by terms which alluded to its religious nature as being a monastery or hermitage, gompa. The Ogyen Choling manor built in 1898, is a historic, cultural site, with its origin going back to the 14th Century. The central tower of the manor was converted to become the first private museum in Bhutan. It was opened in 2001. This was the property of lord who once had many serfs. The property has been in the same family for 21 generations and the artifacts relate directly to this place. The Ogyen Choling Manor is located in the upper part of the Tang valley in Bumthang district. By road it is about 37 km from Jakar with the last 5 km on an unpaved road.
Mebar Tsho: Bhutanese believe a Ney (sacred site) can extend across an entire valley or a mountain or it can even be a very specific site such as a single rock, pool or tree. Mebar Tsho or the Burning lake is considered one of the most sacred sites in the region as it is related to the renowned religious treasurer (Terton)
Terton Pema Lingpa. This small fresh water lake is a sacred pilgrimage site for the Bhutanese with bright multicolored prayer flags surrounding it. On auspicious days people offer butter lamps at the lake. Getting there is a 30 minutes’ drive from the town. From the road, it is a 5 minutes’ walk to the lake.
You will check in at the hotel as soon as you reach Paro. After lunch you will visit the Paro Ta dzong and then later visit a traditional Bhutanese home. Here you will also take a cooking lesson on Bhutanese dishes.
Paro Ta dzong (National Museum): Perched above Paro dzong is the Ta dzong (watchtower), built in 1649 to protect the dzong and renovated in 1968 to house the National Museum. Ta dzong was closed to public following the damage to the structure caused by the September 2011 earthquake. The Museum re-opened to the public on 24th June 2020. The unusual round building is said to be in the shape of a conch shell, with 2.5-meter-thick walls.
Farmhouse visit: Bhutanese farmhouses are an architectural marvel on their own, built with only rammed earth, stone and timber. Farmhouses has the same basic architectural design. It usually consists of three floors; the bottom being used as a shelter for cattle or storage. The second floor is the living space with a huge kitchen that doubles as a living room or bedroom and also the shrine room. The top floor is usually used for drying meats and vegetables.
Here you will not only get a tour of the farmhouse but you will also take a cooking lesson. The host will teach you how to prepare Suja (Butter tea with salt) and traditional Bhutanese cuisines, which will always include popular meals such as momos, Ema Datsi, Shakam paa etc. The course will be concluded with dinner, during which you’ll eat the food you have cooked.
Today on you last day in Bhutan, you will hike to Paro Taktsang. After your hike, you will have lunch at a local restaurant and take a stroll around the small Paro town.
Paro Taktsang: The name Taktsang translates to ‘’ Tiger’s Nest’’. The temple is one of the most holy sites in the kingdom and clings impossibly to a sheer cliff face 900 meters above the Paro valley. It was first built in 1692 at a cave where Guru Rimpoche meditated in the 7th century A.D. Legend states that Guru Rimpoche flew to the site atop the back of a tigress and meditated in the cave for 3 years, 3 months, 3 days and 3 hours in order to subdue evil demons residing within it.
The cave has been considered a sacred site ever since and many famous saints have travelled to meditate in it.
The climb to the monastery takes about 2 to 3 hours from the road of Ramthangkha, 12 kilometers from Paro town. The total walking distance is about 4 km one way with 900m in elevation gained. For those who are unable to climb, you can opt to rent a horse to ride up to the midway where a cafeteria is located.
However, descending the mountain has to be done on foot.
We would recommend that you take a hot stone bath after your tiring hike to the Tiger’s nest. The tradition of a hot stone bath dates back centuries and is derived from ancient Tibetan medicine and Indian Ayurvedic practices. A traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath uses rocks taken from the river that are heated till red hot and then placed in the bath water. The rocks then crack and steam, releasing key minerals into the water which alleviate aches and pains and are said to have broader medicinal properties. It is a very relaxing and restorative experience after a long hike.
RATES PER PERSON FOR 11 NIGHTS 12 DAYS IN BHUTAN
|Single guest travelling during Peak Season||USD 3,390|
|Single guest travelling during Off Season||USD 2,840|
|Two guests travelling together during Peak Season||USD 3,180 per guest|
|Two guests travelling together during Off Season||USD 2,630 per guest|
|Three or more person travelling together during Peak Season||USD 2,825 per guest|
|Three or more person travelling together during Off Season||USD 2,275 per guest|
March, April, May, September, October and November.
January, February, June, July, August and December. The Minimum daily package covers the following services,
- A minimum of 3-star accommodation (Surcharge will be applicable if you wish to stay in a 4- or 5-star accommodation)
- All meals
- All internal transfers and sightseeing.
- Sightseeing tour will be provided as per the itinerary with an English-speaking guide.
- All entrance and monuments fees.
- All current taxes as on date – subject to change as per hotel/airline/Government policy.
What’s not included:
- Visa Fees (One-time Visa processing fee of USD 40 per person will be applicable on the above rates)
- Any Airfare (Paro is well connected from Bangkok, Delhi, Singapore, Kathmandu, Dhaka, Calcutta and Bagdogra)
- Tipping to guides and drivers
- Any insurance or rescue of any form