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.
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.
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.
In the morning you will drive to Sang Choekhor Buddhist college located at an altitude of 2900m, half an hour drive from Paro town. From here you will start your hike to Bumdrak. Steadily climb uphill through the ridge covered by forests of fir and pine trees. About 3 hours into gradual climbing, you will reach a cleared spot on which a temple sits and prayer flags are hoisted. Lunch will be served on this spot overlooking the Paro Valley with spectacular views.
After lunch, continue to hike for about one and half hours to reach your campsite, Bumdrak at 3,860m. Your camp will be just below the sacred Bumdrak Lhakhang (the cliff of million Dakinis)
Locals and pilgrims hike further uphill to Dhuethroe Dangpa (Sky Burial), it takes 30 to 45 minutes from the camp. The locals believe that these sky burial places were blessed by Guru Rimpoche and seek blessing by laying on those spots for few minutes, assuming to be dead and offering our bodies to other sentient beings. Once we get up from the spot, we believe that we are born again to help other sentient beings. From here you can also enjoy unobstructed panoramic views of the surrounding Himalayas and valleys below.
Dinner and overnight in the tent.
Today on you last day in Bhutan, you will hike down to Paro Taktsang from Bumdrak campsite. After your hike, you will have lunch at the Cafeteria. Later take a stroll around the small Paro town.
For early risers, you may want to observe and take pictures of the sunrise on a clear weather. After breakfast, you will begin your descent to Paro valley via Taktsang monastery. We will use the trail used by monks and pilgrims. It is a steep descent and takes about 2 hours to reach the Yoezerling monastery. One of three monasteries above Taktsang. As you descent further downhill, you will reach the third monastery, from here you can get an impressive view of the Taktsang perched precariously on a rocky cliff below. You will continue to descent down and visit the sacred Taktsang monastery.
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.
After visiting the Tiger’s nest, you will continue your descent to Paro valley. En route stop at the cafeteria for lunch. After lunch, it will take you about an hour to reach the base of Taktsang, here your driver will be waiting for you.
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 9 NIGHTS 10 DAYS IN BHUTAN
|Single guest travelling during Peak Season||USD 2,710|
|Single guest travelling during Off Season||USD 2,260|
|Two guests travelling together during Peak Season||USD 2,620 per guest|
|Two guests travelling together during Off Season||USD 2,170 per guest|
|Three or more person travelling together during Peak Season||USD 2,350 per guest|
|Three or more person travelling together during Off Season||USD 1,900 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