Bhutan Tour to the Himalayan Kingdom

(16 nights/ 17 days)

TOUR CODE: BHN-17

 

 

Day 1 : Arrive Paro International Airport

Your introduction to our enchanting kingdom begins on a flight over the Himalayas into the lush green valley of Paro; truly one of the world’s most spectacular sights. Flying into Paro, Bhutan is a unique experience altogether. You will view the world’s highest, most majestic peaks and enjoy the view of the approaching valley with its primeval alpine forest, monasteries, temples and farmhouse nestled in splendid mountain isolation.

 

You will be received by our representative and your guide, and driven to hotel for check in and refreshment. After lunch, visit Paro Rinpung Dzong. A flagstone path rises gradually from a beautiful wooden bridge with shingle roofing and abutted by two guard houses to the Dzong. Today, this massive fortress built in 1645 AD is the seat of the district administration as well as the home for the monastic school. The central tower( Utse) of the Dzong, with its superb woodwork, is one of the most beautiful in the nation. Visit the National Museum ( Ta-Dzong).Once the watch tower for the Rinpung Dzong ( Fortress), it was converted into the national Museum in 1968 (one of the best museums of Asia). The museum stands on a promontory overlooking the Paro valley in all its glory.

 

After tea, visit the oldest temple of the kingdom, “Kichu Lhakhang”. This temple was built in 629AD by a Tibetan King to pin down a giant demon. There is a sacred orange tree that grew on its own at the courtyard which bears fruits on all the seasons. This tree is said to be 600 years old. In the evening walk around Paro town and interact with the local people. Overnight Paro. (Alt; 2280m) 

 

Day 2 : Excursion to the Mystical Taktsang

After a healthy breakfast, drive to the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong. A ruined fortress - 16kms, away from Paro Town. Although in ruins, this Dzong is of great historical importance. It was here that the Bhutanese finally defeated the invading Tibetans and drove them back. This point offers bird eye view of the Mt. Chomolhari (7329m). On the way back, spend the day hiking up a forested path to Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan’s most famous and scenic icon. The climb is steep and takes about 4 hours round trip. An important place of pilgrimage and refuge for more than 1200 years, Taktsang Monastery clings to sheer cliffs two-thousand feet above Paro Valley, and from your closest vantage point on a rocky ledge directly across from it, you will still need 200-300 mm lenses and a steady tripod to get tight photographs.  

 

This sacred place got its name when Guru Rinpoche rode there on the back of a flying tiger and meditated in a cave behind the present-day monastery. Sadly, in 1998, the central temple was destroyed by fire, leaving the country in mourning for their holiest of spiritual places.  But religious leaders and the King quickly developed a plan to rebuild Taktsang and donations started pouring in from Buddhist centers all over the world, and today, the magnificently rebuilt exterior is complete. Tiger’s Nest is once again the subject of cloud-shrouded posters that say, “Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon.” Picnic lunch on the mountain.

 

Special permit will be arranged for you to enter the Tiger’s Nest monastery but you will not be allowed to take pictures of the inside shrines.

 

Evening, visit a typical village home for a traditional Bhutanese style dinner accompanied by the local liquor called “Ara” (tastes somewhat like the Japanese Sake). Then luxuriate in the Bhutanese equivalent of a Jacuzzi called a “Chu Tsen.” River rocks are heated and dunked into a large wooden tub with herbs. This type of bath is considered to have medicinal properties of healing. Overnight Paro.

 

Day 3 : Motor Excursion to the Valley of Haa
Morning drive to Haa Valley via Chele La Pass (3,810m). This is a scenic drive and you might spot few yaks along the way. The pristine Haa Valley, ancestral home of Bhutan’s Queen Mother was closed to outsiders till 2001. It is surrounded by forested hillsides full of ancient shrines, while the narrow valley floor is dotted with fields of millet, barley, and potatoes. Its farmhouses are adorned with intricately painted wooden cornices and ornately carved window frames. 

 

You will walk through the serene hamlets and remote monasteries below mountain peaks like the temple of Black & White Dove. Evening, take a leisurely drive to the beautiful valley of Damthang and on the way back stroll around the remote town of Haa. Overnight Haa. (Alt; 2670m) 

 

Day 4 : Haa Valley - Thimphu (106km/ 4.5hr)

This is a lovely drive through wonderful landscape and remote settlements. Thimphu is a small, charming capital city nestled in the heart of the Himalayas. It is nothing like what a capital city is imagined to be. All houses and buildings are painted and constructed in traditional Bhutanese style. En route visit Simtokha Dzong, one of the oldest fortress of Bhutan built in 1629 and it houses the largest monastic schools in the country. 

 

Evening, take a drive to Buddha Gang to enjoy the sunset and the lovely view of Thimphu city. Astrologers & locals believe this spot is one of the main meeting point of the sacred energy vibe of the country hence the massive statue of Buddha facing the rising sun. On the way back circumambulate around Memorial Chorten. This huge stupa was built in memory of the late 3rd King and it’s the favourite place for the people of Thimphu to pray and show their devotion. From here on embark on a walking tour that includes; Hongkong Market/ Main Traffic/ Norzin Lam/ Central Plaza/ General Post Office/ Clock Tower, etc. Overnight Thimphu. (Alt; 2320m)

 

Day 5 : A full Day, Thimphu Sightseeing 

Morning, drive to the animal sanctuary where the national animal of Bhutan, the Takin, is found in captivity. Walk around the BBS tower which is also known as the “romantic point” and lovers often come here to look at the panoramic view of the Thimphu valley. En route visit Nunnery temple. You can show your devotion here by praying with the Buddhist nuns. 

 

Visit the National Library where ancient manuscripts are preserved.  They also have on display the largest Picture Book on Bhutan in the world.  

Visit the Traditional Medicine Centre which includes hospital and herbal medicine manufacturing unit based on the Tibetan system of medicine.  The centre also trains indigenous medicine doctors known as “Dungtso”.

Visit the Zorig Chuksum “School for Thirteen Traditional Arts and Crafts”  followed by a visit to Textile Museum, Handicraft Emporium  and some local shops for antiques. 

Visit the Farmer Fresh Market which opens only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Visit the Tashichhoe Dzong, the main secretariat building, the office of the King and Throne room and also the house of the State Monastic Body. 

Visit the Bhutanese Paper Factory, This traditional handmade paper is still being widely used around the country. 

 

Take a walk to the National Stadium, archery ground and witness an archery match played by the locals with lots of hue & cry! Archery is the national game of Bhutan and one of the best ways of expanding your public relation is by participating in it. Evening, free to shop. Overnight Thimphu. 

 

Day 6 : Excursion to Tango Chari

Embark on a day’s excursion to Tango & Chari. Tango monastery is situated in solitary hill covered by forest and is one of the best places to study Buddhism. The monks take pride in being a part of this beautiful Draktsang and at present there are also seven reincarnation studying here. 

 

The 12th century Chari goemba is one of the most popular meditational retreat center for the monks. The meditational sites are glued to the rocky cliff 300m above the river valley. Once the monks graduate from Tango Monastery most of them decides to sit for meditation around the holy temple of Chari from three years to nine years. Tango Chari is located 12km away from Thimphu city .

 

The hike to Tango monastery takes about 1.5hrs round trip and the Chari goemba takes about 2.5hrs round trip. Picnic lunch will be arranged amidst the nature trail. After visiting the holy shrines, you can spend some time meditating in the temple and the surrounding campus. It is believed, meditation happens own at this serene site. 

 

Evening, time at your leisure. Overnight Thimphu.

 

Day 7 : Thimphu – Punakha/ Wangdue (77km/ 3hr)

The journey will take you across Dochu La pass ( 3150m) where you can enjoy the spectacular views of the Eastern Himalayan Mountain ranges. Take a walk around the 108 stupas which decorates the pass. Also visit the Drukwangyel lhakhang built by the four Queens as a tribute to the fourth King of Bhutan.

 

After lunch, Punakha Dzong, "Palace of Great Happiness.” It hosts the administrative seat of the district. The Dzong lies between two rivers, the Pochu and Mochu, male and female river. It was built in 1637 AD It was here on 17th December 1907, Bhutan's first king was crowned. This ancient fortress is considered to be one of the most beautiful by many. Punakha is the former winter Capital of Bhutan and now It’s the winter residence of the central monastic body and its Chief Abbot. 

 

Evening, hike to Chimi Lhakhang. This temple is called the Temple of Fertility as it is believed that childless couples who come here to pray for a child is usually blessed with a child. This is the temple of one of Bhutan’s foremost saints, Lama Drukpa Kunley, also known as the “Divine Madman.” The trail take you through the Himalayan paddy fields and a typical village called Lobesa. Overnight Punakha/ Wangdue. (Alt; 1240m) 

 

Day 8 : Wangdue Phodrang – Phobjikha (65km/ 3hr)

Morning, visit Wangdue Dzong. This classic fortress has many sacred temples hidden within it’s structure. Also visit Wangdue’s unique town situated on the hilltop and then drive to Phobjikha.  

 

Phobjikha is a glacial valley on the periphery of the north western tip of the Black Mountain National Park. The valley is a conservatoin area and lies on the northern boundary of the Jowo Durshing range.  People sometimes refer to the entire region as Gangtey after the name of the Gangtey Goenpa  that is situated on a ridge overlooking the Phobjikha valley. According to legend that the Gangtey Goenpa was founded by the grandson ( the mind incarnation) of Pema Lingpa in 1613. The Phobjikha valley is also one of the roosting grounds of the Black-necked cranes that migrate each year in winter from its nothern habitats in Tibet and Siberia to these grounds. 

 

Visit Information Centre for the Blacked Necked Cranes. Evening, take a hike through the Blue Pine forest to the village farmhouse. Try traditional Bhutanese snacks made from corn and rice with a homemade wine. Overnight Phobjikha. (Alt; 2900m)

 

Day 9 : Phobjikha – Trongsa(72km/ 3hr)

Morning visit Gangtey Goenpa. This is biggest Nyingma temple of the kingdom. The journey will take you across Pele La pass (3,300m), which is marked by a chorten and an array of prayer flags. On a clear day, you can get spectacular views of the highest peaks of the kingdom and its quite common to spot some yaks and yak herders on this pass. This point marks the boundary between western and central Bhutan as well as the western border of Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. 

Beyond Pele La is Longte Valley where people raise sheep and yaks. You’ll come to the village of Rukubji Valley, with its big school and Gompa. The houses here are clustered amid extensive fields of mustard, potatoes, barley, and wheat. As you drive down through rhododendron trees and ferns, you’ll reach Chendebji village. This was a night halt for mule caravans traveling from Trongsa during the reign of the 2nd King of Bhutan. J

ust below Chendebji village is the Chendebji chorten, a large white structure beside a stream. This chorten is modeled after Swayambhunath in Kathmandu. The last village before you reach Trongsa is Tangsibji, which provides full view of Trongsa Dzong and its distinctive red roof. Trongsa Dzong, built in 1645, is a vast, white fortress that appears to grow directly up from the narrow green ridge on which it is constructed. It is one of the most powerful Dzongs and even today the crown prince of Bhutan must first become its Trongsa Penlop (governor) before he can become Bhutan’s King. On arrival visit Trongsa Dzong and then free to stroll around the sloppy town of Trongsa. Overnight Trongsa. (Alt; 2180m) 

Day 10 : Trongsa – Bumthang (68km/ 3hr)

After breakfast visit the ancient watch tower which has been now turned into a historical museum. This tower provides a good view of  the Trongsa town & its surrounding valley. Drive to Bumthang, the spiritual heartland of Bhutan. Bumthang has been commonly referred as “the little Switserland of Asia.” This journey will take you over one of the most scenically beautiful routes in Bhutan via the Yotong La pass (3425m), which is also the habitat for the Satyr peasant. Good for photography. 

 

As you enter the Chhume Valley (the first of the four valleys that comprise the Bumthang Valley) you can visit a center of Yathra weaving.  Yathra is the name for the locally produced hand-woven woolen cloth.  Distinctive patterns and bright, earthy colors enliven the fabric, which is used for a wide variety of purposes and sought after throughout the country. 

 

Drive to the historical Jakar Dzong. It is probably one of the biggest Dzongs in Bhutan with the surrounding walls about 1 km in circumference. Also visit the extensive palace of Wangdichholing, the early home of the third king of Bhutan, which was built in 1857 on the site of the battle field. It is the first palace of the present Wangchuk dynasty and also the first palace that was not designed as a fortress. 

Visit the Kharchu Draktsang, a monastery on the northern slope of Bumthang valley. This monastery is one of the biggest Buddhist college of the kingdom and a home to the reincarnation himself (Namkhaningpo Rimpoche). This point offers great view of the Bumthang valley and its town. (Bumthang had been named “the little Switzerland of Asia” by many travelers. Wait here to catch the golden hour while the sun sets gently. Evening, stroll down from the monastery to the river bank and drive back to the resort. Overnight Bumthang. (Alt; 2580m)

Day 11 (Apr 7, Thu) : Bumthang Spiritual Sightseeing

On rise, spend the day hiking through the several ancient and important monasteries such as, Jambay lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang, Kencho Sum Lhakhang, Tamshing & Pema Samba Lhakhangs. (These temple have many mythical stories linked to its origin and some of them dates back as early as 7th century. Your guide will unfold its mystery as you visit these holy sites.

 

Evening, explore Bumthang’s local town and experience their peaceful lifestyle. Overnight Bumthang. 

 

Day 12 : Excursion to Ura Valley

After breskfast, drive to Menbar Tsho (the burning lake). This holy lake is located about 20km from the Chumey valley. When the locals visit this lake they tie a coin inside a white scarf, make a wish and offer it to the lake. It is believed someday your wish will be fulfilled. 

 

Take a drive to the valley of Ura which is 48km/ 1.5hr from Bumthang. Ura is one of the oldest villages of the Kingdom situated on an evelation of 3100m. The people here still lives a semi nomadic lifestyle by herding yaks and sheeps. This typical bhutanese village is known for warm and happy people. 

 

En route stop by Shertingla pass (3590m) from where you can see Mt. Gangkhar Puensum (7541m), the highest peak of Bhutan and the highest unclimbed mountain in the world. From this point hike down the valley to Ura village. Its about one hour walk. On arrival, visit the Ura temple located at the heart of the village. Evening, explore this beautiful village with your guide or on your own and experience their humble lifestyle. Bhutanese style dinner at traditional home with a Bhutanese family. Overnight Home stay in Ura. (Alt; 3100m)

 

Day 13 : Ura – Mongar (148km/ 5-6hr)

After a homemade breakfast in Ura, gear up for a fantastic drive to Mongar. You will be able to see the rivers, landscapes, cliffs, different types of forest, water fall and the distant glacial peaks. Picnic lunch will be arranged along the journey near Namling’s rocky cliff. The journey takes you through mist-covered ThumshingLa Pass, which at 13,500 feet is the highest pass in Bhutan. On the eastern side of the pass the three-hour drive plunges down through a sunless forest almost 10,000 feet! to the village of Sengor. Then after a few miles of level road it plunge again through what is considered by many to be the most “white knuckle” 12 miles of national highway in the country. Here the road was blasted out of sheer cliffs with a guard-railed edge that drops clear out of sight.  

After crossing the bridge over the Kuru River, 15 miles further on the climbing twisting road, there is a ancient trade route stop of Mongar. Since the area is very mountainous with few valleys, Mongar is built on the side of a mountain. The true homeland of the Eastern People, the Sharchops, begins from Mongar. People from the east are shy yet friendly. Evening, explore the Mongar town. Overnight Mongar. (Alt; 1600m)  

Day 14 : Mongar – Trashigang (91km/3.5hr)

After breakfast, visit Mongar high school when the students would have lined up for morning assembly. The students will recite prayer in unison to the God of intelligence, there will be a short speech by two students one in English and one in the national language (dzongkha) and a briefing by a principal. This session will be followed by a national anthem. 

 

The road will take you across KoriLa pass (2400m), stop for tea and cookies as we have all along most of the passes. Beyond the pass, driving through corn fields and patches of banana trees, we come to the village of Yadi where we will stop at a farm house and photograph weavers making natural dyes from native plants. 

 

After Yadi the road zigs and zags in what seems like never ending switchbacks descending to SheriChu village at the Sheri River. After SheriChu we come across roadside sheds where oil is extracted from lemon grass. After crossing two more rivers the road climbs up to Trashigang town which situated at the slope of a rocky mountain. Trashigang is the biggest and the second most populated district of the country. It is surrounded by several villages from all the corners. Villagers often come here to shop and sometimes just to get the feeling of being in a city. You might spot some nomadic people who’d have come down for shopping. Evening, visit Trashigang Dzong located on a cliff. The entire eastern Bhutan was ruled from this fortress in the early history. Take a walk around Trashigang’s unique town. Overnight Trashigang. (Alt; 1070m)

 

Day 15 : Motor Excursion to Trashiyangtse

Drive to Trashiyangtse (53km/ 3hr), which is situated in a small river valley, and it is a lovely spot from which to take walk in the surrounding countryside. Trashiyangtse is famous for its wooden containers and bowls, which makes imexpensive, attractive and useful mementos of the visit to this remote region. 

 

En route visit the Gom Kora. This temple is near the Drangmechu river. The myth says in the 7th century there was a demon living in the river who used to attack the villagers. When Guru Rimpoche came to save the villagers the demon disappeared into the river. Guru meditated under the rock cave near the river bank and subdued the demon. This cave still contains the body print of the second Buddha hence it is worshiped by the Bhutanese. It is said that if anyone can climb below the rock cave and emerge from the summit, he will be forgiven of all his sins. A few kilometers from Gom Kora you will arrive Doksum village. Take a look around the village. The people from here are said to have great talents in weaving. 

 

As you enter Trashiyangtse, drop by Chorten Kora (a huge stupa). Chorten Kora is one of the only two such stupas in the kingdom with styles similar to those found in Nepal and it host to a great festival which attract all of east residents. The stupa is entirely whitewashed and is ideally situated next to the running brook. Once you arrive Trashiyangtse, lunch will be arranged at the royal guest house. The king spends the night in this government guest house when he visits Trashiyangtse. Visit the Zorig Chuksum “School for Thirteen Traditional Arts and Crafts”  followed by a walking tour around the wonderful town of Trashiyangtse. Evening, drive back to Trashigang. Overnight Trashigang. 

 

Day 16 : Trashigang – Kanglung – Samdrup Jongkhar (180km/ 6-7hr) 

After breakfast drive to Kanglung. Have homemade tea & snacks at Aum Chimi’s home. After a farewell from this family. Walk around Kanglung’s small town and visit the nearby college. This was the only college in the whole of country till 2005 and it was rated as the 7th best college in Asia. Its is a dream of many Bhutanese students to get a scholarship to this college. Visit the Zangtopelri. This temple is a replica of the celestial abode of the second Buddha in heaven. Stop in Khaling and visit the post office for stamp collection. Take a short walk in Khaling town. Lunch in Wamrong.

 

After lunch take a walk around Wamrong town. When you reach the Mirror Cliff, your guide will assist you in putting the windhorse flags on the trees. Windhorse flags brings blessing and protection to sentient beings. Since this is your last day in the country. We believe this will bring you good luck and safety on your return trip to hometown. On arrival, check in hotel and free to shop or walk around. Farewell dinner and overnight in Samdrup Jongkhar. (Alt; 233m)

 

Day 17 : Departure

Transport will be arranged for your drop to Guwahati. Our representative will bid you farewell at the Indo-Bhutan Gate. Travel through the plains of Assam toward Guwahati Airport (India). Tashi Delek!

 

A:Available - This tour is available for booking.
R:On Request - This tour is on request only
All prices are per person.
If you are interested, please contact your local agent to make the booking or alternatively email us at reservations@toursite.com.au