The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular in entire Himalayas. Flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu, the journey offers fascinating views and an exciting descent into the Kingdom. Bhutan’s first gift to you as you disembark from the aircraft will be cool, clean fresh and virgin mountain air. After immigration formalities and baggage collection, you will be met by our representative outside the exit gate, and afterwards drive to Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan.
On arrival, in Thimphu check-into the hotel. The capital town of Bhutan and the centre of government, religion and commerce, Thimphu is a unique city with unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. With the population of about 90,000 it is perhaps still the world’s only capital city without a traffic light.
Later in the day take an exploratory walk around Thimphu Craft Bazaar located a few minutes walk from down town hotels. This market offers genuine Bhutanese arts & crafts thus contributing in promotion, protection and preservation of traditional arts.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.read less
After breakfast, we will take a tour of Thimphu City. We will visit the following sites:
Folk Heritage Museum The museum gives you a glimpse of the traditional Bhutanese lifestyle, in addition to artifacts from rural households; it also displays an impressive collection of typical household objects, tools and equipment.
Zorig Chusum (the 'Painting School') - The Institute of Zorig Chusum in Thimphu is the premier institution of traditional arts and crafts set up by the Government of Bhutan with the sole objective of preserving the rich culture and tradition of Bhutan and training students in all traditional art forms.
Thangtong Dewachen Nunnery (Zilukha Nunnery) - The nunnery is located in Zilukha (Thimphu District) overlooking Tashichodzong and is a few minutes’ drive from the town, it is popularly known as the Zilukha Anim Dratshang. It was built in 1976 by the 16th emanation of Thangtong Gyalpo, Drubthob Rikey Jadrel. Currently, the nunnery is home to about 60 nuns.
We will then stop at a local restaurant for lunch. In the afternoon we will visit the following:
Memorial Chorten - a Stupa built in 1974 to honor the third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. This large chorten is one of the most visible landmarks in Thimphu, and for many Bhutanese it is the focus of daily worship. Elderly people shuffle meditatively around the chorten, families light butter lamps, and kids rush out a quick parikrama (ritual circumambulation).
Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre - This private weaving centre at the south end of Thimphu produces expensive but high-quality hand-woven textiles and has a selection of ready-made garments for sale (scarves, belts, jackets, shawls and kira). You can watch weavers at work and photos are allowed.
Jungshi Paper factory - This small factory produces traditional Bhutanese paper handmade from the bark of the daphne bush. You can see the whole process, from soaking and boiling the bark to sorting, crushing, pulping, layering, pressing and drying. Products for sale here include lovely decorated paper with embedded leaves and even dried chillis, plus cards, notebooks, lampshades and calendars.
Tashichho Dzong - In the evening visit, Fortress of the Glorious Religion. This impressive fortress houses some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body.
Return to your hotel and the evening is at leisure.
Dinner at hotel
Overnight at hotel
Included Meals: Breakfast and Dinnerread less
After breakfast depart for Punakha (3 – 3. 5 hours approx) en route visit Dochula Pass (3150m) where on a clear day we can see views of the Himalayas. Lunch can be packed from the hotel in Paro or can be eaten at the Dochula cafeteria.
Punakha was the old capital of Bhutan and the magnificent dzong is situated on an island in the middle of the river. It is also the winter residence of the Central monastic body. It is a climatically a warmer valley than Paro and Thimphu. We can visit the Punakha dzong and Short hike to Chimi Lhakhang where many go to pray for progeny.
Punakha Dzong: or Pungthang Dechen Phodrang "Palace of Great Happiness" is located on the confluence of two rivers (Phochu and Mochu). It was built in 1637 by Shubdrung Nawang Namgyal and following the ancient traditions, it serves as winter residence for chief abbot (Je-khenpo) and the monks of Central Monastic Body, who returns to Thimphu in the summer. The building was damaged and rebuilt several times, due to flooding, fire and earth quake. It is one exemplary masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture.
Chimi Lhakhang: was built by lama Drukpa Kunley in 1499. He subdued the demoness of the Dochu la with his ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom.’ A wooden effigy of the Lama’s thunderbolt is preserved in the Lhakhang, and childless women go to the temple to receive a wang (blessing) from the saint.
It’s a 20-minute walk across the rice fields from the road at Sopsokha to the temple. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana. There are very few monks at the temple, which is surrounded by a row of prayer wheels and some very beautiful slate carvings. Overnight at hotel, Punakha.
A visit to a traditional Bhutanese village can be arranged so that guests can view life in rural Bhutan. For those desiring more energetic pursuits – hiking to nearby villages can be arranged.
Today you will visit the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup nunnery - The nunnery is perched on a ridge amid pine trees overlooking Punakha and Wangduephodrang. The temple complex houses a permanent learning and meditation centre for nuns where apart from religious training, it provides skill training such as tailoring, embroidery, statue making and thangka painting. Continue your drive to Talo Monastery: The site was founded by Chogtrul Jigme Singye (1742-89), the 4th reincarnation of Lama Thripa (Galsey Tenzin Rabgye), which literally means the holder of the throne, a title given to Gyalsay Tenzin Rabgye (1638-96) as the Gyaltsap (regent) appointed by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. This took place in 1767 corresponding to the 13th Rabjung (name of the cycle of 60 years starting with rabbit year) of the Fire Pig Year of the Bhutanese calendar.
Khamsum Yuley Namgay Chorten was built in 1990s and took period of nearly 10 years. It was built by Queen Mother and dedicated to the King and for the well being of Bhutanese. It majestically located on a ridge, with amazing views of the country side. It is one of the finest Bhutanese architects. It is located in idyllic countryside north of Punakha, about 30 minutes drive from town. From the parking, it is another 45 minutes uphill walk through the rice fields and the return portion downhill takes around 30 minutes. In the summer or during the rainfall, the trails could be muddy and slippery. After return walk back, there is an option to walk along the riverside, following the ancient trail that goes through farmlands, homes, Sonagasa village and arrive near Punakha Dzong. This extra walk takes another two hours or so. It is particularly interesting for those interested in birding and to enjoy the walk viewing the countryside.read less
Drive from Punakha to Paro, (drive 4-5 hours approx). You will stop for a lunch at Thimphu and perhaps do some last minute souvenir shopping.
PARO lies at an altitude of 2280m above sea level. Before the construction of roads most of Bhutan's trade came through Paro either from Tibet via Tremo la or from the south. Paro valley extends from Jumolhari on the Tibetan border to Chuzom which is the confluence of the Thimphu and Punakha rivers.
Start the tour with a visit the Paro Dzong: The correct name of the Dzong is Rinchen Pung Dzong which means fortress on a heap of jewels. The Dzong was built in 1646 by Shabdung Ngawang Namgyel. The Dzong was formerly the meeting hall for the National Assembly. The Dzong is located on a vantagepoint on the hillside and has two Lhakhangs (monasteries) and a Central Utse (Central tower). As with all Dzongs the local administrative and monk body are housed on the premises.
The National museum, is located above the Paro Dzong in the ancient circular watchtower. The museum consists of six floors dealing with different aspects of Bhutanese culture. The museum also houses a great collection of Thangkhas (embroidered or painted religious hangings). The Tshogshing Lhakhang (the temple of the tree of wisdom) is also located in the museum. You can then walk down to the Paro Dzong for a visit, the correct name of the Dzong is Rinchen Pung Dzong which means fortress on a heap of jewels. The Dzong was built in 1646 by Shabdung Ngawang Namgyel. The Dzong was formerly the meeting hall for the National Assembly. The Dzong is located on a vantagepoint on the hillside and has two Lhakhangs (monasteries) and a Central Utse (Central tower). As with all Dzongs the local administrative and monk body are housed on the premises.
Lunch will be at a local guest house in the Paro town market, at your own.
In the afternoon you will visit the Choeten Lhakhang, a monastery situated in the centre of the town and is built in the traditional Bhutanese style. Dumtse Lhakhang is a temple believed to have flown from Tibet and is hence held by chains to the ground.
In the early evening you can take a stroll with your guide around Paro town to see the local life in Bhutan. The town is situated right below the Dzong. Near the bridge are chortens (or prayer shrines) situated alongside the Ugyen Pelri palace. You can either have dinner at a local restaurant or drive back to the hotel for the dinner.
The Tiger's Nest Monastery is built on the where guru Padmasambhava is reputed to have flown to on the back of a Tiger. The monastery is a revered site for the Bhutanese. The walk up to the viewpoint takes roughly two hours and is an uphill climb through alpine forests. LUNCH on the trail or can be eaten at the cafeteria, which provides a good view of the monastery. The monastery was partially destroyed in a forest though restoration works are almost complete. The local people have provided the labour for restoration. Bhutanese believe that participating in the restoration of holy places helps in the accumulation of good merit.
Your guide will also take you to the lesser know sites - Dumtse Lhakhang; this unusual building was built in 1433 by the iron bridge builder Thangtong Gyalpo. It has three floors representing hell, earth, heaven and the paintings inside are said to be some of the best in Bhutan. Kyichu Lhakhang: It is one of the oldest monasteries in the country built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demoness lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism.
Drive back to the hotel after the hike and relax for rest of the day as you will be tired after the hike to the Tiger’s nest or make a Spa appointment.
Thimphu, Punakha, Paro