10 days amazing tour around Bhutan
Day 1: Arrival in Paro
Welcome to the land of happiness, also known as Druk Yul (country of the Drukpa Lineage, the Dragon People, or the Land of the Thunder Dragon.) Upon arrival at the Paro International Airport, you will be greeted in our traditional style by our guide and driver, who will be accompany you throughout the tour.
You will drive to Thimphu (capital city, 1hr drive). On the way, we will stop for a short sightseeing at Tamchog lhakhang (Temple built by the famous saint from Tibet called Thangtong Gyalpo in 13th century.)
After reaching Thimphu, check in your hotel, rest since you had a tiring journey.
Day 2: Thimphu
Today we will be visiting the Simtokha Dzong (the oldest fortress to ever build in the country by Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal) Legend says that it was built to imprison a demon that was terrorizing the junction of the eastern and western path. The first fortress of its kind, it features beautiful Buddhist paintings and carvings.)
We will then start our sightseeing by first visiting the Buddha Point (one of the largest Buddha rupas in the world, at 54 meters/177ft)
Afternoon, you will visit the Memorial Chorten (built in memory of Third Druk Gyalpo and is dedicated to World Peace.)
Lunch will be at a Folk Heritage. The Folk Heritage Museum dedicates itself to connecting people with the rich Bhutanese Folk heritage and rural history through exhibits, demonstrations, educational programs and documentation of Bhutanese rural life. The Museum will strive to disseminate the rich cultural heritage across generations by preserving it in different forms.
National Institute of Zorig Chusum; (Commonly known as ‘the painting school’, operates four to six years courses that provide instruction in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts.)
Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan (is a national textiles museum)
Takin Preservation Centre (located in the Mothitang district of Thimphu, Bhutan is a wildlife reserve area for takin (Budorcas taxicolor), the national animal of Bhutan.)
Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory; you will witness the art of Bhutanese papermaking.
Tashichho Dzong (Tashichho Dzong has been the seat of the government since 1952)
Day 3: Punakha
Today you will be driving to Punakha district (the old capital of Bhutan till 1985). On the way, you will be stopping at your first mountain pass at the elevation 3100m, which is called, “Dochula Pass”. Once you reach, you will stop for a short tea break and a short sightseeing around the area. Places you will be sightseeing are The 108 Druk Wangyal Khang Zhang Chortens of Dochula Pass were built under the patronage of the eldest Queen Mother, Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, to honor the Bhutanese soldiers who died in December, 2003 battling Assamese insurgents from India, and Druk Wangyal Temple right above the 108 stupas. Then you will descend down towards Punakha. Elevation 1300m.
Before Punakha, you will first visit the Chimi lhakhang (Temple of the famous saint mad man Drukpa Kinley)
Then have a lunch at a local traditional restaurant at the Phallu’s village, next to the Temple.
Once you reach Punakha, you will do a quick visit at the amazing fortress Punakha Dzong (also known as Punthang Dechenphodrang, Legend says that Zhabdrung made the carpenter trulpizow balep made to sleep in chamber and he had been taken to paradise /zangtopelri of Guru Rinpoche and he got at the sketch and the model of the dzong.)
Then visit the one of the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan. Punakha Suspension Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan measuring 180 m in length. From the bridge, you can get a spectacular view of the Po Chhu River (Male River) and the valley. It’s an ideal place for a photo-shoot with a stunning background. You will definitely enjoy the cool and breezy vibes from the suspension bridge.
Day 4: Gangtey
Today you will drive to Gangtey. (It’s a beautiful vast U-shape valley which is a winter residence of the famous endangered bird called “The Black Necked Crane”. They come down from the Tibetan Plateau to Phobjikha valley during winter season and fly back during summer season.)
Before that, you will first do a small hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten (Built by the third Queen Mother, Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck. This beautifully designed chorten took nine years to complete, using only religious scriptures to construct the four- story temple. Have to hike for 40minutes through the paddy fields and vegetable fields, into the chir pine forest.)
Nature Trail, walk around the Phobjikha valley.
Later check in your hotel and enjoy the Phobjikha’s beautiful valley with one of the best scenery in Bhutan.
Day 5: Phobjikha
Today you will first visit the Black Necked Crane information center.
Then you will visit Gangtey Goenpo. Generally known as Gangtey Gonpa or Gangtey Monastery, is an important monastery of Nyingmapa school of Buddhism built in 17th century.)
Then do some hike around the area and visit other temples and monasteries around.
Do relax and enjoy the beautiful valley of Phobjikha.
Day 6 Phobjikha – Thimphu
Today you will travel back to Thimphu. It will roughly take around 4 hours.
Once you reach, you will take a break and have a lunch in the capital.
After that, you will start your journey towards Haa valley. It will approximately take
3 hours 30 minutes to reach.
Once you reach, check in homestay and enjoy the traditional lifestyle of a Bhutanese.
Day 7: Haa to Paro
Today you will be exploring Haa valley and enjoy one of the beautiful mountains valley in Bhutan. It’s close to the Border towards the north side.
First you will visit Lhakhang Karpo. The history of Lhakhang Karpo can be traced back to the 7th century A.D. when it was constructed in Haa coinciding with the rule of King Songtsen Gampo in Tibet during this era.
The King was actively involved in spreading Buddhism. As atonement for a sin, King Songtsen Gampo took upon himself the task of constructing 108 temples in all the countries of the Dzambudvipa. Among these constructions besides Kichu lhakhang of Paro and Jampa lhakhang of Bumthang is said to have included the other two important temples in Haa, the Lhakhang Karpo (white temple) and Lhakhang Nagpo (Black temple).
Lhakhang Karpo according to legend derives its name from the white pigeon, which landed on the site of the temple. History has it that a black and while pigeon were released to select the sites to build the temple and it was believed that the white pigeon landed on the foothills of mountain Chenrezig (Avaloeteshvara), one of the towering mountains. Lhakhang Karpo was built on the site as selected by the white pigeon.
Lhakhang Nagpo the Lhakhang Nagpo is situated a kilometer away from Lhakhang Karpo in Dumcho village in Haa valley. The black pigeon had landed a little to the North of Lhakhang Karpo indicating the destined site of the present Lhakhang Nagpo. The temple was named Lhakhang Nagpo (black temple) as it was built on the site where the black pigeon had landed. The Lhakhang is built on a lake. An opening in the floor of the temple provides an access to the lake underneath the temple. The Black temple owing to its name is black in color and is built amid the tranquil lush green forest.
These two temples stand as the guardians keeping watch over the valley.
Wangchulo Dzong (Haa Dzong) The fortress was built in 1915. It is considered one of the new dzong built in the country. Unlike any other dzong in Bhutan, Wangchuk lo dzong is uniquely seated on the Valley floor with Meri Phunsum Mountain at the backdrop. The dzong is located inside IMTRAT Compound. Today the Dzong serves as the headquarter office to Indian Military Training Team (IMTRAT).
Later after everything is over, you will then drive towards Paro from a different short route. You will need to pass another highest mountain pass called, “Chelela Pass” at the elevation of 3,988m.
It will take around 1hour 20 minutes.
Day 8: Paro Hike to Bumdra Trek
Today you will be doing your first and last most iconic trek in Paro. You will be trekking the Bumdra trek. High up in the mountains one hundred thousand angels descended and left footprints on a rock 800 years ago. Now a group of horses, yaks and tour guides eagerly wait to take tourist not to see the sight but rather experience mythology of Bhutanese history, tradition and culture 3800m above sea level.
Treks can start at Sang Choekor which is in Paro, which also has Buddhist College known as Sang Choekor Lhakhang where you can visit briefly and ask for a blessing for a good trek from the monks. After the blessings, the trek starts with the first landmark being Chhoe Tse Lhakhang temple about 2 hours away. The trek starts in a forestry ridge where Bhutan’s untouched nature is seen in all its beauty. This continues on till a clearing is reached with prayer flags serving as landmarks and a breathtaking view of Paro and Do Chhu valley.
The Chhoe Tse Lhakhang when reached has a grand view of Paro valley and the snow-capped mountain ranges that surround Bhutan.
A small break is recommended to take in the view as after taking in the sights it takes 20 minutes to pass through the ruins and prayer flags to get back into the forest. After an hour traversing in the forest, a open meadow with religious Chortens and prayer flags are the only sign of human influence in the untouched landscape.
From the meadow the Bumdra monastery where most people camp for the night is only a short while away after which reaching offers lunch and meditation practices. The beauty of Bumdra monastery and its surroundings is best seen as words can only provide the slightest understanding of its vistas.
After spending the night the trek route often takes people back to Paro through the Taktsang monastery which is described in another article as a short summary of which does not do it justice. The descent back into the valley of Paro is marked when the golden roof’s and great monastery of Takstang is seen thus marking the end of the Bumdra trek.
Day 9: Tiger’s Nest
Today you will be visiting the most iconic structure in the valley of Paro, the Tiger’s Nest.
2-3 hours hike to Tiger’s Nest
After a hearty breakfast in the jaw dropping landscape, it is time to either head straight back into the valley or linger awhile soaking up the view and perhaps hang some prayer flags of our own. Eventually we have to drop back into the ancient pine and rhododendron forest on the monks’ zig zagging trail. After 1-2 hours of descent we catch glimpses of the golden roofs of temples below and soon come upon the first of many on our way back from the wilds.
The path snakes across the mountainside between the monasteries and temples before reaching the gardens of Sangtopelri (Heaven on Earth) from which you can bravely peer over edge and straight down onto the ornate roofs Taktsang in the cliff far below. An hour later and we are at the gates of Taktsang looking across the gorge a steep descent to a waterfall then ascent on steps and you are passing into the Tiger’s Nest itself.
Lunch will be either at the tigers nest cafeteria or back to Paro town at the local restaurant.
After the hike you will visit Kichu lhakhang (Kichu it actually means the peaceful palace. There are three temples built by a very renowned person with different dates. The first temple was built by a 1st Dharma king of Tibet Songtsen Gampo in 7th century. He has built a 108 structure in a Himalayan region to ogress the evil spirits and out of those two temples was now in Bhutan and they are Kichu lhakhang in Paro and Jambay lhakhang in Bumthang.)
Later you can relax, try the traditional hot stone bath to relax all your body from the hike.
Day 10: Departure from Bhutan
Our guide and driver will bid farewell to you all. Please have a pleasant flight back home. We will be looking forward to seeing you again in future for another place to tour around. Thank You & Tashi Delek!