In this trip, you will be able to cover Paro, Thimphu and Punakha districts. There are no traffic lights in the streets of the entire country. It is a land, where Gross National Happiness is considered more important than Gross National Product. It still has a living culture and is the last bastion of Mahayana Buddhism.
The trip will cover the Bhutan’s new capital city, Thimphu as well as the old capital city- Punakha. Hike to the Tiger’s Nest, located above 2900 m above the Paro Valley upon the rocky cliff is optional. You will cross over the Dochula Pass, located at an elevation of 3050m. On a clear day, you will be able to see a chain of snow-clad mountains, all above 6960 m height forming a natural boundary between Tibetan Autonomous Region of China and Bhutan on the northern side. Some of these mountains have been never climbed even today.
Activity: Cultural tours and natural sightseeing combined with walking and hiking.
Day 01: Bangkok to Paro to Thimphu (55 km / approx one hour)
During the journey to Paro, you will experience breathtaking views of Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga and other famous Himalayan peaks, including the sacred Mt. Jomolhari and Mt. Jichu Drake in Bhutan.
Upon arrival at Paro International Airport, and completion of immigration formalities and collection of your baggage, you will be welcomed by our tour representative who will be your tour guide during your entire trip to Bhutan.
Before driving to Thimphu, visit Kyichu Lhakhang (Lhakhang stands for monastery), one of the two oldest lhakhangs located in Bhutan. The drive from Paro to Thimphu takes you along the Paro Chu (Chu means water or river) downstream to the confluence with the Wang Chu, then turn upstream and travel along the Wang Chu to Thimphu.
In the afternoon, visit the Memorial Chorten (a huge stupa) built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned the Kingdom from 1952-1972. Next, visit the Mini Zoo, which houses the national animal-Takin will be a place of interest to visit. The 4th King at one point wanted the animals to be released to the jungle; however, they kept moving in the Thimphu town and had to be re-confined at the enclosure. Before, we windup the day, make a visit to Visit Tashichhodzong, the seat of the Royal Government of Bhutan since 1952 and presently housing the throne room of His Majesty and the secretariat. Tashichhodzong is also home of the Central Monastic Body which is the apex organization of the country’s main spiritual order. Overnight stay at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 02: Drive from Thimphu to Punakha/Wangduephodrang and explore Punakha and Wangduephodrang (86 km / approx 2½ hours)
In the morning, take a ride to the Buddha Point (Kuenselphodrang), where the tallest Buddha statue is under construction and enjoy view of the southern part of Thimphu valley.
An hour’s drive will take you to Dochula Pass (10,130ft/3150m), from where you can experience panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges on a clear day. On the way, down the hill towards Punakha valley, you will also see lots of flora and fauna.
En-route take a hike to Chimi Lhakhang (Temple of Fertility). The walk will take about one hour (two ways) and would entail a gentle climb to a hillock, where the monastery dedicated to Divine Madman, Drukpa Kuenly is located. The Divine Madman came to Bhutan from Tibet in the 15th Century to introduce Drukpa Kagyugpa sect of Buddhism in Bhutan. He spread the religion by the nature of the sex and joked which has made it so unique than others.
After lunch, take a mini hike/walk uphill (30-40 min) to Khamsum Yuellay Namgyal Chorten (stupa). Next, visit Punakha Dzong placed strategically at the junction of the Po Chu and Mo Chu rivers. It was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative centre of the region. Damaged over the centuries by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake and floods, the dzong has been fully restored in recent years by the Royal Government.
Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955 and is still the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot). Blessed with a temperate climate and fed by the Pho Chu (male) and Mo Chu (female) rivers, Punakha is the most fertile valley in the country. Before closing the day, drive to Wangduephodrang to see the fortress which was burnt down in October 2012. Plan is afoot to rebuild it. Overnight stay at a hotel in Punakha.
Day 03: Drive from Punakha to Paro and explore Paro (126 km / approx 5½ hours):
Make an early drive to Paro via Thimphu. The beautiful Paro valley provides a visitor with all the essential elements of Bhutan, in general – ancient temples, massive forts, monasteries, picturesque villages, scenic hikes, and drives. Reaching Paro, take a hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) or explore monasteries and dzongs in Paro.
The climb up to Taktsang will take around 3-4 hours. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. You stop for a rest and light refreshments at the only cafeteria mid-way and then further walk a short distance until we see Taktsang monastery.
The monastery was built in this holy place in 1684 A.D. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, flew here in the form of Dorji Drolo, mounted on a flaming tigress in 747 A.D. and meditated for 3 months. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900m into the valley below. Lunch will be served at the cafeteria and after lunch you will return to Paro.
Before driving to hotel, take a drive to the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, 16km up the valley. This dzong was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders in 1644 (in fact the dzong’s name means “victorious Bhutan”). The Dzong was used as an administrative center until 1951 when a fire caused by a butter lamp destroyed it. Then, drive back to Paro town and visit the Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong) built in 1646 and currently housing administrative offices. Take a close view of the Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower, which has been the national museum of Bhutan since 1967. A short distance further is one of the innumerable archery grounds (archery is the national sport of Bhutan and if we are lucky, we may catch a match in action). The evening ends with a walk through Paro’s main shopping area. Overnight stay at a hotel in Paro.
Day 04: Depart Paro
After breakfast at the hotel, our representative will drop you at Paro International Airport for onward flight to destination. It is end of your tour.
Thank you & Tashi Delek!