14 Days / 13 Nights
- Via Samdrup Jongkhar
Day 1: Paro Arrival
You will arrive at Bhutan’s international airport in Paro. Paro, Bhutan is situated in a beautiful valley at 2280 meters and the valley provides an incredible introduction to this magical kingdom. Your guide will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel where you can take a short break before heading out to see the sights. Your sightseeing tour around the Paro Valley will commence with a visit to the unique fifteenth century temple of Dungtse lhakhang. Continue your day with a stop at the National Museum to see a treasure trove of Bhutanese artifacts including religious Thangka paintings, weapons, costumes and a fascinating collection of stamps. The museum is housed in the Ta Dzong (watch tower), built in sixteen forty-nine C.E. and used to defend the Paro Valley during times of war. Finally, a visit to Ringpung Dzong which is one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture is a good way to round out your first day in Bhutan. Stay the night in Paro.
Day 2: Hike to Taktshang
Hike to the sacred Takshang Goenpa (Tiger’s Nest Monastery) built of a rock face nine hundred meters above the valley floor. During his second visit to Bhutan in the eighth century the Guru Rinphoche flew on the back of a tigress to the place where the monastery now stands in order to subdue the demon Singye Samdrup. After defeating the demon the Guru meditated at this location for three months. In the sixteenth century Gyalshe Tenzin Rabgay, then the ruler of Bhutan built the monastery in commemoration of the Guru’s feats. Takshang is considered one of the most holy sites. It is a highlight for any tourist visiting Bhutan and a place where all Bhutanese believe they must visit once in their lifetime. Upon returning from your hike to Taksang you can visit Drukgyal Dzong, the Victory Fortress, built in sixteen forty-four to celebrate the victory over Tibetan invaders. You will also be given an opportunity to visit the seventh century temple Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. At the conclusion of the day you will have time to walk around Paro town to shop and buy some souvenirs. Stay the night in Paro.
Day 3: Paro To Thimphu
After breakfast you will travel by car for about an hour to Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu. Along the way you can stop and take pictures of Taachog Ihakhang, a magnificent temple and you will have the opportunity to take a short walk to see the iron chain bridge both built by the great iron builder Drupthop Thanghong Gyalpo in the fifteenth century. Upon your arrival to Thimphu enjoy a walk and take in the sense of tradition as well as one of newfound modernization that the town has to offer. Visit the beautiful Memorial Chorten built in nineteen seventy-four by Her Majesty Azhi Phuntsho Choden Wangchuk. Continue onto Buddha Point to see one of the largest statues of the Buddha in the world. Sitting tall at fifty-one and a half meters the Buddha is situated on a point with a birds-eye view overlooking Thimphu city. You will have the opportunity to stop at the twelfth century Changangkha Temple with its original wall paintings and a unique statue of the God of Compassion in a seated posture with eleven faces. You may also wish to visit the Takin Reserve to see Bhutan’s one of a kind national animal. Tour a traditional painting school to see the artwork of Zorigchusum, the thirteen traditional arts and crafts. See the world’s largest published book at the National Library or stop at the Folk Heritage Museum to see an example of a traditional farmhouse. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 4: In and around Thimphu
Drive thirty minutes north of Thimphu for the Tango and Chari Hikes. The Tango hike takes about an hour and the leisurely walk delivers you to the Tango Monastery founded by lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa in the twelfth century. The present structure dates to the fifteenth century and was built by lama Drukpa Kuenley. The Buddhist University of Bhutan currently uses the monastery. The Chari Hike also takes about an hour. The trail starts from a quaint bridge that spans the Thimphu Chu and then climbs to the Chari Monastery. Chari Monastery was built in sixteen twenty by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is one of the first Buddhist monasteries in Bhutan. A silver chorten inside the monastery holds the ashes of Zhabdrung's father. After lunch back in Thimphu you can continue your sight seeing with a visit to the textile and weaving center at Changzamtok where you will see traditional styles of woven fabric on display. You also have the option to visit Tashichoe Dzong or the oldest fortress in Bhutan, Simtokha Dzong which was built in 1629. Stay the night stay in Thimphu.
Day 5: Thimphu to Punakha
After breakfast enjoy a scenic two and a half hour drive to Bhutan’s old capital, Punakha. The drive takes you through Dochula Pass at thirty-one hundred meters and on a clear day allows for great photo taking opportunities and a panoramic view of the eastern Himalayas. From the pass you will drive down to a low lying valley and after lunch you can enjoy a pleasant walk through terraced fields to Chimelhakhang, the fifteenth century temple of fertility. Visit Punakha Dzong, the Palace of Great Happiness and one of the most beautiful dzongs in Bhutan. Built in sixteen thirty-six, it stands majestically at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu rivers. Overnight in Punakha.
Day 6: Punakha to Trongsa
Travel by car for four and a half hours to Trongsa. At two thousand eighty meters Trongsa sits as the gateway to central Bhutan. Along the way you can make a stop to see Gangtey Sangacholing Monastery. The monastery, which is located in the Wangduephodrang district, sits in Phubjikha Valley and was built in sixteen thirteen. The valley is the winter home of the rare Black Necked Crane, a bird that migrates from Tibet and can be seen in Phobjekha from November to the end of March. Further along your journey, you will stop at Trongsa Dzong which houses twenty-five temples within its walls. Stay the night in Trongsa.
Day 7: Trongsa to Bumthang
Before embarking on your drive to Bumthang visit Taa Dzong, a watchtower used in the past during times of war that was converted into a museum in two thousand eight. The museum is dedicated to telling the stories of the Wangchuck Dynasty, Dzong itself and Trongsa village. Here you will see personal belongings on the Kings and Queens of Bhutan. Continuing on your journey (two and a half hours by car), you will cross the Yontongla Pass (thirty-two hundred meters) and see some of Bhutan’s most beautiful landscapes as you make your way to Bumthang an area noted for high valleys ranging between twenty-five hundred seventy meters and thirty-one hundred fifty meters. Before concluding your day you have the option of visiting the sacred monastery, Tharpaling Geonpa, founded by the Tibetan Nyingma Saint Longchen Rabjamba in thirteen hundred eight. The monastery is a ten- kilometer drive up a rough road from the village of Gaytsa Chuu. Several temples and over a hundred monks call the monastery home. You may also choose to stop at Nimalung Geonpa, another monastery on the way to Bumthang. Dorling Trulku founded this important Nyingma monastery in nineteen thirty-five that also houses about a hundred monks. In Zungney village you can stop to see craftsmen weaving Yatra, distinctive strips of woven woolen fabric that can be found in numerous colors and patterns and that are a very special local product from the Bumthang area. Spend the night in Bumthang.
Day 8: Bumthang Sightseeing
Spend the day sightseeing in the spiritual heartland of Bhutan. Spiritual Master Guru Rinpoche first visited Bumthang in the eight century and it is an area rich in legendary monasteries, temples and palaces. Visit holy sites including Jampa Lhakhang (built in the seventh century), Jakar Dzong- the White Bird Fortress,
Kurjey Lhakhang and take a short walk from Kurje to Tamzing Monastery which was built in the fifteenth century. After lunch a short drive will deliver you to Meabar Tsho, the burning lake, one of the most important holy sites in Bhutan. You will also have the opportunity to visit one of Bumthang’s famous Swiss Cheese factories and a dairy farm. Stay the night in Bumthang.
Day 9: Bumthang to Mongar
Today you will enjoy beautiful scenery and notice many changes in landscape and vegetation as you travel by road seven hours from Bumthang to Mongar. Cross to the Ura Valley via Ura La Pass (three thousand three hundred meters). You will have magnificent views of Gangkar Puensum, at seven thousand five hundred sixty-four meters it is the tallest of the Himalayas in Bhutan. The Ura Valley is the highest valley in the Bumthang region and is home to Ura village unique from other villages in Bhutan as the traditional houses are clustered around each other. The drive also takes you through Thrimsingla Pass (three thousand seven hundred eighty meters) and past the ruins of Zhongar Dzong, Mongar’s original dzong which has laid in ruins for centuries. Stay the night in Mongar.
Day 10: Mongar to Trashiyangtse
Today a four and a half hour drive will deliver you to Trashiyangtse. Along the way you will visit one of the largest and most important Nyingmapa monasteries in eastern Bhutan, Drametse Lhakhang. Founded in fifteen eleven by Ani Choeten Zangmo, a granddaughter of the famous treasure revealer Terton Pema Lingpa, she named the place Drametse meaning “No enmities place or peak”. Continue the drive to Trashiyangtse where you will stay the night.
Day 11: Trashiyangtse to Trashigang
After breakfast drive to Bumdeling, the roosting place of the Black Necked Crane which fly over from nearby Tibet to enjoy the winter months in a warmer climate. Visit Chorten Kora, a replica of the Stupa of Boudhanath in Nepal. Lama Ngawang Loday built the chorten to subdue and banish a demon from along the riverbank where the chorten stands today. It is said that since the construction of the chorten the people of the valley have lived in peace and harmony. After lunch begin your hour and a half journey back to Trashigang. Along the way you can stop and tour Gomphu Kora a seventeenth century temple built on one of the sacred holy sites of Guru Padmasambava who lived in the eight century. You will also have the opportunity to visit Trashigang Dzong, the Fortress of Auspicious Mount, built in sisteen fofty-nine by Kudung Pekar Chopel. Today the dzong is under renovation. Spent the night in Trashigang.
Day 12: Day Excursion to Radhi
Today an hour and a half drive brings you to Radhi for an excursion to see the Bura, raw silk woven textile famous in Bhutan and found only on Radhi. Tourists also visit the area for its beautiful landscapes and terraced fields. Locally this area is known as the Rice bowl of eastern Bhutan. On the way to Radhi you can visit the modern Nyingma monastery built by Garab Rinpoche in nineteen ninty. The monastery grounds you will be afforded good views of the valley below. After lunch a three hour drive will take you back to Mongar for an overnight intended to shorten you journey to Bumthang the next day. Stay the night in Trashigang.
Day 13: Trashigang to Samdrupjongkhar
A six-hour drive from Trashigang to Samdrupjongkhar delivers you to the commercial hub for the five eastern Dzongkhags. Samdrupjongkhar also serves as eastern Bhutan’s gateway to India. You will be given the opportunity to visit the newly built Zangtho Pelri Lhakhang and the beautiful gardens surrounding it.
Day 14: Departure from Samdrupjongkhar
Today your guide will accompany you on the three-hour drive to Guwahati, India. After arriving at the airport you’ll be wished a good journey and Tashidelek, Good Bye and Good Luck.