14 Days / 13 Nights
Day 1: Arrival; Paro, Bhutan and drive to Thimphu
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 you will be driven to Thimphu by way of the Paachu and Wangchu River valleys. 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. After the short drive to Thimphu enjoy a walk through the capital and take in the sense of tradition and that of a newfound modernization that the town has to offer. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 2: Thimphu Sightseeing
Start your day of sightseeing with a visit to 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. You will have the option to visit a textile-weaving center at Changzamtok and Tashichoe Dzong as well as Simtokha Dzong, built in sixteen twenty-nine and the oldest surviving fortress in Bhutan. Discuss your interests with your guide and plan a memorable day sightseeing around a amazing city. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 3: 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 Chimi Lhakhang, 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 4: 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 5: Trongsa to Bumthang
You will travel two and a half hours by car to Bumthang via the Yontongla Pass (thirty-two hundred meters) and see some of Bhutan’s most beautiful landscapes. Bumthang lies in an area noted for high valleys ranging between twenty-five hundred seventy meters and thirty-one hundred fifty meters. Along the way 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 6: 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 7: Bumthang Day Excursions
You have a choice from three spectacular day excursions to picturesque valleys in the surrounding area. You can spend the day visiting the Tang Valley and the eighteenth century Uygen Choling Palace. Driving to the Tang Valley takes two hours and you will see many small, remote villages along the way. Uygen Choling is the palace of the Trongsa governor Uygen Phuntsho and it has been converted into a museum where many of the governor’s belongings are on display. The second excursion to the Chokor-toe Valley offers a two and a half hour hike from above Thangbi Temple to the ruins of Draphe Dzong a seventeenth century fortress. Or you can visit Ngag Lhakhag a fifteenth century temple built by lam Namkha Samdup a contemporary of Pema Lingpa. A short walk to the Chokhor Dzong is also an option. The Chokor-toe Valley is an hour and a half drive from your accommodations in Bumthang. The third excursion, a two and a half hour drive, takes you to the Ura Valley via Ura La Pass (three thousand three hundred meters). Here 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 you will visit Ura village unique from other villages in Bhutan as the traditional houses are clustered around each other. Stay the night in Bumthang.
Day 8: Bumthang to Phobjekha
After breakfast depart Bumthang for the five and a half hour drive to the Phobjekha Valley situated at twenty-seven hundred meters above sea level. The valley is the winter home of the rare Black Necked Crane, a rare bird that migrates from Tibet and can be seen in Phobjekha from November to the end of March. Along your journey to Phobjekha you will stop for a visit to Trongsa Dzong which houses twenty-five temples within its walls. After arriving in the Phobjekha Valley you can visit Gangtey Sangacholing Monastery, built in sixteen thirteen and unique in that it is the only Nyingma monastery in western Bhutan. You will also have a chance to hike the Gangtey Natural Trail, a one and a half hour walk to the valley floor through a beautiful Blue Pine forest with lovely views overlooking the nesting ground of the Black Necked Crane. Stay the night in Phobjekha.
Day 9: Phobjekha to Paro
After breakfast the day starts with a six-hour drive back to Paro. In the afternoon your sightseeing tour will commence with a visit to the unique fifteenth century temple of Dungtse lhakhang. Continue 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. Round out your day with a visit to Ringpung Dzong, one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. Stay the night in Paro.
Day 10: Day Excursion to Haa
Today you will make an excursion to Haa. The three hour drive via the Chelele Pass at almost four thousand meters will allow for spectacular views of Mt. Jomolhari, standing at seven thousand four hundred fifty six meters it is the second highest of the Bhutanese Himalaya and is known by locals as the “Mountain of God”. Your guide will arrange for a hot picnic lunch to accompany you, if weather permits, to allow you to enjoy all of the awe-inspiring scenery which will be set before you. Once you arrive in Haa you can continue the sight-seeing with a visit to Lhakhang Karpo, The White Temple, and Lhakhang Nakpo, The Black Temple. Take a relaxed stroll around the town center and enjoy an optional walk to Haa Katso Village. Or, drive back to the Chelele Pass for an hour and a half hike through a rhododendron and hemlock forest to Kila Goenpa, the Kila Nunnery Monastery. Conclude your day with a drive back to Paro. Spend the night in Paro.
Day 11: Hike to Taktshang(Tigers Nest)
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. Stay the night in Paro.
Day 12: Drive to Paro Airport and departure
Your guide will accompany you to the airport to see you off and wish you a good journey and Tashidelek, Good Bye and Good Luck.