Thimphu – Trongsa – Bumthang – Gangtey – Punakha – Paro (10 nights / 11 days)
This tour of Bhutan starts in the capital city of Thimphu, the seat of Bhutan Government and then you travel eastwards to Trongsa, known for its picturesque dzong, and Bumthang, a fascinating confluence of four valleys. Also visit Gangtey, famous for black-necked crane – winter visitors from China and Tibet. Moving on to Punakha whose Dzong is amongst the most beautiful in the country. Return to Paro to visit iconic Tiger’s Nest monastery and other attractions before flying out. The accommodation is comfortable but shorn of trappings of luxury.
You will arrive Paro. Our representative will meet you and transfer to Thimphu via Chuzom, where Paro and Thimphu rivers meet. You will stay in Thimphu for two nights. In the afternoon, you will enjoy sightseeing of the King’s Memorial Chorten, constructed by King Jigme Dorji for world peace and prosperity.
The morning sightseeing in Thimphu valley includes visits to the National Library, housing an extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts, the Textile and Folk Heritage Museum, and the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School), where students undergo a 6-year training course in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts. The afternoon sightseeing includes the Handicrafts Emporium and local crafts shops. You will also see Trashichhoedzong – an impressive fortress housing the Secretariat building and the throne of His Majesty.
In the morning you will drive up to Dochu-la pass (10,100 feet) – on a clear day one can see various peaks including Gangkar Puensum- the highest peak in Bhutan (24,600 feet) and carry on to Wangduephodrang. You will visit the magnificent dzong, stretched on a ridge above the confluence of Punakha Chu and Tang Chu rivers. Then continue to Trongsa across Pele-la pass (10,800 feet), the traditional boundary between east and west Bhutan, marked by a white chorten and prayer flags. You will also see Chendbji Chorten en route, patterned on Kathmandu’s Swayambhunath Stupa. You will stay overnight in Trongsa.
Today morning you will visit the Trongsa Dzong, the ancient seat of royal power. Trongsa Dzong is a massive structure with many levels. It slopes down the contours of the ridge on which it is built. Later you will drive to Bumthang, crossing the Yutong-la pass (11,100 feet) which leads to the wide, open, cultivated Chumey valley. You will stay in Bumthang for next two nights.
Bumthang is a combination of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura, varying from 8,500 feet to 13,100 feet in altitude. It is home to many prominent temples and monasteries and is an ideal base for walks. You will spend the day visiting Kurje Lhakhang, where the saint Padmasambhava subdued a demon and left his body imprint on a rock, the Jambey Lhakhang (7th century temple), Tamshing Lhakhang (housing some of the oldest wall paintings in Bhutan) and Jakar Dzong (administrative headquarter of the region). Also enjoy a stroll in the village in the evening.
Today morning you will drive to Gangtey or Phobjika Valley. You will stay overnight in Gangtey. This is a winter habitat for black-necked cranes that migrate from the Central Asiatic plateau. The afternoon is free to walk around in the village and visit Gangtey Gompa, the only Nyingmapa monastery in this region.
Today you will drive to Punakha and stay there for next two nights,
Today morning you will enjoy an excursion to Chimi Lhakhang – half an hour walk from the road head. The monastery was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenly also known as ‘Divine Madman’. In the afternoon you will visit the beautiful Punakha Dzong – a massive structure built at the confluence of two rivers. Bhutan’s first King, Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned here in 1907. The fortress has withstood damage from fire, earthquake and flood over the centuries.
After breakfast, you will drive back to Paro after crossing Dochu La once again. You will spend two nights in Paro. After lunch, visit the Rinpung Dzong and Ta Dzong which houses the National Museum.
In the morning you will visit the famous Taktsang Monastery or “Tiger’s Nest”, precariously resting on a hillside. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated, hence the name. It is an arduous climb – it is also possible to climb half way for a closer look, not an easy climb either. The monastery is, in any case, viewed from across another hill and entry is restricted. You can rest in the afternoon or see more of the local attractions like Kyichu Lhakhang.
You will be transferred back to Paro airport to board your return flight home.