8 nights / 9 Days
To a great extent to set eyes on and experience in Bhutan, how does an individual opt how long to stay and what to catch a glimpse of? We have intended this trip to give you an incredible experience of way of life in Bhutan, from the urban to rural life, natural world and the stunning topography and, obviously, the ascetic life of this Buddhist Kingdom where Gross National Happiness is a privileged priority than Gross National Product.
Day 01. Arrive Paro (Altitude 2280 m) (By Druk Air flight): Your Guide from Pursue Bhutan Tours will receive you at the airport and drive you the short distance to the Hotel.
After lunch, drive to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong 16 km up the valley built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the Dzong was cracked by unintended fire and left in ruins as an evocative souvenir of the grand victories it was built to commemorate. Travel around the ramparts and on a clear day experience an unforgettable outlook of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m). On the way back, visit Kichu Lhakhang, built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan king Srongsen Gampo. Dinner and for the night in Tashi Namgay Resort or similar.
DAY 2. Paro – Thimphu, Excursion to Taktsang Monastery: (Altitude 2320 m, 54 kms) A very unique day, with an excursion to view the extravagant Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery – After breakfast a short drive takes us to Satsam Chorten, from there a 2 hours walk till the viewpoint of the monastery. The trail mounts through beautiful pine forest, numerous trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an intermittent grove of fluttering prayer flags. We stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria) and walk a short distance until we see, clearly and seemingly within reach, Taktsang monastery. The primary Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in the 1684by the Penlop of Paro Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo, said to be his favourite consort.
After Lunch, visit Ta Dzong (built in1656 and renovated in 1968), an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. Below the museum is the Paro Rimpung Dzong (literally meaning “Heap of Jewels”, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley. A short march takes you to the base of the Dzong and across a traditional cantilevered, enclosed bridge. On the way, visit Tamchog Monastery built by Thangthong Gyalpo (Popularly known as Lama Chazampa, which literally denotes, the Iron Bridge builder) in the 15thcentury. Thang Thong Gyalpo (1385 – 1464) was speculate working saint from Tibet who came to Bhutan in 1433 looking for Iron Ore. He built 108 bridges across Tibet and Bhutan, out of which 8 were constructed in Bhutan. His only existing bridge is in Duksum (Tashi Yangtse in Eastern Bhutan).
Drive to Thimphu. Dinner and overnight in Hotel Migmar or similar.
DAY 03. Thimphu Sightseeing: (Altitude 2320 m) The day commence with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten (1974) built in tribute of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and the Dupthop Lhakhang one of the minority surviving nunneries in Bhutan. We then visit the National Library, stocked with ancient Buddhist manuscripts, and the Painting School where traditional art is still kept flourishing through instructions in the art of painting Thangkas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls).
After lunch we drive to the Traditional Medicine Institute where medicines are organized according to prehistoric practices and to Lungtenzampa to observe the Royal silver smiths and Bhutanese paper factory at work. Other tourist attractions consist of a visit to the Tashichho Dzong, seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan) and finally visit the Handicrafts Emporium followed by shopping for souvenirs in the shops of Thimphu. Dinner and overnight in Hotel Migmar or similar.
DAY 04. Thimphu – Punakha: (Altitude 1310 m) (72 Kms, 3 hours drive). After breakfast, drive to Punakha via Dochula pass. If the weather is clear, we stop for a while at Dochula pass to view Higher Himalayas. On the way, visit Chime Lhakhang, which was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley. He subdued the demons with his “Magical Thunder bolt”. The Temple is also known as “the Temple of Fertility”. Lama Drukpa Kuenley (1455 – 1529) was one of the Bhutan’s Favourite Saints who was born in Tibet, trained at Ralung Monastery and was a contemporary and a disciple of Pema Lingpa. He Travelled throughout Bhutan and Tibet as a “Neljorpa” (Yogi) using songs, humour and outrageous behavior to dramatise his teachings of Salvation through sex.
After lunch, visit Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is situated between Pho Chu (Male river) and Mo Chu (Female river). For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the Government. The construction of the Dzong was prophesied by Guru Rimpoche, who forecasted, “…a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant”. There was a smaller building here called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Shabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, while Palep was sleeping, the Shabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From his vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which in keeping with the tradition, was never committed to paper. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk summoned the new national Assembly here in 1952.
Dinner and overnight in Punatsangchhu Cottages or similar.
DAY 05. Punakha – Gangtey – Trongsa: (Altitude 2800 m, 157 kms): We start early today. After breakfast, drive to Trongsa via. Gangtey. Enroute sightseeing in the valley of Wangdiphodrang, it includes: visit to Wangdiphodrang Dzong (from outside) built in 1638. Legend relates that as the people were searching for the site of the Dzong, four ravens were noticed flying away in four directions. This was judged propitious sign, symbolizing the enlarge of Buddhist religion to the four points of the compass. The Dzong is situated at the convergence of Mo Chu and Tang Chu rivers. Drive further to Gangtey. Visit Gangtey Gompa. Gyaltse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa founded the Temple in 1613, and Tenzin Legpai Dhendup, the second re-embodiment, built the temple. The present Abbot, Kunzang Pema Namgyal is the ninth re-incarnation. It is a Nyingmapa monastery and is affiliated to other Nyingmapa monasteries including Tamshing in Bumthang. see the sights of Phobjikha valley, famed for the Black Necked Cranes during winter. Packed lunch will be served at Gangtey. After Lunch, drive to Trongsa. Visit Trongsa Dzong, the most inspiring Dzong in Bhutan, put up in its current structure in 1644 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the official who was sent by Shabdrung to unify eastern Bhutan and expand at the end of the 17th century by Desi Tenzin Rabgay. Trongsa Dzong is the ancestral habitat of the present Royal Family and first two hereditary kings ruled Bhutan from this Dzong. Then Visit Ta Dzong, a prehistoric watch tower. The chapel inside the Ta Dzong is devoted to the Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal. Dinner and overnight in Yangkhil Resort or similar.
DAY 06. Trongsa – Bumthang: (Altitude 2800 m, 68 kms): After breakfast, drive to Bumthang. Lunch at Bumthang. After that visit Jakar Dzong, this literally means “The Castle of White Bird”. The current structure was built in 1667. Visit Jambay Lhakhang said to have been built by King Srongsen Gampo of Tibet in the year 659 on the same day as Kichu Lhakhang in Paro. The temple was visited by Guru Rimpoche during his trip to Bumthang and was refurbished by Sindhu Raja after Guru Rimpoche restored his life power. Under the temple is said to be a lake in which Guru Rimpoche hid numerous Terma. In October one of the most fabulous festival, “Jambay Lhakhang Drup” is here.
Dinner and overnight in Swiss Guest House or similar.
DAY 07. Bumthang Sightseeing (Altitude 2800 m): After breakfast, visit Kurjey Lhakhang that is named after body print of Guru Rimpoche, built in 1652 by Minjur Tempa. Then visit Tamshing Lhakhang (Temple of the good message), established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and is the most significant Nyingmapa temple in the kingdom. After the lunch, visit Membartsho (Literally means “The Burning Lake”), a short distance up the road leading to Tang valley. The Terton Pema Lingpa discovered several of Guru Rimpoche’s hidden Terma / relics here and stopover Mathra factory & Cheese Factory. In the evening, visit to a Bhutanese Farm House. Dinner and overnight in Swiss Guest House or similar.
DAY 08. Bumthang – Thimphu: (Altitude 2320 m) Early breakfast, drive to Thimphu. Packed lunch will be served on the way. Dinner and overnight in Hotel Migmar or similar.
DAY 09. Thimphu – Paro Airport: (Altitude 2320 m, 54 kms) Early Morning, drive to the airport and Farewell.
Distance & Driving time:
Paro to Thimphu – 54 Km – 1 Hr.
Thimphu to Punakha – 76 Km – 3 Hrs
Punakha to Wangdue – 17 Km – 40 Min.
Wangdue to Gangtey – 66 Km – 2.5 Hrs
Wangdue to Trongsa – 129 Km – 5 Hrs
Trongsa to Bumthang – 68 Km – 3 Hrs
Highest altitude: Yotong La Pass (3425m)