Tour Duration; 6nights/ 7 days
Date; In May 2017.
Places of Visit; Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangduephodrang and Phobjikha.
A glimpse of Bhutan will take you across the western towns and valleys of Paro, Punakha and Wangduephodrang, including the bustling capital city Thimphu, You will see numerous Dzongs (fortress) and ancient monasteries, visit quaint villages and interact with the locals in remote villages – an opportunity to experience the rich culture and tradition up-close.
If you are lucky, we’ll have glorious views of the snow-capped Himalayas on the way to Paro (try and get the left hand seat for the better view of the Himalayas). The remarkable steep decent into the Paro valley is an awe-inspiring beginning to your adventure. Your guide and driver will receive you at Paro international airport.
Take a drive straight to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan following Pa chhu downstream, and on the way stop by to visit the Bhutan’s oldest iron chain bridge, which was built in the early 15th century by the great master architect and Yogi Thangtong Gyalpo (1385-1464).
Continue your journey to Thimphu and 1.5 hours drive, you will reached to the Capital city of Bhutan.
Check-in at hotel, take a short rest and after that go for sightseeing. Visit to Memorial Chorten (Stupa), built in the memory of the Third king, in 1974. Take a short drive to see the 51 meters golden statue of the Buddha Dordenma, one of the biggest and tallest Buddha statues in the world. The bird’s eye view of the city below is breathtaking. You can also visit the Jungshi Paper Factory, the process of handmade paper making can be observed. Paper samples and gifts items can be purchased too.
Night halt: Thimphu
After breakfast, make your way across the town to visit to Trashichho Dzong, the summer palace of the Abbot, the spiritual leader of the kingdom and you can also see the Golden Throne and the palace of Present King. Again drive 5 minutes to visit the Zorig chusum Institute, which literally translates as the thirteen arts and crafts of Bhutan. It is popularly known as Painting school. You will meet the talented artists and student at work.
Visit the Folk Heritage Museum – a 300 year old traditional house converted into museum, that depicts Bhutan’s ancient cultural heritage. The museum is an example of the old world charm where you can experience the rural Bhutanese life of the past centuries.
You will then come across the town to visit the popular Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre in Changzamtok. There is a showroom where you will see the exquisite Kira (Bhutanese women dress) and Gho(men dress) on display. The ground floor is the weaving room where you can get a close glimpse of the weavers at their looms.
If it is weekend and week days like Thursday and Friday, you can visit to the bustling weekend market and now is known as Centenary Farmer’s Market. Local farmers from the nearby villages bring their farm produce to sell at the market.
Now you will drive 24 km to Dochula pass. the elevation of this place is 3140m(10,171ft). It is the highest point between Thimphu and punakha where 108 memorial Chorten or Stupa known as Druk Wangyal Chortens. On the clear weather, the pass commands a wonderful panorama of the Eastern Himalayas.
From Dochula pass to Punakha, you begin to descending through varied forest and by 1.5 hours you finally reach into the highly cultivated valley of Punakha- the old capital of Bhutan.
Stop for lunch; enjoy the local Bhutanese cuisine at a popular restaurant in the town.
Right after lunch, you make your visit to the magnificent 17th century Punakha Dzong,where the royal wedding took place in 2011. Punakha is the winter palace for Je Khenpo, the spiritual head or head of the religion.
The Dzong sits on the confluence of Mo chhu(female) and Pho chhu(male) rivers with their distinct blue and green appearances. It is the second oldest and second largest Dzong in Bhutan.
Night halt: Punakha
DAY 03: PUNAKHA/WANGDUE/ PHOBJIKHA
After breakfast, take a drive downstream of punatshang chhu river, you will pass by the Wangdue Dzong which is under renovation after it was destroyed by fire in 2012. You will then drive along the river and gradually climb the Black Mountains to make your way to Phobjikha valley.
Welcome to the charming valley of Phobjikha, is the one of the few glacial valleys and one of the three winter roosting grounds for the endangered black-nacked cranes which migrate from Tibetan plateau, avoiding the extremely cold winters. These elegant and shy birds can be observed from the end of October to the end of March.
This valley is one of the most beautiful spots in Bhutan. The surprise of finding such a wide, flat valley without any trees after hard climb through dense forest which is an extremely rare experience in Bhutan where most of the valleys are tightly enclosed. Short 1-2 hours nature walks (Nature Trail) through the villages and the valley are a wonderful experience. Drive to visit the small Crane observation centre to learn more about the cranes.
Night halt: Phobjikha
DAY 04: PHOBJIKHA/PUNAKHA
After breakfast, you can visit the lovely 17th century Gangtey Monastery which sits on the hill that rises from the valley floor. Slowly make your journey back to Punakha with plenty of stopover along the way. We will take short drive to enjoy the view of the lovely Khamsum Yuelley Chorten (Stupa), which sits atop a hill overlooking the Punakha valley. You can take a short hike through paddy field and start climbing the up-hill for 45 minutes ,and coming down is around 30 minutes. The Stupa was built in 1998 by the Queen Mother for the peace and harmony in the country and the rest of the world.
Visit the famous Chimmi lhakhang which sits snugly on a hilltop amidst paddy field. The temple is also known as the ‘temple of fertility’ dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who is also known as the Divine Madman.
Night halt: Punakha
After breakfast, you can slowly make your journey back to Thimphu with plenty of stopover along the way re-crossing the Dochu la pass. Stop for lunch at Thimphu and can visit the handicraft shops if you are looking for souvenir from Bhutan. After shopping,continue your journey back to Paro.
At Paro valley, you can visit Ta Dzong, an old watchtower, which now house of the National Museum of bhutan, and displays hundreds of ancient Bhutanese artifacts and artwork including traditional costumes, Armour, weaponry and the natural heritage.
Below you will see the lovely Paro Rinpung Dzong. Built in 1644. the Dzong is very famous as the Little Buddha film shooting was done here and moreover the Hongkong cinema star, Tony Leung and Carina Lau’s wedding pictures were taken here.
Night Halt: Paro
DAY 06:HIKE TO TIGER’S NEST MONASTERY
After breakfast, you will hike up-hill for around 2-3 hours to visit the Takstang Monastry (Tiger’s nest) temple that clings dramatically on the huge rock cliff, 900 m above the Paro valley. The most scared and famous temple of Bhutan. According to the legend, Guru Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche, who spread Buddhism across the Himalayas, is said to have flown here in 8th century on the back of a tigress, and has meditated here for three years in the small cave where the main shrine of the monastery stands today. Enjoy cup of tea or coffee at the cafeteria with the breathtaking view of the monastery in the background.
Specail note; Those who are not really good hiker, always recommend to take horses from the base till half the way, where you can take rest at cafeteria. Horses can be arranged with an extra payment.
On the way back, visit to Bhutan’s oldest temple Kyichu Lhakhang(temple). Built in 659A.D, by the Tibetan Buddhist King, Songtsen Gempo. It is said that he has built 108 temples around the Himalayas range in a day and two are in Bhutan.
Later in the evening, if will visit a Traditional Farmhouse to see the everyday life of rural Bhutan. If you want to experience, we will arrange for you to enjoy a hot soak in the traditional hot stone bath. It is believed that your knees and ankle pain will be relief by taking that bath. The river stones are placed in an open fire and the red-hot stones are then placed in the wooden to heat the spring water full of natural mineral. Herbal plants are also added in the warm bath where you will enjoy a luxurious soak and feel like native Bhutanese.
Note; the hot stone bath can be arranged at an additional cost.
Night halt: Paro
DAY 07: DEPART PARO
After early breakfast, drive to airport in time to catch onwards flight to Bangkok/ Singapore. Your escort from Norwang Sachu Travels will bid you farewell and soon the remote and legendary Dragon Kingdom will disappears again behind its guardian mountains.
Thank you & Tashi Delek.