This tour will take you right to the heart of Bhutan, Bumthang (the central region). It is a beautiful and picturesque valley. You will get to experience the rural part of the country, visit important cultural sites, experience the unique tradition and culture and see beautiful landscapes. The gentle slops surrounding Bumthang, provides ample number of country walks.
This valley also hosts a number of local festivals, so this trip is customizable depending on which season you are traveling.
Day 1: Arrive. Transfer to Hotel, Overnight at 3 stars hotel in Paro.
Day 2: Transfer to Bumthang by 30 mins domestic flight. Overnight at 3 stars hotel in Bumthang.
Day 3: Explore Bumthang valley, Overnight at 3 stars hotel in Bumthang.
Day 4: Transfer to Phobjikha, Overnight at 3 stars hotel in Phobjikha.
Day 5: Explore Phobjikha valley, Overnight at 3 stars hotel in Punakha.
Day 6: Transfer to Punakha valley, Overnight at 3 stars hotel in Punakha.
Day 7: Explore Punakha valley, Overnight at 3 stars hotel in Thimphu.
Day 8: Transfer to Thimphu, Overnight at 3 stars hotel in Thimphu.
Day 9: Transfer to Paro, Overnight at 3 stars hotel in Paro.
Day 10: Trek Tiger nest monastery. Overnight at 3 stars hotel in Paro.
Day 11: International Departure to your onward journey
Day 1: PARO (2300 m)
ARRIVE : PARO AIRPORT.
Check in hotel and have lunch.
Our pilgrimage begins with a visit to the auspicious kyichu Lhakhang.
The 7th century monastery is one of the oldest and most sacred temples in the Kingdom where the seed of Buddhism was won in Bhutan. The Tibetan King, Songsten Gempo ordered the establishment of monasteries in the Himalayan region to subdue evil spirits and to spread Buddhism. Of the 108 monasteries which were to be built, two major ones were built in Bhutan namely the Kyichu Lhakhang and the Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang.
In the evening a leisurely walk down to stroll the Paro town.
OVERNIGHT AT 3 STARS HOTEL IN PARO.
Day 2: BUMTHANG (2600 m)
PARO – BUMTHANG (30 Mins flight)
Bumthang is the most eastern point of your pilgrimage through the Land of the Thunder Dragon. It is considered by the Bhutanese as the spiritual hub of the country.
After lunch at he hotel we will explore the valley with a visit to Jakar Dzong.
The Dzong was founded by Ngagi Wangchuk as a small hermitage in 1549. It was expanded in 1646 to help consolidate the Zhabdrung’s expanding power into the eastern region. Scouting for a place for the dzong, a small white bird was seen perched on a hill, which was taken as an auspicious sign, and hence the name Jakar, meaning the “white bird”. The dzong is now the seat of district administration and monastic body of Bumthang valleys.
In the evening explore Wangdichhoeling palace, home to the 2nd King, and the auspicious prayer wheels next door.
OVERNIGHT AT 3 STARS HOTEL IN BUMTHANG.
Day 3: BUMTHANG
Today’s exploration of the Bumthang valley begins with visit to the auspicious Jampa Lhakhang.
The monastery is believed to have been built in the year 659 by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo, on the same day as Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro, in order to subdue a Tibetan demoness. It was here that Guru Rinpoche conducted the first sermon on Tantric Buddhism for his host King Sindhu Raja, the local ruler and his family. The place where Guru Rinpoche sat during the sermon can still be seen. Every year in October, the temple hosts a spectacular festival, the Jampa Lhakhang Drup. Two of the main attractions are the fire dance and the treasure dance or ‘naked dance’, and the fertility blessings for women.
And later we will visit Kurjey Lhakhang.
The monastery is named after the body (kur) print (jey) of Guru Rinpoche who was invited to meditate here in 746 AD to subdue evil spirits and demons. There are three temples; the oldest temple was built in 1652 on the rock face where Guru Rinpoche meditated. The body imprint of the great master can be seen distinctly in the rock cave enshrined in the temple. The second was built in 1900 by the first King when he was still the Governor of Trongsa. The third temple was built in 1990 with the support of the Queen Mother Ashi Kesang. A wall of 108 chortens surrounds the temple grounds and symbolizes Buddha’s victory over the evil spirits. The Cypress tree which is seen near the temple is believed to have grown from the Guru’s walking stick.
Lunch at Dorjibi Farmhouse. The family has cooked for the Royal family for generations. There the food is not just traditional Bhutanese food but serves Bumthang specialties made from local products such as buckwheat. By the time you arrive at their house, the lady of the house will have spent the entire afternoon preparing a range of local dishes, including some of the Royal family’s favorites for you to enjoy along with a taste of their home made local wine (ara).
After lunch we will continue our visit to Tamshing Lhakhang (temple of good message) The monastery is located in a village across the river from Kurjey. It was built by Pema Lingpa in 1501 and is the most important Nyingma Lhakhang in the Kingdom. Being a skilled tantric master and an artist, Pema Lingpa sculpted the main statues and painted the frescoes, which can be seen even today, mostly in original state. He also created a 25 kg suit of chain-mail armor and it is believed that you will be freed from your sins if you carry it around the lhakhang three times.
OVERNIGHT AT 3 STARS HOTEL IN BUMTHANG
Day 4: PHOBJIKHA VALLEY (2900 m)
BUMTHANG–PHOBJIKHA VALLEY (5 hrs drive )
Phobjikha Valley is one of the most stunning areas in the country. The wide flat valley without any trees after the hard climb through dense forest is an extremely rare experience in Bhutan. In contrast to some parts of Bhutan, where modern development is already very apparent, Phobjikha is a place with natural beauty, untouched scenery, local traditions and culture, and unconstrained peacefulness.
Today our pilgrimage takes us back to wards west Bhutan following the only east west highway over Yotong la Pass into Trongsa valley.
We will briefly visit the Trongsa Museum housed in the Ta Dzong (watch tower). This watch tower on the hill above the Dzong has been converted in to a state of art museum in 2008.
We will also visit the Trongsa Dzong. This commanding Dzong is perhaps the biggest and the most spectacular sited Dzong in Bhutan. The Dzong’s strategic location gave it great power over this part of the country. The Dzong is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s royal family. The first two hereditary kings ruled from this dzong.
After the visit we will continue driving thru the alpine forest of fir, juniper, hemlock and rhododendron. After roughly one hour drive we will arrive at a valley filled with dwarf bamboos. There we will stop for picnic lunch in front of Chendebje Chorten. The chorten is at a lovely spot by the river side. The large chorten was built in the 19th century by a lama from tibet to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was killed there. Chendbji is considered as boundary between eastern and western Bhutan.
Our journey continues over Pelela pass (3400 m) and wind our way into glacier valley of Phobjikha filled with dwarf bamboos. The valley is one of the most important wildlife preserve in the country, because of the large flock of black necked cranes that migrates from Tibet in the winter.
OVERNIGHT AT 3 STARS HOTEL IN PHOBJIKHA VALLEY.
Day 5: PUNAKHA (1300 m)
PHOBJIKHA VALLEY – PUNAKHA (2.5 hrs drive)
Before driving to Punakha we will explore Phobjikha valley. We will begin with the visit to the famous 16th century Gangtey Goemba that overlooks the large green expanse of the valley. The monastery is surrounded by a large village inhabited mainly be the families of the Gomchens (lay monk) who take care of the monastery.
After the visit we will go on a beautiful 2 hrs hike ‘The Gangtey the nature trail’. It will end in the middle of the valley just next to the Khewang Lhakhang (oldest monastery of the valley).
There the car will pick us up and drive back to the hotel for hot lunch.
After lunch we will drive to the lower valley of Punakha.The sub-tropical valleys of Punakha and the surrounding mountain sides offer a large variety of attractive places to explore and discover monasteries and the most impressive Dzong in the country.
We will decent 1600 meters just in 2 hrs winding our way through Wangdi into Punakha valley. We will briefly stop to have a view of the ruin of Wangdiphodrang Dzong. The Dzong was destroyed by fire in June 2012. The dzong is perched on a spur at the confluence of two rivers. It is remarkable as it completely commands an impressive view over both the directions.
OVERNIGHT AT 3 STARS HOTEL IN PUNAKHA.
Day 6: PUNAKHA (1300 m)
After breakfast we will travel up the valley north and cross the Mo Chhu to hike up and pay respect to the grand Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten. The Chorten is 30 meters (100 feet) tall and can be seen in the distance when driving. The three-leveled chorten took eight and a half years to build and was consecrated in 1999. Dedicated to the Fifth King, it was built to remove negative forces and to provide peace, stability, and harmony in an ever- changing world. It is therefore filled with every form of colorful protector imaginable.
After lunch we will drive down to visit the stunning Punakha Dzong.
The Dzong is considered one of the most important and also one of the most beautiful Dzongs in the Kingdom. It was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1637, and was the seat of the government every winter until Thimphu was established as the permanent capital in 1955. It is still the winter residence of the Dratshang (Central Monastic Body). Take time to admire the impressive, colourful and detailed artistry of the surroundings, including huge statues of Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, as well as paintings of one-thousand Buddhas.
Towards evening we will take a short walk to visit the newly constructed Nunnery just above our hotel.
It was built by King Jigme’s maternal grandfather. Inside the monastery we can see very large statue of Chenresig (Avalokiteshvara) bodhisattva of compassion. The nunnery has stunning view of both Punakha and Wangdi Valley. The nunnery houses about 120 nuns from around the country.
OVERNIGHT AT 3 STARS HOTEL IN PUNAKHA.
Day 7: THIMPHU (2300 m)
PUNAKHA – THIMPHU (3 hrs drive)
Today we journey towards west into the booming metropolis of Thimphu. Situated at an altitude of 2,300 m, It is the home to 100,000 Bhutanese.
On our way to Thimphu, roughly 15 minutes drive from the hotel we will stop to hike to the famous Chimi Lhakhang (Fertility temple. 1 hr hike) The 30-minute walk from the road to the lhakhang is through open farmland and rice paddies. It is believed that a demoness who had been terrorizing the valley transformed herself into a black dog to escape the wrath of Drukpa Kuenlay, the Divine Madman. However, he caught the dog and buried it under a pile of earth shaped like a woman’s breast. He then built a chorten on top of this mount and prophesied that a temple would one day be consecrated over it. True to the prophecy, his brother, Lam Ngawang Chogyal, built Chime Lhakhang in 1456.
If you are wishing for a child, it is believed by the Bhutanese that a visit to the Divine Madman’s temple, Chime Lhakhang, might help increase your chances! Thousands of people visit this temple on pilgrimage and numerous couples visit the lhakhang to pray to become pregnant and receive a wang (blessing) from the saint with the magic thunderbolt of wisdom. Many parents also bring their newborn children to receive the baby’s name from the local lama.
After the hike we will drive up the mountain for 2 hrs until we reach the Dochula pass (3000 m).
There if weather permits we will be able to see the extended eastern himalayas in Bhutan.
We will have our lunch at the cafeteria visit the Dochula monastery and continue our journey to the capital city Thimphu.
OVERNIGHT AT 3 STARS HOTEL IN THIMPHU.
Day 8: THIMPHU
Thimphu being the capital of Bhutan, offers unique opportunities to explore the Bhutanese culture, lifestyle and traditions in depth.
We invite you to see the sights of the Kingdom’s capital with us. Below we have listed some of the experiences that we enjoy the most!
Today we will start the day by visiting the worlds biggest sitting Buddha statue. (52 Mts high) built on top of a hill overlooking Thimphu valley.
Next we will spend some time circumambulating the sacred National memorial chorten. This is a Tibetan-style chorten built in 1974 in memory of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk who passed away in 1972. It is one of the most visible religious structures in town and for many people it is the focus of daily worship. Remember to walk around the Chorten at least once to gain merit and good luck.
From the chorten we will drive to the National Post office for stamps. Bhutan is famous for producing unique and innovative stamps. After selling peculiar “CD-stamps” Bhutan’s Post office now offers personalized stamps; we invite you to surprise your family and friends with your custom-made stamp made with one of your favorite holiday photographs!
After lunch we will visit the Folk Heritage Museum. The museum is a restored three story traditional rammed mud and timber house inaugurated as a museum by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk in 2001. It showcases the traditional artifacts used now and in the past which helps connect people to the Bhutanese rural life.
Next we will browse the striking collection of intricate textile at the National Textile museum. The Museum introduces you to the living national art of weaving. The exhibition displays the major weaving techniques and styles of local dress and textile made by the Bhutanese women and men.
Towards evening we will visit Tashichhoe Dzong and have glimpse king Jigme’s Palace.
The Dzong (fortress) is popularly known as Thimphu Dzong. It is the seat of the government and the centre of all religious affairs of the Kingdom. It houses the office and the throne room of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck. Just below the dzong we can have a glimpse of King Jigmi’s palace.
OVERNIGHT AT 3 STARS HOTEL IN THIMPHU
Day 9: PARO (2,300m)
THIMPHU – PARO ( 1.5 hrs drive )
Today we will drive following the wang Chhu river down south until we reach the confluence to cross over the bridge to wards west and continue following the Pa Chhu river up north until we arrive Paro.
There we will visit the Paro Dzong and take in the amazing architecture of this 17th century monument, a premier example of Bhutan’s architecture. The Dzong, was built to defend Paro from the Tibetan invasion. This fine example of Bhutanese architecture now serves as a central monastic and administrative seat of the Paro district.
OVERNIGHT AT 3 STARS HOTEL IN PARO.
Day 10: PARO.
Today we will hike to the famous Tiger’s nest monastery (4-5 hrs hike).
Tiger’s Nest or Taktshang Goempa is one of Bhutan’s most revered monuments. It literally hangs off the face of a cliff 900 meters above the valley floor. The legend states that Guru Rinpoche flew into Bhutan on a mythical tigress and meditated in a cave before bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. The Taktshang Goempa is built around the cave, which is opened to the public once a year. The four-hour round trip hike offers spectacular views of the Goempa and the valley below. Horses or mules can be arranged on request to help lighten the journey.
The hike up to this very important pilgrim site is a great finish to this day of cultural immersion and your journey to this ancient kingdom of BHUTAN.
OVERNIGHT AT 3 STARS HOTEL IN PARO.
Day 11: DEPARTURE.