DISCOVERING WESTERN BHUTAN DETAILED ITINERARY
DAY 1 : Arrival BKK – PBH by DrukAir (Bhutan)
- Your introduction to our enchanting kingdom begins on a flight over the Himalayas into the lush green valley of Paro; truly one of the world’s most spectacular sights. Flying into Paro, Bhutan is a unique experience altogether. You will view the world’s highest, most majestic peaks and enjoy the view of the approaching valley with its primeval alpine forest, monasteries, temples and farmhouse nestled in splendid mountain isolation.
- Welcome greeting in a Bhutanese style with Tashi Khada (white scarf) by our representative & your guide at the Airport. You will be driven to hotel for refreshment and a brief discussion on your tour program. (Please note; your itinerary shall be flexible and your guide shall give you options based on your interest)
- The National Museum (Ta-Dzong).Once the watch tower for the Rinpung Dzong (Fortress), it was converted into the national Museum in 1968 (one of the best museums of Asia). The museum stands on a promontory overlooking the Paro valley in all its glory. Visit the Rinpung Dzong. A flagstone path rises gradually from a beautiful wooden bridge with shingle roofing and abutted by two guard houses to the Dzong. Today, this massive fortress built in 1645 AD is the seat of the district administration as well as the home for the monastic school. The central tower (Utse) of the Dzong, with its superb woodwork, is one of the most beautiful in the nation.
- Take a leisurely drive to the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong. This point offers bird eye view of the Mt. Jhomolhari (7329m). On the way back visit the oldest temple of the kingdom, Kichu Lhakhang. This temple was built in 629AD by a Tibetan King Songtsengampo to pin down a giant demon. There is a sacred orange tree that grew on its own at the courtyard which bears fruits on all the seasons. This tree is said to be 600 years old. In the evening walk around Paro town and interact with the local people. Overnight Paro. (Alt; 2280m)
DAY 2 : Discovering Punakha & Wangdi Valley (128km/ 4hr)
- On rise, drive to Punakha via the winding river of PaChu & Wangchu. Stop for a hot cup of coffee at Dochu La pass ( 3150m) where you can enjoy the spectacular views of the eastern Himalayan mountain range. Take a walk around the 108 stupas and also enter the Drukwangyel temple built by the four queens as a tribute to the fourth King of Bhutan.
- En route visit Royal Botanical Garden in Lamperi. The park features a variety of forest types, spectacular scenery, natural rhododendron groves, endangered wildlife and a lake.
- Visit Punakha Dzong, “Palace of Great Happiness.” It hosts the administrative seat of the district. The Dzong lies between two rivers, the Phochu and Mochu, male and female river. It was built in 1637 AD It was here on 17th December 1907, Bhutan’s first king was crowned. This ancient fortress is considered to be one of the most beautiful by many. Punakha is the former winter Capital of Bhutan and now It’s the winter residence of the central monastic body and its Chief Abbot.
- Visit the classic fortress of Wangdi situated on the hilltop. There are many sacred temples hidden within the ancient structure and your guide will take you to some of the main shrine rooms for blessings.
- Evening, hike to Chimi Lhakhang. This temple is called the Temple of Fertility as it is believed that childless couples who come here to pray for a child is usually blessed with a child. This is the temple of one of Bhutan’s foremost saints, Lama Drukpa Kunley, also known as the “Divine Madman.” The trail takes you through the Himalayan paddy fields and a typical village called Lobesa. Overnight Punakha/ Wangdi. (Alt; 1240m)
DAY 3 : Phobjikha Rural Expedition (65km/ 3hr)
- On rise, visit the classic fortress of Wangdi situated on the hilltop. There are many sacred temples hidden within it’s ancient structure and your guide will take you to some of the main shrine rooms for blessings. Spend some time exploring the typical town of Wangdi and head on the Phobjikha.
- Phobjikha is a glacial valley on the periphery of the north western tip of the Black Mountain National Park. The valley is a conservatoin area and lies on the northern boundary of the Jowo Durshing range. People sometimes refer to the entire region as Gangtey after the name of the Gangtey Goenpa that is situated on a ridge overlooking the Phobjikha valley. According to legend that the Gangtey Goenpa was founded by the grandson (the mind incarnation) of Pema Lingpa in 1613. The Phobjikha valley is also one of the roosting grounds of the Black Necked Cranes that migrate each year in winter from its northern habitats in Tibet and Siberia to these grounds.
- Visit Information Center for the Blacked Necked Cranes. Evening, take a hike through the Blue Pine forest to the village farmhouse/home stay. Try traditional Bhutanese snacks made from corn and rice with a homemade wine. Overnight Phobjikha. (Alt; 2900m)
DAY 4 : Gangtey Landscape & Thimphu City Tour (142km/ 5hr)
- Early rise and take a walk out into the serene valley of Phobjikha to enjoy the sunrise & fresh air. Visit the Gangtey Goenpa while the monks will be sitting for their morning prayers. This is biggest Nyingma temple of the kingdom. Drive to Pelela pass to (3,300m), which is marked by a chorten (stupa) and an array of prayer flags. Stop for mountain views along the road.
- Thimphu the cultural heartland of the kingdom. Thimphu is a small, charming capital city nestled in the heart of the Himalayas. It is nothing like what a capital city is imagined to be. Most of the houses and buildings are painted and constructed in traditional Bhutanese style.
- En route Simtokha Dzong, one of the oldest fortress of Bhutan built in 1629 and it houses the largest monastic schools in the country.
- After check in resort and some rest; Take a drive to Kuensel Phodrang (Buddha Point) which offers a beautiful city view of Thimphu. Astrologers & locals believe this spot is one of the central meeting point of the sacred energy vibe of the country hence the massive statue of Buddha facing the sun. On the way down, circumambulate around the Memorial Chorten (huge stupa) built in memory of the 3rd King of Bhutan. This is the favorite place for the locals to practice their devotions. Here on embark on a walking tour that includes; Hongkong Market, Thai Park, Main Traffic Area, Norzin Lam, Central Plaza, General Post Office, National Stadium, Clock Tower, etc… Overnight Thimphu. (Alt; 2320m)
Day 5 : Thimphu Cultural Sightseeing
- In morning, drive to the animal sanctuary where the national animal of Bhutan, the Takin, is found in captivity. Walk around the BBS tower which is also known as the “romantic point” and lovers often come here to look at the panoramic view of the Thimphu valley. En route visit Nunnery temple. You can show your devotion here by praying with the Buddhist nuns.
- Visit the National Library where ancient manuscripts are preserved. They also have on display the largest Picture Book on Bhutan in the world.
- Visit the Folk Heritage Museum where the cultural lifestyle of the ancient Bhutan has been preserved.
- Visit the Traditional Medicine Center which includes hospital and herbal medicine manufacturing unit based on the Tibetan system of medicine. The center also trains indigenous medicine doctors known as “Dungtso”.
- Visit the Zorig Chuksum “School for Thirteen Traditional Arts and Crafts” followed by a visit to Textile Museum, Handicraft Emporium and some local shops for antiques.
- Visit the Tashichhoe Dzong, the main secretariat building, the office of the King and Throne room and also the house of the State Monastic Body.
- Visit the Bhutanese Paper Factory, This traditional handmade paper is still being widely used around the country.
- After evening tea, witness an archery match played by the locals with lots of hue & cry! Archery is the national game of Bhutan and one of the best ways of expanding your public relation is by participating in it. Overnight Thimphu.
Day 6 : Excursion to Tango & Chari
- Embark on a day’s excursion to Tango & Chari. Tango monastery is situated in solitary hill covered by forest and is one of the best places to study Buddhism. The monks take pride in being a part of this beautiful monastery and at present there are also seven reincarnation studying here.
- The 12th century Chari monastery is one of the most popular meditation retreat center for the monks. The meditation sites are glued to the rocky cliff 300m above the river valley. Once the monks graduate from Tango Monastery most of them decides to sit for meditation around the holy monastery of Chari from three years to nine years. Tango Chari is located 12km away from Thimphu city .
- The hike to Tango monastery takes about 1.5hrs round trip and the Chari monastery takes about 2.5hrs round trip. Picnic lunch will be arranged amidst the nature trail. After visiting the holy shrines, you can spend some time meditating in the temple and the surrounding campus. It is believed, meditation happens own at this serene site.
- On the way back, visit the Weekend Farmer’s Market and interact with the farmers. Try some organic fruits & nuts. Also stroll over the wooden bridge and visit the Craft Bazaar. This weekend market give you a wonderful opportunity to shop for souvenir and interact with the local traders.
- Evening, time at your leisure free to go shopping or roam around the city. (Night Club, Optional) Overnight Thimphu.
DAY 7 : Quest for Mystical Taktsang
- After a wholesome breakfast, drive to Paro (53km/ 1.5hr). Check in your resort and prepare for the excursion. Drive to Satsam Chorten and spend the day hiking up the forested path to Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest, (Alt;3180m) Bhutan’s most famous and scenic icon. The climb is steep and takes about 4 hours round trip. An important place of pilgrimage and refuge for more than 1200 years, Taktsang Monastery clings to sheer cliffs two thousand feet above Paro Valley, and from your closest vantage point on a rocky ledge directly across from it, you will still need 200-300 mm lenses and a steady tripod to get tight photographs.
- This sacred place got its name when Guru Rinpoche rode there on the back of a flying tiger and meditated in a cave behind the present-day monastery. Sadly, in 1998, the central temple was destroyed by fire, leaving the country in mourning for their holiest of spiritual places. But religious leaders and the King quickly developed a plan to rebuild Taktsang and donations started pouring in from Buddhist centers all over the world, and today, the magnificently rebuilt exterior is complete. Tiger’s Nest is once again the subject of cloud-shrouded posters that say, “Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon.” Picnic lunch on the hillside cafeteria.
- Special permit will be arranged for you to enter the Tiger’s Nest monastery but you will not be allowed to take pictures of the inside shrines.
- Evening, visit a typical village home for a traditional Bhutanese style dinner accompanied by the local liquor called “Ara” (tastes somewhat like the Japanese Sake) & yak meat. Then luxuriate in the Bhutanese equivalent of a Jacuzzi called a “ Men-Chu .” River rocks are heated and dunked into a large wooden tub with herbs. This type of bath is considered to have medicinal properties of healing. Overnight Paro.
DAY 8 : Departure
- Our representative will bid you farewell at the Airport. Tashi Delek!