Thursday 30th of January 2020 until Wednesday 30th of September 2020
Best of Bhutan - 10 Days / 9 Nights - from $5848* per person (with Exotic Holidays).
Paro – Punakha – Bumthang – Trongsa – Thimpu – Paro
Day 1: Paro (L/D)
After visa formalities at the Paro airport (at 7,590 feet above sea level), you are met by our Bhutanese guide and transferred to your hotel in Paro to provide you some rest. Depending on time availability, you will be taken to visit Bhutan’s national museum, a fascinating place housed in an old watchtower above the huge Paro Dzong. The tour of the museum takes about 2 hours. This will be followed by visit to Rinpung Dzong – regional administrative and religious centre, visit Kyichu temple and the ruins of Drugyal Dzong.
Day 2: Paro Valley – Hike to Taktsang, Visit to Farm House (B/L/D)
Drive to north of the valley and embark on a short trek to the famed Taktsang (Tiger’s lair) monastery. For the Bhutanese or Buddhists, it is a holy pilgrimage, but for a tourist, a hike up to the viewpoint opposite the monastery is exhausting, thrilling and mystical. The Taktsang monastery clings, on seemingly impossible sheer, vertical cliff at 9680ft.
The steep uphill hike up to the Tea house opposite of Taktsang, takes between 1 to 2 hours. (Ponies are provided on request to ride up till the tea house.) You can get a good view from the Tea house or hike further uphill for 1 to 2 hours to the temple itself. Lunch is served at the tea house with the majestic views of Taktsang above and the Paro valley at the bottom. The return trek to the road head is downhill and takes about half the time it has taken you to come up. Meet the transport and drive to Paro. Arrive in Paro and visit a typical Bhutanese village home. This visit will certainly provide you an insight on living style of Bhutanese villagers. Drive back to your hotel in the evening. There will be time in the evening to explore tiny Paro town.
Day 3: Paro-Punakha (B/L/D)
Today, you drive towards Punakha following Pachu River to the confluence where Wangchu River meets and then drive north following Wangchu upstream to Thimphu – a capital city with an estimated population of 60, 000 people. The drive to Thimphu takes about 2 hours but we will break the journey in between to look at the Tamchoe Lhakhang temple on the other side of Pachu river and after the confluence, drive along the old road and visit the nunnery founded by great Buddhist master Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. After break with lunch and short rest in Thimphu, continue drive across Dochula pass to Punakha, which takes about 3 hours of spectacular drive through changing vegetation as you ascend from temperate Thimphu to Dochula pass at 10,000ft and descend into low altitude and semi-tropical valley of Punakha and Wangdi at 4500ft. Evening is free to walk around. Total drive of about 5 hours.
Day 4: Punakha (B/L/D)
Punakha is at lower elevation of approx. 1200m and therefore it is warmer and has semi-tropical vegetation with cactuses, bananas and orange groves. Punakha Dzong used to be the winter capital of Bhutan until 1958 and even today the head Abbot and central monastic body move here from Thimphu Tashichho Dzong, during the winter months.
In the morning, drive to the idyllic countryside, north of Punakha to make a short trek to visit the Crown Prince’s stupa. You return on a different route through the village to Sonagasa (the King’s winter residence) and through to Punakha Dzong, following the Mo Chu river. You will meet the vehicle and visit impressive Punakha Dzong at the confluence of Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers.
After lunch, drive to road head from where you can take a pleasant 20 minutes’ walk through the paddy fields and farm houses to visit Chimi Lhakhang temple dedicated to Bhutan’s popular saint Drukpa Kuenley, also known as the “divine madman” (1455-1529). He preached in the way that is unlike the stiffness of clergy and society of the time; he dramatized the teachings using songs and outrageous sexual humour! Bold Phallus symbols and paintings on the houses or temples come as a result his influence to date. Enroute, you may be invited to village home.
Day 5: Punakha-Bumthang (B/L/D)
Drive down the valley to the town of Wangdiphodrang. Here again there is a very large fortress built in the shape of a sleeping bull. Our road gradually winds its way up towards the Pele La Pass at 11,152ft, where we make stop for views of the snow clad peaks, including that of Bhutan’s sacred peak Mt. Chomolhari. Possibly, your picnic lunch is planned at Chedebji Chorten (Stupa) patterned after Swayambhunath in Kathmandu. It is a popular picnic lunch and pilgrimage for Bhutanese driving east-west road.
On arrival in Trongsa, you may visit the inner courtyard of historical Trongsa Dzong. Trongsa is a very popular place with largest Dzong in Bhutan and certainly one of the most impressive ones. It was from here that the present royal family emerged as the most powerful force at the beginning of this century.
After visiting Trongsa Dzong, you drive across the Yotong La 11,234′and descend eventually into the valley of Chumey, the first of four Bumthang valleys. Here we will visit the Palace used primary by the second King as his summer residence, and hike for about 15 minutes that brings us to the Prakar monastery, followed by visit to Yathra Weaving centres (a Colourful wool weaving). Then we’ll drive onto the Jakar the centre of Bumthang valleys. Bumthang valley is one of the most sacred in the kingdom and innumerable legends surround the area. It is here that the kings were cremated and the present royal families trace their ancestry back to a famous saint called Pemalingpa, who was also a smith in Jakar Township. Total drive of about 6 hours.
Day 06: Bumthang Valley (B/L/D)
After breakfast start the walk from the hotel to Jambay Lhakhang (Lhakhang means temple) and continue to Kurjey Lhakhang. After Kurjey, you will cross the suspension bridge over to Tamshing Lhakhang. Continue walking to the Swiss farm and then on to the main town area. The vehicle will meet you at this point and drive you to visit other sights in and around Jakar; which may include homeopathic hospital, the cheese factory, the castle of the ‘White Bird’, perhaps one or two local temples and a walk around to visit woodcraft workshop, dying workshop, and the five water wheels behind Wangdi Choling Old Palace.
Day 07: Bumthang – Trongsa (B/L/D)
From the township of Jakar, you first climb out of the Bumthang valleys on the twisting mountain road towards the Yotong La (11,000ft/3,353m). Near the pass is an area of wild cane/bamboos that is a well-known habitat for Red Panda. The road then descends to Trongsa. After lunch, visit the huge and historical Trongsa Dzong and the watchtower above the main Dzong. It has a fine temple at the top containing original Mongol Armour and a large prayer wheel outside. In the evening, wander around Tongsa Township and visit some of the shops mainly owned by Tibetans. Total drive of 3 hours.
Day 08: Trongsa – Thimpu (B/L/D)
Retrace your drive back to western Bhutan. From the township of Trongsa, drive on the twisting mountain road to Chedebji Chorten (stupa), built in a typical Nepali architecture and which serves as a popular picnic spot for the tourist and locals traveling east to west and vice versa. Further drive from the stupa brings you to Pele la pass at 11,152ft/3,353m. Enjoy the sceneries of the mountains from the pass on a clear weather. The descent from the pass will reach you to Wangdue where you will make a short stop to walk around the town. From Wangdue, continue past Lobesa, towards Thimphu and climb again to Dochu La pass, pass at an altitude of 3100m where we make a stop for tea & snacks and to view the peaks of the eastern Himalayas provided the sky is clear. Descend from the pass brings you to the village of Hongtsho, a Tibetan settlement and then onto Thimphu. Total drive of 6 hours.
Day 09: Thimphu Sightseeing, Weekend Market (B/L/D)
Early in the morning, you can take a self-guided twenty minute walk from the hotel to the Memorial Chorten, a shrine built in the memory of the late king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Many Bhutanese people gather here to pray every day. After breakfast, we’ll begin our sightseeing with a visit to a nunnery on the outskirts of Thimphu. We will then visit the Textile Museum, the Heritage Museum, Mini Zoo to see national animal- Takin and view point to enjoy the aerial view of Thimphu valley. We may also visit few temples viz. Changangkha and Zangthopelri before spending some time at the colourful weekend market. Weekend market in Thimphu is a place where people from daily walks of life come to buy and sell various stuffs and provides a great photo opportunity.
At the end of the day, we shall pay a visit to the great Tashichho Dzong, seat of Bhutan’s administrative and religious centre.
Day 10: Thimpu–Paro (B)
After an early breakfast at the hotel, you will be taken by private transfer to the airport in Paro in plenty of time for your onward flight.
NB: Need clear passport copies at least 6 weeks prior to departure to process application for Bhutan Visa.
Private program - can start any day of the week and can be modified or operated in reverse.
Included: Accommodation in 4* Hotels, meals as shown above, transfers & sightseeing using air-conditioned private car, local English speaking guides, entrance fees at monuments, current taxes, 24-hours local contact number for emergencies.