Day 1: Paro
The flight to Paro is considered as one of the most spectacular mountains flights in the world. While flying in and out of Bhutan, one can see the mt.Everest, Kenchenjanga, Makula and other high peaks such as Jomolhari, Jichu Drakey and Tserim Gang.
Paro Rimpong Dzong
The original Paro dzong dates back to 17th century, built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the man who unified Bhutan, but then it was burnt down in 1907 and was rebuilt in the same year with the same architectural design. Currently it is the head quarter of the district headed by the head administrator and the monastic body with about 200 monks.
Hike down to the bridge.
Stall around Paro town.
Day 2: Paro > Haa > drive 2h > visits
Transfer to high valley of Haa. Opened only in 2002 and less frequented by the visitors, Haa valley is still intact from modern civilization. En route, stop below the pass and hike to the Kila Gompa nunnery. Visit the nunnery before heading to the pass at 3988m.
In Haa, visit Lakhang Karpo and Lhakhang Nagpo. They are some of the oldest temples dating back to 7th century built a Tibetan king.
Free time in the town.
Day 3: Haa > Thimphu > drive 3h > visits
Transfer to Thimphu, following Haa Chhu and passing through some of the remote villages.
In Thimphu visit the following places:
Built in 13th century overlooking Thimphu valley. The temple has the only sitting Buddha of Compassion in the country.
It is one of the best places to take pictures, given the many pilgrims walking around this huge stupa. It was built in memory of the revered third king who passed away in 1972. Explore the town and its many photo opportunities.
The national animal of Bhutan, called the takin, is found only in the eastern Himalayas. In Bhutan, it is found only in the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park in the northern part of the country.
This photogenic animal was believed to be created by a lama called Drukpa Kuenley, who is also popularly known as “the Divine Madman.” It was said that he had joined the head of a goat and body of a cow to form the takin. See what you think…
Stall around the town
Day 4: Thimphu > hike > visit
After breakfast, drive about 45 minutes north of Thimphu and then hike to the Tango Buddhist Institute, which will take about 2 hours round trip. Tango is located at a place considered sacred from times immemorial. In the year 1689 AD, the monastery was built by the Gyelse Tenzin Rabgyel, the 4th Desi (temporal ruler of Bhutan). Today, the monastery serves as the largest Buddhist institute in the country. It also is the seat for the young reincarnation of the master who built the monastery (Gyelse Tenzin Rabgyel).
In the afternoon, visit the following places:
Overlooking the Thimphu town, it is one of the biggest statues of Buddha in the country.
The national sport of Bhutan
Day 5: Thimphu > Punakha > drive 3h > visits
Stop at Dochula pass for pictures. The pass is decorated with 108 Druk Wangyel Chorten, which were built to celebrate the stability and progress, brought to Bhutan by His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King. These stupas symbolize Bhutanese spiritual and artist traditions. Spend some time photographing this most beautiful pass in Bhutan.
As you descend from the pass, you will observe dramatic changes in vegetation. At the lower elevations in Punakha and Wangdue, cacti, banana plants, poinsettias, and other semi-tropical plants dominate the exotic landscape. Continue your drive towards Punakha and visit Punakha Dzong. Stop at Lobesa and take a short hike to Chhi-med Lhakhang, (which means “no dogs” temple) in the picturesque valley, to visit the temple of Bhutan’s foremost Saint, the Lama Drukpa Kuenley (popularly known as the “Divine Madman”).
Built in 1637 between the confluence of the Po chu (male river) and Mo chu (female river), this fortress monastery is the winter residence of Bhutan’s spiritual leader, the Je Khenpo or Head Abbot, and the central Monk Body comprising of over 350 monks. This is the most beautiful dzong in Bhutan.
Day 6: Punakha > Wangdue > Trongsa > drive 5h > visits
The route passes through the small, windy town of Wangdue, after which we will cross the Black Mountains via the Pelela pass (3240m). The Pelela pass is the boundary between the western and eastern parts of Bhutan, according to the ancient administration. After crossing the Pelela pass, the road drops down through dwarf bamboo and patches of fir trees entering into the valley of three Jis. Chendepji, Rukubji, and Tangsiji. Stop at Chendepji for tea. Another 2 hours from the tea stop, you will reach Trongsa, which means “New Village.”
Day 7: Trongsa > Bumthang > drive 3h > visits
After breakfast, visit the tower of Trongsa. This ancient watchtower has gone through a major restoration and has been converted into the Royal museum. This newly consecrated museum provides a glimpse of Bhutan over the last 100 years, with the two galleries showcasing the history of the monarchy in Bhutan, along with many royal possessions. Visit the impressive Trongsa Dzong. This dzong is the ancestral home for the Royal family of Bhutan, and the first King, before being crowned King of Bhutan, was the governor of this dzong. Even now, there is a tradition that any Crown Prince of Bhutan, before coronation, must first serve as the Governor of Trongsa. This period provides crucial training for the future King to care for the needs of the Nation and its people. Drive to Bumthang. After crossing the Yotola high pass at an elevation of 3400m, this will bring you to the Chumey valley in Bumthang. Bumthang is famous for its distinctive woolen weaves, known as yathra, including some made from yak hair. At the village of Zugney, you will see fine samples of yathra hanging by the roadside and available for purchase. The weavers, all women, can be seen busily working at their looms beside the road. The road continues over the Kikila pass to enter the next valley in Bumthang (Jakar), the district headquarters. Check in at your hotel.
Stall around the town
Day 8: Bumthang > visits
Jakar Dzong (“Castle of the White Bird”): Jambay lhakhang, which is one of the two oldest monasteries, built in Bhutan. Dating back to the 7th century, it is believed to be one of 108 monasteries commissioned by a Tibetan king (Songtsen Gampo), built on the different parts of the body of a great demon in order to pin her to the earth forever. Jambay lhakhang is believed to build on the left knee of the demon.
Wangdichholing Palace: Built in 1900, it used to be summer palace for the first two kings.
Kurjey Lhakhang: This lhakhang is named after the body imprint left on a rock by the Guru Rimpoche, the master who introduced Buddhism in the Bhutan. Because of this, the Minjur Tempa, the same person who built the Jakar dzong over the rock where Guru Rimpoche left his body imprint, built a significant monastery at this place in 1652.
Afternoon: Visit Tamshing Monastery (also known as Tamshing Lhendup Chholing), which literally means “the Temple of Good Message.” It was established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and is one of the most important Nyingma goempa religious centers in Bhutan. The paintings on the inner wall are believed to be original unrestored works of Pema Lingpa himself.
Day 9: Bumthang > Gangtey > Phobjikha > drive 4h
The road towards Phobjikha ascends through dwarf bamboo and patches of fir trees entering into the valley of three Jis. Chendepji, Rukubji, and Tangsiji and leading towards Pele la pass (11000 ft), crossing over the black mountain ranges. You can make numerous stops on the way for pictures, for hikes to the villages.
Continue towards Phobjikha.
Visit Gangtey Gompa monastery in Gangtey village
Day 10: Phobjikha > Hike > visits
In the morning hike from hotel towards Gangtey monastery and the village. This glacial valley on the western slopes of the Black Mountains National Park is a designated conservation area, because this valley is the winter roosting ground for the endangered Black-necked Cranes. These beautiful, endangered birds have a population of only a few thousand in the entire world. Visit Gangtey Gompa, which was founded in 1613 by Gyalse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa. In the recent years, it has gone through a major restoration. Today, you can see some of the finest Bhutanese works of art in this monastery.
In the afternoon, hike towards Kilkhorthang village. It is possible to visit some farmhouses to take pictures inside.
Day 11: Phobjikha > Paro > drive 5hrs
En route to Paro, stop at Simtokha and visit the oldest dzong in Bhutan. It houses about 100 monks.
Continue to Paro and visit Dungtse Lhakhang.
Free time in the town
Day 12: Paro > excursion to Tiger’s nest
Hike to the Guru’s glory. Takshang (2900m/10,000ft) is considered one of the holiest sites in the entire Buddhist faith. It was said that Guru Rimpoche, the founder of Buddhism in Himalayan countries, came to this place riding on the back of a tigress and meditated here for about three months. As a result, Takshang has been an important place of pilgrimage and reflection for more than 1200 years. The monastery clings to a sheer cliff two thousand feet above Paro valley.
The total hike will take the average person about 4 hours. From the parking area, it will take about one hour to reach the teahouse, and then another one and a half hours to the temple. You can visit the different temples inside the main Takshang complex.
Stop for lunch at the teahouse on the way back.
Takshang is a paradise for photographers. Apart from the stunning view, you will see beautiful waterfalls, meditation caves, water prayer wheels, many prayer flags, and stupas.
Day 13: Departure
Transfer to airport for departure