Day 01: Arrive Paro, Paro –Thimphu
On arrival at Paro airport and after completing your immigration formalities, you will be received by your tour guide from Follow Bhutan Tours and Treks.Then drive to Thimphu . On arrival at Thimphu check into your hotel and after refreshment visit the following:
- Tashichhoe Dzong, a fortress of the glorious religion. It was built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and was reconstructed into present structure by the late King, His majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the year 1962-1969. It houses the secretariat building, the throne room and the office of the king, and the central monk body.
- Craft Bazaar where craftsmen and artisans from across the country display and sell their handicrafts and Government-run Handicrafts Emporium and local crafts shops, to browse through examples of Bhutan’s fine traditional arts. Here you can buy hand-woven textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewelry, and other interesting items made from local materials.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 02: Thimphu Sightseeing
After breakfast visit the following:
Kuenselphodrang where largest Buddha statue in the country is perched on the hillock overlooking the Thimphu valley and also if interested/if time permits, take a leisure walk through Kuenselphodrang Nature park and enjoy the nice view of the entire Thimphu valley below.
- Bhutan Post Office Headquarters to get personalized Bhutanese postage stamps with your photo on them. You can bring along your favorite photo to put on the stamps and put these stamps on your postcard to send to your family and friends.
- National Textile Museum which is a good place to see the art of traditional weaving being kept alive and preserved through exhibition and has a good collection of old textiles which are rich in colors and designs. You will also see people weaving with intricate designs.
- Traditional Bhutanese paper making factory. The handmade paper making in Bhutan stemmed from the age old tradition originated in 8th century of Bhutanese history. The handmade paper constitutes as valuable National heritage of Bhutanese cultural identity and is preserved through all the ages. The Traditional paper is recognized and held high esteem both in home and outside world. Jungshi Paper Factory was established in November 1990 as an undertaking of the Royal Government of Bhutan. The unit now boasts as a major and sole dealer in handmade paper and its products.
- Simply Bhutan– A living museum of rural life which provides visitors and tourists with fascinating insights into the Bhutanese material culture and way of life.
After lunch visit the following:
- National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only), where medicinal herbs are compounded and dispensed, and traditional medical practitioners trained.
- The School of Traditional Painting of Arts and Crafts where students undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.
- Takin Preserve, which houses the national animal the Takin that is only found in Bhutan. This is an extremely rare member of the goat family. Found in herds in the very high altitudes (13,125ft and over). They live on a diet of grass and bamboo. It can weigh as much as 550 pounds.
- National Memorial Chorten (stupa), chorten literally means ‘ seat of faith’ and Buddhists often call such monuments the ‘Mind of Buddha’. Meet the elderly generation in circumambulation at the National Memorial Chorten.
In the evening stroll around Thimphu town where you can visit local handicraft stores.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 03 Thimphu-Punakha and Wangdue
Distance: 71 km, estimated driving time: 2 ½ hours
After breakfast, travel to Punakha & Wangdue through Dochula Pass 3140 m). In the clear spring sky, you can enjoy the panoramic view of the Himalayan Mountain ranges. . Then pass by the beautiful 108 chortens built on the hill by Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck (Queen Mother of Bhutan) for the security and well being of His Majesty, the King of Bhutan.
You will also visit Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (monastery) which was built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck ( the Queen Mother of Bhutan) as a tribute to His Majesty the fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck and armed forces after His Majesty led a successful operation against Indian militants who had occupied certain areas of Bhutan. The gallery of the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang has beautiful murals depicting some of the important events in the reigns of the Kings of Bhutan.
Then travel onto Punakha. Punakha has been inextricably linked to some of the most momentous events in the Bhutanese history and deserves its reputation as one of the most beautiful and significant regions at the heart of Bhutanese culture. Punakha had served as the capital of Bhutan from 1637 till 1907. The dzong is historically important and stands as the symbol for a unified Bhutan.
On the way, stop for lunch at Metsina village and then visit the Devine Madman’s Monastery-Chhimi Lhakhang, famously known for its fertility shrine, where one can receive a special fertility blessing.
Then visit the Punakha Dzong, located on the island of the Pho – Chu (male river) and the Mochu (female river). The dzong was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative seat of the region. At the dzong, you can see the highest standards in woodwork.
In the evening you may visit Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendup Lhakhang Nunnery and enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful view of Punakha and Wangdue valleys from there.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Punakha.
Day 04: Punakha-Trongsa
Distance: 129 km, estimated driving time: 5 hours
After breakfast, travel to Trongsa through Wangdue Phondrang with lunch served enroute. Trongsa is the ancestral home of the royal family. The drive will take you through dense forests of oak trees and rhododendrons and through the tropical vegetation through the village of Nobding and Pele la pass (11,000ft). Throughout your trip you will come across the beautiful sceneries of rural Bhutan, with scattered settlements far from the road which makes for good photographing.You will also pass through open meadows, and valley of yak herders and several other villages via Chendebji Chorten (Stupa). On arrival at Trongsa and after the refreshment visit the Trongsa National Museum which is housed in the Ta Dzong (watch tower). A museum in which aspects of Bhutanese culture and history are explained by beautifully objects. Documentary will be shown too which explains a great deal about Bhutanese history and history of monarchy.
You will also visit Trongsa Dzong,built in 1648 it is an architectural masterpiece and it is the most impressive dzong in Bhutan.
In the evening visit Trongsa downtown. Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Trongsa.
Day 05: Trongsa-Bumthang
Distance: 68km, Estimated travel time: 2 hrs
After breakfast, drive to Bumthang, this is one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heartland of Buddhism. Here the great teachers meditated and left in their wake many sacred grounds. The Guru Rinpoche and his lineage of Tertons, treasure finders, have led to the sprouting of many temples in the valley. On the way, visit the “Yathra” weaving centre at Zugney and spend sometime interacting with the local weavers. Yathra is the name for the colorful, hand-woven woolen cloth (often with geometric designs) that is produced in this region and wool used for this type of textile is sheep wool as the sheep is reared in this Bumthang district.Yatra is made into jackets or bags ,etc. Then drive onto Bumthang and Check into hotel.
After lunch, Bumthang sightseeing includes visit to the following:
- Jampa Lhakhang, built in the 7th century by the King Songtsen Goempo of Tibet. In his effort to propagate Buddhism, he had a plan to build a total of 108 temples in Tibet and neighboring kingdoms.
- Kujey Lhakhang (Kujey means, “Body imprint”). The temple to the right is the oldest and was built by Minjur Tempa in 1652. It was built around the cave in which Guru Rimpoche meditated and left his body imprint.
- Jakar Dzong, “castle of the white bird”. According to legend, when the lamas assembled in about 1549 to select a site for a monastery, a big white bird rose suddenly in the air and settled on a spur of a hill. This was interpreted as an important omen, and the hill was chosen as the site for a monastery and for Jakar Dzong. The fortress is now used as an administrative center of Bumthang district and summer residence of Trongsa monks.
In the evening stroll around the beautiful landscape of the Bumthang Jakar valley.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Bumthang.
Day 07: Travel to Ura Valley for Ura Yakchoe (Ura Festival)
After breakfast, you will travel to the historic village of Ura in the Ura Valley with packed picnic lunch. This intriguing village will delight you with its narrow cobble stoned streets and ancient houses. The people of this region are mostly Yak and sheep herders and the women of the village still wear the traditional white headscarves and sheepskin shawls. The shawls are used as a cushion and also as protection when they are carrying heavy loads.
You will attend the first day of Ura Yakchoe ( Ura Festival).The mask and folk dances are performed during and also sacred relic is put on display so that the people can receive blessings from it.
According to legend, a lama visited an old woman who was sitting outside her house. This Lama seemed very mysterious and all he asked from the old lady was a glass of water. The old lady went to get water for the lama and when she returned the Lama just disappeared. But left behind a sack outside her doorsteps. Out of curiosity,she opened the sack and found a statue in the sack. The statue was no ordinary statue, for it was a relic which is now displayed annually during Ura Yakchoe. This relic has been passed on from generation to generation and is still owned by the descendants of the woman.
You will enjoy your picnic lunch here and then after the festival you will travel back to Bumthang.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Bumthang.
Day 08: Bumthang -Wangdue via Phobjikha
Distance: 197 km,Estimated travel time: 7 hrs
After early breakfast, travel to Phobjikha valley through Trongsa and the dense forests of the Phobjikha Valley you arrive at Gantey village where you see the Gangtey Monastery and visit the monastery. Phobjikha valley is part of the beautiful Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park ( formerly known as Black Mountains National Park), one of Bhutan’s most important nature sanctuaries. Each winter it is home to a flock of 300 rare and endangered black-necked cranes. The surrounding hills and mountains are home to nomadic shepherds and yak-herders. This is one of the most remote and untouched regions in Bhutan and is only just opening its doors to the outside world.
The Black necked cranes start migration to this area from November each year. You will have lunch at a resort/restaurant in this valley. Afternoon you can visit the Black Necked Crane Center and enjoy the fascinating sight of these birds in this beautiful scenic valley.
In the late afternoon drive back to Wangdue. Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Wangdue.
Day 09: Wangdue -Paro
Distance: 125 km,Estimated travel time: 3 ½ hrs
After breakfast travel to Paro and after lunch visit the following:
- Rinpung Dzong, built in 1645 to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. The Dzong is now being used as an administration center and school for monks.Then walk down to Rimpung Bridge (Traditonal Bridge), oldest bridge in Bhutan.
- Farm houses in Paro Valley and a visit to a farm house offers a good glimpse into the lifestyle of a farmer.
- Druk Home Museum (private Museum) which exhibits historical and religious artifacts.
In the evening walk around Paro downtown and you may visit local handicraft stores.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Paro
Day 10: A Hike to Paro Taktsang Ghoempa(Tiger’s Nest Monastery)
After breakfast travel by car to the base camp of Tiger’s Nest Monastery and then hike up to Taktsang Monastery, also known as ‘Tiger’s Nest’. The climb up to the viewpoint will take around 1 ½ hours and from there you will enjoy a spectacular view of the monastery clinging to the side of the cliff. Stop for refreshment at the View Point Cafeteria.Then walk further up to the monastery which will take another 1 ½ hour. It is said that in the 8th century Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress from eastern Bhutan to this place and meditated in a cave here for 3 months. The principal Lhakhang (monastery) of the present monastic complex dates from 1692. Taktsang was damaged severely by fire in 1998 but has now been fully restored to its former glory.After visiting the monastery, walk back down to the road on the way stop for lunch at the view point cafeteria and then walk further down to the road point.
On the way visit Kyichu temple,one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demon lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on all the points of her body.
In the evening you may relax in the traditional hotstone bath.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Paro.
Day 11: Depart Paro
In the morning, your Follow Bhutan travel guide will see you off at the Paro Airport for your onward journey.
End of Tour Program