Day 01 Dec 11: Arrive Paro
Fly into Paro by Drukair flight KB 401 at 14.25 . After immigration and customs formalities, you will be received by the representative of Follow Bhutan Tours & Treks and driven to your hotel.
After checking into your hotel and 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.
Overnight at a hotel in Paro
Day 02: Paro-Haa Valley via Chelela Mountain Pass
Distance: 65 km, estimated travel time: 2 hours
After breakfast you will travel through farmlands and scattered hamlets and gradually climbing to the Chele La Pass, 3822 m high, with spectacular glimpses of the Bhutan Himalayan mountain peaks all the way. Descending down into the Haa Valley you will be rewarded by stunning scenery as you wind along the side of the mountain into the town of Haa. You stop for picnic lunch at Haa before making your way to Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple) and Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple). Local legend has it that deity helped construct the temple thus giving the name to Haa, meaning ‘surprise’. Haa is overlooked by three mountains called ‘Rig Sum Gonpa’ which signify three Buddha deities; Jambayang, Chana Dorji and Chenrizig. Haa was not opened up to tourists until 2002 so remains relatively unspoilt by the 21st C.
In the evening explore the beautiful Haa Valley.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Haa.
Day 03: Haa Summer festival
After breakfast you will proceed to the Haa Summer Fesival ground and enjoy the festival the whole day.
Things to see and do at the Haa Summer Festival:
- The Annual Alpine Festival: You will get to watch skilled local craftsmen weaving yak hair into their traditional tents and also traditional arts of yak shearing and wool making. You will also see how delicious traditional meals are made using yak dairy products as main ingredients.
- Food, A Taste of Tradition: You will get to taste delicious Haapi Hoentoe, hearty dumplings made from buckwheat and stuffed with fragrant grated turnip, dried turnip grees, mushrooms, garlic, onions and chopped cabbage seasoned with gingerp, ground walnut, chili-powder, salt, butter, sesame and poppy seeds. This is the special dish of Haa valley and made only by people of Haa Valley. There will also be other traditional Bhutanese dishes to sample.
- Song and Dance: You will get to watch and enjoy the lively folk songs and mask dances performed at this festival and also experience Haapi Ausa, traditional songs extolling the virtue of their yaks that are typically sung while tending their yaks.
- Sports: you can either watch or participate in the local sports such as Archery, yak and Horse riding, Khuru ( darts), Soksum ( light javelin throwing).These lively competitions are energetic affairs accompanied by mich laughter, sining and friendly taunts.
To truly experience and understand the traditional lifestyle of of the pople of Haa Valley, you can eat dinner and spend overnight at one of the local farmhouses.
Day 04: Haa Valley –Thimphu
Distance: 108 km, estimated travel time: 3 hours
After breakfast travel to Thimphu through stretch of villages of Jabana, Susuna and Dogakha stopping along the way to visit one of the farmhouses to taste locally brewed liquor called Ara and also taste traditional tea and snacks. Continuing your travel to Thimphu you will reach at the confluence of Thimphu and Paro rivers and finally to Thimphu valley.
On arrival at Thimphu check into your hotel and after lunch visit the following:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- School of Traditional Painting of Arts and Crafts where students undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.
- 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.
- 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.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 05: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 06: Punakha-Thimphu
After breakfast travel through upper Punakha valley and take a hike through farmhouses to the beautiful Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Lhakhang (temple) built by Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck (the Queen Mother of Bhutan) for peace and stability in this ever-changing world. This temple is situated on the hilltop overlooking the valley below. The leisurely walk up to the temple would take about an hour. Visit the temple and also enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful view from there.
Then travel to Thimphu with lunch enroute. On arrival at Thimphu check into your hotel and visit the following:
- Centenary Farmers’ Market(open from Thu-Sun only): Most of the Thimphu’s population and many valley dwellers converge on the bustling weekend market, held by the side of Wangchu River. A wide range of foodstuffs and local arts and crafts are sold at the market, which runs from Friday afternoon till Sunday evening. A visit to the market provides great photo opportunities, as well as the chance to mingle with local people.
- 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.
- Witness Archery game which is National sport of Bhutan.
- Kuensel Phodrang and take a short leisure hike to the Kuensel Phodrang Nature Park and enjoy the full view of Thimphu Valley below.
- National Memorial Chorten, chorten literally means ‘ seat of faith’ and Buddhists often call such monuments the ‘Mind of Buddha’. Meet the elderly local in circumambulation at the National Memorial Chorten.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 07: Thimphu-Paro & A Hike to Paro Taktsang Ghoempa(Tiger’s Nest Monastery)
Distance 54 km and travel time: 1 hour.
After breakfast travel to Paro and 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.
End of Tour Program