Suitable Months: All months
Places: Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue Phodrang, Trongsa & Bumthang
Day 1: Arrival at Paro and drive to Thimphu (Altitude 2,280m)
Greetings and Kuzuzangpola!
Drive time: 45 minutes
Kuzuzangpo and welcome to Bhutan, “The Land of the Thunder Dragon”. Landing at Paro International Airport, you will be greeted by your tour guide upon exiting the arrival hall. Then we will drive to Thimphu, let you check in the hotel and serve you with the first taste of Bhutanese cuisine and some sightseeing in Thimphu if possible.
Day 2: Thimphu sightseeing
- Takin enclosure: To see the Takin National animal of Bhutan.
- Buddha Dordenma Statue: You will see the Biggest Buddha statue in the world at Kuenselphodrang.
- Heritage Museum: Dedicated to connecting Bhutanese rural though exhibition of artifacts used in rural households.
- Textile Museum: You will witness the art of traditional weaving.
- Tashicho Dzong: The Biggest Dzong, in the Country, is also the seat of the office of the King of Bhutan.
- National Memorial Chorten: Built in honor of the late third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. You will see hundreds of people chanting around the chorten in the evening.
- Papermaking Factory: You will see the art of papermaking
- Semtokha Dzong: Five miles from Thimphu stands the oldest fortress in the Kingdom known as Semtokha Dzong.
- Centenary Farmers’ Market: Here villagers from the nearby village and other nearby places as far as Wangdue come to sell their agriculture products. This market is open every Saturday and Sunday.
Day 3: Thimphu to Punakha (Altitude 1,300m)
- Drive time: Two and a half hours
- Dochula Pass: 108 chortens built by the present Queen Mother of Bhutan Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over Indian militants and to liberate the souls of the soldiers lost.
- Punakha Dzong: Built in 1637, the dzong continues to be the winter home for the clergy, headed by the Chief Abbott, the Je Khenpo. It is a stunning Bhutanese architecture, built at the fork of two rivers. The Dzong was destroyed by fire and glacial floods over the years but has been carefully restored as of today.
- Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten: Built by the Third Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck this Chorten is a splendid Bhutanese architecture and art and is the only one of its kind in the world. It was built over eight and a half years and the details have been drawn from religious scripture.
Day 4: Punakha to Bumthang (Altitude 2,600m – 4,000m)
- Drive time 7 hours to Bumthang. We will have to start early morning to drive to Central Bhutan. Before we start we will pay a quick visit to Chhimi Lhakhang.
- Chhimi Lhakhang: 20 minutes’ walk along the green fields through the village of Sopsokha from the roadside to the small temple located on a hillock in the centre of the valley below Metshina. This Temple was built by Ngawang Chogyel in 15th century after the ’divine Madman’ Drukpa Kuenlay built a small Chorten over there. Now, it is a pilgrim site for barren women.
- View of Wangdue: One of the district Capital of Western Bhutan located south of Punakha, downstream of the river flowing from Punakha. The district is known for bamboo works, slate and stone carving. We will stop for a while to view the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong. Built in 1638, which is now seen only the remains of the walls,it was fiercely engulfed in fire last year, 2012. Every Bhutanese have been disheartened on this unfortunate incident.
Day 5: Bumthang sightseeing (Altitude 2,600 – 4,000m)
- Bumthang is known as the paradise of Bhutan, it has the most spectacular valley and also the heartland of Buddhism in Bhutan. Bumthang is a home to the Guru Rinpoche and his lineage of Tertons (treasure finders) which have led to construct more than 50 temples in this peaceful valley. Bumthang valley is also rich in fauna and flora.
- Tamshing Goemba: Built in 1501 by the Buddhist saint Pema Lingpa.
- Kurjey Lhakhang:It is one of the most sacred monasteries in Bhutan. Built by the Guru Rinpoche in 1652, it houses a rock with his body imprint. Legend has it that Guru Rimpoche manifested as a Garuda to defeat the demon Shelging Karpo who had taken the form of a white lion.
- Jambay Lhakhang: It is built in 659 by Tibetan King Sontsen Gampo to pin down a demoness who was obstructing the spread of Buddhism.
- Jakar Dzong: Built as monastery in 1549 by the great grandfather of the Zhabdrung, located on a pitched high ground overlooking the town junction. It is currently used as the administrative center for Bumthang district
- Thangbi Lhakhang: Located along the Thangbi Valley, we will have to hike for a short while, crossing a suspension bridge. This Lhakhang was built in the 14th century.
Note: Visit in October, Jambay Lhakhang Drup is one of the most colorful festivals in Bhutan.
Day 6: Bumthang to Gangtey (Altitude 3,000m)
Drive time 5 hours
- On the way to Gangtey we will pass by Trongsa, which is the ancestral home of the ruling dynasty.
Trongsa means “New Town” in our national language Dzongkha. Trongsa is where the current monarchy had its origin in Bhutan. For each King in the line of succession has held the post of Trongsa Penlop or Governor before crowning the Raven Crown.
- Trongsa Dzong: The foundations of Trongsa Dzong were laid in the 16th century by Pema Lingpa. The Dzong flourished during the 17th century under Shabdrung Ngwang Namgyal. With its massive structure, its wall looming high above the winding Mangde Chu Valley.
- Trongsa Taa Dzong: Built as a watch tower the Taa Dzong has since been converted into a Heritage Museum. A book on this prominent Dzong is written by Christian Schicklgruber entitled The Tower of Trongsa, Religion and Power in Bhutan.
Day 7: Gangtey sightseeing (Altitude 3,000m)
- Phobjikha valley: The valley of Phobjikhas well known as the winter home of the Black necked crane (GrusNigricollis. These valley is one of the popular places that the birds migratefrom the Tibetan plateau to the valley in winter months. These elegant birds can be observed from early November to end of March. Bhutan is home to around six hundred black necked cranes.
- Gangtey Goempa: This is an old monastery built around 17th century, overlooking the Phobjikha valley.
Some more short hikes around the valley of Phobjikha valley will be planned with you.
Day 8: Gangtey to Paro (Altitude 2,280m)
Drive time: 7 hours
- Paro Valley: The most beautiful valley of Bhutan’s old monasteries. The country’s only International Airport is in Paro. The northern end of the valley is the mount Jhomolhari (7,300 meters) whose glacier water forms the Pachu flowing through the valley.
- Paro Dzong: Paro Dzong known as Rinpung Dzong, built around 15th century a massive fortress, presently it is a administrative center of the district.
- Taa Dzong: Built as a watch tower, later in 1968 it was converted into National Museum. The museum boasts antique Thangka, textiles, weapons and armor, household objects and rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.
Day 9: Paro sightseeing (Altitude 2,280m)
Taktsang Monastery: A one hour hike to the cafeteria is also a vantage view whereby you can enjoy the stunning view of the monastery. The name Taktsang came after Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigress in the 8th century.
- Drukgyal Dzong: A drive to north of Paro valley you will see the ruins of DrukgyalDzong which was built in 1647 by the great ZhabdrungNgawangNamgyal, known as the father and unifier of medieval Bhutan. Drukgyal Dzong was destroyed by fire and left in ruins as reminiscent reminder of the great victories from Tibetans.
- Kichu Lhakhang: Then visit the Kichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest Lhakhang in the country.
Day 10: Departing Paro (Altitude 2,280m)
Early morning drive to Paro International Airport and Benji Bhutan Tours & Travels will accompany you and bid farewell as you embark on your onward journey back home.