DAY 01: ARRIVE AT PARO (The only International Airport in the country)
PARO – THIMPHU (55 km/1.5 hour)
The flight into Bhutan takes you close to the great Himalayas, offering dazzling scenic views of some of the world’s highest glacial peaks (Remember to check in early and ask for your seat on the left side of the Plane if you are flying from New Delhi, India or Kathmandu, Nepal). As you enter Paro valley, you will sweep past forested hills with the silvery Pa Chu (Paro river) meandering down the valley below. Paro Dzong (fortress) and Ta Dzong (watchtower) on the hills above the town will be a fine sight. Our representative will receive you and will drive to Thimphu with sightseeing en route.
- Drive towards the capital city, Thimphu.
- Stop at Tachogang: Tachogang Lhakhang (Temple) was built by Thangthong Gyalpo in the fifteenth century. The temple was likely constructed in 1420. While the Tibetan master was meditating here, he had a vision of an emanation of Avalokiteshvara and decided to build a temple as well as an iron suspension bridge at this location. Tachogang lies on the way from Paro to the capital Thimphu. A new temple at Tachogang was built in the seventeenth century by the Fourth Druk Desi (local leader) Tenzin Rabgye as the original was destroyed after it served as the main seat for the Five Groups of Lamas, a coalition of local leaders who had opposed the Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (a Buddhist teacher who unified Bhutan) .
- Chuzom: The confluence of Paro (Pachu) and Thimphu (Wangchu) rivers. You can see three different types of Stupas – Bhutanese, Tibetan and Nepalese.
- Visit National Memorial Chorten: The building of this landmark was envisaged by the third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, as a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it is both a memorial to the Late King (”the father of modern Bhutan “) and a monument to world peace. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.
- Evening visit Tashichho Dzong the impressive fortress which houses the secretariat building, the throne room of His Majesty the King and various government offices. It is also the summer residence of the Chief Abbot and central monk body. Witness the Flag lowering ceremony before you enter the Dzong.
- Overnight at Hotel in Thimphu. (L,D (lunch depending on arrival time))
DAY 02: THIMPHU SIGHTSEEING
Drive to Kuenselphodrang (Buddha Point) where world’s tallest Buddha Statue (169 feet) sits overlooking the Thimphu Valley. Enjoy the spectacular view of Thimphu city below.
- Visit the Takin (National Animal of Bhutan) enclosure at Motithang. The unique animal is only seen in Bhutan with a story of its own as to how it came into existence (your guide will narrate the story).
- Drive down to the view point of Tashichho Dzong, the impressive fortress which houses the secretariat building, the throne room of His Majesty the King and various government offices.
- Zorig chusum (meaning 13 arts and crafts) which is popularly known as the painting school. Students in this institute learn 13 different traditional arts and crafts like painting, sculpture, wood carving, weaving, embroidery, etc.
- Folk Heritage Museum.
- Visit the Royal Textile Academy and Museum: Was instituted in May 2005 under the patronage of Her Majesty Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck as a non-government, non-profit organization with the aim to educate, promote and preserve Bhutanese Textiles. It showcases the traditional methods of weaving and has large collection of of dresses from the Royal family.
- Postal Museum – where you can also make a postage stamp with your own photo and can be posted in Bhutan.
- Centenary Farmer’s Market – popularly known as the weekend vegetable market where the local farmers sell their farm produce. Across the wooden cantilever bridge you will find handicraft shops.
- Witness an archery (National) game if one is going on during your visit.
- Traditional handmade paper factory – where age old traditional method of paper making is still followed.
- Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu. (B,L,D)
DAY 03: THIMPHU-DOCHULA-PARO
- After early breakfast, drive up to Dochu-la pass (3,088m/10,130ft) and enjoy the breath taking views of the Himalayan mountain ranges and admire the 108 chortens (tupas), mani wall, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear, the high Himalayan peaks towards the north east will be revealed in all their glory. On a clear day, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7,158m), Tsendegang (6,960m), Terigang (7,060m), Jejegangphugang (7,158m), Kangphugang (7,170m), Zongaphugang (7,060m) a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana, and finally, Gangkar Puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.
- Drive back to Paro.
- Ta Dzong: Built in 1656 as a watchtower for Rinpung Dzong is now used as the National Museum which is a repository of not only precious works of art but also costumes, Armour and other hand crafted objects of daily life that provide a good snapshot of the rich cultural traditions of the country. It opens 7 days a week except on National Holidays.
- Rinpung Dzong: Built in 1646 by Lama Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal and strategically located to thwart Tibetan incursions into the rest of the country, this Dzong became one of Bhutan’s strongest and most important fortresses.
- Evening stroll around Paro town for souvenirs.
- Overnight at your hotel in Paro. (B,L,D)
DAY 04: PARO-TAKTSHANG HIKE
Hike to Taktshang Monastery, one of the holiest and the most beautiful sites of Bhutan. The hike takes anywhere from 4 hours to 6 hours depending on your hiking ability. Taktshang, the tiger’s lair, acquires its name from the legend of its foundation, when in the 8th Century Guru Rinpoche, widely revered as the second Buddha, arrived from Tibet flying across the mountains on the back of a tigress.
- Drukgyal Dzong: Now in ruins the Dzong was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders in 1644; thus the name Drukgyal meaning “Victorious Drukpas”. The Dzong was used as an administrative center until 1951 when a fire caused by butter lamp destroyed it. Most of the Tibetan Invasions including the Mongolian Invaders led by the Famous Mongolian General, Gushri Khan were repelled back from this Dzong which has a strategic Defense location. The Dzong is now under reconstruction to its former glory.
If the weather is clear you can view the Majestic Mount Jhomolhari (7314m/24,000ft) which lies on the border with Tibet and the locals revere it as the abode of Goddess Jhomo. First climbed in 1937, it is believed the mountaineers stopped short of the summit in difference to local sentiment and it is now a ‘protected peak’.
- Kyichu Lhakhang: It was built in 659 by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo. The temple fell into disrepair but was superbly restored in 1839 by the 25th Je Khempo (Chief Abbot). He also contributed the outstanding statue of Avalokiteshwara, with eleven heads and thousand arms, which is located in the sanctuary.
- Overnight at Hotel in Paro
- Overnight at your Hotel in Paro. (B,L,D)
DAY 05: DEPART
- End of your travel to Bhutan. Our team will drive you to the Airport and bid farewell. (B)