Trip length: 12 Days
Season: Jan to May & September to December
Day 1: Arrive Paro
- On arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be warmly received by a friendly, traditionally dressed Chen-Ray Travel & Tour’s representative with a traditional welcome scarf (called Khadhar) with eight auspicious symbols printed on it.
- Drive to your hotel and relax.
- After lunch visit 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.
- Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
- The hike to Taktshang Monastery perched on a cliff at 2950m/9700ft takes anywhere from 4 to 6 hours as per your hiking ability. It is an uphill hike to the Monastery. There is a cafeteria (Taktsang Jakhang) on the half way.
Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava (the great Buddhist master) with his magical powers came to Taktshang in the eighth century, flying from the east of the country on the back of a tigress (a form that one of his consorts is believed to have taken). He is said to have meditated for about three months in a cave on the cliff and subdued the evil spirits. The primary Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in the 1692 by the fourth Desi Tenzin Rabgay. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below.
- 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 your hotel in Paro.
Day 3: Paro – Thimphu
- National Memorial Chorten: This Chorten (stupa) was built (1974) in honor of the late 3rd King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk “The Father of Modern Bhutan”. Built in a typical Tibetan style outside and with three shrines inside represents the mainspritual themes of the Nyingma School. The paintings inside depict tantric Buddhismin all its complexity. The complex is visited by people from all walks throughout the day and is one of the most public religious places in the capital.
- Buddha Point: Kuenselphodrang now popularly known as Buddha point since the construction of the world’s tallest Buddha (Dhordenma) Statue (169 feet) started. You can also enjoy the spectacular view of Thimphu valley below.
- Tashichho Dzong: The present form this Dzong was consecrated as late as 1969 and it is a visual delight. The history of this Dzong dates back to thirteenth century but the original dzong was not at the present site that offers no defensive merit. The old one was built in 1216 or so by the founder of the Lhapa School and was located on a spur to the North-East of the present one. This Dzong was badly damaged during a subsequent struggle with the drukpas and later became the property of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal in the 1630s. In 1641 he rebuilt the Dzong christening it Tashichhoe (the Fortress of Glorious Religion). This became the summer residence of the Zhabdrung and the clergy and Punakha the winter retreat. A fire in 1772 resulted in severe damage and the Desi and Je khempo of that time decided to rebuild it at the bottom of the valley where it now stands. After the capital was moved to Thimphu, it was renovated and expanded in 1962.
- Witness flag lowering ceremony before entering the Dzond.
- Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Day 4: Thimphu Sightseeing
- National Library: Was opened in 1967 to preserve the ancient Dzongkha texts and act as a repository for thousands of old religious books and manuscripts as well as the wooden blocks used for printing.
- Visit 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: The Museum offers a glimpse of not only the past but also depicts the present reality of rural Bhutanese people.
- Royal Textile Academy: 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.
- Simtokha Dzong: Simtokha Dzong is about 3Km south of Thimphu above the old road to Paro and Phuntsholing. Officially known as Sangak Zabdhon Phodrang (Palace of the Profound Meaning of Secret Mantras), it was built in 1629 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.
Centenary Farmer’s Market- Initially started as a week end market where the local villagers from the valley and other nearby places come to sell their agriculture products used to be open on Saturdays and Sundays. But now the market opens from Thursday to Sunday.
Day 5: Thimphu – Shong Pang (Trek starts)
- Drive up towards north of Thimphu valley following the Thimphu river. The car will reach you up to Pangrizam.
- From here, the trek starts towards Shong Pang, which takes about 4/5 hours through villages.
- Camp at Chamina village.
Day 6: Shong Pang – Dopshing Pang
- The trail ascends gradually up to Sinchula pass (3,490m). From here if the weather is clear, one can see Phajodhing Monastery, which is just above Thimphu.
- The trek from the pass is more or less downhill till you reach the campsite.
Day 7: Dopshing Pang – Chorten Ningpo
- The trek to Chorten Ningpo is rather gradual and will be walking through thick forests, villages and paddy fields.
- The campsite is at an alt. of 2,700 m.
Day 8: Chorten Ningpo – Zomlingthang
- For about 2-3 hours, the trek trail will be through several villages until you reach a motor road.
- From the motor road, you will follow the road towards Punakha the former capital of Bhutan.
- Hike following the motor road till Punakha Dzong
- Cross the Pochu River (Male River).
- You will have a steady half-day climb into a forest of Chir Pines. You will have a wonderful view of Punakha valley and the Dzong. If the weather is clear, you can see some snow peaked mountains to the north.
- The campsite is near Limukha village, alt. 2,250m.
Day 10: Limukha – Chungsakha/Wangdue (Trek ends)
- The trail ascends gradually up through the thick forest of oak and rhododendrons tress till you reach Dochula.
- Then descend through the thick forest leading to a small monastery dedicated to a lama Drukpa Kuenlay (popularly known as the Divine Madman).
- From Chungsakha you can look across the valley to Samtengang on the ridge to the south.
- Walk down hill till you reach the motor road and then drive for about half an hour to Wangdiphodrang.
- Overnight at your hotel in Wangdue.
Day 11: Wangdiphodrang – Thimphu
- Punakha Dzong: The Dzong straddles the confluence of two rivers- Phochu (Male River) and Mochu (Female River) is the most beautiful fortress in Bhutan. It was named as ‘Pungthang Dechen Phodrang’ or ‘Palace of Great happiness’. This impressive fortress was built in 1637. It was the second of the mighty dzongs built by Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel (person who unified Bhutan) and was the seat of government till the end of the reign of the second King.
The site of the Dzong is believed to have received the blessings of Guru Padmasambhava (the Great Buddhist teacher who introduced Buddhism in Bhutan). In the eighth century he is believed to have prophesied: “…on the edge of the hill that looks like an elephant’s trunk, a man named Namgyal will come and build a fortress…”
The most recent historic event the wedding ceremony of the present King His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema’s was held inside this Dzong.
- Hike to Chime Lhakhang. this Lhakhang dates back to 1499 which was built by Lama Drukpa Kinley who is till this day known as a Divine Madman. Located beautifully on a hilltop, it is about 30 to 40 minute walk passing through a charming village set in lush terraced fields. Lama Drukpa Kinley is beleived to have subdued a demoness residing in Dochu La with his ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom’ and a wooden effigy of this is preserved within. There are also statues of him along with those of Lama Zhabdrung, Sakyamuni and Avalokiteswara. Devotees receive blessings from his wooden phallus and iron Bow and arrow that lie here and childless women are said to have their wish fulfilled after visiting this Lhakhang.
- Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Day 12: Thimphu – Paro and depart
- Your travel in Bhutan ends. Our team will drop you to airport and bid farewell.