Bhutan 11 Nights
This tour takes you to the more popular places in Bhutan, namely Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Trongsa and Bumthang.
DAY 01- ARRIVAL IN BHUTAN
Paro is the first town you will enter when flying in to Bhutan.
You will be boarding the one and only Airline of Bhutan called the “Druk Air” where Druk means “Bhutan” so in translation called “Bhutan National Airline”
When flying into Bhutan, from the left hand side of the aircraft you will see the Majestic Himalayan Range with the Peaks of Mt.Everest, Mt.Kanchanganga, Mt.Jumolhari and Mt.Jichu Drake whereby the latter two Mountains are in Bhutan.
On arrival at the Paro Airport, you will be welcomed and greeted by the representatives of Bhutan Jewel Travel so from the time you touch the Bhutan soil, we at Bhutan Jewel Travel will be accompanying you so that you experience the warmth and care of Bhutan Jewel Travel Team and Bhutan, the Last Shangrila on this Earth.
Check in at Paro Hotel and if time permits, you can start sight seeing in Paro.
DAY 02 PARO : SIGHT SEEING
Altitude of Paro is at 2240mts.
Visit the “Drugyal Dzong” which in translation means “The Victory Fort” and was built in 1649. This Dzong is in ruins after it was completely burnt down in the 1950’s. Drugyal Dzong is reminiscence of ancient Bhutan, when the Bhutanese had war with the Invading Tibetans and it was here that Bhutan pushed the Tibetans away and won the battle. From this Dzong one can view the beautiful “Mount Jumolhari Peak” standing tall at 7314 meters , also known as the “Sacred Goddess Mountain”.
Visit the Kyichu Monastery. Legend has it that the King of Tibet was at war with evil spirits that prevented Buddhism from flourishing and despite his courageous efforts to fight against these evil spirits, the King was never successful. Then the King was told by an Astrologer that if he wanted to win over the evil spirits he would have to build 108 Stupas over the body of an Ogress within 24 Hours.
Although its was a very hard and challenging endeavor to fulfill, But despite all obstacles, the Brave King managed to build all 108 stupas with the help of the Local Deities and Angles. Thus Kyichu Monastery is one of the Stupas’ that was built on the left knee of the Ogress and similarly in Bhutan, the Jambay Lhakhang in Bumthang was built on the left toe of the Ogress.
Kyichu Monastery is very sacred in Bhutan as it’s the oldest Monastery in Bhutan.
After Lunch visit the Rinpung Dzong built in 1646 AD. A flag stoned path leads toward the Dzong. This Dzong overlooks the Paro valley and you will also cross over an ancient wooden bridge with guard houses at the sides of the Bridge.
Paro Dzong and its bridge is the location where the holly wood movie “The Little Buddha” starring Keanu Reeves was filmed. Rinpung Dzong presently houses the Government Administrative offices, the Judiciary and a section is used by the Paro Monastic Body. Visit the Ta-Dzong(watch Tower) which was converted into the National museum of Bhutan in 1968. Here you will see many ancient artifacts of Bhutan, like the rare Egg, rare ancient stamps, ancient thankas etc. Paro Rinpung Dzong show cases the wooden architecture and wall paintings.
Night Halt in the beautiful Paro Valley.
DAY 03 PARO : Day EXCURSION TO TAKTSANG (The Tiger’s Nest Monastery)
Today after an early breakfast you will take a hike to the world famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery known as “Taktsang”. This is a beautiful Monastery perched precariously on a rocky cliff with a drop of 900 meters. The legend has it that in the second half of the 8th Century, Guru Padma Sambhava, also known as the Second Buddha or Guru Rimpoche in Bhutan meditated at this cliff for three months. Guru came here flying on the back of a tigress. This Tigress was his favorite consort Khandum Yeshey Tshokey, whom he had transformed into this Tigress.
In the beginning, Guru Rimpoche used to meditate in Eastern Bhutan, in a place known as the Singye Dzong and people from the Paro Valley used to go to Singye Dzong to welcome and request the Guru to come and flourish Buddhism in Western Bhutan and also to subdue the evil spirits and the demons.
Then after Guru came to the Taktsang Monastery and meditated here, the Paro Valley flourished with goodness and enjoyed Happiness, had good harvest, and was protected from all evil. Then later on , other Buddhist Scholars from the neighboring Countries like Tibet meditated here and enlarged the Monastery.
This hike takes about 2 hours uphill at a leisurely pace and about 1.5 hours downhill. Pack lunch or lunch will be served at the Taktsang cafeteria.
Later take a stroll to the Paro Town and night halt at Paro Valley
DAY 04 PARO To THIMPHU
After breakfast, drive to Thimphu will take roughly 1.5 to 2 Hours. Thimphu is the capital city of Bhutan since 1974. And prior to that , Punakha used to be the former capital of Bhutan.
Thimphu has a modest population of 0.1 million people as per the 2010 statistics and is the busiest city in Bhutan.
Enroute to Thimphu visit the Simtokha Dzong. Simtokha Dzong was the first Dzong built in Bhutan in the year 1629 A.D by the founder of Bhutan Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. Presently it houses a monk body and is the Institute of Language and Buddhist Studies in Bhutan. This Dzong is perched on a hill top over looking the Thimphu Valley.
Visit the Tashichhodzong which is a large ancient fortress and presently houses all Government Ministries , the Royal Throne Room and is the summer residence of the Chief Abbot and the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan. Tashichhodzong has a wide flat stone court yard and recently a Gallery named “Thuendrel Thang” was built to witness the Festivals a long side the Ancient Dzong.
Afternoon: Visit the Memorial Chorten (a great stupa) built in memory of the Third King of Bhutan who reigned the Kingdom from 1952-1972.
If time permits visit a number of places like the Takin Zoo. Takin is the National Animal of Bhutan and it has the head of a Goat and the body of a Cow. This animal is believed to be created in the 16th Century by the Devine Madman, the ancient religious magician often considered mad and outrageous with his teachings and lessons on Buddhism. The TAKIN Story: The story takes place about the time when The Divine Mad Man, was given a goat and a cow to eat by the villagers. After eating both the animals, and to prove his Devine power, he took their bones and put life back into them and created the Takin. That’s why the Takin has a head of Goat and the body of a cow.
Visit The National Library : This Library has a vast collection of ancient manuscripts which are preserved and recently being digitized.
Then a visit to the Thirteen Arts and Crafts School (Painting and wood craft school) which show cases how the students are taught the ancient and traditional ways of handling and making arts out of wood and painting.
Visit the National Institute of Traditional Medicines so that you can have an idea of the medicines made in Bhutan, and still follows the traditional style of manufacture and still uses rare plants, herbs etc to make these medicines.
Then if time permits, you can witness the Archery Match which is always played practically every day in Bhutan.
Night in Thimphu
DAY 05 THIMPHU To Punakha and Wangduephodrang
Drive Distance 77kms and Time Taken is around 2.5 to 3 hours
After early breakfast drive towards the Dochula Pass and then to Punakha and Wangduephodrang. Punakha and the Wangduephodrang are two Western Bhutan Districts close by to one another.
On the drive there, stop by the enchanting and mesmerizing Dochula Pass which is at an altitude of 3150 meters and takes around 1-1.5 hours to reach from Thimphu.
Dochula Pass is a Great place to feel the cool clean air and see thousands of prayer flags fluttering high on tree tops. There are 108 stupas and a Temple build by the Queen Mother for the long life of the Fourth King and the well being of all sentient beings. Also from this Pass you can view the Himalayan range and the Gasa Dzong far far away.
You will spend some leisurely time here and can take a short walk around this area. After spending some time here and having some tea and snacks/lunch, continue journey to Punakha. Punakha is at an altitude of 1300 meters and so much warmer than Thimphu and Paro.
Punakha was the former Capital of Bhutan and the Punakha Dzong(Fortress) lies at the confluence of two rivers called the “Mo Chu” and the “Pho Chu”. Mo means female and Pho means male and Chu means water…so in this context it’s the Female and Male Rivers. Punakha Dzong was built in 1637 A.D and is a beautiful fortress which has a story of its own. Your Guide will narrate the beautiful and exciting story in relation to Punakha Dzong.
Visit the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong. Wangduephodrang Dzong which is just 13 Kilometers from Punakha. This Fortress was build in 1638 A.D and houses all administrative office and the Monk Body of the Wangduephodrang District so it’s still a vibrant important facility in Wangdue.
Wangduephodrang Town and its Dzong is perched on a long hill top over looking the Punakha Chu and the road to Punakha and Southern Bhutan.
Wangduephodrang is known for its windiness where people say nothing can beat the wind here..so Guests hold on to whatever you have cause if the Wangdue Wind blows it away there is no way that you will be able to chase after the wind. Night in Punakha Valley
DAY 06 Punakha To TRONGSA
After breakfast,you will start moving to Central Bhutan, to a District called Trongsa. Trongsa is around 142 kilometers from Punakha/Wangdue and takes around 5-6 hours. Lunch will be served on the way.
On your way to Trongsa you will pass by the Rukubji Village and thereafter to Chendebji where there is the Nepalese style stupa(similar to Bodinath Temple in Kathmandu if you have been to Nepal),where you can relax for a while and circumbulate this stupa if you wish to. This Stupa was built in the 15th Century. Also you will drive through the Pelela Pass which is 3340 meters altitude and from here you can see the Himalayan Range of Mountains and this Pass separates Western Bhutan from Central Bhutan.
Evening stroll through the Trongsa Rural Town and mix with the locals there. Night in Trongsa Town
DAY 07 TRONGSA To BUMTHANG
Today Visit the Trongsa Dzong(Fortress) which was the ancestral home of the Ruling Monarchs of Bhutan. This Fortress was built in the year 1648 A.D and is at present used as the Government Administrative Office.
Tronga Dzong is known for its never ending view as this Fortress can be viewed from across the road leading towards Trongsa but the road goes on and on and at times you wonder when you are going to reach it. Trongsa Dzong is built at different levels and over look the river “Mangde Chu”. The position of this Dzong is such that all around the Dzong you get a clear view of all areas around, such that in ancient times, no matter from which side a person came from they had to pass the Dzong and thus no one could escape the sharp vigilance from this Dzong. This Dzong was built in such a strategic location because of its importance to control the East and West of Bhutan. Later Visit the “Ta-Dzong” in translation known as the “Watch Tower”. This Ancient watch Tower is around a kilometer from the Trongsa Dzong. Presently this watch Tower is a Museum called the “Museum of Monarchy” and many artifacts related to the Monarchy like ancient battle armours,etc are there displayed wonderfully.
Trongsa is connected to the Royal Family of Bhutan as they initially hailed from this District and the Fourth King was born in Trongsa Royal Palace.
After lunch, drive to Bumthang Valley across the Yutola Pass. The journey takes about 3 hrs and is one of the most scenically beautiful journeys in Bhutan, and you will enjoy the hospitality of the Bumthang people. Night in the Bumthang Valley. Bumthang is also known as the Switzerland of Bhutan due to its great scenic beauty.
DAY 08 BUMTHANG SIGHT SEEING
Visit the surrounding village and explore the beautiful valley of Bumthang. Drive through the picturesque valley of Bumthang and visit Jambay Lhakhang Kurje Lhakhang, Tamshing Lhakhang, and Kuenshusum Lhakhang.
Afternoon, Visit Jakar Dzong, built by Minjur Tempa, the 3rd Desi in 1646 AD (Desi means temporary ruler appointed by the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal) and drive to “Member Tsho” the Sacred “burning lake”. Night in Bumthang Valley
DAY 09 BUMTHANG To PHOBJIKHA VALLEY
After an early breakfast in Bumthang, drive towards Phobjikha Valley which is 174 Kms from Bumthang. Phobjikha valley is a high altitude wide valley at a level of 3000 meters above sea level. From this valley one can see the beautiful Black Mountain range. Phobjikha Valley is one of the widest and biggest Valleys in Bhutan and winter roosting place for the Endangered Black Necked Cranes, which come into Bhutan around the beginning of November and start leaving by mid February the following year. These birds fly into Bhutan during the winter months all the way from Tibet. Bhutan Government seriously takes care of these birds and even have a Black Necked Crane Festival every year on 11th November coinciding with the Fourth Living King’s Birth Anniversary. Also small but important initiatives are taken like the power cables are put underground if any so that the Birds do not have accidents when flying around and the whole of the Phobjikha Valley is a protected area where development is minimal so that the vast valley is kept untouched and thus undeveloped for the Cranes to roost on. You can visit the Gangtey Monastery too which is the only religious sect Nyiningpa Monastery in the Country. Night Halt in this Valley in a Local guest house.
DAY 10 PHOBJIKHA VALLEY TO THIMPHU
Morning walk around the valley for photo and drive towards Thimphu. Lunch in WangduePhodrang.
After lunch visit the “Chimi Lhakhang”. From the road head walk towards this temple and even a leisurely pace will take you just beyond 20-30 minutes to reach this temple.
Chimi Lhakhang is famous for couples who want children and thus known as the “Temple of Fertility” and is widely believed by the Bhutanese people that if you want to conceive, then this is the temple to pray for a child where you are blessed with an ancient Wooden Phallus. Since this temple was built by the naughty and shabby looking religious saint in the year 1499 A.D, known as” Drukpa Kuenley” meaning Devine Mad Man, thus this temple is also known as the Devine Mad Man Temple. When walking to Chimi Lhakhang you will go through the nearby village with a few Traditional Bhutanese houses and through their paddy fields, so it’s a very refreshing and moderate walk.
Then move towards Thimphu for Night Halt.
Evening if there is still time you can visit few Handicrafts in town and also you can purchase gifts for your family and friends back home. Night Halt in Thimphu
Day 11. Thimphu Day Excursion
Light hike to the TANGO Monastery .
We drive to our path and embark on a vigorous hike up the mountain to Tango Goemba Monastery. Tango is one of Bhutanese’ most important Buddhist colleges. Its name, meaning ‘horse’s head’, is derived from the horse-head shaped rock at the top. It is a beautiful Dzong built in the 18th century by the 8th Desi, Druk Rabgye. Today Tango is home to the young teenager reincarnate Lama, Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgye. Make offerings and get blessed. Have lunch in Thimphu and then drive to Paro Valley.
DAY 12 PARO Depart Bhutan
Today you will be departing Bhutan from the Paro International Airport. Your Bhutan Jewel Travel representative will escort you till the check in at Paro Airport and we will bid fare well with Good wishes to see each other once again.