BHUTAN ODYSSEY

Trip Overview

Enjoy places of interest and ancient stories connected to them. Visit Phobjikha valley – winter home of the black necked cranes. An elaborate tour that covers the whole of western Bhutan including an excursion to Haa valley and the central region. From Chele la get a superb view of Chumolhari and Jichu Drakey mountains.a

Itinerary

Day 01 : Arrive Paro by Druk Air

The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills, each flight is a mesmerizing feat and offers an exciting descent into the Kingdom. On arrival at the airport, you will be received by our representative and transferred to the hotel.

  • In the evening take a stroll around Paro town with its numerous souvenir shops and interesting architecture. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 02 : Paro

  • After breakfast, visit the Ta Dzong (National Museum) and then walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong which has a long and fascinating history from where you can walk further down to a traditional cantilever bridge.
  • Afternoon visit Drukgyel Dzong, the ruined fortress from where Bhutanese repelled several invasions by Tibetan armies. Currently, the Dzong is under restoration.
  • Visit a traditional farmhouse that offers a good insight into the lifestyle of local people.
  • In the evening, visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom.
  •  Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 03 : Paro / Thimphu (60 km, 2 hours)

  • After breakfast proceed to Thimphu, the modern capital city of Bhutan. En route stop at Chuzom (confluence) where the Paro river joins the Thimphu river. Three types of stupas adorn the meeting point of the rivers offering a picturesque view from the bridge.
  • Visit the Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress of the Kingdom that now houses the Institute for Advanced Buddhist studies.
  • After lunch, visit the National Memorial Chorten. The building of this landmark was originally envisaged by Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk “the Father of modern Bhutan”, who wished to erect a monument for global peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as a monument to peace. It has now become a vibrant centre of spiritual practice and religious events.
  • Visit the Royal Textile Museum, the Folk Heritage Museum and the Handicrafts Emporium followed by a visit to the local market.
  • Visit Tashichhodzong, a beautiful medieval fortress/monastery that houses His Majesty the King’s Throne Room, some offices of the Government and the summer residence of the monk body.  Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.

Day 04 : Thimphu – Punakha

After breakfast, take a halfday sightseeing tour of Thimphu

  • Visit the National Library that has a vast collection of ancient Buddhist texts and manuscripts.
  • The Painting School, famous for its traditional thangkha paintings. Here you will see students at work producing intricate design on cloth.
  • The National Institute of Traditional Medicine where centuries old healing arts are still practiced.

After lunch drive to Punakha with a short stop at Dochula pass (3,050m) and enjoy the most enchanting view of the 108 stupas against the backdrop of the majestic Himalayas. On arrival, check into the hotel.

Evening

  • visit Punakha Dzong, a massive structure built at the junction of two rivers. Punakha was Bhutan’s capital until 1955, and Punakha Dzong still serves as the winter residence of the central monk body. Bhutan’s first King Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned here in 1907. The fortress has withstood several damages from fire, earthquake and flood over the centuries. The last flood in 1994, caused great damage to the fortress but miraculously spared its most holy statue.
  • Take a drive to view the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chhorten and if time permits, take a hike there to enjoy the scenic beauty of the valley below.
  • Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.

Day 05 : Punakha / Wangduephodrang / Gangtey (70 km, 3 hours)

  • After breakfast at the hotel, hike to Chimi Lhakhang, situated on a hillock in the center of the valley. The sacred temple is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who in the late 15th century used humor, songs and outrageous behavior to dramatize his teachings owing to which he is also known as ‘Divine Madman’. The temple is also known as the temple of fertility. It is widely believed that childless couples that want children, can pray at this temple and they are usually blessed with a child very soon. It is located about 30 minutes walk from the road across paddy fields and interesting little shops. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning ‘field’. It then follows a tiny stream downhill to Yoaka and across more fields before making a short climb to Chimi Lhakhang.
  • Drive to Gangtey via Wangduephodrang.
  • Evening explore the valley of Phobjikha, the winter home of the rare black necked cranes and visit the Crane Information Centre. Later take a walk around Gangtey village. Overnight at Camp / Guest House.

Day 06 : Gangtey / Trongsa (120 km, 4.1/2 hours)

Morning

  • Visit the beautiful Gangtey Gompa, the only one of its kind in the region from where we take the enchanting Gangtey nature trail for about an hour. During the nature walk, you will see the roosting areas of the cranes and the grazing grounds of our domestic animals. The cranes migrate here from the Central Asiatic plateau to escape its harsh winters.

Day 07 : Trongsa – Bumthang (68 km, 3 hours)

  • After breakfast, visit Trongsa Dzong. Built in 1648, it was the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan. Our Kings were invested as Trongsa Penlop (‘governor’) prior to ascending the throne, and the present Crown Prince now holds the post. The Dzong is a massive structure with many levels, sloping down the contours of the ridge on which it is built.
  • Visit the Ta Dzong (watch tower), dedicated to the Buddhist epic hero, King Gesar of Ling.

Drive to Bumthang, 68 km from Trongsa, a journey of about 3 hours, over the Yutong-la pass (3,400m). The road winds steeply up to the pass, 28 km from Trongsa, then runs down through coniferous forest into a wide, open cultivated valley known as the Chumey valley.  Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.

Day 08 : Bumthang

Bumthang is the general name given to a combination of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitudes varying from 2,600m to 4,000m. It is home to many of the prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries of Bhutan. Its scenic beauty is often compared to that of Switzerland.

After breakfast at the hotel:

  • Visit Jambey Lhakhang, a 7th century temple and one of the 108 built by King Songtsen Gampo in one day.
  • Next, explore the religious sites on foot: Kurje Lhakhang, where the saint Padmasambhava subdued a local demon and left his body imprint on a rock; Tamshing Lhakhang that has some of the oldest wall paintings in Bhutan and Jakar Dzong, the administrative center of the region. Stroll in the village, visit the little handicrafts shop at the entrance to the town, and perhaps, take refreshments at a local restaurant. Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.

Day 09 : Bumthang / Wangduephodrang (205 km, 7 hours)

After breakfast, visit the Bumthang market before proceeding to Wangduephodrang. Stop for lunch en route at one of the popular local restaurants.  Overnight at the hotel in Wangduephodrang.

Day 10 : Wangduephodrang / Paro (77 km, 3 hours)

After breakfast at the hotel, visit the beautiful villages of Talo and Nobgang where time has stood still reflecting the rural serenity and traditional way of life. On the way back, visit the Sangchen Dorji Lhendub Nunnery. It is home to a small and friendly community of nuns.

Afteroon-  Drive to Paro. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 11 : Paro – Day excursion to the Haa valley

Start the day early for a drive to Haa via the Chele-la pass at 4200m. After driving through blue pine forests for 45 km,  stop at the Chele-la pass from where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the mountains, in particular, Chomolhari & Jichu Drakey. Drive on to Haa, descending all the way for another 22 km into the valley.

  • Drive by the Haa Dzong that is presently used by the military for a spectacular view from the outside.
  • After lunch visit the famous Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple) followed by a visit to the Lhakhang Nagpo (Black Temple). The central shrine in Lhakhang Nagpo is said to be similar to the Lhasa Jowo in Tibet. The three giant hills looming over the fringes of Haa are known as “Rig Sum Goenpa” signifying three deities-Jambayang, Chana Dorji and Chenrizig.  After the arrival of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the Founder of Bhutan, the chief guardian deity of Haa became Ap Chundu.
  • Later in the afternoon drive back to Paro along the same road. The drive will be a little less than three hours. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 12 : Depart Paro

  • After breakfast transfer to the airport for final departure.

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Tour Info

  • Duration : 12 Days
  • Difficulty Level :
  • Places To Visit : Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey, Trongsa, Bumthang, Wangduephodrang, Haa valley
  • Meters Above Sea Level :