Day 01 : Arrive Paro by Druk Air
On a clear day, the flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights. You will see major Himalayan peaks such as Everest, Kanchenjunga and Makalu, and then on the final approach to Paro, Bhutan’s snowy peaks, Chomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tserimgang will come into view. Bhutan’s first gift to you as you disembark from the aircraft will be cool, clean fresh mountain air. You will be met by our representative, and after completion of arrival formalities will be taken to your hotel.
Afternoon free for activities or at leisure.
In the evening, take a stroll around Paro market. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 02 : Paro
Paro is a most picturesque valley, with quaint hamlets clustered amidst terraced paddy fields. The town still maintains tradition by way of its architecture and simple way of life.
In the morning, visit to Ta dzong, formerly a watchtower but now housing the National Museum. Ta Dzong holds unique and varied collections, ranging from ancient armor to textiles, thangkha paintings, stamps, coins, and natural history. Then walk down a hillside trail to visit Paro Dzong (Rinpung Dzong) built in 1646 during the time of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It now houses Paro’s monk body and the offices of the civil administration.
After lunch, drive up valley to Drukgyel Dzong or “the Fort of Drukpa Victory”. In former times, the Bhutanese repelled invasions by Tibetan from this fortress. Though largely destroyed by fire in 1951, the ruins still present an imposing sight. On a clear day, there is a splendid view of Bhutan’s sacred mountain, Chomolhari from the approach road to Drukgyel Dzong. Also visit a traditional Bhutanese houses in the village nestled below the dzong. Then head back towards Paro town, en route visiting Kyichu Lhakhang, established in the 7th century, and one of the two oldest shrines in the kingdom (the other is in Bumthang), reflecting the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 03 : Paro – Thimphu (55 km, 2 hours)
After breakfast drive to Thimphu, the modern capital town, passing through idyllic countryside, with villages and paddy fields on either side of the road. En route visit Simtokha Dzong, one of the oldest fortresses of the country, which now houses the Institute for Language and Culture studies.
Afternoon sightseeing in Thimphu valley, visiting: Trashichhodzong, the seat of the government: the National Memorial Chorten, within which there are finely executed wall paintings and delicately fashioned statues which provide deep insight into Buddhist philosophy: and the Handicrafts Emporium, which displays a wide range of the traditional handicrafts for which Bhutan is renowned. You may also be able to catch a game of archery in progress at the Changlimethang sports ground, just below the town.
Take an early evening stroll around the market area before dinner. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 04 : Thimphu – Punakha (75 km, 2.1/2 hours)
In the morning, visit the following: the National Library, with its extensive collection of priceless Buddhist manuscripts; the Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School) where students undergo a 6-year training course in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts; the National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only), where Bhutan’s famed traditional herbal medicines are compounded and dispensed.
After lunch, proceed to Punakha across Dochu-la pass (3,088m/10,130 ft). The highest point on the road is marked by a large Bhutanese Chorten and prayer flags fluttring on the hill. On a clear day, there is a breathtaking view over the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas from this spot.
Check into the hotel on reaching Punakha. Until 1955, Punakha served as the capital town of Bhutan and it is still the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot). Visit Punakha Dzong, built by Shabdrng Ngawang Namgyal in the 17th century and situated at the junction of Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 05 : Punakha – Wangduephodrang – Gangtey (Phobjikha) (70 km, 3 hours)
After breakfast, drive to Wangduephodrang and visit the Dzong which is perched on a spur at the confluence of two rivers. The position of Dzong is remarkable as it completely covers the spur and commands an impressive view both up and down the valley. Wangdue district is famous for its bamboo work, stone carvings, and slate which is mined up a valley, a few kilometers from the town.
Then drive up a winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forest, and over a high pass down into the Phobjikha valley, surely one of the loveliest high altitude valleys in Bhutan. Phobjikha is one of the few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black necked cranes, migrating from the Tibetan plateau. Explore Phobjikha valley and also visit Gangtey Gompa (monastery), the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan.
Day 06 : Gangtey (Phobjikha) – Trongsa (120 km, 4.1/2 hours)
In the morning explore Phobjikha valley, hopefully sighting some black necked cranes, if you are there at the right time of year. Later, drive to Trongsa across Pele-la pass (3,300m/10,830 ft). This pass is traditionally considered the boundary between western and central Bhutan. Further down the road, stop to visit Chendbji Chorten erected in the 18th century by a Tibetan lama to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot. It is built in the Nepalese style, with painted eyes at the four cardinal points.
The landscape around Trongsa is spectacular and its impressive dzong, stretched along a ridge above a ravine, first comes into view about an hour before the winding road suddenly leads you into the town. On arrival, check into the lodge. Overnight at the lodge in Trongsa.
Day 07 : Trongsa – Bumthang (Jakar) (68 km, 3 hours)
Morning visit to Trongsa Dzong. Built in 1647 by the Shabdrung, it is the most impressive dzong in Bhutan. Then visit Ta Dzong on the hillside above the town, built as a watchtower to guard Trongsa.
After lunch, proceed to Bumthang, one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the holy heartland of Buddhism. The 68 km, journey takes about 3 hours. The road winds steeply up to Yutong-la pass (3,400m/11,155 ft), then runs down through dense coniferous forest to enter a wide, open, cultivated valley, known as Chumey valley. From here it is about an hour to Bumthang, a most pleasant run in the soft, late afternoon light.
Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.
Day 08 : Bumthang
Bumthang is the general name given to group of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitude varying from 2,600m to 4,000m / 8,520 to 13,125 ft.
In the morning, we will visit Kurje Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom as Bhutan’s “patron saint”, Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) meditated here. From Kurje monastery, a tarmac road heads south along the right bank of the river to Jambey Lhakhang. This temple, erected by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century, is one of the two oldest in Bhutan (the other being Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro).
Then visit Tamshing lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa. It contains interesting and ancient Buddhist wall paintings. Later on we will visit Jakar Dzong, “the dzong of the white bird”, then take a stroll through Bumthang’s market area before returning to the lodge.
Afternoon explore Yathra weaving centre. Yathra is the name for the colorful, hand-woven woolen cloth often with geometric designs, which is produced in Bumthang region.
Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.
Day 09 : Bumthang – Mongar (198 km, 7 hours)
The journey continues eastwards, winding through more rugged terrain. The drive to Mongar takes about 6hours with spectacular view en route. We will drive up into the hills above the valley and then past Ura village, before climbing sharpely to the highest point on Bhutan’s motorable road network, Thrumshing-la pass (4,000m/13,125 ft).
From here, the road gradually descends to the alpine valley of Sengor, with wonderful views of cascading waterfalls and the hills of eastern Bhutan along the way. Vegetation changes from alpine to subtropical with the loss of height, and bamboos and luxuriant ferns overhang the road as we drop down to the valley floor. The descent stops at 700m/2,300ft, where we cross the Kurichu river. We ascend again through pine forests, maize fields and eastern hamlets to reach Mongar town, high on a gentle slope above the valley.
Picnic lunch at a scenic spot en route to Mongar.
Afternoon, we visit Mongar Dzong, built in the 1930s and one of Bhutan’s newest dzongs, but constructed in the same way as all previous dzongs, without either plans or the use of nails.
Overnight at the lodge in Mongar.
Day 10 : Mongar – Lhuntse (77 km, 3 hours)
Morning drive to Lhuntse which is one of the most rural and isolated districts in Bhutan. The landscape is spectacular with stark cliffs and gorges, beautiful conifer and pine forests, and remote villages with rice, millet and corn fields. Kurtoe region of Lhuntse is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s Royal family.
Overnight tented accommodation.
Day 11 : Khoma
Visit Khoma, the best-known weaving village in the country This region is famed for its weavers and special textiles, considered to be the best in the country. The living art of Bhutanese weaving done with the same technologies and applications as the weavers of earlier centuries, having the degree of sophistication to match any weaving tradition in the world. We will explore some of the very interesting small villages and ancient temples by foot. An hour’s brisk walk from the bridge on the main Lhuntse-Mongar road will bring us to Khoma. The other famous weaving area is Gonpa Karpo (four hours walk from the bridge), a remote village clustered around a sacred monastery.
Overnight tented accommodation.
Day 12 : Drive to Bumthang
Drive to Bumthang. Today’s drive is with extraordinary views! The beautiful winding road from Lhuntse to Bumthang, across the Thrumshingla pass – the highest motorable pass with the stunning views of snow capped peaks, breathtaking scenery of the landscape, dense forests of pine and oak, green meadows, beautiful wildflowers, gushing waterfalls, steep cliffs and constanly changing vegetation combine to make this journey one of the most exhilarating drives in the eastern Himalayas. Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.
Day 13 : Bumthang – Thimphu (268 km, 8 hours)
Morning after visiting Bumthang market, drive to Thimphu . Lunch would be served en route at one of the famous restaurant in Trongsa town.
Enroute at Wangduephodrang take a short break for tea / coffee and then proceed to Thimphu.
Arrive Thimphu and check into the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 14 : Thimphu – Paro
After breakfast drive to Paro. Later take an excursion to Taktsang Monastery. Legends says that Guru Padsambhava came here flying on the back of tigress and meditated at the place where now monastery stands. Taktsang or Tiger Nest was severely damaged by fire which took place in April 1998 and now it has been restored in its original splendor.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 15 : Depart Paro
After breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport for flight to onward destination.