Places: Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangdue, Gantey
Duration: 6 Nights/7 Days
Day 01: Arrive Paro
On arrival to the Paro National Airport by Druk Air, a representative from BHUTAN BY EXPERTS will receive you and escort you to the hotel. After the welcome cup of tea, we drive to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong, 15km up the valley. The dzong was built in 1649 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate the victory over Tibetan invasion in 1644. The dzong was the 1914 feature cover of the US National Geographic Magazine, and the story article about Bhutan was written by John Claude White. The dzong was destroyed by an accidental fire and left in ruins. On a clear day, you can see a breathtaking view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314m). On the way back, we visit Kyichu Lhakhang, built in 659 AD by the Tibetan King Srongsen Gampo. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 02: Paro
Today we take an excursion to the incredible Taktshang Monastery. A short drive to the upper Paro valley takes us to Satsam Chorten, where the pilgrimage trail to Taktshang starts. The trail climbs through a beautiful pine forest with groves of fluttering prayer flags. We rest and have light refreshments at Taktshang Jakhang (cafeteria). Then we walk a short distance until we see, clearly as if within reach, Taktshang Monastery. The primary temple inside Taktshang was built in 1684 by the Penlop of Paro, Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay. This spectacular monastery hangs at the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend says that the Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo.
After lunch, we visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower. It has become the National Museum since 1967. Then, we visit Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong), built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The dzong presently houses Paro’s district administrative offices. In the evening, we drive to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 03: Thimphu
Today the visit to important places and points of interests in Thimphu begins after breakfast. We visit the National Memorial Chorten constructed in memory of the third King, HRH Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and for world peace. Then, we visit Zorig Chusum, an institute for Bhutanese traditional arts and crafts. We also visit the National Library.
After lunch during weekends and in the late afternoon during weekdays, we visit the Tashichhoe Dzong, “The Fortress of Glorious Religion” built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1641. The dzong is the centre of the government and monastic body, place for the King’s throne room and seat of the Je-Khenpo (the Chief Abbot). We also visit the Handicrafts Emporium run by the government. Here you can buy Bhutanese traditional textiles, masks, thangka paintings, wood carvings, etc. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 04: Thimphu – Punakha (72kms, 3 hours drive)
After breakfast, we drive to Punakha via Dochu La pass. In clear weather, you can see an awesome panoramic view of Bhutan’s higher Himalayan peaks. Then en route, we stop and visit Chimi Lhakhang, the “Temple of Fertility” built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley. Lunch will be served at Punakha. After lunch, we take you to see the incomparable beauty of the Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The dzong is situated between Pho Chhu (Male River) and Mo Chhu (Female River). Until the time of the second King, it served as the seat of the government. The construction of the dzong was foreseen by Guru Rinpoche. There was a small building here before the current fort called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that kept a valuable statue of Buddha. The Shabdrung asked the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue. While Palep was sleeping, the Shabdrung took Palep in his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rinpoche. From his vision, the architect conceived the idea to design the new dzong. After the fort was built, the dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (the Palace of Great Happiness). War materials captured during battles with Tibetan invaders are preserved here. At present day, Punakha is still the winter residence of the Je-Khenpo. In the late afternoon, we visit Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 05: Punakha – Gangtey
After breakfast, we drive to Gangtey via Wangduephodrang. On the way, we will stop to visit the magnificent Wangduephodrang Dzong, located between the confluence of two rivers. We will also visit a local farm house, to gain insight into the lifestyle of the people. After that, we drive up a winding mountain road through beautiful oak and Rhododendron forests. When we reach and go over a high pass, we then drive down into the lush Phobjikha valley. In the early evening, we will walk around the beautiful Gangtey village and visit the Gangtey Goemba, a Nyingmapa monastery. Overnight at a guest house.
Day 06: Gangtey – Thimphu – Paro
After breakfast, we drive to Thimphu. After lunch, we visit the Folk Heritage Museum and take an excursion to Tango and Cheri Monasteries. In the evening, we drive to Paro. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 07: Depart Paro
Drive to the airport after early breakfast.