Day 1: Majestic Fortress and Mountain Peaks: Exploring Paro and Thimphu
The flight to Paro is renowned as one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world. During the flight, one can witness stunning views of Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makula, and other towering peaks such as Jomolhari, Jichu Drakey, and Tserim Gang.
Upon arrival, our representative will receive you and we will visit Paro Rimpong Dzong, an awe-inspiring and majestic fortress. Dzongs are considered as one of the most significant structures in Bhutan, and they serve as architectural masterpieces that reflect their functions and beauty. For the Bhutanese, these stunning architectural marvels symbolize the source of law and order, peace, harmony, legitimate authority, the center of learning, strength, defense, festivity, and social life.
The original Paro dzong dates back to the 17th century, built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the man who unified Bhutan. However, it was burnt down in 1907 and was reconstructed in the same year with the same architectural design. Currently, it serves as the headquarters of the district, headed by the head administrator and the monastic body with approximately 200 monks.
We will then hike down to the bridge and transfer to Thimphu for an overnight stay. Overnight hotel
Day 2: Archery, Markets, and Monastery: A Day of Bhutanese Culture in Thimphu
After breakfast, we will drive approximately 45 minutes north of Thimphu and then hike to the Tango Buddhist Institute, which will take around 2 hours for a round trip. Tango is located in a place considered sacred from ancient times. In 1689 AD, the monastery was built by Gyelse Tenzin Rabgyel, the 4th Desi (temporal ruler of Bhutan). Today, it serves as the largest Buddhist institute in the country and is also the seat for the young reincarnation of the master who built the monastery, Gyelse Tenzin Rabgyel.
In the afternoon, we will visit the Textile Museum, which showcases a wide range of textile collections from Bhutan. Next, we will visit an archery range to experience the national sport of Bhutan. Finally, we will explore the weekend market to meet the locals who come to sell their vegetables and rice. We will spend the night at the hotel.
Day 3: Mountains to the Valleys: Discovering Bhutan's Natural and Cultural Beauty
Stop at Dochula pass for photos. The pass features 108 Druk Wangyel Chortens, which were built to commemorate the stability and progress brought to Bhutan by His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King. These stupas are a symbol of Bhutan's spiritual and artistic traditions. Take some time to capture the beauty of this breathtaking pass in Bhutan.
As you descend from the pass, you will witness dramatic changes in vegetation. At lower elevations in Punakha and Wangdue, semi-tropical plants such as cacti, banana plants, and poinsettias dominate the exotic landscape. Continue your drive towards Punakha and visit Punakha Dzong. Built in 1637 at the confluence of the Po Chu (male river) and Mo Chu (female river), this fortress monastery is the winter residence of Bhutan's spiritual leader, the Je Khenpo or Head Abbot, and the central Monk Body comprising of over 350 monks. This is the most beautiful dzong in Bhutan.
Drive further north and hike across the suspension bridge to reach Khamsum Yuley Namgyel temple, which overlooks the picturesque Punakha valley. The temple was built for the current king.
On the way back to the hotel, stop at Lobesa and take a short hike to Chhi-med Lhakhang (which means "no dogs" temple) in the picturesque valley to visit the temple of Bhutan's foremost Saint, the Lama Drukpa Kuenley (popularly known as the "Divine Madman"). Overnight at hotel.
Day 4: From Punakha to Trongsa: An Enchanting Journey Through Bhutan's Countryside
Embark on an exciting journey with a 4-hour drive from Punakha to Trongsa, taking in the scenic beauty of Bhutan's countryside. As you make your way through the winding roads, you will pass through the quaint town of Wangdue, which is known for its traditional crafts and picturesque surroundings.
Crossing the majestic Black Mountains, you will reach the Pelela pass, which stands at an altitude of 3240m. This pass has long been considered the boundary between the western and eastern parts of Bhutan, according to ancient administration. From here, the road descends through a verdant valley characterized by dwarf bamboo and patches of fir trees. The valley is home to three small villages - Chendepji, Rukubji, and Tangsiji - and we will make a stop at Chendepji for tea, where you can interact with the locals and learn about their way of life.
After the tea break, we will continue our journey for another two hours until we reach Trongsa. The name Trongsa means "New Village" in Bhutanese, and it is a small town nestled in the heart of the country. Trongsa is known for its stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and ancient traditions that are still preserved to this day.
Upon arrival, explore the impressive Trongsa Dzong, which is the ancestral home of the Royal Family of Bhutan. Interestingly, the first King of Bhutan was the governor of this dzong before his coronation as the King. Even today, there is a tradition that any Crown Prince of Bhutan must first serve as the Governor of Trongsa before becoming King. This period provides crucial training for the future King to understand the needs of the Nation and its people and next visit the tower of Trongsa, an ancient watchtower that has undergone extensive restoration and been converted into the Royal Museum. This newly consecrated museum offers a fascinating insight into Bhutan's history over the past century. The two galleries showcase the monarchy's history in Bhutan, with many royal possessions on display.
In the evening, explore Trongsa market and the small Trongsa town. Overnight hotel
Day 5: Discovering Bumthang: Exploring Bhutan's Heartland
Drive towards Bumthang, which is located in the heart of Bhutan. Along the way, you will cross the Yotola high pass, which stands at an elevation of 3400m, and will bring you to the Chumey valley in Bumthang. Bumthang is famous for its distinctive woolen weaves, known as yathra, which include some made from yak hair. In the village of Zugney, you will see fine samples of yathra hanging by the roadside and available for purchase. You can also watch the weavers, who are all women, busily working at their looms beside the road. The road continues over the Kikila pass to enter the next valley in Bumthang (Jakar), the district headquarters. Check into your hotel and Jakar valley.
The town of Jakar in Bumthang is home to several historical and cultural sites that offer visitors a glimpse into Bhutan's rich heritage. One of the most impressive landmarks is Jakar Dzong, also known as the "Castle of the White Bird." This dzong was built in 1549 by the great-grandson of the famous Bhutanese saint, Lama Drukpa Kunley. The dzong has undergone several renovations and restorations over the years and is currently used as an administrative and monastic center.
Another must-see attraction in Jakar is Jambay Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan. This ancient temple was built in the 7th century and is believed to have been one of 108 temples commissioned by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. Legend has it that the temples were built on the body of a demon to pin her to the earth forever. Jambay Lhakhang is believed to have been built on the left knee of the demon.
Kurjey Lhakhang is another important religious site in Bumthang. It is named after the body imprint left on a rock by Guru Rimpoche, the master who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan. The monastery was built on this spot in 1652 by Minjur Tempa, the same person who built Jakar Dzong.
You can explore Tamshing Monastery, also known as Tamshing Lhendup Chholing. This temple was established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and is one of the most important Nyingma goempa religious centers in Bhutan. The inner walls of the temple are adorned with original, unrestored paintings by Pema Lingpa himself. Towards the evening, explore the town by strolling around its streets and alleys. Bumthang is a beautiful town with charming architecture, and you'll find plenty of small shops and cafes to visit. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 6: Exploring the Ancient Heritage of Tang Valley
The drive takes you through pristine forests, villages, and terraced fields. The valley is known for its unique culture and traditions that are different from the rest of Bhutan.
The first stop of the excursion is the Tang Rimochen Lhakhang, a temple that is believed to have been built in the 8th century by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo. The temple houses some of the most ancient and sacred relics in Bhutan, including a statue of Guru Rinpoche that is believed to have flown here from Tibet.
The next stop is the Ogyen Choling Museum, a beautiful mansion that has been converted into a museum. The museum offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of the aristocratic families of the region and displays various artifacts and objects that were used in their daily lives.
After the museum visit, you can explore the Tang valley and visit local farmhouses to learn about the rural lifestyle of the Bhutanese people. The valley is known for its beautiful woolen products, and you can purchase some souvenirs from the local weavers. Overnight lodge
Day 7: Discover the Stunning Phobjikha Valley
The road towards Phobjikha ascends through dwarf bamboo and patches of fir trees entering into the valley of three Jis. Chendepji, Rukubji, and Tangsupji and leading towards Pele la pass (11000 ft), crossing over the black mountain ranges. You can make numerous stops on the way for pictures, for hikes to the villages.
Upon arrival in Gangtey, visit Gangtey Gompa, which was founded in 1613 by Gyalse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa. In the recent years, it has gone through a major restoration. Today, you can see some of the finest Bhutanese works of art in this monastery.
After visiting the monastery, hike towards Phobjikha valley. This glacial valley is on the western slopes of the Black Mountains National Park and is a designated conservation area, because this valley is the winter roosting ground for the endangered Black-necked Cranes. These beautiful, endangered birds have a population of only a few thousand in the entire world. Overnight hotel
Day 8: Discover the Beauty of Dochula Pass and Lungchuzekha Temple
As you travel towards Paro, a stop at Dochula pass is a must. Here, you can trek towards the Lungchuzekha temple, taking in the beautiful scenery of the forest and the stunning view of the Himalayas on a clear day. The hike is an invigorating experience that will leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated.
After the trek, continue your journey towards Paro, and make a stop at the Simtokha dzong, the oldest dzong in Bhutan built in 1629. This historic fortress is an architectural marvel and offers visitors an insight into the rich cultural heritage of the country.
In the evening, visit a local farmhouse where you can enjoy a delicious dinner and relax with a hot stone bath. This traditional Bhutanese bathing experience is known for its therapeutic benefits and is the perfect way to end a long day of sightseeing and trekking.
Overnight at a hotel.
Day 9: Discover the Hidden Valley of Haa: Journey to Bhutan's Most Remote Valley
The journey to the high valley of Haa, crossing over the Chela pass at 3988m, is one of the most breathtaking experiences you will have in Bhutan. The road takes you through winding roads that offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The Haa valley was opened to visitors only in 2002, making it one of the most remote valleys in the country. The people here still live a life governed by seasons and farm works, untouched by the modernity of the world.
En route to Haa, you will stop to visit Dzongdrakha village, which overlooks the Paro valley. The village is situated on a cliff face and has several temples and monasteries that offer a glimpse into the local culture and religious practices. A hike to Kila Gompa monastery, which consists of about 30 nuns, is a must-do activity in this area. The hike will take you through scenic routes, where you will witness a lot of yaks grazing and enjoying the natural beauty of the region. The view from the Chela pass, which you will reach after the hike, is truly breathtaking, offering stunning panoramic views of the Himalayas.
Once you arrive in Haa, you will visit two of the oldest temples in Bhutan, Lhakhang Karp and Lhakhang Nap. These temples hold significant historical and religious importance and offer a glimpse into the Bhutanese way of life. In the evening, the journey back to Paro begins. Overnight hotel.
Day 10: Trekking to the Tiger's Nest: Spiritual and Photographic Adventure in Bhutan.
Hike to the Guru's glory. Takshang (2900m/10,000ft) is considered one of the holiest sites in the entire Buddhist faith. It was said that Guru Rimpoche, the founder of Buddhism in Himalayan countries, came to this place riding on the back of a tigress and meditated here for about three months. As a result, Takshang has been an important place of pilgrimage and reflection for more than 1200 years. The monastery clings to a sheer cliff two thousand feet above Paro valley.
The total hike will take the average person about 4 hours. From the parking area, it will take about one hour to reach the teahouse, and then another one and a half hours to the temple. You can visit the different temples inside the main Takshang complex.
Stop for lunch at the teahouse on the way back.
Takshang is a paradise for photographers. Apart from the stunning view, you will see beautiful waterfalls, meditation caves, water prayer wheels, many prayer flags, and stupas.
In the evening, visit a farmhouse to try a traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath, which will allow you to relax after the long hike.
Day 11: Departure
Transfer to the airport for departure