Day 01. Arrive Paro – (Altitude 2280 m) – Thimphu (Altitude 2320 m) (Distance: 54 km, 1 hr drive):
Your Guide from Yak Holidays will receive you at the Airport and drive to Thimphu. On the way, view Tamchog Monastery built by Thangthong Gyalpo (Popularly known as Lama Chazampa, which literally means, the Iron Bridge builder) in the 15th century.
- Thang Thong Gyalpo (1385 – 1464) was a wonder working saint from Tibet who came to Bhutan in 1433 looking for Iron Ore. He built 108 bridges across Tibet and Bhutan, out of which 8 were built in Bhutan. His only surviving bridge is in Duksum (Tashi Yangtse in Eastern Bhutan).
After lunch, visit National Postal Museum to make personalized stamps of you and your near and dear ones followed by visit to the Craft Bazaar.
In the evening, visit to the Tashichho Dzong, the Royal Secretariat and the seat of Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan.
In the evening, free to stroll in the town for shopping and photography. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 02. Thimphu Sightseeing (Altitude 2320 m):
The day begins with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten(1974) built in honour of our 3rd King, late His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (The Father of Modern Bhutan), Tallest Statue of Buddha, Changangkha Lhakhang, Takin Preserve center, Sangaygang view point, and the Dupthop Lhakhang one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan.
After lunch, visit to the Folk Heritage Museum and Painting school and witness the Archery match. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 03. Thimphu – Punakha: (Altitude 1310 m) (76 Km, 3 hrs drive):
After breakfast, drive to Punakha. We visit awesome sites of Dochula Pass with its 108 stupas and the beautifully arranged Himalayan mountain ranges in the north and visit the Royal Botanical Garden at Lamperi.
- The Royal Botanical Park also known as the Rhododendron Garden at Lamperi, a nature reserve rich in flora and fauna. The recorded species are the monal pheasants, blood pheasants, musk deer, tiger, leopard, red panda and the leopard cat. A Rhododendron garden with 46 species of the plant is the theme of the botanical garden. At this park, you can indulge yourself amongst these rich biodiversity.
Then visit, visit Chimi Lhakhang, which was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley (Popularly known as “The Divine Madman”, in the year 1499. He subdued the demons with his “Magical Thunder bolt” and built the temple on top of a hillock. The Temple is also known as “the Temple of Fertility”.
- Lama Drukpa Kuenley (1455 – 1529) was one of the Bhutan’s Favourite Saints who was born in Tibet, trained at Ralung Monastery and was a contemporary and a disciple of Pema Lingpa. He Travelled throughout Bhutan and Tibet as a “Neljorpa” (Yogi) using songs, humour and outrageous behavior to dramatise his teachings of Salvation through sex.
After lunch, visit Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is situated between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the Government. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk convened the First National Assembly here in 1952. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
In the evening, walk the Longest Suspension bridge across Pho Chu River.
- About the Bridge: The Punakha Suspension Bridge is considered the longest of its kind in Bhutan. It is located in the Punakha district, and it connects the two sides of the Po Chhu river. You will get a great view of the river, valley, temple, and a good boost of adrenaline as well. In the early years, the bridge was made for the Lamas of Punakha Dzong (temple) who crossed the river very often to visit nearby villages. Today it serves both for locals and tourists who want to visit the temple. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 04. Punakha – Wangdiphodrang – Gangtey (3120 m, 74.6 kms, 3 hour drive):
After EARLY breakfast, hike to Khamsung Yulley Namgyal Choling Monastery.
- Built by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. Perched high on a hill on the bank of the river, the Chorten houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions.
Then drive to Gangtey valley. On the way, take a view Wangdiphodrang Dzong built in 1638. Legend relates that as the people were searching for the site of the Dzong; four ravens were seen flying away in four directions. This was considered auspicious sign, representing the spread of religion to the four points of the compass. The Dzong is situated at the confluence of Mo Chu and Tang Chu rivers.
Lunch will be served on the way. While in Gangtey, visit Gangtey Gompa.
- Gyaltse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa founded the Temple in 1613, and Tenzin Legpai Dhendup, the second re-incarnation, built the temple. The present Abbot, Kunzang Pema Namgyal is the ninth re-incarnation. It is a Nyingmapa monastery and is affiliated to other Nyingmapa monasteries including Tamshing in Bumthang.
NOTE: The Upper part of the valley is called Gangtey and lower part is called Phobjikha.
In the evening, visit the Crane Information center and explore Phobjikha valley, the roosting ground of the Rare Black necked Cranes that fly into the valley from Tibetan plateau in winter. Dinner and overnight in Dewachen Guest house or similar.
Day 05. Gangtey – Thimphu (Altitude 2320 m) (143 km – 6 hrs):
After breakfast, drive to Thimphu. We occasionally stop on the way to take photos. Lunch will be served on the way. In the evening, free to stroll in the town for shopping and photography. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 06. Thimphu – Paro (Tiger’s Nest) (Altitude 2280 m, Distance 58 km, Drive Time 1 hour):
After breakfast, drive to Paro, then to Satsam Chorten, from there a 2 hour walk till the viewpoint point of the monastery. The primary Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in the 1684 by the Penlop of Paro Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo, said to be his favourite consort.
NB: You can hoist prayer flags near the Tiger’s Nest, and offer prayers inside the monastery. You can also request lama to pray for you.
After lunch, drive to the Drukgyal Dzong 16 km up the valley built in 1647 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the dzong was destroyed by accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. On the way back, visit Kichu Lhakhang, built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan king Srongsen Gampo.
- Srongsen Gampo: He was a Tibetan king who married a Chinese princess, Wenchen in 641, as a part of her dowry was a statue called “Jowo” which was an Indian image of Buddha, Sakyamuni as a small boy. In 659, He decided to build 108 Temples in a single day to pin the Ogress to the earth forever and, at the same time, convert the Tibetan people to Buddhism. 6 of these Temples lie in Bhutan, most prominent of them are Jambay Lhakhang in Bumthang and Kichu Lhakhang in Paro. Kichu Lhakhang is said to hold the left foot of the Ogress and Jambay Lhakhang pins the left knee.
In the evening, free to stroll in the town. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 07. Departure:
After breakfast, drive to the airport and farewell.