Day 1. Arrive Paro (Altitude 2280 m) (By Druk Air) – Thimphu (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 to the National Memorial Chorten (1974) built in honour of our 3rd King, late His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (The Father of Modern Bhutan) and the Tallest Statue of Buddha.
In the evening, visit to the Tashichho Dzong, the Royal Secretariat, seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan). Then free to stroll in the town for shopping and photography. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 2. Thimphu Sightseeing:
After breakfast, Changangkha Lhakhang, Takin Preserve center, Sangaygang view point, and the Dupthop Lhakhang one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan.
After lunch, visit National Postal Museum, where you can get an Instant personalized photos of you and your dear ones on Bhutanese stamps, visit Folk Heritage museum and Craft Bazaar. In the evening, witness Archery match at Changlimithang stadium and free to stroll in the town for shopping and photography. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 3. Thimphu – Punakha (Altitude 1310 m, 76 Km, 3 hrs drive):
After breakfast, drive to Punakha via Dochula pass with its 108 stupas with amazing view of the Himalayas. On the way, visit the Royal Botanical Garden at Lamperi.
- The Royal Botanical park, also known as the Rhododendron Garden at Lamperi is about half and hour drive towards Punakha/Wangdue. A nature reserve rich in flora and fauna and beautiful in itself. 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. Located 30 KMS from capital, the park has numerous view points, a lake and a canteen. At this park, you can indulge yourself amongst these rich biodiversity.
Drive further to Punakha. On the way, view 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 the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk convened the First National Assembly here in 1952.
In the evening, hike to Khamsung Yulley Namgyal Choling Monastery. Drive to Yabesa village and hike to through rice fields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, 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. Dinner and overnight in hotel.
Day 4. Punakha – Gangtey (Altitude 3120 m) (66 km, 3 hrs):
After breakfast, drive to Gangtey. Enroute sightseeing in the valley of Wangdiphodrang includes visit to the Wangdiphodrang Dzong (razed by fire in 2012), & under construction (from outside) 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 Buddhist religion to the four points of the compass. The Dzong is situated at the confluence of Mo Chu and Tang Chu rivers. Drive further to Gangtey.
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.
After lunch, explore Phobjikha valley, the roosting ground of the Rare Black necked Cranes in winter and visit the Crane Information center. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 5.Gangtey – Thimphu (Altitude 2320 m) (143 km – 6 hrs.):
After breakfast, drive to Thimphu. Lunch, will be served on the way.
In the evening, free for photography in the town. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 6. Thimphu – Paro Sightseeing: (Altitude 2280 m):
After breakfast, drive to the Chelila pass which separates Paro valley from Haa valley with the highest Motorable road in Bhutan at 3810 meters above sea level. You can see the beautiful view of the Higher Himalayas including Mt. Jumolhari.
After lunch, visit the Ta dzong, an ancient watchtower, which has been, since 1967, the national museum of Bhutan then visit Rimpung Dzong (Paro Dzong) built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The Dzong presently houses administrative offices. From here, take a short walk across a traditional cantilever bridge to one of the many archery grounds to be found in Bhutan. If you are lucky, you will catch a glimpse of archery match in action. Archery is the national sport.
In the evening, visit to a farm house. Bhutanese farm houses are very colorful, decorative and traditionally built without the use of single nail. All houses follow the same architectural pattern. A visit to Farm House is very interesting and offers a good glimpse into the lifestyle of a farmer. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 7. Paro sightseeing (Tiger’s Nest):
After breakfast, drive Paro to the base of the monastery and hike to Taktsang Monastery – a 2 hour walk to the monastery. The primary temple 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, visit to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong 16 km up the valley built in 1647 by the great 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. Explore the ramparts and on a clear day experience an unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m). On the way back, visit Kichu Lhakhang, built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan king Srongsen Gampo.
- Srongsen Gampo 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.
Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 8. Departure: (Altitude 2280 m):
After breakfast, drive to the airport and farewell.