Day 01. Arrive Paro (Altitude 2280 m) (By Druk Air flight):
Your Guide from Yak Holidays will receive you at the airport and drive you the short distance to the Hotel.
- visit Ta Dzong (built in1656 and renovated in 1968), an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum.
- the Paro Rimpung Dzong (literally meaning “Heap of Jewels”, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley. A short walk takes you to the base of the Dzong and across a traditional cantilevered, covered bridge.
In the evening, free to stroll in the town for photography. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 02. Paro – Thimphu, Excursion to Taktsang Monastery: (Altitude 2320 m, 54 km- 1 hr drive):
A very special day, with an excursion to view the spectacular Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery.
- After breakfast a short drive takes us to Satsam Chorten, from there a 2 hours walk till the monastery. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. The primary Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in the 1684by 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.
- drive to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong, under construction now, 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.
In the evening, 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).
Drive further to Thimphu. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 03. Thimphu Sightseeing (Altitude 2320 m):
- visit to the National Memorial Chorten (1974) built in honour of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.
- the Dupthop Lhakhang one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan.
- visit the National Library, stocked with ancient Buddhist manuscripts.
- the Painting School where traditional art is still kept alive through instructions in the art of painting Thangkas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls).
After lunch at Simply Bhutan Museum restaurant (You can practice archery, witness traditional Bhutanese dance, visit to the Folk Heritage museum and many other activities)
- visit to the Craft Bazaar.
- visit to the Tashichho Dzong, seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan) and free to stroll in the town
Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 04. Thimphu – Punakha: (Altitude 1310 m) (72 Km, 3 hrs drive):
After breakfast, drive to Punakha via Dochula pass. If the weather is clear, we stop for a while at Dochula pass to view Higher Himalayas.
Drive further to Punakha. On the way, visit Chime Lhakhang, which was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley. He subdued the demons with his “Magical Thunder bolt”. 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.
- 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. The construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche, who predicted, “…a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant”. There was a smaller building here called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Shabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, while Palep was sleeping; the Shabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From his vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which in keeping with the tradition, was never committed to paper. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). The war materials captured during the battle with Tibetans are preserved here. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk convened the new national Assembly here in 1952.
In the evening, walk across the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan.
- 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 05. Punakha – Gangtey (Altitude 3120 m) (66 km, 1 hr. 30 minutes): Hike to the beautiful Khamsung Yull:
- hike to the Beautiful 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 and drive to Gangtey.
Sightseeing in the valley of Wangdiphodrang.
- visit to the Wangdiphodrang Dzong built in 1638 (razed by fire in 2012), and is under construction now. 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. Lunch will be served at Nobding.
In the evening, and explore Phobjikha valley, the roosting ground of the Rare Black necked Cranes in winter. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 06: Gangtey (Upper part of the valley is called Gangtey and Lower part is called Phobjikha valley):
Phobjikha valley is part of the beautiful Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park (formerly known as Black Mountains National Park), one of Bhutan’s most important nature sanctuaries. Each winter it is home to a flock of 300 rare and endangered black-necked cranes. The surrounding hills and mountains are home to nomadic shepherds and yak-herders. This is one of the most remote and untouched regions in Bhutan and is only just opening its doors to the outside world.
After breakfast, hike through the Nature trail (3 hrs.) This is a very beautiful walking trail you can see the beautiful view of Phobjikha valley below.
- Then visit to Gangtey 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, visit the Crane Information centre and explore the Phobjikha valley.
Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 07. Gangtey – Trongsa – Bumthang (157 kms. 4 ½ hrs.):
We drive to Bumthang.
- On the way, visit Trongsa Dzong, the most impressive Dzong in Bhutan, built in its present form in 1644 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the official who was sent by Shabdrung to unify eastern Bhutan and enlarged at the end of the 17th century by Desi Tenzin Rabgay. Trongsa Dzong is the ancestral home of the present Royal Family and first two hereditary kings ruled Bhutan from this Dzong.
- visit the Ta Dzong, an ancient watch tower. The chapel inside the Ta Dzong is dedicated to the Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal. Drive further to Bumthang.
We occasionally stop on the way to take pictures. On the way, you will come across “Yathra” Weaving Centre at Zugney Village where you will see local weavers weaving Yathra. Yathra is the name for the colorful, hand-woven woolen cloth (often with geometric designs) that is produced in this region and wool used for this type of textile is sheep wool as the sheep is reared in this Bumthang Valley. Yathra is made into jackets or bags, etc.
Then you will be driven further to Bumthang. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 08. Bumthang Sightseeing (Altitude 2800 m):
- Jakar Dzong, which literally means “The Castle of White Bird”. The current structure was built in 1667. Visit Jambay Lhakhang said to have been built by King Srongsen Gampo of Tibet in the year 659 on the same day as Kichu Lhakhang in Paro. The temple was visited by Guru Rimpoche during his visit to Bumthang and was renovated by Sindhu Raja after Guru Rimpoche restored his life force. Under the temple is said to be a lake in which Guru Rimpoche hid several Terma. In October one of the most spectacular festival, “Jambay Lhakhang Drup” is staged here.
- visit Kurjey Lhakhang where you can see the body print of Guru Rimpoche on a Rock.
- visit Tamshing Lhakhang (Temple of the good message), established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and is the most important Nyingmapa temple in the kingdom.
Visit Kencho sum Lhakhang (referred to as Tselung Lhakhang in Pema Kathang and Choekhor Lakhang during the time of Pema Lingpa)
- built in the 9thcentury upon the instruction of Guru Rinpoche. Guru Rinmpoche instructed King Thrisong Deutsen of Tibet to build a three storeyed temple similar to Samye Monastery (of Tibet) in Bumthang to serve as centre for flourishing Dharma, Peace and Happiness. Accordingly, King Thrisrong Deutsen sent his minister Bamir Thrizer to build the temple. The temple was constructed under the supervision of Bamir Thrizer with support from the communities of Choekhor. Guru Rinmpoche himself visited Bumthang to design the temple and also performed auspicious consecration ceremony after completion. The main statue of the temple was Buddha Vairocana (Sangay namper nangsig). It is located four kilometres from Bumthang town at the left bank of Chamkhar River, close to Tamshing temple.
Temple was renovated by Terton Pema Lingpa in 1479. Its wall paintings were done by Kuengao from Lhodrak, Tibet. As prophesized, Pema Lingpa revealed two pieces of gold from the statue of Buddha Vairocana. Amazingly the two small pieces of gold was enough to paint the statues and wall paintings of the temple.
In the evening, free to explore Jakar town. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 09. Bumthang (Excursion to Ogen Choling Palace):
After breakfast, drive to Tang valley (40 kms. – 1 hour).
- Visit The Ogyen Choling palace, the manor was built in 1898, is a historic, cultural site, with its origin going back to the 14th Century. The central tower of the manor was converted to become the first private museum in Bhutan. Ogyen Choling was never so much a seat of political power as a center for religion. The history of Ogyen Choling begins with the visit of the great Tibetan master of Buddhism, Longchen Rabjam (1308-63). He is the most celebrated writer and philosopher of the Nyingmapa School (Ancients) of Tibetan Buddhism and is regarded as the synthesizer of the doctrine and methods of Dzogchen, ‘School of Great Perfection’. Oral tradition explains why the great master chose the location for his centre.
Packed lunch will be served. On the way back,
- visit Membarstho which literally means, “The Burning Lake”. It was here that the Terton Pema Lingpa discovered the treasures hidden by Guru Rimpoche in the 14th
In the evening, free to stroll in the town for shopping and photography. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 10: Bumthang – Paro sightseeing (Bumthang – Paro flights):
After breakfast, drive to Badbalathnag airport and fly to Paro (Domestic flight).
Your guide will receive you at the airport. After lunch, excursion to Chelila pass.
- Chelila pass is 35 kms from Paro, Bondey. The road traverses through alpine country towards the pass. Chele La is 3,810m. This pass is the highest motorable road in Bhutan and separates Paro valley from Haa valley. You can see beautiful view of the Himalayas bordering Tibet including Mt. Jumolhari.
We then drive back to Paro. Today our accommodation is in a typical Bhutanese Farm house. You can practice archery, dart, learn how to cook Bhutanese dishes and spend time with the family.
Day 11. Paro – Departure:
After breakfast, drive to airport and farewell.