This cultural tour through the mystical Western valleys of Bhutan is an ideal introduction to the Dragon Kingdom. Experience Bhutanese hospitality, admire the ever-changing landscapes, and immerse yourself in Bhutan’s rich Buddhist culture. Highlights include Ta Dzong Museum, Rimpong Dzong with its wooden cantilevered bridge and the infamous Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) in the beautiful Paro Valley.
DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU
The flight to Paro crosses the Himalayan Mountains, affording spectacular views of the awesome peaks, including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks in Bhutan. If you arrive via Kathmandu, which offers the most breathtaking view of the range, it’s possible to see Mount Everest and Mount Kanchenjunga as well.
Upon arrival in Paro, you will be greeted by our representative, In the afternoon you can visit the Paro Dzong. It was built in 1646 and now houses government offices and religious institutions, as do all the Dzongs (forts) currently.
Then visit the National Museum, formerly the watchtower for the Dzong. It now houses a collection of fine arts, paintings, thangkas, statues, and antiques. Afterward, you will visit Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country. Later in the evening, Proceed to the capital city (Thimphu). Thimphu is very much different from the rest of the capital cities in the world. The city does not have any traffic lights. There is only a policeman standing in the intersection directing traffic with hand motion which is something unique to see in the world. Overnight in Thimphu. Overnight Hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 02: THIMPHU
Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, 12th-century Changangkha Temple, and Drubthob monastery housing the Zilukha Nunnery.
Other sites to visit include: the School for Arts and Crafts where students are taught the 13 types of Bhutanese art, The National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century, the Traditional Paper Factory displaying the Bhutanese paper making process, and a fascinating replica of a medieval farmhouse at the Folk Heritage Museum.
DAY 03: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA
Drive over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters), which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into balmy Punakha valley (about 3 hrs total driving time).
Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. On arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’.
After lunch, enjoy a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, the temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman.
DAY 04: PUNAKHA – THIMPHU – PARO
In the morning drive to Yabesa village and hike through ricefields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk.
Drive back to Thimphu where you will have an opportunity to visit handicraft and souvenir stores. Afterward proceed to Paro, visiting Semtokha Dzong en route. The Dzong, built-in 1627, is the oldest in Bhutan. It now houses the Institute for Language and Culture studies. On arrival in Paro, check into the hotel. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
Day 05: Paro – Hike to Taktsang Monastery ‘Tiger’s Nest’ (3120m)
After breakfast drive towards the base camp of Taktsang for the hike up to the Taktsang Monastery-Tiger’s Nest. The trail is broad and the walk of approximately 2 hours uphill. From this point, enjoy the spectacular view of the monastery, The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 meters above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. The great Guru Rimpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. He then mediated in a cave there for three months where the monastery was later built. The cave is said to be the origin of Buddhism in Bhutan. In the afternoon drive to the almost fully reconstructed Drukgyel Dzong. In fine weather, the towering peak of the sacred Mount Jomolhari (7314m) appears as a stunning backdrop. On the return drive to Paro, afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum and Rimpung Dzong visit other sights in Paro valley. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
Day 06: Depart Paro
Breakfast in the hotel then drive to the airport for a flight to your onward destination. Tashi Delek!