Spirit of Bhutan – 8 Days
This popular Bhutan cultural tour provides an in-depth view into the ancient way of life and rich culture that still thrives in Bhutan today through the western valleys of Paro, Haa, Thimphu, Punakha and Wangduephodrang.
It is a well paced tour, designed to provide the opportunity to really savour the unique highlights of Bhutan’s western districts which offer diverse mountainous landscapes, a rich Buddhist heritage including monasteries, temples and chortens, historical fortresses and an extremely hospitable people.
DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth. Our representative will meet you at Paro airport exit doors following customs formalities.
After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum and Rimpung Dzong.
Afterwards, drive to the capital, Thimphu (1.5 hours) following the Pachu River. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 02: THIMPHU
Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, 12th century Changangkha Temple, The National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century and Tashichhodzong houses some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body.
If your visit to Thimphu coincides with the weekend, you can walk through the Thimphu Market to see the variety of food of Bhutan, including basket upon basket of fiery chillies, fresh cheese and a variety of fresh greens. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. (This market is open only from Friday until mid Sunday). Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
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’ as predicted by the great Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava).
DAY 04: PUNAKHA
In the morning drive to Yabesa village and hike to through ricefields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk.
Take a picnic lunch on a picturesque riverside before exploring Wangduephodrang Dzong. Built in 1639, the strategically located Dzong is perched on a spur at the confluence of two rivers. In the 17th century Wangduephodrang played a critical role in unifying the western, central and southern regions of the country.
Afterwards drive back into the Punakha valley for a short walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman.
DAY 05: PUNAKHA – THIMPHU – HAA
Drive back to Thimphu where you will have an opportunity to visit handicraft and souvenir stores 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.
Afterwards drive to Haa via Chelela Pass where you will enjoy an panoramic views of the Paro and Haa Valleys as well as Mt Jumolhari and the the beautiful Himalayan ranges of Bhutan. From Chelela drive down through a deep pine forest and into the narrow valley of Haa. Overnight at hotel in Haa.
DAY 06: HAA – PARO
The extraordinarily beautiful Haa Valley is newly opened to tourists. Haa is a picturesque fertile valley ideal for mountain biking and hiking. Visit Lhakhang Karpo and Nagpo (white temple and black temple) that was built in the 8th century by the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo, after he sent two doves (one black and one white) to find a sacred place to build a monastery.
DAY 07: PARO
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The trail is broad and the walk of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometre above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to cafeteria).
In the afternoon drive to the almost fully reconstructed Drukgyel Dzong. The original monument (destroyed by fire in 1951) was built by Shabdrung to commemorate his victory against invading Tibetans in 1644.
DAY 08: DEPART PARO
Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.