Day 01. Arrive Paro (Altitude 2280 m)
Your guide from Bhutan Kaze Tours & Treks will receive you at the airport and drive you to the hotel. After lunch, visit the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong. It is 16 km northward from Paro proper.
The dzong was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, in 1647. The dzong was destroyed by fire and left in ruins. It was built to commemorate victories over Tibetan invasions.
On a clear day, you can see magnificent Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314m). On the way back, visit Kichu Lhakhang, built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo.
Dinner and night halt at Hotel.
Day 02. Paro – Thimphu, Excursion to Taktsang Monastery (Altitude 2320 m, 54 km)
A special day with an excursion to the spectacular Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery.
After breakfast, a short drive takes us to Satsam Choeten. From there walk for 2 hours to the viewpoint of the monastery. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest with trees festooned with Spanish moss and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags.
We stop to rest and for light refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until we see the clear view of Taktsang monastery. The main Lhakhang at the monastery was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in 1684 by Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgye.
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 tigress – said to be his favorite consort.
After Lunch, visit Ta Dzong (built in 1656 and renovated in 1968), an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. Below the museum is Paro Rimpung Dzong (meaning “Heap of Jewels,”) built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. A short walk takes you to the base of the dzong across a traditional cantilever bridge.
In the evening, drive to Thimphu. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 03. Thimphu Sightseeing: (Altitude 2320 m)
The day begins with a visit to the National Memorial Choeten (built in 1974) in honor of the late third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and the Dupthop Lhakhang, a nunnery. We then visit the National Library stocked with ancient Buddhist scriptures and the Institute of Zorigchusum. It is here where the tradition of Bhutan’s 13 arts and crafts are kept alive.
After lunch, we drive to the National Institute of Traditional Medicine where medicines are prepared according to ancient practices and then to Lungtenzampa to observe the Royal silver smiths at work and Bhutanese paper factory.
Other highlights include the visit to Tashichho Dzong. The dzong houses the office of His Majesty the king and is the seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body. The dzong also serves as the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan). Finally, visit the Handicrafts Emporium followed by shopping for souvenirs in the capital city.
Overnight in Hotel.
Day 04. Thimphu – Punakha: (Altitude 1310 m) (72 Km, 3 hours drive)
After breakfast, drive to Punakha via Dochula Pass. If the weather is clear, we stop for a while to get a glimpse of the towering Himalayas.
In Punakha, visit the Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. It is situated at the confluence of Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). The place was once the capital city of Bhutan.
The construction of the Dzong is believed to have been foretold by Guru Rinpoche. The small dzong called Dzongchung that exists even today housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Zhabdrung ordered the the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue. While Palep was sleeping, the Zhabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri (Paradise) and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From his vision, the architect conceived the design for the new dzong. The design was never put on 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.
The third king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck convened the first National Assembly in Punakha in 1952. Overnight in Hotel.
Day 05. Punakha – Gangtey – Trongsa: (Altitude 2800 m, 157 kms)
We start early today. After breakfast, drive to Trongsa via. Gangtey. En route sightseeing in the Wangdiphodrang valley. Places of interest include: visit to Wangduephodrang Dzong (from outside). It was built in 1638. Legend has that as 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 in the four points of the compass. The Dzong is situated at the confluence of Mo Chu and Dang Chu rivers.
Drive further to 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 reincarnation, 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.
Explore Phobjikha valley. It is the winter roosting place for the Black-necked cranes. Packed lunch will be served at Gangtey.
After lunch, drive to Trongsa. Visit Trongsa Dzong, one of the most impressive dzongs in Bhutan. It was built in 1644 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, who was sent by Zhabdrung to unify eastern Bhutan, and was enlarged at the end of the 17th century by Desi Tenzin Rabgye. Trongsa Dzong is the ancestral home of the present Royal Family and first two hereditary kings ruled Bhutan from this Dzong.
Then visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watch tower. Recently, it was turned into the Monarchy Museum. The chapel inside the Ta Dzong is dedicated to Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal. Overnight in Hotel.
Day 06. Trongsa – Bumthang: (Altitude 2800 m, 68 km)
After breakfast, drive to Bumthang. Lunch at Bumthang.
After lunch, visit Jakar Dzong, which literally means “The Castle of White Bird”. The Dzong was built in 1667. Visit Jampa Lhakhang. It is said to have been built by King Srongtsen Gempo of Tibet in 659 A.D on the same day of Kichu Lhakhang in Paro. The temple was visited by Guru Rimpoche during his visit to Bumthang. Underneath the temple, it is believed there is a lake in which Guru Rinpoche hid several terma (religious treasure or relic).
One of the most special and spectacular festivals called called Jampa Lhakhang Drup is held in every October. It is here where naked dance is performed to ward off evil spirits.
Overnight in Hotel.
Day 07. Bumthang Sightseeing (Altitude 2800 m)
After breakfast, visit Kurjey Lhakhang. Kurjey means the “body imprint.” The temple is built around a rock on which Guru Rinpoche had left his body imprint while meditating. The temple is considered one of the most sacred of temples.
Then visit Tamshing Lhakhang (Temple of good message). It was established in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa and is one of the most important Nyingmapa temples in the country.
After lunch, visit Mebartsho. Literally, it means “The Burning Lake”. The lake is located en route Tang Valley. Here, Terton Pema Lingpa displayed his supernatural power by diving into the lake with a butter lamp and came out with the lamp still lit and a treasure. And it is believed that Pema Lingpa discovered several religious treasures hidden by Guru Rinpoche from the lake.
Then, visit Mathra & Cheese factories. In the evening, visit a Bhutanese farm house. Overnight in Hotel.
Day 08. Bumthang – Thimphu: (Altitude 2320 m) Early breakfast. Drive to Thimphu. Packed lunch will be served on the way. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 09. Thimphu – Paro Airport (Altitude 2320 m, 54 km)
Early morning drive to the airport and farewell.