- Glimpses of Bhutan’s cultural and historical heritage sites
- Hike to the Tiger’s Nest – one of Bhutan’s most sacred places
- Adventure Rafting along the Punakha River
- Visit Tashichho Dzong and Punakha Dzong and see the beautiful architecture
- Visit the Dochula Pass from where you can get a spectacular view of the Himalayas
- Experience local culture and taste Bhutanese cuisine
- Two days in the valley of Paro & Punakha and Three days in Thimphu
Brief Tour Program:
Day 1 – Arrive Paro and transfer to Thimphu (1 hr drive)
Day 2 – Hike to Cheri Monastery & Explore the city of Thimphu
Day 3 – Hike to Phajoding Goenpa (5 – 6 hr)
Day 4 – Drive from Thimphu To Punakha valley (3 hr drive)
Day 5 – Explore the Punakha valley (Hiking & Rafting)
Day 6 – Drive from Punakha To Paro (4 hr drive)
Day 7 – Hike to Tiger’s nest monastery (4-5 hr hike)
Day 8 – Drive to Paro airport for Departure
Detailed Tour Program:
DAY 1 – Arrive Paro & transfer to Thimphu
The flight into Bhutan will give you a spectacular view of the Himalayan mountain ranges. On a clear day you may be able to see Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. The landing in Paro is not for the faint hearted as there are mountains on either side of the plane, alarming close at times, and a short runway on which the plane has to stop. It is apparently one of the world’s most difficult airports to land and take off at.
At the airport you will be met by our tour representative. You will then drive from Paro to Thimphu (capital city). The drive will take you through the beautiful rice terraced fields, and alongside the gushing Pho Chu and Wang Chu rivers.
Afternoon visit Kuenselphodrang, where a 169 feet statue of Buddha Dordenma has been built and overlooks the Thimphu valley. This statue is the largest sitting Buddha in the world. Evening visit the Memorial Chorten built in memory of the third King of Bhutan where you and your children can spin prayer wheels. Don’t forget to take some photographs, so that you can make your own Bhutan stamps.
DAY 2 – Hike to Cheri Monastery & Explore the city of Thimphu
The drive from Thimphu town to Cheri Monastery is about half an hour. The hike to the Cheri uphill takes about one hour through a beautiful forest. Cheri is considered one of the most sacred places in Bhutan. The inner walls of the sanctum are covered with beautiful frescoes of Buddhist saints. As the temple standing atop a hill, it boasts a spectacular view of the surrounding forest and river.
Afternoon visit the Takin Reserve where you will see the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. A Tibetan saint named by Drukpa Kunley, popularly known as the “Divine Madman” is credited with creating the takins unique features. Drukpa Kunley, who was not only a religious preacher but also a proficient tantric, was requested by the people of Bhutan during one of his religious lectures to conjure a miracle before them. The saint agreed to do so provided he was fed for lunch, a whole cow and a whole goat. Once served, he devoured the food of both animals and left out the bones. He then took out the head of the goat and fixed it to the skeleton of the cow and uttered abracadabra and the magic worked. With a snap, he created a live animal, which had the head of the goat and the body of the cow.
Evening visit Tashichho Dzong which houses the King’s Throne Room & Government offices. The Dzong serves as summer residence for the Je Khenpo, Chief Abbot & the Central Monk Body. If time permits you can also visit the Crafts Bazar and vegetable market.
DAY 3 – Hike to Phajoding Goenpa (5 – 6 hr)
Drive from Thimphu town to Sangay gang which is a twenty minute drive, and the walk up to the Phajoding Goenpa which is a large monastic complex with 10 Temples and 15 monasitc residence. It also comprises of a state Monastic school housing about 40 monks. Its name ‘Phajoding’ comes after the saint Phajo Drugom Zhigpo, who meditated there in the 13th century and thus is one of the most sacrosanct meditational sites in the Kingdom. The 9th Je Khenpo, Je Shakya Rinchen (the Chief Abbot of the Central Monastic Body) established the entire complex in 1748.
Phajoding monastary was once one of the richest and decorated monasteries in the country and is the home of many Bhutanese artifacts. The hike to Phajoding is a 5km uphill climb from the youth centre in Motithang. The trail makes way through the fir, spruce and blue pine forest. Visit the ancient lhakhangs (monasteries) and enjoy a beautiful panorama of Thimphu Valley.
DAY 4 – Travel to the Punakha Valley over the Dochu La Pass
After breakfast drive to Punakha over the Dochula Pass (2.5 hours). On a clear day, one can get a panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain ranges and also see the Gasa Dzong at a distance. One can also visit the Druk Wangyel Chortens (108 stupas) on the Pass which is at an elevation of 3,150 meters. The Stupas were built as a memorial in honour of the Bhutanese soldiers who were killed in the December 2003 battle against Assamese insurgents from India. It particularly marks the victory of His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck who dislodged the rebels from their camps (there were 30 camps) in Bhutanese territory from where they raiding Indian territory of Assam
Just before arriving at Punakha, stop to visit Chimi Lhakhang (Divine Madman Temple). Lama Drukpa Kunley, the Divine Madman, is one of Bhutan’s favourite saints, famous for his sexual exploits. The temple is now visited by childless couples searching to increase their fertility. Here you can be blessed by a wooden Phallus to ward off evil spirits. Many buildings around Punakha are adorned with Phalluses. These are as a result of the Divine Madman teachings and sexual humour and are thought to keep evil spirits away.
After lunch visit Punakha Dzong, built at the junction of the two rivers Pho Chu (male river) and Mo Chu (female river). It is one of the most spectacular dzongs in the country. The Dzong serves as the winter residence for the Je Khenpo, Chief Abbot & the Central Monastic Body.
DAY 5 – Explore the Punakha Valley
Hike about an hour through beautiful rice terraces to the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, which sits high above the Punakha Valley, affording panoramic views of the verdant hillsides. The four-storey temple remains a worthy example of the country’s traditional architecture and artistic techniques.
After the hike, go rafting on the Mo (female) Chhu river. The Mo Chhu river rafting is easy and suitable for children. The river rapids are grade 2 and 3 so there is enough action to keep everyone entertained but not so scary that you will be thrown out of the raft into the river. It will be great fun with plenty of excitement for the family.
Evening walk across the Punakha Suspension bridge. At 160 meters, it is the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan. The bridge is stable and provides a good view of the river and valley, with the mountain as background. The real adventure is walking across the bridge, as there isn’t anything interesting across the other side.
DAY 6 – Drive to Paro from Punakha
Morning drive to Paro (5 hours).
Afternoon visit Kichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan built in the 7th century AD by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demoness lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on all the points of her body.
Evening stroll through Paro town.
DAY 7 – Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery
After breakfast drive to Ramthongkha. Hike uphill for about 2-3 hours to Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest). This magical monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff 3,000 ft above the valley floor. It is a sacred monastery for the Bhutanese people who believe that it must be visited at least once in their life time.
Evening experience a unique hot stone bath which will relieve all aches & pains followed by typical Bhutanese dinner in an old traditional Bhutanese house.
DAY 8 – Drive to Paro Airport for Departure
Early morning drive to Paro for departure. Your tour representative will see you off at the airport.