Trip duration – 8nights/9days
Places Covered – Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtay/Phobjikha
Day 1 – Paro-Paro (2300 mterts above sea level)
After you arrive in Paro international airport, you will be received by our representative from Colorful Bhutan Travels.
The flight into Paro on Druk Air/Bhutan airlines (only international flight) is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of Bhutan. If the weather is clear you can see magnificent views of the peaks, give way to the lush green Paro valley as you land on arrival at Paro international airport.
Check in Hotel with welcoming tea or coffee. If time permits take a leisurely walk around Paro town.
Overnight halt in a hotel at Paro
Day 2- Paro- Thimphu
Drive to Thimphu passing through mountains, which takes about 1 ½ hour’s drive and we will directly check into hotel. Later we will Visit National memorial Chorten which was built in 1974 in the memory of our Third king H.M Jigme Doji Wangchuk , who had wished to erect a monument to world peace and prosperity, died before his plan came to fruition. However the Royal family and Cabinet resolved to fulfill his wishes. Then we will Visit Folk Heritage Museum: it is a restored three-story traditional rammed mud and timber that resembles the rural household in the Thimphu area during the mid-19th century, domestic tools equipment that were used by rural families of that period and also provides you a glimpse of lifestyle, items and artifacts of Bhutanese villages and rural households.
Later after lunch we drive towards north of Thimphu and visit the Takin Preserve. It is a wildlife reserve area for Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. Originally a mini-zoo, it was converted into preserve when it was discovered that the animals refrained from inhabiting the surrounding forest even when set free. The reason for declaring takin as a national animal of Bhutan is attributed to a legend of the animal’s creation in Bhutan in the 15th century by Lam Drukpa Kinley, famously known as Devine Mad Man. Then will be visiting The National Institute of Zorig Chusum: is the center for Bhutanese Art education. It was set up by the Government of Bhutan with the sole objective of preserving the rich culture and tradition of Bhutan and training students in all the traditional arts forms. The curricula cover a comprehensive course of drawing, painting, wood and slate craving, embroidery, sculptures, weaving and paper making. Then we will visit Buddha Point (KuenselPhodrang): Another place from where you can get a good overview of the Thimphu valley is from the Buddha point. It is a short drive from the town. You can pay your obeisance and offer to the Buddha, the largest statue in the country and then walk and take a glimpse of the valley. Then we will visit Jungshi Home Made Paper factory (jungshi meaning natural) which was established in 1990. It was established to expand the old domestic skill for commercial purposes. One can get a closer look at all the steps involved in the manufacturing process, from raw material to finished product.
Overnight at Thimphu
Day 3 –Thimphu-Thimphu
On this day, we shall hike to the Chari Monastery established in 1620 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal who has unified Bhutan as one. The monastery is considered as one of the first central monastic body established in Bhutan. The monastery is now a major teaching and retreat center of the Drukpa Kagyu sect, and serves as the monastic school for the study of Buddhist Philosophy and other Buddhist studies. The hike begins from the small village of Dodena and it is one hour uphill hike. The trail starts by crossing a traditional cantilever bridge. You can perceive some stunning work of Bhutanese architecture before the main zigzag trail to Cheri Monastery
Once you get back from Chari monastery then we will again hike towards Tango monastery. The monastery was built in 12th century and now it serves as the monastic school for study of Buddhist Philosophy, metaphysics, mathematics, poetry and many other Buddhist studies. Once you reach the top, the view is breathtaking and you will be allowed to sit inside the alter if you wish to meditate for some time.
We will be taking a hot lunch on this day. After lunch we will head back to Thimphu and if you wish to rest for some time then we will head towards the hotel. After some rest then we willvisit Royal Textile Academy, which was instituted in 2005 under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Mother Sangay Choden Wangchuk as a non-profit organization. You will learn about the Bhutan’s living national art of Thagzo (weaving).
Later in the evening we will be visiting Tashichhoe Dzong the “Fortress of Auspicious Religion” where today like most of the other fortresses in Bhutan serves as the Administrative and Religious Center.
Evening at leisure in Thimphu town and overnight at Thimphu
Day 4– Thimphu-Punakha
After breakfast drive to Punakha, a place with subtropical vegetation and about 3 hours’ drive from Thimphu. On your way stop at the mountain pass called Dochula where a 108 stupas were built by the Queen Mother of Bhutan, and enjoy the breathtaking view of the chain of some of the tallest mountains in Bhutan on a day with clear skies. Have your lunch on your way and then visit Chimi Lhakhang(temple) also known popularly as the “fertility temple”. This temple is reputed for granting children to couples who come to seek blessings for a child. People who come to this temple are blessed with a wooden phallus with a silver handle and the bow and arrows of the famous 15thcentury Buddhist saint called “Drukpa Kuenley” to whom this temple is dedicated. After checking in the hotel then rest for some time. Later in the evening we will visit Punakha Fortress also known as Pungthang Dechen Phodrang Dzong (meaning the palace of great happiness or bliss) which was built in 1637-1638 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan and one of its most majestic structure. It is listed as a tentative site in Bhutan’s Tentative List for UNESCO inclusion.
Dinner and overnight shall be at the hotel at Punakha
Day 5 –Punakha-Gangtay
After breakfast we proceed onward to Gangtey valley which is about 3 to 4 hours’ drive. We will be stopping for lunch on the way. Upon reaching Gangtay valley will visit Gangtay monastery. It is an important monastery of Nyingmapa School of Buddhism. The monastery’s history traces to the early 17th century and back to the prophecies made by the well-known Terton (treasure finder) Pema Lingpa in the late 15th Century. After the monastery we will start our Gangtay Natural Trail Hike. The hike is a pleasurable walk which will give you a nice feel of Phobjikha valley after a long drive. From the small hilltop overlooking Gangtey Goemba, you head downhill through flower meadows to Semchubara village and from there through beautiful forests and into the open valley. The trail ends at the local community school after passing a chorten and Khewang Lhakhang.
Overnight at Gangtay
Day 6. Gantay-Thimphu
After breakfast we will visit the crane center. It has information that displays about the endangered Black-necked cranes and the valley environment. You can use the center’s powerful spotting scopes and check what you see against its pamphlet field guide to crane behavior.
Then we will be driving all the way back to Thimphu. The drive today will take about 7 to 8 hours. We will be stopping for lunch on the way. We will stop at Dochula pass for few minutes for pit stop or for a cup of tea/coffee.
Note: cranes are found only in the month of late October till mid-March.
Overnight at Thimphu
Day 7 – Thimphu-Paro
After breakfast drive back to Paro, returning to Chhuzom or confluence we catch a glimpse of three Chortens (Stupa) in Nepali, Tibetan and Bhutanese style which were built to ward off evil spirits near the check point. Time permitting the journey can break with the visit to Tamchok Lhakhang built by Thangthong Gyelpo or the Iron bridge builder as he is known. This former saint from the 15th century introduced the art of building suspension bridges with iron chains. After lunch we will be visiting Paro National Museum. It was established in 1968, in the renovated ancient Ta-dzong building under the command of His Majesty, the king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. It houses for some of the finest specimens of Bhutanese art, including masterpieces of bronze statues and painting. Suitable galleries were constructed to house the extensive collections. The works of art is elegantly displayed on scientific lines. After the museum we will visit Paro Rinpung Dzong. Under the command of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal the dzong was built in 1646 and it was established as administrative and monastic centre of the western region and it became known as Rinpung Dzong (meaning Heap of Jewels). The dzong is listed as a tentative site in Bhutan’s Tentative List for UNESCO inclusion.
Then we will drive all the way towards Drugyel Dzong. The dzong was built in 1649 under the behest of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate victory of an invasion from Tibet. In early 1950s, the dzong was almost completely destroyed by fire. It is listed as a tentative site in Bhutan’s Tentative List for UNESCO inclusion.
In 2016, to celebrate the birth of His Royal Highness The Gyelsay, as well as to commemorate two other significant events, namely, the arrival (400 years) of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to Bhutan in 1616 AD and the birth year of Guru Rinpoche.
Overnight at Paro
Day 8- Paro- Paro
After breakfast, the day starts by driving to the base of Taktshang (Tiger’s Nest). From here on, the walk uphill begins. Taktshang is a highly recommended place to visit for guests. The walk uphill offers clean and pristine air for breathing while you enjoy the occasional view of the valley below. Almost halfway through your way up, have some tea and snacks at the restaurant with the stunning view of the temple suspended on a cliff. Proceed to the temple, visit the many shrines in the temple and on your way back, have your lunch at the restaurant. Get back to the base where your car will be waiting for you. Then visit Kychu Monastery which is considered as one of the oldest monastery built by the Tibetan king in 7th century.
We will also arrange a Hot Stone Bath later in the evening.
Note: a hot stone bath is widely practiced in Bhutan and is also a method to overcome various complications and illness.
The rest of the day is leisure where you can relax and take a walk in the Paro town and overnight at Paro
Day 9– After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll drive to the nearby Paro airport and onboard to your onward destination.
Tour cancellation & refund policy
Tour Programs booked and subsequently cancelled shall be subject to cancellation charges as follows:
In the event of cancelled or shortened trips due to unforeseen reasons after arrival in Bhutan, no refund will be made due to the company already having paid for hotels and other logistics.
No refund will be made for missed connections or no show at the airports.