Day 1: Paro
Say hello to Bhutan, “the Land of the Peaceful Dragon”. As you touch down, make your way to the hotel and start your day as amazing new things wait for you. Go to Dungtse lhakhang, a 14th century astrological temple which represents hell, heaven and earth. Then make you way to Paro Ta Dzong, one of the best museums of Asia. Rinpung Dzong “fortress of the heap of jewels.” On the way back, visit Kichu lhakhang, built in 629 AD by a Tibetan king.
Experience: Dungtse Ihakhang, Paro Ta Dzong, Rinpung Dzong.
Day 2: Punakha & Wangdue (4.5 hours)
En route stop by Dochula pass to enjoy spectacular views of the eastern Himalayan mountain range. Stroll around 108 Stupas and enter Drukwangyel (Royal temple). Then visit Punakha Dzong, "Palace of the Great Happiness". This beautiful fortress lies between two rivers, the Pochu and Mochu, male and female river. Have a short hike along the Metshina village to Chimi lhakhang, a solitary “fertility temple” where a childless couple who comes to pray is usually blessed with a child. Drive to Sangchen Dorji Lhuendup Lhakhang Nunnery situated atop hill near Nobgang village.
Experience: Punakha Dzong, Rivers Pochu and Mochu, Chim Ihakhang.
Day 3: Punakha & Wangdue
Drive from a sub-tropical vegetation to a glacial valley. Phobjikha is a glacial valley on the north western tip of the Black Mountain. It’s also one of the roosting grounds of the rare Black-necked cranes. En route, drive further away to Pele La pass (3,300m). It’s common to spot yaks along this pass. Visit Gangtey gomba; the largest Nyingma Monastery of the kingdom.Visit the Crane Info Centre and enjoy the surrounding valley
Optionally you can take a trek; Nature Trail Hike across the refreshing Blue Pine forest to Kewa village/ total 1 hr hike. In the evening, walk to the farmhouse in Kewa village. On the way back, visit Kewa temple and interact with the monks.
Experience: Gangtey Rural Expedition
Day 4: Thimphu (approx. 3 hours)
After breakfast, drive to Thimphu, a charming capital city nestled in the heart of the Himalayas. On arrival, visit the General Post Office. You can create personalized postage stamps with your own photo for souvenir or sent home on postcard. Drive to Buddha Gang, which offers the best city-view of Thimphu. This giant Buddha-statue overlooking Thimphu is one of the biggest in the world. Circumambulate around Memorial chorten (huge stupa). This is the favorite spot for the locals of all age to chant mantras, prostrate, pray and practice their devotion. In the evening, take an optional Yoga session, if interested.
Changagkha, one of the oldest temple in Thimphu, built by a great sage Phajo in 12th century. This site also acts like a birth registration temple of the valley. Take a walk around Thimphu city; Hongkong market, Norzin lam, Main traffic area, Wogzin lam, Clock tower, etc. You can visit Drayang, a traditional Bhutanese pub with live singers.
Experience: General Post office, Buddha gang, Memorial Chorten, Yoga Session, Changagkha temple, Hongkong market, Norzin Iam, Main traffic area, Wogzin Iam, Clock tower, Drayan pub (DIY).
Day 5: Thimphu Sojourn & Getaway to Tango Chari
Drive to Sangay-gang where the national animal of Bhutan, the Takin, is found in captivity. This hill is also called the “romantic point” as lovers often come here to enjoy the panoramic view of the Thimphu valley. Visit the National Library where ancient manuscripts are preserved. They also have on display the largest Picture Book on Bhutan in the world. Zorig Chusum “School for Thirteen Traditional Arts and Crafts” followed by a visit to Craft Bazaar for authentic local handicraft and souvenir. Drive 12km away from Thimphu city and hike to the picturesque Tango Chari. Hike to Chari Gomba glued to the rocky cliff 300m above the river valley. This 12th century Chari gomba is the most sought-after meditational retreat center for the monks in the kingdom. (2hr hike round trip/ picnic lunch will be arranged along the trail). Visit the holy shrines, and spend some time meditating. It’s believed; here meditation happens on its own.Visit the Farmer’s Weekend Market for organic fruits & nuts. The Tashichhoe Dzong, the main secretariat building, the office of the King and Throne room and also the house of the State Monastic Body. Havesupper in gho & kira (national dress).
Experience: Sangay-gang and see Takin, National Library, Zorig Chusum, Chari Gomba, Tashichhoe Dzong.
Day 6: Escape to Kila Gomba & Haa Valley (102km/ 3-4hr)
In the morning, visit the beautiful 12th century Changangkha lhakhang. This temple is a guardian temple for the babies. Get blessings from the 3-year-old, for protection, good health and inner well-being and then drive to Haa Valley. This is a scenic & lovely drive through the remote countryside of Bhutan.
The pristine Haa Valley, ancestral home of Bhutan’s Queen Mother was closed to outsiders till 2001. It is surrounded by forested hillsides full of ancient shrines, while the narrow valley floor is dotted with fields of millet, barley, and potatoes. Its farmhouses are adorned with intricately painted wooden cornices and ornately carved window frames. En route, hike on the ancient trail amidst tall Alpine trees to Kila gomba. Kila gomba is the oldest nunnery of the kingdom and there are many nuns who have spent their entire life in spiritual pursuits and meditation at this retreat. It’s a beautiful experience to communicate and understand their isolated & dedicated lifestyle. The hike takes about 2.5hrs round-trip.
After picnic lunch at Chelila pass, head on to Haa. On arrival, you will walk through the serene hamlets and remote monasteries below mountain peaks like the temple of Black & White Dove. In evening, stroll around the remote town of Haa.
Experience: Haa Valley Excursion.
Day 7: Paro
After a wholesome breakfast, drive to Paro. Check-in resort and prepare for the excursion. Hike up the forested path to Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan’s most famous and scenic icon. Tiger’s Nest clings to sheer cliffs of 900m above Paro valley. The climb is steep and takes about 4-5hrs round trip. You can opt for Ponies or horses. Lunch at the hillside cafe with close Tiger’s Nest view.In evening, authentic Bhutanese farewell dinner at a typical village home with local liquor called “Ara”. You can indulge in a relaxing Hotstone bath. River rocks are heated and dunked into a large wooden tub with herbs. This type of bath is considered to have medicinal properties of healing.
Experience: Taktsang Monastery| Hot stone bath (DIY)
Day 8: Paro
It’s time to say pack up and go back home with a bag full of memories.
Tashi Delek Bhutan!