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10 Nights Enchanting Bhutan

Destinations Covered
Paro - Thimpu - Punakha - Trongsa - Bumthang - Paro

Day 1 Arrival in Thimphu

On arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be met by our representative and assisted to the designated coach/car booked for you.

Transfer and check-in at the selected hotel. Morning at leisure to relax.

Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan since 1961, is the most modern city in the country, and retains its cultural identity and values amidst the signs of modernization. One of the most curious features of Thimphu is that it is the only capital city in the world that does not use traffic lights. Instead, a few major intersections have policemen standing in elaborately decorated booths (small pavilions), directing traffic with exaggerated hand motions. The juxtaposition of ancient tradition and modernity make Thimphu an interesting location.

Late afternoon visit to the National Textile Museum and Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory.

The National Textile Museum, established in 2001 under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck, showcases a wide range of beautiful Bhutanese textiles, including the crowns and attire used by the monarchs and members of the Royal Family. It also introduces visitors to major weaving techniques and local styles of dress.

The Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory uses traditional methods to produce the authentic Bhutanese paper known as Deh-sho. The factory uses the bark of two tree species – the daphne tree and dhekap tree – in the manufacture of traditional paper. Observe the entire process of producing handmade paper, using ancient traditional methods that have been practiced for generations. Deh-sho paper was originally used by monasteries for woodblock and manuscript books, and also for prayer books. The Jungshi Paper Factory continues to preserve and promote this age-old Bhutanese tradition. It also produces various other products, such as stationery and greeting cards.

Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 2 In Thimpu

Post breakfast, embark on a morning sightseeing tour in Thimpu, visiting Memorial Chorten (stupa), Changangkha Lhakhang, the Folk Heritage Museum, and the National library.

Memorial Chorten was consecrated in memory of the Third King of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, on July 28, 1974, following his unexpected death while travelling outside the country. Chorten literally means ‘Seat of Faith’, and Buddhists often call such monuments the ‘mind of Buddha’. The whitewashed, crowned monument has a golden spire and four stone snowlines guarding the four corners. It is a very popular religious monument in the city, and the sight of elderly people circumambulation around the chorten is common during the day and night. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.

Changangkha Lhakhang is situated on a small hill overlooking the Thimphu Valley. The monastery was built in the 13th Century by Lam Phajo Dugom Zhigpo. Children born in Thimphu are taken to this temple because it is considered the spiritual home of children born in the Chang valley. Names such as Tandin and Sonam are given from this temple to new-born babies, who are considered to be blessings from the protector deity, Tamdrin. The central statue in the temple is Avaloketesvara, Buddha of Compassion, in his manifestation with eleven heads and a thousand hands and eyes; it is built with bronze and plated with gold.

The Folk Heritage Museum is a three-storeyed building. It offers glimpses of a traditional Bhutanese farmhouse, millstones dating back more than 150 years, a traditional kitchen garden, and a hot stone bath. The museum also organizes regular demonstrations of rural traditions, skills, habits and customs, and also hosts educational programs for children.

The National Library was established in 1967 to preserve ancient Dzongkha and Tibetan texts, and the current library building was built in 2001. With an extensive collection of Buddhist literature, mostly in block-printed format, the library contains many literary treasures of Bhutan that are several hundred years old. It also has a small collection of foreign books. The library has texts relevant to Mahayana Buddhism, and a rich collection of lithographs from which scriptures and prayer flags were printed in the old days. The world’s largest published book is also in this library; the book weighs 68 kilograms, and is over 2 metres tall.

Afternoon visit to Tashichho Dzong, the main secretariat building houses, the Offices of the King and the Throne Room. The central monastic body and some government ministries are also located in the dzong. It is the summer residence of the monk body, the winter residence being in Punakha Dzong. Located at the banks of the Wangchhu River, the massive dzong was built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. In 1965, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck had it completely renovated, making it into its present form. Tashichho Dzong has been the seat of the government since 1952, and also houses the ministries of home affairs and finance. Other government departments are housed in buildings nearby.

Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 3 Thimphu - Punakha (77km/3hrs)

Post breakfast, check-out and depart for Dochula Pass, at 3100 metres.

Dochula Pass offers a stunning 360-degree panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range. Thousands of prayer flags, as well as 108 chortens (stupas), grace the mountain pass. Known as the Druk Wangyal Chortens, the construction of these 108 chortens was commissioned by the eldest Queen Mother, Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk. It’s a truly magical scene. From the pass, continue on to the town of Punakha.

On arrival, check-in at the hotel.

Punakha was the capital of Bhutan, and the seat of government, until 1955, when the capital was moved to Thimphu. Unlike Thimphu, it’s quite warm in winter and hot in summer. It’s located at an elevation of 1,200 metres above sea level, and rice is grown as the main crop along the river valleys of Bhutan’s two main rivers.

Afternoon sightseeing of Punakha, visit Punakha Dzong.

Punakha Dzong, also known as Pungtang Dechen Photrang Dzong (meaning "The palace of great happiness"), is the administrative centre of Punakha. Constructed by Ngawang Namgyal, the first  Zhabdrung Rinpoche, in 1638, it is the second oldest and largest dzong in Bhutan. The dzong houses the sacred relics of the Southern Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism, including the Rangjung Kasarpani, the sacred remains of Ngawang Namgyal, and the Tertön Pema Lingpa. It was the administrative centre and the seat of the Government of Bhutan until 1955, when the capital was moved to Thimphu. The materials used in building ‘The Dzong’ consist of compacted earth and stones, with timber for the doors and windows. The dzong was constructed as an “embodiment of Buddhist values”, and was one of the sixteen dzongs built by the Zhabdrung during his rule from 1594 to 1691. The dzong measures 180 metres in length, with a width of 72 metres, and has three docheys (courtyards). The defensive fortifications built to protect it from enemy attacks consist of a steep wooden draw stairway, and a heavy wooden door that is closed at night. After damage due to a fire, a large prayer hall was added in 1986. Administrative offices of the dzong, a very large, white-washed stupa, and a Bodhi tree, are located in the first courtyard. Also seen in the same courtyard, on the far left, are a mound of stones and a chapel dedicated to the Queen of the nagas. The residential quarters of monks are located in the second courtyard, with the use intervening in between the first and the second courtyards.

In the late afternoon, walk through a small village and the surrounding rice paddies to the Chimi Lhakhang, situated on a hillock in the centre of the valley. This is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who in the late 15th Century used humour, songs and outrageous behaviour to dramatize his teachings, giving him the moniker, "The Divine Madman". The temple offers wonderful views of the entire Punakha Valley and the confluence of the two rivers.

Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 4 Punakha - Trongsa (130km/8hrs)

Post breakfast, check-out and depart for Trongsa.

A day long journey will allow you to see the countryside and get a feeling for rural Bhutan. En-route, stop for lunch at the famous Chendibji Chorten, erected in the 18th Century at an altitude of 3300 metres by Lama Zhida to subdue a demon terrorizing the people of the valley. The structure and pattern resemble Swayambhunath Stupa, in Kathmandu, with eyes painted at the four cardinal points.

Afterwards, resume journey to Trongsa.

On arrival, check-in at the hotel.

Trongsa is a town set high in the mountains, with the feel of a medieval village. Its location in in the centre of Bhutan, separated from both the East and West by high mountain passes, has enabled Trongsa to effectively control the entire East and West of the country.

Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 5 Trongsa - Bumthang (68km/2hrs)

Post breakfast, morning sightseeing tour of Trongsa Dzong and Ta Dzong.

Trongsa Dzong, built in 1648 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel at the place where his great-grandfather Lama Ngagi Wangchuk had erected the temple in 1543, is one of the most aesthetic and splendid works of traditional Bhutanese architecture. It was the ancestral home of Bhutan's royal family. The first two hereditary Kings ruled the country from this dzong.

Ta Dzong watchtower was built on top of the hill to the East of Trongsa Dzong. It was known for safeguarding Trongsa Dzong from internal rebellion in the past. A visit to this watchtower gives insight into the historical significance of Trongsa in Bhutan's history. It houses the shrine of the epic hero, King Gesar of Ling, and one of the most magnificent museums in the country. It has a vast collection of artefacts from the Wangchuck Dynasty, from the reign of Jigme Namgyel to the present King: His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

Afterwards, check-out and depart for Bumthang.

On arrival, check-in at the hotel.

Bumthang, or Jajak Valley, consists of the four mountain valleys of Ura, Chumey, Tang and Choekhor (Bumthang), although occasionally the entire district is referred to as Bumthang Valley. The Bumthang region is known as the spiritual heart of the Kingdom, as it was here that Guru Rinpoche cured a local King of a spirit-induced ailment in the 8th Century, an event that resulted in the King, and finally the whole country, embracing Buddhism. The Buddhist saint Pema Ligpa was born in the region, and many other famous Buddhist yogis lived and practiced here. Consequently, the area is a repository of sacred artefacts and monasteries.

Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 6 In Bumthang Valley

Post breakfast, set off for a half-day of sightseeing, visiting Jakar Dzong, Jambey Lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang, Tamshing Lhakhang and Thangbi Goemba. Leisurely walks through meadows and villages connected to the temples make the morning pleasant.

Jakar Dzong, or “The Castle of the White Bird”, dominates the valley and overlooks the town. Constructed in 1549 by the Tibetan Lam Nagi Wangchuk, the dzong played an important role as the defence fortress for the Eastern regions. It also became the seat of the first King of Bhutan. A special feature of the dzong is the approximately 50 metres high utse, or central tower, which is distinct from most other dzongs in Bhutan. The other unique feature of the dzong is a sheltered passage, with two parallel walls and interconnected by fortified towers, which gave the fortress access to water during times of siege. The protected water supply is still intact to this day.

Jambay Lhakhang isa monastery built in the 7th Century by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo. It is one of 108 monasteries which he built to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayas. Its present architectural appearance dates back to the early 20th Century.

The Kurjey Lhakhang Complex comprises three temples. The one on the right was built in 1652 against the rock face, where Guru Rinpoche meditated in the 8th Century. The middle temple was built on the site of a cave containing a rock with the imprint of the guru’s body, and is therefore considered to be the most holy. The temple on the left was built in 1990 by H.M. Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck, the Royal Grand-Queen Mother. These three temples are surrounded by a 108-chorten wall.

Tamshing Lhakhang is located across the river from Kurjey Lhakhang. The Tamshing Lhakhang Temple was founded in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa, a re-incarnation of Guru Rinpoche. There are very old religious paintings around the inner walls of the temple, which was restored at the end of the 19th Century.

Thangbi Goemba, situated in the middle of a wide fertile plateau, was founded in 1470 by Shamar  Rinpoche of the Karma Kagyupa religious school. The building comprises two sanctuaries and a temple of terrifying deities. The sanctuary on the ground floor contains statues of the past, present and future Buddhas,  and three clay statues that probably date back to the end of the 15th Century. On the upper floor, the vestibule contains two remarkable paintings of Guru Rinpoche’s heaven, and the Buddha Amitabh’s heaven.

Free time for the rest of the day to relax.

Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 7 In Bumthang Valley

Post breakfast, visit Mebar Tsho, or Burning Lake.

The Burning Lake, also known as Mebar Tsho, is located along the way to the Tang village, over the feeder road under Bumthang Valley. It takes approximately 30 minutes to drive to the Mebar Tsho from Chamkhar town. It’s considered one of the most sacred sites in the region, as it relates to the renowned religious treasure reveller (terton) Terton Pema Lingpa. Today this small freshwater lake is a sacred pilgrimage site for the Bhutanese, with bright multicolour prayer flags surrounding it.A small altar dedicated to Terton Pema Lingpa has also been set up.

According to legend, Terton Pema Lingpa had a vision of the sacred treasures that Guru Rimpoche had hidden within the lake centuries earlier. In order to prove his claims, Pema Lingpa held a butter lamp in his hand as he jumped into the lake. After remaining underwater for a long time, he re-emerged holding a chest and a scroll of paper, with the butter lamp still burning bright in his hand. Thereafter, the lake came to be known as Mebar Tsho  (The Burning Lake).

Free time in the afternoon to relax.

Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 8 Bumthang – Ura – Bumthang (48km/2hrs, one way)

Post breakfast, drive to Ura Valley through the amazingly open countryside, occasional journey through forest. Sheep pastures line the road. The road crosses Ura-La Pass (3,600 metres), on the approach to which there is a magnificent view of Mt. Gangkar Puensum.

Ura, located in a broad valley (3100 metres), is the highest of the four valleys in Bumthang. Ura village has 50 or so clusters of traditional homes with cobbled walkways, giving the village a medieval feel. The people of this region are primarily sheep and yak herders. Women here traditionally cover their head with a white scarf against cold wind, and wear sheepskin behind their back, which is used as a cushion and to protect their cloth from the loads they carry. In the centre of the village, there is an interesting Ura temple.

Visit the village and interact with locals to experience their village life.

Afterwards, return to Bumthang.

Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 9 Bumtang - Paro (30min flight)

Post breakfast, check-out and transfer to the Airport for a flight to Paro.

Meet and assist on arrival, then transfer to the hotel.

Paro is a historic town with many sacred sites and historical buildings scattered throughout it. The town extends from the confluence of the Paro Chhu and the Wang Chhu Rivers at Chuzom, up to Mt. Jomolhari at the Tibetan border to the North. This picturesque region is one of the widest towns in the kingdom, and is covered with fertile rice fields. A beautiful, crystalline river meanders through the valley. Accentuating the natural beauty are the many elegant, traditional houses that dot the valley and surrounding hills. Paro Town is distinctive in that it is situated in a flat valley bottom and follows a grid-like pattern. The central plaza is adorned with a large prayer wheel and a small amphitheatre, where events such as concerts are often organized. The country’s first international Airport is also located in Paro.

Afternoon sightseeing tour in Paro,  visiting Paro Dzong and Kyichu Lhakhang.

Paro dzong, or The Fortress of the Victorious Bhutanese, was constructed by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, in 1646, to commemorate his victory over marauding Tibetan armies. Though the fortress was destroyed by fire in 1951, the ruins remain an impressive sight. It is an imposing square fortress, representative of typical dzong architecture, with a central tower and courtyards housing the administrative quarters and monastic section.

Kyichu Lhakhang is one of the oldest monasteries in the country, built in the 7th Century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. As one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, it has many relics. The inner hall of the main Jowo Lhakhang conceals the valley’s greatest treasure, an original 7th Century statue of Jowo Sakyamuni, believed to have been cast at the same time as its famous counterpart in Lhasa. The Guru Lhakhang Temple contains 5-metres-high statues of Guru Rinpoche and Red Kurukulla. There is also a shorten containing the ashes of Dilgo  Khyentse  Rinpoche, a revered teacher who was cremated nearby in 1992.

Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 10 In Paro

Post breakfast, visit the spectacularly located Taktsang, one of the 13 most venerated pilgrimage sites of the Himalayan world.

Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest, is located about 10km North of Paro City. Perched precariously high on a cliff at an altitude of 3120 metres, it was built in 1692 by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye. Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye is believed to have been the reincarnation of Indian guru Padmasambhava. According to legend,Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) flew to this location from Khenpajong, Tibet, on the back of a tiger. Guru Rinpoche meditated for three months in the cave at Taktshang. He also subjugated the Eight Categories of Evil Spirits and converted the valley to Buddhism. Guru Rinpoche then returned to Tibet and transmitted his teachings to his disciples. One of his disciples, Langchen Pelkyi Singye, returned to Taktshang to meditate in the year 853. He named the cave where he meditated “Pelkyi’s Cave”. Pelkyi is believed to have gone to Nepal, where he later died. His body miraculously returned to Taktshang Monastery under the grace of Dorje Legpa, and is now sealed inside the chorten that standsin the room on the left, at the top of the entrance way.

On arrival at the car park near the beginning of the trail to Taktshang Monastery, start an uphill hike. The journey to the monastery takes around 3hours, and there is a café located on the ridge, where you can take a break and enjoy refreshments. A pony ride is also available to a wooden teahouse-restaurant that offers great views of the monastery. The hiking is fairly easy if taken slowly. Ascend a thousand steps or more while inhaling the fresh, cool mountain air and admiring the breath-taking view. A relaxed pace is suggested because of the high altitude. On your journey upwards to the Taktsang, you will encounter monks at certain points. They offer the visitors holy water and sometimes food to eat.

Later in the afternoon, return to the hotel.

Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 11 Departure from Paro

Depending on your flight schedule, our representatives will escort you to the Paro International Airport 3 hours prior to your flight.

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