|Arrival, drive to Thimphu
|Arrival by plane to Paro airport and drive to Thimphu. In case of arrival by land, cross border from India in Phuntsholing/Jaigon and ~5 hours drive to Thimphu. ➜ Stop at Tachog lhakhang to see traditional bridge made using ancient iron chains. ➜ After reaching Thimphu, drive to Changlimithang stadium to see the archery, traditional sport of Bhutan. Matches are going on from the morning to the evening! ➜ On working day, you might visit Postal Museum to learn about the colorful history of Bhutan's postal service. You can also have the stamps with your own face printed and send postcards to your friends and family back home! ➜ During weekends, you might like to see Centenary market where residents make their grocery shopping. Market also have interesting handicraft section. ➜ Visit to Tashichho dzong castle, the seat of the king and government. ➜ Optionally celebrate arrival to Bhutan in famous Mojo Park music club or other popular venue. ➜ Day's program is subject to arrival time.
|Thimphu – Wangdue/Punakha
Morning drive to Buddha Dordenma, the gigantic statue of Buddha overlooking the valley and walk to striking city viewpoint. ➜ Continue to wild animal sanctuary, where you can see the takin, famous national animal of Bhutan and other dwellers of Bhutanese forests. ➜ Visit to Memorial Chorten, city's landmark built to remember 3rd king of Bhutan who started country's modernization in the 1950s. ➜ Walk to Norzin lam street to see the traffic police signaling on main junction. Thimphu is only capital in the world without the traffic lights. ➜ Finish walk at handicraft market where many interesting Bhutanese souvenirs can be seen and bought for reasonable price. ➜ Continue with visit to Folk Heritage Museum with the exhibition on traditional village life in Bhutan (closed on Sunday, alternatively visit Simply Bhutan museum). ➜ Visit of historical Dechen Phodrang monastery, overlooking the Thimphu valley. From here you can also see monumental Tashichho dzong and other landmarks. ➜ Afternoon transfer to Wangdue or Punakha over Dochu-la pass (3010 m). Stop for walk over large stupa consisting of 108 small stupas and enjoy the mountain panorama in clear weather!
|Wangdue/Punakha – Paro
|Early morning short hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten with wonderful views of the valley and it’s terraced paddy fields. ➜ Optionally you can consider rafting on the Mo Chhu (easy) or Pho Chhu (thrilling) river. ➜ Continue with visit of Punakha dzong, dubbed as “Palace of the Great Happinnes” which counts as the most intricately decorated castle in the kingdom and used to be winter seat of the Bhutanese rulers. ➜ Short walk to Chhimmy lhakhang temple, devoted to the 15th century saint Drukpa Kunley, known as “Divine madman”, who allegedly taught Buddhism by singing, drinking and scandalous sexual exploits. Way to temple is perched by houses decorated with phallic symbols, as commemoration of the saint's antics. Temple is also known as fertility booster, attracting childless couples from all over the Bhutan and foreign countries as well. ➜ If time permits, also visit Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang nunnery with Bhutanese and Nepali style stupa, overlooking the valley from the high hill. ➜ Afternoon drive to Paro.
|Hike to Taktsang gomba (The Tiger’s Nest) is the absolute highlight of the tour! While the climb seems to be hard, it’s very rewarding. If you don’t feel so strong, you can cut it short in cafeteria with nice view of the temple. ➜ If you have spare strength, you might hike up to Zangtopelri Lhakhang to get birds-eye view of Tiger's Nest! You can consider hiking in the morning or early afternoon depending on weather, your fitness, and preferences. ➜ Also visit of the National Museum in Ta dzong, the watchtower protecting the Paro castle below from intruders. ➜ Then drive down to Paro town and marvel over the old traditional bridge below the Paro Dzong. Here, you will have opportunity to try Bhutanese dress and take a beautiful photo with castle in the background! ➜ Continue to Paro airport viewpoint. Depending on schedule, you might see planes landing and taking off. Runway in Paro is famed as one of the most demanding of all World's International airports. ➜ Time permitting, visit Bondey's village Zangtopelri lhakhang, fabulous new temple with splendid decorations or Dzongdrakha lhakhang, the ancient temple perched on the rock cliffs, which is often compared to Tiger's Nest in its beauty and seldom visited by other tourists. ➜ Enjoy the last evening in Bhutan! ➜ Optionally the mask dance performance along with traditional dinner in the local farmhouse can be arranged.
|If time permits, you can drive to Drukyel dzong to see a freshly reconstructed castle and the summit of holy Jomolhari mountain in clear weather. ➜ After that, you depart from Paro by flight or take ~5 hours drive to land border in Phuntsholing.
Tour variants, extensions and combinations:
- Gasa Hot springs (+1 or 2 days): Gasa is highland region north of Punakha, just recently connected by road. Apart from beautiful dzong and vistas of nearby high peaks, you can enjoy the natural hot springs, so called "tsachu". There is number of pools with different temperatures. Water is sulfurous and it's believed it's beneficial for number of skin ailments. It's great relax in luxurious pools anyway. Additional experience can be spending overnight here in local farmhouse to try authentic Bhutanese hospitality.
- Haa valley homestay (+2 nights): At the end of the tour, you can drive over the Chele-la pass (nearly four thousands meter high) to rarely visited Haa valley. On the way you can do hike to Kila gompa, oldest nunnery in Bhutan from 14th century and also experience high altitude on the ridge of the pass from where Mt. Jomolhari and Kanchenjunga can be seen in clear weather. In Haa you'll stay in three hundred years old farmhouse as a guest of local family. Haa is less visited valley due to the fact, it's home to Indian military base. Anyway the nature is very pristine and so are the villages. You can visit few local temples and also make nice village hike around.