Historical Heart + Haa, 12 days

Haa valley from Kathso gompa
Cultural sightseeing
  • Most beautiful and interesting sights of Bhutan
  • Views of Himalayas from domestic flight
  • Reach till Bumthang, historical heart of the country
  • Visit Tang valley with interesting museum
  • Number of beautiful short hike options
  • Visit to pristine Haa valley
  • Optional farmhouse experience
  • Iconic climb to Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Paro
From: 
US$ 2200 / person ?
Dates: 
Flexible
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# Itinerary Program
1 Arrival to Paro Arrival to Paro. Visit National museum of Bhutan and Paro dzong, castle where Bernardo Bertolucci’s Little Buddha film was shot. Explore lively little town. Sightseeing subject to arrival time.
2 Paro Drive to castle-ruins of Drukyel dzong, from where you can see the top of holy Jomolhari mountain. Explore the calm Kyichu lhakhang which also pins down giant demoness body. Climb to Taktsang gomba (Tiger’s Nest), is the highlight of the tour. While the hike seems to be hard, it’s very rewarding. If you don’t feel so strong, you can climb just halfway to cafeteria with nice view of the place. You can consider to climb in the morning or early afternoon depending on weather, your fitness and preferences.
3 Paro – Jakar flight Flight  to Bumthang is extraordinary experience. You will see many of the seven and six thousand meters high mountains on the border with Tibet, including Gangkhar Punesum which counts as the highest mountain never summited by men. Arrive to Jakar. Visit small brewery to taste local Red Panda beer. Explore the rustic small town. Day's program subject to domestic flight timing.
4 Jakar, excursion to Tang valley Drive to Tang valley and hike to Ugyen choling palace which hosts wonderful private museum with carefully selected artifacts used in medieval Bhutan for various activities. If you feel strong, you can climb to Kundzongdrak gomba overlooking valley from sheer cliff. Otherwise you can visit nunnery, hosting the Buddhist nuns of all ages. You should not miss so called “Burning lake” Membartso where the treasure of scriptures hidden here by magician-saint Guru Rimpoche were discovered by saint Pema Lingpa.
5 Jakar – Trongsa Visit of sleepy castle Jakar dzong. After you’re satisfied with festival, move to old Jambay lhakhang temple, which pins down the leg of giant demoness. Walk to Kurjey lhakhang temple complex. After exploring the place, enjoy the picnic lunch on beautiful riverside. Finally continue walk to Tamshing Gompa, the temple where you can wipe your sins by carrying the chain-bar smithed by 15th century blackmisth-saint Pema Lingpa. Late afternoon drive to Trongsa over Yotong-la pass (3450m).
6 Trongsa – Gangtey Visit the great Trongsa dzong, the castle from which the royal dynasty of Bhutan has risen. Intricate museum in watchtower Ta Dzong hosts number of interesting artifacts related to royal dynasty, history of Bhutan and many religious statues and temples. Then we will start drive to Pele-la pass (3540m), ancient border between western and eastern Bhutan. On the way we will stop at Chendebji stupa, which was modeled after Boudhanath stupa in Kathmandu and is just much smaller size. Reaching Gangtey by evening. Optionally trying hot stone bath in the evening.
7 Gangtey – Wangdue Visit of historical Gangtey gompa. 2½ hour walking tour through the valley is one of the most beautiful and easy hikes in Bhutan. You will go through the buckwheat and potato fields to the mixed forest with trees decorated with old men's beard lichen and finally you will get a view of marshland. Here, in late autumn and winter, rare black neck crane can be seen. Finish hike with the lunch in local farmouse to taste local kitchen and other delicacies like the salty suja tea and ara spirit. Drive to Wangdue. If you’re early, you can visit rustic Rinchengang village.
8 Wangdue – Thimphu Early morning hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten with wonderful view of the valley and it‘s terraced paddy fields. Visit of Punakha dzong, which counts as the most intricately decorated castle in the kingdom. Short walk to Chhimmy lhakhang temple, devoted to 15th century saint Drukpa Kuenley, know as “Divine madman”, who did taught Buddhism by singing, drinking and rampant sexual behavior. Drive to Dochu-la pass where you can see nice mountain panorama in clear weather and stupa made of 108 smaller stupas. Reach Thimphu by evening.
9 Thimphu Morning drive to gigantic statue of Buddha overlooking the valley and walk to striking city viewpoint. Walk in Norzin lam street and see the traffic police signalling in junctions. Thimphu is only capital in the world without the traffic lights. Finish walk in main postal office with shop where beautiful and valuable Bhutanese stamps can be bought. Visit school of traditional arts, where the young men and women learns the arts and craft of their forefathers. Excursion to Takin enclosure, where the national animal, the mysterious takin, is kept. After that Changankha lhakhang, the oldest place of worship in the valley. Visit of Tashicho dzong, the castle, which serves as seat of the king and government.
10 Thimphu – Haa Morning leisurely revisit the town. Check the hand paper factory for traditional craft and peek at Changlimithang stadium for possible archery match. Visit to Simtokha dzong, the first castle-monastery built by Bhutan's unifier Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel in 17th century. Then drive to Haa valley using scenic road from Chuzom. On the way we can shortly stop to see 15th century Dobji Dzong castle monastery, which is said to be first building of this design ever built in Bhutan. Accommodation in local farmhouse and visit to main village temple, Lhakhang Karpo (white temple) dedicated to local deity. Overnight will be spent in local farmhouse as a guest of local family, with trying local delicacies like salty butter tea, and ara spirit. Accommodation facilities are rudimentary but experience is worth of it. Optionally you can spend night in hotel.  Evening option to try hot stone bath, traditional Bhutanese treat.
11 Haa – Paro In the morning visit to main village temple, Lhakhang Karpo (white temple) dedicated to local deity. Then drive to Katsho gompa with nice views of the Haa valley and visit the main temple. If you're fit and confident walker, you might like to take small trail ascending to the hill above the monastery and then steeply descending to Juneydrak hermitage. This small temple perched to the rock cliff is considered to be “second Tiger’s Nest”. The last section of climb to this temple is very steep and you might need a support of rope which is fixed here. Place is inhabited by two welcoming hermits who will take you around. From here descend to Katsho village where the car will be waiting. If you're less confident to walk in difficult terrain, you better drive back to Katsho village and hike to temple from there or omit Juneydrak gompa at all. Then drive to Chele-la pass and picnic lunch there. In clear weather you might see Kanchenjunga mountain to the west and holy Jomolhari peak to the north. Hike through the ancient forest to Kila gompa, the 14th century nunnery with scenic view of Paro valley. Descend by car to Paro. If time permits, visit also Dzongdrakha lhakhang, the temple built below the rock cliffs with great view of rice fields of Bondey village. The beauty of this temple, rarely visited by travelers, is only matched by the Tiger's Nest.
12 Departure Departure from Bhutan
Tour variants, extensions and combinations: 
  • Tshechu festival  (+1 night): With proper planning, we can arrange that you will experience annual tsechu festival in some of the castles or monasteries. There are many festivals in Bhutan, so we can definitely fix your travel dates to match. We just need to start planning well ahead (optimally more then 6 months before) in order to secure flight tickets and hotel reservations.
  • 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.