Explore South-West Bhutan I, 6 days

The stupa at Goempa in Tsirang Toe
Path less travelled

Tour highlights

  • Most interesting sights with exploratory touch
  • Ideal for winter visit due to lower altitudes
  • All sights of Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and Wangdue
  • Witness southern Bhutan warmth and lush vivid nature
  • Scenic hike from Damphu town to Tsolingkhar
  • See the distinct southern Hindu communities
# Itinerary Program
1 Arrival, drive to Thimphu Arrival by plane to Paro airport and drive to Thimphu or in case of arrival by land, crossing border from India in Phuntsholing/Jaigon and full day drive to Thimphu. Stop at Tachog lhakhang to see traditional bridge made using ancient iron chains. Visit of Tashicho dzong , the castle, which serves as seat of the king and government.   Other sightseeing depending on the arrival time.
2 Thimphu – Damphu (Tsirang) Early morning drive to Buddha Dordenma, the gigantic statue of Buddha overlooking the valley and walk to striking city viewpoint. See Memorial Chorten, always busy with devotees. Walk in Norzin lam street and see the traffic police signaling in junctions. 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. Then transfer to Tsirang over Dochu- la pass (3010 m). In clear weather, you have good chances for panoramic views of mountains, including Gangkhar Phuensum (7570 m), the highest mountain of Bhutan. Descend to tropical valley of Punatsang chu river and continue driving down the valley below the Wangdue Phodrang castle. On the way you pass around cascade of Punatsangchu hydro project, one of the major endeavors of Bhutan government. You will also cross the only road tunnel in Bhutan. Reach to Tsirang in the evening. Optionally, you can spend in Buddhist monastery of Tshorkerling. Rinpoche (reincarnate lama) speaks good English and if available, he will be happy to share his teaching. Donationt to monstery is expected.
3 Dampu (Tsirang) – Wangdue / Punakha Morning stroll in the sleepy town, botanical park and nearby joint Hindu-Buddhist temple, the unique feature symbolizing unity of local Buddhist and Hindu communities. Then pass around the Tsirang dzong, newly but traditional built administration center and hike slightly up above the town. Continue with 8 km / 2.5 hours long hike passing through the paddy fields, forest and around the village houses with many beautiful views of the rich Tsirang nature. Finally, reach to Tsolingkhar temple in which along with the statues of the Buddhist saints you can also see corner dedicated to Hindu deities. Finally, descend to the road in lower Tsolingkhar where the car will be waiting. After lunch, you will set to drive to Wangdue, taking longer diversion route through Tsirang Toe. On the way stop at Singa Devi Temple, one of the few authentic Hindu shrines in Bhutan. When reaching Tsirang Toe, you will walk above the central school to see picturesque ruins of large dzong (castle) which is said to be over 200 years old. Castle belonged to local warlord Sang Sup Gyap, who was deposed from power by Jigme Namgyel, the father of first king of Bhutan. If you feel like to do some extra walking, you can hike from here through the vital forest to the scenic viewpoint called locally Goemba. Then continue drive, partly by the rough road, finally reaching the main highway by the Sankosh river. Stop here to shop for local products, especially tasty homemade pickles, famous Tsirang oranges, honey, and others. Finally, reach to Wangdue / Punakha in the evening and get rest.
4 Wangdue / Punakha – Paro Early morning short 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 Kunley, known as “Divine madman”, who taught Buddhism by singing, drinking and scandalous sexual exploits. If time permits, also visit Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang nunnery with Bhutanese and Nepali style stupa, overlooking the valley from the high hill. Evening drive to Paro.
5 Paro Visit of the National Museum and Paro dzong (Rinpung dzong), the castle-monastery where Bernardo Bertolucci’s Little Buddha film was shot. Pristine Kyichu lhakhang is one of the two oldest temples built in Bhutan. 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.
6 Departure If time permits, you can make visit to Drukyel dzong, the castle ruins from where you can see the summit of holy Jomolhari mountain in clear weather. After that, you depart from Paro by flight or take 6 hours drive to land border in Phuntsholing.
Tour variants, extensions and combinations: 
  • Dagana excursion (+1 day): Extend visit to south by one day excursion to Dagana, another remote district with large historical castle. See Explore South-West II, 7 days tour
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