Welcome to BHUTAN, the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Upon arrival in PARO, you will be welcomed by our Asia Senses guide and driver then transferred to Thimphu, the main center of commerce, religion and government of Bhutan.
Arrive in THIMPHU, then check in hotel. After a short rest at your hotel in, visit National Memorial Chorten, one of Thimphu's most iconic monuments. It was built in 1974 as a memorial to the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who reigned from 1952-1972. Continue on to Tashichho Dzong, the largest Dzong in the country, and is also the seat of the office of the King of Bhutan.
In the late afternoon, head out to see Buddha Dordenma Statue, located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and overlooks the southern entrance to Thimphu Valley. The view of the Thimphu valley from the Buddha point is spectacular and beautiful, especially at night.
NOTE: If your Bhutan tour coincides with Thursday - Sunday, we head to Thimphu weekend market which is the main source of fresh produce for Thimphu City. Farmers come from all over the country to sell their farm products (vegetables from farms and wild ones collected from forests, fruits, etc) and livestock products (mainly cheese and butter).
Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
After breakfast, our guide will pick you up then drop you a visit to Simtokha Dzong, one of oldest Dzong in Thimphu that was built in the year 1629 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who unified Bhutan.
Then depart Thimphu for PUNAKHA, the ancient capital of Bhutan. Pass through scented pine and cedar forests, festooned with hanging lichen along the way. Enroute stop to visit Dochula Pass at an altitude of 3150m dotted with colorful prayer flags and 108 stupas. If the weather is good enough, you could watch the spectacular views of the Eastern Himalayan Mountain ranges while enjoying a hot cup of coffee/tea at the Dochula café.
After lunch, we will stop at Sopsokha Village roadside and take a stroll (about 20 minutes) through the rice fields to Chimi Lhakhang, a pilgrimage site for childless couples. It is believed that childless couples will have children if they get blessing from the lhakhang's wooden phallus. Our trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana. There are few young monks at the temple, which is surrounded by a row of prayer wheels and some very beautiful slate carvings.
Visit Punakha Dzong which is arguably the most beautiful dzong in the country and one of the must-visit places in all Bhutan tour packages. This dzong has a special significance in Bhutan history as is the place where Ugyen Wangchuck (first king of Wangchuck House) was crowned in 1907. In the evening, you can take a leisurely walk in Punakha town if you aren’t tired.
Overnight at hotel in Punakha.
Today, we continue to Trongsa, passing through beautiful and tranquil roads surrounded by lush forests of bamboo and oak.
On the way, we will make a stop at WANGDUE PHODRANG, one of the major towns and district capital of Western Bhutan. Stroll along the town, take some photos or buy some souvenir like bamboo works, slates and stone carving.
Afterwards, the drive climbs to Lawala Pass (3300m) and Pele La Pass (3390m) which divide western and central Bhutan. Here, you could see the beautiful mountain of Jomolhari (7326m) if the weather permits.
Along the way, we stop to visit Chendebji Chorten which was built in the early 18th century in the style of the great Swayambhunath Stupa of Nepal. It was built by Lama Zhida, to cover the remains of an evil spirit of a gigantic snake that was subdued at this spot.
Upon arrival in TRONGSA, visit Trongsa Dzong, an important administrative building, providing the headquarters of the government of Trongsa District. It is considered one of the most spectacularly sited dzongs in Bhutan, with a sheer drop to the south that often just disappears into cloud and mist.
Overnight at hotel in Trongsa.
Today, drive to Bumthang (Jakar valley), one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the spiritual heartland of the kingdom. Setting out of Trongsa the climbing starts immediately as the road zigzags its way up into the mountains. After a 30 km mountain road with spectacular scenery, we will reach Yotongla Pass (3400m).
From here, drive down through a dense, beautiful coniferous forest to a wide, cultivated valley known as Chumey Valley, home to Bhutan’s famous Yathra weaving. Visit a village in Chumey, observe ladies weaving yathras. You may be able to see the dyeing of wool using natural dyes and other processes.
Afterwards, continue our ride to the town of BUMTHANG. Depend on the time of your journey, we will attend colorful festivals which are took place at temples in Bumthang Valley. In this peaceful valley, there are more than 40 temples being built.
Overnight at hotel in Bumthang.
After breakfast, drive to visit Membartsho (the Burning Lake) which is one of holiest lakes in the country and is believed to be a wish fulfilling lake. When a local visits this lake they tie a coin inside a white scarf, make a wish and offer it to the lake. It is believed someday the wish will be fulfilled.
Afterwards, drive back to Bumthang and visit some of the best sites in Bumthang such as Jakar Dzong, Jambay Lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang, Tamshing Monastery, ect... In the evening, you could walk around this peaceful town of Bumthang and interact with the locals.
Overnight in Bumthang.
Today embark on a long drive back PHOBJIKHA VALLEY, a glacial valley on the periphery of the north western tip of the Black Mountain National Park. It is one of the most beautiful spots in Bhutan and the winter home of the endangered black necked crane that migrate each year in winter from its northern habitats in Tibet and Siberia to these grounds. These elegant and shy birds can be observed from early November to end of March.
Upon arrival at the Gangtey Valley, we will take a visit to Gangtey Goemba, an important monastery of Nyingma school of Buddhism. If the time permits, we will hike on the Gangtey Nature Trail which takes you through the blue pine forest to a remote little village.
Overnight at hotel in Phobjikha Valley.
This morning, drive back to PARO which takes about four and half hours. Upon arrival, we will visit Rinpung Dzong which was consecrated in 1645 by Shabdrung Nawang Namgyal on the site of smaller fort. Its name means “the fortress of the heap of jewels”.
Then head to the Ta Dzong (watch tower) which was converted into the National Museum in 1968. In this museum, there are over 3000 artworks and masterpieces that display more than 1500 years of cultural heritage of Bhutan.
Overnight at hotel in Paro.
After breakfast, our guide will transfer you to Haa Valley via Chele La Pass (3,988m) which separates Haa and Paro valley. It is one of the highest motorable pass in Bhutan. From the pass, you can see Paro valley on one side and Haa valley on the other. On a clear day, you can also catch a glimpse of the Jhomolhari(7314m), Bhutan’s second highest mountain.
After that, drive down to the HAA VALLEY, which only opened to foreigners in 2002 due to its proximity to the border with Sikkim and Tibet. This has helped keep Haa the way its always been, with Bhutanese families living their traditional and simple life.
Upon arrival in the Haa Valley, walk through the serene hamlets and remote monasteries below mountain peaks like Lhakhang Karpo and Lhakhang Nagpo which were established in the 7th century by Tibetan king Songtsen Gempo in his mission to build 108 monasteries in one day. In the late afternoon, return back to Paro.
Overnight in Paro.
After an early breakfast we drive up to the starting point and prepare for our Bhutan trekking to the legendary Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) - a magnificent monastery, clinging on a rock cliff 900 meters above the valley floor. It was constructed in 1692, around the cave where Guru Rinpoche first meditated, the event that introduced Buddhism into Bhutan. Legend has it that in 8th century Guru Rinpoche flew to this exact spot from Tibet on a back of a tigress, thus giving it the name “Tiger’s Nest”. All Bhutanese desire to come this monastery at least once in their lives. The hiking trails pass through the meadow of pines, rhododendrons and oaks.
NOTE: Horse ride to the cafeteria is available and can be arranged at additional cost.
On the way back, stop then have lunch at the cafeteria. After that, if your energy allows, we drive to the ruins of the 17th-century Drukgyel Dzong which was a fortress and Buddhist monastery, now in ruins, located in the upper part of the Paro District. In good weather conditions, the towering peak of the sacred Mount Jomolhari (7314m) appears as a stunning backdrop.
Following the Drukgyel Dzong visit, it is worth stopping at the 7th-century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of Buthan's oldest and most beautiful temples. The temple is popularly believed of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo.
Overnight at hotel in Paro.