Arrival to Paro, Bhutan – Hotel check-in and Welcome Briefing by your host / guide, then lunch and a brief time to freshen up. Afternoon visit to Kyichu Lakhang followed by an evening exploration of Paro town for sightseeing, shopping, and cultural learning.
Following breakfast at the hotel, drive through spectacular forest scenery to the far Western edge of the Paro Valley to explore the historic Drugyel Dzong (or Victory Dzong) constructed in 1649 and a famous location for many battles between Bhutanese and invading Tibetans. Explore the small traditional village situated there along with water-driven prayer wheels, Bhutan’s famous Drukpa Kinley house paintings and spectacular views of Mount Jomolhari (7,314 m)weather permitting!
Heading back into town for lunch, we’ll stop at the Dhuntse Lakhang (built by Bhutan’s famous iron bridge builder, Thangtong Gyalpo, 1385 – 1464 and who constructed more than 108 bridges through-out Tibet and Bhutan). Following lunch we’ll have a guided tour at the National Museum and then walk down the hill (which features excellent views of the entire Paro Valley) to the Paro Dzong or Rimpung Dzong for an extended late afternoon visit. We’ll continue our walk by crossing the famous covered bridge and head back towards town with a stop at the archery grounds to observe Bhutan’s national sport in action.
Following breakfast, we’ll lace up our walking shoes and set out for higher ground climbing up towards the Chele La Pass (3,810 m) which straddles the Paro and Haa districts. Stopping almost at the top, we’ll begin our walk on the trail up to Kilay Gompa, a Buddhist nunnery perched high up at 3,690 m and with awesome views of the Himalaya, Takstang Monastery and Jomolhari from the ridge. We’ll have a picnic lunch along the way and following our visit, will continue our drive to the top of the pass for breath-taking views of both valleys (e.g. Paro and Haa).
Following breakfast, we’ll set off for Thimphu (the nation’s capital) driving through breath-taking mountain scenery. There will be time for a walk across a traditional suspension bridge and a visit to Thamchoe Lakhang(also founded by the famous saint Thangtong Gyalpo). Our route will take us past the auspicious confluence of the Pa Chuu (Paro Water) and Wang Chuu (Thimphu Water) rivers which merge together and flow south toward the Indian border.
Once we reach Thimphu, we’ll drive up Buddha Hill to visit the newly constructed Buddha Statue which overlooks the valley. On the way back there will be a stop at the Memorial Chorten which was built in honor of the 3rdKing and then we’ll check in to our hotel and enjoy lunch there.
The afternoon will provide time for more exploration on foot at the other end of the Thimphu Valley. Starting at the BBS Tower we’ll walk to the lovely Dechenphodrang Monastery the site of Thimphu’s original Tashichoe Dzong which since 1971 is home to the state monastic school. If there’s time following this excursion, we will visit the National Textile Museum and/or the Folk Heritage Museum with a late afternoon visit to the Tashichoe Dzong, seat of both the nation’s government and official monk body.
We rise early the next morning for another great walking day. Driving all the way to the northern end of the valley we’ll hike up to Tango Monastery which was founded in the 12th century and a retreat location for the unifier of Bhutan, Shabdrang, whose meditation efforts here helped to fend off invading Tibetans. Cheri Monastery, established in 1620 and home to Bhutan’s first monk body, is accessed by crossing one of Bhutan’s beautiful covered bridges. Established by Shabdrung, a silver chorten inside contains the ashes of his father.
We’ll have a picnic lunch during the outing and then return to Thimphu in the afternoon for more sightseeing and shopping around the city.
Departing early from Thimphu will get us back to Paro where we’ll start our pilgrimage walk up to the famous Taktsang (located 900 m from the valley floor) or “Tiger’s Nest” monastery– treasured landmark and prime spiritual destination for Buddhist pilgrims. We’ll have lunch along the way amongst the whispering blue pines and upon return will be treated to either a traditional hot stone bath or cultural performance prior to a sumptuous Farewell Dinner.
Depart Bhutan via the Paro International Airport for journey the home. If return flight is scheduled for later in the afternoon, an additional visit to town or location will be scheduled for continued sightseeing and exploration.
All trips include guide, driver, transport, hotel, meals, entry fees to dzongs and
museums and required travel / route permits.