Arrival to Paro, Bhutan – Hotel check-in and Welcome Briefing by your host / guide, followed by lunch either at the hotel or at a restaurant in town. 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 house paintings, and spectacular views of Mount Jomolhari (7,314 m)weather permitting!
Lunch back in town or at one of the scenic restaurant locations along the way then visit Dhuntse Lakhang (built by the famous iron bridge builder, Thangtong Gyalpo, 1385 – 1464 who constructed more than 108 bridges through-out Tibet and Bhutan) and continue up the hillside for a guided tour at the National Museum. Return (or walk) via the Paro Dzong (Rimpung Dzong) for a late afternoon visit and head back to hotel with a stop at the archery grounds along the way.
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 complete our hotel check in and have lunch.
In the afternoon we will visit the National Textile Museum and/or the Folk Heritage Museum then drive 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 3rd King followed by a visit to the Zorig Chusum (School for 13 Traditional Handicrafts) and/or the National Institute of Traditional Medicine for those who are interested. In the late afternoon we’ll pay a visit to the Tashichoe Dzong seat of both the nation’s government and official monk body.
An early morning departure will put us on the road headed for the scenic Darchula Pass (3,140 m). This pass will provide Himalayan panorama views and a break to stretch one’s legs walking amongst the many protective stupas, chortens, and fluttering prayer flags. We will also make a visit to the newly consecrated Druk Wangyal Lhakhang dedicated to His Majesty the 4thKing of Bhutan which features beautiful detailed wall murals depicting the historical legacy of the country’s Kings.
As we enter the Punakha Valley we’ll make time to walk through the surrounding rice fields to visit Chimi Lakhang which was constructed by Lama Drukpa Kunley in 1499 and is famous for its fertility powers! A hearty lunch will be provided in Punakha, the traditional winter residence of the monk body and the seat of the government until the reign of the second King, and we’ll have an afternoon visit to the Punakha Dzong which is located at the confluence of the Mo Chhu and Po Chhu rivers in this warm and tropical valley.
We’ll depart Punakha the next morning and drive back to Thimphu (having a second chance to catch Himalayan views) and upon arrival will visit the Centenary Farmer’s Market (which is open only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and pay a visit to the traditional Paper Making Factory and/or the Nado Poisakhang Incense Factory where Bhutan’s best incense (including its famous “Happiness” incense) is manufactured by hand. If there is time, we may also make a quick stop at the Takin Preserve to get up close and personal with Bhutan’s unique national animal that is said to have been created by Drukpa Kunley while demonstrating his magical powers and combined a goat’s head with the body of a cow!
Departing early from Thimphu will get us back to Paro where we’ll start our pilgrimage walk up to the famous Taktsang or “Tiger’s Nest” monastery – a 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.