Day 1 Arrival in Paro/Paro Sightseeing/ To Thimphu
Day 2 Thimphu Sightseeing
Day 3 Thimphu to Punakha/ Punakha sightseeing
Day 4 Punakha to Trongsa
Day 5 Trongsa to Bumthang
Day 6 Attend Jambay Lhakhang Drup
Day 7 Bumthang Sightseeing
Day 8 Bumthang to Gangtey/Phobjikha
Day 9 Gangtey to Paro
Day 10 Taktshang Hiking, Paro
Day 11 Departure from Paro
Day 01 Arrival in Paro, Paro to Thimphu
Arrival in Bhutan’s only International airport. You will experience the freshness of the pristine air with stunning mountains surrounding Paro valley with backdrop of distant Himalayas. You will be received at the gate by Ambrosia Bhutan Travels Representative in a traditional fashion and will be ushered to your hotel in Paro for lunch.
After lunch, you will take a stroll around historic sites of Paro valley. First, visit Ta Dzong which had been an ancient watchtower and now converted to the National Museum. This iconic structure standing on a hilltop houses a collection of ancient Bhutanese art and artifacts, weapons, coins and stamps. Then take a leisure walk down the hill through a trail that leads you to Rinpung Dzong situated at a commanding height overlooking Paro valley. On the way enjoy the scenic overview of Paro valley with fascinating lush green fields and mountains. Rinpung Dzong is a ancient fortress built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 to protect the valley from foreign invasions. This dzong now houses Paro’s monk body and the offices of the civil administration and is symbolic as the religious and secular center.
Then take a walk further down and board the vehicle across Pachu (Paro river) after you walk along the traditional cantilever bridge Called Nyimizampa.Then,visit to a 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of 108 lhakhangs constructed by Buddhist Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo. This temple is considered to be very sacred and holds great significance in Bhutanese history.
Next, drive to the capital city of Bhutan, Thimphu. It’s about 1 hour 20 minutes drive alongside river Pachu and Wangchu. After a brief orientation by our guide on Bhutanese etiquettes, you will check in your hotel. If you wish, you may stroll around the town in the evening.
DAY 2 THIMPHU
Today, after breakfast, we will drive up the hill Kuenselphodrang to see 169 feet (51.4 meters) tall statue of Shakyamuni Buddha called the Dordenma. Although this bronze statue gilded in gold is still under construction, it is open to tourists and safe to visit. On return, you will enjoy taking pictures of spectacular Thimphu valley with a panoramic view of the city.
Then visit the school for Bhutanese traditional arts and crafts the Institute of Zorig Chusum (the 13 crafts) to see trainees in their work. Drop in to Zilukha Nunnery to meet Bhutanese anims (nuns) and understand about their daily lives. Next, visit a Park in Motithang to see the national animal of Bhutan Takin which is supposed to be found only in eastern Himalayas. Further, drive up the hill to BBS tower (Sangaygang) to enjoy the bird’s eye view of Thimphu valley.
Next, stop at a 12th century monastery called Changangkha Lhakhang believed to be the residence of the protective deity Tamdrin. All new born babies get their names from here.
Visit to National Memorial Chorten (temple) built in memory of our third king of Bhutan who passed away in 1972. Enjoy the scene of locals circumambulating the chorten religiously and have a look at intricate Bhutanese designs and paintings.
Next visit is Jungshi paper manufacturing unit where handmade authentic Bhutanese paper called Desho is produced involving indigenous method.
In the evening, visit Tashichhodzong which has the seat of the monarch. Enjoy the beautiful exhibition of ancient Bhutanese architecture. Although it was originally constructed as early as 13th Century, it was renovated several times until 1952.
Back to the hotel. And if you are not tired explore through the town and visit temporary stores of traditional crafts queued along the road.
DAY 3 THIMPHU TO PUNAKHA
It is about 3 hour journey from Thimphu to Punakha. After 45 minutes drive uphill, stop at Dochula, a mountain pass at 3100 meters,from where on a clear day you can capture incredible view of distant snow capped Himalayan mountain ranges. 108 Druk Wangyal miniature chortens (temples) maintain the serenity of the place. Then, we descend down the mountains through meandering roads and myriads of colourful rhododendron shrubs that bloom in the month of April and May.
Before reaching Punakha, stop at Chhimi Lhakhang, the temple of fertility situated on a spherical hillock built in 1499. Walk about 15 minutes through a village and paddy fields. There is an interesting history behind this sacred place about Drukpa Kuenley whose crazy wisdom of teaching Buddhism through sexual references using wooden Phallus as one of the symbols for driving away evils, because of which he is commonly referred as ‘The Divine Madman’.
In the afternoon, visit Punakha Dzong across a cantilever bridge built by Zhabdrung in 1637 at the confluence of two big rivers – Pho chu (male) and Mo chu (female). This Dzong holds a great significance in history of Bhutan. It was here that the first king was crowned in 1907, the first National Assembly was held in 1953, and wedding of the 5th King of Bhutan in 2011 was held here as well. It is also the winter resident of Je Khenpo (the Chief Abbot). The four great wooden pillars at the main temple have intricate designs of traditional architecture skillfully crafted and decorated with gold and silver. Massive wall paintings exhibit the life of Buddha.
DAY 4 PUNAKHA TO TRONGSA VIA WANGDUE
In the morning, visit Punakha Dzong across a cantilever bridge built by Zhabdrung in 1637 at the confluence of two big rivers – Pho chu (male) and Mo chu (female). This Dzong holds a great significance in history of Bhutan. It was here that the first king was crowned in 1907, the first National Assembly was held in 1953, and wedding of the 5th King of Bhutan in 2011 was held here as well. It is also the winter resident of Je Khenpo (the Chief Abbot). The four great wooden pillars at the main temple have intricate designs of traditional architecture skillfully crafted and decorated with gold and silver. Massive wall paintings exhibit the life of Buddha.
Trongsa is a district in central Bhutan which has a great political importance. It is about 6 hours journey by bus. On the way we pass through Pele La, a mountain pass at 3,390 metre from where we descend down the mountains and enjoy the sights of rural settlements through richness and abundance of great natural beauty of several miles of pristine alpine and sub-tropical forests. We have chances to see yaks. Stop for a while over an 18th century Chendebji Chorten (2430 m) which bears some resemblance to bodhanath temple in Kathmandu in Nepal. After about one hour drive from here, we can view the most imposing Trongsa Dzong across a deep canyon majestically elevated on a hill. On one long curve we reach the Trongsa Dzong.
Built in 1648, Trongsa Dzong is the largest Dzong in Bhutan which has remained as the seat of power until the reign of second king. Even today, prior to ascending the throne, kings are invested as Trongsa Penlop (the Governor). It has the maze of massive doorways, courtyards, corridors and many temples inside. The watch tower just above the Dzong which was later converted to Ta Dzong (museum) in dedication to Wangchuk dynasty displays the archive of Bhuddhist arts and royal souvenirs.
Visit to Thruepang palace, the birth place of third king of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk.
Halt in Trongsa.
DAY 5 TRONGSA TO BUMTHANG
Bumthang is Bhutan’s spiritual hub and has some of the oldest religious sites with mesmerizing landscapes and breathtaking scenery. Drive to Bumthang from Trongsa is nearly about 3 hours, crossing over the highest mountain pass of the region, Yotongla at 3,425 meter. Descend down to Chumey valley through evergreen thick forests, meadows, barley fields, apple orchards, dairy farms and dots of traditional houses. Stop at an handloom to see the weavers with their yarns busy weaving the most popular textile of the region, Yathra.
Lunch at one of the local resorts.
Once we reach Bumthang, visit Jakar Dzong built in 1549 by Tibetan Lam Nagi Wangchuk overlooking Chamkhar valley on a hill top believed to be the site chosen after an omen indicated by nestling of a ‘white bird’ which is the translation of Jakar. Later, stroll around shops of handicrafts and dairy products in Jakar town.
Overnight in your lodge, Bumthang.
DAY 6 JAMBAY LHAKHANG DRUP/FESTIVAL IN BUMTHANG
Attend the festival, Jambay Lhakhang Drup in one of the most venerated temples in the valley, Jambay Lhakhang. Witness two significant events of the festival, Mewang and Tercham. Also, you will witness a powerful display of colorful and extraordinary mask dances unfolding Bhutan’s long preserved tradition and culture. The courtyard of the lhakhang would be crammed with hundreds of people from around the valley presenting themselves in best of their traditional outfits which are mostly bright and richly designed with intricate patterns. Locals pitch their stalls for selling their handicrafts, jewelleries, artefacts and thangkas.
The performances are spread over four days programme. The festival ceremoniously begins with a girl child, the embodiment of Sindhu Raja’s (King’s) daughter, blessing the crowd. You can see the dance by the Lord of Death and his consort (Singje Yab and Yum) who guard the four realms, the dance celebrating the victory of good over evil performed by Nyulema the evil spirit and Lord of Cremation, Durdag represented by dancers wearing white skeleton masks, and dance of the two mystical birds Jachung and Bochung.
Atsara the clown is inevitable in all Bhutanese festivals who are there mostly to entertain the crowd. However, the Atsara you will meet here with red mask has his story to tell. He tries to cure his son whom he injures himself accidentally by impersonating a Pawo (the healer) but being unsuccessful, he resorts to the help of a doctor and a monk.
There are other significant mask dances. They are Dance of the four Stags (Shacham) performed to celebrate victory of Guru over king of the wind who caused unhappiness and suffering, Dance of Ging Tsholing performed to drive away evil spirits, Dance of the Drums from a place called Dramitse (Dramitse Ngacham) performed to proclaim the superiority of religion over evil spirits, and Dance of the Heroes (Pacham) performed to show how they lead the beings who die into the presence of the Guru.
Tercham, the naked dance can be witnessed at night only.
Overnight in hotel in Bumthang.
DAY 7 BUMTHANG
Sightseeing around Bumthang valley. Visit to Kurje Lhakhang (In 8th century Guru Rinpoche meditated in a cave and left behind his body prints- kurje which is still visible) and Tamshing Monastery (built in 1501 by Pema Lingpa).
Visit to Mebar Tsho (the Burning Lake), one of the most sacred sites of the region located about 30 minutes drive away from the town to Tang village. In late 15th century, Pema Lingpa the terton (the treasure discoverer) jumped into this lake and emerged with a treasure box, a paper scroll and a butter lamp still alight proving his claims to be true about hidden treasures by Guru Rinpoche centuries ago.
DAY 8 BUMTHANG TO GANGTEY/PHOBJIKHA
We take a return journey from the same way about 6 hrs from Bumthang to reach Gangtey (2,800 m). Traditional lunch in one of the farmhouses. Interact with locals and learn more of Bhutanese tradition and culture.
One of the most stunning sites is Phobjikha valley, the winter (November – March) habitat of rare migratory black necked cranes that fly from Tibetan plateau. Anyone would be enraptured admiring at the astonishing landscape formed by receding glaciers once upon at time. Take a stroll and capture some pictures and breathe the freshness of air from pristine nature.
Visit Gangtey Goempa founded in 1613, the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan.
Overnight at a lodge in Gangtey.
DAY 9 PHOBJIKHA TO PARO
Journey from Gangtey to Paro is approximately 7 hrs. From Gangtey the road gradually descends into the gentle valleys of Wangdue and Punakha and further climb up through Dochula Pass and again down to Thimphu valley.
Enroute to Paro, if you are not tired, a quick visit to Tachogang Lhakhang (literally, temple of the excellent horse) built by Tibetan monk Thangtong Gyalpo in 15th century. It is situated on a hillock across an iron bridge constructed in a traditional style very near to Paro.
Onward to Paro. Overnight in your hotel.
DAY 10 TAKTSHANG HIKE
People often say that your visit to Bhutan is incomplete without a trip to Takshang. Built in 1692, Takshang literally means ‘Tiger’s Nest’ in Paro, is perched amazingly on a rocky cliff believed to be the cave where Guru Rinpoche, the whisperer of Buddhism in Bhutan, flew on a tigress’s back and meditated for years to subdue evil demons.
After breakfast, we hike uphill for 1.5 to 2 hours to reach to the monastery. The experience of walking through the forest of pine trees is off course exhausting but is fanned away by refreshing air which is irresistibly gratifying. The view of incredible grandeur of the structure clinging on a crag and literally entering the cave will leave a lasting impression of your journey to Bhutan.
Lunch at Cafeteria on the way return from Takshang.
After lunch, visit to a historic site of a ruined Drugyel Dzong approximately 9 miles towards north built somewhere in 1647 to commemorate victory of Drukpas (Bhutanese) over Tibetans. Unfortunately, in 1951 it caught fire and raged to ground leaving behind the collapsed walls outlining this historic site.
Experience the last serve of farmhouse dinner in Bhutanese style.
DAY 11 DEPART FROM PARO
After breakfast, your guide will see you off in the airport for your onward destination.
Upon cancelation of the tour after booking, the following charges apply: