Duration: 5 Days
Districts: Paro, Thimphu, Wangduephodrang, Punakha
You might have heard or read about Paro Taktsang (Tiger’s Lair), perched on a rocky cliff about 1000m above the valley floor, but a hike to this amazing architectural wonder and one of Bhutan’s holiest places will set your tune. Also visit places of historical interest, feel what mesmerizing is and how you get this experience. Immerse yourself in the nation’s cultural delights.
Day 01: Arrive at Paro-Thimphu
In one of the most captivating experiences, the flight to Paro offers you views of the Himalayan treasures, such as Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu and other peaks in Bhutan such as the Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsrim Gang. You will also have a bird’s eye view of Paro and the adjoining valleys, an experience beyond expression. The landing is also thrilling.
Our guide will meet you there and after a brief stopover at a hotel, escort you for your first experience that awaits you.
You will visit the Paro National Museum, which was once a watch tower and today houses some of the Kingdom’s historical treasures. You will also visit Paro dzong, which is the head quarters of Paro district and Kyichu Lhakhang, built by the Tibetan Buddhist King Songsten Goempo in the 7th century.
In the evening, we will drive to Thimphu and on the way stop at Tamchoe Monastery and also Chuzom.
Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
Day 02: Exploring Thimphu valley
You will be visiting places of historical importance and landmarks of the capital. The Memorial Chorten (a huge stupa) built in memory of the third king of Bhutan Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, Changangkha Lhakhang built in the 12th century, statue of the world’s largest futuristic Buddha Maitreya, Takin zoo, a Nunnery and Sangaygang, from where you can catch Thimphu in a celluloid form are some of the places you can visit in the morning.
After lunch at a local restaurant, visit the Wood Craft Centre and Painting school and see the wonders of Bhutanese arts and crafts in the making. Take a stroll around town and visit the Post Office if you are an enthusiast of postal stamps. If time permits, we will also witness an archery match (Bhutan’s national game) in session.
In the evening, we will be visiting Thimphu’s most important landmark, the Tashichhodzong. This massive structure houses the office of the King and the Throne Room. It also houses the State Monastic Body and the living quarters of the Chief Abbot and the senior monks, apart from other ministerial offices.
Overnight at a local hotel.
Day 03: Thimphu to Punakha/Wangdue
After breakfast we will move to Punakha, which is about three hours drive from Thimphu. After a 45 minute drive, we will stop at Dochula Pass (3100m), which offers visitors the first spectacular glimpse of the snow-capped eastern Himalayan ranges, consisting of peaks averaging heights of 6000m to 7554m. The pass is beautified by 108 stupas (chortens) built around a mound.
Enroute to Punakha, we will visit the ruins of Wangdue dzong, which was tragically razed to the ground by a fire in 2012. Originally built in 1638 by Zhabdrung, it played a significant role in medieval Bhutan’s history.
We then proceed to the 15th century Chimi Lhakhang which is about half an hour hike from the road point. It is associated with the great Buddhist master, Drukpa Kuenley, popularly known as the “Divine Mad Man”. After lunch, we move to Punakha, which served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955.
Punakha dzong is an architectural masterpiece, which from far looks like a large ship rocked on a still mass of water. Built at the confluence of Phochhu and Mochhu in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, it has played a very significant role in Bhutan’s history. Home to some of Bhutan’s most prized religious artifacts, it was destroyed four times by fire and an earthquake in 1897. However, it has now been restored to its original splendor, and is the home of the country’s Chief Abbot and religious body during the winter months.
There will also be a visit to Khamsumyulay Namgyal chorten.
Overnight at a hotel in Punakha.
Day 04: Punakha-Paro & the Taktsang Experience
We will move early from Punakha to Paro, which will take about four hours.
After lunch at a local hotel in Paro, we drive to Taktsang view point and begin the hike up to Taktsang monastery. We follow an ancient path marked by water powered prayer wheels to the holiest Buddhist shrine in Bhutan and the ultimate point of pilgrimage. A blend of the spiritual and architectural wonder, the monastery is perched on a 1000m rocky cliff overlooking the valley. Legend has it that the great Indian saint, Guru Padmasambhava flew from Tibet to Taktsang on the back of a tigress to tame five demons, who were opposing the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan in 746 AD.
On the way back we visit Drukgyel dzong, located 16 kilometers from Paro town. In ruins now, this dzong was built to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over the invading Tibetan forces in the 16th and 17th centuries.
On a clear day, one can see the Jomolhari peak. If time permits, we will visit a local farmhouse.
Overnight at the hotel.
Day 05: Paro-Bangkok
After breakfast, you will be driven to Paro international airport for your flight out of the country.