Duration: 10 days
Entry Point: Paro, Western Bhutan
Exit Point: Paro
Total Area Coverage: 5 districts of Western Bhutan.
Experiment the Bhutanese belief that hot springs can cure various ailments ranging from arthritis, body aches, to even sinuses, as you immerse yourself in two of Bhutan’s most revered hot springs. Get insights into Bhutanese culture, history and architecture as you visit the dzongs (Fortresses) in Gasa and Punakha.
Day 1: Paro – Thimphu
On arrival at Paro airport, you will be received by our company’s representative. After checking into a hotel, we will visit the nearby places of cultural interest like fortresses, monuments and temples. It includes the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang (monastery), Rinpung dzong (Castle on a Heap of Precious Jewels), the Ta (Tower) dzong, which is now the National Museum and the ruins of the 17th century Drukgyel dzong (Castle of the Victorious Drukpa).
After lunch, preferably around evening, we will move to Thimphu, the capital city.
Night halt in Thimphu.
Day 2: Thimphu – Punakha (4 hrs)
Early morning, we will visit significant places in Thimphu, such as the largest Buddha statue, Handicrafts emporium and others. Towards evening we will visit Tashichhodzong, the seat of power in Bhutan’s polity, which consists of government ministries, the King’s office and others. After that we will move to Punakha and enroute, stop at Dochula, which offers a scenic view of the eastern Himalayan Mountains. Another spectacular sight in Dochula is the 108 stupas. We then drive down to Punakha, one of Bhutan’s most historic places.
Night halt at hotel, Punakha.
Getting to Gasa hot spring is about ten hours trek from Punakha district or one can choose to travel half way by vehicle till a village called Damji. From Damji it is about six hours trek till the hot spring, with the journey comprising a beautiful experience through beautiful hills of pine and oak forests. The route also takes us through small villages, bamboo forests and small streams. On reaching a pass, one can see a beautiful view of Gasa dzong (fortress) seated below a snow covered mountain.
Day 4: Halt at Gasa
For the entire morning, you can relish in the Gasa hot springs. Towards afternoon, we will move up to Gasa dzong, one of Bhutan’s most remote dzongs. The hike involves travelling through the Jigmi Dorji Wangchuck National Park and it is a photographer’s paradise.
Night halt will be at the dzong’s guest house.
Day 5: Gasa hot spring halt
You can visit the Gasa dzong early morning and after lunch, we will move back to the hot spring. The journey back will be easier. The whole evening can be spent at the hot spring. Night halt will be at the hot spring.
Day 6: Gasa – Punakha
The day will begin with a short hike to Damji and then a drive to Punakha. Enroute, we will visit the Khamsum Namgyel Chorten. From there, it will be a short drive to Punakha.
At Punakha, one can visit Punakha dzong, built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It has played a prominent role in civil and religious life of the Kingdom. Destroyed four times by fire and an earthquake in 1897, the dzong has been now fully restored in its original splendor. You can stroll through the town in the evening.
Day 7: Punakha – Chubu Tsachu
After breakfast drive to Chubu Tsachu, located by the banks of the Phochhu River and is within a day’s journey from Punakha town. However, road has reached Walathang from where the journey is just two hours. Located at 2,930 meters above sea level, the mountain trail gently snakes through a chirpine forest into the cool, temperate mixed forest.
The hot springs see a chain of people from across Bhutan for more than six months in a year. In the last month of the Bhutanese calendar, the hot springs gushing out of the steep, swampy hillside are inundated with more than 1,000 visitors. The temporary village presents a rich mosaic of people from all walks of life and from different social and cultural backgrounds.
Day 8: Punakha – Paro
In the morning head back to Punakha and drive to Paro. Enroute one can visit the ruins of Wangduephodrang dzong that was tragically gutted by fire in 2012. The dzong was originally built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1637. Arrive at Paro and night halt at hotel.
Day 9: Paro Excursion
Apart from being the rice bowl of Bhutan, Paro is home to some of Bhutan’s most sacred religious icons. It is a visitor’s delight and one can begin by visiting the Tiger’s Lair – called Taktsang. In the morning drive for about 20 minutes to the base of Taktsang. From there begin a 5 hour round trip to the monastery, perched on a 1,000 meter rocky cliff. It is believed that the Indian saint Guru Padmasambhava flew on a tigress to subdue the demons that were obstructing the spread of Buddhism in the Himalayas.
On the way, visit the Drukgyel dzong, located 16 kms away from Paro town. Although in ruins, this dzong is of great historical importance. It was here that the Bhutanese finally defeated the invading Tibetans and drove them back. From here, Jomolhari “Mountain of the Goddess” can be seen on a clear day (7,329m/24,029ft). In the evening, menchu, a hot stone bath widely practiced in Bhutan and believed to cure various diseases will be arranged.
Day 10: Depart from Paro
You will be escorted by our representatives to fly out of Paro.