Day 01: Arrive at Paro (Altitude 2289 m)
We receive you at the airport and drive you the short distance to the hotel. After Lunch, visit Ta Dzong (built in1656 and renovated in 1968), an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. Below the museum is the Paro Rimpung Dzong (literally meaning “Heap of Jewels”, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley. A short walk takes you to the base of the dzong and across a traditional cantilevered, covered bridge.
Day 02: Paro - Thimphu, Excursion to Taktsang Monastery: (Altitude 2320 m, 54 kms)
A very special day, with an excursion to view the spectacular Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) monastery - After breakfast a short drive takes us to Satsam Chorten, from there we make two hours hike to the viewpoint of the monastery. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. We stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until we see, clearly and seemingly within reach, Taktsang monastery. The primary Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in the 1684by the Penlop of Paro Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo, said to be his favourite consort.
After lunch, drive to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong 16 km up the valley built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the dzong was destroyed by accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. Explore the ramparts and on a clear day experience an unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m). On the way back, visit Kichu Lhakhang, built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan king Srongsen Gampo. In the evening, we drive to Thimphu.
Day 03: Thimphu Sightseeing: (Altitude 2320 m)
The day begins with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten (1974) built in honour of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and the Dupthop Lhakhang one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan. We then visit the National Library, stocked with ancient Buddhist manuscripts, and the Painting School where traditional art is still kept alive through instructions in the art of painting Thangkas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls). After lunch we drive to the Traditional Medicine Institute where medicines are prepared according to ancient practices and to Lungtenzampa to observe the Royal silver smiths and Bhutanese paper factory at work. Other highlights include a visit to the Tashichho Dzong, seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan) and finally visit the Handicrafts Emporium followed by shopping for souvenirs in the shops of Thimphu. Over night in Hotel.
Day 04: Thimphu - Punakha: (Altitude 1310 m) (72 Kms, 3 hours drive)
After breakfast, drive to Punakha via Dochula pass. If the weather is clear, we stop for a while at Dochula pass to view high Himalayas. On the way, visit Chime Lhakhang, which was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley. He subdued the demons with his “ Magical Thunder bolt”. The Temple is also known as “the Temple of Fertility”. Lunch at Punakha.
After lunch, visit Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is situated between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female river). For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the Government. The construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). The war materials captured during the battle with Tibetans are preserved here. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk convened the new national Assembly here in 1952.
Day 05: Punakha – Gangtey – Trongsa: (Altitude 2800 m, 157 kms)
We start early today. After breakfast, drive to Trongsa via. Gangtey. En-route sightseeing in the valley of Wangdiphodrang, it includes: visit to Wangdiphodrang Dzong (from outside) built in 1638. The Dzong is situated at the confluence of Mo Chu and Tang Chu rivers. Drive further to Gangtey. While in Gangtey, visit Gangtey Gompa. Gyaltse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa founded the Temple in 1613, and Tenzin Legpai Dhendup, the second re-incarnation, built the temple. The present Abbot, Kunzang Pema Namgyal is the ninth re-incarnation. It is a Nyingmapa monastery and is affiliated to other Nyingmapa monasteries including Tamshing in Bumthang. Explore Phobjikha valley, famous for the Black Necked Cranes during winter.
Packed lunch will be served at Gangtey. After Lunch, drive to Trongsa. Visit Trongsa Dzong, the most impressive dzong in Bhutan, built in its present form in 1644 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the official who was sent by Shabdrung to unify eastern Bhutan and enlarged at the end of the 17th century by Desi Tenzin Rabgay. Trongsa Dzong is the ancestral home of the present Royal Family and first two hereditary kings ruled Bhutan from this Dzong. Then Visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watch tower. The chapel inside the Ta Dzong is dedicated to the Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal.
Day 06: Trongsa - Bumthang: (Altitude 2800 m, 68 kms)
After breakfast, drive to Bumthang. Lunch at Bumthang. After lunch, visit Jakar Dzong, which literally means “The Castle of White Bird”. The current structure was built in 1667. Visit Jambay Lhakhang said to have been built by King Srongsen Gampo of Tibet in the year 659 on the same day as Kichu Lhakhang in Paro. The temple was visited by Guru Rimpoche during his visit to Bumthang and was renovated by Sindhu Raja after Guru Rimpoche restored his life force. Under the temple is said to be a lake in which Guru Rimpoche hid several Terma. In October one of the most spectacular festival, “Jambay Lhakhang Drup” is staged here.
Day 07: Bumthang Sightseeing (Altitude 2800 m)
After breakfast, visit Kurjey Lhakhang that is named after body print of Guru Rimpoche, built in 1652 by Minjur Tempa. Then visit Tamshing Lhakhang (Temple of the good message), established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and is the most important Nyingmapa temple in the kingdom. After lunch, visit Membartsho (Literally means “The Burning Lake”), a short distance up the road leading to Tang valley. The Terton Pema Lingpa discovered several of Guru Rimpoche’s hidden Terma / relics here and visit Mathra factory & Cheese Factory. In the evening, visit Bhutanese Farm House.
Day 08: Bumthang – Thimphu: (Altitude 2320 m)
After early breakfast, drive to Thimphu. Packed lunch will be served on the way.
Day 09: Thimphu – Paro Airport: (Altitude 2320 m, 54 kms)
Early Morning, drive to the airport and Farewell.