The 12-day tour package takes you to all the major destinations in Bhutan that has significant cultural or historic importance. Included are visits to majestic fortresses and old temples and monasteries in Paro, Thimphu, Trongsa, Bumthang and Punakha that have impacted and shaped the history and religion of the country. This also includes a short beautiful hike in Phobjikha (en route from Bumthang to Punakha) and a visit to the magnificent Taktshang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery in Paro. We shall also ensure that you eat, sleep and breathe Bhutan all through your stay here.
Arrival Paro International Airport to Thimphu
On arrival at Paro International Airport, the representatives (tour guide and driver) of Druk Tersar Tours and travels will give you a warm reception and escort to your hotel in the capital city Thimphu. The duration of the ride is about an hour. After a brief rest at the hotel and tea/coffee, your tour will begin by visiting the following places:
Visit the Memorial Chorten. It was built in 1974 by Her Majesty the late Queen Mother in memory of her loving son, the third King of Bhutan (His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck). The third King of Bhutan is also known as the “Father of Modern Bhutan”. It was his wish to erect a monument symbolising world peace and prosperity but after his unfortunate and untimely death in 1972, the late Queen Mother Ashi Phuntsho Choden Wangchuck resolved to full fill his wishes. This chorten has a unique architecture and contains very finely detailed traditional sculptures and paintings.
Post office and The Bhutan National Bank
After lunch, visit the Post office and The Bhutan National Bank where you can exchange money and buy postcards and stamps to either add to your collection or have a stamp customised with you in it.
Kuensel Phodrang / Buddha point
We drive up to “Kuensel Phodrang” to see the statue of the largest sitting Buddha in the world. The statue is 51.5 meters tall and is made of bronze and gilded in gold. 125,000 smaller Buddha statues have been placed within the Buddha statue, 100,000 8 inch tall and 25,000 12 inch tall statues respectively. The hill, where the statue is located, also provides a beautiful bird-eyes view of the capital city.
Traditional paper factory
We then drive down back across the town to visit the traditional paper factory. Here you can see how they produce traditional Bhutanese paper from Daphne plants without using modern technology.
Located below the main town, next to the Wangchhu River, Thimphu’s weekend market is by far the largest domestic market for the farmers in Bhutan. Farmers come from all over the country to sell their farm products in the market. With its wide assortment of fresh, organic produce, the Farmer’s Market has become a favourite spot for tourists and a recreational hub for people from all walks of life.
Day 02 Thimphu
We drive up to the “Thimphu mini zoo”. Fenced between 8 acres of land, this area provides a sanctuary for an animal with a head like goat and a body similar to a cow. This strange animal, called the “Takin”, is believed to be a creation of the Divine Mad Monk (Lam Drukpa Kuenlay of Chimi Lhakhang) in the 16th century. The Takin is the National Animal of Bhutan.
Zorig-Chu-Sum (Arts and crafts School)
We then visit the Zorig-Chu-Sum (thirteen different traditional arts) Center, where young Bhutanese learn to master various Bhutanese arts and crafts like painting, sculpture, wood work, silversmith and so on. We can also watch the artisans while they create beautiful traditional art.
The folk heritage museum
A living museum that gives you an insight to the ancient Bhutanese way of life and rural folk life.
National Textile Museum
The changing exhibitions at the museum will introduce you to the major weaving techniques that the weavers employ to make these beautiful fabrics. It also gives you a chance to see the various styles of dressing of the men and women from different parts of Bhutan. The museums exhibits follow 6 major themes :
1. Wrap Pattern Weaves
2. Weft Pattern Weaves
3. Role of Textile in Buddhism
4. Historical achievements in textile
5. Textiles made from different indigenous fibres
6. The royal textile collection.
We visit Tashichho Dzong (Dzong means a fortress). Built by the political and religious unifier Zhabdrung Nagwang Namgyel in 1941, it was reconstructed and extended by the Third King of Bhutan in 1961. This Dzong was built in the traditional style without using nails or architectural plan. It is now the headquarters of the of government and the religious body, site of the king’s throne room and the seat of the Je Khempo (Chief Abbot).
After visiting the Dzong, we drive to the handicraft Emporium where Bhutanese textile, painting, thangkha’s (traditional scroll paintings), postcards and woodcarvings can be viewed and purchased. After that, you can either relax in your hotel or explore Thimphu town.
Day 03 Thimphu to Punakha (77 kms-3 hrs)
Dochula pass (3,100 m)
After an early breakfast, we drive towards Punakha via Dochula pass (3,100 m), where we will stop over for a short tea/coffee break. On a clear day the pass offers visitors a spectacular view of the majestic eastern Himalayan Ranges. Stopping for a cup of hot coffee or tea at the pass has become part of tradition for people travelling through Dochula.
We then proceed a little further to a small village, where we stop for lunch in a farm house. Our welcoming hosts will serve traditional food and drinks, and show you around their house.
After lunch, continue to Punakha, and then start the hike to Chimmi Lhakhang (also known as the Temple of the Divine Madman). This lhakhang is renowned as the temple of fertility and is the site where couples come to pray and receive blessings. The hike will last around 30-40 mins.
Day 04 Punakha
Yulley Namgyal Chorten
After breakfast, we drive approximately 7 kilometer north of Punakha to visit the Yulley Namgyal Chorten. The Chorten is situated on a hill up the valley and can be reached after a leisurely hike through the woods and terraces of paddy fields. It was constructed by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangden Wangchuck in the 1990’s. Built over a period of 9 years, Bhutanese craftsmen including carpenters, painters, and sculptors consulted holy scriptures rather than engineering manuals to construct this 4-storey temple. The temple is dedicated to the well-being of all beings that reside in the Kingdom and is considered as one of the finest examples of the use of traditional Bhutanese architectural style in modern times.
After lunch, we visit the Punakha Dzong, also known as the palace of great happiness, built in-between Pho – Chu (male river) and the Mo-chu (female river) by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1637.
It was here that the dual system of government was introduced in the 17th century and in 1907, where the first King of Bhutan, Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck, was enthroned. All coronations take place in this Dzong. The Dzong is also the second oldest and second largest in Bhutan
After visiting the Dzong, we will cross the Phochhu just behind the Dzong on one of the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan (350m long).
Overnight in Punakha
Day 05 Punakha to Trongsa (142 kms-6 hrs)
We drive down the valley to the neighbouring town of Wangdiphodrang. Our road gradually winds its way up towards the Pele La Pass at 3,400 m, where we stop for views of the snow clad peaks, including that of Bhutan’s sacred peak Mt. Jumolhari. We again make a stop for tea/coffee and lunch at Chedebji Chorten (Stupa)
On arrival in Trongsa, we check in to the hotel and then we visit the inner courtyard of the historical Trongsa Dzong. Trongsa is a very popular place with the largest and definitely one of the most impressive Dzongs in Bhutan. It was from here that the present royal family emerged as the most powerful force at the beginning of this century.
Overnight in Trongsa
Day 06 Trongsa to Bumthang (70 kms-3hrs)
Ta Dzong (Museum)
After breakfast, we visit the Ta Dzong. This watchtower, which once guarded the Trongsa Dzong from internal rebellion, stands on a ridge above the town. It was built by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the 1st Governor of Trongsa in 1652. A visit to this former watchtower provides visitors with an insight into the significance of Trongsa in Bhutan’s history. Currently used as a museum, the Ta Dzong of Trongsa is the most fascinating museum in the nation.
After completing the tour of the museum, we start our drive to Bumthang.
Lunch at a local restaurant en route to Bumthang
After lunch, cross the Yotong La pass (3,400 m), then descend into Chumey valley, the first of four valleys in Bumthang. In Chumey, visit Yathra Weaving centers (a colorful wool weaving technique). Then drive onto Jakar, the center of the Bumthang valleys. Bumthang valley is considered one of the most sacred in the Kingdom and innumerable legends surround the area. It is here that the past kings were cremated. The present Royal family trace their ancestry back to a famous local saint here called Terton Pemalingpa.
Overnight in Bumthang
Day 07 Bumthang
After breakfast, we drive to Jambay Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples built by King Srongsen Gampo of Tibet in 659 AD. The temple was blessed by Guru Rimpoche, the founder of Buddhism in Bhutan, during his visit to Bumthang. It was renovated by Sindhu Raja (the local ruler) after Guru Rimpoche restored his life with his magical powers. Many believe that there is a natural lake under the temple in which Guru Rimpoche meditated on several occasions.
The Kurjey Lhakhang is a monastery which is a 30 minute hike from the Jambay Lhakhang temple. According to legend, Sindhu Raja, the King of Bumthang, was very ill and invited Guru Rinpoche, to cure his ailment. After curing the king, Guru Rinpoche meditated on the site of the temple, leaving behind his imprints on the rocks.
After Kurjey Lhakhang, we go over to Tamshing, the original home of all holy dances that are performed at Tsechus (festivals) all over Bhutan. The temple was constructed in 1501 by Pema Lingpa, the revealer of the hidden treasures left by Guru Rinpoche. The wall painting consists of his portrait and is considered among the oldest unrestored wall paintings in the country. The main duties of Tamshing Lhakhang are teaching the Dharma, performing holy services for the society and educating the young monks under its care. The monastery supports a body of more than 95 monks.
Lunch in a farm house
After lunch, we drive to Jakar Dzong (literally meaning fortress of the white bird). It is located on a picturesque place overlooking the Choskhor Valley and was built in 1667. After that, we visit the Wangdichholing palace, built as residence for the Trongsa Penlop in 1857 on the site of a battle camp. It was the first royal palace that was not designed as a fortress. Wangdichholing was also the early home of the third king, who later moved the court to Punakha in 1952.
Afterwards, we drop by to visit the legacy of the swiss expatriates who settled in the valley and founded a cheese factory and a beer brewery in Bumthang. The proud owners will be happy to show you around and give you a sample or two of their proud product.
Overnight in Bumthang
Day 08 Bumthang to Gangtey Valley. (188kms-7hrs)
From Bumthang, we will ascend out of the valleys on a twisting mountain road towards the Yotong La (3,370m). Near the pass is an area of wild cane/bamboos that is a well-known habitat for Red Pandas. The road then descends to Tongsa and we will drive on to Chendebji Stupa for our lunch stop. After that, we then drive over the Pele La pass (3,353m) and start the descent for a few kilometers to the junction where we drive to the glacial valley of Phobjikha.
Overnight in either a hotel or a farmhouse in Phobjikha
Day 09 Gangtey
After breakfast, we take a leisurely walk (around 2 hours) that give you a good feeling of the Phobjikha valley. It is the most beautiful and shortest of the existing nature trails in Bhutan. After passing a chorten and Khewa Lhakhang, the trail ends at the local community school. The Nature Trail can be combined with a visit to Gangtey Goemba and the local community school.
The Gangtey Monastery or the Gangtey Goempa is an important monastery/temple associated with the Nyingmapa school of Buddhism. The Gangtey Monastery is situated in the picturesque Phobjikha Valley, which is also renowned for being the winter home of the endangered Black Necked Cranes. The monastery was established in 1613 by Peling Gyalse Rinpoche, the grandson of Trenton Pema Lingpa from Bumtang.
Lunch at village home in Gangtey
Drive to Punakha
Overnight in Punakha
Day 10 Punakha to Paro 126km – 4 hrs
Dochula pass (3100m)
After breakfast, we start our journey to Paro via Dochula Pass
Lunch at Dochula pass
Ta-Dzong (National Museum) and Paro Dzong
After arrival in Paro, we first visit the Ta-Dzong, which served as a watchtower for the Paro Rinpung Dzong in the olden days. It was converted to the National Museum in 1968. After the National Museum, we visit the Paro Dzong, which was built in 1645 on a hilltop near the Pachhu (Paro river). The Dzong has the finest example of traditional Bhutanese architecture and is now used as the District Administration Office, houses the district monk body and is used as the venue for hosting colourful local festivals and tsechus.
Overnight in Paro
Day 11 Paro
After breakfast, drive to the base of the Tiger’s Nest, locally known as Taktshang (tiger’s nest). Taktshang, located 2900-3000 meters above sea level. According to legend, Guru Rinpoche flew on a flaming tigress from Tibet and landed where the Taktshang monastery currently stands. It is believed that he meditated in one of the thirteen caves for over three years and was fundamental in spreading Buddhism in Bhutan.
Halfway up the trek, halt for a 15 minute’s tea/coffee break at the Taktshang cafeteria, take in the splendid view of the magnificent cliffs on which the monastery is precariously perched and pat yourself on the back for having almost made it. Then proceed for another 30-minute hike passing by magnificent waterfall right next to the monastery. After visiting the monastery and admiring, among other things, the tenacity it must have taken to build the monastery on those precarious cliffs, we head back to the cafeteria for a well-deserved lunch.
After lunch, walk down to the base and then drive to the north of Paro to visit the historic Dru-gyal Dzong (Fortress of Victory, “Dzong”) built in the 17th century to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over the Tibet invaders. On a clear day, we can admire the snow covered peak of Mt. Jumolhari (7300mts).
Overnight in Paro
Day 12: Depart from Paro Airport.
Drive to Airport for departure to your next onward destination.