Spirit of Bhutan 8 Days

Itinenary

DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU VALLEY SIGHTSEEING

DAY 02: THIMPHU VALLEY SIGHTSEEING

DAY 03: THIMPHU TO PHOBJIKHA VALLEY

DAY 04: PHOBJIKHA TO PUNAKHA VALLEY SIGHTSEEING

DAY 05: PUNAKHA SIGHTSEEING

DAY 06: PUNAKHA TO PARO

DAY 07: HIKE TO TIGERS’ NEST

DAY 08: DEPART PARO

This tour is specially tailored to provide the best of Bhutan’s timeless culture and traditions. You will experience Bhutan’s unique rich culture with visits to beautiful fortresses, museums and visits to farm houses, experience local cuisine, relaxing hot stone bath after a tiring day, Hike up to the famous Taktshang Monastery popularly known as Tiger’s nest. Travel between lush green valleys’ to dense forest. Discover some of the most scared Buddhist monasteries, temples and marvel at the ancient paintings and carvings in fortress and temples.


DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU (1 hour Drive)

The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth.

Arrive at Paro and drive to Thimphu. Upon arrival, drive to capital city Thimphu, Check in hotel and visit the National Memorial Chorten depicting the Buddhist faith in the form of paintings and statues. This temple was first initiated by the Third King as a protection from the negative elements of modernisation, and as a monument to world peace. The Royal Queen Mother completed it as a memorial stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972.His Late Majesty, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Later visit Trashi chhodzong fortress of the glorious religion” Standing proudly on the western bank of the Wang Chhu a few kilometers north of central Thimphu, Tashichho Dzong looks every inch the seat of government. While the National Assembly no longer convenes inside the fortress’s whitewashed walls, today the dzong still houses the throne room and the king’s offices as well as the ministries of home affairs and finance. The dzong is a patchwork of old and new, with the impressive central utse and chapels dating from the eighteenth century surrounded by government offices constructed in the 1960s. Various other parts of the dzong have risen, phoenix-like, from the embers of three major fires and the earthquake of 1897, making it all the more impressive that its expansion and restoration has been completed without either written plans or nails. The impressive open courtyard that abuts the northern side of the dzong is the site of Thimphu’s largest festival, the annual Thimphu Tsechu. Unless your visit coincides with the tsechu, however, you should be able to explore the dzong’s splendid interior in peace, broken only by the sound of pigeons flapping overhead.(Over night at hotel in Thimphu).

DAY O2: THIMPHU VALLEY SIGHTSEEING

DAY 02: Thimphu Sightseeing. After breakfast visit the world’s tallest sitting Buddha statue at Buddha point which is 169 feet tall. High up in the hills overlooking Thimphu, dawn light glints off the Buddha Dordenma’s golden face as he gazes into the rising sun. Depicting Buddha at the moment of his enlightenment, sitting in bhumisparsha mudra with five fingers extended to touch the earth, the 51-metre (169-feet) tall statue is visible from across Bhutan’s capital city.

The statue was cast in bronze in China and transported by sea and road to this site once occupied by the palace of Druk Desi, a secular ruler of Bhutan in the eighteenth-century. At its completion, the statue will contain 125,000 gilded Buddha statues and a wealth of other statuary.

In addition to celebrating the centenary anniversary of the Wangchuck dynasty, the statue fulfills a twelve-hundred year-old prophesy made by Guru Rinpoche that a Buddha image would be built at this dramatic siteand it’s the best place for photographers.

We start our hike form Buddha point to Changakha lakhang which is around 1 hours hike. You will be hiking through the trails which was made for mountain bikers which was used by our kings to cycle before, basically you will be hiking through the forest and will be having great views of Thimphu city. We end our hike Changangkha Lhakang, with its high walls and prayer wheels, built in the 12th century, is said to be the oldest monastery in the capital city, Visit the temple get some blessing.

After lunch visit Simply MuseumA “living” museum, Simply Bhutan is an initiative of the Bhutan Youth Development Fund that aims to increase young Bhutanese people’s engagement with their traditional culture. Housed in a traditional building not far from the center of Thimphu, the museum offers visitors a fun opportunity to learn about Bhutanese traditions, dress up in kiras and ghos (as well as unusual regional costumes), and to try archery or khuru (darts) in the open courtyard. The museum doubles as a photo studio, offering a fun range of backdrops and props to help visitors capture a unique holiday snap. An on-site cafe serves Bhutanese food, and “Magical Moment” performances are held daily.

Later visit Painting School the Institute offers you a glimpse of novices learning 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. In the evening visit the some shops for shopping if interested. (Over night at hotel in Thimphu).

DAY 03: Thimphu to Phobjikha Valley 4 hours Today after breakfast you will drive to Punakha (1300m/4265ft) the former capital of Bhutan. On the way after 45 minutes‟ drive from Thimphu will reach at highest pass between Thimphu and Punakha the place called Dochula pass (3140m). In 2004, Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck commissioned 108 chortens in Dochula, the pass between Thimphu and Punakha. These chortens commemorate Bhutan’s victory over the Indian insurgents hidden in Southern Bhutan in 2003. The 4th Druk Gyalpo, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, led the army. Hundreds of prayer flags flap in the wind at Dochula, carrying positive merit on the breeze to all sentient beings. For centuries, people have travelled through this pass while making their way across the country. On a clear day, the views from the top are astonishing. One can see many snow-covered 7000 meter peaks, including Gangkhar Phuensum, the world’s highest unclimbed mountain. Gasa Dzong also appears in the distance.

On arrival, visit Gangtey Goempa, the oldest Nyingmapa temple in western Bhutan. Gangtey Goemba sits on the crest of a hill, overlooking majestic views of the Phobjikha Valley. Quite appropriately, its name means simply “the temple on the hilltop.” Pema Thinley, the grandson of the great terton (treasure revealer) Pema Lingpa, founded this temple in 1613. In the Buddhist tradition of Bhutan, a terton is a gifted practitioner who discovers ancient teachings and reintroduces them to the world.The monastery, one of the largest in Bhutan, contains a monastic school and houses the ninth reincarnation of the Gangtey Tulku. Every year on the 11th of November, villagers from all over the valley gather in the courtyard here to celebrate the Black Necked Crane Festival. Locals wear their most beautiful ghos and kiras to watch the masked dances performed by the monks of Gangtey.

Dressed as these cherished birds, school children dance the movements of the black necked crane to welcome the birds back to the valley. Every year, in the end of October and the beginning of November, the cranes arrive in the valley for the winter. They migrate in from the higher altitude plateaus of the Tibetan region.

Then explore valley on foot is the best way to experience Gangtey as you will walk by small villages and picturesque scenery. Later visit, Crane Information Centre which gives all the information about birds. (Overnight at hotel in Phobjikha).

Day 04: Drive to Punakha valley(70km- 2 and half Hours). After breakfast, do the Nature Trail hike which is around 2 km to enjoy the valley and meet with the locals and enjoy the fresh lush green vegetations all around Bhutan. After the hike we bid goodbye to Phobijkha valley and drive towards Punakha valley. Upon reaching Punakha valley visit the impressive Punakha Dzong impressive Punakha Dzong, the Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative center of the region. Damaged over the centuries by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the Dzong has been fully restored in recent years by the present monarch. It is open for visitors during the Punakha festival (early spring) and in the summer months, after the monk body has returned to Thimphu. The Dzong is placed strategically at the junction of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. This ancient fortress is the winter residence of the monastic order‟s head and still serves as the administrative headquarters for the Punakha region. After visiting the Punakha Dzong take a leisurely walk for 5 to 10 minutes to reach the longest suspension bridge of Bhutan. We have a great view of villages on the other side of the river. (Over night at hotel in Punakha).

DAY 05:  PUNAKHA VALLEY

After breakfast drive to Yabesa village and hike to through rice fields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. Perched high on a hill on the bank of the river, the Chorten houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa traditions. Follow the Mo Chhu upstream from Punakha Dzong, and the gleaming apex of the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten will soon appear on the opposite bank, a gold-topped beacon guiding you upstream. Seven kilometers (4 miles) northeast of the dzong, the tiered chorten stands 30-metres (100-feet) tall, its three stories covered with a painted pageant of characters from the annals of Vajrayana Buddhism – including one protector deity pictured riding a shaggy brown migoi or yeti. A path leads from the roadside to a bridge across the Mo Chhu, before climbing steeply up to the chorten itself. Visit in the cool of the morning then sit to catch your breath and enjoy fabulous views up and down the lush Mo Chhu valley.

Afterwards drive back into the Punkha valley for a short walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman. He inherited the Divine Madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism in his time. He taught the people that religion is an inner feeling and it’s not necessary that one should be an ordained monk. He is also considered a symbol of fertility and most childless couples go to his temple for blessing. Later enjoying rafting in the Mo Chu river for about 1 hour (extra charges applicable).  (Over night at hotel in Punakha). 

DAY 05: PUNAKHA – PARO VALLEY SIGHTSEEING (2 hours drive)

After early breakfast drive back to Paro, check in hotel. After lunch we start the hike from UMA hotel, climb for few minutes and (1 hour ) we take a leisurely hike along the hillside of Zuri Dzong. Zuri Dzong provides wonderful views down over the valley and Dzong and take down hill to the National Museum where the hike ends and visit the National Museum and  the Ringpung Dzong

Visit Kyichu temple, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan which was built in 7th century, and in the evening  stroll around the main street for some interesting Himalayan artifacts or textiles or have a relaxing stay in the hotel. (Over night at hotel in Paro).

DAY 07: HIKE TO TIGER’S NEST

After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The walk of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometre above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to cafeteria). From a distance, Bhutan’s most iconic building seems to float, weightless, halfway up a sheer cliff-face, 900 meters (3,000 feet) above the floor of the Paro Valley. As you wind your way breathlessly up the long, steep path towards Taktsang Lhakhang, the monastery periodically reveals itself, rising out of the forest, closer and more solid with each reappearance.

While modern visitors approach Taktsang Lhakhang on foot or astride one of the sure-footed ponies guided by local villagers, the first person to recognize the holiness of this inaccessible spot, Guru Rinpoche, arrived here with considerably greater ease – on the back of a flying tigress. After defeating a troublesome local demon here in the eighth century, the Guru spent months in meditation, and the lhakhang – its name meaning “Tiger’s Nest” – has been a place of pilgrimage ever since.

The Bhutanese believe that the original construction of Taktsang in 1692 was assisted by dakinis – angels – who transported building materials up the cliff on their backs and lent their hair to hold the structure in place. Sadly the dakini were unable to help when Taktsang was razed in a major fire in April 1998, and the temple took five years to reconstruct with the help of a rudimentary cableway that has since been removed.

Inside the lhakhang, the Dubkhang – the cave where Guru Rinpoche meditated, now sealed behind a shining golden door – sits at the heart of the main shrine, surrounded by richly decorated chapels and side chapels that fill every inch of the narrow ledge, and offer phenomenal views of the forested valleys far below.

Visitors should note that the final approach to the lhakhang must be made on foot – horses must turn around at the busy canteen roughly halfway up the mountain. Later in the evening enjoy a relaxing hot stone bath to relax your sore muscles after the hike. (extra charges applicable)  (Over night at hotel in Paro)

DAY 08: DEPART PARO

Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.

Tashi Delek

Note:

Some of the sights/itinerary may change due to season, weather, national holidays, and special events. We maintain the rights to alter the itinerary since tours are made in advance and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve your overall travel experience in Bhutan

The driving and hiking times mentioned are approximate times and do not include breaks in the journey for sightseeing, photo/tea/meal/rest stops. There may be delays in transfer time due road conditions, road repair/widening works, inclement weather and other unforeseen circumstances. During the treks/hikes, there may be delays or diversion of hiking trails due to trail conditions, inclement weather and other unforeseen circumstances. Please note that at the moment there are numerous areas where road conditions are not very good due to road widening/repair works and you may experience rough and bumpy drives.

WHAT WE INCLUDE IN OUR TAILOR MADE BHUTAN TOURS:

  • Bhutan Tourist Tariff Royalty & Visa fees.
  • All private excursions and transfers in excellent SUV, Mini Vans, Buses
  • Local English speaking guide/tour leader.
  • Experienced driver.
  • Accommodation in carefully selected, highest standard government approved hotels
  • All meals in Bhutan.
  • All entrance fees and permits.
  • Bottled mineral water throughout the tour.
  • All trekking equipments.

NOT INCLUDED:

  • All personal expenses such as bars, beverages, laundry, telephone and tips.
  • Medical / Travel Insurance.
  • Airfare

General info

• Passport (with at least 6 months’ validity from the date of your exit from Bhutan)
• Print out copy of the visa & International air tickets.
• Temperatures will fluctuate greatly depending on elevation and time of day. You should be prepared for a minimum temperature of 04 degrees and a maximum of 30 degrees. You have to plan for layered clothing to be prepared for such a wide-ranging temperature fluctuations.
• Drink only bottled water, sodas, beer, etc.
• Stay away from any cold salad! These are normally rinsed in tap water before or after being sliced and are a major cause of traveler’s gastro-intestinal distress.
• All tipping is optional and by no means mandatory, however if you feel that your staff and drivers have performed at a good or excellent level, it is a great way to let them know you appreciate their efforts.

A few reminders:

• Accept or offer items with the right hand or, more politely, with both hands. Using both hands to give or receive signifies that you honor the offering and the recipient or giver.
• When you visit Buddhist shrines or temples, it is appropriate and a sign of respect to walk around the building in a clockwise direction (so that the structure is to your right side). This is also true for mani walls (walls built of stone tablets with Buddhist mantras carved on them) and Chorten (small Buddhist shrines.)
• Your guide will give you additional tips along the way, when in doubt, check in with them. You will be travelling into areas that have had relatively few foreign visitors. Your positive attitude and interaction is needed and welcomed to maximize this adventure.

What should I bring with me for the trip?

• Good walking shoes
• Sunglasses
• Sunscreen (highest possible)
• Headgear for sunny days
• Bug/Insect repellent
• Cotton clothing for summer days, light woolen clothes for evenings. Heavy woolens for winter.
• Shorts for hiking and walking around town are fine. Out of respect, please don’t wear shorts in public buildings or monasteries. Have a pair of long pants or longer skirt for these locations.