Spiritual Bhutan 8 Days

Itinenary

DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU

DAY 02: THIMPHU – PHOBJIKHA

DAY 03: PHOBJIKHA VALLEY SIGHTSEEING

DAY 04: PHOBJIKHA – PUNAKHA

DAY 05: PUNAKHA VALLEY SIGHTSEEING

DAY 06: PUNAKHA – 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 Meditate and spend time at the monastery.

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 JigmeDorjiWangchuk. Later visit Trashichhodzong fortress of the glorious religion” Standing proudly on the western bank of the Wang Chhu a few kilometers north of central Thimphu, TashichhoDzong 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 ThimphuTsechu. 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 TO PHOBJIKHA VALLEY 3.5  HOURS

After breakfast drive towards Phobjikha valley considered the most beautiful valley. On the way after 30 minutes‟ drive from Thimphu will reach at highest pass between Thimphu and Punakha the place called Dochula pass (3140m).In 2004, Queen Mother AshiDorjiWangmoWangchuck 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 DrukGyalpo, King JigmeSingyeWangchuck, 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.

Upon reaching Dochulaa Pass start Lungchutse hike (1 to 1.5 hour), which is one of the most rejuvenating and picturesque hike. The trail will take you through a diverse forest of hemlock, rhododendrons and junipers until you reach the temple on the ridge. On a clear weather day, tourists can enjoy a 360 degree view of the Himalayas from the ridge. Some of the notable mountains include Jumolhari (7314 m), Masang Gang in the region of Laya (7158), Zongophu Gang – a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana (7060 m) and GangkharPuensum (7520 m), the highest peak in Bhutan. You can also see GasaDzong, as a tiny white speck in a sea of green almost 50 kilometers to the north.

After hike continue your journey towards Phobjikha. Upon reaching Phobjikha, to further stretch the body after long drive start a Gangtey Natural Trail Hike (50 mins) to explore the valley and the hike will be gradual descend and on the flat land.

Overnight at homestay.

DAY 03: PHOBJIKHA VALLEY

After breakfast drive for an hour to the charming village called Longte,y from here the 3 to 3.5 hours moderate hike back towards GangteyGompa starts. Head along a sloping, lined pathway that takes you through towering bushes of jade-hued bamboo, swaying together in a jumble of shadow and light. At the end of the bamboo enclave lies a small group of village houses, built in the distinct Bhutanese style, which features elevated platforms, intricately carved timber window panes and wood-lined, arched roofs.

During the spring months the woodlands on either side of the valley look particularly stunning, gloriously cloaked in a kaleidoscope of crimson, violet and candy floss coloured rhododendrons. In the winter months, the valley is splendidly shrouded in thick blankets of pearly white snow, on which mighty onyx and caramel-horned yaks graze. As you move upwards, you’ll pass ancient rhododendron forests and soaring trees that sigh in the wind, whispering the ancient secrets of this mystical region. Next, head down to the tranquil village of Kumbu, where you can choose to end your walk, or carry on to the deep valley floor and the Shedra, a renowned and mystical place of teaching.

After lunch visit GangteyGoempa, the oldest Nyingmapa temple in western Bhutan.GangteyGoemba 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 home stay in Phobjikha.

DAY O4: PHOBJIKHA – PUNAKHA (2 hour drive)

Upon reaching Punakha valley hike to ChimiLhakhang, 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. Hike between the lush paddy fields and small village until you reach the temple.

After lunch visit the impressive PunakhaDzong, the Dzong built in 1637 by ShabdrungNgawangNamgyal 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 head quarters 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 SIGHTSEEING

After breakfast drive to Yabesa village and hike (45 mins) to through rice fields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen AshiTsheringYangdon 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 PunakhaDzong, 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.

After hike, drive for approximately 1 hour to Nalanda Buddhist University for lunch and other activities at the University. At the time when this monastery was built, the ancient Nalanda University in India was a very holy and sacred place. The original Nalanda University is located in what was known as Magadha that is now near present-day Patna, the capital of the present day state of Bihar, India.

The people in Bhutan made great efforts to visit this special holy place at least once in their lifetimes. However, there were no roads and people had to walk to India. As a result, the journey was very unsafe and people were at risk of being robbed or worse. On arrival in India, people from Bhutan faced many difficulties including dealing with differences in food, culture, and language, as well as being in an unfamiliar place.As a way of accommodating the people’s desire to visit Nalanda, Gyalwang Shakya Rinchen Rinpoche built this monastery in Bhutan and named it after the Nalanda University in India.

At the University attend the evening prayer performed by the monks and if lucky one can witness debate among the monk. In practice, the usual form is a debate between a Challenger, standing and asking questions, and a Defender, sitting and answering those questions. The attitude is as if the Challenger is respectfully approaching the Defender with a quandary. The dramatic clapping is done by the standing Challenger only, and is used to punctuate the end of the “question,” which is an argument in response to the Defender’s answer.

Overnight at the Nalanda Buddhist University

DAY 06: PUNAKHA – PARO (3.5 hour drive)

After early breakfast drive back to Paro and visit the Ringpung Dzong  which was built by Shabdrung in 1644. After lunch visit the National Museumand start the hike from above the National Museum (1 hour). The hike provides wonderful views down over the valley and Dzong.

In the evening stroll around the main street for some interesting Himalayan artifacts or textiles or have a relaxing stay in the hotel. Overnight at hotel in Paro.

DAY 07: HIKE TO TIGERS’ 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 TaktsangLhakhang 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.

TashiDelek

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.

NOT INCLUDED:

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