Central Western Bhutan (11 Days)

Cultural Tour

Day – 1  Arrive Paro International Airport
During the flight, one will experience breathtaking views of Mount Everest,Kanchenjunga and other famous Himalayan peaks, including the sacred Mount Chomolhari and Jitchu Drake in Bhutan. On arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be received and escorted to your hotel by our company representative.

Day – 2 Paro – Thimphu
Drive for about two hours (65kms) to reach the capital city of Thimphu. En-route visit Simtokha Dzong (6kms away from Thimphu). Built in 1629 A.D, this is the oldest dzong built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of  Bhutan. It houses one of the largest monastic schools in the country. Check in at hotel. Lunch at the hotel.
Afternoon: Visit the Memorial Chorten, a huge stupa built in memory of the third King who reigned from 1952-1972.  Visit the Painting School where traditional art is still preserved. Artists are taught to paint Thankas here (sacred Buddhist scroll).
Visit the Handicrafts Emporium where one can buy Bhutanese textiles and other arts and crafts. Visit Tashichho Dzong – the main secretariat building. It is from here that the King and other prominent civil servants run the country. The Head Abbot and the central monastic body also reside here during the summer. Evening: Visit the National Library where vast collections of ancient manuscripts are preserved. Visit the Painting and woodcraft school where children are taught the traditional art of woodcraft and painting. Lunch At the hotel.
Afternoon: Drive upto Dechencholing (6kms from Thimphu town) to view the palace of the Queen Mother. Evening at leisure.

Day –3  Thimphu – Punakha/Wangdiphodrang (77kms)
After an early breakfast, drive to Punakha and Wangdiphodrang. On the way, halt at Dochula Pass (26kms) for a hot cup of tea/coffee and on a clear day, the most spectacular view of the Eastern Himalayas. After lunch, visit the Punakha Dzong, the former winter capital and present administrative seat of the district. It is also the winter residence of the central monastic body. The Dzong (fortress) lies between two rivers, the Pochu and Mochu, meaning male and female rivers. It was built in 1637 A.D. Visit Wangdiphodrang Dzong, perched on a promontory 13 kjms away from Punakha. The Dzong was built in 1638 A.D. Overnight in Wangdi.

Day – 4 Punakha – Trongsa
After an early breakfast, drive to Trongsa (142kms). The journey takes about 6 hrs. with lunch stop en-route.

Day – 5 Morning : Visit Trongsa Dzong, the ancestral home of the royal family and its watch tower. Built in 1648 A.D, it is presently the administrative seat of the district and the home of the monastic school. Built at split-levels on a narrow spur, the dzong is an architectural wonder. The view from here extends for many kilometers and in the old days, it was a vigilance point for both the eastern and western routes. Thus, the strategic importance of this Dzong. The watchtower, located directly above the Dzong, has on display many interesting armors and other war paraphernalia used by ancient warriors. Lunch at the hotel and drive for 3 hours (68 kms) to reach Bumthang. Check in at one of Bumthang’s many small but homely guesthouses.

Day – 6 Bumthang sightseeing : Visit the historical Jakar Dzong, built in 1646 AD  by Minjur Tenpa, the third Druk Desi (Temporal ruler). In 1683 AD it was extended by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay, the fourth Desi. Visit several ancient and sacred Monasteries such as the Jambay lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang, Kencho Sum Lhakhang, Tamshing and Pema Samba Lhakhangs. Also visit member Tso “The flaming Lake.” Which is considered one of the most important pilgrimage spots. A trip to the Bumthang Swiss farm is also interesting.

Day – 7 A full day excursion to Ura Valley ( 65 kms from Bumthang ).
Visitors can drive up to Ura and take a leisurely stroll through the quaint and clustered village. Ura also has a beautiful Buddhist Monastery. You will also see yaks grazing in the rich pastureland. Pack lunch at Ura and return to Bumthang in the evening.

Day – 8 After an early breakfast, drive to Gangtey (174 kms from Bumthang). Overnight at Gangtey. Gangtey is a beautiful meadow situated at an altitude of 3000 m. It promises breathtaking views of the Black Mountain range. Phobjikha, the valley stretching boundlessly from below Gangtey, is the winter habitat of the rare and endangered Black Necked Cranes. Overnight at the guesthouse.

Day – 9 After breakfast drive to Paro (190 Kms) Lunch en-route.
Sightseeing in Paro : Drive to Drugyal Dzong (a ruined fortress – 16kms away from Paro town). The dzong, although in ruins, holds great historical significance. It was from this fortress that the Bhutanese repelled many Tibetan invasions. The name means “The victorious Bhutanese.” This spot offers a magnificent vista of Mount Chomolhari, “Mountain of Goddess” (Alt.7329m). Visit a typical Bhutanese farmhouse on the way back. Lunch at hotel.
Afternoon : Visit the National Museum (Ta Dzong). Once the watchtower for the Rinpung Dzong, it was converted into the National Museum in 1968. The Museum stands on a promontory overlooking the Paro valley in all its glory.
Visit the Paro Rinpung Dzong. A flagstone path rises gradually from a beautiful wooden bridge with shingle roofing and abutted by two guardhouses to the dzong. Today, the Dzong is the seat of the district administration as well as the home for the monastic school. The central tower (Utse) of the Dzong,. The Dzong was built in 1645 A.D.

Day – 10 After breakfast, a short trek to Taktsang Monastery (10 Kms) from Paro Town. The name Taktsang means “Tiger’s Nest”. It is said that in the second half of the 8th century, Guru Padma Sambhava alighted here upon the back of a tigress. Picnic lunch at Taktsang cafeteria. The round trip hike takes about 4 hours.
Evening: casual stroll through Paro Town for shopping or visit some village homes.

Day – 11 Morning departure from Paro  Airport.