This trip though short in duration includes the maximum number of interesting experiences Bhutan has to offer in the time available. The visits in Paro, Thimpu and Punakha include all the major sites:Punakha Dzong, National Memorial Chorten, Tashi Choe Dzong, Drukgyel Dzong, Rinpung Dzong, Ta Dzong, Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s nest), Arts school, national library and many more.
A. Itinerary in Detail (5 Days)
Day 01: Kathmandu – Paro (by Druk Air) Transfer to Thimphu.
Transfer to Kathmandu airport for the flight to Paro / a spectacular trans Himalayan flight with fabulous views / followed by an equally spectacular descent through mountainous valleys on the approach to the Kingdom of Bhutan / the beautiful airport is your first glimpse of what’s ahead / after clearing customs and visa control / we are met by our driver and guide / a short but very scenic drive along the valley past rural homes, hillside monasteries and chortens / takes around 1.5 hours before arriving in Thimpu and transfering to our hotel / the afternoon is spent sightseeing with visits to the Textile Museum where the art of traditional weaving is still kept alive and preserved / the museum has a good collection of old textiles that are rich in colour and design / we also visit the Post Office to view Bhutan’s beautiful stamps / many of these depict the countrys myths and traditions / alternatively do less formal sightseeing and just walk around the town with our guide / dinner at restaurant / overnight at Hotel.
Day 02: Thimphu – Punakha
(72 Kms, 3 hours drive). After breakfast, drive to Punakha via the Dochula pass / we stop for a while at the Dochula pass to view the High Himalayas / on the way we stop a while to view Chimi Lhakhang / built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley in 15th century / he subdued the demons with his “Magical Thunder bolt” / the Temple is also known as “the Temple of Fertility”.
Lunch in Punakha / after lunch, visit Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal / it lies neatly sandwiched between Pho Chu (Male river) and Mo Chu (Female river) / for many years until the time of the second king the Dzong served as the seat of the Government / the construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche, who predicted that “a person named Namgyal would arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant” / there was once a smaller building here called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Shabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, while Palep was sleeping the Shabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From his vision the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which in keeping with the tradition, was never committed to paper / 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 / in the evening / hike to Khamsung Yulley Namgyal Choling Monastery / overnight at hotel in Punakha.
Day 03: Punakha – early drive to Thimpu and sightseeing in Thimpu
After an early breakfast / drive back to Thimpu / it takes around three hours / Thimphu sightseeing includes a visit to the National Memorial Chorten / built in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk / and also a visit to the Folk Heritage Museum that is dedicated to connecting people to the Bhutanese rural past through an exhibition of items and artifacts used in rural households / lunch is served at a restaurant in Thimphu / after lunch visit the School of Arts and Crafts where 13 Crafts are taught to young children / established in 1971 with two objectives in mind / firstly to preserve and promote the traditional arts and crafts / and secondly to create more job opportunities.
Each region in the country of Bhutan has a dzong, but the one in Thimphu is special / apart from the regional and religious function it also includes the national government as well as the offices of the king / Tashichoe Dzong in Thimphu actually stands on the banks of the Wang Chhu river / it is square in shape, with four massive towers at each corner / it is best to approach this Zong from a distance on foot / as you walk towards the entrance of the Dzong you truely appreciate its enormous size / once inside you feel like you have stepped back in history instantly / outside some luxurious cars hint at the presence of the king in the royal part of the Dzong / inside it has changed little for many centuries / the last visit of the day we visit The National library in Thimpu / established in 1967 to preserve many ancient Dzongkha and Tibetan texts, and it is a lavishly decorated and a vibrant example of Bhutanese architecture.
Day 04: Thimpu to Paro including sightseeing and a hike to Taktsang.
After an early breakfast, we drive to Paro for sightseeing in Paro and a hike to Taktsang / immediately after arriving in Paro we drive along a winding road to the Drukgyal Dzong / the ruined fort, that once defended this valley from Tibetan invasions / on our return we visit a Bhutanese farmhouse of a local family at Drukgyal for a close up experience of everyday Bhutanese life / then drive beyond Satsam Chorten to hike up (or on horseback) to the Taktsang monastery (Tigers nest) for around 1.5hrs / from the view point there are some stunning views of the monastery where Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigress in the 8th century.
We walk back to the road point and visit Drukgyel Dzong for an interesting insight into how Bhutanese warriors defended Bhutan from the invaders from the north in the 17th century / this dzong was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646, to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders / after Drukgyel Dzong explore Rinpung Dzong which the locals call the ‘fortress of a heap of jewels’ / built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the dzong stands on a hill above Paro township / it is linked by a traditional cantilever bridge (called the Nemi Zam) over the Pa chu / once inside the Dzong,we are welcomed by the monks / the architecture and the ancient frescoes are stunning / finally on a ridge immediately above Rinpung Dzong is the Ta Dzong / built as a watchtower to protect the Dzong from intruders and warring factions / in 1968 Paro’s Ta Dzong was inaugurated as the National Museum /and now holds a fascinating collection of art, relics and religious thangkha paintings along with Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps, coins and handicrafts, together with a small natural history collection.
Note: To visit all the above places in Paro, wake up is very early in the morning as you have to start at 6 AM from Thimpu.
Day05. Paro: Departure:
After breakfast drive to Paro Airport / fond farewells / flight back to Kathmandu.
Cost: Please contact us for a quote
(The cost varies with the number of trekkers in the group. Please contact us with the number of trekkers for the exact quote)