A. Itinerary in Detail (10 Days)
Day 01 : Paro -Thimphu
A spectacular descent through mountainous valleys brings you into 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 drive along the valley brings us to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. The one and a half hour journey is very scenic and it takes us past rural homes, hillside monasteries and chortens. After settling in at our hotel and after lunch at a local restaurant, we commence sightseeing, visiting the Textile Museum, a traditional paper making factory and the Post office to see Bhutan’s beautiful stamps. Dinner at a local Bhutanese restaurant. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 02 : Thimphu valley sightseeing and hike to Tango Monastery
After breakfast drive at Sangaygang / a field of Bhutanese prayer flags perched high above the city / colored flags send prayers to the heavens and white flags honor the dead / visit the Motithang Mini Zoo where the National animal Takin research centre is located / these rather odd animals graze peacefully in a small protected park / walk to the Zilukha Nunnery / then drive to the Tango Monastery for a picnic lunch / the hike to the monastery takes about 45 minutes./ a 13th Century structure and today it is home to about 150 monks studying Buddhist philosophy and meditation / Thimphu sightseeing continues with the Folk Heritage Museum / a beautifully restored Bhutanse farmhouse from the last century / and the National Painting School / in the evening visit the National Memorial Chorten built in honor of Bhutan’s 3rd king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck / a wonderful opportunity to mix with the local people / all the buildings in Bhutan conform to national building principals and are beautifully carved and decorated / dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 03 : Thimphu – Punakha
Depart Thimpu and drive over the Docchu-La pass to Punakha / the teahouse at the pass offers beautiful views of the Himalayan range in the distance / a 3 hour drive with stops en route / vernight at hotel / morning at leisure / afternoon visit the magnificent Dzong spanning the MoChu and Po Chu rivers / the winter residence of the monastic body and the Je Khenpo (chief Abbott) / dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 04 : Punakha – Gangtey
This morning we travel to the Probjikha Valley stopping at Wangdue en route / a typical rural town, where locals buy and sell all manner of produce / we turn off the main road for the Probjhika Valley, arguably the most beautiful in Bhutan / the scenery changes dramatically and your will see dwarf bamboo and possibly grazing yaks / continue to the bottom of the valley to visit the Black Crane Institute and Research Centre / the migratory crane arrives in the valley in late October each year / dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 05 : Gangtey – Trongsa – Bumthang
Today the drive is spectacular and passes through many valleys / we stop at the Chendibji Chorten at the top of a highest pass of the Black mountains / then continue to Central Bhutan / the golden roofed Trongsa Dzong spans the valley that divides east and west Bhutan and is another architectural feat / it can be seen for 20 tantalising and winding miles before it is finally reached / afternoon visit the impressive Trongsa Dzong and then drive to Bumthang via the Yotongla pass (3,400 metres) / enroute visit the joint Australian/Bhutanese wool project at Chumey valley / a single loom weaving process and buy yak wool rugs or scarves if you wish / there is also a wonderful selection of textiles from all over Bhutan on display and for sale at this roadside stop / you will probably see Yaks on the high passes on the way to Bumthang / eventually the road winds down into the beautiful Bumthang valley / the cultural heart of Bhutan / rice paddies give way to fields of barley and potatoes as the climate is too cold for rice / dinner and overnight Lodge.
Day 06 : Bumthang
Bumthang is said to be one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heartland of Buddhism / here many great teachers meditated and left in their wake many sacred grounds / the Guru and his lineage of Tertons (treasure finders) / have led to the sprouting of many temples in the valley.
In the morning we hike to visit Tamshing Monastery (one of the oldest monastic schools built by Terton Pema Lingpa) / and Kurjey Lhakhang (where the Guru Rinpoche subdued a local demon and left his body imprint on a rock). We also visit Jambay Lhakhang (one of the oldest temple in Bhutan built in 7th century) / and Jakar Dzong (seat of the district administration).
In the afternoon hike to Thangbi valley across the suspension bridge and visit the Thangbi Lhakhang / built in the 14th century / dinner and overnight at lodge.
Day 07 : Bumthang – Ura – Bumthang
After breakfast, we drive to Ura Valley / 42 kilometres from Bumthang, the road reaches Ura Shelthangla, where there is a magnificent view of Bhutan’s highest peak / Gangkar Puensum (7,500 m) / the road then descends into Ura valley by long loops across fields and pastures / Ura’s main occupation is raising sheep, yaks and the introduction of potato farming has brought a certain degree of prosperity to the people / visit Ura Lhakhang and then drive back Bumthang / afternoon visit Tamshing Monastery (one of the oldest monastic schools built by Terton Pema Lingpa) and Kurjey Lhakhang (where the Guru Rinpoche subdued a local demon and left his body imprint on a rock) / also visit Jambay Lhakhang (one of the oldest temple in Bhutan built in 7th century) and Jakar Dzong (seat of the district administration) / overnight at lodge.
Day 08 : Bumthang – Wangdue – Punakha
Leave the Bumthang valley and retrace our route back out of the valley and back to Wangdue / a long day’s drive with lunch and stops on the way.
Day 09 : Punakha – Thimphu – Paro
An early departure from Wangdue to Paro via Thimphu / a chance to buy any textiles or artifacts that you may not have picked up elsewhere on your travels / afternoon drive or hike if time allows to Takstang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery / the most photographed in Bhutan / the monastery was rebuilt after a disastrous fire destroyed it some years ago / the monastery open to the public and can be visited / wild flowers in bloom / later, visit Ta Dzong (an ancient watchtower) which now houses the National Museum / this dzong was converted into the National Museum in 1968 / the museum boasts antique thangkas, textiles, weapons and armour, household objects and rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.
We also visit the Rinpung Dzong / built in 17th century to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders / the dzong is now used as an administration centre and a school for monks / later in the evening take a walk around the main street of Paro’s main shopping district / dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 10 : Paro – Departure (by Druk Air)
In the morning our agent escort will bid you farewell at Paro airport / onward journey to Kathmandu