10 Nights 11 Day Western-Central Bhutan Tour
Day 01: Arrive Paro,Paro-Thimphu ( Distance: 54 km, driving time: 1hr)
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights. One can see the Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchanjunga, Mt. Makalu and other peaks in Bhutan such as Mt. Chomolhari, Mt. Jichu Drakay, and Mt. Tsherimgang. The green wall of hills known as the doors, or gateways into Bhutan from the plains climbs continually higher as down the forested mountainsides, and to the north, the great snowcapped peaks of the inner Himalayas rise up to the sky. You will be received by the representative of Access Bhutan Tours & Treks. He/she will be your Bhutan travel guide throughout your tour.
Check into the hotel. After the refreshment, visit to the National Museum, housed in the Ta Dzong (watchtower). Here an intriguing collection of artifacts provide a wonderful introduction to the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom.
Walk down to Paro Dzong, a fine example of Bhutanese historic architecture. From the Dzong, walk further down to Nyamai Zampa, a traditional cantilever bridge.
Travel to Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan. The road runs down through the Paro valley, to Chuzom (Confluence) at the entrance to the valley, where the Paro and Thimphu rivers meet. The road passes along a narrow valley with high, rocky cliffs on the left, and then the valley opens out into farmland on the approach to Thimphu. Simtokha Dzong, “the place of profound tantric teaching”, stands sentinel on a hillock a few kilometers out of town. This dzong now houses the Institute for Language and Culture Studies.Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 02:Thimphu Tour and Sightseeing
In the morning,visit National Library where a vast collection of ancient manuscripts is preserved. Visit the School of Traditional Painting of Arts and Crafts where children are taught the traditional art of woodcraft and painting. Then visit Folk Heritage Museum, which is loated in the same area, and further down to the Textile Museum.
After lunch, visit Tashichhodzong, “the fortress of the glorious religion”. This is the center of government and religion, site of the monarch’s throne room and seat of the Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. Built in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was reconstructed in the 1960s in traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans. Also visit the National Memorial Chorten, continuously circumambulated by the faithful, murmuring mantras and spinning their prayer wheels. Construction of this landmark was the idea of Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (“the father of modern Bhutan”) who had wished to erect a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as a monument to peace.
Then, visit the government-run Handicrafts Emporium and local crafts shops, to browse through examples of Bhutan’s fine traditional arts. Here you can buy hand-woven textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewelry, and other interesting items made from local materials.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 03: Thimphu - Trongsa (distance: 200 km, driving time: 6 hrs)
After breakfast, travel toTrongsa through Dochula Pass (3,088m/10,130ft). If you have a clear sky, the view of the Himalayan Mountain ranges is spectacular and you can even see the Gasa Dzong as a white dot in the horizon. Visit the beautiful 108 chortens built on the hill by Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo for the security and well being of His Majesty the King of Bhutan.
Travel continues through Wangdue via metshina village and further through Pelela pass towards Trongsa with a picnic lunch at Chendebji Chorten. Overnight at hotel in Trongsa.
Day 04: Trongsa - Bumthang ( distance: 68 km, driving time : 2 hrs)
After breakfast, visit Trongsa Dzong, the main administration center during the second kings’s reign and it is also known for its masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture.Then visit Ta Dzong, the watchtower built to defend this dzong. After lunch, drive to Bumthang, the religious heartland of the nation, with lush valleys and hilly forests. Bumthang consists of four valleys--Chumey, Choekhar, Tang, and Ura--with altitudes varying from 2,600 to 4,000 meters. Overnight at hotel in Bumthang Jakar.
Day 05: Bumthang Tour and Sightseeing
Sightseeing includes visit to the following:
- Jambay Lhakhang, built in the 7th century by the King Songtsen Goempo of Tibet. In his effort to propagate Buddhism he had a plan to build a total of 108 temples in Tibet and neighboring kingdoms.
- Chakhar Lhakhang. Besides the main road, a short distance beyond Jambay Temple is Chakhar (Iron Castle) Lhakhang. Although it is easy to mistake it for a house and drive right by, this is an interesting temple and is worth a short visit. It is one of the 108 monasteries built by him to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region.
- Kujey Lhakhang (Kujey means, "Body imprint"). The temple to the right is the oldest and was built by Minjur Tempa in 1652. It was built around the cave in which Guru Rimpoche meditated and left his body imprint.
- Tamshing Lhakhang. This temple is also known as Tamshing Lhendrup Chholing (Temple of the Good Message).
- Jakar Dzong, "castle of the white bird". According to legend, when the lamas assembled in about 1549 to select a site for a monastery, a big white bird rose suddenly in the air and settled on a spur of a hill. This was interpreted as an important omen, and the hill was chosen as the site for a monastery and for Jakar Dzong. The fortress is now used as an administrative center of the valley and summer residence of Trongsa monks.
After lunch drive for about an hour to visit Mebar Tsho ( Burning lake).According to the legend Terton Pema Lingpa had a vision of the sacred treasures that Guru Rimpoche had hidden within the lake centuries earlier. However the people of Tang and the local ruler were cynical of his claims. In order to prove his claims, Pema Lingpa held a butter lamp in his hand as he jumped into the lake. After remaining under water for a long time he re-emerged holding a chest and a scroll of paper with the butter lamp held in his hand still burning bright. Thereafter, the lake came to be known as Mebartsho (the burning Lake).
Then drive back to your hotel and in the evening you may wish to stroll around the beautiful landscaped gardens of Bumthang. You also visit one of the nearby farmhouses in the Choekhor valley in Bumthang and you may enjoy interacting with a village family.
In the evening stroll around the beautiful landscape of the Bumthang Jakar valley.
Dinner and overnight in Bumthang.
Day 06: Bumthang - Wangdue Via Phobjikha valley ( distance: 197 km, driving time: 6 hrs)
After breakfast, drive to Wangdue/ Punakha via Phobjikha valley. Driving through the dense forests of the Phobjikha Valley you arrive at Gantey village where you see the Gangtey Monastery and visit the monastery. Phobjikha valley is part of the beautiful Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park ( formerly known as Black Mountains National Park), one of Bhutan’s most important nature sanctuaries. Each winter it is home to a flock of 300 rare and endangered black-necked cranes. The surrounding hills and mountains are home to nomadic shepherds and yak-herders. This is one of the most remote and untouched regions in Bhutan and is only just opening its doors to the outside world. After lunch at Gangtey and explore Phobjikha valley and also visit the Black Necked Crane Center. Then travel on to Wangdue phodrang.
Dinner and overnight at hotel in Wangdue.
Day 07: Wangdue - Punakha - Thimphu (distance: 71 km, driving time: 2 1/2 hrs)
After breakfast, travel to Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan and presently the winter residence of the central monk body. Visit the Punakha Dzong, located on the island of the Pho - Chu (male) river and the Mochu (female) river. Visit the Dho Jha Gha Lam Temple.
After lunch , walk through the Metshina Village and take a 20-minute walk through the rice fields to the Divine Madman’s Monastery-Chhimi Lhakhang, famously known for its fertility shrine, where one can can receive a special fertility blessing.Drive to Thimphu and overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
Day 08 : Thimphu Tour and Short Hike to Tango Monastery
After breakfast, drive to the base camp of Tango Monastery and hike up to the Monastery. Tango is the center for higher studies for monks. The hike up will take approximately 45 minutes. Walk down to the base camp and then walk up to the Cheri Monastery which again takes about 45 minutes to experience the complete serenity. Drive back to Thimphu and evening free to relax / stroll around Thimphu town. Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
Day 09 : Thimphu-Paro
In the morning travel to Paro, visiting Simtokha Dzong en route. This dzong, built in 1627, is the oldest in Bhutan. It now houses the Institute for Language and Culture Studies.
Sightseeing and tours in Paro Valley.
- Visit to “Drukgyel Dzong”- the fortress now in ruins which was built as the monument of victory. On a clear day, Mount Jhomolhari can be seen.
- Sight Visit to Courtyard of Kichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan
- Visit a typical Bhutanese farm house
Overnight at hotel in Paro.
Day 10 :Paro Trekking to Taktsang Monastery or Dirve to Chelila Pass
Drive to Ramthongkha and then hike to viewpoint of Taktshang, the Tiger's Nest (one and a half hours). The monastery is situated on a cliff of about 3000 ft above the vlley.
Drive to Chelila Pass where you can see beautiful mountain ranges and rhododendron flowers in bloom. On the way back walk to Chila Nunnery
Day 11 : Paro - Departure
A representative from Access Bhutan tours & Treks will see you off at the Paro Airport for your onward travel destinations.
End of the Bhutan Tour