Total Duration: 13 days
Starting Point: Paro, western Bhutan
Exit Point: via Samdrup Jongkhar, south-east Bhutan, for departure flight from Guwahati, Assam
Best Seasons: March through May, & September through November
Highlights: Festivals, History, Culture, Lifestyle, Happiness, Flora and Fauna, Landscape
In 13 days, we travel through the historical and cultural bastions of the Kingdom and enrich ourselves with a very comprehensive picture of the Kingdom. Apart from history and culture, the different lifestyles of the people in each valley not to speak of the immeasurable natural beauty and a plethora of flora and fauna await you.
Through this tour you will gain insight into how the Bhutanese society is structured, the old time values, etiquettes and Buddhist beliefs the people cherish and how, all of these put together, serve as the enabling environment in which happiness is pursued and obtained.
- Day 1 Paro: After an exhilarating flight that traverses to the mighty Himalayas enabling passengers to see the world’s highest peaks, land at Paro. It is the only international airport in Bhutan. In afternoon go sightseeing around the Paro valley famed for its natural beauty, historical monuments, agricultural farms and Bhutanese village communities. We will also visit the National Museum, and Rinpung Dzong.
- Day 2 Paro: After a quick breakfast equipping everything recommended, we set on the most awaited segment of the tour. The toil of the day before comes to play as you hike to the Tiger's Nest. Etched precariously on a carve of a granite cliff at 3120 meters, almost 1000 meters above the valley floor, Taktshang is the cultural icon of Bhutan. It is for this particular attraction, tourists flock to Bhutan and pilgrims attempts to visit the monastery at least once in a lifetime, if not more. For the being of the temple, a legend spells that the Indian Saint, Guru Padmasambhava, worshipped in the Buddhist world as the Second Buddha flew to this location on the back of a tigress to tame a tiger demon. The switchback trail to Taktshang offers respite through picturesque vistas of nature, the opportunity to see the last horizon, the horizon beyond horizon and narration by the guide on many myth and legends of Bhutan continuing the hike in a pace unbothered by time. After finishing the trail, the mind, and body equally exhausted, you might want to get a trekker's foot massage for a good night's sleep. Another one could be taking a hot stone bath immersed in a wooden tub with local medicinal herbs offering a relaxing sensory journey.
- Day 3 Paro-Thimphu: Discover Bhutan’s capital driving through Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang), where the world’s tallest Shakyamuni Buudha statue is located. Buddha Point provides a panoramic view of the capital city. On return, we visit 12th century Changangkha Lhakhang (temple), considered the spiritual home of children born in Thimphu. Then we go to Takin Reserve and then to Sangaygang, from where the entire Thimphu valley can be seen. On the way back, we make a stopover at a nunnery, the Folk Heritage Museum, and the Textile Museum. After lunch, we will proceed to TashichhoDzong, a 17th century fortress housing offices of the King, Chief Abbot and government ministries. We end the day by a stroll in the Thimphu streets.
- Day 4 Thimphu – Punakha/Wangduephodrang: Starting a bit early, as it shall throughout the tour, we go deeper westbound to Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan. It will be a smooth two-hour journey. At half distance, we will stop at a mountain pass at 3050 meters- Do Chula. Do Chula is very famous amongst tourists visiting Bhutan. In 2016, the mountain pass was the most visited tourist spot. Before arriving at Punakha, the temple of fertility is a must visit. On the way, there is an opportunity to take a village walk witnessing the gleeful lives of Bhutanese folks.
- Day 5 Punakha/Wangdue–Trongsa: We drive to Trongsa from the sub-tropical to the sub-alpine region with the highest point at Pelela Pass (3,300m). From Pelela we descent to lower valleys and after lunch we visit the 18th century Chendebji, a replica of the Boudanath Stupa in Nepal, we continue eastward to Trongsa, the hub of the powerful governors in ancient Bhutan responsible for unifying Bhutan.
- Day 6 Trongsa – Bumthang: After visiting the Trongsa Dzong and Ta Dzong preserved as the Museum of Bhutanese Kings, we then drive to Bumthang passing the highest point at Yotong La pass (3,400 m). After a brief stopover to marvel at Black Mountain range, we drive towards Chumey. Chumey is popular for the beautiful Yathra – a clothing line with intricate floral patterns woven out of sheep’s wool.
- Day 7 Bumthang: We first drive to Jakar Dzong whose central tower is the tallest in Bhutan. Then we drive to Chakhar and then to Kurjey Lhakhag translated as “Body Imprint on Rock”, has temples built against a wall of cliff. The imprint belongs to the 8th century saint Padmasambhava who mediated in a rock cave and, using his tantric powers, subdued the evils who tormented the people in the vicinity. After lunch, we drive to Tamzhing monastery that preserves the remains of the works of Terton Pema Lingpa. Our last visit for the day is the Burning Lake associated with Pema Lingpa. Upon a challenge, he took a dive into a pool with a lighted butter lamp on his head and re-emerged from the lake with the lamp intact holding a up till then to the surface with unknown statue in his hands.
- Day 8 Bumthang-Mongar: Early today, we take a beautiful drive across ascending to the highest point at Thrumshingla pass (3,750m). For birders, this area is the ultimate destination with some 600 species of birds. The descent from Thrumshingla to Lingmethang is another enlivening occurrence. In less than two hours we witness an altitude drop from 3,800 meters to 650 meters. As a result, we enter from the sub-alpine to the temperate to the sub-tropics. We can also see the ruins of Zhongar Dzong which was, once upon a time, the palace and fortress of a powerful regional chieftain but is now preserved as a showpiece of Bhutan’s yesteryears.
- Day 9 Mongar-Trashigang: Our drive from Mongar to Trashigang takes us through several villages with the highest point at Korila Pass (2,450m). After this we descend all the way to Dangmechu, a river, and then pass by Yadhi, finally winding down a series of road bends. Near the riverbank, we see the remains of an iron chain bridge built in the 14th century. From here, another thirty minutes takes us to Tashigang dzong. We visit the dzong to take a stroll downhill.
- Day 10 Trashigang-Tashiyangtse-Trashigang: We drive to Tashiyangtse today. As we reach there, we will witness the illustrious Chorten Kora said to have been built by entombing alive a princess. Trashiyangtse is also famous for woodwork, hosts the institute of art and craft in its main town, and is the habitat of the rare Ludlow’s Bhutan Swallowtail butterfly and Black-Necked Crane.
- Day 11 Trashigang town-North Trashigang-Trashigang town: As we reach Trashigang, we visit Rangjung Monastery, the biggest centre of Nyingma Buddhism in the district. After interacting with the monks at the monastery, we drive further up to the village of Radhi, the rice bowl of eastern Bhutan, where we meet women weaving raw silk cloth pieces known as bura. After lunch, we drive further up the mountain to see the lifestyles of a tribe and then return to our hotel in Trashigang town
- Day 12 Trashigang–Samdrup Jongkhar: The last metaphorical mile of our tour, the drive to the one among the few southern gateway of Bhutan is tiring yet scenic. En route we will see an ancient temple at Yonphu famed for its unique mask dances. After few stopovers at some temples, we enter the humid zone, Samdrup Jongkhar.
- Day 13: Samdrupjongkhar After breakfast, after driving the darned traffic of the Indian highways, we reach the Indian airport. Upon reaching there, we bid farewell to see one another time.