Myth of Central Bhutan

13 nights and 14 days

Day 01: Paro-Thimphu

The flight to Paro offers magnificent sight of some of the highest peaks in the world and provides a scenic view of the Paro valley as you land. One can get a glimpse of Mt. Everest, Kanchen Junga, Makalu and other peaks in Bhutan such as Jomolhari, Jichu Drakey and Tsrim Khang. The first gift from Bhutan will be cool, clean fresh air as you step out of the plane. After clearing immigration and customs, you will be received by our representative from Vajrayana Tours and Travels and driven to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital city. The journey from Paro to Thimphu takes approximately an hour and a half.

After lunch, we will explore the town, visit shops and the Handicrafts Emporium, where Bhutanese textiles and other handicrafts are available. Visit the national textile museum. Visit the General Post Office and purchase the world’s most beautiful postage stamps, collector’s items and postcards at face value.

Drive to Sangyegang viewpoint from here you could see the entire Thimphu valley. On way back, stop at the the Takin (National animal and endangered species) preserve. En route, visit the Zilukha nunnery.

Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.

Day 02: Thimphu

The second day starts with exploring Thimphu. We will visit the National Library which has a vast collection of ancient manuscripts and religious artifacts, and see the ancient manuscripts preserved there. Visit the Institute of Art & Painting school where traditional painting and other crafts are still practiced. Visit the Indigenous Hospital where the traditional medicine are made and ancient healing arts are still practiced.

Visit Tashichho Dzong, the main Government Secretariat building, which houses the government ministries, the Office of His Majesty the King and the Throne Room, and the offices and living quarters of the monk body. Observe traditional paper making from Daphnia and Edgeworthia shrub to the finished product and maybe purchase some beautiful writing sets from the factory. Drive to Buddha point.

Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.

Day 03: Thimphu – Punakha

This morning you will be transferred to Punakha by road. En route pass the Semtokha Dzong built in 1629, the oldest fortress of its kind that guarded the Thimphu valley, and which today it is a Theological university. Continue ascending to Dochu La (3150m pass) to view the 108 Stupas, commissioned by the Queen Mother as a memorial to those who lost their lives during the low intensity conflict in late 2002 when Bhutan evicted Indian rebels camped in the jungle on the Bhutan – Indian border. On a clear day, you will witness a breathtaking view of the eastern Himalayas covered with snow.

Further drive to Punakha and visit Punakha Dzong. The Dzong is located at the convergence of two rivers, the Pho-chu (Male river) & Mo-chu (Female river). In the evening you will be taken for short hike to the famous Devine Madman’s Monastery, the Chimi Lhakhang(Temple). The temple is regarded as a sanctum of fertility and most childless couples usually make a visit to this temple to seek the fertility blessings.

Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.

Day 04: Punakha – Trongsa

After breakfast, we will drive to Trongsa. The road will climb all the way to the Pele-la pass. It is a landmark between east & west, and from here we will drive on to Trongsa. On the way we will come across Yak herders camps and encounter Yaks especially during winter and if we are lucky we might spot some Brown Monkeys (Rhesus Macaques). We will see high Himalayan villages like Rukubji and Chendebji. All the houses cluster at one place and fields at another.

The road then descends through Rukubji village further down to Chendebji village. Here you will see the 18th century Nepalese style stupa built by saint Shida. The drive to Trongsa from here is about an hour and half with great views of the historical Dzong and valley.

Overnight at the hotel in Trongsa.

Day 05: Trongsa – Bumthang

In the morning after breakfast, we will visit Trongsa Dzong. It was built at different periods on a spur overlooking the Mangdu-Chu River and it is one of the longest & most impressive Dzongs in Bhutan. How did Trongsa get its name? Well many centuries ago, the horse of Palden Lhamo (Bhutan’s guardian deity) appeared before Lam Naggi Wangchuk who has settled in this village of yueli, a few kilometers above today’s fortress of Trongsa. For Naggi Wangchuk, the presence of Lhamo-Pal den’s horse was an auspicious event. In order to immortalize the miraculous event, he built a small meditation hut and started to meditate there, gradually more and more meditating huts arose nearby & the place looked more like a village. People of Yueli called it Trongsa (New Village) and the name stuck.

After lunch, we will take a stroll through Trongsa town. The afternoon drive to Bumthang will climb all the way to the Yotong la pass. It will be the highest pass on your trip to Bhutan. After the pass we will go down through the Chhumey valley. This valley is famous for yathra (textiles woven from yak and sheep wool) weaving in central Bhutan. We will stop here for tea and snacks and watch the weavers  in action.

Overnight at the hotel in Bumthang.

Day 06: Bumthang

After breakfast make a hike to Thangbi Mani countryside. It is a very easy trail and we will come across a few villages. Here, they have a very old monastery & the local community school. The old women of this region still wear sheepskin shawls on their backs which double as a blanket and cushion.

After lunch, we will visit Jambay Lhakhang and Kurjey Lhakhang, these are the oldest two monasteries in the kingdom and all the Kings of Bhutan are cremated at Kurjey Lhakhang. We will then go to Tamshing Lhakhang and the Swiss Cheese Processing Unit. Here they produce cheese, apple juice and herbal brandies etc. Afterwards, simply spend the time relaxing at the hotel or enjoy a hot stone bath.

In the evening, explore Bumthang town both on foot and by vehicle.

Overnight at the hotel in Bumthang.

Day 07: Bumthang

Today, we will take an excursion trip to the Ura valley that takes us across blue pine forests & wonderful views of the Bumthang valleys. On the way, we will visit the Mebartso (meaning burning lake) which is one of the many sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites.

Ura is one of the most beautiful and the highest valley in Bumthang. Visit Ura Lhakhang, which will give you an insight into the lifestyle of the people of central Bhutan. Visit some local houses in Ura village and understand their daily way of life.

Overnight at the hotel in Bumthang.

Day 08: Bumthang – Gangtey

After breakfast, drive to Gangtey valley. On reaching Gangtey, we will visit Gangtey Gompa (Monastery), the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan. In the evening, relax and enjoy a hot stone bath.

Overnight at the hotel  or camp under the stars.

Day 09: Gangtey

In the morning we will explore Phobjikha valley, hopefully sighting some black-necked cranes, if you are there at the right time of year. Phobjikha is one of the most beautiful glacial valleys of the Himalayas. Phobjikha valley is the chosen winter home (late October to early February) of rare black-necked cranes, migrating from the Tibetan plateau. These cranes are very rare and endangered and highly protected by the Government. The cranes circumambulate three times in a clock-wise direction around Gangtey Gompa as a reverence to the monastery before landing and before flying back to Tibet in early spring. In the afternoon, hike the Gangtey Nature Trail and visit the carpet factory.

Overnight at the hotel  or camp under the stars.

Day 10: Gangtey – Thimphu

Drive back to Thimphu and en route, visit the Wangdi Dzong built in 1939, it is perched on a spur at the confluence of two rivers. The position of the Dzong is remarkable as it completely covers the spur and commands an impressive view both up and down the valley. Wangdue district is famous for its fine bamboo work, stone carvings, and slate which is mined up a valley a few kilometers from the town.

Overnight in Thimphu.

Day 11: Thimphu – Paro

In the morning, we will visit the Memorial Chorten built in 1974 to honor the memory of the Late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, popularly known as the Father of Modern Bhutan. Afterwards, shop for souvenirs. Then in the afternoon, drive to Paro.

In the evening, explore Paro town both on foot and by vehicle.

Overnight in Paro.

Day 12: Paro

In the morning, hike up to the Taktsang monastery (Also known as Tiger’s Nest). Built amazingly on a cliff (perched 900m above the floor of Paro Valley), it brings pride to the Bhutanese about the work of their ancestors. The most important architecture and one of the holiest place in Buddhist world which dates back to 8th century, it is said that Guru Padmasambava arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery and hence, it is called ‘Tiger’s Nest’. Choose between a 2 hour round trip hike to the Monastery viewpoint or a longer 3-4 hour and more strenuous hike into the Monastery itself.

After lunch, if time permits, take a quick visit to Kyichu Lhakhang – one of Bhutan’s oldest and most beautiful temples boasting an orange tree that perpetually bears fruit. Kyichu Lhakhang was built in 7th century by Tibetan king to subdue giant ogress in the eastern Himalayan region in order to propagate the religion. Afterwards, simply spend the time relaxing at the hotel or enjoy a well earned massage or hot stone bath.

In the evening, visit weaving centre and souvenir shopping in Paro town.

Overnight in Paro valley.

Day 13: Paro

This morning, we will go to Drugyel Dzong which is about 18 km away from Paro town. You have an option to ride a bike or go in a car. We will visit the ruined fortress of Drugyel Dzong. The name Drugyel means “Victorious”. The Dzong was built in 1649 AD to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders and it formed one of the chains of defensive fortresses against Tibetan invasion. On a clear day, you will have a spectacular view of Mount Jomolhari.

Picnic lunch at Drugyal Dzong and farm house visit.

Afterwards, visit to Ta-Dzong built in the 17th century, as watchtower to defend Paro Dzong below. This Ta-Dzong was converted into the National Museum in 1968, and it is filled with antique Thangka paintings, textiles, weapons and armour. Drive to the Rinpung Dzong built in the 17th century to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. The Dzong is now used as an administration center and school for monks.  Every Dzong has dual system together with the religion section

Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 14: Departure

Representative from Vajrayana tours and travels will see you off