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Depth of Bhutan
Nights / 15 Days)
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01 : Arrive Paro by Druk Air
On a clear day, the flight to Paro is one of the most
spectacular of all mountain flights. You will see major
Himalayan peaks such as Everest, Kanchenjunga and Makalu,
and then on the final approach to Paro, Bhutan’s snowy
peaks, Chomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tserimgang will come
into view. Bhutan’s first gift to you as you disembark
from the aircraft will be cool, clean fresh mountain
air. You will be met by our representative, and after
completion of arrival formalities will be taken to your
Afternoon free for activities or at leisure.
In the evening, take a stroll around Paro market.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 02 : Paro
Paro is a most picturesque valley, with quaint hamlets
clustered amidst terraced paddy fields. The town still
maintains tradition by way of its architecture and
simple way of life.
In the morning, visit to Ta Dzong, formerly a watchtower
but now housing the National Museum. Ta Dzong holds
unique and varied collections, ranging from ancient
armor to textiles, thangkha paintings, stamps, coins,
and natural history. Then walk down a hillside trail to
visit Paro Dzong (Rinpung Dzong) built in 1646 during
the time of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It now houses
Paro’s monk body and the offices of the civil
After lunch, drive up valley to Drukgyel Dzong or “the
Fort of Drukpa Victory”. In former times, the
Bhutanese repelled invasions by Tibetan from this
fortress. Though largely destroyed by fire in 1951, the
ruins still present an imposing sight. On a clear day,
there is a splendid view of Bhutan’s sacred mountain,
Chomolhari from the approach road to Drukgyel Dzong.
Also visit a traditional Bhutanese houses in the village
nestled below the Dzong. Then head back towards Paro
town, en route visiting Kyichu Lhakhang, established in
the 7th century, and one of the two oldest shrines in
the kingdom (the other is in Bumthang), reflecting the
introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 03 : Paro – Thimphu (55 km, 2 hours drive)
After breakfast drive to Thimphu, the modern capital
town, passing through idyllic countryside, with villages
and paddy fields on either side of the road. En route
visit Simtokha Dzong, one of the oldest fortresses of
the country, which now houses the Institute for Language
and Culture studies.
Afternoon sightseeing in Thimphu valley, visiting:
Trashichho Dzong, the seat of the government: the
National Memorial Chorten, within which there are finely
executed wall paintings and delicately fashioned statues
which provide deep insight into Buddhist philosophy: and
the Handicrafts Emporium, which displays a wide range of
the traditional handicrafts for which Bhutan is
renowned. You may also be able to catch a game of
archery in progress at the Changlimethang sports ground,
just below the town.
Take an early evening stroll around the market area
before dinner. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 04 : Thimphu – Punakha (75 km, 3 hours drive)
In the morning, visit the following: the National
Library, with its extensive collection of priceless
Buddhist manuscripts; the Institute for Zorig Chusum
(commonly known as the Painting School) where students
undergo a 6-year training course in Bhutan’s 13
traditional arts and crafts; the National Institute of
Traditional Medicine (outside only), where Bhutan’s
famed traditional herbal medicines are compounded and
After lunch, proceed to Punakha across Dochu-la pass
(3,088m/10,130 ft). The highest point on the road is
marked by a large Bhutanese Chorten and prayer flags
fluttring on the hill. On a clear day, there is a
breathtaking view over the high peaks of the eastern
Himalayas from this spot.
Check into the hotel on reaching Punakha. Until 1955,
Punakha served as the capital town of Bhutan and it is
still the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot).
Visit Punakha Dzong, built by Shabdrng Ngawang Namgyal
in the 17th century and situated at the junction of Pho
Chu and Mo Chu rivers. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 05 : Punakha – Wangduephodrang – Gangtey (Phobjikha)
(70 km, 3 hours drive)
After breakfast, drive to Wangduephodrang and visit the Dzong
which is perched on a spur at the confluence of two
rivers. The position of 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 bamboo work, stone carvings, and slate
which is mined up a valley, a few kilometers from the
Then drive up a winding mountain road through oak and
rhododendron forest, and over a high pass down into the
Phobjikha valley, surely one of the loveliest high
altitude valleys in Bhutan. Phobjikha is one of the few
glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black necked
cranes, migrating from the Tibetan plateau. Explore
Phobjikha valley and also visit Gangtey Gompa
(monastery), the only Nyingmapa monastery in western
Day 06 : Gangtey (Phobjikha) – Trongsa (120 km,
4.1/2 hours drive)
In the morning explore Phobjikha valley, hopefully
sighting some black necked cranes, if you are there at
the right time of year. Later, drive to Trongsa across
Pele-la pass (3,300m/10,830 ft). This pass is
traditionally considered the boundary between western
and central Bhutan. Further down the road, stop to visit
Chendbji Chorten erected in the 18th century by a
Tibetan lama to cover the remains of an evil spirit that
was subdued at this spot. It is built in the Nepalese
style, with painted eyes at the four cardinal points.
The landscape around Trongsa is spectacular and its
impressive Dzong, stretched along a ridge above a
ravine, first comes into view about an hour before the
winding road suddenly leads you into the town. On
arrival, check into the lodge. Overnight at the lodge in
Day 07 : Trongsa – Bumthang (Jakar) (68 km, 3 hours
Morning visit to Trongsa Dzong. Built in 1647 by the
Shabdrung, it is the most impressive Dzong in Bhutan.
Then visit Ta Dzong on the hillside above the town,
built as a watchtower to guard Trongsa.
After lunch, proceed to Bumthang, one of the most
spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the holy
heartland of Buddhism. The 68 km, journey takes about 3
hours. The road winds steeply up to Yutong-la pass
(3,400m/11,155 ft), then runs down through dense
coniferous forest to enter a wide, open, cultivated
valley, known as Chumey valley. From here it is about an
hour to Bumthang, a most pleasant run in the soft, late
Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.
Day 08 : Bumthang
Bumthang is the general name given to group of four
valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitude
varying from 2,600m to 4,000m / 8,520 to 13,125 ft.
In the morning, we will visit Kurje Lhakhang, one of the
most sacred places in the kingdom as Bhutan’s
“patron saint”, Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava)
meditated here. From Kurje monastery, a tarmac road
heads south along the right bank of the river to Jambey
Lhakhang. This temple, erected by the Tibetan King
Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century, is one of the two
oldest in Bhutan (the other being Kyichu Lhakhang in
After lunch, we will visit Tamshing lhakhang, founded in
1501 by Pema Lingpa. It contains interesting and ancient
Buddhist wall paintings. Later on we will visit Jakar Dzong,
“the Dzong of the white bird”, then take a stroll
through Bumthang’s market area before returning to the
Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.
Day 09 : Bumthang – Mongar (198 km, 7 hours drive)
The journey continues eastwards, winding through more
rugged terrain. The drive to Mongar takes about 6hours
with spectacular view en route. We will drive up into
the hills above the valley and then past Ura village,
before climbing sharpely to the highest point on
Bhutan’s motorable road network, Thrumshing-la pass
From here, the road gradually descends to the alpine
valley of Sengor, with wonderful views of cascading
waterfalls and the hills of eastern Bhutan along the
way. Vegetation changes from alpine to subtropical with
the loss of height, and bamboos and luxuriant ferns
overhang the road as we drop down to the valley floor.
The descent stops at 700m/2,300ft, where we cross the
Kurichu river. We ascend again through pine forests,
maize fields and eastern hamlets to reach Mongar town,
high on a gentle slope above the valley.
Picnic lunch at a scenic spot en route to Mongar.
We visit Mongar Dzong, built in the 1930s and one of
Bhutan’s newest Dzongs, but constructed in the same
way as all previous Dzongs, without either plans or the
use of nails. Overnight at the lodge in Mongar.
Day 10 : Mongar – Trashigang (96 km, 3 hours drive)
This trip of about 96 km takes only 3 hours. The first
part of the journey is through leafy forest filled with
ferns. After driving through the Kori-la pass
(2,450m/8,040ft), marked by a pretty chorten and a mani
wall, we descend rapidly through corn fields and banana
groves to reach the famous road zigzags just below Yadi,
a fairly recent and now fast growing settlement.
After zigzagging down the hillside, the road east along
the Gamri river. A turnoff on the left-side up to
Drametse. The temple, perched on top of a steep hill
above the village, was founded by Choeden Zangmo and is
the most important monastery of eastern Bhutan. This is
the place of origin of the famous Drametse Nga Chham, a
masked dance with druns. About 30km. Onwards lies
Trashigang (1,100m/3,610ft), which clings to a steep
hillside above the Gamri river. Trashigang is the
principal township of the biggest and most populated
district in the country.
After lunch, we will visit Trashigang Dzong, standing at
the extreme end of a rocky outcrop far above the river
gorge. It serves as the administrative seat for the
district and part of the Dzong is occupied by the local
Drukpa monastic community.
Overnight at the lodge in Trashigang.
Day 11 : Trahigang (Excursion to Trashiyangtse)
After breakfast, we visit the temple of Gom Kora, set on
a small alluvial plateau, overlooking the river, 24 km
from Trashigang. Gom Kora is a famous place, as Guru
Rinpoche is said to have subdued a demon here, trapping
it in a rock. We continue on down the road to Doksum
village, where you can see women busily weaving
traditional Bhutanese fabric, and a chainlink swing
bridge dating back to the 15th century. The road turns
into the hills here, running up the side of a winding
river valley to Trashiyangtse.
In former times, Trashiyangtse was an important center
because it lies on one of the carvan routes leading from
western and central Bhutan. Trasiyangtse is now a
rapidly growing town and the administrative center for
this district. The area is famous for its wooden
containers and bowls, which make inexpensive, attractive
and useful souvenirs of a visit to this remote region.
We will visit Trashiyangtse Dzong, which overlooks the
town and was built in the late 1990s when the new
district was created. If tme permits, we will also visit
the dazzling white stupa of Chorten Kora on the
riverbank below the town.
In the evening, we return to Trashigang. Overnight at
the lodge in Trashigang.
Day 12 : Trashigang – Mongar (91 km, 3 hours drive)
Morning at leisure. Later drive to Mongar.
Overnight at the lodge in Mongar.
Day 13 : Mongar – Bumthang (198 km, 7 hours drive)
After breakfast proceed to Bumthang en route taking
short stop at scenic spots. Overnight at the lodge in
Day 14 : Bumthang – Punakha (205 km, 6 hours drive)
Morning after visiting Bumthang market, drive to Punakha
. Lunch would be served enroute at one of the famous
restaurant in Trongsa town.
Enroute at Wangduephodrang take a short break for tea /
coffee and then proceed to Punakha hotel for overnight
Arrive Thimphu and check into the hotel. Dinner and
overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 15 : Punakha – Paro (125 km, 4.1/2 hours drive)
Morning free time in Punakha. After lunch drive to Paro
for overnight stay.
Day 16 : Depart Paro
After breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport for
flight to onward destination.
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