Journey Through Druk Yul – 12 Days/11 Nights

This journey takes you to four distinctly different, as well as breathtakingly beautiful valleys with lush green paddy fields, incredulous fortress-like monasteries known as Dzongs and majestically flowing rivers.

Day 1: Arrival, Paro valley sightseeing, o/n Paro

Day 2: Paro sightseeing, o/n Paro

Day 3: Transfer to Punakha, o/n Punakha

Day 4: Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang sightseeing, o/n Punakha

Day 5: Transfer to Bumthang, o/n Bumthang

Day 6: Full day Bumthang sightseeing, o/n Bumthang

Day 7: Bumthang sightseeing, o/n Bumthang

Day 8: Transfer to Gangtey, o/n Gangtey

Day 9: Gangtey valley sightseeing, transfer to Thimphu in the evening, o/n Thimphu

Day 10: Thimphu sightseeing, o/n Thimphu

Day 11: Transfer to Paro, o/n Paro

Day 12: Departure

 

Detailed Program

DAY 1: Arrival

Kuzuzangpola – Welcome to Bhutan!

The flight to Paro is an experience like no other.

During the journey, you will get inspiringly beautiful glimpses of some of the world’s most famous Himalayan peaks.

At the airport, our staff will welcome you and escort you to your hotel.

Check in and begin the sightseeing with the Ta-Dzong, the National Museum (closed on Sundays and Mondays, and government holidays). The Ta-Dzong was originally the watchtower for the Paro Dzong and stands imposingly on a hillock overlooking the Paro valley. A short visit here will give you an idea of the cultural and ecological richness of Bhutan.

Ramble down to visit the Paro Rinpung Dzong, which means,“the fortress of the heap of jewels,” and then to Dungtse Lhakhang by crossing Namai Zampa (a traditional cantilever bridge).

Overnight: Hotel in Paro.

 

DAY 2: Paro sightseeing

The main highlight of the day is the hike to one of Bhutan’s most venerated pilgrimage sites, the Taktsang Goemba, commonly referred to as the “Tiger’s Nest.”

According to legend, Guru Rinpoche miraculously flew here on the back of a tigress, meditated in a cave here for three months and converted the whole of Paro valley to Buddhism. Resting at an altitude of 900 meters above the valley, Taktsang is an architectural wonder and the spectacular four hour walk will be your most overwhelming experience ever.

Drive on to visit Drukgyel Dzong (the ruined fortress about 17 km from the town), built in 1647 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetans in 1644.Drukgyel means “the fortress of the victorious Drukpas”. The Dzong, with a delightful village nestling at its foot and Mount Jumolhari (Alt 24,000 feet) appearing as a backdrop on a fine weather is an awe-inspiring sight.

On the way back, stop at one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, the Kyichu Lhakhang built in the 13th century by the famous Buddhist Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo.

Overnight: Hotel in Paro.

 

DAY 3: Paro to Punakha, Drive ~ 4 hours

Drive on to the beautiful valley of Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan.

After a dramatic two hours drive, the zigzag course of the road brings you to Dochula, a beautiful mountain pass (alt 3,140 m) with its fluttering prayer flags and a spectacular set of 108 miniature chortens (stupas). On a clear day, you will get awe-inspiring glimpses of the towering Himalayan peaks around.

Lunch at the Dochula cafeteria.

The remaining part of the drive is mostly a gradual descent into Punakha valley. Check into your hotel and begin sightseeing.

Start with the Punakha Dzong, strategically built between two rivers, the Phochu (Male River) and the Mochu (Female River). The Punakha Dzong is currently the winter residence of the Je-Khenpo (the religious leader of Bhutan).

This is followed by an evening hike to Khamsum Yule Namgyel Chorten, a shrine built by the Queen Mother of Bhutan. It’s a brief 30-40 minutes’ walk uphill through terraces of paddy fields, chilly plantations, etc.

Overnight: Hotel in Punakha

 

DAY 4: Drive to Wangdue Phodrang, Drive ~45 minutes

Visit Chimi Lhakhang in the village of Lobesa (~20 minutes from Punakha), the auspicious fertility temple built by the famous divine madman, Drukpa Kinley. It’s a beautiful 30 minute walk amidst paddy fields and typical Bhutanese houses. Stop at some of the local village homes here to get a feel of the traditional Bhutanese way of living. The temple is beautifully perched on a small hilltop overlooking the entire village.

Take a drive to the small town of Wangdue Phodrang. Right before arriving Wangdue Phodrang, you will catch a glimpse of the very distinctive Rinchengang village whose inhabitants are all celebrated stonemasons.

Overnight: Hotel in Wangdue or Punakha

 

DAY 5: Drive to Bumthang, Drive ~ 7 hours

Take an early morning drive to Bumthang via Trongsa.

Lunch on the way. Once in Trongsa, visit the magnificent Trongsa Dzong. Continue the drive to Bumthang (~68 km and the drive takes about 2-3 hours).

Overnight: Hotel in Bumthang

 

DAY 6: Bumthang

Full day hike to Tang valley and visit the Ugyencholing Museum. On the way back, visit the Jambay Lhakhang and the Kurjey lhakang. There’s a body print of the great Buddhist master Guru Rinpoche on a rock inside the main temple, known as the old Kurjey Lhakhang.

In the evening, attend an hour long meditation session in the Namkhai Ngyinpo Monastery in Bumthang.

Overnight: Hotel in Bumthang

 

DAY 7: Bumthang sightseeing

Drive to Kurjey lhakhang and from there, walk across the wooden bridge to the other side of the Chamkhar river and visit the Padma Sambhava Monastery and the Kenchok Sum Monastery and many other small temples and farm houses. At the Kenchok Sum Monastery, you will find statues of the three Buddhas (past, present, future). Drive to the hotel for lunch.

After lunch, visit the historical Jakar Dzong built by Minjur Tenpa, the third Druk Desi (Temporal ruler ) in 1646 A.D. It was later renovated and expanded by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay, the fourth Desi of Bhutan in 1683 A.D. It is probably one of the biggest Dzongs in Bhutan with the surrounding walls about 1 km in circumference.

Overnight: Hotel in Bumthang

 

DAY 8: Drive to Gangtey (Phobjikha valley), Drive ~ 5 hours

After breakfast, drive to Mebar Tsho “The burning Lake”, which is considered to be one of the most important pilgrimage spots in Bhutan.

In the afternoon, drive to Gangtey valley (also known as Phobjikha valley). Gangtey is a beautiful valley of rolling hills and green meadows surrounded by snowcapped mountains. It is situated at an altitude of 3000 m. It is also the winter home for the famous Black Necked Cranes who migrate here during the winter months.

Overnight: Hotel in Gangtey.

 

DAY 9: Gangtey to Thimphu, Drive ~ 5 ½ hours

In the morning, visit the Black Necked Crane center and the impressive Gangtey Goemba overlooking the lush green valley of Phobjikha and proceed for the drive to Thimphu.

Overnight: Hotel in Thimphu

 

DAY 10: Thimphu sightseeing

Begin the day’s sightseeing with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten. The National Memorial Chorten was built in 1974 in memory of the late Third Druk Gyalpo (King) of Bhutan. At the chorten, you will find an extraordinary depiction of Buddhist teachings in the form of paintings and sculptures.

Visit the Changangkha Lhakhang. Built in the 13th century by Lam Phajom Drugom Zhigpo, Changangkha Lhakhang is one of the oldest temples in Thimphu. The temple is considered to be the spiritual home of all children born in the Chang valley.

Visit the post office in town to see/buy a wondrous collection of Bhutanese stamps and postcards.

Visit the Folk Heritage Museum. Built in 2001, the Folk Heritage Museum gives a glimpse of how life was lived in a Bhutanese village a hundred years ago.

Visit the National Textile Museum. Built in 2001, the National Textile Museum offers an in-depth look into the Bhutanese art form of weaving. You can see examples of weaving techniques from different areas of Bhutan, as well as styles of local dress and textiles made by local people. A small group of weavers usually work their looms inside the shop giving you the chance to see weaving firsthand.

Drive up to Sangaygang hill/BBS tower. The best place for photographers is perhaps a visit to the Sangaygang hill or the BBS tower. A short drive from the town, the hill provides visitors with an opportunity to pause and reflect in the hustle-bustle of a busy city-life. You can also have a panoramic view of the valley. On the way back you can visit the small zoo dedicated to the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan.

Visit Tashichhodzong. Tashichhodzong means ‘the fortress of the glorious religion.’ It is a majestic fortress in all its grandeur and serves as the seat of Bhutan’s government. The Dzong houses the secretariat, the throne room, the offices of His Majesty the King and the ministries of home affairs and finance. The fortress was initially erected in 1641 and later rebuilt in the 1960s by the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.

Overnight: Hotel in Thimphu

 

DAY 11: Thimphu sightseeing, transfer to Paro

Visit the National Institute of Traditional Medicine. The rich herbal medicines made from medicinal plants abundant in the kingdom are prepared and dispensed here.  The Institute is also a training school for traditional medicine practitioners. The complex is closed to visitors due to considerations of hygiene, but one can still walk around and visit the showroom.

Visit the Paper Factory. At the paper factory, you can watch the workers make traditional paper from the daphne plant. Traditional Bhutanese paper (called ‘Desho’) is said to last longer than regular paper.

Visit the National Library. The National Library was established in the late 1960s primarily to conserve the literary treasures which form a significant part of Bhutan’s cultural heritage. It now houses an extensive collection of Buddhist literature mostly in block-printed format, with some works that are several hundred years old. There is also a small collection of foreign book mainly comprising works written in English. On display is also the world’s biggest book (which was on Bhutan).

Semtokha Dzong is the first dzong built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1629. There are over 300 finely worked slate carvings behind the prayer wheels in the courtyard of the dzong. Currently, the Institute for Language and Cultural Studies is located at the dzong.

Transfer to Paro valley. In Paro, visit the Dungtse Lhakhang. The unusual Dungtse Lhakhang is conceived as a ‘mandala’ with the different floors corresponding to different levels of initiation and has a remarkable collection of some of Bhutan’s most interesting paintings.

Visit the Dzongdakhra Lhakhangs. The Dzongdakhra Lhakhangs is often called the ‘mini-Taktsang’ since the lhakhangs are built on the cliffs above Bondey village in Paro. The hike up is not as strenous as the hike to Taktsang. Legend has it that one of the temples was built around a levitating monument to keep the levitating monument from flying away into the sky.

Overnight: Hotel in Paro

 

DAY 12: International departure

TASHI DELEK!

 

Our package includes:

1. Accommodation in the best standard hotels available on twin sharing basis

2. All meals and evening tea

3. All transfers and sightseeing as per itinerary (itinerary is flexible)

4. Private English speaking tour guide

5. All fees (including visa)

6. Private vehicle and driver

NOTE: We can also make arrangements for you to see/participate in a traditional archery match.