Glimpse of Bhutan

Bhutan or the “Land of the Peaceful Dragon” is a country of sprawling forests, venerated monasteries, overpowering fortresses; lush green valleys fed by bountiful rivers and age-old practices. Cultivated fields surrounded by pitched roof houses with their typical trefoil-shape windows and Dzongs (fortresses) dominate the scenery with their sheer size. Its people are hardworking, vibrantly attired and deeply religious while the land is immaculate.

Undoubtedly, Bhutan is home to many spiritual dzongs, fortresses and monasteries and this itinerary is ideal for many tourists wanting to visit these hermitages and interact with the monks and residents within a stipulated time. Out of the many breathtaking sights one of the most striking is the Taktsang monastery that is suspended on the side of a vertical cliff 3000m north of Paro. Also known as Tiger’s Nest, it is the unofficial symbol of Bhutan. A pilgrimage site for both tourists and locals, keeping the spirituality aside, it is moreover a hiker’s delight. Hiking up to a wooden teahouse provides you a close view of the monastery and is a complete joy for photographers.

Day 01:  Arrive in Paro and drive to Thimphu
Distance: 53 kms/ 32 miles
Drive Time: 1 hour approx.
Altitude: 2,350 m / 7,709 ft

On arrival at the Paro International airport, our representative will receive and escort you to the hotel in Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. The drive takes you through the winding road with lots of beautiful hamlets. Visit Simtokha Dzong on the way; later visit Tashichho Dzong in Thimphu.

According to a legend, Simtokha Dzong was constructed to subdue an evil spirit, that was harassing the people in the region, and to guard the place. Simtokha is believed to be the first dzong built in Bhutan and is the gateway to Thimphu valley.
Once in Thimphu visit Tashichho Dzong. This dzong is an impressive building also known as ‘the fortress of the Dharma Raja’. It has traditionally been the seat of the Druk Desi, the head of Bhutan’s civil government.
Note: Tashichho Dzong is open during weekdays after office hours (5pm onwards) and from 9am to 5pm on weekends.
Overnight at Hotel [-/L/D]

Day 02:  In Thimphu, Day excursion to Punakha
Distance: 76kms/ 47 miles
Drive Time: 3 hours approx (each way)
Altitude: 1,300 m / 4,265 ft

Today we will drive to Punakha, enroute we will visit Dochula pass and upon reaching Punakha we will visit Chimi Lakhang and Punakha Dzong.

On the way to Punakha from Thimphu, the Dochula Pass offers a 360-degree of beautiful panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range, especially on clear winter days.

Chimi Lhakhang flanked with hundreds of prayer flags sits on a round hillock near Punakha. The monastery, built in 1499 is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kinley, also known as ‘the Divine Madman’ or the ‘Mad Saint”. He is also the saint who advocated the use of phallus symbols as paintings on walls and carved wooden phalluses on house tops.

The majestic Punakha Dzong, also known as ‘the palace of great happiness or bliss’ is the second largest dzong in Bhutan. Constructed on the 8th day and 8th month of the Fire ox year in 1673, the Punakha dzong was the administrative center and the seat of the Government of Bhutan until 1955, when the capital was moved to Thimphu.

Drive back to Thimphu and transfer to your hotel.

Overnight at Hotel [B/L/D]

Day 03:  In Thimphu and drive to Paro
Distance: 53 kms/ 32 miles
Drive Time: 1 hour approx.
Altitude: 2,250 m / 7,382 ft

After breakfast at the hotel, visit Folk heritage museum, Institute of traditional medicine, Memorial Chorten, national library of Bhutan in Thimphu. Drive to Paro; once in Paro visit The national museum of Bhutan and Paro Dzong.

The Folk Heritage museum is set inside a 19th century three-storied traditional building and was established in 2001. The museum houses different tools, materials, objects, equipments and artifacts from rural Bhutanese households and gives a good insight of the traditional Bhutanese lifestyle.

National Institute of Traditional Medicine: Established in 1988, the National Institute of Traditional Medicine strives to merge the allopathic and traditional systems of healing.

The Memorial Chorten, also known as the Thimphu Chorten is a large Tibetan-style Buddhist monastery with golden spires and bells. It is a popular landmark and one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu.

The national library of Bhutan is a four-storied eight-cornered traditional building, which looks like the central tower temple of a Bhutanese Dzong.

After the sightseeing in Thimphu, drive to Paro.  In Paro visit the national museum of Bhutan and Paro Dzong.
The national museum of Bhutan is a unique circular building also known as Ta-dzong which is an ancient watchtower above the Paro Dzong.

Paro Dzong, also known as Ringpung Dzong means ‘Fortress on a heap of jewels’. This impressive dzong is the finest example of Bhutanese architecture and is one of the most popular and well known dzongs in Bhutan.
Overnight at Hotel [B/L/D]

Day 04:  In Paro
Hike Duration: 4.5 hours approx. (round trip)

Today we will hike to Taktsang monastery and later visit Drukgyel Dzong and Kyichu Lakhang Taktsang monastery: Perched on the side of a vertical cliff at 3000 m altitude north of Paro, the beautiful Taktsang monastery also known as the ‘Tiger’s Nest’ is the most famous and an unofficial symbol of Bhutan.

The Drukgyel Dzong was an administrative centre till 1951, until a fire caused by a butter lamp engulfed the Dzong and completely destroyed it. All that remains of the Dzong now are tokens of a haunted house, still robust walls and charred remains of gigantic wooden posts and beams.

Kyichu Lhakhang: Located close to the Paro Airport, the Kyichu Lhakhang is an important Himalayan Buddhist Temple. Built in the 7th century, this is one of Bhutan’s oldest religious sites in Bhutan. Overnight at Hotel [B/L/D]

Day 05:  Final Departure
Today you will be transferred to the airport for your onward journey. [B]
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