Festival Tour

DAY 1: ARRIVR PARO (2280m) & DRIVE TO THIMPHU: 65KM/APPROX 1HR
Flight into Paro with Druk Air, Bhutan’s national Airline is spectacular. The flight takes you over the great Himalayas, offering most beautiful scenery of the world’s highest peaks. As you enter Paro valley, you will see the Paro Dzong (fortress) on the hillside overlooking the Paro Chu (river), with Ta Dzong, formerly a watch tower and now National Museum, above it. On arrival you will be greeted by our representative and drive to Thimphu.
The first stop will allow us to view the magnificent Tachocho Lhakhang, the hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s Iron Bridge Builder and further drive we will reach to Chuzom marks by the confluence of Paro Chu (river) and the Wang chu. Opposite of us, at the confluence, are three protecting chortens each built in a different style. Evening stroll through the market and mingle with the local people, visit shops and weekend market.

Overnight stay at hotel, Thimphu.

DAY 2: THIMPHU (2320m)
Today’s exploration of Thimphu begins we will take with visit to National Memorial Chorten, a stupa dedicated to world peace and prosperity in 1974 in memory of the Third King of Bhutan; the Kingdom’s rich culture at the National Library; the National Institute of Zorig Chusum where students undergo training course in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts; Folk Heritage Museum which will provide an insight into traditional Bhutanese farm house and rural past through exhibits and documentation of rural life.
After lunch visit Changangkha Lhakhang, a fortress likes temple which lies perched on a ridge above Thimphu; Taken Preserve to see the rare national animal of Bhutan. This animal is chosen as the national animal of Bhutan for its uniqueness and its association with the country’s religious history and mythology. A further drive towards the BBS tower will provide a bird’s eye view of the capital; visit nunnery temple and followed by a visit to Tashichho Dzong or “the fortress of the glorious religion” which is Bhutan’s administration and religious centre and houses the throne room of His Majesty the King of Bhutan, other Government offices. It is also the summer residence of Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. Overnight stay at hotel, Thimphu.

DAY 3 & 4: THIMPHU FESTIVAL
It is not necessary that whole three days you have to spend in Thimphu festival we can tailor the itinerary depending on your interest and requirement. Please ask us, we are happy to amend your itinerary. Overnight stay at hotel, Thimphu.
One of the biggest festivals is the Thimphu Tshechu, held in the capital city for three days starting from 10th day of the 8th month of lunar calendar. Before the actual tshechu that is being witnessed by thousands of people from the capital city and the nearby Dzongkhags, days and nights of prayers and rituals are conducted to invoke the gods.

It was first initiated by the 4th Desid, Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay in 1867. It had only a few dances being performed and that too strictly by monks. These were the Zhana chham and the Zhana Nga chham (dances of the 21 black hats), Durdag (dance of the lords of the cremation ground), and the Tungam chham (dance of the terrifying deities).

Thimphu tshechu underwent a change in the 1950s, when the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, introduced numerous Boed chhams (mask dances performed by lay monks). The additions has added colour without compromising the spiritual significance. Mask dances like the Guru Tshengye (eight manifestations of Guru), Shaw shachi (dance of the stags) are enjoyed because they are like stage theater.

Equally important are the Atsaras, who are more than just mere clowns. The Atsaras are the dupthobs (acharyas), who provide protection. The dances and the jesting of the Atsaras are believed to have entranced the evil forces and prevented them from causing harm during tshechus. Modern Atsaras also perform short skits to disseminate health and social awareness messages.

To farmers, the tshechu is also seen as a break from the drudgery of farm life. It’s an occasion to enjoy, get blessed and pray for health and happiness. The festival lasts for three days.

Thimphu Dromchoe

Besides the annual three day tshechu, Thimphu also celebrates a one day festival known as the Thimphu Dromchoe. The day long festival dates back to the 17th century. It was first introduced by Kuenga Gyeltshen in 1710, who was recognized as the reincarnation of Jampel Dorji, son of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel. The dromchoe is celebrated 3 days earlier to the Thimphu Tshechu.

The Dromchoe showcases the sacred dances dedicated to the protecting deity of Bhutan, Palden Lhamo. Legend has it, that the deity Pelden Lhamo appeared before Kuenga Gyeltshen and performed the dances while he was in meditation. Based on these dances, Kuenga Gyaltshen initiated the dance ceremony.

Overnight stay at hotel, Thimphu.

DAY 5: THIMPHU (2320m) – PUNAKHA EXCURSSION (1300m): 77KM/APPROX 2 ½HR
Your journey continues with travels to the east onwards to Punakha through some of the Kinddom’s richest agricultural land and most dramatic river valleys. En route you will stop over Dochu La, the 3050meter pass; snow-capped eastern Himalayan ranges can be seen on a clear day. Prayer flags will flutter you over the pass deeper into the essence of Bhutan. The beauty is further enhanced by the Druk Wangyal Chorten – 108 stupas built by the eldest Queen Mother. Once you cross the pass, you wind down into a warm fertile valley.

After lunch visit Punakha Dzong which stands majestically at the junction of the two rivers- Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River). The Dzong is said to be the most beautiful of dzong in Bhutan; it is an outstanding structure with intense artwork, and the winter residence of the Je khempo (chief abbot). Also this is the second dzong built in Bhutan by Shubdrung Nawang Namgyel in the year 1637. Evening drive back to Thimphu.

Overnight stay at hotel, Thimphu.

DAY 6: THIMPHU (2320m) - PARO TIGER’S NEST HIKE
Today’s day will begin driving back to the Paro valley to take on a stunning hike on foot to visit the Taktshang Gompa or Tiger’s Nest viewpoint. Our hike to Taktshang from the road point will take through the well maintained path which is quite uphill and it takes around 3-4 hours at an average walking speed. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees adorned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. We stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang cafeteria.
This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD, flew here on the back of a flying tiger Dorji Drolo, said to be his consort.
We will visit the auspicious Kyichu Lhakhang, a scared monument pinning down the left foot of a treacherous ogress, which is built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan king Srongsen Gampo. This Monastery is one of the 108 monasteries built across the Himalayan region by the Tibetan King to subdue the Demoness that lay across the Himalayan region. The rest of the monasteries lie in other neighboring countries; Drugyel Dzong the imposing fortress which was the strategic vantage point for numerous defeat of invading Tibetan armies and here in clear weather can view the spectacular view of mount Jomolhar 7314m.
In the afternoon will drive to the beautiful valley to the watch tower or locally known as Ta-Dzong. The third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck housed it into the National museum in the 1960s. The seven floor museum highlights various aspects of Bhutanese culture and history dating back to the 7th century. A short walk downhill to the Rinpung Dzong which serves as the administrative center and school for monks, and walk further down crossing the traditional bridge into Paro Town. Overnight stay at hotel, Paro.

DAY 7: PARO (2280m) DEPARTURE (Paro International Airport)

Morning drive to Paro International Airport for your onward journey.

Day 1: PARO (2250m)
Depart Bangkok international airport by Druk-Air (Royal Bhutan Airline). On arrival at Paro international airport, you will be received by our representative and escorted you to your hotel. After drive to Drugyel Dzong which is built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders. Though largely destroyed by fire in 1951, the towering outer walls and central keep remain an imposing sight. On clear day you can see the splendid view of Mount. Chomolhari from the approach road to Drukgyel Dzong. Then you'll visit the national museum (Ta-dzong). Once it was the watch tower of Paro valley from 1616 A.D to 1907 and it was converted into the National Museum in 1968. The museum stands on a promontory overlooking the Paro valley. Also visit the Paro Rinpung dzong (fortress of the heap of Jewels) which is the seat of the district administration as well as the home for the monastic school. The central tower (utse) of the dzong, with its superb woodwork, is one of the most beautiful in the country. Then the dzong was built in 1645 A.D by Shebdrung Nawang Namgyel.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 2 : PARO (2250m)Hike to Taksang (Tiger Nest)

After breakfast drive towards the road point to Taktshang. Taktshang Monastery, the most famous of Bhutan's monasteries. Taktshang means "Tiger's Nest," so named because Guru Rimpoche reportedly flew to the site of the monastery on the back of a flying tiger in the late centuries of the first millennium. The monastery is perched on a cliff nearly 3,000 ft above the Paro valley floor. This day hike is not only historically and culturally interesting, but also incredibly scenic! It takes about two hours to reach the cafeteria, which gives a breathtaking view of the Tiger's Nest. If you still feel like hiking then you can take another hour to reach the temple. Evening is optional attend half day Paro festival or you can stroll in Paro town and visit shops.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 3 : PARO (2250m)3rd day of the festival

Attend full day festival (outside the dzong)

Dance of the Lords of the Cremation Grounds (Durdag)

A dance that takes place in cremation grounds. The dancers wear skull masks and represent protectors of the religion who live in the eight cremation grounds on the periphery of the symbolic Mt. Sumeru.

Dance of the Terrifying Deities (Tungam)

Dressed in beautiful brocade and terrifying masks, this is a deeply symbolic dance where a sacrificial murder is performed. Guru Rinpoche appears in a wrathful manifestation to save the world. The dance is meant to show all beings the way to salvation.

Dance of the Heroes with six kinds of ornaments (Guan Drug Pawo)

The heroes hold six ornaments – five rings of bone ornaments and a small drum and bell in their hands. By their gestures and the sound of their melodies, the heroes lead sentient beings from the wheel of reincarnation along the path of liberation.

Kyecham is an accompanying dance to the next dance. The kyecham dancers wear knee-length yellow skirts, and animal masks.

Dance of the Noblemen and Ladies (Pholeg Moleg)

A comical play that depicts the life of King Norzang. The play is full of bawdy and rustic humour as two princes and two princesses, and old couple and clowns enact a story of misbehaviour, deceit, and mistrust. The story ends happily with the princes marrying the princesses and reconciliation takes place as a lesson to life.

Dance of the Stag and the Hounds – 2nd part

This is a conclusion of the dance began on the second day. The saint Milarepa appears in a long white dress and converts the dogs, stag and the hunter with a song. The conversion is symbolised by the hunter and his dogs jumping a rope.

During the festival, the locals also open up fair beside Ugencholing palace grounds, so one can walk down cross the cantilever bridge and visit the stalls, enjoy local festivities, shopping for handicrafts and souviniours.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 4 : PARO (2250m) - HAA VALLEY (2800m) – PARO (One day excursion) 60 KM/APPROX 2HR DRIVE

One day excurssion to Haa valley across Chela Pass 3810 meters through the blue pines, fir and oak. On the clear day you will see mount Chomolhari, other snow capped and beautiful valley below the pass. Explore nearby mountains dotted with the colourful prayer flags and blanked with dwarf rhododendrons. After a picnic lunch, you will drive further down and arrive at Haa – valley is blessed by the presence of Meri Piensum, three small mountains symbolizing Rigsum Gonpo: Jampelyang (manjushri), Chana Dorji (vajrapani) and Chenrizi (avaloketeshvara). You can explore the remote village which will take 30 minutes walk and stroll in town later. Evening drive back to Paro and stroll in town and visit shops.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 5 : 4th last day of the festival PARO (2250m) - punakha (1310M) Approx 4 hrs drive

Get up early morning at around 4 a.m to get blessing of unfurling of Great Thangka of Guru Padmasambhawa, believed as the re-incarnation of Lord Buddha who came to Bhutan in the 7th Century and introduced Buddhism in Bhutan. After lunch, 4 ½ hours drive to Punakha across Dochu-La Pass. (3116meters) snow-capped eastern Himalayan ranges can be seen on a clear day. Prayer flags will flutter you over the pass deeper into the essence of Bhutan. The beauty is further enhanced by the Druk Wangyal Chorten – 108 stupas built by the eldest Queen Mother. Once you cross the pass, you wind down into a warm fertile valley and meander along a gently flowing aquamarine river that leads you to the Punakha valley. On the way to Punakha, you will stop at Metshina Village and take a 20-minutes walk through the rice fields to Chime Lhakhang, which is a fertility temple, dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley . You may receive blessing from Lama’s wooden phallus. Check into hotel on arrival.

Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.

Day 6 : Punakha (1310M)

The sub-tropical valleys of Punakha and the surrounding mountainsides offer a large variety of attractive places to explore and discover monasteries and the most impressive Dzong in the country.

After early breakfast we will travel up the valley north and cross the Mo Chhu to hike up and pay respect to the grand Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, The Chorten is 30 meters (100 feet) tall and can be seen in the distance when driving.The three-levelled chorten took eight and a half years to build and was consecrated in 1999. Dedicated to the Fifth King, it was built to remove negative forces and to provide peace, stability, and harmony in an ever- changing world. It is therefore filled with every form of colorful protector imaginable.

Heading back down the valley we will stop for lunch. After the lunch we will visit the stunning Punakha Dzong. The Dzong is considered one of the most important and also one of the most beautiful Dzongs in the Kingdom. It was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1637, and was the seat of the government every winter until Thimphu was established as the permanent capital in 1955. It is still the winter residence of the Je khempo (chief abbot) accompanied by the Dratshang (Central Monastic Body). Take time to admire the impressive, colourful and detailed artistry of the surroundings, including huge statues of Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, as well as paintings of one thousand Buddhas.

After the visit we will drive roughly 45 minutes towards queens village to visit the Nunnery. It was built by King Jigme's maternal grandfather. Inside the monastery we can see very large statue of Chenresig (Avalokiteshvara) bodhisattva of compassion. The nunnery has stunning view of both Punakha and Wangdi Valley.

Overnight at the hotel in Punakha

Day 7 : PUNAKHA (1310M) - THIMPHU (2300 m) Approx 3hr drive 65 KM

Today drive early to Thimhu the capital city of Bhutan on the way visit Wangdue Dzong, the district is famous for its fine bamboo and its slate and stone carving and visit Druk Wangyal Lhakhang at Dochula stand on the crest of the pass. Evening stroll in Thimphu town and visit souvenir shops.

Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.

Day 8 : THIMPHU (2300 m)

After breakfast visit Zorig Chusum Institute , 13 traditional arts and crafts, it was established in 1971 by the Royal Government in order to preserve the invaluable heritage and promote the arts of Bhutan; Textile museum the foundation was laid in 2000 under the Royal Patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck, it was established with the aim of preserving and promoting Bhutanese textile arts; National Library and see the ancient manuscripts preserved there; Jungshi paper factory; and third king’s memorial Chorten.

Later visit Changangkha Lhakhang, mini Zoo here you can see just one animal, Bhutan's national animal the Takin. This is an extremely rare member of the goat family. Found in herds in the very high altitudes (13,125ft and over); nunnery temple; the Folk Heritage museum; and Tashichho Dzong, the main Government Secretariat building, where the government ministries, the Office of His Majesty the King and the Throne Room, the offices and living quarters of the monk body and the Chief Abbot’s housed.

Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.

Day 9: THIMPHU (2300 m)- PARO (2250 m) (departure from paro international airport)

After early breakfast drive 1 ½ hours to Paro Airport for departure. Our representative will bid you farewell.

Day 1: PARO (2250m) - THIMPHU (2300 m) 65KM/APPROX 1HR
Flying into Paro is one of the most spectacular flights one can experience. While descending into Paro valley, on a clear day sky you will be greeted by the world’s highest peaks, including Everest. The flight during late autumn is absolutely beautiful, though during the summers it will be cloudy. As the flight gets closer to the only international airport in Bhutan, you will see the Paro Dzong (fortress) on the hillside over looking Paro valley, with Ta Dzong, which now is the National Museum. Upon your arrival our representative will receive you and drive to Thimphu, The capital of Bhutan, The first stop will allow you to view the magnificent Tacho Lhakhang, The hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s Iron Bridge Builder. After the visit we drive further to reach Chuzom, the confluence of Paro Chu (River) and Wang Chu (Thimphu Chu) After crossing Chuzom we enter Thimphu valley. In Thimphu we will stroll the market and mingle with local people. The Authentic Craft Market is place to visit, where you can find various Bhutanese handicrafts.

Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Thimphu

Day 2: THIMPHU (2300 m)

Today we begin our day by an early morning visit to the National memorial chorten. This is a Tibetan-style chorten built in 1974 in memory of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk who passed away in 1972. It is one of the most visible religious structures in town and for many people it is the focus of daily worship. Remember to walk around the Chorten at least once to gain merit and good luck. We will take in more of kingdom's rich culture at the Folk Heritage Museum. The museum is a restored three story traditional rammed mud and timber house inaugurated as a museum by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk in 2001. It showcases the traditional artifacts used now and in the past, which helps connect people to the Bhutanese rural life.Next we will browse the striking collection of intricate textile at the National Textile museum.The Museum introduces you to the living national art of weaving. The exhibition displays the major weaving techniques and styles of local dress and textile made by the Bhutanese women and men. We will have time to quickly visit the Bhutanese Paper factory.The art of handmade paper in Bhutan dates back to the 8th century, although usage was limited mainly to religious purposes. Today it is considered an important element in the preservation of Bhutan’s cultural heritage. The factory allows guests to view the paper making process and purchase gifts from their show room.Towards evening we will visit Tashichhoe Dzong and have glimpse king Jigme's Palace. The Dzong is popularly known as Thimphu Dzong or “the fortress of the glorious religion” it houses Bhutan’s administration, and the throne of His Majesty and other Government offices. It is also the summer residence of the Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot of Bhutan. Just below the dzong we can have a glimpse of King’s palace.

Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Thimphu

Day 3: THIMPHU (2300 m)- Punakha (1310M) Approx 3hr drive 65 KM

Journey continues as we head towards Punakha at 1300 m and a warmer region. Punakha is the winter residence of the central monk body and it is one of the richest agricultural lands. The valley is blessed with one of the biggest rivers in the country. En-route we will cross over Dochula pass at 3050 meters, and view the most dramatic panoramic view of the greater Himalayas. During summers this mountain pass is covered with mists and the views are obstructed. The dochula landmark is the Wangyel Chortens – 108 stupas built on the mountaintop in a Mandala pattern, further enhances the beauty and tranquility of the pass. From this cooler mountain pass we will descend into a warmer region of Punakha. As we descend we will notice a change in vegetation and temperature too. On arrival, drive to Punakha Dzong, the "Palace of Great Happiness"

Built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’, Punakha Dzong is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers). It is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. It was here in 1907 that Bhutan's first king was crowned.

Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Punakha

Day 4: Punakha Festival with a Visit to the Devine Mad Man Temple “Chimi Lhakhang”

Enjoy a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman. He inherited the Divine Madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism in his time. He taught the people that religion is an inner feeling and it’s not necessary that one should be an ordained monk. He is also considered a symbol of fertility and most childless couples go to his temple for blessing. Afterwards, return to Punakha Dzong to observe the continuing masked dances and rituals that take place as part of the Punakha Festival.

Day 5: Punakha Festival and hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten

After early breakfast we will travel up the valley north and cross the Mo Chhu to hike up and pay respect to the grand Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, The Chorten is 30 meters (100 feet) tall and can be seen in the distance when driving. The three-levelled chorten took eight and a half years to build and was consecrated in 1999. Dedicated to the Fifth King, it was built to remove negative forces and to provide peace, stability, and harmony in an ever- changing world. It is therefore filled with every form of colorful protector imaginable. Heading back down the valley we will stop for lunch.After the lunch we will drive back to Punakha and interact with local people at the Festival.

Day 6: Punakha (1310M) - Phobjikha Valley (2900 m) 69KM/APPROX 3 ½HR (Day excursion)

Time to pack up and head to the colder valley of Phobjikha. The valley is significant in our country’s effort in preservation and protection the Black- Necked Cranes. Every year the birds arrive on their wintering grounds between mid-October and early December and remain until March through mid- April.We will visit the famous 16th century Gangtey Goemba that overlooks the large green expanse of the valley. The monastery is surrounded by a large village inhabited mainly be the families of the Gomchens (lay monk ) who take care of the monastery. After lunch we will walk downjill from the mani stone wall at Gangtey Goenpa to Khewa Lhakhang down in the valley. The trail is a gentle walk decending into the Semchubara village leading our way to a square Chorten and the Lhakhang. Then drive back to Punakha

Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Punakha

Day 7: Punakha (1310M) – PARO (2250 m) Approx 4hr drive 142 KM

The journey west takes us back to Paro valley following thru wang Chhu and Pa Chhu rivers. lunch at Paro.

PARO EXPERIENCES

Paro Cultural Tour should always start with a casual browse through the National Museum, housed in the Ta Dzong (Watch Tower) of the Rinpung Dzong. In the Museum the intriguing collection of artifacts serves as a great introduction to the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom. The National Museum boasts a rich variety of exhibits collected from all over the country and belonging to different eras, some as early as 2000 B.C. A visit through the galleries shows the country"s transition from the later Stone Age to a modern Mahayana Buddhist kingdom.

We will then stroll down to the Paro Dzong and take in the amazing architecture of this 17th century monument, a premier example of Bhutan"s architecture. Paro Dzong, built in 17th century to defend Paro from the Tibetan invasion, is also known as Rinpung Dzong, which means the 'fortress on a heap of jewels’. This fine example of Bhutanese architecture now serves as a central monastic and administrative seat of the Paro district. From the Dzong, a leisurely walk back into Paro town crosses the scenic Nyamai zampa, a unique model of Bhutan"s traditional cantilever bridge.

Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Paro

Day 8: PARO (2250 m) - Taktsang (Tiger's nest monastery) 4-5 hrs hike

Today's exploration of Paro valley begins with a hike to Taktsang (Tiger's nest monastery) 4-5 hrs hike

Tiger"s Nest or Taktshang Goempa is one of Bhutan"s most revered monuments. It literally hangs off the face of a cliff 900 meters (2952 feet) above the valley floor. The legend states that Guru Rinpoche flew into

Bhutan on a mythical tigress and meditated in a cave before bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. The Taktshang Goempa is built around the cave, which is opened to the public once a year at the end of August. The four-hour round trip hike offers spectacular views of the Goempa and the valley below. Horses or mules can be arranged on request to help lighten the journey. After lunch drive up north to take a walk around the Drukgyel Dzong (ruins). The Dzong was built in 1649 to celebrate a decisive victory over Tibetan forces and to curtail further invasions. Under the leadership of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the Bhutanese fought twelve battles with the Tibetans in different parts of the country, whereof one took place in Drukgyel Dzong. In the later years, the Dzong became an administrative centre under the Dzongpon (Lord of the Dzong) until gutted by a fire in 1951. Heading back down the valley we will stop at the auspicious kyichu Lhakhang. The 7th century monastery is one of the oldest and most sacred temples in the Kingdom where the seed of Buddhism was won in Bhutan. The Tibetan King, Songsten Gampo ordered the establishment of monasteries in the Himalayan region to subdue evil spirits and to spread Buddhism. Of the 108 monasteries, which were to be built, two major ones were built in Bhutan namely the Kyichu Lhakhang and the Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang. Kyichu Lhakhang, which pins down the left foot of a treacherous Ogress, are a great finish to this day of cultural immersion and your journey to thisancient kingdom of Bhutan.

Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Paro

Day 9:
DEPARTURE (Paro International Airport)

DAY 1: PARO (2280m) –THIMPHU (2320m) 65KM/APPROX 1HR

The flight into Paro brings breathtaking views of the Himalayan Mountains. If the weather permits you will be able to see Himalayan Mountains. The landing, flying through the Paro valley between the 4000 meters high mountains, starts your day in an unforgettable way! On arrival you will be greeted by our representative and transfer to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. Thimphu perhaps is the most unusual capital city in the world. Is a bustling town, which is the home to the Bhutanese Royal Family, the Royal Government, and Judiciciary and several foreign missions and development projects. The road leads through the Paro valley to the confluence of Thimphu and Paro rivers at Chuzom (confluence). Three different styles of chortens adorn the confluence. Evening stroll through the market and mingle with the local people.

Overnight hotel in Thimphu.

DAY 2: THIMPHU (2320m)

After breakfast visit Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress of the Kingdom, built in 1629. The complex has survived in its original form and serves today, as religious college, in which, amongst other subjects, Dzongkha is taught, Textile museum the foundation was laid in 2000 under the Royal Patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck. It was established with the aim of preserving and promoting Bhutanese textile arts, National Library and sees the ancient manuscripts preserved there, visit Jungshi paper factory, third king’s memorial Chorten.

Later visit Changangkha Lhakhang, mini Zoo here you can see just one animal, Bhutan's national animal the Takin. This is an extremely rare member of the goat family. Found in herds in the very high altitudes (13,125ft and over), nunnery temple and Tashichho Dzong, the main Government Secretariat building, where the government ministries, the Office of His Majesty the King and the Throne Room, the offices and living quarters of the monk body and the Chief Abbot’s housed. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.

DAY 3: THIMPHU (2320m) - TRONGSA (2316m): 212 KM/APPROX 7HR
After early breakfast drive about almost 9 hours to Trongsa passing over Pele La (3390 meters), Trongsa forms the central hub of the kingdom and is historically the place from where attempts at the unifying the country were launched. As you continue onwards you can view the incredible massive Trongsa Dzong, an architectural Wonder! Trongsa medieval watch tower and the great Mangde Chu (river) enhance Trongsa dzong in its exceptional beauty and grandeur.

Sightseeing Trongsa Dzong, the dzong was built in 1648; it was seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan. Both the first and second kings ruled the country from this ancient seat. All the five kings were invested as Trongsa Penlop (“Governor”) prior to ascending the throne, presently the administrative seat of the district and the home of the monastic school. Built at split-levels on a narrow spur, the Dzong offers magical wonder and visit Ta Dzong preached above the Trongsa Dzong this is watchtower which once stood guard the Trongsa Dzong. Now was restored from ground up and this is museum presenting the rich historical and religious heritage of Trongsa Dzong.

Overnight hotel in Trongsa.

DAY 4: TRONGSA (2316m)

The Trongsa Tshechu, as all Tshechu festivals, honors Padma Sambhawa, also known as Guru Rimpoche, the precious yogi and saint who is credited with having introduced Tantric Buddhism throughout the Himalayas. The festival’s masked dances are performed by monks clad in colorful brocade attire and permeated by chants and reading of Buddhist scripts. The culmination of festival constitutes the unfolding of a huge cloth thanka, a sacred scroll, depicting Padma Smabhawa and imagery from Buddhist pantheon.

Overnight hotel in Trongsa.

DAY 5: TRONGSA (2316m) - PUNAKHA (1300m) 135KM/APPROX 5HR

After noon drive to Punakha for 7 hours through snow-capped eastern Himalayan ranges can be seen on a clear day. Prayer flags will flutter you over the pass deeper into the essence of Bhutan.

Overnight hotel in Punakha

DAY 6: Punakha (1310M) – PARO (2250 m) Approx 4hr drive 142 KM

Early morning visit Mitsina village and visit Chimey Lhakhang the monastery of fertility. After lunch visit Punakha Dzong which stands majestically at the junction of the two rivers- Pho Chu and Mo chu. The Dzong is said to be the most beautiful of dzong in Bhutan; it is an outstanding structure with intense artwork, and the winter residence of the Je khempo (chief abbot). Also this is the second dzong built in Bhutan by Shebdrung Nawang Namgyel in the year 1637. After that drive to Paro via Thimphu 4 hours.

Overnight hotel in Paro.

DAY 7: PARO TIGER’S NEST HIKE
Morning hike to Taktsang monastery, the hike which is all the way uphill takes about 2 to 3 hours through villages and pine forests. The monastery which clings to a huge granite cliff 900 meters from the Paro valley was devastated by fire in 1998 but the Royal Government has taken immediate steps to restore the monastery to its original structure. It is believed that the great saint Padmasambhava came in the 7th century on a flying tigress and meditated in a cave for 3 months. It is a pilgrimage site for every Bhutanese to visit once in their life time.

Afternoon visit the ruined fortress of Drugyel dzong which still attract visitors due to the strategic location of the fort, the fort defended the Paro valley from the Tibetan invasion from the north in the early 17th century. On clear weather Mountain Chomolhari 7320 meters can be seen towering over the dzong. Proceed through the beautiful valley to the watch tower or locally known as Ta-Dzong. The third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck housed it into the National museum in the 1960s. It served as a watch tower during the 17th century to guard the region from the Tibetan invasion. It was converted to the National Museum in. It houses a fine collection of Bhutanese art, relics, religious thankas, The seven floor museum highlights various aspects of Bhutanese culture and history dating back to the 7th century. A short walk downhill to the Rinpung Dzong which serves as the administrative center and school for monks, and walk further down crossing the traditional bridge into Paro Town. Kichu Lhakhang(Monastery) it is one of the two most sacred and the oldest temples in Bhutan. It was built in 7th century by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo, Rimpung Dzong (fortress of the heap of jewels) it was built during the time of Zhabdrung (deeply revered to this day as dynamic political and spiritual leader) in 1644. It houses both administrative and monastic bodies.

Overnight hotel in Paro.

DAY 8: PARO (2250 m) DEPARTURE (Paro International Airport)
After early breakfast at the hotel, drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.

DAY 01: PARO (2280m) –THIMPHU (2320m) 65KM/APPROX 1HR

The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth. Our representative will meet you at Paro airport exit doors following customs formalities.

After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum housing many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical, cultural, and religious past. Next, visit the Rimpong Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa, considered as the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime. Dzong’s are large monasteries and district administrative centres, which were once strategic forts. Afterwards, drive to the capital, Thimphu (1.5 hours) following the Pachu River. Before dinner at the hotel there will be an orientation on Bhutanese etiquette by your guide.

Overnight: hotel in Thimphu.

DAY 02: THIMPHU (2320m)
Once a rustic village sitting in a broad, fertile river valley, Thimphu is today the nation's bustling capital. Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, completed by the Royal Queen Mother as a memorial stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972. Continue on to 12th century Changangkha Temple and the Zilukha Nunnery. If there is time, you may visit the nursing pen for the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan, and Tashichhodzong, ‘the fortress of the glorious religion’ housing some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body.

Overnight: hotel in Thimphu.

DAY 03: THIMPHU (2320m) – PUNAKHA (1300m): 77KM/APPROX 2 ½HR

Drive over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters), which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into balmy Punakha valley (about 3 hrs total driving time). The drive through the countryside affords a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdoms. In the Dochu-La area there are vast Rhododendron forests that grow to tree size and bloom in late April/early May covering the mountains in a riot of glorious spring colour.

Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. On arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, the "Palace of Great Happiness" built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’ as predicted by the great Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava). It is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers) and is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. It was here on 17th December 1907, Bhutan's first king was crowned. Overnight at a hotel in Punakha/ Wangduephodrang.

DAY 04: PUNAKHA (1300m)
In the morning drive to Yabesa village and hike to through ricefields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. Perched high on a hill on the bank of the river, the Chorten houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions.

Enjoy a picnic lunch on a picturesque riverside before driving back into the Punakha valley for a short walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman. He inherited the Divine Madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism in his time. He taught the people that religion is an inner feeling and it’s not necessary that one should be an ordained monk. He is also considered a symbol of fertility and most childless couples go to his temple for blessing. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha/ Wangduephodrang.

DAY 05: PUNAKHA (1300m)- TRONGSA (2316m): 135KM/APPROX 5HR
Explore the bustling market town of Wangduephodrang before driving over the Pele La pass (3,420m) on the Black Mountain range which divide western and central Bhutan. White langur monkeys can often be spotted in the moss-draped forests in this area. Further on, in silent isolation surrounded by great forested hills is beautiful Chendibji Chorten built in the 18th Century to commemorate the subjugation of a local demon. It is built in a style unusual for Bhutan, with painted eyes facing the four directions. The imposing Trongsa Dzong can be viewed across a deep canyon to signal your approach to the town around a curving road.

Overnight: hotel in Trongsa.

DAY 06: TRONGSA (2316m) – BUMTHANG (2600m – 4000m): 68KM/APPROX 2 ½HR
After breakfast visit Trongsa Dzong, a masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture. Trongsa has the largest Dzong in Bhutan and its foundations were laid in the 16th Century. There are now 22 temples in the complex. The view from the Dzong is spectacular and one can see across the landscape for many miles. Also visit the Ta Dzong museum housing an incredible collection of historical artefacts of the Royal Family.

Afters light refreshments begin the drive to Bumthang, one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the spiritual heartland of the kingdom. The road climbs rapidly up a series of hairpin turns out of Trongsa. After passing through cultivated fields and forested hillsides you will reach the Yutung La Pass (3400m). From here the road passes down through a dense, beautiful coniferous forest to a wide, cultivated valley known as Chummey valley before continuing on in the soft afternoon light to the town of Jakar.

After refreshing yourself at your lodge, visit Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom where Bhutan's patron saint Guru Rimpoche meditated and Jambay Lhakhang, erected by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. It dates back to the origins of Buddhism in Bhutan and is one of the Kingdoms oldest temples.

Overnight: lodge in Jakar, Bumthang.

DAY 07: BUMTHANG (2600m – 4000m) – Ura (3,100M) Approx 1 hr drive

Drive to the Ura valley to witness the colourful masked dances and cultural festivities of the Ura Festival. Join local villagers from the local area gathered in their finest clothes for an exciting tradition of music, dancing, color, and religious blessings. Ura valley in Bumthang is known for its famous dance known as the Ura Yakchoe. This festival that is held annually in the month of May is a festival where a sacred and an important relic is put on display for the people to receive blessings. Myth has it that one day an old woman while sitting outside her house had a visitor, a lama who asked her for a glass of water. When she came out with a glass of water, the lama had vanished leaving behind a sack. Out of curiosity, she checked the bag and found a statue that is now being displayed annually. This relic has been passed on from generation to generation and now the descendants of the woman own it.

Overnight: lodge in Bumthang.

DAY 08: BUMTHANG (2600m – 4000m)

Enjoy an excursion to Tang Valley, the most remote valley in the Bumthang district. Activities may include a 45 minute walk uphill to Ugyen Chholing Palace, built in the 16th century by the Trongsa Penlop Tshokey Dorji. The main building in the complex now features a fascinating museum offering a real insight into the lifestyle of a Bhutanese noble family. Highlights include a book of divination, a dakini dance costume made of bone. You may also visit 14th century Tang Rimochen Lhakhang where Guru Rinpoche meditated and Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake), where some of Guru Rinpoche's treasures were found in the 15th century by the famous treasure discover Pema Lingpa. It's a good location to meditate. Overnight: lodge in Bumthang.

DAY 09: BUMTHANG (2600m – 4000m) – PUNAKHA (1300m)

In the morning visit visit Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Terton Pemalingpa (founder of the Nyingmapa sect) and containing interesting and ancient Buddhist wall paintings. Pemalingpa's heavy coat of nails is kept in the Vestibule and people are permitted to try it on. It is said that if they can walk around the inner sanctuary three times while wearing it, some of their sins will be forgiven. Afterwards drive to Punakha with lunch enroute.

Overnight: hotel in Punakha.

DAY 10: PUNAKHA (1300m) – THIMPHU (2320m) PARO (2280m)

In the morning drive to Yabesa village and hike to through ricefields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. Perched high on a hill on the bank of the river, the Chorten houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions.
Take a picnic lunch on a picturesque riverside before exploring the Wangduephodrang Dzong. Built in 1639 the strategically located Dzong is perched on a spur at the confluence of two rivers.

Drive back to Thimphu where you will have an opportunity to visit handicraft and souvenir stores. Afterwards proceed to Paro.

Overnight: hotel in Paro.

DAY 11: PARO (2280m)

After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The trail is broad and the walk of approximately 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometre above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to the viewing point). The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. The great Guru Rimpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. He then mediated in a cave there for three months where the monastery was later built. Nearby there is a teahouse where you can stop for refreshments.

In the afternoon drive to the ruins of the 17th Century Drukgyel Dzong, an historic monument built by the Shabdrung to commemorate his victory against invading Tibetans in 1644. In fine weather the towering peak of the sacred Mount Jomolhari (7314m) appears as a stunning backdrop. On the return drive to Paro, visit 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo.

Alternatively, day 11 could be spent on a day trip to the Haa Valley, one of the most picturesque districts in Bhutan. Reached via the beautiful Chelila Pass, Haa Valley is characterised by its surrounding rugged and mountainous terrain. Overnight: hotel in Paro.

DAY 12: PARO (2250 m) (departure from paro international airport)

Breakfast in the hotel, and then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.