8 days / 7 nights
Many place offer beautiful scenery and many have interesting architecture and colourful cultures. However, few can match Bhutan for its undisturbed eco-system and intact medieval way of life. It’s probably the only country in the world where tourism has yet left its mark.
Day 1: Paro to Thimphu
Flight on Druk Air flight to Paro Bhutan. Meet your guide and transfer to Thimphu. After settling in you will visit the National Textile Museum, Folk Heritage Museum, and National Library to visit, and perhaps time to stroll Main Street for some interesting Himalayan artifacts or textiles.
Day 2: Thimphu
Today you will visit the Memorial Stupa in Thimphu, a beautiful landmark in the valley. The Stupa was built in memory of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. Continue to visit to the Institute of Traditional Medicine where you will have the opportunity to learn about the different kinds of herbs used in traditional medicine. If time permits, continue to Changangkha, one of the oldest temples, built in the 12th century, by the son of the founder of the Drukpa Kagyud School and a visit to Zilukha Nunnery and the Giant Buddha. In the evening, an optional visit to a handicraft emporium.
Day 3: From Thimphu to Punakha
An early departure for a 3-hour dramatic drive over the high mountain pass of Dochu La to Punakha Valley. The journey continues over the 3,050m mountain pass where on a clear day you can see the eastern Himalayan range and the highest mountain in Bhutan Mt. Gangar Punsum (24,670ft). The pass is marked by 108 Stupas dedicated to world peace by Her Majesty, Queen mother of Bhutan. The descent will take you through sub-tropical vegetation and into Punakha valley. After lunch you will hike to Temple Chemi Lhakhang, the temple of the divine mad monk, Drukpa Kuenley, and through the village of Lobisa. Hike back to the car and drive to Punakha.
Day 4: Punakha Valley Exploration
The day in Punakha Valley begins with a beautiful hike from the Punakha Lodge along the Mo Chhu thru terraces of rice, chilies and cabbages. After the hike you will be transferred back up the valley towards Khuruthang passing Punthsho Pelri Palace and several other winter homes of the royal family before reaching the impressive Punakha Dzong. This ancient fortress is the winter residence of the monastic order’s head and still serves as the administrative headquarters for the Punakha region. A picnic lunch is served on the banks of the Punak Chu, before visiting the village of Lobesa where a short walk ends at Chimi Lhakhang, the auspicious fertility monastery built in 1499.
Day 5: From Punakha to Paro
Depart Punakha for a drive back to Paro and check in to your hotel. Transfer to Paro to explore the town or visit the National Museum of Bhutan and Paro Dzong, if time permits you will also visit the Kichu monastery built in the 7th century.
Day 6: Paro Valley Exploration
The day starts with a visit to the National Museum, housed in the Ta Dzong (watchtower). Here, an intriguing collection of artefacts provide a wonderful introduction to the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom. Just a short walk downhill lies the dominating Paro Dzong, a fine example of Bhutanese historic architecture. From the Dzong, cross Nyamai Zampa, a traditional cantilever bridge, continue to the town temple, built in 1525, to view the ancient wall paintings. Visit a traditional farmhouse to lunch with the family. This afternoon you can visit Kyichu Lhakhang, Dumtse Lhakhang and the Drukgyel Dzong for further immersion into the culture and religion, or if you prefer to hike, there is a beautiful trail behind the lodge past Drukgyel Dzong, along the Paro Chhu, crossing a suspension bridge and up through terraced farmland and forests.
Day 7: Paro Valley Exploration – Tigers Nest Hike
This morning will begin with a hike up to one of Bhutan’s most revered monuments, the Taktshang Goemba, more commonly referred to as the “Tiger’s Nest”. The four to five hour return trek offers spectacular views of this sacred monastery perched on a cliff face 900m above the valley floor. Stop at the Taktsang viewpoint for tea and snacks and to enjoy the view of the Tigers Lair. Continue to visit Drukgyel Dzong, the last foothold of the Tibetan invaders. On a clear day one can see the 2,4000 ft. domed majestic Jumolhari in the background of the fortress, blessing the Paro valley.
Day 8: Transfer to Paro airport for your departure flight on Druk Air.