Cultural Introduction “Know the country“

Unlike your average travel itinerary, these tours will provide you with a complete overview of everything that is in western and central Bhutan. It is ideal for the visitor as it will take the best from each of our specific and unique tours and give you the traveler an introduction into our country. Undoubtedly they will wet your appetite for another visit. Due to the time consuming nature of traversing the country the content of this tour will be structured around the dates in which you intend to travel and the length of time you wish to spend here.

Our tours are customized but as an example a suggested itinerary for a 14 day tour and this tour is structured to incorporate the festivals taking place during the time of your visit.

Day 1: Arrive from Bangkok / Delhi / Kathmandu/ Kolkata / Paro
Your journey to Bhutan begins flying on Druk Air, Bhutan’s National airline arriving to Paro Valley before noon. (Try to get the left hand seat for better view of the Himalayas). If you are lucky, you will have a glorious view of the Snowcapped Himalayas including Everest, the icon of the Himalayan range. The remarkable and steep descent into the Paro valley is an awe-inspiring beginning to an adventure of a lifetime with its transparent purity of the air and its absorbing serenity. Paro retains its bucolic nature in spite of the existence of development projects. Fields of brown and green depending on the season covers most of the valley floor while hamlets and isolated farms dot the landscape. After visa formalities and collection of baggage, you will meet the representative from Bhutan Journeys and take a 2-hour leisurely drive towards the Capital of Bhutan, Thimphu. Passing through hills and some astounding countryside. Thimphu is situated in a large valley traversed by the Wangchuk River and overshadowed by high peaks. En-route we will view Tachogang monastery, “the temple of excellent horse” built by Thangthong Gyalpo (Iron chain builder in Bhutan) before reaching to Chunzom (confluence). We will visit the Iron Chain Bridge which is one of the most visible ancient craft work in the middle Ages. One can walk over the Iron Chain Bridge. We will continue our drive to the confluence of Paro – Thimphu River and we will see three forms of Chortens in different styles i.e. Nepalese, Tibetan and Bhutanese. We drive following the Thimphu River upwards passing through several villages. Upon reaching Thimphu, you will be taken to the newly established hotel, equipped with modern amenities. It is ideally located away from the Thimphu city’s buzz and noise of construction boom in the country. We will check in at the hotel and evening at leisure. Dinner and Overnight: Hotel

Day 2: Thimphu Valley Halt
Participate in a wide variety of interesting activities, which represent many diverse aspects of Bhutanese culture. First we will drive to visit the centinerary farmers market to see the sales of different varieties of vegetables and other local farm products. We will also visit the handicraft products displayed at the other side of the river. Thereafter, we will visit the National Memorial Chorten with its golden spines shining in the sun, its tinkling bells built in honour of third King of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The inside paintings and statues provide a very rare insights into Buddhist Philosophy in all its complexity of tantric Buddhism. This Chorten is centrally located and you will see an endless procession of elderly people circling around it. Private tour of Folk Heritage Museum and followed by lunch in one of the popular restaurant in Thimphu town. Afternoon, we will drive to visit Kuensel Phodrang to visit the Buddha Statue, 169ft; one of the most recently built religious icon in Bhutan. Drive to Sangjay Gang to have a “Birds Eye View” of Thimphu valley and en-route visit the mini zoo to see the National Animal “Takin”. Drive onto Tashicho Dzong, the main Tashichho Dzong, the "fortress of glorious religion," and seat of the national government. Evening at leisure. Dinner and Overnight: Hotel

Day 3: Thimphu – Dochula pass/ Lobesa – Wangude
Morning we will depart towards Punakha and Wangdue districts and drive takes about 3 hours. The route passes through the horticulture centre in Yusipang before reaching the 10,000ft Dochula pass. On a clear day you will be able to see a spectacular view of the Eastern Himalayas from this pass. The pass is also dotted by many colorful prayer flags and chortens. We will walk around the chorten and drive to Dochula cafeteria for lunch. Afternoon, we will descend throughgh the forest of rhododendrons and magnolia, passing several villages of Lumitsawa; Thinleygang and reach the fertile valley of Lobesa. Afternoon, you will take a gradual hike through the Lobesa village and rice fields to visit the Chimi “Lakhang” monastery “Temple of Fertility” built in 15th Century by Lama Drukpa Kuenley also popularly known as “Divine Madman”. Bhutanese people visit this monastery built to subdue local demons and it is a popular pilgrimage point for all Bhutanese and is especially revered by women for its fertility powers. After visiting the monastery you will walk to the starting point of the hike and drive to Wangdue. On arrival at Wangdue Bridge, we will see the ruins of Wangdue Dzong recently destroyed by major fire out break recently and renovation works are on full swing to build the Dzong into its full glory. You will drive to you hotel and evening at leisure. Dinner and Overnight: Hotel

Day 4: Wangdue/ Phelela pass/ Chendebji Chorten / Trongsa
You will depart to Trongsa, central Bhutan via Wangdue. The drive takes about 6-7 hours. Throughout your journey, you will see the ever-changing beautiful sceneries of rural Bhutan, with scattered settlements far from the road. You will drive over Phele pass (3350m 11000ft) surrounded by Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. You will descend through a landscape of through the open meadows, valley of yak herders and several other villages and ferns en route to Chendebji Chorten, a village notable for its 19th-century Chorten modeled after the famous Sawayambhunath stupa in Katmandu, Nepal. You will stop for lunch at Chendebji hotel. Afternoon, we will drive to Trongsa takes about 2 hours, passing through stunning views of virgin forest and several villages. On the vicinity of reaching Trongsa, we will see the impressive views of Trongsa Dzong. We will drive to your hotel that offers the best view of Trongsa valley and have some lunch. Afternoon, you will drive to visit to visit Trongsa Dzong, one of the most impressive and biggest Dzong in the country. On time availability, you will drive to visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower, converted into a Museum, which highlights the history of Trongsa as the main political center and contribution made by Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyel, 1st King’s father. Drive back to your hotel and evening at leisure. Dinner and Overnight: Hotel

Day 5: Trongsa – Yongtung la (11,800ft) Jakar (Bumthang)
Morning you will drive towards Bumthang valley over the Yotung la pass (11,800ft). The Bumthang region encompasses four valleys—the Choekhor (Jakar) Tang, Ura, and Chhumey. This valley has most of the important sacred monasteries in the country and it is called the heart land of Buddhism in the country. , We drive over the Yotung la pass (11,800ft. Descend to Chumey valley and en-route stop at Zuney village to visit the Yathra weaving center. Drive another 30 minutes to your hotel and on arrival we will have some lunch. Afternoon we will take a leisurely walk to Jakar town. Dinner and Overnight: Hotel

Day 6: Bumthang Valley Sightseeing
Today, drive through picturesque valley of Bumthang and it is ideal places day hikes several places.
We will visit Jambay Lhakhang built by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo in the 7th Century, which denotes the spread and emergence of Buddhism in the country. From here we will take a gradual hike to Zandopleri Monastery and Kurjey monastery which has the body imprint of Guru Rimpoche was left behind while meditating in a cave in this temple. Thereafter, we will take a gradual hike to Tamshing monastery built by Terton Pema Lingpa, one of most revered saints in Bhutan. You will walk through the valley passing through the Bumthang domestic airport and visit the small red panda beer brewery and Swiss cheese factory. We will have the opportunity to the try the beer and Swiss cheese. Drive for lunch at your hotel. Afternoon we will visit Jakar Dzong, the castle of white bird, which houses the administrative center and institute for monks and have free time to explore the Jakar village. Dinner and Overnight: Hotel

Day 07: Bumthang Valley Sightseeing
You will drive to Tang Valley, which is block of Bumthang Districts. We drive till Dechen Pelrithang and take a 27 kilometers feeder road passing through several villages. Along the route you will view Kunzan Drak monastery. We drive further to Kizom and we will take an hour hike to visit the Ugyen Choling monastery located on the hill over looking the valley. Brief historical account of Ugyen Choling begins with a visit of the great Tibetan master of Buddhism, Longchen Rabjam (1308 -63). He is the most celebrated writer and philosopher of Nyingmapa School of Tibetan Buddhism and is regarded as the synthesizer of the doctrine and methods of Dzongchen “school of great perfection". Ugyen Chloing was never so much a seat of political power but played a vital role as a religious center. It is the only structure of its size and history that still exist and used by a family with direct historical links to it. With its size and magnitude of the complex has initiated to house as a historical museum to ensure its continuity with the following commitments: Preserving and maintaining Ugyen Choling as a religious and cultural legacy.- Continuing the traditional religious observance and rituals. Providing a place for religious studies, research and solitude.- Reviving and enhancing traditional skills and providing an outlet for local handicrafts. We visit the Museum and walk down following the feeder road to Kizom where we will meet our transportation. You will have your lunch at one for farm house in Tang, which affords an authentic encounter with the Bhutanese traditional way of life. Afternoon, we will drive to Jakar, passing through several villages and enroute visit Remochen Monastery and Marbarstho (Flaming Lake, where the Terton Pema Lingpa has revealed the religious treasure from this lake. Drive back to your hotel. Dinner and Overnight: Hotel

Depart for an excursion to URA valley over Shethrang la (11,810ft). From the pass, we will take a more than an hour hike to Ura village. We will visit the Ura monastery and take a walk through the village to explore and experience Bhutanese way of living. You will have lunch at the farmhouse. Afternoon, we will drive back passing through several villages to the road head leading to Tang valley. We will drive for 10 minutes to visit Membartsho (flaming lake), where Terton Pemalingpa discovered the hidden treasures. Lunch served at your Hotel. Evening at leisure. Dinner and Overnight: Hotel

Day 8: Bumthang – Trongsa – Phobjikha / Wangdue
We will depart your for Wangdue and drive takes about 7-8 hours. We will spend all day long on the road but you will enjoy the beautiful landscape, villages and pristine vegetation. Lunch will be served at Nikhachu hotel, depending on our timing. Afternoon, we will drive over Phelela pass and after driving for 10 minutes, retrace your steps, and follow a road that heads to Phobjikha valley over Lawala Pass. After about an hour drive we will arrive at our hotel. Phobjikha valley is an open wide valley, where Gangtey Gompa is ideally located on a hill over looking the valley. It is also the winter habitat for the Black necked cranes migrating from Tibet and you will see no electric cables built in this valley for protecting the cranes. You will not have the opportunity to see the graceful birds and visit Gangtey monastery, which houses religious institute for monks. Thereafter, we will drive to end of the valley to your hotel. Dinner and overnight: Hotel

Day 09: Phobjikha – Wangdue- Punakha
Morning, we will take an eco nature trail through the beautiful environment of the Phobjikha Valley, with its alpine setting on the western slope of the Black Mountains. The gold-roofed Gangtey Monastery sits on a prominent hilltop in the valley. The vegetation in this high-altitude glacial valley includes mixed forests of pine and rhododendron, with thick, brushy grasslands on the valley floor. A flock of 200-300 black-necked cranes (Grus nigricollis) migrates to this valley from Tibet to spend the winter foraging of the valley floor. In Bhutan, the cranes are considered harbingers of good luck and have long been respected by the residents of the valley. The cranes’ arrival signals to villagers that it is time to pack up and move down to lower, warmer climes since the valley is snowed-in during the winter months. We will visit Gangtey monastery (Nyingmapa Institute) and walk through the small shops of Gangtey. We will drive for lunch at the hotel and afternoon we will depart for Punakha via Wangdue. On arrival at Punakha, we will check in at the hotel and evening at leisure. Dinner and Overnight: Hotel

Day 10: Punakha – Halt
Today, drive to visit Punakha Dzong, which is one of the most architecturally impressive Dzong in the country. It is ideally located between two rivers Pho Chu “Male River” and Mo Chu “Female River”. Shabdrung Ngwang Namgyel built it in 1637 and it has served as the seats of the Government till 1953. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang, “Palace of Great Happiness.” Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo (Chief Abbot” and central monk body. You will drive back to Punakha town and stroll for a while. Drive back for lunch at hotel or local restaurant. Afternoon, you will either drive towards the north of Punakha Valley to see the countryside and view the Kamsum Yulley Chorten, a shrine recently built by the 5th King. It is an amazingly elaborate structure with a rainbow of Guru Rimpoche images and superb views of the Punakha Valley. The hike takes about more than an hour, walking through the rice terrace fields and quite a steep climb to the chorten. After visiting the chorten, you will walk to base and drive to your hotel. Dinner and Overnight: Hotel

We will drive towards the north of your hotel to visit Nalanda Buddhist Institute, also known locally as Daley Goenpa, is a Buddhist monastic school. The takes about 1 hour though the forest of several Rhodendron and worth visiting this sacred monastery. The monastery was founded by 9th Jey Khenpo, Shakya Rinchen in 1954. He built it as a second Nalanda, the original being in Magadha, near Patna in the present day state of Bihar, India. The site of the ancient Nalanda University in India is considered to be very holy by the Bhutanese and so many tried to visit it at least once during their lives. But in Bhutan, there were very few roads and so it was very difficult to get to India, and even when they got there, they faced many obstacles including culture, food, and language and were at risk at getting robbed. So he built this second Nalanda in Bhutan Shaja Rinchen Rinpoche chose this site after seeing a number of auspicious signs. The main monk body has a tradition of spending the winter months in Punakha Dzong, and the summer months in Thimphu. Once whilst travelling for the winter, he saw eight vultures flying to this spot, which he thought were the eight scholars of the original Nalanda Buddhist Institute in India. And this was confirmed when they appeared to him in a dream and gave a teaching to him, so he came to the place and saw more good signs. During the construction of the original temple, he saw eight Indians in a valley adjacent to the site, He soon realized that they must be the eight scholars of the original Nalanda So he went back to find them, but they had disappeared and this confirmed to him that they were indeed the scholars.So to thank them for their presence, he commissioned eight small clay statues which are now inside the old shrine room inside of the monastery. We will visit the monastery and talk to the monks. We will walk back to the car and drive back to the hotel. Dinner and Overnight: Hotel

Day 11:Punakha – Dochual Dochula Pass – Simtokha _ Thimphu/ Paro (132kms)
We will depart your for Paro and you will stop at Dochula pass for a light refreshment and drive over Dochula pass. Descend to Thimphu and en-route visit Simtokha Dzong, which showcase the unique Bhutanese architecture. Continue your drive to Paro and along the way, you will have lunch. Afternoon, you will drive to Paro and it will take less than 2 hours. En-route you will visit the Iron Chain Bridge which is one of the most visible ancient craft work in the middle ages and you can walk over the Iron Chain Bridge. Thereafter, you will drive to Paro and on arrival to Paro, you will check in at the hotel. Evening at leisure. Dinner and Overnight: Hotel

Day 12: Paro – Taktsang Day Excursion
Today will be a very special day, with an excursion to visit the spectacular Taktsang (Tiger Nest), monastery. After breakfast, you will take a short drive to the north of Paro Valley to Ramthangkha, from where we start our hike to the Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s Nest). The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of tress festooned with Spanish moss and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. Legend has it that Guru Rimpoche, founder of Buddhism flew from Eastern Bhutan on a tigress, bringing Buddhist teachings and meditated here in this cliff. This is one of the most venerated and sacred of all Buddhist sights around the world. You will walk to visit the monastery and then we will walk down to Taktsang cafeteria for lunch. We will walk down to base and drive to visit Kyichu monastery built in 7th Century by Tibetan King Songtsen Gompo which denotes the emergence of Buddhist spread in Bhutan. We will drive to your hotel. Dinner and Overnight: Hotel

Day 13: Paro Valley – Chele Pass Day Excursion
Today, start early for the drive to Chele La Pass which, at 3,988m (12,499ft), is the highest road pass in Bhutan, snaking upwards through blue pine and rhododendron (Etho Metho) forests for 35 kilometres. On a clear day the view sweeps away to the snow-dome of Bhutan’s second highest peak, Mt Jhomolhari (7314m or 23,996ft), and down to the Haa Valley, which only opened to foreigners in 2002 due to its proximity to the border with Sikkim and Tibet. We walk further along the ridge to have a better view of the Himalayan peaks and possibly sighting shaggy yaks along the trail. We will walk back to the pass and drive back to the Paro town for lunch. Afternoon, we will visit Paro Dzong built in 1646, which houses the administrative center of the Paro district and religious institute for monks. We will walk down to the coach crossing over the traditional wooden covered bridge called “Nymezampa” which spans over the Paro River and pass through the archery ground where we will see the some men playing archery and walk through main street of Paro. Drive to your hotel and evening at leisure.

Day 14: Paro Airport
Drive to Paro Airport for your onward flight.

Note: This itinerary is a sample itinerary intended to give you a general idea of the likely trip schedule. We have designed this itinerary focused on Paro Festival. We do have many other festivals in other districts and at other times and can customize the itinerary to suit your needs.
For detailed itinerary Contact us or email us at: info@bhuanjourneys.com We can customize the tour to suit your interests.

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