Western and Central Bhutan Tour (12 Days)
Day 1: Arrival and Drive from Paro to Thimphu.
Pick up from Paro International Airport (2280m). Depending on the arrival time of the Druk Air flight or Bhutan Airlines, you will either be served a meal in Paro or be driven straight to Thimphu, the capital city, which is about 53 away. The drive normally takes about an hour and a half. If Thimphu is reached early, you can go out in the down-town and mingle with the Bhutanese people. Dinner will be served in hotel.
Day 2: Thimphu Sightseeing
Sightseeing in Thimphu (2320m) includes visits to: National Library which was established in 1967 and has many ancient Dzongkha and Tibetan texts); Painting School or the National Institute for Zorig Chusum (the 13 traditional arts and crafts like painting, woodcarving, embroidery and statue making et al; National Memorial Chorten, built in 1974 in memory of the third King of Bhutan; Semtokha Dzong which is about 5 kilometers south of Thimphu. This Dzong was built in 1629 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Today, it houses the Institute for Language and Culture studies.); Tashichhodzong – the seat of the Government of Bhutan. It houses the Secretariat, the Throne Room, His Majesty’s Secretariat, the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs and the Ministry of Finance. If the sight seeing falls on the weekend one can visit Thimphu’s open vegetable market where farmers from the nearby and far off provinces to sell their farm produce.
Day 3: Thimphu to Punakha/Wangduephodrang
The first stop on this road journey is at Dochula pass at 3,140 meters. Dochula is about 23 Km from Thimphu and on a clear day, it offers a clear view of snow peak Himalayas. After a short refreshment in Dochula, the journey continues to Punakha. Lunch will be served at the hotel. After lunch, sightseeing in Punakha and Wangduephodrang. Punakha Dzong was built in 1637 and was the former capital of Bhutan. It lies at the confluence of the Mo Chu (female river) and the Pho Chu (male river). Punakha Dzong still serves as the winter residence of the Central Monk Body. Wangduephodrang is about 21 Km from Punakha and its Dzong which sits on the top of the high ridge. It was built in 1638. Wanduephodran Dzong caught fire in June 2012 and was completely burnt down. It is on a major renovation project now. The ridge provides a panoramic view of the valley. Return to hotel where dinner will be served.
Day 4: Wangduephodrang/Punakha to Trongsa
After the breakfast – drive to Trongsa. Trongsa is 129 Km from Wangduephodrang. Check in to hotel.
Day 5 : Trongsa Sightseeing
Drive Trongsa to Bumthang. After breakfast – visit Trongsa Dzong, one of Bhutan’s oldest historical, political and religious monuments also known as Druk Minjur Chhoekhor Rabtentse Dzong. Built 463 years ago, Trongsa Dzong sits on a high on ridge overlooking the Mangde Chhu (river) and represents an important link with Bhutan’s precious Institution of hereditary monarchy. It is the Dzong where every future Kings formalized their ascension as Chhoetse Penlop before ascending to the Golden Throne. His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, Dasho Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck the present King’s ceremony as the Chhoetse Penlop in Trongsa Dzong took place on October 30, 2004. Visit Ta Dzong, the watchtower of the Trongsa Dzong. The chapel inside the tower is dedicated to the Jigme Namgyal, the 19th century Trongsa Penlop (Governor). After the Lunch, drive to Bumthang, which is about 68 Km. It is one of the easier and scenic drives and passes through many hamlets and monasteries as the highway enters the Bumthang valley. Check in to hotel.
Day 6: Bumthang Sightseeing
After the breakfast visit Jakar Dzong, the largest Dzong in Bhutan. It has a circumference of 1500 meters. Visit the Kurje Lhakhang, Jambay Lhakhang, Tamshing Monastry and the Swiss Farm. Check in to hotel.
Day 7: Ura Sightseeing
Proceed to Ura (48 Km from Jakar), a valley to the south-east of Jakar. It is believed to have been the home of the earliest inhabitants of Bhutan. Ura is a very beautiful valley with many Buddhist monasteries and cluster of traditional houses. After the lunch, drive back to Bumthang.
Day 8: Bumthang to Gangtey
After breakfast drive to Gangtey Goempa in Phobjikha valley. Gangtey Goempa overlooks the large green expanse of Phobjikha valley, a glacial valley on the western slopes of the black mountain range. The valley is an important wildlife sanctuary in Bhutan and is the roosting ground of the endangered blacked necked cranes that flies from the Tibetan plateau during the winter time. Overnight stay in hotel.
Day 9: Gangtey to Paro via Thimphu
Drive to Paro after the breakfast. Lunch on the way in Thimphu. Overnight halt at Paro.
Day 10: Paro Sightseeing
After breakfast, visit the National Museum – Ta-Dzong which was built in 1656 and served as the watch tower of Paro Dzong in the past. Visit Paro Dzong, also called the Rinchen Phug Dzong, meaning fortress on a heaps of jewels. Paro Dzong is one of the most impressive and well-known Dzongs of Bhutan and was built in 1644. After lunch in town, proceed towards Drukgyel Dzong, 14 Km from the Paro town. Also known as the Fortress of Victory. Drukgyel Dzong was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1649 to commemorate the victory over Tibetans who invaded Bhutan in 1644. Return to the hotel. Dinner will be served in the hotel.
Day 11: Taktshang Excursion
After breakfast, drive for about 8 Km north of Paro town to visit Bhutan’s most well known monastery, Taktshang or Tiger’s Lair perched on a 900m cliff above the valley floor. Legend saysthat Guru Rimpoche, who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century flew to a cave in Taktshang on tigress and mediated for 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days. The trek to the monastery and back takes about four hours. Lunch will be served in the cafeteria on the way back to hike. Drive back to the hotel.
Day 12: Departure
After an early breakfast, our representative will see you off at the Paro International Airport.