Day 1-Welcome to Bhutan
Tuesday - 27th of March 2018 @ Gangtey Palace Resort or Metta Resort
Welcome to Bhutan – Arrival. L/D
If you are arriving on a bright sunny day, your holiday begins with a panoramic view of the Himalayan range from your Drukair seat, where you’ll be greeted by Mt. Everest and Mt. Kanchenjunga, and our very own Mt. Jomolhari and Mt. Jichu Drakey. You’ll have to make sure you are seated on the left side of the aisle for better views over the himalayan ranges (You’ll have to ask the seating preference while checking in at the airport for your Bhutan flight as the airline does not allow prior selection of seats).
Upon arrival you’ll be received by our friendly professional guides who will help you settle into your comfortable car and will take you for a short spin around Paro valley which will include a visit to the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang temple. Visit the Paro Dzong Fortress and explore the town in the evening. At dinner, we will have a tour briefing session.
Day 2-Excursion to Tiger's Best
Wednesday - 28th of March 2018 @ Gangtey Palace Resort or Metta Resort
Today you’ll experience Bhutan’s most valued attractions, and perhaps the biggest highlight for your trip! This hike will also help you to acclimatise to the altitude before you start your trek. An excursion to the famous Taktshang monastery –translated as- Tiger’s nest monastery – is a two hours hike that rewards you with a spectacular temple clinging on a 1000 feet cliff. The temple was built in 1692 by a prominent historical figure named Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgye whose reincarnation is now a young teenager and already a prominent figure in the clergy. Your guide will complement the experience with its story.
On the way back visit the ruins of Drugyal Dzong fortress, which is an important Bhutanese heritage as it served as a strategic watchtower and a fortress that helped repel numerous Tibetan invasions in the 1600s. Peak of Jumolhari ‘Mountain of the Goddess’ can be seen on a clear day from here (7,329 mts/24,029 ft.).
In the afternoon, watch a game of archery as the festival time is a time for celebration and games. Watch eager archers and spectators in a festive mood filled with happy times and merriment.
Option to watch the Paro Tsechu festival in the afternoon.
Day 3-Paro Tsechu Festival
Thursday - 29th of March 2018 @ Gangtey Palace Resort or Metta Resort
Wake up early in the morning and proceed to Paro Rinpung Dzong Fortress to witness the second day of the most popular festival in Bhutan – the Paro Tsechu. The Tsechus are religious festivals where masked dances and cultural performances depict the life of Padmasambhava - the eighth century Buddhist teacher credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan. These masked dances are performed by trained monks wearing ornate costumes and impressive masks. People from all around Bhutan gather to be blessed by the festival and it's a explosion of colours as festivals are occasions when everyone wear the best traditional attires. Spend the whole day witnessing the festival and a wonderful opportunity to interact with locals.
*We always encourage our guests to live like a Bhutanese while in Bhutan. If you fancy it, you can be dressed in our traditional attire, which our guests love to experience it. I’m sure you’ll rejoice in our textiles! We can take you to some of the best weavers to showcase their craft and for you to buy/hire your own Bhutanese Kira (attire) as a souvenir.
Day 4-Start of Druk Path Trek. Paro - Jangchulakha (Distance 13 km, 8 hours, 110m ascent, 50m descent, camp altitude 3,570m).
Friday - 30th of March 2018 @ Camp
The first day is a gentle climb more than 1,000m elevation. Drive from Ta Dzong (National Museum) in Paro on a gravel road past a few farms for about 30 minutes and then climbs up a steep ridge before leading through blue pine and fir forests to Damche Gom. Once you reach the ridge below Jili Dzong you descend about 100m to the campsite below Jili Dzong. Begin with a climb for about an hour and a half and then ascend gradually up. The trail takes you through thick alpine forest and dwarf rhododendron tress. You may see yaks and yak herders around your campsite. The hike might be shortened based on the groups physical capability.
Day 5-Jangchulakha – Jimilang Tsho (Distance 11 km, 4 hours, 230m descent, 130m ascent, camp altitude - 3,670m).
Saturday - 31st of March 2018 @ Camp
The trail follows the ridge and on a clear day the view of the mountains and valley are beautiful. The lake is known for its giant sized trout. The trek follows the ridge to a saddle at 4,040m, then drops a bit and follows the ridge back to Jangchu la pass (4,180m). Camp is near Jimilang Tsho (Sand Ox Lake) known for its giant size trout. Also there are good views of Mount. Jichu Drake (6,989m), the peak representing the protective deity of Paro valley.
Day 6-Jimilang Tsho - Simkotra Tsho (Distance 11 km, 4 hours, 820m ascent, 400 m descent, camp altitude 4,110m).
Sunday - 1st of April 2018 @ Camp
The trail takes you through dwarf rhododendron trees and Janetso Lake. You may come across some yak herder’s camps where you will have the opportunity to get a glimpse of a nomad’s life. The campsite is close to Simkotra Tsho Lake.
Day 7-Simkotra Tsho - Motithang (Distance 13 km, 6 hours, 130m ascent, 1,780m descent).
Monday - 2nd of April 2018 @ Bhutan Suites or Pedling Hotel
The trek begins with a gradual climb. If weather permits, you will have a spectacular view of Mount Gangkar Puensum, the highest mountain in Bhutan and other Himalayan peaks. From this pass, the trek takes you downhill to Phajoding monastery. After passing Phajoding monastery, the trek to Thimphu (Mothitang) is all the way downhill through a forested area of mostly blue pine. The walk, at a leisurely pace, takes 6 hours to get to the road point where you will be picked up and taken to your hotel for a relaxing evening.
In the evening visit the Memorial Chorten Stupa which is a sacred shrine built in the memory of third king of Bhutan. Countiue visit to Tashichhodzong – the fortress that is now the government’s central administration headquarters, and also the offices of the King and the Prime Minister. You will enjoy welcome dinner at the Babesa village restaurant where you can enjoy authentic Bhutanese cuisines. Overnight in the resort.
Day 8-Thimphu Sightseeing
Tuesday - 3rd of April 2018 @ Bhutan Suites or Pedling Hotel
Spend an easy day visiting the capital city's highlights. Visit the Kuensel Phodrang where the gigantic 169 ft statue of Buddha Dordenma. The interior of the statue’s temple is easily one of the most beautiful and unique with thousands of other statues inside. Enjoy a panoramic view of Thimphu city from there. We can do a short hike through the Nature Park here and hoist some prayer flags along the way to send out some prayers into the world.
Since today is Sunday, visit the colourful vegetable market where proud villagers behind pyramids of their agricultural produce greet you with stone weights in their hands and smiles on their faces. It is interesting to see what may seem to you as ‘weird vegetables and forest products’ that actually enriches the Bhutanese palate. Proceed to the Changlimithang Stadium to watch the national sport of Bhutan - Archery - played with much fun and vigour over a archery range of 120m apart.
End the day with a visit to the Changangkha monastery overlooking the city.
Day 9-Thimphu Sightseeing
Wednesday - 4th of April 2018 @ Bhutan Suites or Pedling Hotel
Since today is Monday, the cultural attractions are open. Visit some of the treasures of the capital - the National Folk Heritage Museum, the Zorig Chusum school of 13 traditional arts/crafts, the Royal Textile Museum and Academy. Visit the Bhutan Post Office to see our famous stamps and you can also make your own stamps here and send postcards to your loved ones at home.
Visit the Crafts Bazaar in the afternoon, along the streets of Thimphu which sells and displays various handicrafts and textiles made entirely in Bhutan.
In the afternoon, drive on the outskirts to visit the popular monasteries of Tango and Cheri in northern Thimphu. This time of the year, the short hikes to the monasteries are festooned by Rhododendrons in full bloom. Take a short hike to Kabisa village as you will see farmers working in the fields during Spring time. Explore the streets of Thimphu in the evening.
Day 10-Thimphu and Punakha Sightseeing
Thursday - 5th of April 2018 @ Hotel Lobesa or Meri Phuensum Resort
Drive to Punakha over the Dochula Pass (3140). Situated atop the pass at the backdrop of fluttering prayer flags is the Druk Wangyal Chortens, a collection of 108 chortens (stupas) that was built to exemplify the greatness of the Fourth King. If you would like to hike, we recommend the Lungtsezelkha hike – another lovely like that passes through Rhododendron forests and alpine vegetation. Here you might come across some Yaks as we often spot them. It starts from Dochula pass – and climbs upto the peak where the Lungtsezekha temple stands at 3800m. From here, you can see the great Himalayan peaks of northern Bhutan as well as valleys of southern Bhutan.
Hike back to Dochula, and descend to the low-lying rice valley of Lobesa and pay your respects to one of Bhutan’s most charming and eccentric historic figures nicknamed ‘The Divine Madman’ at the Chhimi Lhakhang – also called the fertility monastery - our guide will explain the entire story about it. The visit involves a short nice hike through a beautiful village surrounded by paddy fields.
Stay in a cozy resort overlooking the valley.
Day 11-Punakha Sightseeing
Friday - 6th of April 2018 @ Hotel Lobesa or Meri Phuensum Resort
Drive to Punakha valley to visit Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal stupa, which involves a short scenic hike through paddy fields for about 45 minutes till the hilltop where the temple is located. From here you can also enjoy a majestic view of the underlying valley. The temple itself is a splendid example of Bhutan’s fine architectural and artistic traditions and the only one of its kind in the world. From here you can optionally take another great hike from the riverside crossing a suspension bridge to other side of the Mo Chu river for approximately 3 km with hours hiking. A picnic lunch is served on the banks of the Punakha river.
After lunch, continue to Punakha Dzong – the most beautiful fortress in Bhutan situated at the confluence of two rivers. This ancient fortress is the winter residence of the monastic order’s leadership and still serves as the administrative headquarters for the Punakha region. The fortress is a fine example of Bhutan’s rich art and architecture, and our guide who is an expert in iconography will explain all aspects of art, architecture, history and its significance.
Proceed to Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery which is atop a ridge amid pine trees and overlooking valleys of Punakha and Wangduephodrang. Interact with the nuns and they love to speak English with visitors and learn about the ways of the world.
Day 12-Paro to Punakha Sightseeing
Saturday - 7th of April 2018 @ Gangtey Palace or Metta Resort
Drive back to Paro. On the way visit the oldest fortress of Bhutan, the Simtokha Dzong - which is now a monastic school. Enroute stop to visit the Tamchog Lhakang and marvel at the iron bridge reconstructed using original chain link from the famous Tibetan bridge builder TangThong Gyalpo.
After reaching paro, visit the 7th century Kyichu lhakhang monastery - considered the oldest Buddhist temples in Bhutan. Our tour leader will share its history and significance. If you are interested you can also visit the National Museum of Bhutan at the Paro Ta Dzong fortress.
Visit a farmhouse in the evening to soak in a herbal hot-stone bath which is known to be therapeutic and helps ailments related to joints and muscle aches, besides simply soothing your mind and body. Perfect to unwind and goes well with the Red Panda local beer. This is a complimentary value-added experience from Bhutan Travel Club without any hidden costs. Proceed to your resort.
Perhaps you might want to visit some souviner shops this evening to take home some memorablia to remind you of your great time in Bhutan.
Sunday - 8th of April 2018 @
After breakfast at your hotel, your driver will take you to the airport. Your guide will help you with the formalities and fare you well on your onward journey.