Day 1-Arrival in Bhutan
Tuesday - 18th of September 2018 @ Bhutan Suites or Hotel Pedling
If you are arriving on a bright sunny day, your holiday begins with a panoramic view of the Himalayan ranges 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. Since you will be flying in from Bangkok, you’ll have to make sure you request to be seated on the left side of the aisle aboard the plane to enjoy great views of the Himalayan ranges while you descend into Paro airport.
Upon arrival you’ll be received by our friendly professional guides who will help you settle into your comfortable car. Drive to the capital city Thimphu. On the way, stop over a charming village for your first attraction in Bhutan. Visit Tamchog lhakhang temple that involves crossing a heritage bridge built in the 15th century. Here you’ll get to appreciate the freshness of Bhutan.
In the evening visit the Memorial Chorten Stupa. Dinner at the Babesa village restaurant to enjoy authentic Bhutanese cuisines. Overnight in select hotel.
Day 2-Hiking in Thimphu
Wednesday - 19th of September 2018 @ Bhutan Suites or Hotel Pedling
Lets appreciate the Nature around Thimphu to shrug of the jetlag and flex your muscles with Thimphu most scenic hikes.
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.
After lunch proceed to Sangaygang viewpoint and hike the Wangditse hike. Its a very scenic short and easy hike that rewards hikers with great views of the underlying Thimphu valley. Continue to climb up to Chhokhortse goenpa. The trail goes straight up the ridge. After about 500 m the trail levels out while crossing an open ridge with a field of prayer flags. The views of the city are excellent from here. Continue up the ridge. The trail to Chhokhortse continues up, at times to the left, then again along the ridge. It leads through open grassy areas, oak undergrowth and blue pines. Descend down to the radio tower and visit the Taken Reserve Centre to see the national animal of Bhutan.
End the evening with a visit to the popular Changangkha monastery.
Since today is Sunday, visit the colourful Centennial 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.
Day 3-Thimphu Tsechu
Thursday - 20th of September 2018 @ Bhutan Suites or Hotel Pedling
Thimphu Tsechu is celebrated in the capital city of Bhutan every autumn, it truly showcases the best of Bhutanese culture and tradition. It all takes place in the courtyard outside in Tashichhodzong, the administrative head quarters of the country. The festival is considered one of the most sacred blessings for the local people as they day is filled with sacred mask dances, sacred exhibits and blessing ceremonies. The performances are punctuated with various cultural dances as well. Its an explosion of colours – making it ideal for photography. The third day of the festival focus on the Guru Tsengye masked dances in honour of the 08th century saint Guru Padmasambava. Other dances depict the journey of the soul throught the reincarnation process as believed in Bhutan.
After spending the most of the day at the festival, continue to the Changlimithang stadium in the afternoon to witness Bhutan's national sport - Archery which is played in a very festive mood coinciding with the festival holidays.
Spend a delectable evening with one of the best chefs in Bhutan, and our close friend who runs a fabulous restaurant in Thimphu. Enjoy the rest of the evening.
Day 4-Thimphu to Punakha
Friday - 21st of September 2018 @ Hotel Lobesa or Meri Phuensum Resort
Since today is a working day, 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.
After lunch, 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.
Drive time 4 hrs
Day 5-Punakha Sightseeing.
Saturday - 22nd of September 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 6-Punakha to Haa Valley
Sunday - 23rd of September 2018 @ Soednam Zingkha Heritage Lodge
After breakfast, drive to Haa valley and stay overnight in Soenam Zingkha hertitage lodge. The house is more than 200 years old and is built in the traditional Bhutanese style typically seen all over Bhutan. It is an exceptionally large home displaying some fine features of days gone by, and fitted with amenities that cater to the western tourists. Guests will be guided over a babbling stream and past an ancient Buddhist Chorten (stupa) before being shown down a stone-lined path to be greeted by the host family on the landing of the home-stay – a wonderful way to set the scene for a memorable stay.
At the lodge we will try 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.
Spend the evening with the host family over stories of local legends, a cooking session in local Haa cuisines, good food and a copious amount of local ara and laughter.
Drive time 5 hours
Day 7-Haa to Paro Valley
Wednesday - 24th of October 2018 @ Metta Resort or Gangtey Palace Resort
Wake up and feel like a Bhutanese. Visit the popular temples of Lhakhang Karpo and Nagpo and continue to Chelela pass for a nice picnic lunch. The pass offers nice panoramic views over the valleys of Haa and Paro. Visit Kila Goenpa – a nunnery that houses about 50 nuns and then proceed to Paro town and watch a game of archery match played in Bhutanese style over a range of 120 m archery range, and filled with fun and frolic.
In the evening, enjoy a leisurely day in Paro visiting the main attractions. Drive towards town and visit the Dungtse Lhakhang: The uniqueness of this temple lies in the fact that it is in the form of a chorten, one of the very few that exists in Bhutan. The lhakhang was built in 1421 by the famous Tibetan lama, Thongten Gyelpo (1385-1465) who was also known as Changzampa or the builder of iron bridges. Proceed to visit the Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong). Alternatively, if you feel like a short easy hike, I recommend the Zuri Dzong hike that takes about 1 hour to reach Uma Paro Hotel from where you will be driven to town.
Drive time 3 hours
Day 8-Paro Highlights with Tiger's Nest Monastery
Tuesday - 25th of September 2018 @ Metta Resort or Gangtey Palace Resort
Saved the best for the last. Today you’ll experience Bhutan’s most valued attractions, and perhaps the biggest highlight for your trip! An excursion to the famous Taktshang monastery –translated as- Tiger’s nest monastery. 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.).
Visit Kyichu Lhakhang – believed to be the oldest Buddhist temple in Bhutan built during the 08th century. Continue to visit the National Museum for some of the most treasured collections of arts, artefacts, textiles, stamps, statues, etc.
Stroll around town and proceed for your farewell dinner.
Wednesday - 26th of September 2018 @
After breakfast at your hotel, your driver will drive you to the airport for your onward journey.