Welcome to Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon! Upon arrival, you will be greeted by your local travel guide and driver, and then be escorted to Paro Town to start your wonderful journey.
You will firstly visit Bhutan National Museum where you are going to learn a crash course in Bhutanese rich culture and history. There are many impressive collections displayed in its five galleries, including traditional thangkas, festival masks, religious statues, interesting carvings, etc. Your next attraction is Rinpung Dzong, also known as Paro Dzong, which is reputed as the finest example of Bhutanese dzong. After appreciating these charming architectures in Rinpung Dzong, you could take a leisure walk through cantilever bridge and to Paro Town and witness national game archery, which is played almost every day on the ground. After the sightseeing, drive about 1.5 hours to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan Kingdom, for accommodation.
Arrival Ideas: 1)you are able to take an international flight from Kathmandu (1 hour), Kolkata (1 hour), New Delhi (2.5 hours), Guwahati (55 minutes), Siliguri (30 minutes), Bangkok (3 hours), Singapore (5 hours) and some other cities in India in peak seasons; 2) so far, all the flights to Paro depart and arrive in the morning.
Accommodation：Overnight in Thimphu
This morning you will start the day by visiting the National Memorial Chorten (shrine), a monument dedicated to the past 3rd king of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. More than a memorial stupa, it is also one important religious center for Bhutanese daily worship. Then go to visit Traditional Painting School, a school where students are taught to make Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts, like painting, woodcarving, embroidery, statue-making and so on. Next, go to National Textile Museum which is a good place to display textile weaving – Bhutan’s living national art. You can not only feast on the beautiful costumes, but also learn about the type of textiles, the styles of local dress and the techniques of weaving. Last activity of today is visiting the national animal - Takin in Motithang Takin Preserve, a unique looking animal with the head of sheep and body of cattle.
Leaving Thimphu, drive through a forest of pine and hemlock, up to cross over the Dochu La Pass (Alt: 10142ft/ 3,050 m). From the place, you can enjoy the panoramic views of the majestic Himalaya Mountains. Keep driving along the winding road to the fertile valley of Punakha (Alt: 4430ft/ 1,350 meters).
Accommodation：Accommodate in Punakha Town.
After breakfast, you will go to visit Punakha Dzong, situated between Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu (male and female rivers) and featuring in three docheys (one more than other dzongs). With white-brilliant walls, red roofs and the surrounding charming nature, Punakha Dzong is praised by as the most beautiful one in Bhutan’s 21 Dzong. When the spring comes, the surrounding lilac jacaranda trees in blossom make Punakha Dzong more impressive.
Next, you will drive toward Phobjikha Valley. In route, you will get amazed by the beauty and serenity of the rich flora and fauna. When you reach Lawala Pass, you may spot some Yaks grazing in high altitude bamboo shrub along the road. Crossing the pass, you will descend to Gangtey Goempa an important monastery of Nyingmapa school of Buddhism located on a forested hill overlooking the entire Phobjikha Valley. The whole complex of Gangtey Goempa is made up of central monastery, monks’ quarters, guesthouse and meditation centers.
Then you will pay a visit to Black-Necked Crane Information Center where you can learn much knowledge of the cranes and their living environment from the informative displays. If you visit Phobjikha Valley in November ~ January, you are able to see many black-necked cranes as well.
Accommodation：Accommodate in Phobjikha.
Today is for leaving Phobjikha Valley for Thimphu. In the morning, you will firstly drive about 2 hours and 20 minutes to Wangdue Phodrang and pay a visit to Wangdue Phodrang Dzong where you can get a commanding view of the below valleys. In fact, Wangdu Phodrang Dzong enjoys an important status in the history as well, and it was the second capital city in the early days. Since Wangdu Phodrang is situated on the ridge, you can walk down to the bridge and have a short hiking to the village of Rinchangang.
Accommodation：After the sightseeing, drive back to Thimphu for accommodation.
Today, you will begin your adventure trip to Haa Valley, an off-the-beaten-track but sacred valley with its unique beauty and serenity. During the driving journey on the zigzagging scenic road from Thimphu to Haa Valley, you will glut your eyes on the fascinating natural landscape. When you get to the southern entrance to the town of Haa valley, take a visit to holy Lhakhang Karpo which is literally translated as White Temple. Before entering the building, you will be greeted by its big ornate gate. Inside the temple are statues of different deities and some elaborate thangkas. Local people believe that the deity protects them from sickness.In the afternoon, explore the small hidden villages in Haa Valley and enjoy the peaceful ambience.
Accommodation：Accommodate in the town.
Today, you will take another nice drive from Haa Valley to Paro. Ascending along the winding road, you will get to Chele La Pass (Alt: 13,084ft/ 3,988 m) which delivers dramatic views on both sides. Stop there to admire the spectacular view of snow-capped mountains of Himalayan Ringes in Tibet and enjoy the awesome fluttering colored prayer flags. In spring, there are many lovely blossoms in the valley can be seen from the pass. Hot tea and noodles are available at a mobile food van. Then continue your adventure tour with an hour's trekking to Kila Nunnery, a mediation site with seven small temples clinging to a rocky cliff. It is believed as the oldest nunnery which can be dated back to 9th century. The trekking trail through the pristine forests is stunning and interesting.
After the visit to Kila Nunnery, you will drive to Kyichu Lhakhang, a lovely ancient temple. Just like famous Jokhang Temple in Tibet, it was built by Songtsen Gampo to subdue a demoness in 659. In this temple, you can admire many exquisite murals. One statue of Sakyamuni in the monastery attracts many pilgrims to get blessings.
Drive back to Paro Town for accommodation
Tip: 1) the wind might be strong, so make sure you take enough clothes to keep your body warm; 2) photography is not allowed inside most monasteries.
Accommodation：Drive back to Paro Town for accommodation
Start the day with short drive to Paro’s upper valley. If the day is clear, you’ll have an unforgettable view of the "Goddess" – Mt.Chomolhari (23,640 feet).
Afterward, it’s a short drive to Taktsang trail ahead. Take a challenging but necessary 2~3 hours’ trek to Taktsang Monastery, the most famous monastery in Bhutan, also known as "Tiger Nest Monastery", because Guru Rinpoche reportedly flew to the site on the back of a flying tiger late in the 7th century. Between blue pines and a blue sky, the monastery perches miraculously on a cliff nearly 2,700 feet above Paro’s valley floor. Break along the way for tea and snacks in small tea house, and the view of both Taktsang Monastery and Paro Valley is magnificent.
Hike down the mountain, then drive back to Paro for accommodation.
Tips: 1) it takes about 2 ~ 3 hours to trek from the parking lot to Taktsang Monastery, and you could ride a horse for the first hour; 2) photography is strictly forbidden in the monastery, but you can take a nice shot on your road to Taktsang Monastery; 3) travelers have to deposit all belongings (cameras, phones or other electronic equipment and bags) at the entrance.
Accommodation：Hike down the mountain, then drive back to Paro for accommodation.
Your journey in Bhutan comes to an end today! After breakfast, your guide will pick you up from the hotel to the airport in time for the scheduled flight to your next destination. Before that, you can take a rest at the hotel or go for a walk nearby.
Tips: Please pack your luggage carefully, especially for small things like camera charge, power adaptor, mobile phone, phone charger, wallet and towel.