Detailed Itinerary : Bhutan Overland
Day 01: Arrive at Paro
The flight into Bhutan takes you over the great Himalayas, offering the dazzling scenery of the world’s highest glacial peaks. As you enter Paro valley, you will see the silvery Pa Chu (Paro river) meandering down the valley, the Paro Dzong (fortress) and Ta Dzong (watch tower). On arrival at Paro airport, you will be met by our representative. On completion of airport formalities, you will be escorted to the capital city, Thimphu. Overnight hotel.
Day 02: Thimphu
Full day of sightseeing in Thimphu valley, visit to National Library, it holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist texts, manuscripts, modern academic books and printing blocks for prayer flags. Painting School, famous for traditional thangkha paintings. Traditional Medicine Institute, the rich herbal medicines abundant in Kingdom is prepared here. The institute also imparts the art of herbal medicines to would be practitioners. Textile and Folk Heritage Museum, the fascinating testimony of the Bhutanese material culture and living traditions. Memorial Chorten, the beautiful stupa built in the memory of Bhutan’s third King. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy. Trashichhodzong, the beautiful fortress/monastery which houses Secretariat building, King’s Throne room and other government’s offices. It is also the summer residence of Chief Abbot. Handicrafts Emporium, it displays wide assortment of beautifully hand-woven and crafted products. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 03: Thimphu – Punakha
After breakfast, drive east to Punakha, the old winter capital. En-route stops at Dochu LaPass, 10,000ft/3,048m to view the eastern Himalayas, including Bhutan’s highest mountain, Gangkar Punsum, 24,770ft/7,550m. The road then drops down through varied forest finally emerging into the highly cultivated, sub-tropical Punakha valley; with rice paddies, bananas, orange grooves and cactuses. Sightseeing and lunch in Wangdue and transfer to the hotel in Punakha.
In the evening, take a pleasant walk through the fields and village to visit Chimi Lhakhang temple dedicated to Bhutan’s popular saint Drukpa Kunley, also known as the “divine madman” (1455-1529). He is very popular because he preached in a way that is unlike the strictness of clergy and society of the time; he dramatized the teachings using songs and outrageous sexual humor. Phallus symbols and paintings on the houses or temples come as a result his influence. Overnight at hotel.
Day 04: Punakha – Wangduephodrang
Punakha and Wangdue Valleys are at lower elevation of approx. 1400m and therefore it is warmer and has semi-tropical vegetation. Punakha Dzong used to be the winter capital of Bhutan until 1958 and even today the head Abbot and central monastic body move here from Thimphu Tashicho Dzong, in the winter months.
In the morning, drive to the countryside, north of Punakha Dzong and walk uphill for 20 minutes to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, which is perched high on the hill. Visit this temple, which has some beautiful and incredibly complex Buddhist paintings. It was completed in 1999 after taking almost 9 years to build. Return downhill and walk on the mostly leveled path along the east bank of the river. The transport will meet you and drive you to Punakha. Visit Punakha Dzong and the areas around Punakha. Free afternoon for rest or to walk on your own to the nearby villages. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 05: Drive to Paro
After leisurely breakfast, drive down the valley to the town of Wangdiphodrang. After sightseeing in Wangdiphodrang, we retrace our drive back to west across Dochula Pass, providing one more opportunity to view the peaks of the eastern Himalayas. At the pass, there is a small restaurant, where we can sip tea and enjoy the views. Descend from the pass in time for a late lunch at the restaurant in Thimphu and proceed to Paro. En-route to Paro, we will stop to visit farm houses and may be even a nunnery. Upon arrival in Paro, check into your hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 06: Paro
Today you will be provided an option to hike to Taktsang Monastery or to stay in the valley. Those who choose not to hike will be transferred to the festival grounds to spend the morning.
Taktsang hike: Drive about nine miles north of Paro town to the trailhead where we start our 1½-hour hike to a tea house, from where you can enjoy a great view of Taktsang Monastery, perched on a cliff 2,700ft. above the floor of the Paro Valley. The hike is a steep and the trail passes through the villages and pine forest.
After a break with tea and cookies at the tea house, you have the option to sit outside the building and admire the monastery and its beautiful surroundings or if you feel energetic, to continue another thirty minutes or so to a closer viewpoint. After lunch at the Teahouse we descend to the valley floor and upon available time, visit the festival. In the evening, take a stroll around the town, shop for handicrafts and enjoy the farewell dinner at the local restaurant. Overnight at the hotel
Day 07: Paro
After breakfast drive to the airport for flight to onward destination.