Day 1: To the Capital City
Distance: 53kms /32 miles
Drive: 1 hour approx.
Altitude: 2350m / 7709 ft.
Check into hotel and after freshening up visit the Memorial Chorten, also known as the Thimphu Chorten, which is dedicated to the late King, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (1928-1972). The day’s journey will continue with a visit to the Buddha Dordenma Statue, this massive statue of Shakyamuni measures in at a height of 51.5 meters, making it one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world. In the evening explore the authentic Bhutanese craft bazaar, Bhutan’s first craft market in Thimphu town.
Day 2: Hike to Tango Monastery and Tango Dzongkha
Altitude: 2800m / 9186 ft.
Hiking Duration: 4 -6 hours
Tango is a beautiful temple which is relatively easy to reach. Continuing above Tango Monastery, a challenging hike takes you to Tango Dzongkha, a meditation retreat for hermits, where on clear days you will be rewarded with great views across the Thimphu and Punakha valleys. Abundant flowering rhododendrons higher on the ridge make this hike even more inspiring in the spring. Tango Monastery is a 15th-century temple unique in its architecture. Tango is the highest level of Buddhist studies in Bhutan. The qualification after you finish Tango is equivalent to Masters Degree in Academy studies. Tango is also the seat of our renowned Buddhist Master known as Gyelse Tenzin Rabgay. The young reincarnation master still resides at Tango. We also have many other young reincarnated masters studying there.
Day 3: Transfer to Punakha Valley
Distance: 76kms / 47 miles
Drive Time: 2.5 hours approx.
Altitude: 1300m / 4265ft
Today we will drive to Punakha, en route we will visit Dochu La (pass) and upon reaching Punakha we will visit Chimi Lhakhang and Punakha Dzong. On the way to Punakha from Thimphu, the Dochula Pass offers a beautiful 180-degree panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range. Chimi Lhakhang built in 1499 is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kinley, also known as the “Divine Madman” or the “Mad Saint”, who advocated the use of phallus symbols as paintings on walls and carved wooden phalluses on housetops.
The majestic Punakha Dzong, also known as “the palace of great happiness or bliss” is the second largest Dzong in Bhutan and was constructed on the 8th day and 8th month of the Fire Ox year in 1673. End the day by exploring the longest suspension Bridge in Bhutan, built over the Pho Chhu (river), serving as the main thoroughfare between Punakha town and the surrounding villages.
Day 4: Giligang via Khamsum Chorten Hike
Altitude: 1300m / 4265ft
Hiking Duration: 4-5 hours
This enjoyable, challenging hike is the combination of visits to the beautiful Khamsum Chorten and the old hilltop temple Giligang, with the opportunity to experience stunning views of both the Mo Chhu and Po Chhu river valleys. The hike takes you through rice paddies and up the twirling trail to Khamsum Chorten, before ascending to the ridge above to Giligang.
Giligang Temple is a 300-year old privately owned monastery which has been taken care of by the same family for generations.
Khumsum Chorten, standing majestically on the hill above the Punakha Valley, pays tribute to the gorgeous traditions of Bhutanese architecture while offering respect and care for His Majesty the King.
Day 5: To Paro Valley
Distance: 143kms / 88 miles
Drive Time: 4.5 hours approx.
Altitude: 2250m / 7382ft
After breakfast at the hotel, drive to Paro. On the way before Dochu La Pass, we will make a stop at the Royal Botanical Park in Lamperi. The Park has a center with information on the biological corridors and preservation work conducted in Bhutan. Once we arrive in Paro, transfer to the hotel and rest of the day will be at leisure.
Day 6- Cultural Tour
Altitude: 2250m / 7382ft
After breakfast we will visit the Ta Dzong, once a watchtower built to defend Rinpung Dzong during inter-valley wars of the 17th century. Just a short stroll below lays the dominating Paro Dzong, a premier example of Bhutan’s architecture. From the Dzong, a leisurely walk back into town crosses the scenic Nyamai Zampa (Bridge), a unique model of Bhutan’s traditional cantilever bridge. Continue to the town temples, Tshongdue Lhakhang and Drukchholing Lhakhang, with their fascinating altars and paintings. The wall paintings and unique design of Dungtse Lhakhang plus a visit to the revered Kyichu Lhakhang, which pins down the left foot of a treacherous Ogress, are a great finish to this day of cultural immersion. In the evening take a stroll around Paro Main Street to buy some souvenirs.
Day 7: The Mighty Tiger’s Nest
Hike Duration: 4.5 hours approx.
Today we will hike to Taktsang Monastery and later visit Drukgyel Dzong. Perched on the side of a vertical cliff at 3000 m altitude, north of Paro, the beautiful Taktsang Monastery, also known as the ‘Tiger’s Nest”, is the most famous, unofficial symbol of Bhutan. The Drukgyel Dzong was an administrative centre till 1951 until a fire caused by a butter lamp engulfed the Dzong and completely destroyed it.
Day 8: International Departure
After breakfast drive to the airport for flight to onward destination.