Day 01 : Arrive
first thing you will notice as you disembark
is the transparent purity of air and the
absence of noise. The Paro valley
has kept its bucolic nature inspite of
the airport and the existence of development
projects. Fields, brown or green depending
on the season, cover most of the valley
floor, while hamlets and isolated farms
dot the countryside. The houses of Paro
valley are considered to be among
the most beautiful in the country. Paro
is believed to be one of the first valleys
to have received the imprint of Buddhism.
Visit the National Museum (Ta-Dzong).
Once the watchtower for the Rinpung
Dzong, it was converted into the National
Museum in 1968. The museum stands on a
promontory overlooking the Paro valley
in all its glory.
Visit the Paro Rinpung
Dzong. A flagstone path rises gradually
from a beautiful wooden bridge with shingle
roofing and abutted by two guardhouses,
to the Dzong. Today, the Dzong is the
seat of the district administration as
well as the home for the monastic school.
The central tower (Utse) of the Dzong,
with its superb woodwork, is one of the
most beautiful in the nation. The Dzong
was built in 1645 A.D. Overnight at Paro.
Day 02 : Paro Sightseeing
Morning : Drive to Drugyal Dzong
(a ruined fortress - 16 km away from Paro
town). The Dzong, although in ruins, holds
great historical significance. It was
from this fortress that the Bhutanese
repelled many Tibetan invasions. The name
means the victorious Bhutanese. This spot
offers a magnificent vista of Mount
Chomolhari, "Mountain of Goddess"
Visit a typical
Bhutanese farmhouse on the way back.
A short distance south
of the road is Kyichu Lhakhang.
This temple is said to have been built
in 659 by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet.
It holds down the left foot of an ogress
whose body is so large that it covers
Bhutan and most of eastern Tibet.
Evening : Tea
at the hotel and drive for two hours (65
km) to reach the capital city of Thimphu.
Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 03 : Thimphu
Thimphu lies in a wooded valley, sprawling
up a hillside on the West Bank of the
Thimphu Chhu [Chhu means River]. Thimphu
is unlike any otherworld capital. Small
and secluded the city is quiet and there
are never the traffic jams familiar in
other Asian Capitals. It is often said
that Thimphu is the only world capital
without traffic lights. Thimphu's main
shopping street is a delight not so much
for what you can buy there, but for the
picturesqueness of the architecture and
national costume. Beautiful weaves in
wool, silk and cotton, basketwork, silver
jewellery, thangkas and other traditional
crafts of the Kingdom are available in
various Handicraft Emporiums.
Morning : Visit
the Memorial Chorten, a huge stupa
built in memory of the third King who
reigned from 1952-1972.
Visit the National
Library where ancient manuscripts are
Visit the Painting
School where traditional art is still
preserved. Artists are taught to paint
Thankas here (sacred Buddhist scroll).
Visit the Handicrafts
Emporium where one can buy Bhutanese
textiles and other arts and crafts.
Visit the Weekend market
where vendors from throughout the region
arrive on Friday afternoon and remain
till Sunday. Here you will find indigenous
goods, handicrafts, locally produced goods,
: Visit Semtokha Dzong. This
is the oldest fortress in Bhutan,
built in 1629 A.D. by Shabdrung Ngawang
Namgyal. It also houses the largest
monastic schools in the country.
Dzong - the main secretariat building.
It is from here that the King and other
prominent civil servants run the country.
The Head Abbot and the central monastic
body also reside here during the summer.
Visit Pangri Zampa
Monastery, situated just beyond Dechencholing
Palace (5 km. from Thimphu). This
temple was the first residence of Shabdrung
Ngawang Namgyal when he arrived in
Bhutan in 1616 A.D. Ngawang Chogyel,
the great ancestor of the Shahdrung, built
it during the first quarter of the 16th
Day 04 : Thimphu
sightseeing / Punakha / Wangdue Phodrang
After breakfast transfer to Punakha/Wangdue.
En-route stops at Dochula Pass (3150 m),
30 km from Thimphu, for tea and
biscuits and enjoys a view of the Eastern
Himalayan Mountains. From Dochula
to Wangdue, its another two hours
Dzong is perched on a spur at the
confluence of 02 rivers. The position
of the Dzong is remarkable as it completely
covers the spur and commands an impressive
view over both the north-south and east-west
roads. The main road climbs the length
of the spur and on the left, across the
river, comes the first glimpse of the
picturesque village of Rinchengang
whose inhabitants are celebrated stonemasons.
After lunch in Lobesa,
visit the Punakha Dzong. This is
the winter residence of Bhutans
spiritual leader, the Head Abbot,
and the Central Monastic Body. The Dzong
is built between two rivers known as Phochu
(Male River) and Mochu
On the way back to
Wangdue Phodrang stop at Metshina.
On a hillock in the center of the valley
below Metshina is Chimi Lhakhang
(Fertility Monastery), built by lama
Drukpa Kunley in 1499. He subdued
the demoness of the Dochu la with his
magic thunderbolt of wisdom.
A wooden effigy of the Lamas thunderbolt
is preserved in the Lhakhang, and
childless women go to the temple to receive
a wang (blessing) from the saint.
Its a 20-minute
walk across the rice fields from the road
at Sopsokha to the temple. The trail leads
across rice fields to the tiny settlement
of Pana. There are very few monks at the
temple which is surrounded by a row of
prayer wheels and some very beautiful
slate carvings. Overnight at Wangdue
Day 05 : Wangdue
Phodrang / Trongsa
It takes almost four hours to drive
between the windswept town of Wangdue
and Trongsa. The route crosses the
Black Mountains via Pele la (3240
m) before entering the broad, heavily
cultivated Mangde Chhu Valley.
From Pele la the road drops through more
dwarf Bamboo and patches of fir trees
emerging into the abundant evergreen forest
of the Longte Valley. The road
follows the Nikka Chhu (River)
to the village of Chendebji which is on
the opposite side of Nikka Chhu. Two kilometers
beyond Chendebji village is Chendebji
Chorten, a large white structure beside
Stop for a picnic lunch
at Chendebji. Continue drive to Trongsa.
Day 06 : Trongsa
/ Bumthang sightseeing
Trongsa means 'the new village.' and the
founding of Trongsa first dates from the
16th century, which is indeed relatively
recent for Bhutan. It was the Drukpa
lama, Ngagi Wangchuk (1517-54),
the great grandfather of Shabdrung
Nawang Namgyel, who founded the first
temple at Trongsa in 1543. The landscape
around Trongsa is spectacular, and for
miles on the end the Dzong seems to tease
you so that you wonder if you will ever
reach Trongsa. The view extends for many
kilometers and in the former times, nothing
could escape the vigilance of its watchmen.
Trongsa is separated
from both the east and the west by mountain
passes. The town had a large influx
of immigrants from Tibet in the late 1950s
and early 1960s and Bhutanese
of Tibetan descent run most shops
here. The Tibetans are so well assimilated
into Bhutanese society that there
is almost no indication of Tibetan flavour
in the town.
Morning : Visit
the Trongsa Dzong and the Watch Tower.
The Trongsa Dzong was the ancestral home
of the ruling dynasty. It is also the
district administration office of the
Trongsa district. It was built in 1648
The landscape around
Trongsa is spectacular, and for miles
on end the Dzong seems to tease you so
that you wonder if you will ever reach
it. Backing on to the mountain and built
on several levels, the Dzong fits narrowly
on a spur that sticks out into the gorge
of the Mangde River and overlooks the
routes south and west.
The view from the
Dzong extends for many kilometers and
in former times nothing could escape the
vigilance of its watchmen. Furthermore,
the Dzong is built in such a way that
in the old days, no matter what direction
a traveler came from, he was obliged to
pass by the Dzong. This helped to augment
its importance as it thus had complete
control over all east-west traffic.
Visit the Ta-Dzong,
an ancient Watch Tower of the Trongsa
Dzong is located on top of a steep hill
about 1 km beyond the Trongsa Dzong. The
watchtower displays many interesting armors
used by the Bhutanese soldiers during
the olden days.
Lunch at the hotel
and leave for Bumthang (68 Km). The journey
takes about 3 hrs and is over one of the
most scenically beautiful routes in
Day 07 : Bumthang
The Bumthang region encompasses
four major valleys: Choskhor, Tang, Ura
and Chhume. The Dzongs and the most important
temples are in the large Choskhor valley,
commonly referred to as Bumthang valley.
There are two versions of the origin of
the name Bumthang. The valley is
supposed to be shaped like a Bumpa, a
vessel that contains holy water, and Thang
meaning field or flat
place. The religious connotation
of the name aptly applies to the sacred
character of the region. The less respectful
translation relates to the particularly
beautiful women who live here bum
It would be difficult
to find so many important temples and
monasteries in such a small area anywhere
else in Bhutan.
Morning : Jakar
Dzong is in a picturesque location
overlooking the Choskhor Valley.
The current structure was built in 1667
and is said to be the largest Dzong
in Bhutan, with a circumference of
more than 1500 m. Its official name is
Yuelay Namgyal Dzong, in honour
of the victory over the troops of Tibetan
ruler Phuntsho Namgyal.
The extensive palace
of Wangdichholing was built in
1857 on the site of the battle camp of
the Penlop of Trongsa, Jigme Namgyal.
It was the first palace that was not designed
as a fortress. Wangdichholing was the
early home of the third king, who moved
the court to Punakha in 1952.
is named after the body print of Guru
Rinpoche, which is preserved in a
cave inside the oldest of the three buildings
that make up the temple complex. The first
temple is the oldest and was built in
1652 by Mingyur Tenpa, when he
was Penlop of Trongsa. Ugyen Wangchuk,
the first king of Bhutan in 1900
when he was still Penlop of Trongsa, built
the second temple. The third building
in the complex is an elaborate three-storey
lhakhang built by Ashi Kesang Wangchuk,
in 1984 under the guidance of Diglo Khyentse
Tamshing Goemba (also
known as Tamsing lhendup Tsholing, literally
temple of the good message)
was established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa
and is the most important Nyingmapa
Goemba in the kingdom. Pema Lingpa
built the structure himself, with the
help of Khandroms (female celestial beings)
who made many of his statues.
A short distance below
Tamsing is a small rural-looking town
Konchogsum Lhakhang the
source of many interesting stories. The
history of this temple dates back to the
6th century, however the current structure
dates from 15th century, when Pema Lingpa
restored it. The small statues of the
3 Buddhas (past, present & future)
in the sanctuary are said to have flown
straight from Khaine Lhakhang in Kurtoe.
Hence the name of this Lhakhang is Konchogsum
Konchog (divine being), sum (three).
Its a five-minute
walk from the parking spot alongside the
road to Membartsho (Burning Lake), which
is actually a wide place in the Tang Chhu.
Pema Lingpa found several of Guru Rimpoches
terma here. A wooden bridge crosses
the river and is a good vantage point
to look down into the lake. Overnight
Day 08 : Bumthang
sightseeing (URA valley exploration)
Southeast of Jakar 48 km, URA is the highest
of Bumthang Valleys and is believed
by some to have been the home of the earliest
inhabitants of Bhutan. The road crosses
the bridge to the east of jakar, and then
travels south along the east bank of the
Bumthang Chhu. It climbs and winds
around a ridge and heads east past the
National Breeding Center. Pass the turn
off to Tang valley and Membartsho
and cross a bridge over the Tang Chhu.
The road starts climbing from here
past a few small villages and blue pine
forests. As the road climbs, you can look
back at excellent views up the Choskhor
and Chhumey Valleys.
Ura is quite a large
village. The Lhakhang dominates the town
and is reached by turning off the road
to Mongar on a short unpaved road that
leads off the main road east of the village.
There are about 40 closely packed houses
along cobblestone streets, giving the
town a medieval atmosphere. The Geyden
Lhakhang dominates the village.Evening
drive back to Bumthang. Overnight
Day 09 : Bumthang
sightseeing / Phobjikha
After breakfast drive to Phobjikha.
Follow the same route back to Trongsa
& Wangdue and after you cross
Pele La the road diverts to Gangtey
Valley which is just 5 km. The gravel
road to Gangtey descends through fields
of bamboo, emptying into a lowland valley
of grass that falls within the borders
of the Black Mountain Natural Park.
To the Bhutanese, going to Gangtey
is like going back in time, an interesting
perspective given that they themselves
live in a country right out of the pages
of King Arthurs Court.
Day 10 : Phobjikha
/ Paro sightseeing
Phobjikha is a glacial valley on the
western slopes of the black mountains.
The valley is a designated conservation
area and borders the Black Mountains
National Park. Because of the large
flock of black-necked cranes that winters
here, it is one of the most important
wildlife preserves in the country. In
addition to the cranes, there are also
muntjacks (barking deer), wild boars,
sambars, Himalayan black bears,
leopards & black foxes in the valley
and surrounding hills.
Morning : Your
first stop should be at the RSPN (Royal
Society for Protection of Nature) its
open 7 am 7 pm Monday to Friday.
It has formative displays about the cranes
and the valley environment. The center
of the valley is wetland and is the winter
residence of a flock of 200 300
rare and endangered black-necked cranes.
Gangtey Goemba overlooks the large green
expanse of the Phobjikha Valley.
The extensive complex consists of the
goemba and several other buildings, which
include monk, quarters, meditation centers,
school and small hotel. In the front of
the yellow roofed goemba is a Tibetan
style chorten with a wooden roof.
Drive to Thimphu
(optional) for lunch or continue drive
Day 11 : Paro (
Excursion to Taktsang Monastery )
Taktsang is the most famous of all Bhutanese
monasteries. It is perched on the
side of a cliff 900 m above the floor
of the Paro valley, where the only
sounds are the murmurs of the wind, and
water and the chanting of the monks. The
name Taktsang means Tigers Nest;
the Guru is said to have flown on the
back of a tigress to the site of the monastery
where he meditated in a cave for three
The monastery itself
is closed to tourists except by special
permit. However the one-hour walk to the
viewpoint, where there is a small wooden
teahouse provides a close-up view of the
monastery. Its also a good warm-up
hike if you are going trekking.
In the evening visit
a farmhouse for traditional hot
stone bath and local hospitality.
Day 12 : Paro
Departure to your destination