- 12 Nights / 13 Days
- Forest, Mountains
- Travel Style:
- Chauffeur Driven, Self Drive
- Architecture, Road Trip, Trekking, Walking Tours
On arrival, you will be received at the airport and transported to your hotel. Paro is a valley town and the site of the country’s only international airport. It is also known for many sacred sites in the area. After settling down in your hotel, you will start your Bhutan road trip with a tour of the town. Visit the National Museum which used to be the watch tower for the Paro Rinpung Dzong. The name means Fortress of a heap of Jewels and is now a center for District Administration and Religious activities. The structure itself dates back to 17th century and is quite an imposing building watching over the valley of Paro. The annual festival (Tsechu) starts from here and the dances take place in the courtyard outside. After this introductory and unique trip in Bhutan, spend the evening at leisure.
After an early yet hearty breakfast, hit the road for an hour’s drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. Your first visit to Thimphu is just a transit to get a permit issued for Punakha. Your trip planner will secure your permit at the Immigration Office, after which you will continue travelling eastwards and reach the Dochula Pass (3000m). From here, you can treat your eyes to spectacular views of the snowcapped Himalayas. Continue driving towards Punakha and make a halt at Lobesa village for lunch followed by a short hike to Chimi Lhakhang (Temple of Fertility). It is dedicated to Lam Drukpa Kuenley (Divine Mad Man) and is the place from where Phalluses originated as the symbol of fertility and protection; you will see this etched on almost every house wall and roof and altas. Continue driving towards Punakha and reach your hotel by evening.
Today, you will check off an important place from your personalized Bhutan tour list; you are going to explore the most popular site in the small town of Punakha, the Punakha Dzong, a 17th-century fortress at the juncture of the Pho and Mo Chhu rivers. These rivers combine to form the Puna Tsang Chu, which in turn is a tributary of the mighty Brahmaputra River. The Dzong was constructed by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1638 on the exact spot as prophesized by the Guru Rinpoche some 800 years ago. It is the second largest and the second oldest Dzong in Bhutan. The Dzong has also served as the capital of Bhutan till 1955 before the capital was moved to Thimphu and is still the winter residence of the Je Khenpo (chief abbot). Have lunch and rest, or you can plan to go for a drive around the valley.
Today, as a part of your Bhutan custom tour package, you will be visiting the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, a splendid architectural complex that has an artistic vision of the Bhutanese culture attached to it. The extensive rice fields that surround the temple just add up to its aura. Next stop of your curated travel experiences tour is the Zangdo Pelri Temple, a magnificent place in Bhutan where you can find statues of the Guru along with his eight manifestations. Here, the walls are enclosed with several paintings that are taken from the life of Buddha; you must visit the place for its grand architecture. Lastly, you will head towards the Punakha Suspension Bridge, a long metal bridge over a mountain river, decorated with colorful Buddhist prayer flags – perfect spot to click Insta-worthy pictures. Later, return to your hotel for a leisurely evening and a delicious local dinner.
The fifth day of your Bhutan customized holiday tour starts with a wholesome breakfast. After that, go for a short walk in the valley before heading further eastward towards Bumthang. On the way, you will cross the third pass on your journey, the Yotungla pass at 3400m. The air is much cooler, the views are going to be spectacular, and the crowds will be much thinner – ideal location to indulge and open up to spiritual possibilities. Spend your holiday enjoying the breathtaking beauty of Bhutan from the towering heights of Yotungla before descending towards the valley of Bumthang. The hills will now seem much gentler and the valley wider. Bumthang is known as the ‘Switzerland in Bhutan’. The name Bumthang directly translates as ‘beautiful field’ and is home to 29 temples and monasteries. Relax for the rest of the evening in your luxury lodge.
There is a lot to do and see in Bumthang. Start day 6 of your Bhutan custom tour holiday with a visit to the Jambey Lhakhang temple built by King Srongsen Gampo of Tibet in 659 AD. The temple was blessed by Guru Rimpoche during his visit to Bumthang. Continue towards the Kurjey Lakahng Temple complex which is a 20 minute hike from the Jambay Lhakhang temple. Legend has it that Guru meditated in a cave there to subdue an evil spirit and left an imprint of his body in the cave to serve as a reminder to all evil beings of his wrath. You will also visit the Tamshing Lhakhang monastery constructed in 1501 by the great Pema Lingpa himself. The core mission of the Tamshing monastery is to perform religious service for the community and educate the young monks under its care.
Start early and head towards the Trongsa Dzong which played a very important role in the unification of Bhutan between the 17th and 19th Century. Continue towards Ta Dzong, the watch tower which has now been converted into a museum. Spend a few hours exploring the Dzong and move on towards Phobjikha, the winter nesting grounds for the endangered Black Necked Cranes who start arriving by October end and leave for the Tibetan plateau by February. Visit the beautiful 17th Century Gangtey Monastery, established in 1613 by the first Gangtey Trulku (incarnation of the grandson of Terton Pema Lingpa). This is the largest privately funded Nyingma Buddhist school and sits atop a hill overlooking Phobjikha valley. End your day in the lap of luxury and enjoy a leisurely evening in your hotel.
Today is a free day to simply soak in the beauty of the Phobjikha valley. Regarded as the happiest place in Bhutan, the Phobjikha Valley is one of the few glacial valleys in the country. A beautiful bowl-shaped glacial valley located against a background of the Black Mountains, the Phobjikha Valley in Bhutan is a treat for those with a deep affection for nature. You can explore the ‘Gangte Nature Trail’, a short trek that takes 90 minutes starting from the Mani Stone Wall to the northern side of the valley. The vegetation in the valley consists of a wide range of grassy meadows where visitors can explore cattle and horses grazing the fields. The valley is a swampy land, but you can easily find black-necked cranes roosting and feeding in the valley.
After breakfast, your car will pick you up and you will start the return journey to Thimphu. The leisurely mountainous drive to Thimphu should take you around 3-4 hours but feel free to make as many stops as you wish. Enjoy the countryside, stop at the road side cafes, take as many photographs as you can and interact with the friendly locals. You will meet a lot of kids in Bhutan since 1/3rd of Bhutan’s population is under the age of 14. By afternoon you will arrive in Thimphu, one of only two capital cities in Asia that does not have a single traffic light. Check in to your hotel and don’t be surprised if your room does not have a television since Bhutan is one of the last countries in the world to introduce television to its people!
Have a leisurely breakfast and start exploring Thimphu with a visit to the Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory. The factory manufactures the most authentic Bhutanese paper using traditional methods. Also visit the National Memorial Chorten which is a Stupa built in the year 1974 in the honour of the third Druk Gyalpo and the main highlights of the stupa are its golden bells and spires. Your will also visit the Trashi Chhoe Dzong, the seat of the Dharma Raja who is the head of Bhutan’s civil government. The last destination for the day is the National Folk Heritage Museum. A fun fact about the museum is that its’ artefacts transform seasonally and every time you visit the place, you will get to see something new.
Post a leisurely breakfast, take a walk around Thimphu town and do some souvenir shopping after which you will start your drive towards Paro. One of the most important places to visit in Bhutan, Paro is known for many sacred sites in the area. It is a historic town and there is a lot to see and do soon after you arrive. Your day will be planned to ensure that you are able to cover most of the important places including the Drukgyal Dzong, the view of Taktsang Monastery, the Kichulanka Monastery, the Ta Dzong, the Paro Rinpung Dzong and many more places. Don’t worry, if you have had too much of sightseeing, simply ask your guide to drop you off to a local café where you can sample some local Yak milk!
Today you are going to visit the Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest), the most popular spot in all of Bhutan! Guru Padmasambhava is said to have come riding on a flying tigress to this place and meditated in a cave for 3 months. The hike to reach the top of the monastery is about 2 hours through wide pathways which was built during the restoration works. One hour into the climb there is a tea point from where you will get a very good view of the monastery. Take a lunch break here and continue the hike for another 45 minutes to the next view point. Finally, arrive at the monastery and spend a few hours exploring the stunning views or simply sit back and meditate in the monastery for as long as you wish.
Your Bhutanese journey has come to an end and it is time to fly back home. We will make arrangements to have you transferred to the airport. The moment you enter Bhutan, you notice there are no traffic lights. It’s almost like going back 200 years in time without giving up on convenience! Bhutan is a place of surrender, where you give in to spiritual experiences like never before and when you return home you will find yourself to be much more intuitive, creative, and right-brained. Another reason to come back to Bhutan over and over again.
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