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Bhutan: Western Tour

TRIP DETAILS

Day 01-  Arrive Paro; travel to Thimphu (55 km / approx one and half hours)

On your flight to Paro, you will experience breathtaking views of Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga and other famous Himalayan peaks, including the sacred Mt. Jomolhari and Mt. Jichu Drake in Bhutan.

On arriving Paro International Airport and after you have completed immigration and customer formalities, you will be welcomed by our tour representative and drive you to Thimphu.

The drive from Paro will take you along the Paro Chu (Chu means water or river) downstream to the confluence with the Wang Chu. Next we turn upstream and travel along the Wang Chu to Thimphu, the new capital city of Bhutan.

Afternoon, visit the Memorial Chorten, with its golden spires shining in the sun, its tinkling bells and an endless procession of elderly people circling around it. Built by the royal grandmother Ashi Phuntsho Chodoen in memory of her son, the third king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, it contains a fine collection of Buddhist statues and is a center of tantric Buddhism in all its complexity.

As evening falls, we will visit Trashichho Dzong, the beautiful medieval fortress /monastery is Bhutan’s administrative and religious centre which houses most of the Government’s office and the King’s Throne Room. It is also the summer residence of Je – Khenpo, the Chief Abbot. The National Assembly hall is located in a new building across the river.

Evening, enjoy a walk up and down the high street lined with little shops of all descriptions. There is always a colorful gathering passing from ubiquitous monk bodies to Bhutanese businessmen, to nomadic farmers that come to trade supplies.

Overnight stay at a hotel (B,L,D)

Day 02-   Sightseeing in Thimphu

After breakfast, visit the Folk Heritage Museum, founded by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. The museum is dedicated to connecting people to the Bhutanese rural past through an exhibition of items and artifacts used in rural households, demonstrating customs, traditions, habits and skills. The principal exhibit is the museum building itself which is a restored three-storey traditional rammed mud and timber house. It contains household objects, typical domestic tools, and equipment used by a rural family.

Then, visit the Institute of Zorig Chusum (Painting School) where the 13 traditional arts and crafts are still kept alive. Students here receive a six year training and specialize on thangka painting, slate curving, tailoring, stone carving, embroidery, etc., Upon completion of the training, they either find employment in government or the private sector. Some even start their own arts and crafts enterprises.

Next, visit Textile Museum which serves as the living art of Bhutanese weaving culture at display. The products mostly come from Lhuentse, the ancestral home of Bhutan’s royal family.

Handmade paper is one of Bhutan’s 13 arts and crafts. It will be interesting to see how it is being made from inner pulp of daphne and edgeworthia plants. Paper products are mainly used for printing Buddhist Holy Scriptures and souvenirs. It is also exported to international markets such as North America, Asia, and Europe.

Take a ride to the Buddha Point (Kuenselphodrang), where the tallest Buddha statue, 160 ft is located. The work is still ongoing. You can get a good view of the south Thimphu city from the area.

Visit the weekend market where the locals come to do their weekly shopping. This will be one of the highlights of your trip as you observe the Bhutanese people’s culture and life styles.  Later, we will make a stop at the Centenary Park where the walking Buddha resides; the entire statue was built by Thai workers who specifically came to Bhutan to build the statue. It stands at 45 feet tall.

Overnight stay at a hotel (B,L,D)

Day 03-   Travel to Punakha (71 km / approx 3 hours).

After breakfast, we start our journey into the countryside towards the Punakha valley, the old  capital of Bhutan. The drive ascends gradually to the Dochula pass over 10300 ft, with magnificent vistas of the Himalayan range.

The Dochula Monastery also known as the Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chortens is a tribute to the service and leadership of His Majesty the king. The design inspired by the Queen is a unique cluster of 108 Chortens seen from all directions. The descent to Punakha is vibrant and colorful, with the fluttering prayer flags adding to a rich topography dotted by terrace farming and rivers flowing through.

We will visit the historic Punakha Dzong sprawled at the confluence of the Phochu (male) and Mochu (female) rivers. Built in 1637 by Shabdrung Nawang, in terms of architecture, it is believed to be a master piece. The crowning of the first king of Bhutan in 1907 and the royal weddings of Bhutan’s fourth and fifth kings were held at the fortress.

A glacial lake outburst in the north of Punakha in 1994 heavily destroyed some parts of the structure, but it is being rebuilt to its original shape.

Overnight stay at a hotel (B,L, D)

Day 04-    Sightseeing in Punakha and travel to Paro ( 4 hours)

After early breakfast, drive for 15 minutes to the road point to Khamsum Yuellay Namgyal for an hour hike to Khamsum Yuellay Namgyal Chorten (stupa) built by the Queen Mother of the Fifth King  to bring peace and harmony for Bhutan and the world.

Thereafter, enjoy river rafting on Mochu, the female river of Punakha for one hour. The river bank is scenic with secluded blue water, alpine scenery, sighting of rarest birds, amazing rapids on the backdrop of striking 17th Century Punakha Dzong.

Continue our journey to Paro. Upon arriving in Paro, visit the Rinpung Dzong which serves as a civil administrative center and a monastic home for the monks.  Most dzongs were built in the mid- 1600s to protect the inhabited valleys from invasion by Tibet. The Paro dzong was started in 1644 on the order of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the unifier of modern day Bhutan. Unlike most other dzongs in Bhutan, it survived the massive 1897 earthquake mostly unscathed.

Later visit, Kyichu Lhakhang, one of Bhutan’s two oldest monasteries built by the Buddhist Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo in the seventh century to subdue a demoness lying across the Himalayas.

Overnight stay a hotel (B,L, D)

Day 05-   Hike to Tiger’s Nest

After breakfast, drive around 25 minutes to Ramthangka base for a hike to view one of Bhutan’s most revered pilgrimage sites of the Buddhist world, the Taktshang Lhakhang, popularly known as the “Tiger’s Nest” Monastery. The trek offers spectacular views of this sacred monastery perched precariously on a sheer rock face 3000 ft above the valley floor. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche, father of Bhutan’s stream of Mahayana Buddhism arrived in the Paro valley more than a millennium ago on the back of a tigress. He meditated for 3 months in a cave which was converted into the monastery. The only sounds heard here are the murmurs of wind, water and the chanting of monks.

We begin our hike from the base to the cafeteria which will take us at least an hour and a half. From here, it’s about an hour’s trek through some stunning landscape to reach the monastery. On our return, we stop by once more at the Cafeteria for lunch. Later, we begin our descent to Ramthangka base.

Overnight stay at a hotel (B,L, D)

Day 06-   Depart Paro

After early breakfast, depart to the airport for your onward journey to destination.

Thank you & Tashi Delek!

 

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