This trip though short in duration but includes the maximum number of interesting places where you can experience what Bhutan really has to offer. The visits in Paro, Thimpu and Punakha include the places like Punakha Dzong, National Memorial Chorten, Tashi Choe Dzong, Drukgyel Dzong, Rinpung Dzong, Ta Dzong, Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s nest), Arts school, national library and many more. This is really an interesting trip designed for those wanting to explore more of Bhutan within a short duration of time.
Day 01: Kathmandu – Paro (by Druk Air) Transfer to Thimphu.
Transfer to airport and fly to Paro. A spectacular descent through mountainous valleys brings you into the Kingdom of Bhutan. The beautiful airport is your first glimpse of what’s ahead. After clearing customs you are welcomed by your driver and guide. A short drive along the valley brings you to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. This very picturesque drive past rural homes, hillside monasteries and chortens only takes 1.5 hours. Check into hotel and after lunch at a local restaurant start your sightseeing, Textile Museum, where the art of traditional weaving is still kept alive and preserved through exhibition and has a good collection of old textiles which are rich in its color and design and the Post office to see Bhutan’s beautiful stamps which also depicts about our country’s myths, traditions etc. Alternatively you can do less formal sightseeing and walk around the town with your guide. Dinner at restaurant. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 02: Thimphu – Punakha
(72 Kms, 3 hours drive). After breakfast, drive to Punakha via Dochula pass. If the weather is clear, we stop for a while at Dochula pass to view Higher Himalayas. On the way, stop a while to view Chimi Lhakhang, which was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley in 15th century. He subdued the demons with his “Magical Thunder bolt”. The Temple is also known as “the Temple of Fertility”.
Lunch in Punakha. After lunch, visit Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is situated between Pho Chu (Male river) and Mo Chu (Female river). For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the Government. The construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche, who predicted, “a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant”. There was a smaller building here called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Shabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, while Palep was sleeping, the Shabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From his vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which in keeping with the tradition, was never committed to paper. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). The war materials captured during the battle with Tibetans are preserved here. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk convened the new national Assembly here in 1952. In the evening, hike to Khamsung Yulley Namgyal Choling Monastery. Overnight at Hotel in Punakha.
Day 03: Punakha – early drive to Thimpu and sightseeing in Thimpu
After early breakfast drive back for 3 hours to Thimpu. Thimphu sightseeing includes a visit to the visit National Memorial Chorten, built in honor of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and also visit the Folk Heritage Museum, which is dedicated to connecting people to the Bhutanese rural past through exhibition of items and artifacts used in rural households. Lunch will be served at a restaurant in Thimphu. After lunch visit the School of Arts and Crafts where the 13 Crafts are taught to the Young Children which was established in 1971 with two objectives in mind, (a) to preserve and promote the traditional arts and crafts and (b) to create more job opportunities. Now you visit start to see Tashichoe Dzong. Each region in the country has a dzong, but the one in Thimphu is special: apart from the regional and religious function, it also includes the national government as well as offices of the king. Tashichoe Dzong in Thimphu actually stands on the banks of the Wang Chhu river. It is has a square shape, with four massive towers at each corner. After parking the car at a distance, walking towards the entrance of the dzong have us a good impression of its enormous size. Once inside, it was like stepping back in history instantly. While outside some luxurious cars hinted at the presence of the king in the royal part of the Dzong, inside it looked like it must have for centuries. Or, at least, since reconstruction after the several fires that the dzong has suffered since it was first constructed in the 17th century by the unifier of the Bhutanese nation: Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Today’s last point to visit is National library in Thimpu. It was established in 1967 to preserve many ancient Dzongkha and Tibetan texts, and is a lavishly decorated and vibrant example of Bhutanese architecture.
Day 04: Thimpu to Paro including sightseeing and hike to Taktsang.
After early breakfast, we drive to Paro for sightseeing in Paro and hike to Taktsang. Immediate after arriving in Paro again we drive along the winding road to the Drukgyal Dzong, the ruined fort, which was once defended this valley from Tibetan invasions, and also visit a Bhutanese farm house of a local family at Drukgyal for a close up view of everyday Bhutanese life. We then drive beyond Satsam Chorten to hike up (or horse ride) to the Taktsang monastery (Tigers nest). The horse ride up to the cafeteria will take around 1.5hrs. At the view point, you will enjoy the stunning view of the monastery, where Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigress in the 8th century. We then walk back to the road point and visit Drukgyel Dzong, which is interesting to tell you a tale of how Bhutanese warriors defended Bhutan from the invaders from the north in the 17th century. This dzong was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646, to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders. After Drukgyel Dzong explore the Rinpung Dzong which the locals call the ‘fortress of a heap of jewels’. Built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the dzong stands on a hill above Paro Township. It is linked by the traditional cantilever bridge (called the Nemi Zam) over the Pa chu where one may pose a photograph. Experience a walk up a paved stone path running alongside the imposing outer walls. Once inside the Dzong, you will be welcomed by the monks, architecture and the ancient frescoes. Finally on a ridge immediately above Rinpung Dzong is the Ta Dzong, built as a watchtower to protect the Dzong from intruders and warring factions. In 1968 Paro’s Ta Dzong was inaugurated as the National Museum, and now holds a fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings, Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps, coins and handicrafts, together with a small natural history collection.
Make sure that to visit all above points in Paro, you should wake up very early in the morning as you have start at 6 AM from Thimpu.
Day 05. Departure from Paro
After breakfast, drive to Paro Airport and farewell for your flight to Kathmandu.
(The cost varies with the number of trekkers in the group. Please contact us with the number of trekkers for the exact quote)