While Bhutan is one of the smallest countries in the world, its cultural diversity and richness are profound. This cultural tour explores the heritage and traditions of Bhutan's timeless culture that still thrive today. This tour is tailored to provide a deeper insight into the lives of the locals.
Arrival in Bhutan (Thimphu Alt. 2350m / 7,710ft)
Flying in to the country’s only airport, in the beautiful Paro valley, the clear mountain air, forested ridges, imposing monasteries and welcoming Bhutanese people in their striking national dress, provides a breath-taking first impression.
After clearing customs and visa control then you will meet our guide at the arrival gate. Then you will drive about 1 hour to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital (population 100,000): still the world’s only capital city without a traffic light! En-route visit Tachog Lhakhang which is located on the way to Paro valley, and one must cross one of Drupthob Thangtong Gyalpo bridges to get to the Lhakhang.
In Thimphu morning rest after long hours flight. After lunch visit Paper Factory: Jungshi handmade paper factory; The Paper Factory is situated on the other side of the river, about a 20-minute drive from the lodge. The art of handmade paper in Bhutan dates back to the 8th century, although usage was limited mainly to religious purposes. Today it is considered an important element in the preservation of Bhutan’s cultural heritage. The factory allows guests to view the papermaking process and purchase samples and gift items from their shop.
Bhutan Craft bazaar: The private stalls had a variety of high-end quality products from places across the country such as wood carved national symbols, bags and western wears with touch of traditional designs, wooden and clay utensils, Bangchung, Dhapa, key hanger of jewelry boxes, bookmarks and handmade packing papers (Deysho) in different patterns, antique items and etc. The stalls have a distinctly rich outlook with fine tones of elegance, and a warm and inviting atmosphere. The craft bazaar is also an exemplary of how bamboo can be used to construct houses in the country.
Hike to Wangditse & City tour
Today sightseeing includes visit to National Post office; Our tour start with the visit to the National Post Office, along the Chang lam, is an institute itself where the most famous Bhutanese export is exhibited and sold: the various stamps. Stamp collectors all over the world know that Bhutan is the first country to diversify and export quality stamps. Interesting thing is that you can make your own personal stamp with your photo and then can sent to your friends and family.
We will also drive to Sangay Gang then we can hike for 10 minute from where you will see the good view of Thimphu valley.
The National Memorial Chorten; continuously circumambulate by people, murmuring mantras and spinning their prayer wheels. Construction of this landmark was the idea of Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (“the father of modern Bhutan”) who has wished to erect monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as a monument to peace.
The Trashichodzong: the fortress of the glorious religion is the seat of government and the headquarters of the clergy in the capital Thimphu. The original dzong was built in 1216. It suffered three major fires over the centuries and was rebuilt three times. It was enlarged in the 1960s to become the symbol of the new capital after Punakha. This dzong housed the original National Assembly of Bhutan in one of its temples. It still houses the secretariat and throne room of the King of Bhutan and the headquarters of the Royal Government’s Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs. The Dzong is the summer residence of the clergy.
Thimphu to Gangtey
Today we head for Gangtey,. En route, stop at Dochula pass, located on the way to Punakha from Thimphu. The pass is a popular location among tourists as it offers a stunning 360-degree panoramic view of Himalayan mountain range. The view is especially scenic on clear, winter days with snowcapped mountains forming a majestic backdrop to the tranquility of the 108 chortens gracing the mountain pass.
Known as the Druk Wangyal Chortens- the construction of these108 chortens was commissioned by the eldest Queen Mother, Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk. The pass is also popular spiritual destination for both locals and tourists because an important temple is located on the crest of Dochula pass.
The Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (temple): was built in honor of His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The past and future appears to merge in the details of the lhakhang (temple) and its structure tells the story of a supreme warrior figure, whose vision pierces the distant future in a fine blend of history and mythology.
After that, we continue driving to Gangtey and enjoy the scenery of land escape. Gangtey/Phobjikha valley and the valley of Gangtey is one of the most beautiful spots in Bhutan. The surprise of finding such a wide, flat valley without any trees after the hard climb through dense forests is augmented by an impression of vast space, and extremely rare experience in Bhutan where most of the valley’s are tightly enclosed. The Phobjikha valley is surely one of the loveliest high altitude valleys in Bhutan. Phobjikha is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black-necked cranes, migrating from the Tibetan plateau. This magnificent bird can be seen in early November to the end of March.
Today we will visit Gangteng Gompa monastery; Pema Lingpa himself had chosen it. Construction of the monastery was begun in the early 1500s by Pema Lingpa’s grandson, the first Gangteng Tulku Gyalse Pema Thinley, and the 2nd Gangteng Tulku Tenzin Legpai Dendup completed the present form of the monastery later that century. The monastery’s name, attributed to Pema Lingpa, is simple and appropriate: “top of the hill.” Gangteng Gonpa is presently the largest private Nyingma monastery in the entire Kingdom of Bhutan. The monastery complex has five temples that surround the main central tower. The Monastery is one of the main seats of the religious tradition based on Pema Lingpa's revelations and one of the two main centres of the Nyingmapa school of Buddhism in the country.
Natural Trial; This pleasurable walk will give you a nice feeling for Phobjikha valley. From the small hilltop overlooking Gangtey Goemba, you head downhill through flower meadows to Semchubara village and from here through beautiful forests and into the open valley. After passing a chorten and Khewa Lhakhang, the trail ends at the local community school; this involves a 30-minute walk up to the start of town. The Nature Trail can be combined with a visit to Gangtey Goemba and the local school. Gangtey Goemba is a 16th century monastery situated picturesquely at the hilltop at the edge of Gangtey village, making it the landmark structure of Phobjikha valley. It is the central seat of the Pedling tradition of Buddhism in Western Bhutan, and was built as a centre of spiritual teaching.
After lunch depart to Punakha valley; at an altitude of 1,300 metres (4,265 feet), Punakha Valley is one of the lowest lying valleys in Bhutan and enjoys a warmer climate.
Farm House Visit - A cluster of quaint farmhouses embroiders the beauty of Gangtey valley. A visit to farmhouse is very interesting and offers a good glimpse into the life style of the farmer.
Gangtey to Punakha
Today you will have a leisurely start for your drive back westwards to the Punakha Valley. On arrival stop for a stroll up to the Chimi Lhakhang, also known as the ‘monastery of the Mad Monk’. This auspicious fertility monastery built in 1499 enjoys a very colourful history, which your guide will explain to you. It is still a place of important cultural significance today where females come to receive a ‘wang’, a fertility blessing to aid pregnancy.
After lunch drive to visit , Nalanda Buddhist College: Locals call this place ‘Dalayna’ while the monks refer it as ‘Nalanda Buddhist College’. Drive here in the afternoon and enjoy your evening tea supplemented by the ravishing view in front, along with interaction with local monks.
In the evening visit to Sangchhen Dorji Lhendrup nunnery, which was founded by Yab Ugyen Dorji, the father of the Queen Mothers. It sits astride the top of a hill high above Punakha and combines harmonious architectural proportions with carefully designed interiors, full of lovely traditional carvings and paintings.
At an altitude of 1,300 metres (4,265 feet), Punakha Valley is one of the lowest lying valleys in Bhutan and enjoys a warmer climate.
After breakfast, drive through the Punakha Valley, we begin our hike by crossing the Mochu River and ascending a numerous switchbacks to the Namgyel Khamsum Yuely Chorten. Looking downstream, the viewpoint here affords grand views of the Mochu River Valley below. We descend from the temple and follow a well-worn path down the valley through rice fields and small villages. Along the way we are rewarded with stunning views, the terraced rice paddies providing an exotic backdrop to the river.
You will wear Bhutanese dress ( Kira for Women). Enjoy a day to photograph the Punakha Valley, beginning with the impressive Punakha Dzong. The Punakha Dzongkha has been inextricably linked with momentous occasions in Bhutanese history. It served as the capital of the country from 1637 to 1907 and the first national assembly was hosted here in 1953. It is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan and one of the most majestic structures in the country. Punakha Dzong has also countless monastery inside the Dzong.
Punakha Suspension Bridge: This is the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan, which is built on Po chu river. It connects to the nearby village. It allows villagers to cross the river to go to the other side. The view from the bridge is stunning and extremely scenic.
Punakha – Paro
It’s a return journey from here as we drive back retracing the road till Dochula pass then to Paro. We will have as many stops as possible on the way to make the drive easier and to enjoy the sceneries.
We can stop for lunch in Thimphu and visit Weekend Market – Every, Friday, Saturday & Sunday, people from Thimphu valley & other parts of country congregate to sell and buy products. It is an opportunity to mix with local people and the products they sell.
In the evening you will have time for walking around the town and for some shopping, if you like.
Then continue your drive to Paro and if time favor then visit Paro Dzong.
Taktsang (Tiger's Nest Monastery) 4-5 hrs Hike.
Today, we hike up to the famous cliff-hermitage called Taktsang, the “Tiger’s Nest.” This day hike is not only historically and culturally interesting, but also incredibly scenic! It takes about two hours to reach the cafeteria, which gives a breathtaking view of the Tiger’s Nest. From Cafeteria it takes 1 hour to reach the main temple. This day hike is not only historically and culturally interesting, but also incredibly scenic! This monastic retreat is built into a sheer cliff face high above the Paro valley. Legend has it that the Tibetan Buddhist saint Padmasambhava flew across the Himalayas on the back of a tiger and landed here, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags.
You can also spend your time in the Paro town.
After breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport in time to catch up your onward flight. Your escort from Discovery Bhutan will bid you farewell and soon the remote and legendary Dragon Kingdom disappears again behind its guardian mountains.
After breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport in time to catch up your onward flight. Your escort from Charlotte Travel will bid you farewell and soon the remote and legendary Dragon Kingdom disappears again behind its guardian mountains.