Central Bhutan is an exciting destination for all visitors. It includes some of the most significant historical and religious sites in the country. The district of Trongsa has always been of great political importance to the leaders of Bhutan due to its commanding location in the center of the nation while Bumthang district has some of the most ancient and important temples and monasteries in Bhutan.
Arrival in Bhutan
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 exit 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!
We will drive 12km north of Thimphu to hike to Tango and Cheri monasteries. It will take about 45 minutes to hike to the monastery. Tango Monastery is a Buddhist college, and it's the residence of the Desi Tenzin Rabgye, a young boy who is the reincarnation of the 16th-century monk who built Tango. We will then hike to Cheri monastery, which is also about a 45-minute hike. Return back to Thimphu for lunch.
After lunch drive to Buddha Dordenma site, it is a gigantic Shakyamuni Buddha statue, which is sited amidst the ruins of Kuensel Phodrang, the palace of Sherab Wangchuck, the 13th Druk Desi, overlooking the southern approach to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. It is one of the largest Buddha stupas in the world, at a height of 169 feet (51.5 meters).
We will also stop at National Memorial Chorten; the building of this landmark was originally envisaged by Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who had wanted to erect a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it is both a memorial to the Late King (“the father of modern Bhutan”), and a monument to peace.
We will also visit the nursing pen for the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan.
Thimphu to Punakha
This morning depart Thimphu, pass the Semtokha Dzong built in 1629 and once the oldest fortress of its kind that guarded the Thimphu valley. Today it is a Theological university. Stop at Dochu La to view 108 Stupas and on a clear day you will witness a breathtaking view of the eastern Himalaya.
After lunch, we will hike through rice fields to Chimi Lhakhang temple located on a small hilltop. This temple is dedicated to the great Yogi in 14th century known as Drukpa Kuenley or popularly known as the “Divine madman” in the west. It is believed that this temple blesses women who seek fertility. A popular pilgrimage spot for the Bhutanese, it is frequented by childless couples and parents who have difficulty raising children.
Then drive to Punakha and visit Punakha Dzong (Fortress) situated between the two rivers Pho Chu and Mochu (Male and Female Rivers). This fortress is now used as the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (the Spiritual head of Bhutan). This Dzong had served as the capital seat of the Kingdom for more than three hundred years
Punakha to Trongsa
Drive to Trongsa, the elevation of this valley is about 2316m above the sea level. Trongsa forms the central hub of the kingdom and is historically the place from where attempts at unifying the country were launched and unified this country. En route, the mountain road passes through deciduous forests and at Pele La (3500m-11, 483ft.) where the entire area is blanketed by high altitude dwarf bamboo. Sloping down the contour of a ridge stands the many-levelled Trongsa Dzong, built in 1648. The dzong acts as a defensive fortress, stepping down into the valley and its bright golden yellow roof occupies most of the view from Trongsa. Trongsa is the ancestral home of the Royal Family. The Crown Prince of Bhutan traditionally becomes “Penlop” (Governor) of Trongsa before being crowned King.
Trongsa's location in the geographic center of the kingdom has enabled a “Penlop” (Governor) to effectively control the entire East and West of the country from there.
After lunch visit Trongsa Dzong and then Taa Dzong – This was the watchtower for the Trongsa dzong, guarded the dzong form internal rebellion. Now it is heritage museum. The ‘Ta dzong’ in Trongsa is known as ‘Tower of Trongsa’, which is a museum in which aspects of Bhutanese culture and history are illustrated by means of (art) objects, and for others a scared place of encounter with their gods – or perhaps both at the same time for all visitors.
Trongsa to Gangtey (Elevation 3000m)
Today it is return journey back, en route stop at CHENDEBJI CHHOETEN is patterned after Swayambhunath in Kathmandu (Nepal). The proper name is "Chorten Charo Kasho". The choeten was built in 19th century by Lama Shida. Chendebji Chorten is 41km away from Trongsa, just 2km beyond Chendebji village.
The Gangtey and Phobjikha Valley are some of the most stunning areas in the country; the wide flat valley without any trees after the hard climb through dense forest is an extremely rare experience in Bhutan. In contrast to some parts of Bhutan, where modern development is already very apparent, Gangtey is a place with natural beauty, untouched scenery, local traditions and culture, and unconstrained peacefulness. Unlike the rest of Bhutan where you walk from one stunning viewpoint to the next, in Phobjikha Valley you will have constant breathtaking views wherever you venture.
After arrival in Gangteng Gompa: visit 400 years old Gangtey Monastery,sits atop a hillock that overlooks the Phobjikha valley. It is headed by the ninth Gangtey Trulku and is the largest Nyingma monastery in western Bhutan. It houses more then 200 monks.
Then continue drive to Wangdue, which takes 2 hours drive by car.
Gangtey to Paro
After early breakfast drive to Paro, which take around 5 hours drive to reach there. In Paro visit Kyichu Lhakhang built in 638 A.D. by King Songtsen Gampo and is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan with its magic orange tree bearing fruit all year round. The exterior walls of this 7th century temple are lined with countless prayer wheels and you can see the footprints of the first caretaker monk worn by his many thousands of prostrations. An ancient myth links Kyichu with the Jokhang in Lhasa, Tibet. The ceremony will be held in the magnificent but intimate main shrine room.
And you will also visit Paro Dzong (“fortress on a heap of jewels”). Take a leisure walk through a traditional covered bridge to the Dzong and enjoy a breathtaking view of its architectural wonder. The Dzong is now the Paro Monastic School and the office of the civil administration.
Farm House Visit - A cluster of quaint farmhouses embroiders the beauty of Paro valley. A visit to farmhouse is very interesting and offers a good glimpse into the life style of the farmer.
Hike to Tiger’s Nest (5 - 6 hours)
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 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.
In the afternoon, visit drive to Drugyel Dzong, which is built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders. Though largely destroyed by fire in 1951, the towering outer walls and central keep remain an imposing sight. On clear day you can see the splendid view of Mt. Chomolhari from the approach road to Drukgyel Dzong. Then you will then return to the hotel in Paro where there will be time for resting or visiting the town for some more photography or shopping.
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.
DetailsEnquire about this itinerary
- All Accommodation in standard hotels (Double/twin sharing)
- All porters, camping equipment ( if on trek)
- All meals (but not beverages). Bottled water is complimentary in the car/coach
- All transfers (SUV/mini bus) and sightseeing within Bhutan
- Services of an accompanying English speaking local tour leader/ guide
- Fees for museums and permits to enter temples & monuments
- 35% government welfare levy (used for developmental projects) & tourism development fee
- Roundtrip Air tickets between Hong Kong and Bangkok (or other transit hub); and between Bangkok (or other transit hub) and Paro. Please contact our travel consultants for flight arrangements.
- Bangkok (or other transit hub) Hotel for transit
- Accommodations in upscale properties
- Single supplement for hotel rooms
- Visa and processing fee
- Travel insurance (recommended, mandatory if on trek)
- Personal expenses such as laundry, phone calls, shopping, etc.
- Beverages (juice and alcohol)
- Tips and gratuities for staff (optional)