Architecture of Bhutanse House

Central Bhutan - Bhumthang Ura valley

This in-depth cultural tour offers a rare opportunity to savor the different customs and cultures of the western and central valleys of Bhutan at a leisurely pace.

Highlights include Ta Dzong Museum, Rimpong Dzong and the infamous Taktsang Monastery. 

The National Memorial Chorten, 12th century Changangkha Temple and the National Library exhibiting ancient scriptures in Bhutan’s capital Thimphu, and after crossing the 3050m Dochula Pass with spectacular Himalayan views, a journey into the sub-tropical Punakha Valley featuring the incredible the Punakha Dzong and Chimi Lhakang, temple of the ‘Divine Madman’. Continue onto the central districts of Trongsa, the birthplace of monarchy, and the Bumthang Valley, Bhutan’s spiritual heartland featuring 7th century Jambay Lhakhang and Kurje Lhakhang with its rock imprint of Guru Rimpoche. The tour then returns westward to the glacial valley of Gangtey/Phobjika, the winter home to the rare black necked cranes.

Tour Duration: 12 Days / 11 Nights

Season: All season.

Group Size: Any

Detailed Itinerary [We can also customized as per your requirement] 

 DAY 1: PARO

On arrival at Paro International Airport you will be received by our representative who will be holding a pluck card outside the Airport and welcome you in a traditional manner by offering a khadar (greeting scarf).

You will be escorted to your hotel.

Evening: Free time to relax and stroll Paro town.

Meals: Lunch/Dinner

Overnight at Hotel- Paro

DAY 2: HAA DAY EXCURSION-PARO

Drive to Haa valley via Chele la pass. Visit farmhouse. Drive back to Paro.

Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

Overnight at Hotel- Paro

DAY 3: PARO INSIGHT

Visit Rinpung Dzong, built in 17th century, to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders, the dzong is now used as an administration centre and school for monks.

The National Museum which is a repository of not only precious work of art but also costumes, amour and other hand crafted objects of daily life that provide a good snapshot of the rich cultural traditions of the country.  It is rated as one of the finest natural history museums in South Asia and it is a wonderful insight into Bhutan the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Of special interest is the gallery of thangkhas which exhibits exquisite pieces of different vintages – those depicting Zhabdung Ngawang Namgyal, the first Je Khempo and first Druk desi are of particular significance.

Drive to Drukgyal Dzong (fortress) now in ruins, which was built in 1646 by Shabdrung to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders, led by Mongolian Warlord, Gushri Khan. Strategically built over the only passage into Paro valley, the Dzong helped to repel numerous invasions all through the course of Bhutanese history. It so impressed the early visitors in 1914 that the Dzong was featured on the cover of the National Geographic Magazine.

Dungtse Lhakhang, lies just out of town, across the river. Dungtse Lhakhang is possibly the only ancient temple built in the shape of a chhorten. The lhakhang is literally chained down since local belief holds that it will otherwise fly off to heaven! It was constructed in 1421 by Thangtong Gyelpo who came to Bhutan in search of iron ore to be used for constructing bridges in his homeland Tibet.

Then visit Kyichu temple one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demons lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on all the points of her body. Of these 108 temples, 12 were built in accordance with precise plans. Thus, it happened that in about the year AD 638 the temple of Jokhang in Lhasa was built over the very heart of the demons.

Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

Overnight at Hotel– Paro

DAY 4:PARO INSIGHT- THIMPHU     Drive= 1hr 30 min 65kms

Morning, hike up to the Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s nest). The climb up to the view point will take around three hours. Enjoy the stunning view of the monastery, where Guru Padmasambava landed on the back of a tiger in the 8th century, and meditated for three months. The monastery was later built in this holy place in 1684.

Lunch will be arranged in the cafeteria and after the lunch in the cafe, walk back to the road point and drive back to the hotel.

Drive towards Thimphu. On the way see Tachogang Temple or the “Temple of the Hill of Excellent Horse” which rises in austere surroundings on the left bank of the river, a few km before Chhuzom at the confluence of the Paro and Thimphu rivers. A Tibetan Saint had a vision of the excellent Horse Balaha – an emanation of Avalokiteshwara while he was meditating there. He decided thereupon to build a temple at this spot in addition to one of his famous iron bridges (later carried away by floods in 1969). The exact date of the temple’s construction is not certain, but it was probably around the year 1433.

Then drive to Thimphu valley, at an elevation of 2,350 m / 7700 ft. Urbanization began here when Thimphu was proclaimed as a national capital in 1952 and the Dechenchoeling Palace was built at this time. Even today the city retains its ethnic architectural style and is the only capital in the world with no traffic lights. Yet unlike other capital cities in the world, Thimphu remains essentially pastoral in character and changes its demeanor with the seasons.

Check into hotel

Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

Overnight at Hotel - Thimphu

DAY 5: THIMPHU INSIGHT

Visit the Bhutan Post known for its world famous stamps where you can buy postcards and stamps. The Bhutan Post is definitely a place of significance where an extensive collection of exotic stamps made from metal and silk to three dimensional images and even stamps with mini-phonograph records are produced. Many major events of the world are recorded and made into stamps in Bhutan.

Visit the National Library, a treasure trove of priceless Buddhist manuscripts. The National Library of Bhutan (NLB) was established in 1967 with the primary objective of collecting and preserving mainly ancient Bhutanese written and printed resources. The multi-functional library can now pride itself on being a modern library with a number of service and research facilities.

It accommodates a large and steadily growing collection of manuscripts, books, scriptures and written documents as well as a large number of hands carved wooden blocks for printing traditional religious books.

Then move to The National Folk Heritage Museum to get an insight into the typical Bhutanese way of life. Folk Heritage Museum at Thimphu provides you a glimpse of the lifestyle, items and artifacts of Bhutanese villages and rural households. Besides the display, the museum also organizes demonstrations of rural traditions, skills, habits and customs, educational programs for children and research and documentation on the rural life of Bhutan. The museum building itself is one of the star exhibits of the library. It is a restored three-storey traditional rammed mud and timber house that resembles the average rural household in the Wang area during the mid-19th century, complete with typical household objects, domestic tools and equipments that were used by rural families of that period.

See the Institute for Zorig Chusum: Commonly known as the Painting School, the Institute offers a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. On a visit one can see students learning the various skills taught at the school.

Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

Overnight at Hotel - Thimphu

DAY 6:THIMPHU INSIGHT

Visit Memorial Chhorten in Thimphu built in 1974 in memory of the Third King His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who passed away in 1972. The Memorial Chhorten is one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu, and for many people it is the focus of their daily worship.

The Changangkha temple, built in the 15 century by Lama Phajo Drigom. It lies on a hilltop commanding the Thimpu valley. The temple has very old scriptures and Thankas. The main deity of the temple is Avalokiteshvara, God of compassion.

Drive to see the Takin Preserve, which houses the national animal, the Takin. Further, drive up to BBS tower to get a view of the Thimphu valley.

Visit the Nunnery (Drubthob Goemba) and enjoy the view of Thimphu valley. From there you have very nice view of Trashichodzong and the Parliament house.

After lunch, walk to the Textile Museum to get an understanding of the beautiful hand woven Bhutanese textiles. Bhutan's textiles are an integral part of its cultural heritage and are unique for their diversity and sophistication. Textile Museum at Thimphu has given a new platform to Bhutanese weavers and boasts of an invaluable collection of antique textile artifacts of Bhutan. Some of the museum’s gems are the pearl robe from Tsamdrak Goenpa, crowns of Bhutan’s Kings, Namzas (dresses) and other accessories worn by the Royal Family, personal bedding of His Holiness Zhabdrung Jigme Dorji and the first version of the Raven Crown.

Evening: Visit Tashichhodzong, whose history dates back to the 13th century, wherein houses His Majesty’s Throne Room and is the summer home to the Monastic Body.

Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

Overnight at Hotel - Thimphu

DAY 7: THIMPHU - PUNAKHA      Drive= 3 hr 15 min 77 kms

Drive to Punakha (70Km) via the Dochula pass (3140 m). The drive takes you through the scenic Paro Chhu and Wang Chhu river valleys on to the high mountain pass of Dochula.

Visit Druk Wangyel Chhorten, built by the Queen Mother for the peace and stability of the country. The 108 Khangzang Namgyal Chhortens are a new landmark for travelers as they cross Dochula, the first mountain pass into the interior of the country. “The Buddha himself taught that reverence to the Chhorten, the mind stupa, is as meritorious as prostrating before the Buddha in person,” said the Dorji Lopon who performed the tagyen sungchoe.

Chimi Lhakhang:  The temple is located on a hillock in the centre of the valley below Metshina and is a 20 minute walk through the village of Sopsokha. It was built by Ngawang Chogyel in the 15th century after the 'divine Madman' Drukpa Kuenlay built a small chorten there. The temple is believed to bless couples unable to have children and many people from around the world visit this holly site to seek its blessings.

Check in Hotel

Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

Overnight at Hotel - Punakha

DAY 8: PUNAKHA – BUMTHANG        Drive= 8hrs30mins 210kms.

After an early breakfast visit the impressive Punakha Dzong, the second of Bhutan’s dzongs. For many years until the time of the second King, it served as the seat of the government. It is the winter residence of the monastic order’s leader and his entourage of monks, and was built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Inside the Dzong is the set of the 108 volumes of Kanjur – the holy book of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage, written in gold. Bhutan’s most treasured possession is the Rangjung Kharsapani, a self created image of Chenrigzig which is described by Shabdrung as a treasure as vast as the sky.

Drive further to Trongsa via Pele la pass at an altitude of 3,150 metres. As one approaches Trongsa town one can get a view of Trongsa Dzong overlooking the Mangde Chu at an altitude of 2,200 meters. Trongsa Dzong is an architectural masterpiece built in 1644 by the Shabdrung.

Visit Trongsa Dzong, which was the ancestral home of the Royal family. Both the first and second King ruled the country from this ancient seat. All five Kings held the post of Trongsa Penlop (honorary governor) prior to being crowned as King. The Dzong is a massive structure with many levels which slope down the contours of a hill on which it perches. Due to its highly strategic position as the only connecting route between east and west, the Trongsa Penlop was able to control the whole of the eastern region effectively.

The Ta Dzong which is situated strategically above the Trongsa Dzong served as the watch tower for centuries. It was built by Choeje Minjur Tempa in 1652. Today it is a state of the art museum dedicated to the Monarchs of Bhutan. The museum focuses on the history of the monarchy, which had its cradle in Trongsa and the history of the Trongsa Dzong. It has a total of eleven galleries styled along the National Museum in Paro with one gallery fully dedicated to the history of Kings of the Wangchuck dynasty and includes a media room where visitors can watch a documentary program on the history of the monarchy.

Drive further to Bumthang which is one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heartland of Buddhism. Here the great teachers meditated and left in their wake many sacred grounds. The Guru and his lineage of Tertons, treasure finders, have led to the sprouting of many temples in the valley.

Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

Overnight at Hotel – Bumthang

Day 9: BUMTHANG INSIGHT

Visit to Jakar Dzong, “castle of the white bird”. According to legend, when the lamas assembled in about 1549 to select a site for a monastery, a big white bird rose suddenly in the air and settled on a spur of a hill. This was interpreted as an important omen, and the hill was chosen as the site for a monastery and for Jakar Dzong. The fortress is now used as an administrative center of the valley and summer residence of Trongsa monks.

Visit Swiss Farm, a small factory, founded by a Swiss that produces a variety of Swiss cheeses, clover honey, apple cider, wine, apple brandy and local beer. It is an interesting place to see, sample and purchase some delicious local product to try.  

Tamshing Monastery, located opposite Kurjey Lhakhang was founded by Bhutan's religious treasure discoverer, Terton Pema Lingpa in 1501. Believed to be the reincarnation of Guru Rimpoche, he discovered many religious treasures around the country. The mural paintings inside the temple are known to be unrecorded ancient paintings. The best way to enjoy the serenity and the beauty of the valley is to hike for about one hour from Kurjey over Chamkhar River to arrive at Tamshing.

Visit the Jambay Lhakhang: built in the 17th century during the time of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal – 1st Religious and Political King of Bhutan. The fortress is now used as an administrative center of Bumthang valley.

The short distance beyond Jambay Lhakhang, is Chakhar Lhakhang – Iron Castle temple is easy to be mistaken for a house which is an interesting temple and worth a short visit. It is the site of the Palace of the Indian King Sindhu Raja who first invited the Second Buddha Guru Rimpoche to Bumthang. The original Palace was made of Iron hence the name Chakhar and said to have been nice storey, holding within all the treasures of the world.

Kurjey Lhakhang: This temple is located above Jambay Lhakhang and consists of three temples. The one on the right was built in 1652 on the rock face where Guru meditated in the 8th century. The second temple is built on the site of a cave containing a rock with the imprint of Guru’s body and is considered the most holy. The third temple was recently funded and built by the Royal Queen Mother. These three temples are surrounded by 108 chhorten wall symbolic of each joint of the human body.

Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

Overnight at Hotel – Bumthang

DAY 10: BUMTHANG - GANGTEY     Drive= 6 hrs 188kms

Drive to Gangtey which is also the winter home to the rare black necked cranes (Grus Nicorocolis) which migrate from remote parts of Tibet, China and Siberia to winter in this valley.

The Black Necked Cranes, Grus nigricollis, is the least known of the 15 species of cranes in the world. It was first discovered in 1876 by a Russian naturalist, Prjezhwalsky in Lake Koko-nor in the northeast corner of the Tibetan Plateau. Endemic to the Himalayan region, it has been listed in the Red Data Boo of the International Union for Conservation of Nature as globally threatened with a total count of 5000-6000 individuals worldwide. There are also muntjak (barking deer), Himalayan black bear, leopard and red fox. The valley is a designated conservation area and borders Black Mountain National Park.

Gangtey is declared a conservation ground and energy is run on solar power and lights go out by 10 pm at night and come back early morning.

Visit Black Necked Crane Information Centre: The conservation measures undertaken in Bhutan to preserve and conserve the cranes are unique; in fact more and more crane habitat areas are being brought under the protected area concept. The Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) established this centre in 2003, which has the mandate for conservation and nature education has been involved in monitoring the winter visitors to the Phobjika valley and its adjoining Bomdeling Valley. This centre provides information on cranes and the environment of the valley. The information Centre is a very modern decagonal building, next to a stream, with high-tech equipment. There is also a guesthouse for birdwatchers. The Society has also produced a documentary film on the cranes visiting Bhutan every year. Further, in Phubjika the Observation Towers have been so located that they cause the least disturbance to the crane habitats. Tourists are allowed to observe the cranes through the two or three high tech “spotting telescopes’’ and spotted on the watch the behavior of the crane as described in the RSPN pamphlet titled “Filed Guide to Crane Behavior”, from a safe distance under the strict supervision of forest officials. Farmers are also advised to replace the barbed wire fencing with wooden and stone fencing to reduce harm to the cranes. Collisions with power lines cause mortality to many crane species and when electricity was to be provided to the valley, the power cables were laid underground to avoid any mortality. The work was taken up during summer when the birds do not use the area.

Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

Overnight at Hotel - Gangtay

DAY 11: GANGTAY – PARO     Drive = 6 hour 143 kms

Visit Gangtay Goemba and take a short walk down hill.

Visit Khewang Lhakhang. It is believed that the location for this lhakhang was prophesied by Lam Drukpa Kuenley when he visited the valley. The temple was later built in the 15th century by Trulku Penjor Gyaltshen who was the incarnation of the great Tibetan saint Kuenkhen Logchen Rabjampa. The Trulku is said to have hired sculptor and laborers from Tibet. The temple was built to control famine and diseases, to ward off ill wishes of other people and also to help the spirits of the people who have sinned in the past to find the path to heaven.

Drive back to Paro. Check into hotel.

Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

Overnight at Hotel - Paro

Day 12: PARO – DEPARTURE

After breakfast your guide will escort you to the airport for your flight onward.   

Meals: Breakfast 

Detail costing for this tour

Land cost: USD $ 1400.00 (USD $ 280.00 per night) 

Airfare Bangkok/Paro/Bangkok:  USD $ 794.00

Visa Fee: USD $   40.00

Tourism Development Fund: USD $   10.00

Net package cost per person: USD $ 3924.00

What’s included:

a)    Expert leadership

b)    All accommodations

c)    All meals

d)    All transportation during the tour

e)    All activities as noted in the itinerary

f)      Bottled water while on drive and hiking

* All rates based on three or more traveling together on twin room sharing basis.

 SURCHARGE

Individual tourists and smaller groups of less than three persons shall be subject to the following surcharges:

a)    Single Individual: US$ 40/ per night halt

b)    Group of 2: US$ 30/ per person per night halt

c)    The 10% agency commission payable to agents abroad shall not be deductible from the surcharge.

d)  The surcharge will not be applicable to representatives of foreign travel agents on business study or promotional visit duly approved and cleared by TCB.

Contact details

Ar-ring Tours and Treks

Olakha Thimphu,   

Bhutan 

Contact # : 00975 17612201

tdorjiinsb@gmail.com