Day 1: Bangkok / Paro. Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon, one of the most mysterious and unknown of all Himalayan Kingdoms, hidden in isolation behind the high peaks of the Himalayas. For centuries forbidden to foreigners, this timeless Buddhist Kingdom has succeeded in preserving its enchanting traditions and ancestral way of life. We embark on a 5-day Druk Path trek that brings you from Paro valley to Thimphu, crossing a chain of mountains that separates the two valleys. The trail goes as high as 4000m and you are rewarded with great views of the Himalayan peaks, high altitude lakes teeming with fishes and spectacular rhododendron forests. After the trek, relax and soak in the atmosphere of Thimphu and Paro.
Fly early morning from Bangkok, if we are lucky, we will have glorious views of the snow capped Himalayas on the way to Paro (try and get the left hand seat for better view of the Himalayas). The remarkable and steep descent into the Paro Valley is an awe-inspiring beginning to our adventure. Already you can feel the pace of life slow down. Paro is the only international gateway into Bhutan and is a lovely valley, when in spring, is blessed with lovely cherry blossoms. This afternoon, we visit Paro Museum (Closed on Sun/Mon) and Paro Dzong, which means “the fortress of the heap of jewels”.
This complex houses the administrative and religious headquarters for the Paro district. A part of Bernardo Bertolucci’s movie, “Little Buddha,” was filmed inside this dzong. From the dzong, we will enjoy a short and easy walk to the Pachu river and cross to the other side over a traditional cantilever (wooden covered) bridge. Just on the outskirts of Paro town, we visit Kyichu Lhakang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. Includes: (L), (D).
Day 2: Paro. This morning, we make an excursion to Taktshang Monastery – this has to be the monastery with the most outstanding setting in Bhutan. Set on a vertical cliff face at 2950m above sea level, it defies all engineering logic. For the energetic, hike 2 hours up to get a more dramatic view of the monastery. (The hike demands a certain level of fitness and a pony ride to the monastery can be arranged at additional cost). The rest of the afternoon is free at leisure. You may wish to take a stroll along the street of Paro. Includes: (B),(L), (D).
Day 3-7: Druk Path Trek. Starting from Paro, this scenic 5-day trek begins with the first night’s campsite at Jeli Dzong (3535m), sitting along the ridge with dramatic views of the valley and Mt Jhomolhari as the backdrop. The path then descends into the thick alpine forest and rhododendron trees. You may chance upon the occasional yak herders at your second campsite at Janchulakha. From here, you ascend to the ridge and arrive at the beautiful Jemilangtsho (Lake) for your overnight camp. The last night’s campsite is at Phajoding, a great meditation place.
On the last morning, descend until you reach the head road. Make a stop at Takin Preserve to see Takin, Bhutan’s national animal before we drive to Thimphu and check into your hotel. We spend the afternoon touring Thimphu, visiting Changlingmithang National Stadium for Bhutanese archery game (the national sport), Memorial Chorten, Heritage Folk Museum and Textile Museum. Spend the rest of the evening taking walks along Thimphu town and free time for shopping at the handicraft emporiums. Includes: (B)(L)(D)
Day 8: Thimphu / Paro. Catch the bustling weekend market (Friday to Sunday) which offers the best opportunity to see the colorful vegetables, dairy products and to mix with the locals. Spend more time in Thimphu sightseeing before we take a leisure drive back to Paro. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 9: Paro / Haa Valley. Enjoy a day out in the Haa Valley with optional bike descents. Start early for the drive to Haa via Chele La (pass) which at 3810m is the highest road pass in Bhutan, snaking upwards through blue pine and rhododendron (Etho Metho) forests for 35km. On a clear day the view sweeps away to snow-dome of Bhutan’s highest peak Mt Jhomolhari (7314m). After a bracing walk along the prayer flag bedecked ridge it is down into Haa (by bike if you prefer) – the whole drive should take no more than 2.5 hours. Wangchulo Dzong is presently occupied by the Indian Army, however this makes for a quirky experience.
Having visited the bazaar it is a short walk (or bike ride) along the Haa Chhu (river) to a picnic spot. At Lhakhang Karpo (the White Temple), many young monks await to offer a warm, noisy welcome and may accompany us to the nearby Lhakhang Nagpo (the Black Temple). The Haa valley is only opened to foreigners in 2002 due to its proximity to the border with Sikkim and Tibet. This un-spoilt valley harks back to a simpler more traditional time. For those who would rather walk, we recommend a 3-4 hour hike up to Kili Goemba, an ancient nunnery, topping out at Chele La. A further option, once back (by vehicle or bike) in the Paro Valley, time permitting, is a 20 minute walk out to the dramatically positioned Dzongdrakha Goemba complex. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 10: Paro / Bangkok. After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Bangkok. Includes: (B).
Also see tour packages in:
Asia Bhutan Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking Cultural Journey
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