A trip to Bhutan normally begins and ends in Paro. Located at an altitude of 2200m above sea level, Paro is home to the National Museum and watch tower to one of the oldest and most celebrated dzongs of Bhutan. The town is full of legends, heroism and natural splendour and recorded many events which marked the beginning of great cultural heritage of the country.
Note: We also make a day trip to Bhutan’s capital Thimphu, scenically situated on a hillside and on the bank of the Thimphu River.
Day 1: Arrival in Paro. Drive to Thimphu. If we are lucky, we’ll 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 your adventure. Already you can feel the pace of life slow down. After visa formalities and collection of baggage, we’ll meet with our local guide and the Driver. We’ll then drive through the beautiful agricultural valley of Paro to visit National Museum (Closed on Sun/Mon) it helps us to learn basic of the country before the sightseeing.
Take a leisure hike down to visit the first of many medieval fortress temples you’ll see in Bhutan. Paro Rinpung Dzong, “fortress of the heap of jewels.” This was the setting for the Bernardo Bertolucci movie, “Little Buddha” starring Keanu Reaves. You’ll walk down following the path crossing a traditional covered cantilever bridge, your driver and car will be waiting for you. We’ll then drive (1 and half hours) the winding road following the Pa Chu (Paro River) downstream to its confluence with the Wang Chu (Thimphu River), then up-valley to Thimphu, the capital.
As we enter Thimphu Valley we will pass by Simtokha, the Dzong built in 1629 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (the man who unified Bhutan). Simtokha is the oldest of the Dzongs, originally serving as a fortress to protect the region, an administrative center and the center for the monk’s religious activity. Simtokha now houses a language school where scholars of all ages study Dzongkha, the national language. Upon arrival in Thimphu (the only capital city no traffic light!), we'll have the rest of the evening free. Accommodation: Hotel in Thimphu. Meals: L & D.
Day 2: Thimphu sightseeing. A full day to explore Bhutan's exotic capital city—a fascinating combination of traditional and contemporary life. There are numerous things to do here. After breakfast, 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. Visit the Memorial Chorten, a sacred shrine built in honor of the current King’s father.
The Chorten is an impressive three-story monument with Tantric statues and wall paintings of three different cycles of Nyingma teachings of Mahayana Buddhism. You will find many elderly people making the Kora (pilgrimage circuit). Drive to the Takin Preserve to see Takin, Bhutan’s national animals grazing peacefully in a small protected park. Further down the valley, take in the view of the majestic Tashichho Dzong, the seat of the government. After lunch drive to visit school of 13 Arts & Crafts, Heritage Folk Museum and Textile Museum.
Many visitors also enjoy visiting the handmade paper factory along with some interesting handicraft shops, where they sell masks, beautiful hand-woven textiles, carpets, jewelry and Bhutanese wooden products. Other choices include: a chance to see Bhutanese Archery Game - Bhutan’s national sport and an integral part of all festivities, and an evening walk to the Memorial Chorten. Take a walk along the streets of Thimphu and enjoy some free shopping time at the handicraft emporiums before returning to Paro in the afternoon. Accommodation: Hotel in Thimphu Meals: B, L & D.
Day 3: Hike to Taktshang Monastery. After an early breakfast, you will drive to Paro and drop us at the starting point of the hike to Taktshang. The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the tress festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. You stop at the cafeteria for a rest and refreshments and continue the hike (if not tired) for short while until you see, clearly and seemingly within reach, the imposing Taktshang monastery.
Built in 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of the sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. It is believed that, in the 8th century, Guru Rinpoche, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, landed here on the back of a flying tigress to subdue a demon. Guru Rinpoche is supposed to have meditated here for 3 months and it is considered one of the most sacred places for Buddhists.
After lunch, visit the ruins of Drugyel Dzong. Built in 1647 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the Dzong was destroyed by fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. There were several unsuccessful attempts to invade Paro by the Tibetan from the north. The fortress featured on the cover of the US National Geographic magazine in 1914. The fortress served as an administrative center until 1951, when a fire brought it down. From here, on a clear day, you can get a magnificent view of the Mount Jomolhari (7,314 m/24,868 ft). Accommodation: Hotel in Paro Meals: B, L & D.
Day 4: Departure. Early morning drive to Paro airport for you onward journey.
- Pricing for all our all-inclusive tour/trek packages are based on the tariff fixed by the government.
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Asia Bhutan Local Culture Cultural Journey
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