Bhutan – Mystics and Myths
Duration: 13 days
Highlights: New Delhi, Paro, Thimphu, Bumthang, Trongsa, Gangtey, Punakha
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Day 1 - Arrival in New Delhi
Upon arrival at India Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, you are met by your Guardian Angel and transferred by private vehicle to your hotel, where you are assisted with check-in. The rest of the day is at your leisure.
Overnight: New Delhi
Day 2 – New Delhi – Paro – Thimphu
After breakfast, transfer to the airport to board your flight to Paro.
The hour and a half long flight is, perhaps, one of the most fascinating with awe-inspiring views of the Himalayas and offers an exciting descent to Paro Airport. Here, you are met with our representative who accompanies you on an hour’s drive to Thimphu, traversing the Paro valley to the confluence of Paro Chhu and Wang Chhu rivers at Chhuzom.
On arrival in Thimphu, check in to the hotel.
Enjoy a walk around Thimphu Main Street and market area in the evening.
Day 3 – Thimphu
After breakfast, proceed on a full-day guided tour of the city.
Start at the Textile Museum which is part of the Royal Textile Academy and worth a visit to experience Bhutan's living national art of thagzo (weaving). Visitors can learn about Bhutan’s history and culture in this centre for textile research. Next, it’s on to the National Library, a glowing example of traditional Bhutanese architecture which not only houses ancient Dzongkha and Tibetan texts and manuscripts but also modern academic books and printing blocks for prayer flags.
Visit the National Institute for Zorig Chusum. Commonly known as the Arts & Crafts School or Painting School, the Institute offers a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan (Zorig Chusum) namely, sculpting, painting, carpentry, wood-turning, paper-making, masonry, casting, weaving, carving, bamboo-work, tailoring, embroidering and applique-work, silversmithing-blacksmithing-goldsmithing.
A visit to Simply Bhutan is also extremely interesting and demonstrates a project that works towards the preservation and promotion of Bhutanese culture. The structure has been built reusing old timber, window and door frames and other items from demolished houses.
After lunch, see the National Memorial Chorten, built in memory of the third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, in 1974 and one of the most iconic religious structures of Thimpu. Then see Kuensel Phodrang (Buddha Point) - the largest Buddha statue in the country, with incredible views. Finally visit Trashi Chho Dzong, located on the western bank of the Wang Chhu river and the seat of the head of Bhutan’s civil government and monarch.
Day 4 - Thimphu – Gangtey
After breakfast at your hotel, embark on a five-hour drive to Gangtey.
Upon arrival, check in to your hotel.
After lunch, enjoy a half-day tour of Probjikha Valley, and in particular, Gangtey Gumpha. Overlooking the Phobjikha valley, the Gangtey Monastery is the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan. Founded in 1613 by Gyalse Pema Thinlay, a grandson and reincarnation of influential spiritual treasures finder Pema Lingpa, it is surrounded by village homes and hermitages.
Day 5 – Gangtey – Bumthang
After breakfast, you have a long, yet picturesque, drive to Bumthang (approximately seven hours).
En route, you come across the beautiful Yutong-La Pass (3425 meters) and the panoramic Chumey Valley which is known for its traditional yathra (textiles woven out of Yak hair and sheep wool) weavers.
On arrival at Bumthang, check in to your hotel.
Day 6 – Bumthang
After breakfast, enjoy an excursion to Kunzangdrak Monastery. Located around a two-hour trek away, above Chel Tang Valley, it was founded in 1488 by Pema Lingpa. Apart from the various sacred relics of the famed saint, it also contains a gilded stone bearing his footprint.
After lunch, enjoy a tour of Bumthang valley, which comprises four valleys, namely, Chumey, Chokhor, Tang and Ura. It is said to be the religious center of Bhutan and houses many prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries. The farmlands and mountain streams spread over the valley present a charming scene right out of a postcard.
Visit notable Buddhist temples like Kurje Lhakhang, Jambey Lhakhang with its 108 chortens, Tamshing Lhakhang with its paintings, Lhodrak Kharchu Monastery and the significant Jakar Dzong.
Later, enjoy a stroll to visit the little handicrafts shop and take refreshments at a local restaurant if you so desire.
Day 7 – Bumthang
Spend another day exploring Bumthand today, starting with the 15th century Tangbi Goemba, home to many religious paintings and statues.
Later, enjoy a trek to Ngang Yul (Land of the Swan) and then, onto Ngang Lhakhang (Swan Temple).
Day 8 – Bumthang – Trongsa
After breakfast, enjoy a drive to Trongsa, crossing the Pelela pass (3,300m). En route visit the 18th-Century Chendebji Chorten.
On arrival at Trongsa, check in to your hotel.
After lunch, visit the breathtaking Trongsa Dzong, built in the 17th-Century, and Ta Dzong, once a watchtower, now a museum.
Day 9 – Trongsa – Punakha
After breakfast, it’s a six-hour drive to Punakha where you check in to your new hotel.
Day 10 – Punakha
After breakfast, visit the beautiful Punakha Dzong, built at the confluence of the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers.
Later, enjoy a walk to Richengang village, near Wangdue. One of the oldest villages in Bhutan with traditional architecture, here, observe the locals’ ancient way of life that has remained unchanged through the centuries.
After lunch, your excursion to Chimi Lhakhang, a Buddhist monastery, involves a 15-minutes-drive and then a walk through paddy fields and villages. Perched atop a hillock in the valley, Chimi Lhakhang is known as The Fertility Temple.
Day 11 – Punakha – Paro
After breakfast, visit Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, a four-storied temple built by the Queen Mother in the 1990s. To reach this beautiful chorten, hike through paddy fields and vegetables patches, walk along the banks of the Mo Chhu river and cross a suspension bridge. Upon reaching your destination, bask in the stunning view of the lush valley and mountains around you.
Hiking time: 2 hours
Altitude: 2,250 meters (7,382 feet)
After breakfast, embark on a four-hour drive to Paro. Cross through the Dochula Pass where you can stop to soak up the panoramic views of the towering Himalayas.
En route visit the 17th-Century Simtokha Dzong, that showcases skilled craftsmanship in the form of its architecture, interiors, paintings etc.
On arrival in Paro, check in to your hotel.
Day 12 – Paro
After breakfast, enjoy a short drive to Satsam Chorten. En route, stop by and visit the 7th-Century Kyichu Lhakhang, built by the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo.
Then, reach the trailhead and embark on a walking excursion to Taktsang Monastery (approximately five hours roundtrip, on foot). Located on the side of a cliff 900 meters (2,952 feet) above the Paro valley floor, it is Bhutan’s most popular monastery. Legends say that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated in this monastery, hence the term ‘Tiger’s Nest’.
Enjoy lunch at the famous Taktsang cafeteria.
On the way back, visit the historic ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, a memorial for Bhutanese warriors who fought the Tibetan invaders centuries ago.
Visit Ta Dzong; once a watchtower, it now houses the National Museum. Here, see the massive collection of antiques including thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons and armor, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artefacts.
Later, visit Paro Dzong (Rinchen Pung Dzong or Rinpung Dzong), meaning “fortress on a heap of jewels”, and unlock its long and fascinating history.
In the evening, you may enjoy a walk around Main Street and the market area.
Day 13 – Paro – Kolkata
After breakfast, drive to the airport to catch your flight for your onward journey.