8 Nights 9 Days
- Discover the places of western central Bhutan (Bumthang) religious heartland of the nation and home to some of its oldest Buddhist temples and monasteries
- Offering of 108 Butter lamps
- Learn how to cook ema datshi (chili cheese) with a local family at local home stay
- See and Experience century old fortresses called Dzongs and temples
- Stay in Typical Bhutanese Homestays and enjoy Local food at local home stay
- Experience pure Buddhist tradition and preserved Bhutanese culture
- Hike to Taktsang Goemba ‘Tiger’s Nest’ and thrilling cliffs
- Very special is a visit to the Cordyceps Tasting House, where you can learn more about the so-called ‘caterpillar mushroom’’, a traditional medicine valued more than gold
Day 01 Arrive Paro
Kuzuzangpola -Welcome to Bhutan!
The flight into Bhutan takes you the great Himalayas, offering you the most scintillating scenery of the world’s highest glacial peaks. As you enter Paro valley, you will see the silvery Pa-chu (Paro river) meandering down the valley with lush green paddy fields, pristine forest, incredulous fortress-like monasteries known as Dzongs and majestically flowing rivers. On arrival at the Paro International Airport, you will be receiv by Away Smile Travels representatives.
Paro valley extends from the confluence of the Paro Chhu and the Wang Chhu rivers at Chuzom up to Mt. Jomolhari at the Tibetan border to the North. This picturesque region is one of the widest valleys in the kingdom and is covered in fertile rice fields and has a beautiful, crystalline river meandering down the valley.
Accentuating the natural beauty are the elegant, traditional-style houses that dot the valley and surrounding hills. One of the distinctive features of Paro town is that it is situated in a flat valley bottom and follows a grid-like pattern.
Visit Ta-Dzong, the National Museum which was originally the watch tower of the Paro Dzong and stands imposingly on a hillock overlooking the Paro valley. A short visit here will give you an idea of the cultural and ecological richness of Bhutan.
Visit Rinpung Dzong. The dzong’s correct name is Rinchen Phug Dzong but has been shortened to Rinpung Dzong. The name means ‘fortress of the heap of jewels.’ The dzong was built in 1644 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel on the foundation of a monastery built by Guru Rinpoche. Some of the scenes from the film ‘Little Buddha’ by Bernardo Bertolucci in 1995 was filmed at the Paro Rinpung Dzong. From the Paro Dzong, walk downhill to the wooden bridge, which is known nayamai zampa.
Evening welcome Cultural show/ program and followed by dinner at Local Home Stay. Overnight Hotel in Paro
Day 02 Paro Sightseeing
After breakfast drive to Ramthangka and hike to Tiger Nest. Taktshang Goemba. Taktshang meaning the ‘Tiger’s Nest’ is one of Bhutan’s most venerated pilgrimage sites and a very popular site for all tourists visiting Bhutan. According to legend, Guru Rinpoche miraculously flew here on the back of a tigress, meditated in a cave here for three months and converted the whole of Paro valley to Buddhism. Resting at an altitude of 900 meters above the valley, Taktshang is an architectural wonder and the spectacular four-hour walk will be your most overwhelming experience ever. (Round trip hike 5 hours)
Visit Kyichu Lhakhang. Built in the 7th century by the famous Buddhist Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo, Kyichu Lhakhang is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. As the name suggests, the temple is a reservoir of peace, where you will really feel at peace. Overnight:Hotel in Paro.
Day 03 Paro-Bumthang
ATR Domestic flight. (The itinerary may change as per the flight schedule and seat availability. Please contact us for the details.
After breakfast transfer to Paro Airport for Bumthang. The flight from Paro-Bumthang is about 30 minutes.
Bumthang region span from 2,600-4,500 m is the religious heartland of the nation and home to some of its oldest Buddhist temples and monasteries. Tales of Guru Padmasambhava and the tertons (“religious treasure-discoverers”) still linger in this sacred region.
Bumthang Dzongkhag consists of four main valleys, Ura, Chumey, Tang and Choekhor. Choekhor is the largest of the four and is widely considered as ‘Bumthang Valley’. The valleys are broad and gentle carved by the ancient glaciers. The wide and scenic valleys draws a large number of tourists each year.
This dzongkhag is one of the most richly endowed districts in terms of historical and spiritual legacy. Some of Bhutan’s oldest and most venerated temples are found in Bumthang, including Jambey Lhakhang. There are numerous other temples and shrines worth visiting in Bumthang and many of them are linked to Guru Rinpoche’s visit in 746 A.D. The fertile valleys of Bumthang are covered in fields of buckwheat and potatoes. Apple orchards and dairy farms are also common sights here. This serene region is one of the most peaceful places in the kingdom.
Visit Jambay Lhakhang. This monastery was built in the 7th century by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo. It is one of 108 monasteries he built to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region. Its present architectural appearance dates from the early 20th century.
Visit Kurjey Lhakhang. Located further along the valley, Kurje Lhakhang is comprised of three temples. The one on the right was built in 1652 against the rock face where Guru Padmasambhava meditated in the 8th century. The middle temple is built on the site of a cave containing a rock with the imprint of the Guru’s body, and is therefore considered to be the holiest. The temple on the left was built in the 1990s by Her Majesty Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck, Royal Grandmother. These three temples are surrounded by a 108-chorten wall.
Visit Tamshing Lhakhang. Located across the river from Kurje Lhakhang, this temple was founded in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa, a re-incarnation of Guru Padmasambhava. There are very old religious paintings around the inner walls of the temple, which was restored at the end of the 19th century.
Visit Kenchok Sum Lhakhang. Kenchok Sum Lhakhang dates back to the 8th century. The inscription on the large bell testifies to it being cast for the Tibetan Royal Family. You will find statues of the past, present and future Buddhas.
Visit Local Beer (Red panda) Factory. Overnight Hotel in Bumthang.
Day 04 Bumthang Sightseeing. (Day trip to Tang Valley)
After breakfast drive to Tang. Visit to Ugyenchoeling Manor house. The manor has a large building, the Jokhang, which contains two temples with imposing statues and paintings dating from the beginning of the 20th century. The temple on the ground floor is dedicated to Tara, the Goddess of Compassion, and the one on the first floor to Jowo, the Buddha as a young prince. Through the initiative of the Ugyenchoeling family, a very interesting museum of the history and life of Ugyenchoeling was opened in May 2001. The Museum has several floors of the central tower, the Utse. It offers a unique opportunity to get to know life in a lord’s mansion before 1950.
Visit the Mebar Tsho. Mebar Tsho or the ‘Burning Lake’ is considered to be one of the most important pilgrimage spots in Bhutan. Mebar Tsho is more of a gorge than a lake. It is believed that the famous treasure hunter, Terton Pema Lingpa discovered many holy relics hidden here by Guru Rinpoche. To silence skeptical minds, he plunged into the gorge with a burning lamp declaring, “If I am a demon, I shall die! If I am not, and am the true spiritual son of Guru Rinpoche, this lamp will continue to burn and I will recover hidden treasures!” Legend has it that he came out with the hidden relics and with the lamp still burning and hence, the name ‘Mebar Tsho’ came about. Overnight Hotel in Bumthang.
Day 05 Bumthang-Gangtey/Phobjakha. (Drive 6 hours)
After breakfast drive to Gangtey/Phobjakha. On the way at Chummy visit Yathra Weaving Center. Yathras are brightly colored wool fabrics, a specialty of the region. At the Center, you can watch women weaving these brightly colored fabrics.
Enroute at Trongsa visit the Ta Dzong/Royal Heritage Museum. This watchtower, which once guarded Trongsa Dzong from internal rebellion, stands on a promontory above the town. It was built by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the 1st Governor of Trongsa in 1652. It has four observation points representing a tiger, lion, garuda, and dragon. A visit to this former watchtower provides visitors with an insight into the significance of Trongsa in Bhutan’s history. As of date, the Ta Dzong of Trongsa is the most fascinating museum in the kingdom.
Later in the evening savor specially organized cooking demonstration with local family where you will not only savor the local delicacy but also experience & exchange views on the Bhutan’s unique cultural and traditional values. You will be helping to cook Ema Detsi Chilli Cheese). This is organized at private family followed by dinner at local home. Overnight Hotel/Home Stay in Gangtey/Phobjikha.
Day 06 Gangtey Sightseeing – Punakha (Drive 2 hours)
After breakfast visit the Black Necked Crane Center. The Center has informative displays about the cranes and the valley environment. You can use the Center’s powerful spotting scopes.
Gangtey Nature trail. This pleasurable hike from the small hilltop overlooking the Phobjikha valley to the community school gives you a nice feel of the valley. It is a gentle hike through flower meadows, beautiful forests and into the open valley.
Visit Gangtey Goemba. Gangtey Goemba, situated on the slopes of the valley was built in the 17th century. The village of Phobjikha lies on the floor of the valley, a few kilometers down from the monastery. This quiet, remote valley is the winter home of the famous black-necked cranes, who migrate from the arid plains of Tibet in the north, to pass the winter months in a milder climate.
Butter Lamp Offering Ceremony. The lighting of butter lamps accompanied by prayers has a special significance in Buddhist religion. Lighting butter lamps represents relief from suffering and provides you with a guiding light to find enlightenment. A senior monk teacher at Gangtey Goenpa (monastery) will be happy to lead this significant ritual for you personally.
Butter lamp offering ceremony is a complimentary service arranged by Away Smile Travels.
Drive to Punakha. Punakha Dzongkhag has been inextricably linked with momentous occasions in Bhutanese history. It served as the ancient capital of the country. Punakha Dzong is not only the second oldest and second largest dzong but it also has one of the most majestic structures in the country.
Visit Chhimi Lhakhang. This fertility temple is dedicated to the famous teacher, Drukpa Kinley (also known as the ‘Divine Madman’) with whom the phallic symbol is associated. The Divine Madman sits there though a statue this time. Do not miss the master’s deeds painted on the walls. Couples usually visit this temple to be blessed with children. Parents also take their babies here to get them named. Babies named here usually have ‘Kinley’ as their first name. Overnight Hotel in Punakha.
Day 07 Punakha Sightseeing-Thimphu (Drive 3 hours)
After breakfast drive to north of Punakha Serigang Village. Hike to Khamsum Yule Namgyel Chorten. It is around 45 mins one-way hike. This fascinating temple was built by the Queen Mother of the 5th King to bring universal peace in this world. The best of the spiritual art works is painted on the inner walls. There are also paintings of Buddhist teachers and tutelary deities of the country. This is a great temple to study the symbolic meanings from frescoes and sculptures.
Visit Punakha Dzong. Placed strategically at the junction of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers, the dzong was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative seat of the region. It was here that the dual system of government was introduced in the 17th century and in 1907, the first King Gongsr Ugyen Wangchuck was enthroned. Damaged over the centuries by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the dzong has been fully restored in the recent years by the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. At the Dzong, enrich your trip with the opportunity to see the highest standards in woodwork. Do not miss the massive Kuenray, the coronation hall of all Bhutanese kings, the Dzongchung at the entrance to the dzong, and the cantilever bridge over the Mo Chu that has been recently renovated.
Drive to Thimphu. En-route stop at the Dochula pass. Dochu La is a beautiful mountain pass (alt 3,140 m) fluttering prayer flags and a spectacular set of 108 miniature chortens (stupas) called the Druk Wangyel Chortens. On a clear day, you will get awe-inspiring glimpses of the towering Himalayan peaks around.
Visit Tashichhodzong. Tashichhodzong means ‘the fortress of the glorious religion.’ It is a majestic fortress in all its grandeur and serves as the seat of Bhutan’s government. The Dzong houses the secretariat, the throne room, the offices of His Majesty the King and the ministries of home affairs and finance. The fortress was initially erected in 1641 and later rebuilt in the 1960s by the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.
Explore Thimphu Town. Overnight Hotel in Thimphu.
Day 08 Thimphu Sightseeing – Paro (Drive 1 hour)
After breakfast begin Thimphu City Tour. Visit Buddha Point (Giant Golden Buddha). Buddha Point has the largest statue of Buddha in the whole kingdom. You can get a very good view of Thimphu valley from here.
Visit National Memorial Chorten. The National Memorial Chorten was built in 1974 in memory of the late Third Druk Gyalpo (King) of Bhutan. At the chorten, you will find an extraordinary depiction of Buddhist teachings in the form of paintings and sculptures.
Visit Weaving Center. You can watch weavers at work at the private weaving centre at Changzamtog. The centre produces hand woven textiles and has a selection of cloth and readymade Bhutanese garments for sale.
Visit Authentic Bhutanese Craft Bazzar/shop. A one stop shop place to witness Bhutanese rich Culture and buy Bhutan made art and craft products. The shop in its 80 small stall covers all aspect of traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. The shops linked with the rural artisans aims to promote Bhutan’s craft industry by creating a viable market, which turn’s acts to preserve and promote Bhutan’s unique culture and bring about equitable socio-economic development in the country.
Visit Takin sanctuary dedicated to the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan.
Visit Cordyceps Tasting House. Unique to the world, the Cordyceps Tasting Room offer a cosy tearoom to taste a range of Cordyceps-infused soups and drinks. Our hostess will also perform a Cordyceps Tea Ceremony. You can learn more about the so-called ‘caterpillar mushroom’’, a traditional medicine valued more than gold.
Visit Traditional Paper Factory. At the paper factory, you can watch the workers make traditional paper from the daphne plant. Traditional Bhutanese paper (called ‘Desho’) is said to last longer than regular paper. The handmade paper making begins to find its place as the most important part of Bhutanese culture and tradition. The paper making first began as a domestic occupation and still preserved to till these days.
Later afternoon drive to Paro. Overnight Hotel in Paro.
Day 09 Departure:
After breakfast drive to the Paro International Airport where our representatives will bid you goodbye!
Thank you (Kardrienchhey) for visiting Bhutan with Away Smile Travels “Smiles for Miles “