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BHUTAN KINGDOM TRIP
Duration : 12 Night / 13 Days
Destinations : Paro – Thimphu - Phobjikha Valley - Choekhor Valley – Bumthang Valley - Ura Yakchoe – Choekhor Valley - Trongsa - Punakha Valley – Paro – Out
Bhutan has blissful aura and enticing experiences that can be surely enjoyed during a complete Bhutan tour. Arrive in Paro and head towards the capital of Thimphu. Next, explore the remote valleys and observe their different cultures. In addition, hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tiger Nest monastery), temples of Bumthang region and Punakha Dzong enliven up the richness of this cultural country.
Day 1. Paro Airport to Thimphu City (1 hrs 30mins)
After clearing immigration and customs, meet Destinations Beyond India representative for assisted transfer by road to Bhutan’s capital Thimphu. Landing here in the Buddhist Shangri-La is one of the great experiences of life and a drive from Paro to Thimphu gives travellers a chance to enjoy the spectacular countryside. In Thimphu, check in the hotel and enjoy the remainder day with the local sightseeing. Overnight Thimphu
Day 2. Sightseeing in the Thimphu Valley today.
Morning visit the Golden Buddha statue via hiking for 1 hour (3 km) and enjoy sensational views of Thimphu city and valley. Also view the majestic Trashi Chhoe Dzong, the seat of Bhutan’s government and royal offices and, make a visit to the newly sanctified Tara Lhaden Zhingkham Lhakhang.
After lunch, visit the new National Textiles Museum and National Institute for Zorig Chusum (a famous Arts & Crafts center in Bhutan), to see how indigenous Bhutanese fabric patterns are woven into silk. Interact with students and next explore the artistry of craftsmen with a visit to Craft Bazaar. Overnight Thimphu.
Day 3. Thimphu to Phobjikha Valley (5hrs)
Morning transfer eastwards to the Phobjikha Valley via the town of Wangdue. En route pass the Semtokha Dzong built in 1629, the oldest fortress of its kind that guarded the Thimphu valley. It is presently a monastery. Continue ascending to Dochu La (pass) and view 108 Stupas, containing statues of Buddha and religious texts. When weather is clear, one can admire breathtaking views of the eastern Himalaya here.
Descend towards the Punakha valley and visit Wangdue Phodrang Dzong (currently under reconstruction after a fire in June 2012). Phobjikha is a glacial valley on the western slopes of the Black Mountains and is one of the most beautiful open valleys in Bhutan. Phobjikha is also a rich wildlife populated area like boars, sambar, leopards, red foxes, etc, and a home to many migratory birds like rare black neck crane. Overnight Phobjikha Valley.
Day 4. Sightseeing in the Phobjikha Valley today.
Explore the Phobjikha valley with a visit to Black Crane nature information centre, the carpet factory and the sacred Gangtey Monastery. In free time, enjoy time at leisure while walking through Gangtey village and hike the Gangtey Nature Trail. Overnight Phobjikha Valley.
Day 5. Phobjikha Valley to Choekhor Valley (4 hrs 30mins)
Morning depart Phobjikha to the central Bumthang region featuring four valleys - Choekhor, Tang, Ura and Chhume. Traverse the Pele La (Pass – 3420m) which crosses through the Black Mountains National Park and divides western and central Bhutan before stopping for lunch in Trongsa (or nearby), where you will spend more time on your return journey. Keep a watchful eye out for Rhesus Macaques (Brown Monkeys) on the side of the road. The Trongsa Dzong is perched at the end of a ridge and seems to hang in space at the head of the valley. Make a stop today in Trongsa to see the excellent museum which has been added into the Dzongs ancient watchtower. (Closed Sunday)
On arrival in the Bumthang region notice the large fields of buckwheat that cover the valleys…..buckwheat noodles and pancakes are a Bumthang specialty. Enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at leisure. There are short walks and hikes to choose from and your guide will be happy to make recommendations. Overnight Choekhor Valley
Day 6. Sightseeing in the Bumthang Region.
Today your sightseeing includes visits to the Wangdicholing Palace and one or both of the Jambay & Kurjey Lhakhangs. These are the oldest two monasteries in the kingdom and all the Kings of Bhutan are cremated at Kurjey Lhakhang. Time permitting, other options include the Tamshing Monastery, where about 95 Monks reside, most are under 15 and from poorer families who cannot afford to send their children to state school; Mebartsho (Burning Lake), a short walk from the roadside, and one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites and/or the Swiss Farm to taste sweet cheese, apple brandy and locally brewed wine and beer. Alternatively find a nice quiet spot at the hotel to catch up on some reading. Overnight Choekhor Valley
Day 7. Experience the Ura Yakchoe today. (1 hr 30 mins + each way)
Transfer eastwards early this morning to the Ura Valley, the highest in the Kingdom, and believed by some to have been the home of the earliest inhabitants of Bhutan. The village of Ura will give you an insight into how the central Bhutanese live with its cobbled streets lending a medieval feel. The older women of this region still wear sheepskin shawls on their backs which double as a blanket and cushion.
Enjoy the colour & spectacle of the Ura Yakchoe held at the Ura Lhakhang. Overnight Choekhor Valley
Day 8. Choekhor Valley to Trongsa (2hrs)
Transfer back towards Trongsa via the Chhume valley for the opportunity to shop for excellent local handicrafts and textiles. This region is renowned for its exceptionally high quality weaving craft. This afternoon visit Trongsa Dzong the ancestral home of the Royal Family of Bhutan and enjoy a wander through to small town of Trongsa. Overnight Trongsa
Day 9. Trongsa to Punakha Valley (5 hrs)
Depart early morning to the Punakha Valley - the winter capital of Bhutan for its affable and temperate climate. Arriving into the Punakha valley visit Chimi Lhakhang, a monastery built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley (also known as the Divine Madman). According to beliefs, if childless women visit the temple, they will conceive after receiving a “wang” (blessing) from the resident monk. Visit Lobesa market if time permits. Overnight Punakha Valley
Day 10. Sightseeing and hiking in Punakha today.
Morning visit the dramatic Punakha Dzong - the seat of the government and is still the winter residence of the Dratsheng (Central Monk Body). This is the most spectacular Dzong of Bhutan that is an example of interesting medieval fortress architecture, serving both monastic and administrative functions. Next is the visit to Sangchen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang & Nunnery and Talo village where you can wander the beautiful & serene gardens of the local monastery.
Enjoy a relaxing afternoon or travel to the end of the valley & take a fascinating hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten through organic fields of vegetables, rice paddies and tiny hamlets. This Chorten holds very special significance being consecrated in 1999 and dedicated to the protection of the former Crown Prince – today’s current King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. Overnight Punakha Valley
Day 11. Punakha Valley to Paro Valley (4hr 45 mins)
Depart Punakha early morning for your transfer westwards to the Paro Valley, once again traversing Dochu La, and arriving at the wonderful Zhiwa Ling Resort in time for a late lunch. This afternoon enjoy an orientation tour of the major features in Paro town including Paro Dzong with its cantilever bridge, the National Museum and time to wander along the main streets which offer good shopping for jewellery and handicrafts.
Alternatively spend time enjoying the spa and facilities at the Zhiwa Ling. Overnight Paro Valley – Zhiwa Ling Resort
Day 12. Sightseeing in the Paro Valley.
This morning hike to the Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tigers Nest. This is Bhutan’s most revered monastery and all Bhutanese strive to make the pilgrimage here at least once in their lives. This visit is much more than ‘just a hike’; and each step gains merit points for the next part of life’s journey. Choose between a 2 hour round trip hike to the Monastery viewpoint or a longer 5 hour and more strenuous hike into the Monastery itself. Tigers Nest clings impossibly to a cliff of rock at 3000 ft above the valley floor and where Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress to subdue the local demons followed by 3 months meditation in a cave still visible in the monastery. In 1998 the monastery was seriously damaged by fire and has since been painstakingly reconstructed to its original condition and consecrated by the 4th King in 2005.
This afternoon visit Kyichu Lhakhang – one of Bhutan’s oldest and most beautiful temples, boasting an orange tree that perpetually bears fruit, followed by a visit to the old ruined fortress of the Drugyel Dzong (14 km from Paro). This is the historical site of the Fort of Drukpa Victory, from which the Bhutanese used to repel the Tibetan invaders again and again. On a clear day views of the 7326m snow domed peaks of sacred Mt Chomolhari can be seen.
OVERNIGHT PARO VALLEY