Day 1: Arrival in Paro-Drive to Thimphu
You are met at airport and we drive one hour through the hamlets of Paro along the riverside to Thimphu the capital city of Bhutan.
On the drive we will pass the Tamchog Lhakhang, built by Thangtong Gyalpo (iron bridge builder/saint from the 14th-15th century. We shall stop to visit the 17th century Simtokha Dzong standing on a lofty ridge.
This afternoon we shall explore the small city including a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, the Textile Museum and the Weaving Center.
Day 2-3: Thimphu
Our small group will enjoy visiting the cultural highlights of Thimphu and attend the Thimphu Drubchen Tsechu (Thimphu festival where monks pray to their deities and dances are performed by only monks, not secular people. We also attend the Thimphu Tsechu performed by both monks and secular people.
Visit the School of Arts and Crafts, National Institute of Traditional Medicine, the Folk Heritage Museum, the textile museum and weaving center and Tashi Cho Dzong, as well as the bustling local bazaar.
Day 4: Wangdue
This morning we attend the Thimphu Drubchen festival again.
Afterwards, we drive to Wangdue over the Dochula Pass where we see the 108 Bhutanese stupas.
Day 5: Gangtey
We attend the Wangdue Festival and then drive to Gangtey in beautiful Phobjikha Valley.
Day 6: Gangtey-Trongsa-Bumthang
Attend Gangtey festival. Then, during a spectacular drive to Trongsa enjoy unspoilt natural scenery with many waterfalls alongside the climbing road. We drive over Pele La pass (3,420m) on the Black Mountain range.
Visit the beautiful Chendebji Chorten en route built in Nepalese style with painted eyes facing the four directions. The Chorten was erected in the 18th century by a Tibetan lama to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot. The imposing Trongsa Dzong can be viewed across a deep canyon to signal your approach to the town around a curving road. Trongsa is the ancestral home of Bhutan's ruling dynasty.
After lunch, a pleasant drive to Bumthang one the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the spiritual and historical heartland of the country. The road winds steeply up to Yo Yutung La Pass (3,400m) before descending down through dense coniferous forest to Chummey Valley. We visit a weavers workshop showcasing Bumthang's noted textiles.
Day 7-9: Bumthang
Our days begin with attending the Tamshing Phala Chloepa festival (Tamshing Phala Choepa Tsechu). Watch the monks of Tamshing temple dance in various traditional cham dance costumes such as the "black-hat" masks.
In the afternoons, our small group guided tour visits the many rich cultural sites of Bumthang.
One day we will venture off the usual tourist route to visit the isolated village of Ura in the beautiful central valley.
Day 10: Bumthang-Trongsa
This morning we drive 3 hours to Trongsa. This afternoon we visit Trongsa Dzong, a masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture and the largest Dzong in Bhutan. It is the location where the institution of monarchy in Bhutan began.
Day 11: Trongsa-Punahka
We drive to Punakha via Pelela Pass at 3340 mts and enjoy snow capped Himalayas. Enroute we pass prayer wheels turned by the flowing water.
Punakha was the old capital of Bhutan and the magnificent Dzong is situated on an island in the middle of the river. This is also the winter residence of the central monastic body.
The tour visits the Punakha Dzong (Fortress) and Chimi Lhakhang where childless women go to the temple to receive blessing from the saint and pray for progeny.
Day 12: Punahka-Paro
Returning to Paro, we drive again over the Dochula Pass (3050m). In Dochula, there are 108 stupas built by the queen for the well being of the country. Stop here for a cup of tea and enjoy the spectacular view of the eastern Himalayan Mountain Ranges (on a clear day). Visit Paro Highlights this afternoon including revered monasteries, chortens and the other sites.
Day 13: Paro - Taksang Monastery
An early start to hike of Taksang Monastery (Tiger's Nest Temple).
Afterwards, visit Drugyal Dzong, nearby, to see the ruins of the Dzong that defended the valley in the 17th century from Tibetan Invasion.
On the return to Paro town, visit the Kyichu monastery built from the 7th century. This is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan built by the great Tibetan King Songsten Gyepo and the main statue is of the Future Buddha, which is similar to the main Buddha statue in the Potala Palace in Lhasa Tibet.
Day 14: Depart
OR Continue on our tour to Tibet