10 Nights 11 Day Western-Central Bhutan Tour
Day 01: Arrive Paro & Paro-Thimphu (distance: 54 km, estimated travel time:1 hour)
Arrive Paro by DrukAir (Royal Bhutan Airlines) or Bhutan Airlines ( Bhutanese private airlines). After completing your immigration formalities, you will be received by your tour guide from Access Bhutan Tours & Treks ( your local Bhutanese travel Agent) who will be with you during your entire trip in Bhutan.
Then you will travel to Thimphu which will take you through Chunzom (confluence of Pachu- the river flowing through Paro valley & Wangchu –the river flowing through Thimphu valley).
On the way, visit Tachog Lhakhang (temple) , this 14th century temple located on the base of a mountain across the Pa chu on the Paro-Thimphu highway, is a must visit temple in the Paro valley. Built by the great master architect Thangtong Gyalpo, the temple houses some unique statues. To get to the temple one may actually walk over the iron chains that spans over the Pa chu ( Paro river)
After crossing Chunzom, the drive will take you along the Wangchu ( Thimphu river) upto Thimphu city.
On arrival at Thimphu check into your hotel in Thimphu and after lunch your sightseeing includes the following:
- Takin Preserve, which houses the national animal the Takin that is only found in Bhutan. This is an extremely rare member of the goat family. Found in herds in the very high altitudes (13,125ft and over). They live on a diet of grass and bamboo. It can weigh as much as 550 pounds.
- Kuenselphodrang (commonly known as Buddha Point) where the largest Buddha statue in the country is perched on the hillock overlooking the Thimphu Valley and enjoy the magnificent few of Thimphu Valley and mountain peaks. you can take a short leisure walk through Kuensel phodrang nature park.
- Tashichhodzong, “the fortress of the glorious religion”. This is the center of government and religion, site of the monarch’s throne room and seat of the Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. Built in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was reconstructed in the 1960s in traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans.
In the evening visit National Memorial Chorten (stupa) which was constructed in 1974 as a memorial for the third King of Bhutan, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is widely regarded as the father of modern Bhutan. The term ‘chorten’ literally means ' seat of faith' and Buddhists often call such monuments the 'Mind of Buddha'. You will see elderly people walking round the stupa several times (in circumambulation ) in order to accumulate (Bhutanese belief).
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 02:Thimphu Tour and Sightseeings
After breakfast full day Thimphu tour & Thimphu sightseeings includes the following:
- The Folk Heritage Museum, an outdoor museum that gives an insight into rural life in Bhutan.
- The School of Traditional Painting of Arts and Crafts where students undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.
- National Institute of Traditional Medicine, where medicinal herbs are compounded and dispensed, and traditional medical practitioners trained.
- National Textile Museum which is a good place to see the art of traditional weaving being kept alive and preserved through exhibition and has a good collection of old textiles which are rich in colors and designs. You will also see people weaving with intricate designs.
After lunch visit the following :
- Traditional Bhutanese paper making factory. The handmade paper making in Bhutan stemmed from the age old tradition originated in 8th century of Bhutanese history. The handmade paper constitutes as valuable National heritage of Bhutanese cultural identity and is preserved through all the ages. The Traditional paper is recognized and held high esteem both in home and outside world. Jungshi Paper Factory was established in November 1990 as an undertaking of the Royal Government of Bhutan. The unit now boasts as a major and sole dealer in handmade paper and its products.
- Centenary Farmers’ market (if tour coincides with Thu-Sun) where farmers would be selling their wide range of farm produces (vegetables from farms and wild ferns or bamboo shoots collected from forest, flour, rice, roasted rice, rice flakes, spices, yams both cultivated and wild ones collected from forests, fruits, etc) and livestock products (mainly cheese and butter). Free interaction with people from town as well as from villages come to this weekend market. Weekend market is from Thursday-Sunday( 4 days).
- Bhutan Postal Museum (recently launched)-The museum tells the story of Bhutan’s progress and development through the evolution of communications and postal system in the country. And also you can get personalized Bhutanese postage stamps with your photo on them. You can bring along your favorite photo to put on the stamps and put these stamps on your postcard to send to your family and friends.
After coffee break visit the following:
- Craft Bazaar -A one stop place to witness Bhutanese culture and buy Bhutan made art and craft product. The Bazaar in its 80 stalls covers all aspects of the traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. At this Bazaar craftsmen and artisans from across the country display and sell their handicrafts.
- In the evening you may walk around Thimphu town and have free interaction with local people.
Dinner at a restaurant in Thimphu town and overnight at same hotel in Thimphu.
Day 03: Thimphu-Punakha and Wangdue
Distance: 71 km, estimated driving time: 2 ½ hours
After breakfast, travel to Punakha & Wangdue through Dochula Pass 3140 m). At Dochula,in the clear spring sky, you can enjoy the panoramic view of the Himalayan Mountain ranges. . Then pass by the beautiful 108 chortens built on the hill by Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck (Queen Mother of Bhutan) for the security and well being of His Majesty, the King of Bhutan.
ou will also visit Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (monastery) which was built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck ( the Queen Mother of Bhutan) as a tribute to His Majesty the fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck and armed forces after His Majesty led a successful operation against Indian militants who had occupied certain areas of Bhutan. The gallery of the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang has beautiful murals depicting some of the important events in the reigns of the Kings of Bhutan.
After refreshment at Dochula Cafeteria, travel onto Punakha. Punakha has been inextricably linked to some of the most momentous events in the Bhutanese history and deserves its reputation as one of the most beautiful and significant regions at the heart of Bhutanese culture. Punakha had served as the capital of Bhutan from 1637 till 1907.
On the way, stop for lunch at Metsina village and then walk through paddy fields for about 20 minutes to visit the Divine Madman’s Monastery-Chhimi Lhakhang, famously known for its fertility shrine, where one can receive a special fertility blessing. On the way back to road , you can visit a farmhouse in Lobesa village which gives you insight into the traditional Bhutanese way of life in Punakha region.
Then drive for about 20 minutes to a car parking and walk across traditional Bhutanese cantilever bridge to visit the Punakha Dzong, located on the island of the Pho - Chu (male river) and the Mochu (female river). The dzong was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative seat of the region. At the dzong, you can see the highest standards in woodwork.
In the evening visit Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendup Lhakhang Nunnery which is situated on the hillock overlooking both Punakha and Wangdue phodrang valleys and enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful view of Punakha and Wangdue valleys from there.
Day 04: Punakha/Wangdue-Trongsa-Bumthang
Distance: 197 km, estimated travel time: 7 hrs
After breakfast, travel to Bumthang through Trongsa.The drive will take you through dense forests of oak and blue pine trees and through the subtropical vegetation. The journey will also take you through the village of Nobding and Pele la pass (3300m). Throughout your trip you will come across the beautiful sceneries of rural Bhutan, with scattered settlements far from the road which makes for good photographing. You will also pass through open meadows, and valley of yak herders and several other villages via Chendebji Chorten ( Stupa) .
Lunch will be served enroute. On arrival at Trongsa, you will stop for refreshment and also visit Trongsa Dzong, which is the most impressive dzong in Bhutan. Built in 1644 by the Shabdrung, the dzong is an architectural masterpiece.
Then continue your travel to Bumthang passing through Yotong La Pass (3400 m). Just before reaching Bumthang you will come across “Yathra” Weaving Centre at Zugney Village where you will see local weavers weaving Yathra. Yathra is the name for the colorful, hand-woven woolen cloth (often with geometric designs) that is produced in this region and wool used for this type of textile is sheep wool as the sheep is reared in this Bumthang Valley. Yathra is made into jackets or bags, etc. Then you will be driven further to Bumthang Valley.
On arrival at Bumthang, check into your hotel in Bumthang.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Bumthang.
Day 05: Bumthang Tour and Sightseeing
After breakfast visit Tamshing Lhakhang. This temple is also known as Tamshing Lhendrup Chholing (Temple of the Good Message). Then take a gentle and pleasant walk crossing a suspension bridge to Kurjey Lhakhang. Kujey Lhakhang (Kujey means, "Body imprint"). The temple to the right is the oldest and was built by Minjur Tempa in 1652. It was built around the cave in which Guru Rimpoche meditated and left his body imprint.
After visiting Kurjey Lhakhang take another few minutes walk to Jambay Lhakhang.Jambay Lhakhang, built in the 7th century by the King Songtsen Goempo of Tibet. In his effort to propagate Buddhism he had a plan to build a total of 108 temples in Tibet and neighboring kingdoms.
After visiting Jambay Lhakhang, drive for about 10 minutes to visit Jakar Dzong, "castle of the white bird". According to legend, when the lamas assembled in about 1549 to select a site for a monastery, a big white bird rose suddenly in the air and settled on a spur of a hill. This was interpreted as an important omen, and the hill was chosen as the site for a monastery and for Jakar Dzong. The fortress is now used as an administrative center of the valley and summer residence of Trongsa monks.
After lunch drive to Dorjibi weaving center which is located in Dorjibi village, half an hour drive from Bumthang town, has 20 women engaged in making Bhutanese weaves using local dyes and improved looms. It is joint initiative by WWF Bhutan and Wangchuck Centennial Park aimed at providing additional source of income for the mostly potato growing communities, preserve the culture of weaving using locally available raw materials and reduce pressure on natural resources.
Then visit a farmhouse in Bumthang Valley and enjoy authentic traditional dinner of Bumthang valley at the farmhouse
Overnight at a hotel in Bumthang.
Day 06:Bumthang Tang Valley Excursion A
fter breakfast travel for about an hour to the beautiful lush but remote Tang valley. Tang valley is one of the four valleys in Bumthang district. The people of this valley raise sheep and at a higher elevation yaks are raised too as the soil this valley is not so rich for cultivation. You will visit the century old Ugyencholing Heritage Museum, which once belongs to the Royal Family of Tang valley. Lunch will be served at a farmhouse.
In the late afternoon travel back to Bumthang.
In the evening stroll around Bumthang town and you may visit local handicraft stores.
Dinner at a restaurant in Bumthang Chamkhar town and overnight at the same hotel in Bumthang.
Day 07: Bumthang - Wangdue Via Phobjikha valley ( distance: 197 km, driving time: 6 hrs)
After breakfast, drive to Wangdue/ Punakha via Phobjikha valley. Driving through the dense forests of the Phobjikha Valley you arrive at Gantey village where you see the Gangtey Monastery and visit the monastery. Phobjikha valley is part of the beautiful Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park ( formerly known as Black Mountains National Park), one of Bhutan’s most important nature sanctuaries. Each winter it is home to a flock of 300 rare and endangered black-necked cranes. The surrounding hills and mountains are home to nomadic shepherds and yak-herders. This is one of the most remote and untouched regions in Bhutan and is only just opening its doors to the outside world. After lunch at Gangtey and explore Phobjikha valley and also visit the Black Necked Crane Center. Then travel on to Wangdue phodrang.
Dinner and overnight at hotel in Wangdue /Punakha region.
Day 08:Punakha Short Hike & Punakha-Paro
Distance: 125 km, estimated travel time: 3 1/2 hours
After breakfast, travel through upper Punakha valley and take a hike for about an house through farmland to the beautiful Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Lhakhang (temple) built by Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck (the Queen Mother of Bhutan) for peace and stability in this ever-changing world. This temple is situated on the hilltop overlooking the valley below. The leisurely walk up to the temple would take about an hour. Visit the temple and also enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful view from there.
Then travel to Paro with lunch enroute. On arrival at Paro check into your hotel and after refreshment visit Paro town and also visit local handicraft stores.
Dinner at a restaurant in Paro town and overnight at a hotel in Paro.
Day 09 : Paro Sightseeing
After breakfast, drive up the valley to view the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, 18 km. from Paro town on the north side of the valley. It was from here that the Bhutanese repelled several invading Tibetan armies during the 17th century. Since February this year rebuilding work of this Dzong has been initiated.
Then visit Kyichu temple,one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demon lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on all the points of her body. Of these 108 temples, 12 were built in accordance with precise plans. Thus, it happened that in about the year AD 638 the temple of Jokhang in Lhasa was built over the very heart of the demon.
Then Rinpung Dzong, built in 1645 to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. The Dzong is now being used as an administration center and school for monks.Then walk down to Rimpung Bridge (Traditonal Bridge), oldest bridge in Bhutan.
After lunch visit the National Museum, housed in the Ta Dzong (watchtower). Here is an intriguing collection of artefacts which provide you with a wonderful insight to the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom of Bhutan.
Then visit Dzongdrakha temple:Often called the mini- Taktsang, Dzongdrakha temples are built on the cliffs above Bondey village. Take a short walk to the temple for about 15 minutes. Legend says one of the temples is built around a levitating monument. Folks built a stronger temple around this monument with the hope that the levitating monument does not fly away into the sky. In the evening visit Paro downtown where you can visit local stores and also have free interaction with local people.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Paro.
Day 10 :A Day Hike to Taktsang Ghoempa (Tiger’s Nest Monastery)
After breakfast, drive for about 20 minutes to the base of Taktsang monastery and then hike up to Taktsang Monastery, also known as ‘Tiger’s Nest’. The walk up to the viewpoint will take about 1 – 1 ½ hrs depending on your fitness and from View Point you will enjoy a spectacular view of the monastery clinging to the side of the cliff.
Stop for refreshment at the View Point Cafeteria. Then walk further up to the monastery which will take about 1 hour. It is said that in the 8th century Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress from eastern Bhutan to this place and meditated in a cave here for 3 months. The principal Lhakhang (monastery) of the present monastic complex dates from 1692. Taktsang was damaged severely by fire in 1998 but has now been fully restored to its former glory.
After visiting the monastery, walk downhill back to the road on the way stop for lunch at the view point cafeteria and then walk further downhill to the road point. Then drive back to hotel.
In the evening you can relax in the Traditional Bhutanese Hotstone bath at a farmhouse in Paro valley. A visit to a farmhouse offers a good glimpse into the lifestyle of a farmer. You will also see around inside of the traditional Bhutanese house where you can have authentic traditional Bhutanese dinner with the family members of the house.
Overnight at the same hotel in Paro.
Day 11 : Paro - Departure
A representative from Access Bhutan tours & Treks -Bhutan Travel Agent will see you off at the Paro Airport for your onward travel destinations.
End of the Bhutan Tour
Bhutan Travel Package Cost for the 10 Nights 11 Days Bhutan Tour
||3 pax & above
Low Season:Dec,Jan, Feb,Jun, Jul & Aug
High Season:Mar,April, May,Sept,Oct & Nov
The above Bhutan tour package prices includes the following:
- Bhutan Government Royalty of US$ 65/person/night
- FIT surcharges of US$40/person/night for a single traveler and US$30/person/night for a double
- Twin sharing hotel rooms at 3 star hotels
- All meals ( breakfast, lunch, dinner & light refreshments) at 3 star hotels/tourist standard restaurants
- English speaking tour guide service
- All transfers and excursions by private vehicles
- All entrance fees to museums and monuments
- All internal taxes and fees
- Mineral drinking water
The above tour prices do not include the following:
- Single room supplement of US$40/room/night during low season and US$ 50/room/night during high season (optional)
- Bhutanese Tourist Visa fee of US$40/person (must be paid in advance with tour cost)
- Travel issurance (recommended)
- 4 star and 5 star accommodations and meals (optional)
- Other personal expenses like overseas calls, laundry,etc
***Thank you & Tashi Delek***