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This 10 Days 9 Nights tour will take you through the core of four western districts of Bhutan: Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang with 4 days of memorable trekking which starts from Punakha and finishes in Wangdue Phodrang. This trek is short and a pleasant journey through pristine forests and passes some of the remote villages of Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang dotted by historical and religious sites. It is a fairly easy trek as the altitude only ranges between 1100m – 1900m and the climate is warm throughout the hike.
The path takes you through forests of rhododendron and oak, through the villages of Sha and Chungsakha and across the longest foot bridge in Bhutan. While this trek is available throughout the winter the best times to embark on this beautiful journey are from March to June and September to November. The trail is approximately 54km in length.
Paro International Airport, Bhutan
All year round except July & August. Recommended during March to June and September to November.
Easy but good level of fitness is required as the trek lasts for four days.
During the months of January, February, July, August & December
US$2168 – for single person traveller
US$2078 per person – for a couple or group of 2 people
US$1808 per person – for a group of 3 people or more
During the months of March, April, May, September, October & November
US$2618 – for single person traveller
US$2528 per person – for a couple or group of 2 people
US$2258 per person – for a group of 3 people or more
You will take a flight in the morning by either Drukair or Bhutan Airlines and arrive at Paro International Airport. On the way, if the weather is clear enough you will see Great Himalayan mountain ranges. As you enter Bhutanese airspace and soon approach Paro valley, you would already notice the green mountainous landscapes and Paro river snaking down the valley.
After arrival, your visa will be stamped on your passport at the immigration counter. You will be received by our guide and driver at the exit gate and then transfer you to the hotel. After checking in and settling yourself in the new surroundings, you will be taken on your first adventure into ‘The Thunder Dragon Kingdom’. We will begin with sight seeing in Paro town and visit two of the oldest temples in Bhutan and the National Museum.
The National Museum of Bhutan is located just above the Rinpung Dzong (administrative headquarter of Paro district). It is housed in an ancient watch tower called Paro Ta Dzong (Ta Dzong means “watch tower fortress”) built in 1649. It displays hundreds of ancient Bhutanese artifacts and artworks including traditional costumes, armour, weaponry and handcrafted implements for daily life. The collection at the National Museum preserves a snap-shot of the rich cultural traditions of the country. Ta Dzong was converted into the National Museum in 1968.
Dungtse Lhakhang (lhakhang means ‘temple’) is located on the other side of the Paro Chhu river about 5 minutes drive from the main Paro tow. It was built in the 14th century by the Tibetan Saint, Dupthop Thangtong Gyalpo, who was popularly known as Chagzampa which means ‘Iron Bridge Builder’. Dupthop Thangtong Gyalpo was not only a great Buddhist scholar but also a great Iron Bridge builder. He built about eight iron chain bridges across Bhutan, though the bridges are no longer in use today, one can still see remnants of some of the bridges. It is said that he built this temple to protect the people in the valley from being afflicted by leprosy.
Paro Kichu Lhakhang is located just a few minutes drive from the main town of Paro and is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan. It is believed to have been built in 659 A.D. by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet.
According to the legend, spirit of a giant demoness lay spread across Tibet and Bhutan causing obstruction to the propagation of Buddhism. In order to subdue this demoness, King Songtsen Gampo was required to built 108 temples across the affected region. Kichu Lhakhang, built to pin down the left foot of the giant demoness, is one of the two temples that were built in Bhutan. The other is called Jambay Lhakhang located in the district of Bumthang in central Bhutan and was built to pin down the left knee. Both the temples were believed to have been built overnight.
The old temple is known as Jowo Lhakhang and holds the original 7th century Jowo Jampa Statue in its inner chapel. Jowo Jampa is a Tibetan term for Buddha Maitreya, the Future Buddha. The outer hall of the Jowo Lhakhang houses the statue of Chenrizig, the God of Compassion Avalokiteshara.
Next to the Jowo Lhakhang is Guru Lhakhang which was built by Her Royal Grandmother Ashi Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck in 1971 and houses the statue of Guru Padmasambhava. Inside this temple is also a statue of her spiritual root teacher His Holiness Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche, a highly accomplished Buddhist master who passed away in 1992. Many important religious annual rites are conducted here at Kichu Lhakhang under the patronage of Her Royal Grandmother.
Free time to stroll Paro town.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Lunch. Dinner)
After breakfast, drive to the base of the Taktsang monastery. Taktsang monastery is located on a sheer 800-meter rocky cliff in Paro. It normally takes about 2 hours to reach the monastery from the road head. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Bhutan.
Taktsang, or the Tiger’s Lair (people prefer to call Tiger’s Nest), is regarded as one of the most important monasteries in Bhutan. Its history is associated with the visit of Guru Padmasambhava (known as Guru Rinpoche), the Indian saint who came to Bhutan and introduced Tantric Buddhism in the 8th century A.D. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava flew to Taktsang from Kurtoe Singye Dzong in eastern Bhutan, riding on a tigress.
Taktsang is not only a sacred site visited by Guru Rinpoche but was also visited and blessed by many other renowned Buddhist masters; Langchen Pelgi Singye – one of the 25 disciples of Guru Rinpoche in the 8th century, Jitsun Milarepa – famous 11th century yogi, Phajo Drugom Zhigpo – 13th century saint who brought Drukpa school of Tibetan Buddism to Bhutan, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel – the founder of nation-state of Bhutan in the 17th century, Desi Tenzin Rabgay – the fourth administrative ruler of unified Bhutan in the 17th century.
It was the fourth temporal ruler of unified Bhutan, Desi Tenzin Rabgay, who built Taktsang monastery in 1694. However, the present monastery you see today is not the original structure. It was destroyed by fire in 1998. His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the fourth King initiated and personally supervised the reconstruction of Taktsang monastery to its former glory. It was completed and consecrated in 2005.
Inside one of the temple is a Choeten, a Buddhist stupa built in memory of Langchen Pelgi Singye and holds his sacred body relic. It is believed that the Choeten fulfill wishes if you pray with pure devotion.
Having visited and received blessings, we will continue downhill for about 40 minutes and stop at the Taktsang Cafeteria for lunch. Looking up from this cafeteria, you can see grand view of Taktsang offering you opportunity for some photo shoots. From this cafeteria, it will take just an hour or so to reach the base where your driver will be waiting for you.
Towards the late afternoon, you will visit one of the beautiful farmhouses in Paro (subject to availability) and experience the traditional Bhutanese way of life. If you are interested, you can indulge in a traditional hot stone bath for an additional fee. Specially selected stones are heated in a wood-fired fireplace. The bath tub is made of wood and a medicinal shrub is added to the hot bath. You can enjoy locally brewed warm liquor known as Ara while soaking in the relaxing bath.
Delicious dinner of authentic Bhutanese cuisine will be served at the farmhouse.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Breakfast, Lunch, Diner)
Drive to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. It is a 55km road journey by luxury Van / SUV and the drive should not take more than 2 hours including stop overs on the way. We will be driving along the Paro River (Pa Chhu) which runs until the confluence (Chhuzom) where it is joined by Thimphu River (Thim Chhu). The two rivers form Wang Chhu and flows southward and is the major river running two hydroelectric power plants. After Chhuzom the road follows Thim Chhu river upstream and as you pass through number of villages, you will already feel immersed in a wonderland surrounded by mountains and beautiful landscapes.
Upon arrival in Thimphu, our guide will assist you to check into the hotel so that you can relax for a while and then have lunch in the same hotel. After lunch, we will explore some of the places of interests within the Thimphu city.
Note: The coverage of the excursion on your first day in Thimphu will depend on your flight arrival time. If you arrive in the morning, you should be able to visit all of the sights listed below. If the arrival time is in the afternoon, we might be able to visit only Tashichho Dzong as it is opened to visitors only after 5PM during weekdays. On weekends it opens from 9AM to 5PM.
After lunch, we will begin the half day excursion by visiting Bhutan Post Office which is located in the heart of the city in the same building as Bhutan National Bank so you can also exchange your money into local currency if you wish.
The Postal Service in Bhutan was first launched in 1962 with the opening of a post office in Phuentsholing, a town in the south bordering with India. The Postal Museum was opened in 2015 to exhibit the story of Bhutan’s progress and development of communications and postal system in the country. If you are interested in philatelic products and stamp collection, they have a good collection of stamps, First Day Covers and stamp albums.
Weaving is an integral component of the culture and tradition of Bhutan. With rapid development and exposure to the western culture, the art of weaving and production of its own handwoven textile is declining fast. To preserve and promote this living art, Her Majesty Queen Mother Sangay Choden Wanchuck established the Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan in 2005 as a non-profit organization. Given the important role it plays in preserving and promoting our unique culture and tradition, The Royal Textile Academy was registered as a Civil Society Organization in 2011.
The Textile Museum showcases collection of artifacts to impart understanding of Bhutan’s rich textile traditions and way of life. The Museum consists of two galleries – The upper gallery which has a permanent display of the various types of textile weaves in the country and the lower gallery that displays temporary exhibitions on special themes.
Tashichho DzongDzong means Fortress in national language of Bhutan, Dzongkha, which means “Fortress of the Glorious Religion” is opened to visitors only after 5PM during working days and from 9AM to 5PM on weekends. The original Dzong, known as Dho Ngon Dzong was built in 1216 A.D. by Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa on a location where Dechen Phodrang monastery stands today. It was acquired by Zhabdrung Ngawang NamgyelZhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel was a Tibetan Buddhist master who came to Bhutan in 1616 and unified Bhutan as a nation state in 1641 and renamed it as Tashichho Dzong. The original Dzong was destroyed by fire in 1771 and then relocated to the present location. The Dzong suffered several earthquakes and fires and was subsequently renovated and new structures added by successive rulers.
It was late His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who renovated and enlarged the entire Dzong to its present form in 1962 over the period of six years. The magnificent architectural feat was achieved using traditional method without any blueprint plans or nails. It houses the Secretariat and offices of the King, the Throne Room, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Central Monastic Body.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Early morning after hearty breakfast before driving towards Punakha Valley, visit some of the popular sites in Thimphu.
Visit this monument and pray for our safe journey ahead. A Buddhist Stupa built in 1974 in loving memory of the late Third King of Bhutan is one of the most frequented landmark in Thimphu. People from all walks of life throng here to pray and circumambulate giving you an opportunity to observe how Bhutanese people devote themselves to daily prayers and take refuge in the teachings of the Lord Buddha.
The magnificent 169 feet tall bronze statue of Lord Buddha is located on a hilltop overlooking the Thimphu valley. From here you can see a nice view of Thimphu city. It was built to celebrate the 60th birth anniversary of the Fourth King His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck and also for the purpose of bringing peace in the world . The giant Buddha statue houses more than 100,000 8-inch tall Buddha statues of same type. The construction began in 2006 and was completed in 2015 after almost 10 years.
|Driving Time||3 hours|
|Punakha Altitude||1,200 meters (3,930 ft)|
Enroute, stop at Dochu La Pass located at 3,150 meters (10,334 ft) and enjoy spectacular panoramic view of the distant Himalayan mountain ranges (weather permitting). This picturesque mountain pass was only a sacred site until 2004 when Her Majesty Grand Queen Mother Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck built 108 stupas adorning the pass. Continue driving to Punakha, the elevation drops gradually in a short period of time. As you reach the lower valley, you will feel the drastic change in altitude from 3,150m just an hour and a half ago to 1,200m.
Check into hotel and gather for lunch.
After lunch, do 2-hour return hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Choeten and visit Punakha Dzong.
After lucnh, you will be going for 2 hour return hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Choeten. Located on a ridge overlooking the picturesque Punakha valley, this wonderful Buddhist structure is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture used in building temples, monasteries and Zangdogpelri (copper coloured mountains). It was built over a period of almost 10 years under the command of Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck, one of the Queen Mothers of Bhutan and was consecrated in 1999.
It takes only about 20 minutes drive from the main town of Punakha to the nearest road point. From there you cross a suspension bridge over the Punakha Mochu River (female river) and the trail takes you through paddy fields. Normally it takes just under one hour to reach the serene site of the marvelous choeten. The view below is stunning with glacial fed Mochu river snaking through the fertile Punakha valley.
Later towards late afternoon visit the historic Punakha Dzong locally known as “Palace of Great Bliss” built in 1637 to guard the region against Tibetan forces. This beautiful and most impressive Dzong in Bhutan is a fine example of traditional Bhutanese architecture, painting and craftsmanship. The Dzong served as the administrative centre and the seat of the Government of Bhutan until 1955. It now serves as the office of the District Administrator (Dzongdag) and the winter residence of the Chief Abbot of Bhutan, Je Khenpo.
Overnight at a hotel in Punakha. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
After passing majestic Punakha Dzong you cross a footbridge over the Pho Chhu and walk up to Shengana. This is the longest bridge in Bhutan. You then climb gradually through the forest until you reach Limukha. We have to carry enough water as you won’t find any on the way to Limukha.
Overnight in a camping tent. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
The path leads through rhododendron and oak forests to Chhungsakha. Chungsakha is a small village of about 10 houses. You’ll find a holy stone and an impressive Cyprus tree here that are reminders of Drukpa Kuenley, the “divine madman”.
Overnight at a camping tent. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
You walk downhill until you cross Pe Chhu before climbing again through the village of Sha on your way to Samtengang. Near the school in Samtengang you will see a small lake and your campsite is right next to it.
Overnight at a camping tent. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
|Time||5 – 6 hours|
The trail leads steeply downhill on a treeless slope to the road head at Chhuzomsa. From there drive to Wangdue Phodrang town. Check into hotel at Lobesa. Later visit Chhime Lhakhang popularly known as ‘Temple of Fertility’.
A short hike of about 20 – 30 minutes through terraced paddy fields and farm houses will bring you to Chhime Lhakhang which is located on a gentle hilltop near the village of Sopsokha. The site offers a panoramic view of the Punatsangchu river and Wandue Phodrang town.
Lama Drukpa Kuenley built a small black stupa on this hilltop to mark the burial site of demons whom he managed to subdue after chasing all the way from Dochula Pass, where the demons were terrorizing the travellers. This black stupa can be seen even today just outside of the main temple. It was Lama Ngawang Chogyel, the younger brother of Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who built the present temple in 1499 A.D.
Lama Drukpa Kuenley was a Tibetan Buddhist Master who travelled extensively in western and central Bhutan exercising his holy powers to subdue devils and liberate people from suffering during the late 15th century and early 16th century A.D. He was known as “Divine Madman” for his obscene behavior and outrageous ways of cleansing people from religious dogmatism and egoistic self-possession by exhibiting his strong desire for sex. He would often use his desire, emotion, and sexuality to arouse disillusionment, insight and delight in all he encountered. He would often use phallus as a tool to subdue malevolent spirits. Using the phallus was also intended to free up the social inhibitions enforced by the socially established values.
Today, one of the relics of Chime Lhakhang is a phallus. The blessing of the phallus is considered sacred particularly to women who are unable to conceive a child as it brings fertility to women, giving them ability to bear offspring. Because of this belief, people like to call Chhime Lhakhang as “Temple of Fertility”.
Married couples who are unable to conceive a child often come to this temple seeking blessings from the Divine Madman. As much as it sounds ‘too good to be true’, there are many stories of happy couples who are blessed with child after visiting the temple.
Overnight at the hotel in Lobesa. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
|Driving Time||4.5 hours|
Today, we will drive back to Paro. Enroute, stop in Thimphu for lunch and visit 13th century temple on a hilltop above the main town of Thimphu and visit the National Institute for Zorig Chusum (13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan).
Changangkha Lhakhang is located on a hilltop above the main town overlooking the valley below. It was built in 13th century by Lama Drugom Zhigpo who played an important role in early spread of the Drukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism to Bhutan. His son, Nyima, extended and built many of the statues inside the temple which are invaluable national treasures of Bhutan. Apart from the magnificent statues and other holy scriptures, the temple also has Bum Gye Dring Due Sum (sixteen volumes of Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita) which is the original copy handwritten by Nyima himself.
The National Institute of Zorig Chusum (Zorig Chusum means 13 Traditional Arts & Crafts) was established to promote and preserve the thirteen traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan and to facilitate increased access in learning Zorig skills by Bhutanese youths. Many of these traditional arts and crafts are declining with the advent of modern technologies and therefore, the government is putting in lot of effort to train youths to keep the traditions alive.
The thirteen arts and crafts are categorized as:
Shing Zo (woodwork)
Dho Zo (stonework)
Par Zo (carving)
Lha Zo (painting)
Jim Zo (sculpting)
Lug Zo (casting)
Shag Zo (wood turning)
Gar Zo (blacksmith)
Troe Zo (ornament making)
Tsa Zo (bamboo work)
De Zo (paper making)
Tsem Zo (tailoring, embroidery and applique)
Thag Zo (weaving)
These thirteen arts and crafts are an essential part of Bhutan’s cultural heritage that have been practiced from time immemorial. These arts were formally categorized during the reign of Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay, the fourth temporal ruler of Bhutan in the 17th century.
If the class is in session when you arrive, you will be allowed to enter the classroom and observe students as they get hands-on training.
Towards the late afternoon, drive back to Paro.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the Paro Internatioal Airport for your onward journey. Your guide will assist you to complete all exit formalities before you check-in.
All tour services we provide are independent with flexible itineraries which can be customized to suit your interest and requirement. You can form a group to get discounts. Apart from the predesigned packages which have proven successful, Bhutan Acorn Tours & Travel can also arrange the following add-on activities to enrich your experiences in Bhutan.
All of the above activities can be fitted into any tour packages and some of it may involve extra fees.
All your deposits and any payment less administrative fees of US$100 per person will be refunded if you notify us at least 30 days prior to your arrival date. Refer the cancellation fee schedule below to determine the applicable charges:
|DAYS TO ARRIVAL||CANCELLATION CHARGES PER PERSON|
|30+||US$100 administrative fee per person|
|16-29||20% of the total cost|
|8-15||50% of the total cost|
|0-7 days||No refund is available|
In case the trip is cut short or duration lost due to unforeseen reasons after arrival in Bhutan, no refund is available as the payment would have been already made to hotels and other logistics.
There shall be no charges for the number of days of delay either during arrivals or departures or both, due to weather conditions, communication problems, cancellation or delay in Bhutanese airline flights, sickness or any other legitimate reason as Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) may deem reasonable. However, the Tourist will be charged on the actual expenses on accommodation, food, transport and any other services provided.