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Travel to five western districts of Bhutan and delve in to discover why this tiny Kingdom chose to remain secluded for centuries. Visit magnificent fortresses and temples that dot hilltops and strategic locations against backdrop of soaring mountains adorned with snows and forests. Marvel at pristine environment and age-old traditions of the magical Kingdom of Bhutan so well preserved that the outside world calls it ‘Last Shangri-La’.
This 14 Days and 13 Nights trip includes 3-Day trek in central Bhutan district of Bumthang known as the ‘cultural heartland of Bhutan’. The 3-Day trek is a fairly easy that takes you through rich forests, beautiful valleys and along crystal-clear rivers filled with trouts. There are plenty of ancient temples to visit and pass through number of typical Bhutanese villages where you can stop and rest offering you an opportunity to understand culture and traditions of Bhutan.
The only segment of the trek that may prove challenging is a 500m ascent to Phe Phe La Pass (3,360m/11,025ft) on second day of the trek (Day 9). The best time to embark on this trek is in spring or autumn.
Paro International Airport, Bhutan
This exciting trip is best enjoyed from March to May and September to November
Easy to Moderate. This cultural and nature tour including 3-day trek is relatively easy. No matter how easy, any trekking adventure requires some degree of stamina and strength. We recommend you prepare to get fit and healthy.
This trip requires very good weather – from March to May and September to November
US$3810 – for single person traveller (Base Price)
3.5% discount – for a couple or group of 2 people
14% discount – for a group of 3-5 people
18% discount – for a group of 6-10 people
20% discount – for a group of 11 people & above
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 in his effort to built 108 such temples across the Himalayan region to subdue the spirit of a demoness who was causing obstruction to the spread of Buddhism. Bhutan is blessed with two of these temples, one being Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang, central Bhutan. Both Kichu Lhakhang and Jampa Lhakhang are believed to have been built on the same day.
Free time to explore Paro town and get to understand culture of this tiny Hidden Kingdom of Bhutan.
Back to hotel and gather for dinner.
Overnight at a hotel in Paro. (Lunch, Breakfast)
After breakfast, drive to Ramthangka, the base of the Taktsang monastery. Taktsang monastery is located on the face of a sheer 800-meter rock 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 which literally translates to ‘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 mid-eighth century A.D. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava flew to Taktsang from Kurtoe Singye Dzong in eastern Bhutan, riding on a tigress. Taktsang monastery was originally built in 1692 on the sacred cave where Guru Padmasambhava meditated.
The trail takes you through the ancient path shaded by pine trees. After an hour of steep uphill trekking, you will reach a nice cafeteria from where you can see spectacular views of Taktsang monastery perched on the face of a steep rock cliff and beautiful valley below. Hot tea and snacks will be served here. For those who are still energetic, can hike further up for 1 hour and visit the monastery, receive blessings from many sacred relics and artifacts and enjoy grand views of the Paro valley below.
After lunch at the cafeteria, we retrace our steps back to the base where our driver will be waiting. From there we drive to Paro town. Enroute visit Drukgyal Dzong, the Fortress of the Victorious Drukpa (Drukpa means ‘people of the Thunder Dragon’).
Located about 14km away from Paro main town is Drukgyal Dzong (the Fortress of the Victorious Drukpa). Drukpa means ‘people of the Thunder Dragon’. Inhabitants of Bhutan is referred to as Drukpa. It was built to commemorate victory against the invasion by Tibetan-Mongol forces in 1649 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, a Tibetan Buddhist master who came to Bhutan in 1616, unified and founded the nation-state of Bhutan. Although the original dzong was destroyed by fire in 1951, many of its main relics and artifacts were rescued. Today the dzong is completely being reconstructed under the command of His Majesty the King and is expected to complete by 2018.
Free time to stroll Paro town.
Overnight at a hotel in Paro. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Drive to the capital city of Bhutan, Thimphu. 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, check into hotel. If we arrive before the hotel check-in time, we will straight away visit some of the popular places of interest in Thimphu and continue after lunch. Later in the evening after 5pm, visit the majestic Tashichho Dzong.
Bhutan Postal Museum 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. In October of 2017, His Majesty graciously granted several rare collections of philatelic and communications products giving new and additional insights into the history of Bhutan’s philatelic and communications systems.
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. The Textile Museum showcases collection of artifacts to impart understanding of Bhutan’s rich textile traditions and way of life.
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) and Thag Zo (weaving). These thirteen arts and crafts are an essential part of Bhutan’s cultural heritage that have been practiced from time immemorial.
Tashichho Dzong, 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 was built in 1216 AD on a location where Dechen Phodrang monastery stands today. Following a fire disaster which destroyed the original dzong in 1771, it was 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 Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the third hereditary King of Bhutan, 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. It is also the summer residence of the Chief Abbot (Je Khenpo) of the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan.
Back to the hotel and gather for dinner.
Overnight in a hotel in Thimphu. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Today before we drive to Punakha valley, we will visit two important monuments in Thimphu – National Memorial Choeten and Buddha Dordenma Statue and pray for our safe journey ahead. After that we hit the road to Punakha via Dochu La Pass at an elevation of 3,150m/10,335ft and enjoy the sweeping panoramic views of the eastern Himalayan mountain ranges (weather permitting). After lunch hike to the picturesque Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Choeten on a serene mountain ridge overlooking the beautiful and fertile Punakha valley. Later in the afternoon, visit historic and the most beautiful Punakha Dzong.
The National Memorial Choeten is the most frequented religious site and obviously an important landmark in Thimphu. The National Memorial Choeten is a Buddhist Stupa built in 1974 in memory of the Late Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who passed away in 1972. People from all walks of life come here to pray and circumambulate offering you a good opportunity to observe how Bhutanese people devote themselves to daily prayers and take refuge in the teachings of the Lord Buddha.
The marvelous 169 feet tall bronze statue of Lord Buddha is located on a hilltop, Kuensel Phodrang, overlooking the Thimphu valley presenting you with a beautiful view of Thimphu valley. It was built in 2015 to celebrate the 60th birth anniversary of the Fourth King His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck and also as a monument for world peace. The giant Buddha statue houses more than 100,000 8-inch tall Buddha statues of the same type.
About 45 min drive from Thimphu towards Punakha is a mountain pass at an altitude of 3,150 meters above sea level from where you can see, on a clear day, some of the highest peaks of Bhutan. Before the construction of these beautiful 108 Druk Wangyal Choetens (stupas) in 2004, this mountain pass remained only as a sacred place blessed by a famous Buddhist saint, Lama Drukpa Kuenley in late 15th century.
From Dochu La Pass, we will continue driving towards Punakha, passing through some villages, the elevation drops gradually and the road winds through pine trees. 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 a low subtropical region at 1,200m.
Upon arrival in Punakha, check into the hotel and gather for lunch. After a sumptuous lunch, we will go out for an adventurous 2 hour return hike to picturesque Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Choeten located on a serene mountain ridge overlooking the fertile Punakha valley.
Drive about 20 minutes from the main town of Punakha to the road head from where 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 valley of Punakha. Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Choeten is 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 Grand Queen Mothers of Bhutan and was consecrated in 1999.
After that we retrace our steps back to the road head and drive back to the town to visit the most beautiful fortress in Bhutan.
Originally known as Pungthang Dewa Chenpoi Phodrang Dzong which means ‘Fortress of Great Bliss’, was built in 1637 AD by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to guard the region from Tibetan forces. It is the second oldest, second largest and certainly the most beautiful dzong in Bhutan. The sacred wall paintings and main artifacts inside the dzong, the intricate wood works and the architectural structure of the dzong displays fine example of Bhutanese arts and craftsmanship which continues to influence Bhutanese architecture even today.
Free time to explore the Punakha town.
Overnight at a hotel in Punakha. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Today we drive to Phobjikha valley, The drive to Phobjikha will be about 3 hours under normal road condition and takes you through the lateral national highway connecting western, central and eastern region gradually ascending up the pristine mountains of Bhutan and eventually enter the most beautiful valley in Bhutan.
Phobjikha is a vast U-shaped glacial valley at an elevation of about 3,000 meters (9,840 ft) and it is a winter home for endangered Black Necked Crane from November to March and migrates back to Tibet by the beginning of spring season. Every year on the 11th of November, Black Necked Crane Festival is held to celebrate the arrival of this endangered and majestic bird which becomes an inseparable part in the lives of the local people during winter months.
On arrival at Phobjikha valley, check into hotel and settle for lunch. After lunch, you can either visit one of the largest monastery in Bhutan, Gangtey monastery and then take a leisure walk visiting Black Necked Crane Information Center, which has a lot of information on the migratory bird and about the valley and its role in conservation of Black Necked Crane.
For nature enthusiasts and those who enjoy long walk through the woods surrounded by splendid nature all around, taking up Gangtey Nature Trail is highly recommended. The trail is about 5km and takes approximately 2.5 hours. The nature trails begins from the Gangtey monstery and takes you through wonderful meadows, forests, beautiful traditional village houses, farm lands and crystalline streams. This short nature trail gives you a great feeling of the valley and understanding of the community living there.
One very famous landmark in Phobjikha valley is the 17th century Gangtey Monastery popularly know as Gangtey Goenpa (goenpa literally means “remote place” and is usually a place of religious significance). The monastery was founded in 1613 by Pema Thinley, the grandson of Pema Lingpa, the great treasure discoverer from the valley of Bumthang in central Bhutan. The name Gangtey is derived from the fact that the goenpa is built on a peak (Tey) of a hillock (Gang). The monastery has a monastic college where hundreds of monks study Buddhist philosophy for 9 years. An annual religious festival, Gantey Tshechu, is held at Gangtey Goenpa during autumn when the harvest season is just over. A series of dazzling sacred mask dances interspersed by Bhutanese folk dances are performed during this festival.
You have a choice to put up yourself in a hotel or grab an unusual opportunity to stay at a farmhouse (subject to availability) with a local family and get a glimpse of typical village life in Bhutan. You can soak up in a traditional hot stone bath later in the evening and lighten up with a cup of locally brewed liquor “Ara”. Advance reservation required for hot stone bath and you may have to pay extra for this service.
Overnight in Phobjikha valley. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
After breakfast, drive to Bumthang. En route, stop at Pele La Pass (3,390m/11,120ft) to enjoy the views of stunning snow-clad Himalayan peaks (weather permitting) and take some moment appreciating the pristine environment. We’ll also make a brief stop for hot tea and snacks at Chendebji Chorten, an 18th-century stupa built following the same structural pattern as Kathmandu’s Swayambhunath Stupa to subdue the malevolent spirit that was said to inhabit the area in the form of a giant snake. From there continue driving for about 2 hours and stop at Trongsa for lunch.
On our way back from Bumthang on Day 11, we will halt a night here in Trongsa and visit some of the nearby historical sites including the majestic Trongsa Dzong.
After lunch, continue driving to Bumthang. Enroute, stop briefly at the highest motorable pass between Trongsa and Bumthang, Yotong La at 3,425m/11,235ft to enjoy the pristine environment and fresh air at this altitude. Then gradually descend down to the village of Chumey. At Chumey stop by the roadside Yathra Weaving Center (Yathra is the colourful textiles hand woven out of sheep and yak hair) at Chumey village and get insights on traditional attires and weaving culture of the people of Bumthang. Continue driving towards Chamkhar, the main town of Bumthang. The valley of Bumthang is considered as the religious heartland of Bhutan and home to some of the oldest temples and monasteries in the country.
Upon arrival in Bumthang, visit Wangduechholing Palace built by the father of the first King of Bhutan in 1856. It served as the principal summer residence of the first and second Kings of Bhutan when they ruled the country from Trongsa Dzong until it was moved to Punakha in 1952. It is also the birthplace of the first King of Bhutan. In addition to its historical importance, the palace is also an extraordinary example of traditional Bhutanese architecture, painting, and craftsmanship.
Free time to explore Bumthang town (Chamkhar).
Overnight at a hotel in Bumthang. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Bumthang is home to some of Bhutan’s most ancient and precious Buddhist sites. The district of Bumthang is divided into four blocks of Chhoekhor where the main town is located, Chhume, Tang and Ura all of which are broad and beautiful valleys.
After breakfast, begin the full day excursion by first visiting Jampa Lhakhang. It is one of the oldest lhakhangs in the Kingdom founded by the King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet in the 7th century AD. The King was destined to built 108 lhakhangs to subdue the spirit of the demoness that was residing in the Himalayas. Jampa Lhakhang is one of the two which were built in Bhutan. The other one is Kichu Lhakhang in Paro, both believed to have been built on the same day.
(Kurje means ‘body imprint’ and Lhakhang means ‘temple’). There are three lhakhangs at Kurje. The oldest lhakhang was constructed by the Trongsa Governor Chogyel Minjur Tenpa in 1652 on the site where Guru Rinpoche (Guru Padmasambhava) meditated after subduing an evil spirit that was harming the local people and the King Chakhar Gyab popularly known as Sindu Raja. Inside the lhakhang are the statues of the Buddhas and the cave known as Dragmar Dorji Tsegpa, meaning a “red-coloured cave resembling pile of vajras”, in which Guru Rinpoche meditated. The second Lhakhang was constructed in 1900 by the 13th Trongsa Governor, Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck who later became the first hereditary King of Bhutan in 1907. The third Lhakhang was built in the 1980s under the patronage of Her Royal Grandmother Ashi Kezang Choden Wangchuck (mother of the fourth King) with guidance from her spiritual root teacher H.H. Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche.
From Kurjey drive 5 mins and then walk across the suspension bridge over Chamkhar Chhu and visit Tamshing Lhakhang. It takes about 30 minutes of leisure walking to reach the temple. Tamshing Lhakhang was built by the great treasure discoverer of Bhutan, Pema Lingpa in 1501 AD and became the seat of his successive reincarnations even to this day. Among the many treasures and religious artefacts handcrafted by Pema Lingpa himself, there is an armory which stood the test of time for five centuries bearing no rust or any sign of deterioration. It is believed that you will be cleansed of all your past sins and defilement if you circumambulate the inner sanctum 3 rounds carrying that sacred armory. A small statue of Guru Rinpoche and inner offerings of some of the statues inside the temple are believed to be the treasures discovered by Pema Lingpa from the Mebar Tso (Burning Lake) in Tang Chhu River. You will visit Mebar Tso on Day 10 as we descend into the Tang valley on the third day of the trek.
In the immediate neighbourhood is Kencho Sum Lhakhang which dates back to 8th century during the time of Guru Rinpoche. Later it was restored by Terton Pema Lingpa in 1479. In February 2010, the temple was destroyed by a tragic fire sending the whole country into shock and stirred sense of mourning. However, as sacred as it is and to the solace of all the people, the sacred relics and statue of Buddha were saved from the disastrous fire. Today, the temple has been restored by Pema Lingpa’s 11th reincarnation, His Holiness Lhalung Sungtrul Rinpoche.
Leisure time in the town.
Overnight at a hotel in Bumthang. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
The route follows the Chamkhar Chu, a river known for trout and stops for lunch at Thangbi Lhakhang. From here the trek enters the Ngang Yul (Land of the Swan) at the centre of which lies the Ngang Lhakhang (Swan Temple). The valley was once populated by swans, and hence the name Ngang Yul.
Overnight at an outdoor camping tent. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
You’ll begin the day by crossing verdant meadows and with a beautiful view of the valley below. Then you climb gradually to Phe Phe La (3,360m/11,055ft), the highest point of this trek route. The trail passes through beautiful forested areas where many stops can be made to enjoy the natural beauty of your surroundings. The path leads you downhill into a broad valley. Amongst several possible camping sites the most likely one is uphill behind the village of Tahung.
Overnight at an outdoor camping tent. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
|Tang valley Altitude||2,800m/9,185ft|
The trail follows the Tang Chu, another trout-filled river. On the bank of the river is the Tang Rimpoche’s Lhakhang. The trek will pass the Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake) and lead you to Tang Ogyencholing. Ogyencholing Palace houses a privately owned museum and has all manner of traditional artifacts on display. Check into Ogyen Choling Guesthouse or a family farmhouse to experience the Bhutanese way of life and of course delight your taste buds with local cuisine.
It is believed that Terton Pema Lingpa, the most revered 15th century Saint from Bumthang, went into the lake holding butter lamp (candle-like lamp used for ritual offering) and resurfaced holding treasures hidden by Guru Rinpoche in the mid-eight century AD with butter lamp still burning brightly held in his hand. Some of the treasures discovered from the lake by Terton Pema Lingpa include Zung (the inner offerings of the statues) and the statue of Guru Rinpoche, which can still be seen today at Tamshing Lhakhang which you visited on Day 7.
Although Ogyen Choling was a palace owned by the ancestors of the Royal family of Bhutan, it was regarded as being a monastery or hermitage because of its past connections with great Buddhist masters like Longhcen Rabjam (1308-63) and Terton Dorji Lingpa (1346-1405). It was turned into a museum in 2001 with the aim to share its heritage and also to preserve and maintain its religious and cultural significance. The curator, Kunzang Choden, is the owner of the museum and the direct descendant of the original family. If Kunzang Choden happens to be at home, she herself will guide you through the museum giving you profound insights not only about the lifestyles and living conditions of households of the religious and nobility during the 19th and 20th centuries but also on how Bhutan has changed over the years.
Overnight at Ogyen Choling Guesthouse OR family farmhouse in the valley. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Today we drive to Trongsa and visit the majestic Trongsa Dzong and the Ta Dzong which is now converted into Museum.
Upon arrival in Trongsa town, check into the hotel and rest for a while before visiting the inner courtyard of the largest Dzong in Bhutan, Trongsa Dzong built in 1648. Trongsa Dzong is known as Choekhor Rabtentse Dzong. It holds a significant place in the history of Bhutan as it was from here that the ancestors of the Royal family of Bhutan emerged as the most powerful rulers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The first and second hereditary Kings of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancient seat of power. There is a tradition that the crown prince must be invested as Trongsa Penlop (Governor of Trongsa) here at Trongsa Dzong before he ascends the throne of the King.
After visiting this magnificent Trongsa Dzong, walk up to the promontory where the Trongsa Ta Dzong (watchtower of Trongsa) is located. Built in 1652, this Ta Dzong guarded the Trongsa Dzong against internal rebellion. Today, it houses the fascinating museum providing visitors with an insight into the significance of Trongsa in Bhutan’s history.
We can also visit Thruepang Palace. This two-storied simple palace situated just above the highway in the town is the birthplace of our Late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. It was here that on 2nd May 1928, His Majesty was born to King Jigme Wangchuck and Ashi Puntsho Choden. He spent most of his early childhood days here in this Thurepang Palace. The other palace of interest is the Eundu Choling Palace which was the winter residence of the 1st King Ugyen Wangchuck.
Free time to explore Trongsa Town.
Overnight at a hotel in Trongsa. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
|Wangdue Phodrang Altitude||1,310m/4,300ft|
After breakfast, drive to Wangdue Phodrang. Under normal road conditions, we should reach Wangdue Phodrang town under 5 hours. En route, stop at Chendebji for lunch and continue the journey. From Pele La Pass, the drive will be a gradual descent all the way to Wangdue Phodrang. On the way, you might see common grey langurs which are usually found in the forests of Bhutan at an altitude of up to 3,600 meters. Make a brief stop at Wangdue Phodrang town, home to the third oldest Dzong in Bhutan.
The Wangdue Phodrang Dzong, built in 1638, was the third oldest Dzong in Bhutan and stood majestically on the ledge with steep cliffs on three sides. The original Dzong which was one of the most important and historic heritage sites in Bhutan was burnt down by the tragic fire accident on 24 June 2012. Under the guidance of His Majesty the King and His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, all the precious sacred artifacts and objects inside the main temple of the Dzong were saved and there was no human casualty. Currently, the Dzong is under reconstruction which started from January 2014 and it is expected to take until the end of 2018 to rebuild to its former glory incorporating state-of-the-art technology in terms of disaster resilience measures and traditional architecture.
From Wangdue Phodrang town, drive for about 10 km and check into the hotel at Lobesa. After hot tea and snacks at the hotel, we will visit the Temple of Fertility ‘Chimie Lhakhang’.
Chimi Lhakhang is located on a gentle hilltop near the village of Sopsokha. To reach the temple, you have to walk 20 – 30 minutes through beautiful terraced paddy fields and traditional farmhouses. The history of Chimi Lhakhang is associated with 16th century Lama Drukpa Kuenley who was affectionately 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 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 the ability to bear offspring. Because of this belief, people like to call Chimi Lhakhang as “Temple of Fertility”.
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 travelers. 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 AD.
Back to the hotel and gather for dinner.
Overnight at a hotel in Lobesa, Wangdue Phodrang. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Today is your last full day in the Kingdom of Bhutan. We drive back to Paro via Dochu La Pass and stop in Thimphu for lunch.The drive will be gradual climb until Dochu La Pass (3,150m/10,335ft) from where we descend down into Thimphu valley. We will stop briefly at the outskirt of Thimphu to visit historic Simtokha Dzong.
Built strategically on a ridge overlooking the Thimphu valley, Simtokha Dzong is significant not only because it was the first Dzong built by Zhangdrung Ngawang Namgyel but also stands on the borders of three major regions: Thimphu, Paro and Wangdue Phodrang. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel built this Dzong in 1631 to consolidate his rule over the western Bhutan. Simtokha Dzong is considered as the oldest Dzong in Bhutan. One of the main statues inside the Simtokha Dzong is the statue of Buddha of Compassion. Legend has it that fortunate visitors are able to see a light shining forth from the chest of the Buddha. The Dzong has more than three hundred slate carvings from the 17th century. Recently, His Majesty the 5th King donated statue of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel which wasn’t there initially.
Continue to Thimphu for lunch. After lunch, you can visit some of the places you would like to visit and do souvenir shopping if you wish. If we have enough time, we could visit the National Handicraft Emporium and Changangkha Lhakhang.
Handicraft Emporium is located in the main town which is run by the National Women’s Association of Bhutan. It is a one-stop souvenir shop where you will find wide range of Bhutanese Handicrafts and handwoven Bhutanese attires. This souvenir emporium is one of the few shops accepting major credit cards.
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.
Towards the late afternoon we will drive to Paro.
Overnight at a 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. These activities can be fitted into any tour itineraries.
Please note that some of the activities 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.