Upon arrival in Paro, clear customs and immigration. Keep your copy of the visa clearance letter handy. Your visa has been paid for. Meet your Guide and driver outside the terminal building and you will be taken to your Hotel. After lunch sightseeing includes Rinpung Dzong, Ta Dzong (National Museum) and Dungtse temple as per available time.
Rinpung Dzong : meaning "fortress of the heap of jewels". Built in mid 17th century, it now serves as the administrative and judicial seat of Paro district and residence for the 200 monks of Paro. It is also the venue for Paro festival held in the spring. Several years ago, the colorful movie Little Buddha was filmed here.
Dungtse Lhankhang : Was constructed by the great bridge-builder Thangtong Gyelpo in 1433. It is said to have been built on the head of demoness, who was causing illness to lineage. You can walk around this three-storey Chorten type building. Sometimes you are allowed to enter; you will be informed by your guide upon arrival.
Paro: Paro is one of the most beautiful valleys in the country and Bhutan’s only airport is located here, it is located among the terraced fields, and elegant farm houses. Willow trees line many of the roads, contrasting with bright colors of the fields and the most popular and important sites also found within Paro district. Paro town (2,280m) is still a small city with one main street and less than one hundred small family-run shops. In the weekend there is a market in Paro. Overnight: Hotel Paro.
Hike to Taktsang: In the morning we will drive to north of Paro town for about 1/2 hr and embark on a trek to the famed Taktsang (Tiger’s lair) Monastery. Taktsang Monastery is located on the face of a 1.000m seemingly impossible sheer, vertical cliff, above Paro Valley.
The trail begins near the Satsam (2.650m) and climbs steeply uphill to the Cafeteria (2.940m), an area of exposed ridge with panoramic view of Taktsang Monastry. This takes little more than an hour. (Ponies are provided on request to ride up till this Cafeteria, but rest of way, including return downhill must be done on foot.) You can get a good view from the Cafeteria or hike further uphill for at least another hour to the temple itself. Within the vicinity there are several other temples and sites to be seen. Lunch is served at the tea house on the way back from the Taktsang Monastry. Back downhill, your driver will meet you and drive you to your Hotel. After this exciting experience you will be going back to the Hotel where your dinner will be served and you can enjoy your free evening time to stroll around Paro town. Overnight: Hotel Paro.
After breakfast we will visit Drukgyel Dzong (Victory fortress), This Dzong was built in 17th century by Zhabdrung Ngwang Namgyel and on the way back you will also visit Kyichu Lhakhang: Tibetan King Songtsen Gompo in the 7th century miraculously builds 108 temples, along with Jorkhang in Lhasa. Kyichu is considered to be one of them and is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. According the time lunch will be in Paro, otherwise we will drive to Thimphu and have lunch there. Thimphu is about one hour drive and the modern capital of Bhutan.
Road from Paro to Thimphu : The distance is about 65kms from Paro town and takes one hour. Drive south following Pachu River to the river confluence at Chuzom. On the way you will see Bhutan’s rural area and there will be a possibility to make picture of this beautiful landscape. Upon arrival in Thimphu the program will be adjusted to the time available. Dinner will be in your Hotel. Overnight: Hotel Thimphu
Thimphu : (at 2300m) is Bhutan's capital city and center of government, religion and commerce. About one hour drive east from Paro this unique city with its unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions will warmly welcome you. Home to civil servants, expatriates and monks, Thimphu maintains a strong national character in its architectural style. It was a wooded farming valley until 1961, when it became Bhutan’s official national capital. The massive Tashicho Dzong, about 700 years old, was carefully revamped in the 1960s by the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck to house the Royal and main government offices. Even today, the city has a few streets and the population is more than 75.000 people.
After breakfast the sightseeing will start in and around Thimphu and we will cover the most important touristic sites such as the Memorial Chorten, Zilukha Nunnery, Takin Sanctuary, Tashicho Dzong, The Folk Heritage Museum, National Library, the Handmade Paper factory and the Changangkha Monastery. Lunch will be served in one of the local restaurants. At the end of this memorable day you will have the dinner in your hotel. Overnight: Hotel Thimphu.
Memorial Chorten : This landmark of Thimphu was built in 1974 in the memory of third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is popularly regarded as Father of Modern Bhutan. It is a four-story tall white building, containing statues and iconography of deities from complex tantric teachings and serves as an important place of worship for Thimphu residents, as well as from other parts of the country.
Zilukha Nunnery : It has been housed in drubthob Goemba (monastery). There are about 70 nuns who live and pray every day in the monastery. The beautiful view of Tashicho Dzong can be seen from the nunnery.
Takin Sanctuary : Takin (Budorcas taxi color) has been chosen as the national animal of Bhutan is based both on its uniqueness and its association with country’s history and mythology. It is said that Devine Madman, a popular saint is said to have created it with his magical power at a large congregation of devotees. It resembles like a cow from back and goat in the front and continues to befuddles taxonomists, who cannot quite relate to other animal.
Tashichhodzong : This fortress serves as the office of the King, ministers and various government organizations. It also is the headquarters for central monastic body of Bhutan. Bhutan’s spiritual leader Je-khenpo and the monks of both Thimphu and Punakha reside here during summer. It is also the venue for Thimphu Festival in the fall season.
Paper Factory: traditional papers were made from the daphne plant, using simple Methods.
Today’s drive will take us in 3 hours to Punakha covering a distance of 75 km. On the way we will pass Dochula pass (3,050m), where you have the opportunity to see the peaks of the eastern Himalaya ranges if the weather permits. Descend to Punakha from Dochula takes about 2 hours. En route we visit Chimi Lhakhang, it was built around the 15th century, by Lama Drukpa Kinley (the Divine Madman) who was a great Yoghi. He came to Bhutan to spread Dharma (Buddhist teaching). After the visit you will lunch at a local restaurant or in the Hotel in Punakha. After lunch we will visit the Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngwang Namgyel and also nowadays the winter residence of more than 400 monks for 6 months. It is one of the most beautiful Dzongs in Bhutan and served also as the ancient capital of Bhutan. In the evening you will have your dinner in the hotel and have free time to stroll around in Punakha. Overnight: Hotel Punakha.
After breakfast we drive from Punakha to Trongsa: It is approximately 142 kms (about 4 hrs 30 minutes drive) Just before reaching Pele La, we turn right towards Phobjikha valley. Phobjikha is part of conservation area with in Black Mountain National Park. It is the winter home of migratory Black Necked Crane. Gantey is the name of the Monastery that sits on top of a conical hill in the middle of the valley. We will visit the recently renovated monastery, which was founded in 1613 by Lama Pema Thingly, who was the first mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa.( Pema Lingpa was one of the most famous treasures discovered sects who came to the valley in the 15th century. And he predicted that one of his prophecies would built a monastery and spread his teaching) It is also one of the oldest and largest monasteries in western parts of Bhutan. Due to conservation effort, there is no electricity in the valley and lunch will be served en-route.
After visiting Gantey Monastery continue drive to Trongsa cross Pelela pass (3300 m). If weather permits you will see the great Himalayan mountain ranges such as Mt. Jomolhari, Mt.Jichu Drake, etc. From here you will be descend through the villages of Rukubji, Chendeji,(here we make a small stop to visit the Chendeji Stupa which built was in the early 19th century by Lama Shida, to subdue the demons) Senphu, Langthel and several other villages and finally arrive in Trongsa. Overnight: Hotel Trongsa.
Tsechus is a religious festival held annually by most Dzongs and monasteries. The religious festival is homage to Guru Rimpoche, who introduces Buddhism to Bhutan. The dances (most of which are performed by monks and lay men) bring blessing on the onlookers as well as instructing them about the Buddhist dharm.
Trongsa : (2,200m) lies at the geographical center of Bhutan. The town of Trongsa has been developing since 1980’s, with many of the shops being owned by Bhutanese of Tibetan decent. This small town is located on the face of the ridge and at the cross-road junction of lateral east-west highway, and the road leading south to Zhemgang.
Ta Dzong Trongsa : or the watchtower above the town area is shaped like tower with wings. It contains a shrine dedicated to Gesar, the legendary epic warrior king, and another named after Jigme Namgyal, the father of the first king. The views from the tower of the Dzong and town are spectacular and in ancient times, all approaches could be monitored from here. At present watchtower was converted into a beautiful museum. Overnight: Hotel Trongsa.
After breakfast we will be heading to Punakha from Trongsa: It is approx 142 km crossing through Pelela Pass. En route you will see Chendebji stupa is similar to the one at Boudhnath in Nepal. On the way we will have pass by the beautiful rural area and landscape from Bhutan and you will have time to make some magnificent pictures of this unspoiled nature. If the time permits you can visit the Wangdiphodrang Dzong which was built in 1639, by Shabdrung Ngwang Namgyal.
Wangdiphodrang Dzong : Wangdiphodrang town (1250m) lies 13kms south of Punakha town on a small ridge at the bank of Punakha Tsang Chu River, combination of Pho and Mo Chu Rivers. Although Punakha and wangdi are two separate districts. Overnight in Hotel.
After breakfast we drive from Punakha to Paro and we will take approximately 4 hours. On the way passing Thimphu we will visit the Simtokha Dzong, the oldest Dzong in Bhutan built in 1629 and lunch at Thimphu. After lunch continue drive to Paro. Dinner will be served in your Hotel upon arrival and evening will be free. Overnight: Hotel Paro.
Drive to the Paro Airport to catch your flight. Our representative from Bhutan Travel Connection will escort to see you off at the airport.
Chadar trekking was a fantastic experience and adventure... Until the 15th I only saw one tourist, but after 15th more people showed up. The guide Lama looked behind every time danger was near for me or for my equipment. At one point he even risked his own safety by when he jumped to hold me from sliding down from a high frozen waterfall into the Zanskar river.