15 Days Tour

Journey to Central Bhutan

Duration: 15 Days

Elevation: 1500-4000mtrs
Best time: Spring and Autumn

Highlights: Festivals

Day 1: Paro-Thimphu

You will be received by our company guide upon your arrival in the kingdom after which we head towards Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan which is a leisurely 90 minute’s drive across the Paro and Thimphu rivers.

En route you may make a small stopover at Tamchhog Lhakhang, the temple of the famous Iron Bridge Builder, Thangthong GYalpo (1361-1485). The temple is located on a small knoll across the Paro River and stands like a towering giant on the otherwise silent and uninhabited landscapes.

Upon reaching the capital you will be escorted into your hotel room and if time permits you may take a leisurely stroll in the capital or visit the grand Trashichhodzong, the seat and governance of Bhutan where the chapel of the Golden Throne of the King is also located.

Night halt at Thimphu

Day 2: Thimphu (sight seeing):

We will keep the itinerary flexible so that you may choose the destination of your own choice and liking. However, we have identified the following places that is a must visit for all tourists visiting the capital.

  • The Memorial Chorten: Built in the memory of the late Third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the early 70’s the National memorial chorten is one of the biggest landmarks of the capital city. Start early to experience the majestic sunrise of the capital city and mix with the locals who usually start circumambulating the chorten early in the morning.
  • The Big Buddha: Overlooking the Thimphu valley is the Grand Buddha Dodrenma Statue, one of the biggest in the world. It gives you a panoramic view of the capital city and the statue itself is a marvelous architectural wonder built only recently.
  • The Takin Reserve: The zoo houses the weird animal Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. Legend has it that the beast was created by a 12 century saint, Lam Drukpa Kuenley or the divine madman, from the remains of a goat and a cow.
  • The Institute of Traditional Arts and Crafts: The institute houses young trainees who will display their artistic skills on the tradition of painting, woodwork, sculpting, metal works and other varied forms of Bhutanese art and culture.
  • The National Library: The national library is a vast repository of ancient Buddhist texts and canons. The world’s largest book, a pictorial on Bhutan, is also on display at the museum.
  • The Textile Academy: Bhutan’s rich array of textiles and its origin and history is best manifest in the Textile Academy. You can also experience young women behind the loom and the many colours and beauty of Bhutanese yarns which is on display at the academy.
  • The Post Office: Apart from the rich tradition and culture, Bhutan is also known for producing some of the rarest and exotic stamps in the globe. The stamps also speak of Bhutan’s journey and transition since the early 60s when postal services were first introduced.
  • Sunday Vegetable Market: The vegetable market in the capital is the perfect spot to get an insight into Bhutan’s culinary richness and watch Bhutanese flocking in hundreds to trade their local produces.

Night halt at Thimphu

Day 3: Thimphu-Punakha

Start early to catch the early morning sunrise at Dochula Pass (3040 Mtrs) which will provide you a breathtaking view of the greater Himalayas. After a short snack at the Dochula Café’ we descend towards the warmer Punakha and Wangdue valleys.

Upon arrival at Punakha, we head towards the magnificent Punakha Dzong which was built by the 17th century Buddhist master Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (1584-1652AD). Punakha was considered the ancient capital of Bhutan and is still the winter residence of the central monk body.

Night halt at Punakha

Day 4: Hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Stupa

The hike to Khasum Yuelley Namgyal Stupa, which is about 30minute’s drive from the district headquarters of Punakha and another 30minute’s gentle walk from the road head, will take you across a villages and paddy fields which seem straight out of the ordinary. The relaxed atmosphere and serene landscapes is sure to leave a lasting impact on any visitor. 

In the evening, you may take a leisurely stroll of the Khuruthang town and mingle with the locals for a sneak-peek into their everyday lives.

Night halt at Punakha

Day 5: Punakha to Gangtey visit Chime Lhakhang enroute

After visiting the Chime Lhakhang, we head further east crossing the magnificent Wangdiphodrang Dzong which is under construction after a major fire gutted it in 2012.

The five-hour drive from Wangduephodrang will take you across forests of oak, pine, cedars and dwarf bamboo.

The valley of Gangtey is located in a vast moraine-glacier valley and is also the winter roosting grounds of the majestic but endangered Black-necked Cranes. The cranes usually start visiting the valley in late November to December when the valley is blanketed in thick winter mists. The spectacular rural landscapes and farm house experience is sure to add to your memorable visit to this strikingly beautiful valley frozen in time.

Night halt at a farmhouse in Gangtey

Day 6: Gangtey Sightseeing

Visit the crane facility or attend the Gangtey Black-necked Crane festival if your timing coincides with the festivals. Also visit the famous Gangtey monastery, the only Nyingma (older sect of Buddhism) temple in the western Bhutan region.

Night halt at a farmhouse in Gangtey

Day 7: Gangtey to Bumthang:

The journey from Gangtey to Bumthang will approximately take you 10-12 hours. You       may also wish to visit one of the many traditional yathra handlooms in Chummey valley or keep it for later when you make your return trip.

Night halt at Bumthang

Day 8: Bumthang Sightseeing

Of the many temple and sacred places located in the spiritual heartland of the kingdom of Bhutan the following places are the most visited and sought after destinations in the district:

  • Jambay Lhakhang: The oldest temple of the country, it was built by a Tibetan King Songtsen Gyembo in the 8th century AD. Legend has it that it is one of the two temples in the country which was built to fulfill a prophecy by the king to build 108 temples in a day. The other is Kichu Lhalhang in Paro.
  • Kurjey Lhakhang: The magnificent Kurjey temple was founded by Guru Rinpoche in the 8th century AD. Inside the main temple is a body imprint of the great saint which was believed to have been created by the Guru himself. The architectural splendor and unique mural paintings and giant statues are sure to add to a memorable experience during your stay in Bumthang.
  • Tamzhing Lhakhang: Built in the 15th century AD by the great Buddhist saint and treasure revealer Terton Pema Lingpa, the temple hosts some of the rarest wall and mural paintings of the country.
  • The Mebar Tsho or the Burning Lake: Located about an hour’s journey from Bumthang district headquarters is the Burning Lake, locally known as Mebar Tsho, so named because a famous treasure revealer, Terton Pema Lingpa, is believed to have unearthed great Buddhist treasures in the 15th Century AD from the bottom of the lake while still carrying a lit butter lamp in his hands.

Night halt at Bumthang

Day 9: Excursion to Ura village

Located at an elevation of 2900mtrs, the village of Ura takes approximately around four hour’s drive from the district headquarters in Bumthang. The village is considered one of the most beautiful valleys in the Kingdom and is famous for the famed Yak Chham, or the Yak Dance Festival which usually falls in early spring. Try the exotic Sangay Shamu, masutake curries and Khule (pancakes made of buckwheat) which is a delicacy typical to this part of the region.

Drive back to Bumthang

Night halt at Bumthang

Day 10: Bumthang to Lobesa/Wangduephodrang

Drive back from Bumthang valley through lush valleys of mustard and buckwheat. You may stop at one of the many yathra stalls in Chumey villages and take a glimpse of the exotic yarns and textiles that goes into making the famous yathro jackets and souvenirs.

Check into one of the hotels in Lobesa and enjoy the quaint valley as the Punatsangchhu slowly flows by.

Night halt at Lobesa

Day 11: Lobesa to Paro (Vist the Druk Wangyel Chortens en route)

Located in Dochula Pass (3040mtrs) the Druk Wangyel Chortens and Temple was built sometimes in 2008 to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over the Indian insurgents. The chorten consists of 108 miniature stupas while the temple houses some rare paintings of His Majesty the fourth King.

Day 12: Paro to Chelela and Back

The drive to Chelela pass (3700mtrs) is an acclimatization trip for your hike to Taktshang monastery the following day. Soak yourself in the chilly mountain breeze of Chelela while taking pictures of the breathtaking Himalayan vistas which seemingly seems to hang among the clouds.

Drive back to Paro and visit the National Museum towards the evening for a complete day in the mystical Paro valley.

Night halt at Paro  

Day 13: Paro Taktshang Hike

Located at an elevation of 3120mtrs, the famous Taktshang Monastery, or the Tiger’s Liar was so named because its founder Guru Rinpochhe is believed to have visited the place riding on the back of a flying Tigress. Legend has it that the Guru meditated in a cave on the vertical rock cliff, where the temple is built today, and subdued the malignant spirit residing in the locality.

The 8th century temple was later rebuilt in the late nineties after it was razed to the ground by a major fire. The main relic of the temple, a statue of one of Guru’s manifestation, is said to have miraculously survived the fire when all other structures were destroyed.

After the hike we will take to one of the many farm houses in Paro for a local hot-stone bath and a dinner with a Bhutanese family.

Night halt at Paro

Day 14: Paro sightseeing

Paro has a host of sacred places and historical places which includes one of the oldest temples of Bhutan the Kyichu Monastery built in the 8th century AD by a Tibetan King.

Visit the Dumtse Lhakhang, National Museum, the Paro Dzong and an evening drive to the Drugyal Dzong which is under construction.

Night halt at Paro

Day 15: Depart from Paro International Airport