14 Days Rural East Bhutan Cultural Tour Detail Itinerary
Day 1: PARO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – Your first glimpse of Bhutan
On arrival at the Paro International Airport you will be met by your guide and driver. Check into your hotel and after a brief rest, start your magical experience of Bhutan by first visiting the impressive Rinpung Dzong/fortress of Heaped Jewels a fine example of the ostentatious Bhutanese art and architecture. Located above the Dzong is the National Museum showcasing various artifacts and relics of ancient Bhutan.
In the evening visit a traditional farmhouse replete with paddy fields, vegetable garden and farm animals. Enjoy a hot stone bath in a wooden tub, get some cooking tips and help in preparing your dinner which you will eat in the traditional Bhutanese style with the whole family.
Day 2: PARO TO THIMPHU VALLEY – 1 hour drive
After a leisurely breakfast drive for an hour to Thimphu through the beautiful landscape and during holidays you can stop over and watch an archery match in progress. Thimphu is one of the few capital cities in the world not having traffic lights and the traffic is still manned by traffic policemen.
Check into your hotel and visit the Royal Textile Museum which amongst other also has on display the wedding dresses and handmade shoes of the King and Queen. Stroll through the craft bazaar, a single line of shops selling art and craft items.
If you want to mingle with the Bhutanese people and jostle with local farmers amongst the aroma of organic fruits and vegetables, the Centenary Farmers Market is the place to be. Smiling tourists watch in awe as locals bargain with the vendors and you could even stock up on your organic fruits for the coming days.
In the evening visit the Tashichho Dzong/fortress of the Auspicious Religion and office of the Golden throne of the Dragon King of Bhutan
Day 3: THIMPHU VALLEY EXCURSION – Combination of the Ancient and the Modern
Soak in the panoramic view of the Thimphu valley from the site of the gigantic Buddha Shakyamuni, also one of the largest statue of Buddha at a height of 169 feet (51.5 meters).
The Memorial Chorten/stupa in town is another favorite with the tourists and elderly citizens as they circumambulate the Chorten chanting prayers and pulling at their beads. The main statue of the Buddha inside the Chorten is said to grant wishes for the earnest and honest hearted!
Drive towards north of Thimphu till you reach the base of Tango and Cheri Monasteries. Built on adjacent hills both the monasteries are about one hour hike along well maintained pathways. You can visit the Tango Monastery which also serves as a university of Buddhist studies.
In the evening walk through the main streets and visit the many shops selling local and imported good.
Day 4 THIMPHU TO WANGDUE & PUNAKHA VALLEYS – Enjoy the ride through the mountain ranges – 3 hours drive
After breakfast check out of your hotel and drive for about three hours to Wangdue and Punkaha valleys. Enroute stop over at the Dochulaa Pass (3150 meters) and enjoy the spectacular views of the snow capped Himalayan Mountains. The 108 small stupas built over a small hill is also a beautiful sight.
The road from the Pass winds down to the warm and fertile valleys and after a brief rest visit the Fertility Temple / Chime Lhakhang. It is a pleasant 30 minutes walk through mustard and paddy fields. Standing on a picturesque hilltop the Lhakhang is famous for its fertility wish grants to couples. Inside the walls of the Lhakhang are beautiful frescoes depicting the colorful life of Lama Drukpa Kuenley, the Divine Madman regarded for his crazy methods of teaching which included blessing women in the form of copulation!
Check into your hotel in Wangdue and in the evening stroll through the valley and market places.
Day 5: WANGDUE – TRONGSA – BUMTHANG – 6 hours
After breakfast, drive to the beautiful valley of Bumthang, the spiritual heartland of Bhutan and also known as ‘mini-Switzerland’! The drive is scenic via the Pelela Pass at 3420 meters and across quaint little highland villages of Sephu, Rukubjee, Chendebjee, Tangsibjee and many other small rural settlements along the way. At the Trongsa viewpoint, enjoy the view of the majestic Trongsa Dzong/fortress of the vanguard of Warriors and the neighboring valleys.
From Trongsa it is another 2 hours to Bumthang via the Yotongla Pass at 3400 meters. Enroute stop over at the Yathra Weaving center in Chumey village where you can watch men and women weavers at their loom weaving yak wool products.
Check into your hotel and if you wish go for a stroll through the market place.
Day 6: BUMTHANG VALLEY EXCURSION – Spiritual Heartland of Bhutan
After a typical Bumthang breakfast, walk at a leisurely pace to the three temples of Jambay Lhakhang/temple, Kurjey Lhakhang and Tamzhing Lhakhang. All the monasteries are ancient and with their unique history and beauty.
After lunch visit the Jakar Dzong/fortress of the White Bird and the Swiss factory/farmhouse where you can taste and or buy local beer, honey wine, Swiss cheese, clover honey, apple cider, apple brandy and other products.
In the evening stroll through the town and have dinner at a local restaurant serving the unique Bumthang cuisine as compared to other parts of the country.
Day 7: BUMTHANG - TRONGSA – PUNAKHA
Today you drive back to Punakha via Yotongla Pass, Trongsa, Pelela Pass, Wangdue and into the lush and wide Punakha valley. Since the drive is about 6 hours you can relax and rest at your hotel.
Day 8 PUNAKHA VALLEY – The old capital of Bhutan to Paro (4 hours drive)
After an early breakfast drive for a few minutes up north and walk for about an hour to Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten stupa. The walk is beautiful through the pine trees, the stupa is beautiful and so is the view from there. Enroute you will also be walking through a suspension bridge over the Puna Tsang Chhu – Punakha River.
After visiting the Punakha Dzong/fortress of Great Bliss, drive back to Paro via the Dochula Pass and Thimphu. Check into your hotel in Paro and rest well for your hike to the Tiger’s Nest tomorrow.
Day 9: TAKTSANG MONASTERY/TIGER’S NEST –The high light of your holiday to Bhutan
Have a good breakfast for your hike to Taktsang Monastery / Tiger’s Nest which is about 3 hours hike uphill and 2 down. Riding ponies are also available if you think the hike is a bit daunting. Located around 900 meters above the Paro valley on a precarious almost vertical mountain cliff, Taktsang Monastery is truly a wonderful and spectacular sight in terms of its location, setting and history. In the 8th Century this was one of the major sites where Guru Padmasambhava – the patron saint of Buddhism in Bhutan meditated with his consort Khandro Yeshey Tshogyal. It is believed that Guru flew on a female tigress in pursuit of a demon which he subdued at the current site of the Monastery. It is one of the holiest site in the Buddhist arena and a major tourist attraction.
You can have your lunch, tea/snacks at the cafeteria midway.
Before you drive back to your hotel visit the Kyichu Lhakhang/temple, one of the oldest temple built in the 7th Century by Tibetan King Songsten Gyembo.
If you wish go for a stroll through the valley or rest in hotel.
Day 10: Departure
After breakfast drive to Paro International Airport where your guide and driver will bid you farewell and hope you had a pleasant holiday and hope to see you in Bhutan again.