Day 1: Arrive Paro & Paro-Punakha
(Distance: 125 km, estimated driving time: 3 ½ hr)
Arrive Paro . After completing your immigration formalities, you will be received by our representative who will be your tour guide throughout your tour. Then you will travel to Punakha & Wangdue which will take you through Chunzom (confluence of Pachu- the river flowing through Paro valley & Wangchu –the river flowing through Thimphu valley). On the way, visit Tachog Lhakhang (temple) , this 14th century temple located on the base of a mountain across the Pa chu on the Paro-Thimphu highway, is a must visit temple in the Paro valley. Built by the great master architect Thangtong Gyalpo, the temple houses some unique statues. To get to the temple one may actually walk over the iron chains that spans over the Pa chu. After crossing Chunzom, the drive will take you along the Wangchu upto Simtokha, from where you will follow West-East highway towards Punakha through Dochula. At Dochula Pass (Altitude 3140 m), in the clear sky; enjoy the panoramic view of the Himalayan Mountain ranges. You will be driven via the beautiful 108 chortens built on the hill by Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck (Queen Mother of Bhutan) for the security and well being of His Majesty, the King of Bhutan. You will stop for lunch at Dochula Pass and after lunch drive onto Punakha. Punakha has been inextricably linked to some of the most momentous events in the Bhutanese history and deserves its reputation as one of the most beautiful and significant regions at the heart of Bhutanese culture. Punakha had served as the capital of Bhutan from 1637 till 1907 and the 1st National Assembly was held there. On the way, stop for refreshment at Metsina village and then visit the Devine Madman’s Monastery-Chhimi Lhakhang, famously known for its fertility shrine, where one can receive a special fertility blessing. Then visit the Punakha Dzong, located on the island of the Pho - Chu (male river) and the Mochu (female river). The dzong was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative seat of the region. At the dzong, you can see the highest standards in woodwork. In the evening you may visit Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendup Lhakhang Nunnery and enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful view of Punakha and Wangdue valleys from there.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Punakha.
Day 2: Punakha-Thimphu
Distance: 71 km, estimated driving time: 2 ½ hr
After breakfast travel to Thimphu with refreshment at Dochula Pass. On arrival at Thimphu check into your hotel and visit the following: • School of Traditional Painting of Arts and Crafts where students undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. • National Textile Museum which is a good place to see the art of traditional weaving being kept alive and preserved through exhibition and has a good collection of old textiles which are rich in colors and designs.You will also see people weaving with intricate designs. • Bhutan Postal Museum (recently launched)-The museum tells the story of Bhutan’s progress and development through the evolution of communications and postal system in the country. And also you can get personalized Bhutanese postage stamps with your photo on them. You can bring along your favorite photo to put on the stamps and put these stamps on your postcard to send to your family and friends. After lunch visit the following: • Centenary Farmers’ market (if tour coincides with Thu-Sun) where farmers would be selling their wide range of farm produces (vegetables from farms and wild ferns or bamboo shoots collected from forest, flour, rice, roasted rice, rice flakes, spices, yams both cultivated and wild ones collected from forests, fruits, etc) and livestock products (mainly cheese and butter). Free interaction with people from town as well as from villages come to this weekend market. Weekend market is from Thursday-Sunday( 4 days). • Takin Preserve, which houses the national animal the Takin that is only found in Bhutan. This is an extremely rare member of the goat family. Found in herds in the very high altitudes (13,125ft and over). They live on a diet of grass and bamboo. It can weigh as much as 550 pounds. • Kuenselphodrang (commonly known as Buddha Point) where the largest Buddha statue in the country is perched on the hillock overlooking the Thimphu Valley and enjoy the magnificent few of Thimphu Valley and mountain peaks. • National Memorial Chorten (stupa) which was constructed in 1974 as a memorial for the third King of Bhutan, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is widely regarded as the father of modern Bhutan. The term ‘chorten’ literally means ' seat of faith' and Buddhists often call such monuments the 'Mind of Buddha'. Meet the elderly generation in circumambulation. • Tashichhoe Dzong, a fortress of the glorious religion. It was built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and was reconstructed into present structure by the late King, His majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the year 1962-1969. It houses the secretariat building, the throne room and the office of the king, and the central monk body. • Craft Bazaar -A one stop place to witness Bhutanese culture and buy Bhutan made art and craft product. The Bazaar in its 80 stalls covers all aspects of the traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. At this Bazaar craftsmen and artisans from across the country display and sell their handicrafts. In the evening walk around Thimphu town and you may visit local handicraft stores.
Dinner and overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 3: Thimphu-Paro & A Day Hike to Taktsang Ghoempa (Tiger’s Nest Monastery)
Distance: 54 km and driving time: 1 hour
After breakfast, drive to Paro and then hike up to Taktsang Monastery, also known as ‘Tiger’s Nest’. The walk up to the viewpoint will take about 1 – 1 ½ hrs depending on your fitness and from View Point you will enjoy a spectacular view of the monastery clinging to the side of the cliff. Stop for refreshment at the View Point Cafeteria. Then walk further up to the monastery which will take about 1 hour. It is said that in the 8th century Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress from eastern Bhutan to this place and meditated in a cave here for 3 months. The principal Lhakhang (monastery) of the present monastic complex dates from 1692. Taktsang was damaged severely by fire in 1998 but has now been fully restored to its former glory.After visiting the monastery, walk downhill back to the road on the way stop for lunch at the view point cafeteria and then walk further downhill to the road point. Then drive back to hotel. On the way visit Kyichu temple,one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demon lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on all the points of her body. Of these 108 temples, 12 were built in accordance with precise plans. Thus, it happened that in about the year AD 638 the temple of Jokhang in Lhasa was built over the very heart of the demon. In the evening you can relax in the Traditional Bhutanese Hotstone bath at a farmhouse in Paro valley. A visit to a farmhouse offers a good glimpse into the lifestyle of a farmer. You will also see around inside of the traditional Bhutanese house and you will also enjoy authentic traditional Bhutanese dinner.
Overnight at a hotel in Paro.
Day 4: Paro Departure
After breakfast, your tour guide from Access Bhutan Tours will escort you to the Paro airport for your flight to your flight to your onward destinations.
End of the Bhutan Tour