This short itinerary explores the must-see sights and takes in the very best of western Bhutan. Start off in Thimphu (the capital of Bhutan), still without traffic light in this 21st century. From there you will drive to Punakha (the old capital of Bhutan from 1637 to 1907), and end the tour by hiking to the Bhutan’s most iconic monastery of Paro Taktshang (Tiger’s Nest), perched on the edge of a steep cliff, 900m above the Paro floor valley.
This itinerary has been crafted by our Local Agency with one idea in mind: to inspire you. Every element can be adapted to your needs and your interests, from duration to accommodation and activities.
On arrival in Paro you will be picked up from Paro International Airport after clearing the immigration and customs formalities and transferred to your hotel in Thimphu for check-in. Flying into Paro is not just to connect Bhutan but also get to enjoy the breathtaking views of the Himalayan ranges, including Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga and Mt. Gangkar Puensum. Travel to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan for an hour journey. En route stop off at the 13th century temple of Tachog Lhakhang on the base of a mountain across the Pachhu River along the Paro – Thimphu highway, the hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s great architect and saint Dupthop Thangtong Gyalpo (builder of iron chain bridges).
Later, explore the Centenary Farmers Market on the banks of the Wangchhu River selling farm produces, local arts and crafts, etc. We’ll cross Kuendeyling Bazaam (cantilever footbridge) to the west bank of the river selling clothing, textiles and handicrafts in stalls. The evening is at leisure to relax – so why not stroll in the great atmospheric Thimphu town? Tonight enjoy a welcome drink and dinner with BGT. Overnight in Thimphu.
We explore the best of Thimphu city at an altitude of 2,300m (the capital of Bhutan), home to approximately 138,736 inhabitants. First stop is at the National Memorial Chorten (Stupa), built in memory of the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and also dedicated to the World Peace. Join the elderly Bhutanese people or likeminded devotees circumambulating the stupa. Another must see place to tick off on your list, Kuenselphodrang (the largest Buddha Dordenma statue in the world at 51.5m) on a hill offering a panoramic view of the Thimphu valley. Continue to the Institute of Zorig Chusum (Painting School) to discover a glimpse of novices learning the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.
After lunch, travel to Punakha (77-km) for about 3 hours. Punakha, at an altitude of 1,300m, was once the old capital of Bhutan and the seat of government until 1955. En route stop off at the Druk Wangyal 108 Chortens constructed on the crest of Dochula Pass at 3,100m (45-minutes from Thimphu). On a clear day, you will enjoy an amazing 360-degree panoramic view of the snow capped mountain peaks of eastern Himalayas including Mt. Masanggang at 7,570m, the highest peak of Bhutan (locally known as Mt. Gangkar Puensum).
Continue your journey descending into the sub-tropical valleys of Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang. The evening is at leisure to relax – so why not take a walk to the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan built over the Phochhu River? Overnight in Punakha.
This morning visit the Punakha Dzong (also known as the Pungthang Dechen Phodrang Dzong) built in 1637, which is strategically located at the confluence of the Phochhu (male) and Mochhu (female) Rivers. Next, discover the Chimi Lhakhang (temple) built by the legendary Lama Drukpa Kinley (known as the Divine Madman). The temple is known to the English-speaking world as ‘The Fertility Temple’, in the Punakha district of Bhutan, idyllically located on a round hill. Hike to the temple for about one hour (round trip), which is also revered as a sanctum of fertility. Legend has it that the childless couples wishing to have a baby from across Bhutan and occasionally from overseas are blessed with a child after visiting the temple – several Japanese and American couples visited this temple were believed to have blessed miraculously with children.
Then we return to Paro, home to the famous Paro Taktshang (also known as Tiger’s Nest), National Museum, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. The evening is at leisure to explore the festive Paro town and may wish to hunt for souvenirs in Handicraft Shops or visit a local farmhouse to drink tea with the farmer and his family, allowing you to experience the traditional Bhutanese village life. Overnight in Paro.
This morning you’ll take a short hike to Paro Taktshang monastery (Tiger’s Nest), located 10 miles north of Paro town (20 minutes drive). No visit to Bhutan would be complete without a trip to Taktshang. It is stunning in its beauty and location. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche (Padma Sambhava) flew to Paro Taktshang cliff in the form of Guru Dorji Drolo, mounted on the back of a flaming tigress from Tibet to tame five demons, who were opposing the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan in the 8th century. The monastery is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, 900m above the Paro floor valley, and it takes between 4 to 5 hours to do the round trip hike plus an hour to tour the monastery. The trail is a wide, uphill the entire way but not overly steep, on the well-maintained trail through beautiful pine forest, trees festooned with Spanish Moss and fluttering prayer flags. The hike starts at the base of the mountain by the car park. Here the locals sell souvenirs, hiking poles and also a horse/pony hiring is available from this start point.
Gentle horse/pony rides are available for transport half-way up the trail, where you will be treated to a stunning viewpoint of the monastery clinging to the cliff wall. There is a small cafeteria located along the trail and stop for a rest, drink or lunch. We continue with the temple of Kyichu Lhakhang. Built by the first King of Tibet Songtsen Gampo, this 7th century monastery is one of the oldest and sacred landmarks that introduced Buddhism into Bhutan, while our country was still influenced by the Bon beliefs. Overnight in Paro.
Transfer to Paro International Airport for your onward journey accompanied by your guide from Bhutan Green Travel. Goodbye and Good luck! Tashi Delek!
The price reflects this specific itinerary and is designed to give you an idea of the budget required for this destination. Throughout the trip-planning process, our local agency will tailor your itinerary around your budget.
|2 Pax||3 to 10 Pax|
|Price per person in Peak Season (Mar, Apri, May, Sept, Oct and Nov) - 3 Stars Hotel||$1,250||$1,120|
|Price per person in Low Season (Jan, Feb, Jun, Jul, Aug and Dec) - 3 Stars Hotel||$1,030||$900|