This tour starts from western district of Paro and ends at Southeastern district of Samdrup Jongkhar. Within this 2 weeks time, we will be covering 9 districts of Bhutan (out of 20).
Duration: 14 days and 13 nights
Nature of tour: Cultural sightseeing tour
Places covered: Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangduephodrang, Trongsa, Bumthang, Mongar, Trashigang, and Samdrup Jongkhar.
Exit: Samdrup Jongkhar
Base Price: $2380
Welcome to the land of Happiness. Representative from See Bhutan Travels will welcome you at Paro international airport. Get transferred to your hotel and enjoy your lunch.
After lunch we will set out for exploring around Paro valley and pay visit to following sites:
Paro Ta Dzong (national museum): Located on a spur above Rinpung Dzong, five and a half kilometers’ drive from Tshongdu town, the dzong was built in the mid-17th century as a watchtower overlooking Rinpung Dzong by Lanyongpa Tenzin Drukdra and Chogyal Migyur Tenpa. The circular dzong houses the National Museum of Bhutan
Paro Rinpung Dzong: Located on the bank of Pachu River, Paro Dzong, formally known as Rinchen Pung Dzong (shortened to Rinpung Dzong), was built in 1644 under the command of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It is one of the most beautiful and historically important dzongs in the country. Today, it houses both district administration and monastic body.
Overnight: At hotel in Paro.
In the morning drive till Taktsang base from where the 6 hour round trip hiking to Taktsang monastery begins.
Horse riding facilities are available till Taktsang view point while hiking up.
Taktsang Monastery: The monastery is located 900 m above Paro valley on the face of a rocky cliff. Taktshang is perhaps the most famous monastery in the country. The monastery was named Taktshang after Guru Rinpoche flew there from Kurtoe Singay Dzong (Eastern Bhutan) riding on a tigress to subdue a demon. Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay, the secular head of the country (1680-1694) has begun the construction of the monastery at this site in 1692 and completed in the year 1694. The monastery houses many temples that contain sacred statues of eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche, Tshepame Yabyum and Bone relic of Pelgi Singay.
Towards evening, after reaching back from Taktsang monastery, we will visit to Drugyal Dzong and Kichu Lhakhang.
Drugyal Dzong: Located in Phongdey village in Paro, the Dzong was built as one of the principal Dra Dzong (defence dzongs). While some attribute the building of the Dzong to Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1649 to commemorate a victory over Tibetan invasion, some attribute it to the second Druk Desi Tenzin Drukdra. But as its name suggests (Druk – Drukpa; gyal – victory), the Dzong was built to celebrate the victory over Tibetans. The Dzong was used as the summer residence of Rinpung Rabdey until 1951 when it was completely burnt down. The Dzong is currently being rebuilt to its former glory to celebrate the birth of crown prince Jigme Namgyel.
Paro Kichu Lhakhang: Located about 10 minutes’ drive from Paro town, the temple is one of the two among 108 temples built by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century to subdue a demon that lay supine across Tibet and Bhutan. The temple contains sacred relics dating back to the 7th century like a statue of Lord Buddha and four statues of Chagtong Chentong. It also contains the statues of Guru Nangsi Zilnon, Dolma Kukuli (a manifestation of Tara), Zhabdrung, the bone relic of his Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
Overnight: At hotel in Paro
Begin your journey towards Thimphu (capital), located 65 km east of Paro. After arriving at Thimphu we will visit to following sites:
Memorial Chorten: Located in the heart of Thimphu city, it was built in 1974 by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Phuntsho Choden in memory of her son, Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The three-storey choeten houses several relics such as Phurba Lhatshog, Kagay, Khrowo Nampur Gyalwa, Guru Tshengye, and Khenlop Chesum. The choeten is today the spiritual nerve centre of the city.
Buddha Statue: Located at Kuenselphodrang, facing Thimphu valley down bellow is the worlds’ largest and tallest Buddha statue standing at the height of 169 feet (52m). The statue houses one hundred thousand of smaller Buddha statues, the exact replica of the outer Buddha statue. From here one can have a 360 degree view of Thimphu valley.
Textile museum: Located near National library at Chubachu, it was established in the year 2001. The museum contains Bhutanese textiles, arts, crafts and more importantly the royal collections which includes first version of the Raven crown worn by first and second King of Bhutan, dresses and accessories worn by royal family and the bedding of his holiness Zhabdrung Jigme Dorji.
Tashichho Dzong: Located on the bank of the Wangchu River in the Hejo village, Tashicho Dzong was built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and enlarged in 1694 by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay. It was entirely rebuilt under the command of Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in 1962. Today, the dzong is the seat of the central government, His Majesty the King’s office, and the summer residence of the Central Monastic Body.
Overnight: At hotel in Thimphu
Today we will spend our day exploring around Thimphu valley and taking a short hike to Tango Monastery.
Tango Monastery: Located north of Thimphu opposite Cheri Monastery, approximately 14 km drive from Thimphu and 40 minutes’ walk from the road point.
The monastery’s name honours Phajo Drugom Zhigpo’s meeting with the horse-headed deity Tandin (Hayagriva) who prophesied that Phajo would help the teachings of Drukpa Kagyu flourish in Bhutan. The monastery was visited by many great masters and it contains many sacred relics. The monastery today houses the College of Buddhist Studies.
If time permits, towards evening we will visit to Simtokha Dzong (fortress).
Overnight: At hotel in Thimphu.
Punakha is located 77 km east of Thimphu. En-route to Punakha we will pay visit to Khemae Lhakhang, the monastery dedicated to Tibetan saint Drukpa Kuenley.
Khemae Lhakhang: Located on a hillock in Lobesa (Punakha), the temple was built in 1499 by Lam Ngawang Chogyal, the cousin of Lam Drukpa Kunley, on the spot where the latter subdued a demon who was running away in the form of a dog. Lam Drukpa Kunley buried the demon and said there was no dog now (khe – dog; mae – no). Hence, the temple came to be known as the “temple of no dog”. Today however it is pronounced as Chimi Lhakhang. The temple contains the bow and arrows of Lam Drukpa Kunley and a phallus to bless the visitor.
After reaching Punakha we will pay visit to Punakha Dzong.
Punakha Dzong: The dzong is situated on a stretch of a land where two rivers – Phochu and Mochu – meet. The dzong was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1937 and named it Pungthang Dewa Chenpai Phodrang, the palace of great bliss. Later it became the final retreat palace for him. The first monarch, King Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned there and it served as the capital of the country until 1955. Today it serves as the winter residence of the Central Monastic Body. The sacred relic Rangjung Kharsapani is also kept in the Machen Temple inside the dzong.
Overnight: At hotel in Punakha
After early breakfast, we will start our journey towards Gangtey valley. Located at 3000 m above sea level, under Wangduephodrang district of western Bhutan, Gangtey valley is a very beautiful, if not the most beautiful glacial valley in Bhutan. It is located at 200 km east of Paro International Airport.
During the winter months (November – February), this valley receives its unique visitors, the globally threatened Black Necked Crane(Grus Nigricollis) which migrates from neighboring Tibetan plateaus and Northern India.
If time permits, we will pay visit to nearby local villages and mingle with local farmers.
Overnight: At hotel in Gangtey
Today we will spend one more day here at Gangtey, relaxing, going for short hike around the valley and mingling with local farmers.
Overnight: At hotel in Gangtey
Today we will be driving towards Trongsa via Pelela pass, the traditional boundary between eastern and western Bhutan. On the way we will have a stopover at Chendebji Choeten, a replica of Bodhinath Choeten of Nepal.
At Trongsa we will pay visit to the historical Trongsa Dzong.
Overnight: At hotel in Trongsa.
After breakfast from Trongsa, we will continue our journey towards Bumthang (2 hours). After arriving at Bumthang we will pay visit to following places:
1. Kurje Lhakhang: Located in Kurje in the Chokhor valley, around 15 minutes’ drive from Chamkhar town (Bumthang), the site of the three temples has a body impression of Guru Rinpoche left behind after he meditated there and subdued evil spirits the chief of which was Shelging Karpo. Kurje means body impression. Guru Rinpoche visit Bumthang in 746 AD at the invitation of the local king, Chakhar Gyalpo. The oldest temple was built in 1652 by Chogyal Migyur Tenpa, the first Choetse Chila. The second temple was built in 1900 by the first King Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck on the spot where Guru left his body imprint, and the third temple was built in the 1990s under the commanded of Queen Mother Ashi Kesang Choeden Wangchuck. The first, second, and the third temple contain respectively the three Buddhas (the past, present, future), a 12-metre tall statue of Guru Rinpoche, and Khenlop Chosum (Guru Rinpoche, King Thrisong Duetsen, and Pandit Santarakshita).
2. Jampay Lhakhang: Located in Chokhor Gewog in Bumthang, 10 minutes’ drive from Chamkhar town. Jampay Lhakhang is believed to be one of the two temples (the other is Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro) built by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century AD in Bhutan among 108 temples that he built in one day to subdue a demoness that lay supine across the Himalayas. It’s believed to have been built on the left knee of the demoness. Besides the future Buddha, Jowo Jampa (Maitreya) from which the temple derives its name, the temple contains more than 100 statues of the gods of Kalachakra built by the first King of Bhutan in 1887.
3. Jakar Dzong: Located on a ridge above Chamkhar valley, Jakar Dzong, formally called Jakar Yugyal Dzong, was founded by Lam Ngagi Wangchuk (Buddhist priest) in 1549. Lam Ngagi Wangchuk was believed to have seen a white bird land at the spot where he built a small temple and started a monastic body. Later, when Desi Chogyal Migyur Tenpa (secular head of Bhutan, 1667-1680) expanded the temple into a Dzong in 1646, it came to be known as Jakar (Bya dkar) Dzong (White Bird Dzong). The Dzong houses many temples and it is today the seat of district administration and monastic body.
In the morning we will drive towards Mebar Tsho located half an hour drive from Bumthang.
Mebar Tsho: Located in a gorge on the way to Tang, some 30 minutes’ drive from Chamkhar town (Bumthang), Mebar Tsho (meaning Burning Lake) is the sacred lake from where renowned Terton Pema Lingpa discovered treasures as directed by Guru Rinpoche. Terton jumped into the lake with a burning butter lamp in his hand. He miraculously emerged from the lake after some time with a chest and a scroll of paper, the butter lamp still burning. Therefore, the lake came to be known as Mebar Tsho.
From here we will drive back to Bumthang and pay visit to following sites:
Tamzhing Monastery: Located in Tamzhing, some 20 minutes’ drive from Chamkhar town, it was built in 1505 by Terton Pema Lingpa; the temple served as his main seat. The relics contained in the statues in the temple are treasures discovered by the terton (treasure discoverer) himself. The two-storey temple houses the images of Peling Tsokhor Sum (three principal deities of Peling tradition), the three Buddhas (Duesum Sangay), Guru Tshengyed (eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche), and a life-size statue of Terton Pema Lingpa. Among many relics crafted by the founder himself are the hat of Guru Statue and metal chain armour.
Kenchosum Lhakhang: Located in Chokhor valley, 10 minutes’ drive from Chamkhar town, the temple is believed to have been built by Terton Pema Lingpa over a big lake from which he discovered several treasures. The small statues of the three Buddhas (Buddhas of the past, present, and future) are believed to have flown to the site from Khini monastery in Lhuntse. The temple derives its name from the three Buddhas. Among other relics, the temple contains the centre statue of Vairocana, Avalokiteśvara, Jowo Jampa, Terton Pema Lingpa, and Longchen Rabjam.
Overnight: At hotel in Bumthang
Our journey continues further eastward towards Mongar. We will be spending our entire day on road but will be treated with abundance of beautiful views as we traverse across lush green vegetations and through scores of small villages.
Overnight: At hotel in Mongar
In the morning spend your time exploring around Mongar town before proceeding towards Trashigang. Drive from Mongar to Trashigang will take roughly 3 hours. At Trashigang we will visit to Trashigang Dzong.
Overnight: At Hotel in Trashigang
After breakfast, we will start our journey south, towards Samdrup Jongkhar, the border town with India. It will take approximately 7 hours by road to reach Samdrup Jongkhar from Trashigang. After arriving, check into your hotel and spend your time going around the town.
Your two weeks tour of Bhutan comes to an end today. Our guide and driver will see you off at Bus station from where you will depart to Guwahati International airport. Guwahati is located 100 km south of Samdrup Jongkhar (2 hours drive).
When visiting Bhutan, one should be aware of Peak and Lean tourist season. March, April, May, September, October and November is considered as peak tourist season and December, January, February, June, July and August is considered as lean tourist season in Bhutan.
There is a difference in cost to visit Bhutan during peak and lean tourist season. The reason behind this is; all the tourists visiting Bhutan have to pay a minimum mandatory fee (daily tariff) of US dollar 250 per person per night stay in Bhutan during Peak tourist season and $200 during Lean tourist season.
On top of minimum daily tariff, by virtue of smaller group; solo travelers have to bear a surcharge of $40 per night stay in Bhutan and Dual travelers (two) have to bear a surcharges of $30 per person per night stay in Bhutan (both peak and lean tourist season).Surcharges are not applicable if the traveling group consists of 3 or more travelers.
All the tourists visiting Bhutan have to bear a onetime payment of $40 as Bhutan Visa fee on top of mandatory minimum daily tariff and surcharges.
The total tour cost, inclusive of our company’s promotional rates, minimum daily tariff, surcharges and Bhutan visa fees for booking “Bhutan in 2 weeks” are as follows:
(March, April, May, September, October &November)Single Traveller: USD $ 3485
(December, January, February, June, July & August)Single Traveller: USD $ 2900
Some may find food in Bhutan monotonous with the same menu being offered in every restaurants and hotels but these foods are true to Bhutan, unique in its own way, different from anywhere else in the world.
Bhutanese people are very fond of spicy foods and chili lies in the center of every cuisine as its main ingredient. A proper meal from the Bhutanese point of view is a plate full of rice with curry prepared either of vegetable or meat items.
Bhutan being cultural destination rather than a culinary, there are not much to choose from but whatever that are offered are authentic and native.
Other than rice and curry, Momo is a popular snack that one will enjoy in Bhutan. Momo is a Tibetan originated dumpling stuffed with cabbages and onions along with beef, pork or cheese.
Other than Bhutanese cuisine, restaurants in Bhutan also serves Chinese and Indian dish such as noodles and Roti. Popular drink one must try while at Bhutan are Suja, the salted butter tea, Ara the locally brewed wine from rice, maize or millet and Bangchang the rice, millet or maize beer. It will be quite a task to get Ara and Bangchang at western parts of Bhutan but are easily available if you are visiting some of the far away villages in eastern parts of Bhutan; they will even offer to you for free as a gesture of hospitability.
Refrain from drinking water directly from tap or streams. Bottled water will be provided everyday by the tour operators.Tour Vehicle
Tour vehicles are prearranged by your respective tour operators and its costs are covered by the minimum daily packages that are paid prior to your arrival in Bhutan. Depending on the size of travelers tour vehicles are arranged as follows:
Tourists to Bhutan are not allowed to travel on their own and it is mandatory to use the service of a professional guide trained and certified by Tourism council of Bhutan. Guides in general speak English but language speaking guides are also available for few languages such as French, German, Chinese and Japanese. Your guide and driver along with tour vehicle will be waiting for you at the port of entry.
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