Bhutan West East journey – 12 days Trip
• Group Size: 1+
• Best Season: March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October and November
• Tour Grade: Moderate
• Trip Type: Non-Touristic
• Activities: Cultural Sightseeing Tour, Easy walking
• Accommodation: Hotels & Resorts with your Budget
• Start & End Destination: Paro
Bhutan west to east journey takes you along the national highway from the western border to the eastern border of the country, with its beautiful mountain valleys. In this all-embracing cultural exploration of the Dragon Kingdom of Bhutan, we will explore Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangduephodrang and Gangtey in the west; Trongsa and Bumthang in central Bhutan; and Mongar and Trashigang in the east. During our Bhutan tour we will witness the spectacular events which take place in Mongar and Trashigang at the year-end Tshechu festivals. We will hike to the sacred Tiger’s Nest, visit the great stupa of Chorten Kora, and see the legendary and beloved cranes which find sanctuary in Bhutan every autumn. This intricate tapestry of Bhutan tourism adventures offers a richly nuanced experience of the last Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan west to east journey.
• Paro Rinphung Dzong, National Museum, Takstang Monastery, Drugyal Dzong in Paro
• Week-end market and archery competition, Textile Museum, the Heritage Museum, mini Zoo etc in Thimphu.
• Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang Dzongs
• Chimi Lakhang-the The Temple of Divine Madman
• Trongsa Dzong
• Wangdicholing Dzong, Kurjey & Tamshing Lhakhangs the Membertso Lake, Ura village
• Doksum village
• Sherubste College
Day 01: Flight to Paro, Bhutan
You have the option to fly to Paro from Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkatta or Kathmandu. Upon arrival at Paro airport immigration, produce your visa approval letter provided by us and get your passport stamped with an actual visa. Claim your baggage and walk through the customs and meet your guide outside the airport and transfer to your hotel. This afternoon visit the national museum, which is housed in an ancient watch tower. The museum houses books, paintings, textiles, crafts, arms, utensils, stuffed animals, insects and stamps. There is a shrine with a lineage tree with four statues representing the four schools of Buddhism: Sakya, Gelug, Nyingma and Kagyu, with emphasis on the Drukpa Kagyu sub-sect. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Day 2: Paro Sightseeing. (B/L/D)
After breakfast, we explore the highlights of Paro that include the Paro Rinpung Dzong, Kichu Temple, ruins of Drugyel Dzong and a visit to a typical farm house. In the afternoon, we hike to the legendary Taktstang Monatery, famed as the Tiger’s Nest. Takstang Monastery is perched some 600m/2,000ft up on a sheer cliff overlooking the valley and was said to be where the legendary Indian saint, Guru Padmasambhava, flew from Tibet on the back of a tiger to defeat five demons who were opposing the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan. The hike is about 2 hrs to the teahouse, which can also be done by pony. After tea and snacks you may opt to hike further uphill for about 45 minutes to get a closer look at Taktsang and the surrounding temples or just remain at the teahouse and enjoy the view. The return trek to the roadhead is all downhill and takes about half the time. Depending on the available time, you may visit a festival or other sites in Paro.
Day 03: Drive to Thimphu. (B/L/D)
Today we take a 2-hour drive to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. After some rest, we take a self guided tour to King’s Memorial Chorten and visit other sights as time permits.
Day 04: At Thimphu
After breakfast, we begin our sightseeing with a visit to the colorful weekend market, where people from near and far come to sell and buy their fresh produce. This is where the village folks jostle with the well-heeled residents of Thimphu for the best and cheapest vegetables and other food stuffs. The weekend also provides an opportunity to see the traditional game of archery played in the nearby grounds.
During these two days in the capital, you will also visit the school of traditional arts and painting, the indigenous hospital, the heritage museum, textile museum, Tashicho Dzong, the nunnery at Zilukha, handicrafts workshops and shops, handmade paper factory, gold and silver smiths, memorial chorten, Zangdopelri temple, the mini zoo to see Takin and other sights as per available time and interest. Evening can be spent taking self guided walks and shopping. Hotel River View.
Day 05: Drive to Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang (B/L/D)
Continue drive towards Wangdiphodrang & Punakha, which takes about 3 hours. As you leave Thimphu, the road climbs up to Dochula pass (3010m), where we will stop to get a spectacular panoramic view of the snow capped mountain range of Bhutan (weather permitting!). Near the pass there are many chortens (pagoda or stupas) and hundreds of prayers flags fluttering about in the wind. After the pass the road drops through changing vegetation into semitropical lowland at Punakha – Wangdi valley at around 1400m. Here you will find cactuses, bananas and orange groves. Check in hotel and after lunch visit Punakha Dzong, the former winter capital of Bhutan. The head Abbot and monks of the central monastic body reside in Punakha Dzong during the winter months and in Thimphu during the summer. Time permitting, drive to the village near the junction road between Punakha and Wangdi and make a pleasant 20-minute hike to Chimi Lhakhang temple, dedicated to the Saint Drukpa Kuenley (1455-1529), also known a the divine madman. He is very popular, as he taught Buddhist teachings in the way that is unlike the stiffness of the clergy and society of the time; he dramatized the teachings using song and bawdy humor.
Day 06: Drive to Bumthang (Jakar) (B/L/D)
After early breakfast, set off on the road to Jakar. The road from Punakha passes through the town of Wangdiphodrang and starts the steady 2-hour climb from Chuzomsa to cross the black mountains at Pele La pass (3420m). From here, on a clear day you can see the Mt. Jumolhari, and other mountains across the valley. After the pass, you are now in the Mangde region and the people speak a different dialect here. Continue the drive to Trongsa, en-route stopping at Chendebji chorten and other places along the way to stretch your legs, admire the landscape or take pictures. Lunch at Trongsa and take a peek at the Dzong, which is one of the largest and certainly the most impressive of all Dzongs in Bhutan.
Trongsa Dzong is a rambling collection of buildings that trail down the ridge, with remarkable street like corridors and wide stone stairs running down. It was from here that the present royal family emerged as the most powerful force at the beginning of this century. The first two hereditary kings ruled the country from here and it is still a tradition that the crown prince first serves as the Trongsa Penlop before ascending to the throne. From Trongsa, it is another 68km/ 2-hr drive to Jakar across the Youtongla pass (3425m). After the pass, descend into Chume, the first of the four Bumthang valleys. Stop at the roadside village of Zugney to see the weaving of Yathra (deep colored wool textile, a pattern typical to these parts of the country). Overnight and dinner at Mountain Lodge or similar.
Day 07: Full day in Bumthang Valley (B/L/D) After breakfast start the sightseeing tour with a drive to Jambay Lhakang, visit Chakar temple (iron castle), and continue to the Kurjey monastery complex. After visiting Kurjey, we start a gentle leveled walk across the suspension bridge over the Chamkhar Chu river to Tamshing Lhakang. Walk through the village to a smaller Kunchok sum temple and then continue the walk through the farmland to a swiss farm area. At this point, your vehicle will meet you and transfer you to the hotel for lunch. In the afternoon, visit the new monastery of Namhai Nyingpo, the traditional hospital, Jakar Dzong, Lamay Gompa and other sights as per available time. Overnight at Mountain Lodge or similar at Jakar.
Day 08: Ura Valley Excursion and attend the festival From Tang it is 50 kms (32 miles) across a pass to the Ura valley, the last and highest of the Bumthang valleys.The road descends into Ura by long loops across fields and pastures.Villages in the region of Ura characteristically have very closely clustered houses, which is unusual in Bhutan.
Come together with our people from different locations across the country to involve yourself with hundreds of high-spirited local onlookers dressed in their finest clothes and jewelry to pay respect and to be blessed at the ‘Tshechu’, social gathering. Here we can truly appreciate the essence of the Bhutanese people and a preserved steadfast culture. It is a rare privilege bestowed to only a limited number of visitors each year. Camp at the Ura Village or possibly a stay in one of the farmhouses at Ura.
Day 09: Return drive to Bumthang Return to the festival ground. Watch the day-long festival and drive back to Bumthang late afternoon.
Day 10: Drive to Trongsa Retrace your drive back across the Yotongla pass and descend into Trongsa, which takes about 3 hours. In the afternoon visit the huge and historical Trongsa Dzong (fortress), site of the emergence of the present Royal Family of Bhutan. Also visit Ta Dzong (watch tower) which now houses the temple dedicated to Jigme Namgyel, father of the first King of Bhutan.
Day 11: Drive to Paro Leaving Trongsa, we head west, stopping to visit the Chendebji Chorten, a large white monument said to conceal the remnants of an evil spirit vanquished here. Continuing across the spectacular Pelela pass (3300m), we descend into the valleys of Punakha and Wangdi. Further driving through blossoming hills and pine forests, we arrive at Dochula pass (3100m) for another opportunity to have a panoramic view of the eastern Himalayan range, including Bhutan’s highest peak, Gangkar Phuensum. Continue drive towards Paro via Thimphu
Day 12: Final Departure Transfer to the airport for final departure or for your next destination.