Best Season : September
Minimum Group : 2 / Maximum group : 14
The tiny Kingdom of Bhutan in the Eastern Himalaya, or the 'Thunder Dragon Kingdom', has successfully remained isolated from the outside world for many centuries. Only at the time of the previous King's coronation (1974) was the first trickle of foreigners allowed in.
Prior to the building of the road from India to Thimphu even visiting Indian presidents took 6 days on horseback to visit the King. It still remains a secretive Kingdom and the new king is keen to preserve its unique customs and traditions. Its history is a capsule of all that is mystical about the Himalaya; re-incarnate rulers who used black magic to defeat Tibetan aggressors, lama-saints who foretold the future and who fought demons opposed to the spread of Buddhism, and civil wars between powerful district governors, or Penlops, who laid plot and counter-plot in an endless cycle of strife and assassinations.
Day 01: BKK - Paro Sightseeing
Arrive paro by Druk Air, Bhutan's national airline. The flight into the Kingdom of Bhutan gives spectacular breath-taking views of Himalayan peaks including Bhutan's sacred Mt. Jumolhari and Jichu Drake and particularly exciting is the section through the Bhutanese foothills and the thrilling landing.
Upon arrival, representatives of Eco Adventures, Bhutan will meet and transfer to your hotel. After a relaxed lunch at the hotel, we can make sightseeing in Paro which includes:
- National Museum (Ta Dzong) which was once used as the watch tower for the Dzong.
- Paro Rimpung Dzong, one of Bhutan's most impressive and well-known Dzong.
(The walk from Dzong to the old traditional covered wooden bridge takes you 10 minutes and is worth a beautiful walk downhill)
- Kyichu Lhakhang, the oldest Buddhist temple in Bhutan, built in the 7th century by the first king of Tibet.
Afternoon free to stroll in the town on your own.
This beautiful valley encapsulates a rich culture, scenic beauty and hundreds of myths and legends. It is home to many of Bhutan's oldest temples and monasteries, the country's only airport, and the National Museum. Mt. Jumolhari (7,300m) reigns in white glory at the northern end of the valley, its glacial waters plunging through deep gorges to form the Pa Chu (Paro River). The Paro valley is one of the kingdom's most fertile, producing the bulk of Bhutan's famous red rice from its terraced fields.
Day 02: Paro - Thimphu Sightseeing (55Kms, 1 ½ Hrs)
The capital town of Bhutan, and the center of government, religion and commerce, Thimphu is a lively place, an interesting combination of tradition and modernity. Home to civil servants, expatriates and the monk body, Thimphu maintains a strong national character in its architectural style.
This Morning we drive to Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan. The drive to Thimphu takes about a hour and half. Thimphu is relatively small town with a population of just 80,000 people. A day to explore the sites of this least visited of Himalayan capitals & your visit includes:
1. National Memorial Chorten:
The National Memorial Chorten was consecrated on July 28, 1974. In memory of the Bhutan's third king, H.M. jigme Dorji Wangchuck ("the father of modern Bhutan"), and for the world peace and prosperity. The finely executed wall paintings and delicately fashioned statues within the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.
2. Institute for Zorig Chusum:
Commonly known as the Painting School, the Institute offers a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. On a visit one can see students learning the various skills taught at the school.
3. National Library:
The National Library was established in the late 1960s primarily to conserve the literary treasures which form a significant part of Bhutan's cultural heritage. It now houses an extensive collection of Buddhist literature mostly in block-printed format, with some works several hundred years old. This collection, known as the Choekey Collection, mainly comprises Buddhist literature written in Choekey, the religious script of Northern Buddhism, but also includes works written in Tibetan and in Dzongkha, Bhutan's national language. There is also a small Foreign Books Collection, stock of which mainly comprises works written in English, with subject interest on Buddhist studies, Bhutan, the Himalayan region and neighboring countries.
Day 03: Thimphu - Punakha Sightseeing (78km, 3 hours)
served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955 and still it the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot). Blessed with a temperate climate and fed by the Pho Chu (male) and Mo Chu (female) rivers, Punakha is the most fertile valley in the country. After early breakfast drive to Punakha (approx 3 hours), the old winter capital. The road climbs a series of zigzags over the Dochu La Pass, 10,500ft/3,200m. On a clear day panoramic views can be had of the eastern Himalayas, including Bhutan's highest mountain, Gangkar Punsum, 24,770ft/7,550m. Dochu la is also marked with 100 stupas which are beautifully designed on a small hillock. The road drops down through varied forest finally emerging into the highly-cultivated Punakha valley. This morning we make a short 30 minutes gradual walk to Chimi Lhakhang, built by Drukpa Kuenley's popularly known as the "Divine Madman" It is famous for the fact that infertile women visit this temple to pray for children.
"DIVINE MADMAN" ~ Drukpa Kuenley (1455-1520)
In Bhutanese mythology, Drukpa Kuenley is one of the most beloved and revered sages of Tibetan Buddhism. Many are the legends that surround him and he followed a wandering lifestyle and was both an eccentric and a highly regarded saint. He was renowned for his shocking behavior and his ability to perform miracles. He talked a form of Tantric Buddhism and advocated that sexual freedom was at the centre of Truth. The wooden phalluses that hang from the corners of Bhutanese houses and the paintings of penises that you often see on either side of the front door of houses are a relic of his teachings.
After lunch visit Punakha Dzong located on the confluence of the Mo (female) & Pho (male) Chu rivers. The Dzong built in 1637 AD houses the district administration offices and is also the winter residence of the State Monastic Body and its Chief Abbot, the Je Khenpo. Drive back to Wangdue for another 30 minutes.
Day 04: Punakha - Wangdue Sightseeing – Paro (148 Km, 5 Hours)
On the way back to Paro, we make a visit to Wangduephodrang Dzong. This Dzong built on the strategic point overlooking the Dang Chu and Puna Tsang Chu still exists in original shape which dates back to 1638. Lunch will be served at Thimphu before driving back to Paro.
Day 05: Paro - Hike to Taksang
This morning we hike up to Taksang, popularly known as tiger's nest. It is perched some 2,000ft/610m up on a cliff overlooking the valley and was said to be where the legendary Indian saint, Guru Padma Sambhava, flew from the region of Tibet on the back of the tigress and converted Paro valley into Buddhism. It takes approximately 5-6 hours round trip.
In the afternoon, visit Drugyel Dzong, the ruined fort towards the north of the valley, which once defended the valley from further attacks. Although in ruins, this Dzong is of great historical importance that Bhutanese forces have defeated the Tibetan invasions. On a clear day, one can get a spectacular view of Mount Jumolhari, the sacred summit (24,000ft).
The natural beauty of Paro valley is enhanced by picturesque farm houses dotted about the fields and on the hillsides. The two to three-storied Bhutanese farm houses are handsome in appearance, with colorfully decorated outer walls and lintels, and are traditionally built without the use of single nail. All houses follow the same architectural style. A visit to a farm house gives an interesting glimpse into the lifestyle of a farming family.
Tonight we organize a Bhutanese cultural programme at a village farm house followed a typical Bhutanese dinner. We celebrate a last meal with the Bhutanese host.
Day 06: Paro - Departure
After breakfast drive to Airport for your departure.