*Itinerary is only a guideline. It can be tailored to your needs and interests.
ARRIVAL IN PARO
Upon your arrival at Paro International Airport, you will see your tour guide waiting for you at the arrival hall. You’ll be taking a one hour drive to the capital city of Thimphu.
Explore forested mountains dotted with monasteries and temples enroute to Thimphu. A gentle walk through the city with evening visits for stunning night views. The city will allow you to get a glimpse into the Bhutanese culture before you spend the night at Amankora Thimphu.
You will visit the National Folk Heritage Museum. The museum will provide you insights into traditional Bhutanese cultures and lifestyles. You will be able to see the kind of traditional houses of Bhutan and the museum will transport you back in time as you browse through the many artifacts. You can also learn more about the traditions, customs and habits of the Bhutanese cultures.
Then, you will proceed to the National Textile Museum to learn more about this ancient craft that is very prevalent in Bhutan. The traditional weaving methods are preserved by the Royal Government to ensure its posterity. At the museum, you will also be able to understand more about the different kinds of textiles used in the country to create those beautiful national costumes that you will see the locals wear on a day to day basis.
After that, you will visit the beautiful National Memorial Chorten located at the heart of the city. The chorten was built in honour of the late third King of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. You can see elderlies gathering, chatting and also offering prayers. Locals will be circumambulating the chorten in a clockwise direction. There are also huge gigantic prayer wheels where locals will spin in clockwise direction to accumulate merits.
At Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory, you will learn the traditional art of papermaking. The traditional Bhutanese papers (desho) were made using the bark of Daphne trees and these papers were traditionally used for sacred texts and religious scriptures using Bhutanese ink or sometimes, in gold.
After your induction about the Bhutanese cultures, you will head to Simtokha Dzong, the first ancient fortress to be built in Bhutan and the first building to incorporate both monastic and administrative centres. The central tower is three storeys high with prayer wheels surrounding the courtyard. There are also more than 300 slate carvings depicting Buddhist figures.
You will also visit one of the largest ancient fortresses in Bhutan known as Tashichho Dzong or Thimphu Dzong. Tashichho Dzong has been the seat of the government since 1952 and currently houses the throne room and offices of the king, the secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance. As a tourist, you will not be allowed to visit the Royal and government offices, but you can certainly visit the monastery and admire the marvellous architecture and surroundings of the dzong. One of the most prominent things you will notice upon arriving at the dzong would be the Bhutan national flag flying splendidly outside the building. If you visit Bhutan from April to July, you will see a stretch of colourful rhododendron flowers greeting you along the pathway.
On the way to Punakha, you will drop by Dochula Pass, one of the most beautiful mountain passes in Bhutan. Dochula Pass comprises 108 chorten built by Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over the Assamese insurgents from India. If you are lucky, you can also get a clear view of the gorgeous Himalayan range from Dochula Pass!
You can visit Druk Wangyal Lhakhang located near the Dochula Pass. This beautiful temple was built in honour of the fourth King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck who led the battle against the Indian rebels. You will be able to see locals offering butter lamps at the temple.You’ll also get to visit the Talo village, home to the temple of the Queen Mother’s protective deity. Then you can take an afternoon hike or dip in the infinity pool amid rice terraces at Amankora Punakha.
You’ll hike alongside the River Mo, through tiered rice paddies to a chorten built by the queen mother. Have a picnic on the banks of the River Puna, near the winter homes of the royal family.
You’ll also be visiting the Punakha Dzong, one of the most beautiful fortresses in Bhutan. It used to be the seat of the government until the capital shifted to Thimphu. The dzong continues to be a winter home for the clergy, headed by the Chief Abbot (Je Khenpo). The dzong is strategically located at the fork of two rivers, Mo Chhu and Po Chhu and beautiful jacarandas can be seen blooming at the courtyard during spring.You will explore one of the most popular temples in the Punakha District, Chime Lhakhang (also known as Temple of Fertility). You will start your journey from Sopsokha Village where you can witness traditionally built houses and shops. Do not be surprised by the amount of phalluses you will see around the village! You will get to learn more about the significance as you reach Chime Lhakhang after taking a 20 mins stroll across a serene terraced field. Travellers from all around the world visit Chime Lhakhang to receive fertility blessings.
You’ll wind through the Wang and Paro river valleys to Amankora Paro, surrounded by pines. Explore the nearby ruins as well as some of the valley’s oldest and holiest religious monuments, followed by an evening lecture, prayer flag printing or a traditional cultural performance.
You will visit Kyichu Lhakhang - one of the oldest and most beautiful temples in Bhutan. It has a very calming ambience where you will see locals spinning prayers wheels and circumambulating the temple. Inside the temple also housed two mystical orange trees that bear fruits throughout the year!
You will also be able to visit the national museum located immediately above the Rinpung Dzong. It was originally built as a watchtower. In 1968, Ta Dzong was inaugurated as the first National Museum that stores sacred religious artifacts. This excellent museum is not to be missed!
Subsequently, you can explore and chill around the Paro town. There are plenty of shops selling handicrafts, eateries and souvenirs.
You will be embarking to visit one of the most popular and iconic landmarks of Bhutan - Taktsang Monastery also known as Tiger’s Nest Monastery! The monastery is located 2,600 feet above the Paro Valley. Your day will begin early in the morning. The entire hike can take approximately 3 and half to 5 hours depending on your pace. You will reach a cafeteria after one hour hike where you can enjoy the stunning view of the monastery. You will be able to see many locals of all ages, from kids to the elderlies making their way up to the monastery - sometimes in sandals. Do not be surprised!
Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava (aka Guru Rinpoche) flew from Tibet to the monastery on the back of a tigress in the 8th century. He meditated in the cave for 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days before subduing a demon that was terrorising the inhabitants of the valleys. This monastery is considered one of the most sacred sites in Bhutan. A trip to Takstang is a holy pilgrimage for the locals.
*Do remember to pace well and enjoy the views along the way!
DEPART FROM PAROThe day that you will say goodbye to this amazing Himalayan Kingdom and vow to be back again to explore more of it someday! You will be departing Bhutan from Paro International Airport. Hopefully you would have made some great memories, rejuvenated your mind, body and soul and made new friends that will last you a lifetime. We certainly hope that you will come back to discover more charm of Bhutan in some other parts of the country!