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Name of trek Route: Land of Thunder Dragon Bhutan Tour
Minimum group size: 02
Starting point: Paro
Ending Point: Paro
Actual Trek Duration: 11 Nights/12 Days
Max elevation: 2600mts/8580ft.
Season: March to June, September to November
This 12 days program of the land of Thunder Dragon covers the whole of western and central Bhutan. It gives ample opportunities to those who wanted to explore the countryside of Bhutan in more details, visiting villages and to get experience the daily way of life of the rural village folks. Visiting of monasteries, fortresses, sacred temples, museums, government institutions such as 13 traditional arts & crafts (Zorig Choesum), traditional weaving centre, Traditional medicine hospital, Bhutanese paper factory, gold and silversmith workshop, witnessing local folk dances and experiencing local food in the farmhouses are some of the ingredients that give visitors a real taste of Bhutan. You will have immense opportunities for photography and to learn the Bhutanese culture, art, and architecture.
One needs to travel from west to central Bhutan passing several villages, past towns of Wangdue & Trongsa. Picturesque natural sceneries, mountains, deep river gorges; through snaking roads crawling amidst dense wilderness and hair raising cliffs. You also need to cross a couple of high passes to reach central Bhutan, the cultural heartland of Buddhism.
After our arrival at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu, a our
reprentative/staff will pick us up from the airport and take us to our hotel. We can take
rest and later visit the company office in Thamel, a popular tourist hub. However, there
will be a welcome dinner in the evening where we get to experience excellent Nepalese
After breakfast we begin our tour of four amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These
include the architecturally rich Durbar Square, the sacred Hindu temple of Pashupati
Nath, the interesting ‘Monkey Temple’ (Swayambunath) and Bauddha Nath Stupa which
is one of the largest stupas in the world. After completing our tour late in the
afternoon, we drive to Himalayan Glacier’s office for a brief meeting about our trek and
get to know our team leader (guide) and fellow travelers.
Flight into Paro with Druk Air, Bhutan National Airline. The flight takes you over the great Himalayas, offering the most beautiful scenery of the world’s highest glacial peaks. As you enter Paro valley, you will see the Paro Dzong (Fort), the NationalMuseum and the Paro town. Your Bhutanese guide from Experience Bhutan Travel will receive you at the airport & welcome you to Bhutan with a traditional scarf called Khadas. After completing the formalities, you will drive through the fascinating valley of Paro to Thimphu. A mixture of rice fields, apple orchards, and farmhouses. After passing the confluence of Thimphu and Paro rivers, the road ascends and the valley turns into a narrow gorge before widening out at Namseling, and soon the quaint shrubs of Thimphu begin to appear. Thimphu is the capital of Bhutan and is the only large settlement in Bhutan. Thimphu has a special charm and it is fascinating to sit and watch the gathering of local people in the town square, wearing their traditional dress, and going about in their business in a typically unhurried Bhutanese way. Depend on the time you can stroll in the town, buy a souvenir from Bhutan as you like. Overnight at Hotel Khang Residency.B LD
Following breakfast, visit the weekend market where you have an opportunity to mix up with local people buying and selling local produce and imported vegetables, fruits, dairy products, craft shops, etc. Aftermarket visit all places of interests that include: Memorial Chorten: This is a most impressive stupa built in the memory of Bhutan’s third King by the order of Grand Queen mother Ashi Phuntsho Chhoden in 1974. Changangkha Lhakhang. One of the oldest temples in Thimphu valley; situated on top of a knoll with commanding views of the valley below. This place has a special magical atmosphere with its prayer flags floating in the wind and the feeling of riding above the hurly-burly of the city. This was built in the 15th century by one of the descendants of Pajaro Drukjom Shigpo, the founder of Drukpa School in Bhutan. The main statue inside the temple is that of the god of compassion. Mini Zoo: Drive further north and visit the mini zoo where the Takins (national animals of Bhutan are kept). Drive till the dead end of the road at Sangaygang viewpoint to enjoy the fresh air and to view the whole valley of Thimphu below. The hill is dotted with prayer flags and gives an impression that one is near to heaven. Nunnery (Drubthob Lhakhang). This small red temple is also called Zilukha nunnery. It plays a role of protecting the Dzong from the fire. Now it houses Buddhist nuns. National Library: It holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist texts, manuscripts and also modern academic books. Handicrafts Emporiums: It displays a wide range of products such as beautifully woven fabrics for man & women, crafted products & other decorative items. You can as well visit many local handicraft products where you have a wide range of selection and prices to choose from. National Institute for Zorig Chusum (thirteen traditional arts & crafts).The Royal Government of Bhutan has sponsored and established this national institute in the year 1971 mainly to preserve and promote culture and to contribute to the country’s economy through quality products and services. In the course of history, Bhutan has developed a unique artistic tradition, which has played a vital role in modeling its distinct cultural heritage and this tradition is reflected in thirteen traditional arts & crafts. Traditional medicine Institute: It was established with the help of the European Union to improve traditional medicine. The rich herbal medicines abundant in the kingdom are prepared here. Tashichhodzong: The biggest fort of Bhutan built in 1648. It houses secretariat building, King’s throne room, and other government offices. It is also the summer residence of Chief Abbot. Folk Heritage Museum: One of the oldest houses in Thimphu, having been restored and transformed into Folk Heritage Museum in the year 2001 under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo. This museum is meant to serve an account of everyday rural life for the young urbanized generations and as a place for preserving objects related to this life, in case this way of life disappears as time passes. TextileMuseum: This museum was inaugurated under the patronage of Queen Ashi Sangay Choden in June 2001. Many intricate designs of Bhutanese textiles are displayed here. It will also serve as the center for conservation, restoration, and documentation of Bhutanese textiles. There are many more things to see apart from the above mentioned sightseeing places. Overnight at the hotel Hotel Kunzang Zing Resort… B/L/D
Following breakfast, 3 hours drive to Punakha, the winter residence of the chief abbot. The road climbs for about an hour till you reach a pass at Dochula at an altitude of 3150M. Weather permitting, this pass offers the most spectacular view over the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas.
En route take a short walk and visit the most famous temple called Chime Lhakhang or the temple of fertility. It is about 20 minutes walk through rice terraces and the village of Yoakha. The temple is situated on the spur above the village. It is believed that a barren couple will have children if they get a blessing for this temple. After having hot lunch at a local restaurant, visit Punakha Dzong, the most impressive dzong in Bhutan situated in the confluence of Phochhu &Mochhu (male & female rivers). It looks like a giant ship with excellent woodwork and detail of paintings. It was here that the first King was crowned in 1907. It was capital of Bhutan until 1955 and then it was shifted to Thimphu. This Dzong was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1637. This dzong still serves as winter resident of the chief lama of Bhutan and houses both administrative & religious center of Punakha district. Time permitting, drive further north of the valley and hike for about 45 minutes crossing over a suspension bridge to new Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten, a new temple, the paradise of Guru Rimpoche through the rice field and village of Niengergang. The view from the temple to the valley below is photogenic.
Overnight at Hotel Kunzang Zing Resort. B/L/D
Following breakfast, drive to the remote and high altitude valley of Phobjikha, the winter home for Black-necked cranes. After hot lunch in your hotel, walk through nature trek trail around the valley. Overnight at Dewachen Hotel. BLD
Following breakfast, drive to Bumthang, central Bhutan. The road passes through Wangdi district crossing over Pella pass (alt. 3,300m), the boundary between western and central Bhutan. It is a journey you are not likely to forget. The scenery is certainly stunning so you need to make occasional stops to take beautiful pictures en route. In places, the road is literally carved out of impressive cliff sides. Descending from the other side it is a long way down to Trongsa. The Dzong looks superb from a great distance. It is the longest monastery/fortress in the kingdom built along the ridge at a very strategic location for political reason. It was from here that the present royal family emerged as the most powerful force at the beginning of the 20th century. This Dzong was built in 1648 by the order of Shabdrung Rimpoche. After a short stop at Trongsa Town for refreshment, continue your drive to Bumthang, one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heartland of Buddhism. From Trongsa, you drive across the Yotong La pass (3,400m) and descend eventually into the valley of Chumey & Chamkhar, the heart of the famous Bumthang Yatha weaving region. This central area of Bhutan is where the colorful wool weaving is famous. Drive further up cross Kikila pass at 2900mts and finally descend down to the valley of Chamkhar. Overnight at Hotel. B/L/D.
Following breakfast, drive around the valley and visit the historically important temples in Bumthang. Bumthang is the general name given to a complex of 4 valleys viz: Chumey, Choekor, Tang & Ura with altitude varies from 2600m to 4000m. Visit Kurje Lhakhang, one of the most sacred temples in Bhutan. It is believed that Guru Rimpoche came here in the 8th century and meditated for several days until his body got imprinted on the back of a rock. He then manifested into different forms and subdued Sheiling Karpo, the local deity of Bumthang valley and converted him into Buddhism. Cross the suspension bridge of Chamkhar river and visit Tamshing Lhakhang on the other side of the river founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa, the treasure discoverer. It contains interesting Buddhist paintings dating back to the 16th century. And also visits Koncho Sum lhakhang, which is close to Tamshing. On your way back visit Swiss farm, cheese factory (buy some Swiss cheese if you like). Finally, visit the Jakar Dzong (castle of white bird). Retire of the day. Overnight at Hotel. B/L/D
Following breakfast, continue to witness the festival until lunch break. After lunch drives back to Trongsa via the same road crossing over Killa pass, the village of Zhungney where you can stop again to buy some woolen products in various colors and designs. On arrival in Trongsa, check in to the hotel. At Trongsa visit Trongsa Dzong, another finest example of Bhutanese architecture and the museum. Overnight at Hotel. B.L.D.
Following breakfast, drive to Wangdue via the same road crossing several villages, streams, distant waterfalls, deep river gorges through serpentine road and hair-raising cliffs. Cross the Pilelea pass at 3300mts and after few kilometers downhill, head towards left to the beautiful valley to Phobjikha. Visit the famous Gangtay Goenpa, a 16th century temple situated on the ridge overlooking the phobjikha valley. Visit the valley below which is the winter home for black necked cranes that migrates from Tibet in winter. After lunch, continue your drive to Wangdue. Overnight at Puna Cottages/Pema Karpo or Similar. B/L/D.
Following breakfast drive to Paro via the same road taken earlier crossing over Dochula pass. En route stop in Thimphu for lunch. After lunch, you can spend a couple of hours in the town before you leave to Paro as you may attempt to buy last souvenir shopping. Drive to Paro in the evening. On arrival check in to the hotel. Dinner and overnight at Hotel. B/L/D.
Following breakfast, Visit Ta Dzong: The National Museum an ancient round building, which served as a watch tower to the Paro Rimpong Dzong until 1968 when it was converted into a museum. The museum collection includes displays of spectacular thankas (religious scroll painting), ancient artifacts dating from 7th century onwards, beautiful Bhutanese stamps, temple with tree of wisdom depicting the history of Buddhism, collection of animals, birds & butterflies and the good collection of ancient armors such as canons, guns, shield, bows & arrows, spears etc. Visit the Rimpong dzong (fortress), the administrative & religious center of Paro district. This Dzong was built in 1646 by the order of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the one who unified Bhutan in the 17th century. It was built in 1647 by Shabdrung to commemorate the victory over Tibetan invaders in 1644. Kyichu Lhakhang. It is one of the most sacred temples in Bhutan built in circa 636 AD by a Tibetan King Songtsen Gompo. From then on Buddhism was flourished in Bhutan.
drive for about 10km from Paro town and hike up through the meadow of pines, rhododendrons, and oaks. The trail takes about 2 hours till near the main temple called Taktsang Pelphug, the closest viewpoint. Normally the visitors go till the café as entering inside the temple is prohibited (we will obtain a special permit for you so those who are good walkers can visit) this café is located little more than halfway and is also a good viewpoint. It is believed that Guru Rimpoche flew here on the back of a tigress and meditated here for three months and subdued the local deities and converted them to Buddhism. Later in the 17th century, the fourth Desi or temporal ruler of Bhutan Tenzin Rabgye built a temple in 1692 in its present form thus fulfilling the wishes of Shardrung Rimpoche who died before he built this temple. Afternoon climbs down to the valley and drive further north to visit Drukgyel Dzong (fortress of victorious Drukpas). It was burnt in 1951 by the tilting of butter lamp in the middle of the night so in present days it remains as ruins preserved as a monument. It was built in 1647 after Bhutan stand victorious against Tibetan invasion. Overnight at Hotel. B/L/D
Following breakfast, drive to the lush and beautiful valley of HAA crossing over the highest motorable road at Chilela pass (3988m). Weather permitting, you can have a clear view of snow-clad Mt. Jomolhari (Goddess Mountain) and the lush valley of Paro and on the other side of the pass, you again enjoy the view of HAA valley. Visit a small town, some of the oldest temples and farm houses. Evening, return to Paro via the same road. Overnight at Hotel. B.L.D.
Following breakfast, drive to Paro airport for onward destination. Experience Bhutan Travel guide and driver will assist you with your baggage, bid you farewell and wish you a safe journey back home.