Extend your trip in the region to Bhutan, the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’. Arrive in Paro with breathtaking views of Himalayan Peaks and head for Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital. Explore the city sites, and then head over the Dochu-la pass through scenery of dense forests, meadows of wildflowers, waterfalls, traditional villages and more before arriving in Punakha where you’ll explore the local fortress, built at the junction of two rivers. Return back to Paro for guided excursions of the city’s key sites, including a hike up to the Taktshang Monastery perched on the side of a cliff above the valley floor. The scenery, culture and people of Bhutan make this arguably one of the most unique travel experiences in the region.
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The above is simply a list of highlights and does not represent all of what you will (and can) see on this trip.
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On a clear day, the flight to Paro is breathtaking, with views of major Himalayan peaks such as Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga and Makalu and on the final approach Bhutan’s own snowy peaks, the sacred Jumolhari, Jichu Drake and Tserimgang. Arrive in Paro during the day, and then meet for your drive to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan, where you will check-in to your hotel. In the evening, head to Buddha Point for commanding views of the town of Thimphu.
We start very early today as we drive to the Buddha Dordenma statue sitting on top of a hill overlooking Thimphu to catch the sunrise. The site of Buddha Dordenma offers unobstructed views over the capital. Watch the luminous rays of the morning sun flood the valley and wake its inhabitants from the night’s slumber. We will then take a morning walk in the nearby nature park. The park covers about 943 acres of land around the Buddha statue. A few walking trails have been built around the statue and can be covered in about 2-3 hrs. Return to the hotel for breakfast. Later depart for sightseeing. Visit the National Memorial Chorten, The building of this landmark was envisaged by the third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, as a monument to world peace and prosperity. See the Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre, a private weaving centre that frequently produces ceremonial textiles for Bhutanese royals, including the gho and kira (traditional attire) worn by the King and Queen for their marriage ceremony in October 2011. Visitors to the centre can watch weavers at work and interact with them. Stop b the Post Office, located in the heart of the town, an interesting visit, and then enjoy lunch. Afterwards, visit the Institute for Zorig Chusum, commonly known as the Painting School, an Institute offering a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. Visit the National Library, which holds a vast collection of Buddhist texts and manuscripts, some dating back several hundred years, as well as modern academic books mainly on Himalayan culture and religion. Later in the evening visit Tashichho Dzong, the “fortress of the glorious religion” initially erected in 1641 and rebuilt by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the 1960s. The Tashichho Dzong houses some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body.
Drive to Punakha, en route visiting Dochu-la pass (3,088 m/10,130 ft). Stop briefly here to take in the view and admire the chortens, Mani walls, and prayer flags which decorate the highest point on the road. If skies are clear, the high Himalayan peaks towards the northeast will be revealed in all their glory. On arrival Punakha, check in at the hotel. In the afternoon, visit the Chimi Lhakhang, the auspicious fertility monastery built in 1499 and a temple dedicated to the Divine Madman", an eccentric monk from the 16th century, and then visit the Punakha Dzong (fortress). The Dzong is strategically built at the junction of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. Damaged over the centuries by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the dzong/fortress has been fully restored to its former glory, and is one of the most beautiful fortresses in all of Bhutan.
Drive to the Nalanda Buddhist Institute, a truly spiritual place and the location of the Nalanda University (originally in India). This is where you will have the opportunity to spend some quality time interacting with the monks who have devoted their life to spirituality and Buddhism. Even if you are not a religious person, you will appreciate not only the location but the peace of this unique place. Later drive to Paro and check-in to your hotel. In the afternoon, drive towards the north end of the valley to visit the National Museum. The museum collection includes ancient Bhutanese art and artifacts, weapons, coins, stamps and a small natural history collection. Later in the evening, visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo. The building of this temple marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan.
Take an excursion to the Taktsang Monastery, also known as the Tiger’s Nest. This excursion requires a trek of about 4-5 hours up and down. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche, founding father of the Bhutanese form of Mahayana Buddhism, arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery. The main structure was severely damaged by fire in 1998, but after many years of painstaking restoration work, the complex has now been fully restored to its former glory. In the evening, take a stroll along the town’s main street.
After breakfast, you will be met at the hotel and transferred to the airport to board your departure flight.
Day 5: Hike to the revered Taktshang Monastery (Tiger's Nest).
This itinerary has been tried & tested and can be booked as-is. However, should you wish to customize your tour, you may contact us here.
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