Day 1: (Paro 2280m – Thimphu2300m, 1hrs)
Welcome to Bhutan, the land where we believe happiness is a place!
Flight to Paro, Bhutan. Your Bhutan visa is part of the tour cost and we will arrange that for you. A copy of your Bhutan visa approval document will be emailed to you in advance which you will need to present at the airport to check-in for your Bhutan flight and again upon arrival at the Paro airport immigration where you get your final visa seal on your passport. After completing immigration and custom formalities, you will exit the airport and meet your guide and driver outside the terminal and then transfer to Thimphu. En route, stop for a photoshoot of 15th century Tamchog Lakhang Temple built by the famous Tibetan Iron Bridge builder, Thangtong Gyalpo whom was a yogi, an architect, engineer, physician, and a saint! Enjoy 10min walk down to the Iron Bridge, one of the last remaining bridges in the Himalayas. Enjoy 20mins walk through the rice paddy fields at Wang Simu village followed by visit to the residence of the Khandrom Sonam Pelden which is believed to be more than five hundred years old. Continue drive to Thimphu, one of the two capital in the world without a single traffic light! Check in, relax at the hotel. Remember you will require color shirt, long sleeves and long pant while visiting Dzongs(fortress) or any official government building.
Evening, you will visit the majestic Tashichoe Dzong, the seat of the Golden throne of the Wangchuck dynasty and residence of the central monastic body.
Overnight at Khang Residency, Namgay Heritage or similar.
Day 2: (Thimphu 2230m – Haa2670m, 2-3hrs)
After breakfast, we proceed for sightseeing of Thimphu. This is a tentative itinerary and based on local weather conditions, your interest, available time etc, you may alter the sightseeing spots and order of visit. We first begin from King’s Memorial Chorten which was dedicated to the third king of Bhutan. This is an impressive shrine, with shining gold spires, tinkling bells, and an endless procession of devotees around it. Next stop and visit the Buddha Dodenma Statue at Kuensel Phodrang; later visit the Zilukha Nunnery which is a residence of 40-65 nuns. The main shrine at the Nunnery is dedicated to the famous saint, Drubthob Thang Thong Gyalpo, popularly known as the Leonardo da Vinci of the Great Himalayas and the man who first introduced and built the chain of iron bridges in Bhutan. The National Institute for Zorig Chusum is one of the prime attractions in Thimphu. This institute, commonly known as “traditional arts and craft school” offers 4-6 years courses on Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts which include paining, woodcarving, embroidery, statue making, weaving etc.
Next, you will visit the Simply Bhutan Living Museum that is a three-storied rammed mud and timber building which is a replica of a century old traditional farmhouse. You will take a tour of this living museum and will give you a glimpse into the way that most Bhutanese lived in the past as well as how many rural people live today. After the Museum and Institute visits, you will drive up a road to the telecom tower for the vast panoramic views over the valley. Other attractions in Thimphu include: walk along the Traditional Craft Bazaar, Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory etc. You may or may not visit all the attractions depending on your interest and the available time today.
Late afternoon, enjoy self-guided tour around the capital city, Thimphu
Later evening, you will enjoy cooking lessons at Ap Jamtso Homestay followed by dinner you prepared.
Overnight at Khang Residency, Namgay Heritage or similar
Day 3: HIKE THE TAKSTANG MONASTERY.
Following an early morning breakfast, transfer to Paro Tiger’s Nest base (1hr drive, 65km) enjoy adventurous hike to the famous Takstang Monastery, also known as the Tiger’s Nest. The Monastery is dramatically perched on the edge of a 4000 ft high cliff above the valley floor, creating an impressive sight. Tiger’s Nest, undoubtedly is the unofficial symbol of Bhutan and a must visit place during your trip to Bhutan. The total trip up and down will take about 4 hours. It’s also possible to take pony ride about half the journey up but for the balance of the trail and return trip down, pony ride is not advisable. On the way back, visit the ancient Kyichu Lakhang Temple which is among the 108 temples that King Songsten Gampo of Tibet built miraculously over a single night in 7th century and subdued a demoness! We will also visit a typical Farm House if time permits. Bhutanese farm houses are colorful and built in traditional architecture and do not use any iron nails. We will have opportunity to meet the family and learn about their lifestyle.
Later in the evening you will experience a traditional Hot Stone Bath in a farmhouse. Hot stone bath is purely a Bhutanese traditional method of curing skin ailments, joint pains, hypertension, stomach disorders, arthritis, and many other minor diseases. Even you don’t have any of these issues, after a laborious hike of the day, you will feel relaxation from the hot stone bath and relieve yourself from the fatigue. After the herbal bath, you will witness the Cultural Program at the farmhouse.
Overnight at Tashi Namgay Resort, Bhutan Mandala Hotel or similar.
Day 4: DAY EXCURSION TO HAA VALLEY ACROSS CHELILA PASS
(The highest motor able pass in Bhutan).
Take a side hiking excursion to Dzongdrakha village and its monastery.
We just make a pack for 1 night out stay in Haa Valley and leave the rest of the luggage at the hotel in Paro. Haa Valley” was only recently opened to tourism and has remained beautifully quaint and untainted by the influences of modern development. This valley remains one of the least visited areas in the country and retains the air of an unspoiled, primeval forest.
Soon we leave the main highway near Bondey Village and the road starts climbing up the hill. But before we advance much further, we take a short 20 minutes hike uphill to Dzongrakha Village and the monastery which is often time called mini-Takstang Monastery and has seen very less foreign tourists. Most men in this village traditionally become monks! We backtrack to the road and continue driving to the Chelela pass. At an elevation 13,000ft, Chelila Pass is believe to be the highest motorable passes in Bhutan. The pass offers stunning views of the sacred mountain Jomulhari and Jichu Drake. It is also marked by hundreds of prayer flags fluttering in the wind. For another one hour long drive, the road drops down to the valley floor and we can already see the glittering roof of the Ha Dzong fortress from distance. The view is scenic. Once you are in the valley, you will feel that time has stopped here.
We visit the Haa town, the White and Black Temples and the Ha Dzong fortress. Architecturally, they are not appealing as much as other attractions of the country but Haa valley offers pristine nature, tranquil atmosphere and very primitive lifestyle and culture of native people. We will take some light walking tour to the village and temples.
Overnight at Tashi Namgay, Olathang Hotel or similar.
Day 5: Depart
After breakfast, you are transferred to the airport for flight back to Kathmandu. After clearing immigration and custom, exit the airport and meet your guide