This tour of the sky kingdom will bring you right to the heart of western Bhutan, of Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and Wangduephodrang. The importance of the tour is the visit of cultural sites, and experiencing the unique traditions and culture. All these aspects are directly reflected in its people, religion, culture and the natural environment.
The spotlight of this tour is a visit to the Punakha Dzong (the palace of happiness) which is majestically located at the meetings of two rivers Pho Chu (Male) and Mo Chu (Female).
DAY 01: PARO (2250M) – THIMPHU
DAY 02: THIMPHU
DAY 03: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA
DAY 04: PUNAKHA – THIMPHU
DAY 05: THIMPHU
DAY 06: THIMPHU – PARO
DAY 07: DEPARTURE (PARO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT)
WHAT WE INCLUDE
- Bhutan Tourist Tariff Royalty & Visa fees.
- All private excursions and transfers in superior air-conditioned vehicle.
- Local English speaking trekking guide/tour leader.
- Cook and camp hand who will take care of camp chores and provide wholesome meals.
- Services of horsemen who will look after the yaks & ponies that transport luggage and camp gear.
- Experienced driver.
- Accommodation in carefully selected, highest standard goverment approved hotels & guesthouses.
- All meals in Bhutan.
- All entrance fees and permits.
- All personal expenses such as bars, beverages, laundry, telephone and tips.
- Medical / Travel Insurance.
Sky Kingdom Tour DETAILED ITINERARY
DAY 1: PARO (2250m) – THIMPHU (2300 m) 65KM/APPROX 1HR
Flying into Paro is one of the most spectacular flights one can experience. While descending into Paro valley, on a clear day sky you will be greeted by the world’s highest peaks, including Everest. The flight during late autumn is absolutely beautiful, though during the summers it will be cloudy. As the flight gets closer to the only international airport in Bhutan, you will see the Paro Dzong (fortress) on the hillside over looking Paro valley, with Ta Dzong, which now is the National Museum. Upon your arrival our representative will receive you and drive to Thimphu, The capital of Bhutan, The first stop will allow you to view the magnificent Tacho Lhakhang, The hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s Iron Bridge Builder. After the visit we drive further to reach Chuzom, the confluence of Paro Chu (River) and Wang Chu (Thimphu Chu) After crossing Chuzom we enter Thimphu valley. In Thimphu we will stroll the market and mingle with local people. The Authentic Craft Market is place to visit, where you can find various Bhutanese handicrafts.
Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Thimphu
DAY 2: THIMPHU (2300m)
Today we begin our day by an early morning visit to the National memorial chorten. This is a Tibetan-style chorten built in 1974 in memory of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk who passed away in 1972. It is one of the most visible religious structures in town and for many people it is the focus of daily worship. Remember to walk around the Chorten at least once to gain merit and good luck. We will take in more of kingdom’s rich culture at the Folk Heritage Museum. The museum is a restored three story traditional rammed mud and timber house inaugurated as a museum by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk in 2001. It showcases the traditional artifacts used now and in the past, which helps connect people to the Bhutanese rural life. Next we will browse the striking collection of intricate textile at the National Textile museum. The Museum introduces you to the living national art of weaving. The exhibition displays the major weaving techniques and styles of local dress and textile made by the Bhutanese women and men. We will have time to quickly visit the Bhutanese Paper factory. The art of handmade paper in Bhutan dates back to the 8th century, although usage was limited mainly to religious purposes. Today it is considered an important element in the preservation of Bhutan’s cultural heritage. The factory allows guests to view the paper making process and purchase gifts from their show room.
Towards evening we will visit Tashichhoe Dzong and have glimpse king Jigme’s Palace. The Dzong is popularly known as Thimphu Dzong or “the fortress of the glorious religion” it houses Bhutan’s administration, and the throne of His Majesty and other Government offices. It is also the summer residence of the Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot of Bhutan. Just below the dzong we can have a glimpse of King’s palace.
Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Thimphu
DAY 3: THIMPHU (2300 m)- punakha (1310M) Approx 3hr drive 65 KM
Journey continues as we head towards Punakha at 1300 m and a warmer region. Punakha is the winter residence of the central monk body and it is one of the richest agricultural lands. The valley is blessed with one of the biggest rivers in the country. En-route we will cross over Dochula pass at 3050 meters, and view the most dramatic panoramic view of the greater Himalayas. During summers this mountain pass is covered with mists and the views are obstructed. The dochula landmark is the Wangyel Chortens – 108 stupas built on the mountaintop in a Mandala pattern, further enhances the beauty and tranquility of the pass. From this cooler mountain pass we will descend into a warmer region of Punakha. As we descend we will notice a change in vegetation and temperature too. While we enter Punakha valley, we will stop for a visit at Chimmu Lhakhang the auspicious fertility temple, dedicated to the Tantric Buddhist Master Drukpa Kinley (Divine Madman). He is well known for his oral tradition of legends and songs. His teachings were through outrageous behavior and ribald humor in order to awaken the ordinary people. In particular he took female friends and disciples along the path of sexual desire and relationship to free them from attachment to the illusory world and to awaken their Bhddha-nature. We will walk through the rice fields 20 minutes to get to the temple. Depending on season one gets the glimpse of rural farming life, and the rural architecture, decorated with beautifully painted motifs and patterns. Its not unusual to find a huge phallus painted on the walls, so don’t be shocked, just ask our guides for more details. During early spring its time for paddy plantation and late autumns is harvesting season.
The sub-tropical valleys of Punakha and the surrounding mountainsides offer a large variety of attractive places to explore and discover monasteries and the most impressive Dzong in the country, Punakha Dzong. The Dzong is considered one of the most important and also one of the most beautiful Dzongs in the Kingdom. It was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1637, and was the seat of the government every winter until Thimphu was established as the permanent capital in 1955. It is still the winter residence of the Je khempo (chief abbot) accompanied by the Dratshang (Central Monastic Body). Take time to admire the impressive, colourful and detailed artistry of the surroundings, including huge statues of Buddha, Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, as well as paintings of one thousand Buddhas.
Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Punakha
DAY 4: punakha (1310M) – THIMPHU (2300 m) Approx 3hr drive 65 KM
The sub-tropical valleys of Punakha and the surrounding mountain sides offer a large variety of attractive places to explore and discover monasteries and the most impressive Dzong in the country.
After early breakfast we will travel up the valley north and cross the Mo Chhu to hike up and pay respect to the grand Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, The Chorten is 30 meters (100 feet) tall and can be seen in the distance when driving.The three-levelled chorten took eight and a half years to build and was consecrated in 1999. Dedicated to the Fifth King, it was built to remove negative forces and to provide peace, stability, and harmony in an ever- changing world. It is therefore filled with every form of colorful protector imaginable.
In the afternoon we will head back to Thimphu via Dochula Pass where will have our lunch at Dochula Café, and then visit the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang Lhakhang built by the eldest Queen Mother. The past and present perfectly merges in the intricate details of the Lhakhang murals, that tells the story of a supreme warrior whose vision extends into the distant future. Then we again decend back into Thimphu and while entering the valley we will briefly Stop at the Simtokha Dzong. This is the oldest Daong in the country that sits on a ridge overlooking Thimphu Valley. The arts and the architecture inside the dzong is one of the finniest examples of Bhutanese arts. The slate carvings in side the dzong is a national treasure and is believe to be the best among those found in the country.
Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Thimphu
DAY 5: THIMPHU (2300 m)
The day in Thimphu begins with a short hike of an hour to the 17th century Cheri monestary, located at the north end of the narrow Thimphu valley. This monastery is a school for Buddhist studies, where monks learn philosophy and practice meditation. Beside this monastery is an important pilgrimage for the Bhutanese people. Wile returning we will walk through the countryside, the same route taken by Shabdrung the founder of Bhutan. This country walk provides you a spectacle of views of villages and paddy fields. Every season has an own flavor to offer. In this country walk, we will visit a school of the Arts and Crafts, where the thirteen types of arts and crafts of Bhutan are taught. It’s a private initiative to provide art education and enable local young students to learn and become artisans. Our walk will end at Pangrizamp, where we can see an old temple beside the river. It also hosts the school of astrology. We will then drive and have a glimpse of Dechencholing Palace whish is the residence of the Royal Grandmother.
Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Thimphu
DAY 6: THIMPHU (2300 m)– PARO (2250 m) – Taktsang (Tiger’s nest monastery) 4-5 hrs
Its hiking day, and we begin by driving to Paro. Today’s exploration of Paro valley begins with a hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s nest monastery) 4-5 hrs hike Tiger’s Nest or Taktshang Goempa is one of Bhutan’s most revered monuments. It literally hangs off the face of a cliff 900 meters (2952 feet) above the valley floor. The legend states that Guru Rinpoche flew into Bhutan on a mythical tigress and meditated in a cave before bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. The Taktshang Goempa is built around the cave, which is opened to the public once a year at the end of August. The four-hour round trip hike offers spectacular views of the Goempa and the valley below. Horses or mules can be arranged on request to help lighten the journey.
Back from the hike you will visit the auspicious Kyichu Lhakhang, a scared monument pinning down the left foot of a treacherous ogress, which is built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan king Srongsen Gampo. This Monastery is one of the 108 monasteries built across the Himalayan region by the Tibetan King to subdue the Demoness that lay across the Himalayan region. In the afternoon drive to the Watchtower or locally known as Ta-Dzong. This Watchtower was made National Museum in 1060. The Museum have been partially damaged due to the September 2011 earthquake, so some of the exhibit have been moved to the exhibit hall behind the museum. After the museum, take a short walk downhill to the Rinpung Dzong. This Dzong was built in the 17th century to defend Paro region from the invading Tibetan forces. The architecture is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture. The Dzong serves as a central administrative seat and central monk body. Then we again walk down to the Cantilever Bridge, to get a feel of the ancient way leading to the Dzong. The bridge is one of the fine examples of traditional bridge building in the country.
After this experience, we take a stroll in the town, visiting shops and finishing your journey and experiences of Bhutan.
Overnight: Hotel/Resort in Paro