JMG Bhutan IntineraryBhutan: The Trail of the Thunder Dragon
The following 2 tours will show you Bhutan's most important historical sites as well as its most beautiful countryside and stunning mountain vistas.
Tour A: Introduction to Bhutan 5 nights/6 Days
You will arrive in Paro on Druk Air, Bhutan's national airline. Your arrival in the Kingdom will be over spectacular Himalayan peaks and into the beautiful fertile Paro valley. After customs formalities, our representative will then transfer you to Thimphu, Bhutan's capital. After your hotel check-in you'll have a "get acquainted" stroll through Thimphu's quaint "downtown" area. Overnight Thimphu.
Day 2 Thimphu
After breakfast, you'll tour the Trashichho Dzong, the magnificent medieval royal palace/fortress/monastery. Inside are the Government's offices, residence rooms, monastery areas. and the King's throne room. Next you'll visit the National Library with its vast collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts. You may also visit the old Nunnery and Takin sanctuary. After Lunch you'll visit the Memorial Chorten, the stupa built in the memory of Bhutan's 3rd king, who is regarded as the father of modern Bhutan. A short drive will also take you to the Handicrafts Emporium, which displays a wide assortment of crafted products. Overnight Thimphu.
Day 3 Thimphu-Punakha (75 kms)
After breakfast we drive to Punakha via the beautiful Dochu-La pass (10,105') with its 108 beautiful honorary stupas. In good weather we can view 6 peaks over 7,000 meters (over 23,000 ') including Bhutan's highest, "Gangkar peunsum" at 24,596'. A bit later we'll arrive at the fabulous Punakha Dzong (fortress) , built 1637, by Shabdrung Ngawang Nambyal. It appears to be floating as it is beautifully situated at the confluence of 2 rivers. It served as the religious, and political center of the region, as Punakha was Bhutan's capital, before it was moved to Thimphu. Later we'll drive through magnificent countryside and quaint village hamlets to Wangduephodrang where we'll visit its local Dzong and the quaint outdoor market. Overnight Punakha.
Day 4 Punakha-Paro (125 kms)
After breakfast we'll drive to Paro, stopping en route at the Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress in the Kingdom (1627). Around its courtyards, the dzong houses the school of religious studies. Back in Paro we'll take in the fascinating National Museum in the Ta Dzong, the medieval watch tower built in 1637. Afterwards we'll walk down the hill to the Rinpung Dzong (1646) also built by Namgyal who was the 1st spritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan. It houses the Monastic body of Paro, the Dzongda (district head) and Thrimpon (judge) of Paro district. Overnight Paro.
Day 5 Paro
After breakfast an excursion will take us to the "Tiger's Nest" or Taktsang Monastery, the most famous and beautiful of Bhutan's monasteries. It is built into the side of a cliff face high above the valley floor. It is said that the Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at the spot where the Taktsang was later built. Later in the afternoon we'll drive through the Paro valley to the ruins of the Drukgyal fort (1647). It was built here in this strategic location to control the routes to Tibet. Nearby we'll visit traditional Bhutanese farmhouses, where we'll get a good insight into the lifestyle of the local people. We'll also stop at the Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom. Overnight Paro.
Day 6 Paro
After breakfast transfer to airport for your onward destination
Tour B: Bhutan Enchantment 10 nights/11 days
You will arrive in Paro on Druk Air, Bhutan's national airline, flying over spectacular Himalayan peaks into the beautiful Paro valley. After customs formailities, you'll transfer to your hotel in Paro and afterwards you'll have a "get acquainted" stroll in Paro town. Overnight Paro.
Day 2 Paro
After breakfast visit the medieval watchtower- Ta Dzong, which houses the fascinating National Museum. Afterwards walk down to the beautiful Rinpung Dzong (described in Day 4 Tour A) In the afternoon you'll drive to the ruined Drukgyel fort (1647) from where the Bhutanese repelled several invading Tibetan forces. Nearby we'll get a good insight into the lifestyle of the local people as we visit local farmhouses. Later on we'll visit the Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines in Bhutan. Overnight Paro.
Day 3 Paro-Thimphu (60 kms)
After breakfast we drive to Thimphu, en route stopping at the Kingdom's oldest Dzong- Simtokha, which houses the school for Buddhist studies. In the afternoon we'll visit Trashiccho Dzong, the magnificent Royal palace/fortress/monastery, which is the present home of Bhutan's King and government. We'll also visit the handicrafts Emporium, Folk heritage museum and the colorful local markets. Overnight Thimphu.
Day 4 Thimphu- Punakha (75 kms)
After breakfast we'll round out our Thimphu sightseeing with the National Library, the old Nunnery and the Takin sanctuary. After lunch we'll drive to Punakha crossing the picturesque Dochu-La pass (10,105'), where our Himalaya views include Bhutan's highest mountain, "Gangkar peunsum" (24,596'). Once in Punakha, we'll tour the magnificent Punakha Dzong (1637). Before Thimphu, Punakha was Bhutan's capital and was the political and religious center of the Kingdom. Overnight Punakha.
Day 5 Punakha-Wangduephodrang-Gangtey
After breakfast a beautiful drive passes through idyllic scenery and picturesque villages....arriving at Wangduephodrang where we'll take in it's colorful outdoor market and tour it's majestic Dzong overlooking the village and river below. After lunch we'll proceed through dense forests of oak and rhododendron trees arriving in Gangtey and the beautiful Phobjikha valley. In the evening we'll walk around Gangtey village and visit the local Gangtey Gompa (monastery). Overnight Gangtey.
Day 6 Gangtey-Trongsa (120 kms)
In the morning we'll explore the Phobjikha valley, which is famous for Black Neck Cranes....who migrate here to escape the harsh weather on the Central Asia plateau After lunch we drive to Trongsa over the Pele-La Pass (10,825') A walk through the village and markets rounds out the day. Overnight Trongsa.
Day 7 Trongsa-Bumthang (68 kms)
After breakfast we'll tour the fantastic Trongsa Dzong (1644), It is the largest dzong in the kingdom and it's considered the masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture. Trongsa forms the central hub of the Kingdom and it's historically the place from where Bhutan was unified. After lunch we'll drive on to Bumthang, the religious heartland of Bhutan. leisure time before dinner at our hotel. Overnight Bumthang.
Day 8 Bumthang
Bumthang is the general name given to the combination of 4 valleys- Chumney, Choekhor,Tang, and Ura. It is the home of many prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries. We stay in Jakar town. Its quaint center is a true delight and we'll have time to wander and visit its fascinating local market and shops. The beautiful Jakar Dzong overlooks all the "action". We'll visit the most sacred and beautiful Kurje Lhakhang, where in 746 a body print of the Guru Rinpoche was left in a cave here. Its beautiful buildings house the crypts of the royal families. Among others we'll also visit the Jambay Lhakhang, the ancient monastery dating from the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan. Overnight Bumthang (Jakar).
Day 9 Bumthang-Thimphu (268 kms)
After breakfast and a visit to Jakar's market, we'll start our drive back to Thimphu, once again enjoying the beautiful countryside. We'll stop for lunch at Trongsa......and again we'll stop for refreshments as we pass back though Wangduephodrang. You'll be wonderfully surprised as we'll once again enjoy the scenery, and the locals of the villages as we pass through going in the opposite direction. Overnight Thimphu.
Day 10 Thimphu-Paro (60 kms)
Today we have saved the best for last. After breakfast we drive back to Paro, where for the rest of the day, we'll have an excursion to the "Tiger's Nest" , Taktsang monastery. Legend says that the Guru Rinpoche came here flying on the back of a tigress at the place where the monastery now stands. Rinpoche was an emanation of Buddha and he first brought Buddhism to Tibet and the region in the 8th century. Taktsang is breathtakingly beautiful as it was built into the cliffside some 3000 feet above the valley below. Overnight Paro.
Day 11 Depart Paro
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your onward destination.
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