DAY 1 : Arrival in Paro - Thimphu
As you arrive at Paro Airport, our representatives would be there to welcome and escort you thereafter till the end of your stay in Bhutan.
Paro is the only entry point for visitors flying into Bhutan on the national carrier, Druk Air, and the country’s only private carrier, Bhutan Airlines. It’s at an elevation of 2,280m. The average temperature during spring ranges between 14.5 and 23.5 degree Celsius during the day, while the temperature hovers around 0.6- 10.6 degree Celsius during the night.
Similarly, temperature hovers around 25.3 – 26.8 degree Celsius during the day in summer, while it drops between 14.1 and 14.9 degree Celsius during the night. Summer is often accompanied by heavy monsoon rain.
Winter is often cold in Paro with temperature during the day dropping between 11.2 and 13.9 degree Celsius, while it further plummets during the night to between -5.8 and 1.5 degree Celsius.
After you exit the airport, begin journey onward to Thimphu. The drive to Thimphu, about 65 kilometers away from Paro, takes a little more than an hour. En route see/ visit Tachogang (temple on the hill of the excellent horse), whose origin dates back to around 1420-30. A 15th century accomplished saint and wandering scholar from Tibet, Thangtong Gyelpo, also famously known for building of iron bridges, built this temple.
After arrival in Thimphu, the modern capital of Bhutan, visit the National Memorial Chorten that was built in 1974 in memorial of late Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. It’s one of the most thronged religious sites in Thimphu and Thimphuites’ daily worship site.
Afterward, visit the Folk Heritage Museum for glimpse of a traditional house in medieval Bhutan. Next, explore the Institute of Traditional Arts and Crafts, also known as the Institute for Zorig Chusum, where trainees undergo long training courses for years in the 13 different arts and crafts of Bhutan.
You could also explore some of the many handicrafts shops outside the institute that have an array of handicrafts products for sale. Then take a short walk to the new National Library of Bhutan, inaugurated in November 1984. While the National Library of Bhutan was established in 1967, it was later moved to another location and then to the present location in 1984. It houses an extensive collection of Buddhist literature, religious texts and prayer books.
Visit the National Textiles Museum next which was opened in 2001 under the patronage of Her Majesty Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck to promote Bhutanese textiles and traditional crafts. Or you could also visit the government-run Handicrafts Emporium, established with similar intention.
Late in the afternoon, visit Trashichho Dzong, first built in 1771 and later rebuilt by the Third King in 1965. The Dzong houses the throne room of His Majesty the King and a few government ministries. It’s also the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and Central Monk Body.
Overnight stay at the hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 2 : Thimphu
Check for weather conditions before heading out sightseeing. Thimphu is at an elevation of 2,320m. The average temperature during spring ranges from 16.4 - 22.5 degree Celsius during the day, while the temperature hovers around 3.9- 13.1 degree Celsius during the night.
Similarly, temperature hovers around 24.4 – 25 degree Celsius during the day in summer, while it drops between 14– 15.8 degree Celsius during the night. Summer is often accompanied by heavy monsoon rain.
Winter is often cold in Thimphu with temperature during the day dropping between 12.3 and 14.5 degree Celsius, while it further plummets during the night to between -2.6 and 0.6 degree Celsius. So prepare accordingly.
After leaving the hotel, visit Changangkha, a temple founded and built on a ridge above Thimphu in 13th century by one of the sons of Lam Phajo Drugom Zhigpo, Nyima. Lam Phajo Drukgom Shigpa was a Tibetan saint who introduced the Druk Kagyud sect of Buddhism in Bhutan.
Next, drive to see the Takin Preserve. Check for this rare national animal of Bhutan. Takin is a vulnerable species, found in Nepal, Myanmar, China and Bhutan, and at altitudes ranging between 1,000m to 4,000m. Because of the animal’s uniqueness, its religious and mystical origin have had made Takin the national animal of Bhutan.
Afterward, drive a little further up to the BBS tower for a spectacular view of the Thimphu valley with fluttering prayer flags of diverse hues in juxtaposition. Many joggers and walkers frequent this place during early mornings and evenings.
Visit the Zilukha Nunnery or Drubthob Goemba next where Bhutanese nuns engage in a life of celibacy. The site is revered to 15th century accomplished saint and wandering scholar from Tibet, Thangtong Gyelpo.
Then visit the Thimphu General Post Office in the heart of town for attractive stamp albums, stamp sheets, and an array of first day covers.
Also, visit the Centenary Farmer's Market for glimpse of the local produce, handicrafts, and local people from Thimphu and neighboring valleys congregating to sell and buy agricultural produce. A little further, visit the archery range in Changlimithang to see the locals engaged over a game of archery, the national sport of Bhutan. Archery is the favorite recreational sport for many Bhutanese people.
After lunch, drive to Kuenselphodrang to see the 169-foot Buddha Dordenma statue, one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world and overlooking the southern part of the Thimphu valley. The construction of this gigantic statue, made of bronze and gilded in gold, began in 2007 by a lam named Tshering Wangdi, coinciding with the celebration of the country’s 100 years of monarchy then. The statue, it is said, would bring stability, peace and prosperity in the country. It’s also expected to be a major pilgrimage site and a focal point for Buddhists all over the world.
Visit the Craft Bazaar adjacent to main road in the heart of the town next and check out the Bhutanese textiles, jewelries, wood, cane and bamboo products, and scroll paintings. Afterward, get the feel of the locals by exploring Thimphu town. Overnight stay at the hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 3 : Thimphu - Paro
Begin journey onward to Paro. The 65-kilometer drive from Thimphu to Paro takes a little more than an hour.
On reaching Paro, it would be perhaps befitting to start the expedition with a visit to Ta Dzong, literally meaning a watchtower fortress, built in 1641. It was once a watchtower and built so to defend Paro Rinpung Dzong. Ta Dzong has been, however, transformed and launched as Bhutan’s National Museum since 1968. It’s a repository of information about Bhutan’s arts, relics, religious thanka paintings, and exquisite postage stamps.
Afterward, visit Paro Rinpung Dzong, a few meters below the watchtower on the same ridge. This fortress is considered as a finest example of Bhutanese architecture. Rinpung literally means a heap of jewels, and the fortress appears to having had been built on top of it; so the name Rinpung.
Paro Rinpung Dzong was built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to defend the Paro valley from invasion from Tibet. Today, it houses the offices of the district administration and district court, besides monastic quarters for monks.
Visit Kyichu Lhakhang next. This temple is one of the eldest and most sacred shrines in Bhutan, dating back to 7th century and built by Buddhist Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo. There is also a newer temple built in the same style and adjacent to the older one by the Queen Grandmother of Bhutan, Ashi Kesang Choeden Wangchuck, in 1968.
In the evening, take a stroll in town. Observe shops that concentrate mostly on selling handicrafts and wood products, or even visit some of the cafes and restaurants in town, before proceeding for the overnight stay at the hotel in Paro.
DAY 4 : Paro
After an early breakfast, ensure that you are all geared up for the hike to Taktshang (Tiger’s Nest), the most revered religious and pilgrimage site in the country.
The temple, perched on a steep rocky cliff about 900m above Paro valley and overlooking it, is built on the place where Guru Rinpochhe after having had flown here on the back of the tigress from Singye Dzong in Lhuentse meditated for three months to subdue demons. Guru Rinpochhe was a great saint and a mystic from the Swat valley in modern day Pakistan, mainly attributed for bringing Buddhism to Tibet and Bhutan in the 8th century.
The ascending hike to the temple will take about three hours. There is also a cafeteria midway where one can stop for lunch or rest.
Next, visit Drukgyel Dzong, now in ruins. Located on the north side of the Paro valley and about 18 kilometers away from Paro town, this fortress was built upon the command of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1647 to commemorate victory over an invasion from Tibet. It was also built in a location chosen for control of routes to Tibet. The Dzong, however, has been almost completely destroyed by a fire in 1951.
Return to the hotel after the hike and try a well-deserved hot-stone bath.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
DAY 5 : Departure
After check out from the hotel, our representatives would escort you to Paro Airport for flight to onward destination.