Day 01: Flights to Paro and transfer to Thimpu
Flights to Paro arrive from Kathmandu, Delhi, Kolkatta, and Bangkok, and offer spectacular views of Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga, and other famous Himalayan peaks such as sacred Mount Chomolhari and Jichu Drake in Bhutan. Upon arrival at the Paro International Airport, you will be greeted by your guide and driver, and then transferred to a restaurant for lunch. After lunch, we will visit the National Museum (Ta-Dzong), located on the top of a hill above the Paro Dzong overlooking the Paro Valley and the river, and Paro Rinchen Pong Dzong, which is the administrative seat of the district of Paro. Afternoon transfer to Thimpu-the capital city of Bhutan (65 km/40 miles, 1 hr).
Day 02: Thimpu; Phajoding day trek
A hike to Phajoding Ghoenpa which is about 5 km distance and estimated trekking time is about 5 hours round trip. It is one of the most interesting day hiking trails in Thimphu. The hike starts from the upper valley of Motithang-Thimphu just above the Takin Preserve with the gentle climbs through the forest of blue pine, rhododendrons, oak and many other high altitude plants. The snake trail curves take you for about 2 hours uphill on the same slope before you take final left inclined up to a small stupa, which offers the best view of upper Thimphu valley. From here another hour hike up will take you to an open area where you can see few houses built at the base of Phajoding top.
Phojoding Ghoenpa is a large monastic complex with 10 temples and 15 monastic residences; many of them are being used for extended period of mediation and spiritual retreats. It was founded int eh 13ht century by Togden Pajo, a yogi from Tibet, who was searching for a place of meditation. Most of the temples were built in 1748 through the efforts of Shakya Rinchen, the 9th Je Khenpo (a chief abbot of Bhutan).
You will enjoy our packed picnic lunch here and take another 30mins walk to Thujidrag Ghoenpa (monastery) from where we can see Thimphu valley and also you will enjoy panoramic view of Himalayan mountain ranges. Return back to the Monastery and visit the temple before descending down. Enjoy your time at the pass taking picture, walking around.
Later in the afternoon you will retrace your walk back to hike start point from where we will be picked up by our car and drop at the hotel.
Day 03: Thimpu
Travel towards the northern end of Thimphu valley, you will come to the base camp of Tango Monastery which is located at about 14 km from Thimphu city.
Starting point of this hike is from the parking lot which is the end of motor road. You will hike up to the Monastery following the zig-zag trail through the forest filled with oak and pine trees as well as rhododendron flower trees which will be in full bloom during spring season.
Hiking for about 40 minutes you will come to a Chorten (stupa). From here you have an excellent view of several meditation houses and the monastery straight ahead. Then hike up another 20 minutes to the monastery. The round trip hike is about 2.5 km and estimated hiking time is about 2 hours.
The Tango Monastery site has had religious significance since the 12th century when it was the home of the highly revered Buddhist monks who brought the Drukpa Kagyupa school of Buddhism to Bhutan. The Tango Monastery was built in 1689 by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgyal. The three-storied monastery was built with the help of the locals and was completed within two months.
At present Tango Monastery is the center for higher studies for monks. The view from Tango Monastery is breathtakingly beautiful. You will experience complete peace and serenity in this area. After visiting the monastery, walk back to the road and drive to the base of Chagri Monastery where you will eat your packed picnic lunch by the side of the river.
After lunch hike to Chagri Monastery, walking across the bridge and following a zig-zag trail through the nature filled with oak trees and rhododendrons which would be in full bloom in spring season. After 25 to 30 minutes hike you will come to a chorten (stupa), which you leave to your right (to show your respect, you always walk around it in clockwise direction) and zig-zag on toward the buildings which you see every now and then above you for about another 25-30 minutes and you will reach the Chagri Monastery. This is the place where monks undergo extended period of meditation and spiritual retreat with a duration ranging from 4 months to 3 years.
Therefore, this place is so peaceful that you will experience complete serenity at this place. Often goral or wild goats are spotted jumping around on the cliffs near the monastery.Chagri monastery is considered very sacred. It contains the remains of Tempi Nima, the father of the first Shabdrung of Bhutan, and beautiful frescoes of Buddhist saints. Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal built it in 1620 in memory of his father.
A round trip hike distance is about 2.7 km and estimated hiking time is about 2 hours. The view from Cheri Monastery is breath takingly beautiful. You can sit in one of the temples of this monastery complex and meditate for some time if you would like to do so. Then walk back to the base where your car will wait for you and then travel back to hotel.
Day 04: Thimpu to Punakha
On your way to Punakha, stop at Dochula Pass to have a coffee break and admire the grand 108 stupas. If in good weather, take in the enchanting views of Mt. Himalaya. You can also do a Dochula Natural trail hike(1.5 hours). Continue to drive to Punakha and enroute hike to Chimi Lhakhang. Upon arrival in Punakha, visit Punakha Dzong, the beautiful Bhutanese architecture armed by the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers, serving as the religious and administrative center of Bhutan until the mid 1950s.
Day 05: Punakha hike
This is a wonderful yet strenuous hike through beautiful nature in National Park territory. Combined with a temple visit in an area full of fascinating allegedly imprints and formations by Guru Rinpoche, the hike to Goen Tshey Phu Nyea can prove to be very interesting. The trail gives no mercy and starts off by climbing constantly up the two to three hours it takes to reach the temple. Despite the steep climb, the path is very enjoyable through mystifying forests, past small villages, and with great views and with sights of wild life if you are lucky. The last section of the hike takes you across a meadow with the view of the Goen Tshey Phu Nyea Temple glued to the huge rock formation behind it. On your way down, you may follow a substantially longer path than the one you walked up which is not as steep and therefore is much gentler on the knees. During the eight century, Guru Rinpoche came to Goen Tshey Phu Nyea from Nepal with his three heartiest disciples Pema Lingpa, Karma Lingpa and Dorji Lingpa. He discovered the cave to the upper left side of the temple and meditated here for two and a half months. At the end of this period, hundred thousand angels appeared from the cave. Today, you will find a holy water source about ten meters into the grotto formation. After completing his meditation, Guru Rinpoche stepped on the large rock in front of the temple, and flew off to Tsheychu Dra, a temple in Gasa. His three foot prints can still be seen clearly. Around the temple grounds you can also walk into a second cave, offering you the opportunity to clear your sins if you are brave enough to crawl around the rock formation inside the dark hole. In renowned Tarzan-style, you may also climb up a 90 degree hillside above the temple, pulling yourself up on the stretchy branches leading up to the stone formation said to be Guru Rinpoche’s kitchen.
Day 06: Punakha to Paro
After breakfast drive to Paro.You can start a pleasant and leisurely trek. The trail starts from just above Zangdo Pelri Hotel. It offer great views of the adjacent valley as it follows an irrigation channel along the mountainside. At some points you are walking at the edge of the channel, and the drop down on the opposite side is often quite steep and might appear frightening for those who are scared of heights. The last part of the path takes you down the valley, past a couple of village houses, and ends with a climb up through rice paddies on the opposite side until you reach the main road where your car will be waiting. Continue to drive to Paro.
Day 07: Paro
After breakfast , takes about 4-5 hrs from Paro valley. The trail is gradual and goes through the forest. The trail leads to the temple of Dorji Phamo( MathaVarahi), There is a very sacred statue of the Goddess. This statue is ancient as its believed that the Goddess Dorji Phamo flew here from Tibet and stayed on in the form of a statue. It’s a life size statue, her one leg is crossed at the knees and the other is standing but does not touch the ground.(Floating statue).
The other site to visit at Chumphu is the Guru Rimpoche Caves. There are several caves was used by Guru himself and some caves used by his consorts like Khandom Mendharawa and Khandom Yeshay Tshokey. There are water falls said to be the bathing place of Guru and there are big rock opening said to be opening gates to Heaven. Picnic lunch will be arranged.
Day 08: Paro
This morning, hike to visit Taktsang (Tiger's Nest), be amazed by the view of this sacred temple hanging on the rocky cliff, and take in the beauty of Paro valley. After that, move to the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, built to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over the Tibetan invaders. If in good weather, you'll see a great distant view of Mt. Jhomolhari. Later, visit a local farm house for a close look the life of Bhutanese people, followed by Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan.
Day 09: International Departure