DRUK WANGYAL TSECHU DETAILED ITINERARY
DAY 01 (11 Dec): ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU
DAY 02 (12 Dec): THIMPHU
DAY 03 (13 Dec): THIMPHU – PUNAKHA
DAY 04 (14 Dec): PUNAKHA
DAY 05 (15 Dec): PUNAKHA – PARO
DAY 06 (16 Dec): PARO
DAY 07 (17 Dec): PARO – THIMPHU – PARO
DAY 08 (18 Dec): DEPART PARO
DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountain peaks on earth. Our representative will meet you at Paro airport after you have completed your customs formalities.
After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum which houses many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts. Next, visit the Rinpung Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa, considered as the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime. Later, we drive to the capital, Thimphu (1.5 hours) following the Pachu River. Before dinner at the hotel, our guide will brief you on Bhutanese culture and etiquette. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 02: THIMPHU
Once a rustic village sitting in a broad, fertile river valley, Thimphu is today the nation’s bustling capital city. Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to the stunning Buddha Dordenma Statue, made of bronze and gilded in gold, and the National Memorial Chorten depicting the Buddhist faith in the form of paintings and statues. This temple was first initiated by the Third King as a protection from the negative elements of modernisation, and as a monument for world peace. The Royal Queen Mother completed it as a memorial stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972. Continue on to 12th century Changangkha Temple, The National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century and Tashichhodzong houses ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body.
If your visit to Thimphu coincides on a weekend, you can walk through the farmers centenary Market to see the variety of food in Bhutan, including basket upon basket of fiery chilies, fresh cheese and a variety of fresh greens. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. (This market is open only from Friday until mid-Sunday). Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 03: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA
Leave Thimphu early after Breakfast up to Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters) to attend the spectacular Druk Wangyal Festival (45 Minutes drive, 22 km). Set amidst this breathtaking backdrop of Himalayan mountains, the Druk Wangyal Tshechu is an experience unlike any other and exemplifies Bhutanese culture and tradition. The Druk Wangyal Lhakhang was built over a period of four years (2004-2008) under the vision and patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo. The Lhakhang honors the courageous service of the Fourth King, who personally led the troops against the insurgents, as well as the Armed Forces of the country. The Druk Wangyal Tshechu is a unique festival performed by the Royal Bhutan Army rather than monks or lay people. It is a tribute to the wise leadership of His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King of Bhutan. It also celebrates the continuous efforts of the Royal Bhutan Army in protecting the sovereignty and the stability of the country.
Afterward drive towards the Royal Botanical Park at Lampelri, which is situated at an altitude range of 2,100m to 3,800m. The park (47 square kilometers), serves as the biological corridor connecting to the Jigme Dorji National Park and Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park.
Continue on to Punakha where you will have the remainder of the day at leisure. Stroll around Punakha town in the evening. Overnight at hotel in Punakha.
DAY 04: PUNAKHA
Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. Visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness”. Built in 1637 by the Zhabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan,’ Punakha Dzong is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (male and female rivers). It is the winter headquarter of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. The three-story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional Bhutanese architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. It was here in 1907 that Bhutan’s first king was crowned.
After lunch enjoy a walk to Chimmi Lhakhang, the temple of fertility founded by the divine madman, Drukpa Kuenly. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha/ Wangduephodrang.
DAY 05: PUNAKHA – PARO
In the morning drive to Yabesa village and hike through rice fields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck. Perched high on a hillock on the bank of a river, the Chorten houses paintings belonging to the Nyingmapa Traditions. Take a picnic lunch on a picturesque riverside. Built in 1639 the strategically located Wangduephodrang Dzong is perched on a spur at the confluence of two rivers. The four-century-old architectural wonder was however destroyed by fire in 2012 and is now under reconstruction.
Drive to Paro, visiting the Semtokha Dzong en route. The Dzong, built in 1627, is one of the oldest in Bhutan. It now houses the Institute for Language and Culture studies. On arrival in Paro, check into the hotel. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
DAY 06: PARO
After breakfast hike to Taktshang Monastery. The trail is broad and the walk that lasts approximately 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometer above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to the viewing point). The view of Taktshang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 meters above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an important pilgrimage site for the Buddhists. According to legend, the great Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. He then mediated in a cave for four months where the monastery was later built. we will stop at a nearby teahouse for refreshments.
In the afternoon drive to the almost fully reconstructed Drukgyal Dzong. The original monument (destroyed by fire in 1951) was built by Zhabdrung to commemorate Bhutan’s victory against invading Tibetans in 1644. In fine weather, the towering peak of the sacred Mount Jomolhari (7314m) appears as a stunning backdrop. On the return drive to Paro, visit other sights in Paro valley. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
DAY 07: PARO – THIMPHU – PARO
Today we drive back to Thimphu after an early breakfast to witness the National Day celebrations in Thimphu at Changlimithang stadium with the locals.
Bhutan celebrates 17th of December as its National Day. The day came to be celebrated as the National Day after Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck, was enthroned as the first hereditary monarch of Bhutan on 17 December 1907.
After many interesting cultural and sporting activities, the day will end with a Tashi Lebay, the concluding dance ceremony that wishes for for many more such days in the future. .
Drive back to Paro and Overnight at your hotel in Paro
DAY 08: DEPART PARO
Breakfast at the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.