Essence of Bhutan  (7 nights/8 days)

Day 01: Arrive Paro (by Druk Air) – Transfer to Thimphu

You will land at Paro with a great hangover of the spectacular mountain views of the Himalayas. After clearing customs and visa, you will be briefed by our guide and then drive onwards to Thimphu. In the evening, we will visit the handicrafts Emporium, where all types of Bhutanese handicrafts are made and sold, overnight at Hotel.

Day 02: Thimphu sightseeing – Punakha.

In the morning we will visit the National Memorial Chorten, built in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck and the Folk Heritage Museum. Lunch will be served at a restaurant in Thimphu. After lunch we will depart to Punakha, the medieval capital of Bhutan. The road climbs steeply through a forest of pine and cedar, festooned with hanging lichen high up near Dochula pass (3,050 m). This pass often offers panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain ranges. We will then descend along a series of hairpin bends to the fertile valley of Punakha and drive to your hotel and check in. Visit Punakha Dzong, the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (chief abbot of Bhutan) and the Monk Body. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel.

Day 03: Punakha – Trongsa – Bumthang

We will start early for our drive to the central valleys of Bhutan covering the districts of Wangdue Phodrang, Trongsa and Bumthang. In Trongsa we will visit the impressive Trongsa Dzong, ancestral seat of the Wangchuck dynasty, the current ruling monarch. In the olden days the Dzong commanded the passage between East and West Bhutan. We then drive to Bumthang valley, the spiritual heartland of Bhutan. Dinner and overnight at Hotel.

Day 04: Bumthang sightseeing

The land of ancient temples, Bumthang hosts a number of temples and monasteries that predate the arrival of Guru Padmasambhava who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan. In the morning we visit Jambay Lhakhang (7th century) and Kurjey Lhakhang, where Guru Padmasambhava subdued a local demon and left his body imprint on a rock. We will then hike to Tamzhing monastery. After lunch we will hike to Thangbi valley across the suspension bridge and visit the Thangbi Lhakhang built in the 14th century, on the way back visit Jakar Dzong. Evening we stroll through Chamkhar Town. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel.

Day 05: Bumthang – Gangtey – Wangdue.

After breakfast, we will drive back to Wangdue Phodrang through the beautiful Gangtey valley. The drive takes approximately six and a half hours. Gangtey lies towards east of Punakha and Wangdue on the flanks of the Black Mountains. We will also visit the 17th century Gangtey Goemba (monastery). A few kilometers past the Goempa is the fascinating valley of Phobjikha which has been recognised as a global Ramsar site. This is the winter home of black-necked cranes that migrate from the Tibetan plateau to roost in Bhutan. Dinner and overnight at Hotel.

Day 06: Wangdue – Thimphu – Paro

After breakfast we will drive towards Dochula Pass (3,050 m) and then onwards to Paro with a lunch stop and some shopping at Thimphu. Dinner and overnight at Hotel.

Day 07: Paro sightseeing – hike to Taktshang

After breakfast, we will ride the winding road towards Drugyel dzong, which is under reconstruction today after it was destroyed by fire in 1951. Historically, the dzong was considered one of the most beautiful, located on a ridge above Paro valley and it had defended several Tibetan invasions in the past. You will get to see the unclimbed Mount Jhomolhari.

We will then drive to the base of Taktshang to hike up to the monastery. The steep uphill climb to the monastery lasts 3 hours and you can chose to walk or ride a horse. The Taktshang monastery is built at the edge of a cliff 800 meters above the valley floor. It is the site where Guru Padmasambhava, who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, meditated for four months.

After lunch we then walk back to the road point and then visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. In the afternoon visit the National Museum housed within the Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower built in 17th century. Dinner and overnight at Hotel.

Day 08: Depart from Paro (Druk Air)

In the morning we will escort you to the Paro airport for your departure home.