Reach Kathmandu, and after a warm welcome, be escorted to the hotel. After some rest visit Boudhnath, this stupa is situated 11 kms from city centre and is one of the biggest of its kind in the world. It stands with four pairs of eyes, in the four cardinal directions, keeping a lookout for righteous behavior and human prosperity. The shrine is surrounded by homes of Lamas or Buddhist priests.
Day 02 : KATHMANDU
Today you visit the beautiful town of Kathmandu, The Darbar square area is an array of temples overlooked by the Hanuman Dhoka Palace, the ancient Palace of the Nepalese Royalty. Later visit Swayambhunath, this Buddhist Stupa is said to be 2000 years old. The whole area around the Stupa contains an array of beautiful small stupas and temples. This is one of the best places from which to view the Kathmandu valley, as it is situated on a small hillock. This stupa is also known as monkey temple, as it's guarded by various monkeys.
Today you visit Bhaktapur, also known as Bhadgaon or the city of Devotees is the third major town in the Kathmandu Valley. This place was founded in the 9th century and is shaped like a conch shell. Bhaktapur was the capital of the whole valley during the 14th to 16th century. Much of the town's great architecture dates from the end of 17th century. This town is also well known as Newari Architecture town. Bhaktapur rises upon the northern bank of Hanumante River. Bhaktapur is also famous for its pottery, and one can see the potters at work in the square. It is undoubtedly one of the most amazing places in Nepal. Later visit the city of Patan also known as Lalitpur is a city of fine arts, enclosed within 4 stupas, which are said to have been built in the 3rd century A.D. by Emperor Asoka. You will see the Durbar square, The Patan Durbar (palace), which houses a bronze collection and the Krishna temple. A trip to the Tibetan refugee centre and the handicraft centre is also suggested during your visit to Patan, where you can witness hand weaving of Tibetan carpets and molding of metal statues.
Today you catch the flight to Paro in Bhutan. Welcome to Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Touching down at Paro International Airport, you will be greeted by your guide upon exiting the arrival hall. Today, we will take it easy to acclimatize to the altitude. Drive to Thimphu, check in to the hotel and lets have your first taste of Bhutanese cuisine.
Later in the day a few visits are suggested
Buddha Point -at Kuensel Phodrang will also be open to tourists once it is completed. The 169 feet bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma, Vajra Throne Buddha symbolising indestructibility will be completed soon. The Buddha statue itself is competed awaiting paintings, but visitors can drive up to the Buddha point and view the tallest statue of Lord Buddha. The view of Thimphu valley from the Buddha point is spectacular and beautiful, especially at night.
Thimphu Dzong - the largest Dzong is also the seat of the office of the King of Bhutan. (5 6 pm Mon Fri, 8 am 6 pm Sat & Sun, to 5 pm in winter)
Heritage Museum - Dedicated to connecting people to the Bhutanese rural past though exhibition of artifacts used in rural households. (Weekday, 10 am 4.30 pm, Sat 10.30 1 pm, Sun, 11.30 3.30pm)
National Memorial Chorten - which was built in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk
Day 05: THIMPU
Day Trek Today you trek to Tango Goemba & picnic/lunch by river
The Tango Goemba site has had religious significance since the 12th century when it was the home of the Lama who brought the Drukpa Kagyupa school of Buddhism to Bhutan. The monastery was built there in the 15th century by Drukpa Kunley ("The Divine Madman"). Tango is the highest center of Buddhist learning in the country; almost every Je Khenpo (religious head of Bhutan) completed the 9-year program there. After completing that program, monks traditionally spend 3 years, 3 months and 3 days in mediation at the nearby Cheri Goemba retreat, built in 1619 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder or first unifier of Bhutan. It is currently the home of an 11 year old boy believed to be the seventh reincarnation of the fourth desi, or ruler, of Bhutan.
Estimated Duration: 1 hour to ascend.
Additional Trek- Travelers may choose to trek to go Chari Goemba after Tango Gooemba. This is another one and half hour trek.
Chari Gompa Hike to Chari Gompa. Chari Monastery was established in 1620 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder and unifier of Bhutan in memory of his late father Tenpai Nyima. Zhabdrung established the first Drukpa Kagyu monastic order here. The monastery which is now a major teaching and retreat center of the Southern Drukpa Kagyu order is located in the North of Thimphu Valley about fifteen kilometers from the capital. It sits on a hill top close to Tango monastery.
Estimated Duration: 1 hour and 15 minute to ascend.
Sangaygang -Drive about 15 minutes from the main city to a hillock where the Bhutan Broad Casting Tower is stationed. From there you can relish the beautiful scene of the whole of Thimphu City. On the way up or down from the hillock, you can also see Takin the national animal of Bhutan. It is a place where many Bhutanese frequent.
Changangkha Monastery - Built in 12th century, Changangkha Lhakhang is oldest temple in Thimphu. It is hovering over a ridge above Thimphu, near Motithang. Lama Phajo Drukgom Zhigpo who came to Bhutan from Ralung in Tibet chose this site to build this lhakhang. The Lhakhang houses Chenrizig: an 11-headed, thousand-armed manifestation of Avolokitesawara as the central statue.
Simtokha Dzong - Five miles from Thimphu, on a lofty ridge, stands Semtokha Dzong the oldest fortress in the Kingdom.
Weaving Centre - at Changzamtog
Zilukha Nunnery This modern nunnery offers a good view of Thimphu Dzong and the Parliament
Textile Museum - witnesses the art of traditional weaving.
Day 06 : Thimpu to Punakha
We will head on to Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan in the morning. The roads bring visitors through scented pine and cedar forests, festooned with hanging lichen. The Punakha River is one of the biggest rivers in Bhutan. During spring and winter, the color of the river turns jade and is beautiful.
Dochula Pass - at 3,050m, this beautiful pass with its 108 Bhutanese stupas is the memorial site of fallen Bhutanese soldiers in the 1990s.
Chhimi Lhakhang - A 20 minutes walk across terraced fields through the village of Sopsokha from the roadside to the small temple located on a hillock in the centre of the valley below Metshina. Ngawang Chogyel built the temple in 15th century after the 'Divine Madman' Drukpa Kuenlay built a small chorten there. It is a pilgrim site for barren women
Punakha Dzong - Built in 1637, the dzong continues to be the winter home for the clergy, headed by the Chief Abbott, the Je Khenpo. It is a stunning example of Bhutanese architecture, sitting at the fork of two rivers, portraying the image of a medieval city from a distance. The dzong was destroyed by fire and glacial floods over the years but has been carefully restored and is, today, a fine example of Bhutanese craftsmanship.
Pho Chhu Suspension Bridge (Do go for this)
If time permit:
Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten Built by the third Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck this Chorten is a splendid example of Bhutanese architecture and art and is the only one of its kind in the world. It has been built over eight and a half years in its details have been drawn from religious scriptures.
Or take a walk from Punakha to the hotel if you are staying in Meri Puensum.
Drive time 3 and a half hour.
Day 07: Punakha to Gangtey
The valley of Phobjikha is well known as the winter home of the Black necked crane (Grus Nigricollis). Bhutan is home to around six hundred black necked cranes with Phobjikha being one of the popular places that the birds migrate to in the winter months from the Tibetan plateau. The elegant and shy birds can be observed from early November to end of March. Overlooking the Phobjikha valley is the Gangtey Goempa. This is an old monastery that dates back to 17th century.
Nature Hike along the valley of Phobjikha (estimated time 2 hours)
Black-Necked Crane Information Centre Black-Necked Crane Information Centre, which has informative displays about the cranes and the valley environment. You can use the centre's powerful spotting scopes and check what you see against its pamphlet 'Field Guide to Crane Behaviour'. If the weather's iffy you can browse the library and handicraft shop, and watch videos at 10am and 3pm (Nu 200).
Gangtey Goempa : Situated south of the road and east of Wangdue Phodrang, is Gangtey Gompa, an old monastery dating back to the 17th century. The gompa, on the valley floor, is the village of Phobjika. This is the winter home of the famous black-necked cranes. The cranes migrate from the high plains of the Tibetan plateau in winter to the milder climate of Phobjika. The short journey south from the main east-west artery is well worth the detour.
Day 08: PARO
In the morning, walk along the valley.
Khewang Lhakhang - Late 15th century old temple built by Truelku Penjor Gyaltshen the reincarnation of Kuenkhen Longchen Rabjampa.
In the afternoon, we start our drive to Paro. Drive takes 5 hours.
Paro Valley - The beautiful valley is home to many of Bhutan's old monasteries and temples. The country's only Airport is in Paro. The valley is also home to mount Chomolhari (7,300 meters) situated at the northern end of the valley whose glacier water forms the Pachu flowing through the valley. The following are some of the prominent places to visit in Paro.
Paro Dzong - also known as Rinpung Dzong, this 15th century massive fortress/monastery, is also the administrative center of the dzonkhag.
Ta Dzong - Built as a watch tower the Ta Dzong has since been turned into the national museum.
Zuri Dzong Trek If time permit and weather is good. This continues from Ta Dzong.
Visit the National Museum in Paro. Hike along forested area to Zuri Dzong and then down to Uma Resort.
On the way, we will pass Gonsaka Lhakhang, a neglected but charming place that actually predates paro dzong. There is a meditation cave that we can explore here. The view down over the valley and dzong are wonderful. Duration: 2 hours
Day 09: PARO
Today you visit the following places:
Taktsang Monastery is a prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and temple complex located on the cliff side of Paro Valley. According to legends, it is believed that Guru Rinpochhe flew to this location from Tibet on the back of a Tigress (his consort Yeshey Tshogyal) and meditated in one of the caves. Guru Rinpochhe performed meditation and emerged in eight manifestations and the place became holy. Thus gaining the name tiger's nest.
Estimated time to ascend 2 and half hour. Estimated time to descend 2 hours.
Drukgyal Dzong - A drive, north of Paro valley brings us to the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong. Built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the Dzong was destroyed by an accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. Explore the ramparts and relive the memories of a glorious past.
Kyichu Lhakhang is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. Just like the Jambhay Lhakhang in Bumthang, it is one of the 108 temples built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo to subdue and pin down an ogress that was obstructing the spread of Buddhism. According to legend, all 108 temples were built in a single night.
Walk and shop around Paro Town.
Optional, Hot Stone Bath. We can go for locally owned hot stone bath which can take 4 people at one time.
Today you bid farewell to Bhutan for a flight to Kathmandu. Spend your last day of the tour in the beautiful capital of Nepal
RETURN INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT/END OF TOUR