Land of Thunder Dragon

Paro | Punakha | Gangtey

Its mountainous landscape makes it the perfect destination for some adventurous trekking. Embark on a journey through hills and valleys to glimpse at ancient structures and religious temples. The majority of Bhutan’s population practices Buddhism, as reflected in some of its cultural elements and traditions.

Level
Luxury $ 6,100
Best Season
March – May
June – August
October
Duration
8 Days 7 Nights
Theme
Bucket List | Group of Friend
Product Code
AP008_720

Highlight of the Journey

  • Breath-taking mountain views from Dochu La Pass
  • The Spectacular fortress of Punakha and Thimphulisted
  • The iconic hike to Tiger Nest
  • The Spectacular Paro Tsechu

 

**Rates are per person based on USD and 2/4 people traveling together

Day 1 - 2

Bangkok

Upon arrival at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport, this is a guide how to take the hotel shuttle transfer: on the arrival level (level 2) walk to gate No. 4 where you will find the Novotel counter, exit the terminal here and find the shuttle van stopping at the curbside to welcome you. Driving time is less than 5 minutes, the hotel being located just opposite the terminal. Novotel’s shuttle van operates round the clock (24 hours) every 10 minutes.

Day 2 - 4

Paro - Punakha

You will board from Bangkok to Paro, Bhutan’s only international airport. The flight into Bhutan takes you close to the great Himalayas; offering dazzling scenic views of some of world’s highest glacial peaks. As you enter the Paro valley, you will pass forested hills with the slivery Pa Chu (Paro River) meandering down the valley below with the Paro Dzong (fortress) and Ta Dzong (watch tower) on the hill above the town. 

As you exit from the arrival hall of Paro airport, you will be met by your guide and chauffeured to your hotel in Punakha (4-hours drive). 

Tamchog Lhakhang
En-route stop to visit the Tamchog Lhakhang and marvel at the iron bridge reconstructed using original chain links from the famous Tibetan bridge builder Thangtong Gyalpo.
This temple is located across the river from the Paro to Thimphu. In order to get to the temple one must cross an iron chain bridge, one of the few remaining of the many that Thangthong Gyalpo built.

Dochu La
The road climbs steeply through a scenic forest of pine and cedar trees, to Dochu La pass (10,000 feet). The pass offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges, and then descends into the fertile valley of Punakha (4,430 feet).
Stop on Dochu La to visit the 108 stupas built on this 3,150 meter high pass in honor the fallen Bhutanese soldiers. 

Punakha Dzong
Later in the afternoon, proceed back towards Punakha and visit the Punakha Dzong. Constructed in 1637, this was the second of Bhutan’s Dzong and for many years its seat of government. From this spectacular setting, you can see the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Temple perched on the hillside far in the distance.

Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten
This three storey lhakhang was built by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon for the protection of the country. It has an impressive view of Punakha valley. Upon arrival at the chorten, enjoy a hearty breakfast followed by a visit to the main temple inside. The deities represented here belong to a teaching cycle of Dudjom Rinpoche, a great Nyingmapa master (1904-87). The functions of the deities are to subjugate enemies and harmful influences and also to spread peace and harmony.
This hike takes about 45 minutes each way from the suspension bridge closest to the temple.

Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang (Nunnery)
Perched on a ridge amid pine trees gleams the magnificent structures of Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang (temple). The temple houses a 14-foot main bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara (Chenrigzig chagtong chentong). Other statues include those of Guru Padmasambawa, Gautama Buddha, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, Tsela Namsum, the 21 Taras and Tsepamay (Buddha of longevity). The Avalokiteshvara statue, one of the biggest in the country, was the handiwork of entirely local Bhutanese artisans.

Day 4 - 6

Gangtey

Early this morning, post breakfast, you will be chauffeured to Gangtey (3 hours drive).

Chimi Lhakhang 
As you exit Punakha stop en route and visit the Chimi Lhakhang, which is on a small hilltop. The temple was dedicated to the great Yogi in the 14th century, known as Drukpa Kuenley, also known as the “Divine madman.” He is known for dramatizing Buddhist teachings using songs. It is believed that this temple blesses women who seek fertility. If interested you can also watch the Thangkha painters here in action.

Fertile Valley Wangdue
The road takes you through the fertile valley of Wangdue (4,430 feet).
Crossing Wangdue the road once again gradually climbs to Lawa La pass, which offers the magnificent views of Jhomolhari (7300m) mountain and Jichu Drake (6700m). There is an abrupt change in vegetation as we drive, with mountain forest replaced by high altitude dwarf bamboo.

Gangtey is a beautiful valley and is the winter home of endangered black-necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains in the north to pass their winter in milder climate. These winged visitors begin arriving around the last week of September and start going back by around end of February/ early March. Phobjikha is at an altitude of 2900 m above sea level and on the periphery of the Black Mountain National Park.

Gangtey Goemba & Gangtey Nature Trail
Post lunch, you will be escorted to the Gangtey Goemba (monastery), which enjoys the valley’s prime real estate, on a forested hill overlooking the green expanse of the entire Phobjikha valley. Pema Thinley, the grandson and reincarnation of Pema Lingpa, founded the Nyingma temple here in 1613.

Then from the Goemba you will walk downhill along the Gangtey Nature Trail, quite popular amongst the visitors to the valley. Crossing streams and rhododendron gardens you cross Sumchubara village, afterwards you enter the Pine covered forest, which opens at a canopy that affords fabulous views of the valley. Further down, the trial passes the village of Khewang and later you will cross the Nake Chu where you will be picked up by your car.

Day 6 - 8

Paro - Bangkok

This morning after a leisurely breakfast, you will be transferred to Paro (7 hours’ drive).
Paro is a historic town with many sacred sites and historical buildings scattered through the area. It is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest temples and monasteries, National Museum and country’s only airport. Mount. Chomolhari (7,314m) reigns in white glory at the northern end of the valley and its glacial water plunge through deep gorges to form Pa Chhu (Paro river). Paro is also one of the most fertile valley in the Kingdom bproducing a bulk of the locally famous red rice from its terraced fields.

Ta Dzong
Later in the afternoon, if time permits, drive to visit the Ta Dzong or the National Museum. One-time watch tower built to defend Rinpung Dzong during inter-valley wars of the 17th century. It holds a fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings and Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps. The museum’s circular shape enhances its varied collection displayed over several floors.

Hiking Taktsang Monastery ( Tiger’s Nest ) 
After an early breakfast, drive to the north of Paro Valley to Ramthankha (approx. 30 minutes’ drive from the hotel), from where you start your hike to the Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s Nest). The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of trees festooned with Spanish moss and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. Legend has it that Guru Rimpoche, founder of Buddhism flew from Eastern Bhutan on a tigress, bringing Buddhist teachings and meditated here in this cliff. This is one of the most venerated and sacred of all Buddhist sights around the world.

Farmhouse 
It is a traditional village house. The beauty of Paro valley is embellished by cluster of old fashioned farm houses. Bhutanese farm houses are very colorful, decorative and traditionally built without the use of single nail. A visit to Farm House is very interesting and offers a good glimpse into the lifestyle of a farmer.

Next day, you will be transferred to the Paro airport to board your onward flight to Bangkok and continue the international flight for your flight back home. End of journey.