- This cultural tour through the mystical Western valleys of Bhutan is an ideal introduction to the Dragon Kingdom.
- Experience Bhutanese hospitality, admire the ever-changing landscapes, and immerse yourself in Bhutan’s rich Buddhist culture.
- Explore Ta Dzong Museum, Rimpong Dzong with its wooden cantilevered bridge and Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) in the beautiful Paro Valley
- Spectacular Himalayan views, a journey into the sub-tropical Punakha Valley featuring the incredible the Punakha Dzong and Chimi Lhakang, temple of the ‘Divine Madman’.
This Bhutan cultural holiday is a tailor made holiday which follows the rough itinerary below, but of course this can be adapted to suit your interests. This carefully crafted itinerary covers Bhutan’s western valleys, taking in not only the spectacular Himalayan and lowland landscapes but also the culture and lifestyles of people living here.
Travelling with your own English speaking driver guide, you will drive over mountain passes, through exquisite elevated landscapes, while also seeing the ever changing ecosystems that Bhutan has to offer. The natural highlight of the itinerary is Phobjikha Valley, also known as Gangtey, which is most famous for being home to hundreds of black necked cranes which swoop in between November and March. It is also home to a wide variety of other wildlife including Himalayan black bears and sambar.
This trip starts in Paro, where your flight lands, with time to explore its Rinpung Dzong Fortress and Ta Dzong Museum before heading on to Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan. Here you have a full day to take in its many cultural sites including National Memorial Chorten, Changangkha Temple and Drubthob Monastery.
After driving over the Dochu-La pass (3,100m), with great views over Bhutan’s Himalayas, you have time in the balmy Phobjikha Valley, visiting its eponymous sanctuary and also Gangtey Gompa Monastery. From here we head to Punakha, which is known as Bhutan’s winter capital as it is less elevated than Thimpu. Cultural greats here include Punakha Dzong, the second largest dzong in the country. You will have a whole day to discover this “Palace of Great Happiness”.
Your final stop is back in Paro, which we can use as a base for exploring one more superb cultural site: the great Taktsang Monastery, otherwise known as Tiger’s Nest monastery. This magnificent, sacred site is the highlight of the tour for many people and is considered the origin of Buddhism in Bhutan.
Start and end in Paro! With the Custom tour Scenic Bhutan Tour, you have a 8 days tour package taking you through Paro, Bhutan and 6 other destinations in Bhutan. Scenic Bhutan Tour includes accommodation in a hotel as well as meals, transport and more.
- Day 1 - Paro Airport to Thimphu City (1 hr. 30mins) - Sightseeing
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 mountains on earth. Our World Tour Plan representative will meet you at Paro airport exit doors following customs formalities. After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum housing many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical, cultural, and religious past.
Next, visit the Rimpong 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. Dzong’s are large monasteries and district administrative centres, which were once strategic forts. Afterwards, drive to the capital, Thimphu following the Pachu River. Before dinner at the hotel there will be an orientation on Bhutanese etiquette by your guide. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
- Day 2 - Thimphu sightseeing
Once a rustic village sitting in a broad, fertile river valley, Thimphu is today the nation’s bustling capital. Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to 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 to 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 and Drubthob monastery housing the Zilukha Nunnery.
Other sites to visit include: the School for Arts and Crafts where students are taught the 13 types of Bhutanese art, The National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century, the Traditional Paper Factory displaying the Bhutanese paper making process, and a fascinating replica of a medieval farmhouse at the Folk Heritage Museum. If there is time, you may visit the nursing pen for the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan, and Tashichhodzong, ‘the fortress of the glorious religion’. Initially erected in 1641 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was rebuilt in the 1960s during the reign of Bhutan’s third king in the traditional style, without plans or nails.
Tashichhodzong houses some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body. If your visit to Thimphu coincides with the weekend, you can walk through the Thimphu Market to see the variety of food of Bhutan, including basket upon basket of fiery chillies, fresh cheese and a variety of fresh greens. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
- Day 3 - Thimphu to Phobjikha Valley (5 hrs) Sightseeing
Drive over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters) which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into balmy Punakha valley (about 3 hrs total driving time). The drive through the countryside affords a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdoms.
In the Dochu-La area there are vast Rhododendron forests that grow to tree size and bloom in late April/early May covering the mountains in a riot of glorious spring colour. Continue on through the bustling market town of Wangduephodrang, driving up a winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forests, and over a high pass down into the wide and picturesque Phobjikha Valley.
Phobjikha is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black necked cranes (November – March) migrating from the Tibetan plateau. The valley is one of the most beautiful in Bhutan. Overnight at your hotel in Phobjikha.
- Day 4 - Phobjikha Sightseeing
Spend the day exploring the Phobjikha Valley, including a visit to the Phobjikha Sanctuary with an opportunity to view the majestic black necked cranes (Nov-Mar only) and Gangtey Gompa (Monastery), dating back to the 16th century and the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan. In the afternoon enjoy one of the many walks available traversing the stunning surrounds of this spacious valley. Overnight at your hotel in Phobjikha.
- Day 5 - Phobjikha - Punakha Sightseeing
After breakfast drive to Punakha. On arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’ as predicted by the great Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava). It is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers) and is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location.
The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional 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. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha.
- Day 6 - Punakha - Paro Sightseeing
Enjoy a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman. He inherited the Divine Madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism in his time. He taught the people that religion is an inner feeling and it’s not necessary that one should be an ordained monk.
He is also considered a symbol of fertility and most childless couples go to his temple for blessing. Afterwards drive back to Thimphu where you will have an opportunity to visit handicraft and souvenir stores. Afterwards proceed to Paro. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
- Day 7 - Paro ( Hike to Tiger's Nest )
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The trail is broad and the walk of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometre above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to cafeteria). The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor is a spectacular sight.
The Monastery is also an important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. The great Guru Rimpoche 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 there for three months where the monastery was later built. The cave is said to be the origin of Buddhism in Bhutan. Nearby there is a teahouse where you can stop for refreshments before returning to Paro for lunch. In the afternoon drive to the ruins of the 17th Century Drukgyel Dzong, an historic monument built by the Shabdrung to commemorate his 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 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo.
Kyichu is built in a manner similar to the Jokhang in Lhasa. Inside there is a great golden image of Buddha Shakyamuni.
For the late afternoon, we will have a special dinner with a local family in a traditional farm house. Enjoy your time chatting and hanging out with the warmest people over authentic Bhutanese dishes!
A nice traditional hot stone bath after all the hiking is another excellent way to relax your body. Besides, you can check out some cool pubs in Paro, where they serve tasty snacks and local alcohols for your last night in Bhutan. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
- Day 8 - Departure from Paro International Airport
In the morning, after breakfast our representative from World Tour Plan,will see you off at the Paro international airport for your onward flight.
- Airport pickup and drop.
- It is private tour, will be accompanied by your personal guide and your driver with vehicle.
- Camping Equipment and Haulage for Trekking Tours
- Bottled mineral Water throughout your tour.
- Accommodation in twin Sharing in 3 Star Hotel.(4 & 5 star may require an additional premium).
- All meals (buffet system /include evening tea/snacks per pax each day).
- Bhutan visa processing fee.
- Local sightseeing with entrance fees where applicable.
- Druk air flights [Please note that the cost of any domestic airfare for the guide must be paid by the clients/agents].
- Travel insurance
- Refreshment, any alcoholic/nonalcoholic beverages and any other personal expenses
- Gratuities to guide, driver, trekking staff, etc
- Other expenses of personal nature