5 Days - Bhutan Cultural tour
Places covered: Paro, Punakha, Wangdue Phodrang, Thimphu
Day 1: Thimphu
Paro is home to the only international airport in Bhutan. It has both ancient and modern outlooks. It is blessed with some of the scared temples in the country. Sometimes Paro is also referred to as ‘rice bowl of Bhutan’ as it has abundant paddy field.
During the flight to Paro, you will experience breathtaking views of some of the highest mountains in the world including Mt. Everest and Mt. Jomolhari
After arrival, drive to Thimphu, capital of Bhutan. The travel time will be about one hour.
Thimphu, with a population of just over 100,000 people is the largest city in Bhutan. It has a combination of tradition and modernity. Thimphu city sprawls across the western slopes of the Wang Chuu river valley, with several government offices located around Tashichhi Dzong. Rapid expansion following the pattern of rural exodus has resulted in considerable rebuilding in the city centre and mushrooming suburban development elsewhere. It is located at an altitude of 2,300 m. The capital does not have a traffic light.
Memorial Chorten (Stupa)
Chorten literally means ‘Seat of Faith’. It was built in 1974 in the memory of Bhutan‘s third King, His Late Majesty, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who is popularly regarded as Father of modern Bhutan. The feature that is distinct here is the outward flaring of the rounded part to give the shape of a vase (a pyramidal shape), unlike a dome shape
Takin is the national animal of Bhutan. It is closely associated to religious history and mythology of the country. The takin preserve is located at a short distance up the road to the telecommunications tower viewpoint (Sangay Gang) is a trail leading to a large fenced enclosure that was originally established as a zoo.
Perhaps the best place for photographers is to visit Sangay Gang. A short drive from the Takin preserve, the hill provides a bird’s eye view of Thimphu valley.
Day 2: Punakha
After breakfast drive to Punakha (which will take about 3 hours). On the way to Punakha, some after 45 minutes drive from Thimphu, you will briefly stop at Dsochula pass to a spectacular view of the snow capped mountains and the 108 Druk Wangyel stupas and view of the snow capped mountains
Punakha was the capital of Bhutan until 1955, when the capital was moved to Thimphu. However, it still serves as the winter ‘capital’ of the central monk body. It is located at an elevation of 1,200 metres above sea level and rice is grown as the main crop. Punakha has been associated with lot of momentous occasions in the history of Bhutan including the Royal Wedding in 2011.
This majestic Dzong stands at the confluence of two rivers (Phochu and Mo Chhu). It built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative seat of the region. It was here that the dual system of government was introduced in the 17th century and in 1907, enthroned the first King Gongsr Ugyen Wangchuck. Damaged over the centuries by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the dzong has been fully restored in the recent years by the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
Chimi Lhakhang which also known as the temple of fertility is situated on a hillock. It is widely believed that couples who do not have children, if they pray at this temple, they are usually blessed with a child very soon. The temple is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley (‘Divine Madman”) who used humor, songs and outrageous behavior in his teachings.
Day 3: Phobjikha Valley
After breakfast drive to Phobjikha valley, which falls under Wangdue Phodrang district. The travel time willbe about 3 hours. and spend the night at a farmhouse. One can get the first hand experience on the Bhutanese way of living in rural areas and opportunity to taste the Bhutanese hospitality.
Day 4: Thimphu
After breakfast, travel to Thimphu. The travel time will be around five hours. In the afternoon, visit the following:
The “fortress of the glorious religion” was initially erected in 1641 and rebuilt by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the 1960s. This fortress is the administrative and religious centre of Bhutan. It houses the Royal Throne, some ministries and the seat of the Chief Abbot of the central monastic body. At night, the Dzong lights up in beautiful colors.
A massive statue of lord Buddha is located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and overlooks the Southern entrance to Thimphu Valley Located at a short drive from Thimphu city, visitors can get a good overview of the Thimphu valley from the Buddha point (Kuensel Phodrang). You can pay offer prayers to the Buddha Dordenma, the largest statue in the country and then walk around and take a glimpse of the valley.
The national textile museum was established in 2001 and has a good collection of antique textile artifacts, exclusive to Bhutan. It aims to promote the country’s achievements in the field of textile arts and to sustain the interest of the weavers.
Day 5: Paro
After breakfast drive to the base of Paro Taktshang (Tiger’s nest). The travel time will be just over one hour. The hike to Tiger Nest will certainly bring back unforgettable memories.. The hike provides breathtaking views and excitement of the holy place. For locals, it takes less than two hours to reach the monastery. There may be a need for few stops/rest due to higher altitudes unless you are fully acclimatized.
Taktshang monastery is located atop an 800 meter cliff in Paro. The monastery is widely regarded is one of the most important in Bhutan. Its history is associated with the visit of Guru Padmasambhava, the Indian saint who came to Bhutan in the 8th century AD. The cave was named Taktshang after Guru Rinpoche flew into the cave from Kurtoe Singye Dzong in eastern Bhutan riding on a tigress. In 1692 the fourth Druck Desi Tenzin Rabgye started to construct monastery and finally completed after three years.