Day 01:Arrive Paro
Fly into Paro by Druk Air or Royal Bhutan Airline. The great snowcapped peaks of the inner Himalayas rise up to the heavens can be seen during clear weather. As the plane approaches Bhutan, if you look down, farmhouses as dots on the hillsides can be seen.
As the aircraft enters the Paro valley, you will see Paro Dzong on the hillside overlooking the Paro Chu (river), with Ta Dzong, formerly a watchtower and now the National Museum, above it.
You will be welcomed by our representative who will be your tour guide during your entire tour in Bhutan.
Drive to your hotel and after a refreshments/lunch visit the following:
- Paro Dzong, a fine example of Bhutanese historic architecture. It is also known as the RinpungDzong which means a “fortress that sits on a heap of jewels”. This imposing Dzong located above the Paro river is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture with its inward sloping walls that rise to an impressive height. The dzong was built in the 16th century on the foundation of a monastery built by Guru Rinpoche (who is regarded as the “second Buddha.”). From the Dzong, walk further down to Nemey Zampa, an oldest traditional cantilever bridge in Bhutan.
- National Museum, built in the 17th century as a watchtower for the Paro Dzong. This Dzong was converted into the National museum in 1967 and is filled with antique thankha (tapestry) paintings, textiles, weapons and armor.
In the evening stroll around the Paro town and feel free to mingle with the locals
Dinner and night halt at a hotel in Paro.
Day 02: Paro – Thimphu
Estimated travel time: 1 hour
After breakfast, travel to Thimphu and check into your hotel. Then visit the following as per your interest and time availability:
- National Textile Museumwhich is a good place to see the art of traditional weaving being kept alive and preserved through exhibition and has a good collection of old textiles which are rich in colors and designs. You will also see people weaving with intricate designs.
- The Folk Heritage Museum,an outdoor museum that gives an insight into rural life in Bhutan.
- National institute for Zorig Chusumwhere students undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan.
- Centenary Farmers’ market(if tour coincides with Thu-Sun) where farmers would be selling their wide range of farm produces (vegetables from farms and wild ferns or bamboo shoots collected from forest, flour, rice, roasted rice, rice flakes, spices, yams both cultivated and wild ones collected from forests, fruits, etc) and livestock products (mainly cheese and butter). Free interaction with people from town as well as from villages. Weekend market is from Thursday-Sunday (4 days).
- The Memorial Chortenwhich was constructed in 1974 as a memorial for the third King of the country, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is widely regarded as the father of modern Bhutan. National Memorial Chorten, chorten literally means ‘seat of faith’ and Buddhists often call such monuments the ‘Mind of Buddha’. Meet the elderly generation in circumambulation at the Chorten.
- Tashichhoe Dzong, a fortress of the glorious religion. It was built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and was reconstructed into present structure by the late King, His majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the year 1962-1969. It houses the secretariat building, the throne room and the office of the king, and the central monk body. It was reconstructed in the 1960s in traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plan
- Takin Preserve, which houses our national animal the Takin that is only found in Bhutan. This is an extremely rare member of the goat family. Found in herds in the very high altitudes (13,125ft and over). They live on a diet of grass and bamboo. It can weigh as much as 550 pounds.
- Changankha Lhakhang(temple): This temple situated on top of a small hill overlooking Thimphu valley was built in the 13th century by the illustrious Lam Phajo Dugom Zhigpo. The temple is considered the spiritual home of children born in Thimphu valley.
- Kuenselphodrangwhere largest Buddha statue in the country is perched on the hillock overlooking Thimphu valley and also if interested/if time permits, take a leisure walk through Kuenselphodrang Nature park and enjoy the nice view of the entire Thimphu valley below
- Craft Bazaar where craftsmen and artisans from across the country display and sell their handicrafts.
- Government-run Handicrafts Emporiumand local crafts shops, to browse through examples of Bhutan’s fine traditional arts. Here you can buy hand-woven textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewelry, and other interesting items made from local materials
In the evening stroll through the town and feel free to mingle with the locals.
Night at a hotel in Thimphu.
Day 03: Thimphu-Paro and A Day Hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest Monastery)
After breakfast, travel to Paro which will take about 1 hour and on arrival at Paro hike to Taktsang(Tiger’s Nest Monastery). The hike up to the viewpoint will take about 1 1/2 hours and from there you will enjoy a spectacular view of the monastery clinging to the side of the cliff. You will stop here for refreshments and then hike further up to the monastery which should take another hour.
It was first built in 1692, around the Taktsang Senge Samdup, a cave where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated for three months in the 8th century. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche (Guru Padmasambhava) flew to this location from eastern Bhutan on the back of a tigress and subdued a demon. He then performed meditation in one of the caves here and emerged in eight incarnated forms (manifestations) and blessed the place. Subsequently, the place came to be known as the “Tiger’s Nest”. Guru Padmasambhava is known for introducing Buddhism to Bhutan. Today, Paro Taktsang is the best known of the thirteen caves in which he meditated.
After visiting the monastery, walk back downhill to the road with lunch at the viewpoint cafeteria. Then drive back to your hotel after visiting Kichu Lhakhang on the way. Kichu Lhakhang is one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demon lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on all the points of her body. Of these 108 temples, 12 were built in accordance with precise plans. Thus, it happened that in about the year 638 AD, the temple of Jokhang in Lhasa was built over the very heart of the demon.
Free time to relax in the evening and night at a hotel in Paro.
Day 04: Departure from Paro
After breakfast, we will bid you farewell at the Paro International Airport for your flight to your onward destination