KINGDOM ON THE CLOUDS
Day 01: Arrive Paro(altitude 2200 meters), Paro– Thimphu; 60 km [1.5 hours]
In clear weather, Druk Air’s flight to Bhutan provides a wonderful view of Himalayan scenery. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills from Kolkata,it is a breathtaking journey, culminating in an exciting descent past forested hills into the kingdom.
On arrival at Paro airport, you will be met by Bhutan Trip Planner representative. On completion of airport formalities, there will be a refreshing drive for about 1.5 hours towards Thimphu, the modern capital town of Bhutan. On arrival to Thimphu, check into the hotel.Today’s tour program depends on your arrival time in Thimphu.
Evening free after dinner. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 02: Thimphu sightseeing/visits and Thimphu(altitude 2350 meters)– Punakha(altitude 1310 meters); 70 km [2.5 hours]
Thimphu, perhaps the most unusual capital city in the world, is the seat of government. This bustling town is home to Bhutan’s royal family, the civil service, and foreign missions with representation in Bhutan. It is also the headquarters for a number of internationally funded development projects.
In the morning visit to TashichhoDzong (fortress), the main secretariat building which houses the throne room of His Majesty, the King. TashichhoDzong is also the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and the central monk body. Proceed to the National Library, which houses an extensive collection of Buddhist literature, with some works dating back several hundred years. The National Library in the neighborhood houses a huge book, called “Giant visual odyssey through the Kingdom of Bhutan”, and was made by scientist Michael Hawley and is one of the eleven models available worldwide. It has a height of 1.52 meters and a length of 2.13 meters and weighs about 60 kilograms. In its 112 pages, the book offers stunning and high quality images of the Last Himalayan Kingdom, taken on four trips through Bhutan. The entire book requires 1 gallon of ink and 1 day to be printed. Visit the nearby Institute for ZorigChusum (commonly known as the Painting School), where a six-year training course is given in the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. Also visit (outside only) the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, where the medicinal herbs abundant in the kingdom are compounded and dispensed.
After lunch, visit the National Memorial Chorten (stupa). The building of this landmark was originally envisaged by Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty JigmeDorjiWangchuck, who had wanted to erect a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it is both a memorial to the Late King (“the father of modern Bhutan”), and a monument to peace. Visit the government-run Handicrafts Emporium and privately owned crafts shops, which offer a wide range of handcrafted products, including the splendid thangkha paintings and exquisitely woven textiles for which Bhutan is famous. Also visit the Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums.
In the early evening drive toPunakha and on the way you will cross over Dochu-La pass (3,088m/10,130ft) and see good view of the Eastern Himalayan peaks, if the weather is clear.
Overnight halt at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 03: Punakha sightseeing/visits and Punakha–Paro
Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955, when the seat of government moved to Thimphu. Originally situated on the riverbank and dominated by the towering walls of PunakhaDzong, the township was relocated to a safer site a few kilometers down the valley, consequent upon extensive flooding in the early 1990s. At the same time, extensive renovation work was undertaken on PunakhaDzong itself, which is now a breathtaking and glorious sight as you first glimpse it from the road. Although four catastrophic fires and an earthquake in past times destroyed many historic documents, PunakhaDzongstill houses many sacred and historic artifacts and also the embalmed body of ShabdrungNgawangNamgyal. Visit ChimiLhakhang, the fertility temple of the divine madman-LamaDrukpaKuenley.
After lunch drive to Paro, visiting SemtokhaDzong en route. This dzong, built in 1627, is the oldest in Bhutan. It now houses the Institute for Language and Cultural Studies.
Arrive Paro and check into the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 04: Paro sightseeing/visits
The valley of Paro contains a wealth of attractions. In the morning, visit Ta Dzong. Once a watchtower, built to defend RinpungDzong during inter-valley wars of the 17th century, Ta Dzongwas inaugurated as Bhutan’s National Museum in 1968. Afterwards, walk down a hillside trail to visit RinpungDzong, which has a long and fascinating history.
After lunch, drive up along the valley to view the ruins of DrukgyelDzong, 18 km. from Paro town on the north side of the valley. It was from here that the Bhutanese repelled several invading Tibetan armies during the 17th century. Also visit KyichuLhakhang, one of the oldest and one of the most sacred shrines of the kingdombuily in the 7th century A.D.
In the evening, visit a traditional farmhouse for an opportunity to interact with a local family and learn something of their lifestyle. Later on, take an evening stroll along the main street, and perhaps visit a few handicrafts shops, or take refreshments at a local café or bar.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.Farewell dinner with your triphost.
Day 05: Depart Paro
After breakfast, drive to Paro airport for flight to onward destination.Your Bhutan Trip Planner representative will help you with the exit formalities and then bid you farewell.
Glimpse of Bhutan
Kingdom on the Clouds
A Journey through Bhutan
The Himalayan Heartlands