6 Days/5 Nights Cultural Tour Package
- Hike, visit massive fortress (dzongs), Buddhist temples, goembas (solitary places), and experience the culture of the hidden land.
- Bhutan, nestled in the heart of the great Himalaya, has for centuries remained aloof from the rest of the world. Since its doors were cautiously opened in 1974 visitors have been mesmerized: the environment is pristine, the scenery and architecture awesome and the people hospitable and charming.
Day1: Arrive in the Hidden Land
The flight into Bhutan offers great views of the Greater Himalayas, after immigrations and custom formalities, your local guide-for the whole trip, will receive and escort you to a restaurant for refreshment/lunch in town.
- After refreshment/lunch, visit the National Museum housed in the ancient watch tower, which will serve as a great introduction to Bhutan before you delve deeper into the country.
- Visit the Rinpong Dzong (literally meaning “heap of Jewels), the centre of civil and religious authority in the Paro province, built in the 17th century by Ngawang Namgyal, unifier of medieval Bhutan.
Later in the afternoon, proceed to Thimphu, the capital city, 46 miles 1.5 hours drive. With a population of 100,000, it is like no other capital city-the valley is unique, displaying harmony of traditions and modernity. There are no traffic lights and policemen direct traffic at intersections. Yet it is the biggest city in the country and seat of the government as well as the main hub of commerce in the country.
- In the evening your guide will brief you on the upcoming days.
- O/N at hotel in Thimphu. Elevation: 2,320m.
Day2: Thimphu Halt
After breakfast, drive to Dodena (2,450m), the base of Cheri Goemba (2,740m) and do a short hike to the Cheri, founded by the Shabdrung in the 17th century now serving as a meditation centres for the Tango Buddhist University and other monastic communities. Meditations last as long as three years and three months at a stretch. Diving distance from town to Dodena= 16.22 kilometers, total hiking distance= 2.6 kilometers. It’s a steep climb up to the Goemba.
- *Note: Please try to maintain silence at the temple because you might distract the meditation.
Drive back to town for lunch, on the way back visit the Pangri Zampa Lhakhang, built by Ngawang Chogyal in the 16th century, now hosing a monastic school for Astrology, where young monks can go and learn astrology and become one after graduation. Astrology is very important in the Bhutanese/Buddhist life. You can have your horoscope worked out here if you wish to do so.
- Next visit the Institute of Traditional Medicine, where the ancient art of Bhutanese healing system called Sowa Rigpa is still practiced.
- Next visit the Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory, to see the traditional way of making papers from bark of Daphne plants. Bhutan in ancient days was the biggest supplier of paper in the Himalayan region for printing religious scriptures and prayers. Then visit the Gagyel Lhendrup Weaving Centre, where you will find women at work on their looms, weaving some of the most beautiful fabrics with intricate flower patterns and designs on them.
- O/N at hotel in Thimphu.
Day3: Thimphu to Punakha over the Dochula Pass
Today we drive to Punakha valley, the road starts with a climb to Dochula pass at 3,100m, where we stop for a while to visit the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang, founde by the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck in the year 2003, to honor the Kings of Bhutan.
- On a clear day the pass heralds the most enchanting view of Bhutan’s Himalaya peaks, including the highest unclimbed mountain Gangkar Puensum (7,650m) in the world.
- Good part of the drive after the pass in the spring season, offers vista of blooming giant magnolias, fields of rhododendrons, mountain lilies, primulas (primrose) and many other flowers. It is also a paradise for bird watchers.
- An hour and half downhill from here will bring us to Lobesa, where we take a short, easy hike of an hour to Chimed Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to Lam Drukpa Kuenlay, built in the 15th century. It is a popular destination for fertility blessings including foreigners.
- After lunch we will visit the spectacular Punakha Dzong, built in 1637, on a strategic location at the confluence of the Pho chhu and Mo Chhu rivers.
- O/N at hotel in Punakha. Elevation: 1,200m.
Day4: Punakha to Paro.
After breakfast drive through the Khuruthang town, past the Dzong towards the north of the valley to the car park of Khamsum Yuelley. Hike to Khamsum Yuelly Namgyal Chorten, it is another short hike covering a distance of 2.6 kilometers in total, through rice fields and Chir pine forests. It offers great views of the valley and the farmlands from the chorten.
- Elevation at Car park: 1,240m, Elevation at Chorten (top): 1,420m.
- Then retrace the road back to Paro, once again over the Dochula pass, another opportunity to see the mountains, if it was not clear last time.
- O/N at hotel in Paro. Elevation: 2,280m.
Day5: Paro Halt
After breakfast before the sun gets too hot, hike to Taktsang (literally translated as Tiger’s Nest). Built on an impossible perch in a cliff, 900m higher than the valley floor, it is a sight to behold. One of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites for locals and tourists alike. Guru Rinpoche, the Indian saint who brought tantric Buddhism to Bhutan, is believed to have flown here riding a tigress and remained in meditation for about three months.
- It takes 5 hours in all to go up, visit the shrines and to come back down.
- On the way back to the hotel visit the ruins of Drukgyal dzong in the northern corner of the valley from where you can view the Jumolhari mountain on a clear day.
- Visit the Kyichu Lhakhang, a 7th century Buddhist temple, founded by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo.
- In the evening, stroll around the Paro town to look for souvenirs.
- Farewell dinner at a restaurant.
- O/N at hotel in Paro.
Your tour to the Hidden Land ends today. Your guide will see you off at the airport for your onward destination.