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We have shown the itinerary on the basis of a complete holiday purely for illustrative purposes. Naturally as tailor-made Bhutan holiday specialists we would be happy to discuss additional options, whether it be other activities, more/less sightseeing, alternative/upgraded accommodation etc dependent upon your interests, preferences and time available. We even tailor-make a suggested 'what to pack' list for you based upon your ultimately chosen Bhutan tailor-made holiday too.
Arrive at Paro Airport. You’ll be met upon arrival and transferred by private vehicle to your hotel in the very small town of Paro Dependent upon your arrival time, you may be able to enjoy a short sightseeing tour of Paro.
Day 2 - Paro Sightseeing
A day of cultural sightseeing in the Paro Valley. This will be a mix of gentle walking along with the use of a private vehicle to visit the principle sights of the delightful Paro Valley including the magnificent Paro Dzong and the fascinating National Museum. In the afternoon you’ll be driven to Thimpu (approx 2hrs by private vehicle), stopping along the way to visit the Tamchhog Lhakang Temple. From the road it’s an easy walk of around 15 minutes to reach this 14th Century temple. It’s very atmospheric and you may be forgiven for feeling like you’ve just travelled back in time to medieval Bhutan. Reaching Thimpu, you’ll firstly be driven up to the huge Buddha statue, from where there are great views over Bhutan’s rather small capital city.
This will be a mix of gentle walking along with the use of a private vehicle to visit the principle sights of the delightful Paro Valley including the magnificent Paro Dzong and the fascinating National Museum. In the afternoon you’ll be driven to Thimpu (approx 2hrs by private vehicle), stopping along the way to visit the Tamchhog Lhakang Temple. From the road it’s an easy walk of around 15 minutes to reach this 14th Century temple. It’s very atmospheric and you may be forgiven for feeling like you’ve just travelled back in time to medieval Bhutan. Reaching Thimpu, you’ll firstly be driven up to the huge Buddha statue, from where there are great views over Bhutan’s rather small capital city.
To reach Punakha, the former winter capital of Bhutan takes around 3 hours by road in a private vehicle. But, it’s a spectacular journey over the Dochu La. The pass itself is at an altitude of 3140m and if it’s a clear day you can look forward to spectacular views of the distant peaks of the Himalayas. Actually, this a good place to stop and enjoy a leisurely lunch and gaze at Bhutan’s highest peak, the unclimbed Gangkar Puensum (7550m). As you drop down into the Punakha Valley you’ll notice how verdant everything is fast becoming. Stopping along the way, you’ll visit the “Divine Madman’s Temple”. Otherwise known as Chimi Lakhang is rather popular with Bhutanese women and it won’t escape your notice that this 15th Century temple is decorated with phallus symbols. The women are coming here to pray for having children, although Drukpa Kunley who built the 15th Century temple did have some rather eccentric views about sex and is revered to this day by the Bhutanese people. Indeed you’ll find many Bhutanese homes have phallic symbols painted on them. Drukpa Kunley believed that sexual freedom lay at the centre of “The Truth” in his Tantric teachings. Welcome to Bhutan!
You’re probably itching to visit Punakha Dzong, but first there’s a very atmospheric walk to enjoy. Less than half an hours drive into the Punakha Valley you’ll alight and set off on foot to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten. The walking is innocent enough to begin with as you cross the Mo Chu River by way of a suspension bridge and stroll through paddy fields. But, as you’ve probably now realised many religious monuments are located in the hills and this one is no exception. So, you then have to climb up to the chorten. It should take less than an hour to reach it though, even if it is a steep ascent. After exploring the chorten you can walk back down the way you came up and return to your vehicle to be driven to Punakha Dzong. But, if you prefer to carry on walking you can exit via a different gate and after an initial steep descent the trail contours the hillside to descend more gradually through woodland to the village of Yabesa. Reaching the river it’s then a nice and easy downstream stroll as you walk all the way to Punakha Dzong. After admiring the Dzong you’ll be driven back to your hotel. Total walking time for this option is around 3-4 hours. Usually you are allowed to enter the Dzong, unless it is being used for a VIP visit.
Today you’ll be driven back by private vehicle to Paro. But there’s no hurry and there’ll be plenty of time to be able to stop off along the way and visit sites you didn’t visit on the way to Punakha. There’s the views (again) from the Dochu La to take in, as well as a stop off at Simtokha Dzong. This Dzong, built in 1627 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, stands on a low ridge 8 km down the valley from Thimphu. Nowadays it is home to the Institute for Language and Culture Studies. The most noteworthy artistic feature of this dzong is a series of over 300 finely worked slate carvings behind the prayer wheels in the courtyard.
You’re probably itching to visit the Tigers Nest and today is the day. It’s actually a stiff 2hr walk up through woodland and a rather steep climb of around 350m ascent it is too. Thankfully there’s a teahouse at one of the classic Taktsang Monastery view points where you can rest and refresh before a further 30 minutes of climbing brings you to Takstang (3110m) itself. On the final climb you pass what is probably the most famous view point that looks directly across to the monastery. It’s usually possible to enter the monastery, but if there’s something going on at the monastery (religious/VIP visit) then it may not be possible. Heading steeply down a descent of around 100m leads into a gorge before climbing back up to the main monastery gate, from which it’s down to the valley floor and your ride “home”. Walking time is around 4/5hrs with around 750m of ascent and descent. However if the sound of this walk to see Taktsang Monastery isn’t your thing (and on foot is the only way to reach it), instead you can be taken by private vehicle to visit the impressive Drukgyel Dzong instead. This altogether easier option can also include an excursion to a close by view point to see Chomolhari-Bhutan’s second highest mountain at 7314m.
Detailed Example Itinerary