DAY 01 ARRIVE PHUENTSHLING
The border town of Phuentsholing is about 4 hours by road from Bagdogra in West Bengal (India). At Phuentsholing, a traditionally painted gateway welcomes you to Bhutan. Commercially it is an important town with many small scale industries. The town is particularly attractive, but it has an interesting mix of people and a definite tropical air about it. A tour guide from Sambara Tours & Treks, who will be your personal host throughout your stay in Bhutan, will be waiting to assist you with customs and immigration formalities. Overnight at the hotel.
DAY 02 PHUENTSHOLING - THIMPHU
Your journey into the Thunder Dragon kingdom will truly begin with a drive of 6 hours covering 176 km to the capital, Thimphu. We start early for the fabulous drive to the Western Valleys of Bhutan. Leaving Puentsholing, the road climbs rapidly through tropical jungle. Lunch at Bunakha restaurant. After crossing Chapcha pass (2,900 m) the landscape changes and the hills are covered with pine forest. After Chhuzom, a junction where the roads from Paro, Thimphu, Haa and Phuentsholing meet, an hours drive brings us to the valley of Thimphu. Overnight at hotel absorbing the sights, sounds and scents of Bhutan.
DAY 03 THIMPHU sightseeing
After breakfast we visit the National Memorial Chorten built in honor of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and the Dupthop Lakhang one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan. We then visit the National Library, stocked with ancient manuscripts, and the Painting School where traditional art is still kept alive through instructions in the art of painting thangkas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls). After lunch we drive to the Traditional Medicine Hospital where medicines are prepared according to ancient practices and to Lungtenzampa to observe traditional gold and silver smiths at work. Other highlights include a visit to the Tashichho Dzong, seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan). The Tashichho Dzong is open to visitors only in winter when the Je Khenpo and the Monk Body move to Punakha the ancient winter capital of Bhutan. We finally visit the Handicraft Emporium followed by shopping for souvenirs in the shops of Thimphu.
DAY 04 THIMPHU - PUNAKHA/WANGDUE - THIMPHU
A day's excursion to Punakha and Wangdue valley. Leaving Thimphu the road climbs steeply through a forest of pine and clear, festooned with hanging lichen high up near Dochula pass (3,050 m). This pass often offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges. From Dochula the road descends along a series of hairpin bends to the fertile valley of Punakha. We take a stroll through the small town and view the Punakha Dzong, winter seat of the Je Khenpo and ancient capital of Bhutan, remarkably located between the rivers of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu. The dzong is open to visitors only in summer when the Je Khenpo and the Monk Body are in Thimphu. Lunch at hotel in Punakha. We then drive down the valley to view the Wangdue Dzong dramatically located on the spur of a hill at the confluence of the Tsang Chu and Dang Chu. We return to Thimphu in the late afternoon. Overnight at hotel.
DAY 05 THIMPHU - PARO
After breakfast we leave Thimphu for the 2 hour drive to the beautiful valley of Paro. In Paro we visit the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong 18 km up the vally. Built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the dzong was destroyed by accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. Explore the rampart and on a clear day experience an unforgettable view of Mt. Jumolhari (7,314 m). We then drive back to the hotel for lunch. In the afternoon we drive to the Ta Dzong, and ancient watch-tower, which now houses the National Museum. We then view the Paro Dzong and end with a stroll to the town of Paro.
DAY 06 PARO EXCURSION TO TAKTSANG (Tiger's Nest) MONASTERY
A very special day, with an excursion to view the spectacular Taktsang monastery - a labour of devotion and faith! After breakfast a short drive takes us to Satsam Chorten from where we walk up to the Taktsang viewpoint. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. We stop for a rest and light refreshment at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until we see, clearly and seemingly within reach, Taktsang monastery. Built in the 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 m into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, landed here on the back of a flying tiger. Looking at the monastery flying tigers donšt seem so impossible after all. Lunch at Taktsang Jakhang and then back to Satsam Chorten and to the hotel. A relaxed evening at the hotel, a sumptuous meal including (for adventurous!) authentic fiery hot local cuisine, and warm bed.
DAY 07 PARO - PARO AIRPORT
In the morning our STT representative will bid you farewell at Paro airport. Good-bye
and happy journey back home.