DAY 01 ARRIVE PARO (DRUK AIR)
The flight into Paro on our national carrier, Druk Air, is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of our country. In clear weather, magnificent views of the worlds highest peaks, give way to the lush green Paro valley as you land. A tour guide from Sambara Tours & Travels, who will be your personal host throughout your stay in Bhutan, will be waiting to assist you with customs and immigration formalities, and then drive you the short distance to the Hotel.
DAY 02 PARO sightseeing
Your journey into the Thunder Dragon kingdom will truly begin with a drive in the morning to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong 18 km up the valley. 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. We then drive back for an unhurried stroll through Paro town before proceeding to the hotel for lunch. In the afternoon we drive to the Ta Dzong, and ancient watch-tower, which now houses the National Museum. A relaxed evening at hotel, sumptuous meal including (for the adventurous!) authentic fiery hot local cuisine, and a warm bed.
DAY 03 PARO EXCURSION TO TAKTSANG (Tiger's Nest) MONASTERY - THIMPHU
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 for the 2 hour drive to the capital, Thimphu. Overnight at hotel absorbing the sights, sounds and scents of Bhutan
DAY 04 THIMPHU - TRONGSA
The drive to Trongsa takes approximately 8 to 9 hours. We start early for the fabulous drive to the central valleys of Bhutan. Leaving Thimphu the road climbs steeply through a forest of pine and cedar, festooned with hanging lichen high up near the Dochula pass (3,050 m). This pass often offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges. After crossing the pass the road descends to the valley of Punakha. Visit the Punakha Dzong which is open to the visitors only in summer when the Je Khenpo and the Monk Body are in Thimphu. After this visit, we drive to Wangde Dzong where lunch will be served. In the afternoon the road climbs to Pelela pass, traditionally considered the boundary between West and East Bhutan. We cross Chendebji Chorten built many centuries ago to suppress a demon. Overnight at Trongsa lodge.
DAY 05 TRONGSA - BUMTHANG
After breakfast we go out to view the impressive Trongsa Dzong, ancestral home of the ruling dynasty. In the olden days the dzong commanded the passage between East and West Bhutan. We visit the Ta dzong, an ancient watch tower, above the main dzong which has an interesting display of Mongol armour, and then explore the quaint town of Trongsa. After an early lunch, the scenic drive to Bumthang takes about 3 hours and crosses the Yotongla pass (3,400 m). Overnight at Bumthang lodge.
DAY 06 BUMTHANG sightseeing
A full day excursion to Ura valley. The road after crossing Shelthangla pass (3,580 m) descents into Ura by long loops past fields and pastures. Villages in the region of Ura characteristically have very closely clustered houses. Urašs main occupation is raising sheep and yaks, but potato farming has been introduced recently. We explore the village and visit the Ura temple. Packed lunch will be served near the village. On the way back, we stop at the Namkhey Nyingpo Dratshang.
DAY 08 BUMTHANG - THIMPHU
The drive takes about 9 hours. Pack lunch will be served at convenient spot. Overnight at the hotel.
DAY 08 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 09 THIMPHU - PARO AIRPORT
We leave Thimphu early to catch your onward flight from Paro airport where our STT representative will bid you farewell at Paro airport. Good-bye and happy journey back home.