Tour Of West Bhutan (5 Nights | 6 Days)
Thimphu, Punakha and Paro Including Walk to Taktshang Monastery
Day 1: Arrival
Arrive at Paro International Airport, Your guide will meet you and take you on a short one-hour drive along the Paro and Thimphu river valleys to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital, at 2320 meters. You can stop on the way to take in the magnificent Tamchhog Lhakhang, the hereditary place of worship for Bhutan’s iron bridge builder. Take a late afternoon walk around town and soak in the atmosphere of this magical capital with its busy shops and bazaars and photogenic citizens in national dress. Overnight in the Thimphu.
Day 2: Thimphu Sightseeing.
We will visit the weekly market, the revered Memorial Chorten, the National Library and the School of Traditional Arts. You could visit Changangkha temple, perched on the hilltop overlooking the town. Devotees flock throughout the day to circumambulate and turn the prayer wheels. The temple also contains beautiful wall paintings and hundreds of religious scriptures written in gold. In the afternoon you can take in more of the sights and culture of the capital, with the option of a trip to Simtokha Dzong (one of the oldest fortresses in Bhutan, dating from 1629 AD).
Day 3: Thimphu to Punakha.
In the morning drive, approximately 3 hours to the old capital, Punakha, via Dochu La pass at 3050 meters, where we will stop for a hot drink and enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the Eastern Himalaya ranges. You will notice the change of climate and vegetation as we approach low-lying Punakha at 1250 meters. Take a pleasant walk for an hour or so across the terraced fields of Sopsokha village to Chimi Lhakhang (Temple of Fertility) built in the 15th century by the ‘Divine Madman’ (Lama Drukpa Kuenley). Then we will visit the imposing Punakha Dzong, “Palace of Great Happiness”. Built in 1637, it is strategically placed at the confluence of two rivers, the Po Chu and the Mo Chu.
Day 4: Paro Tour
Today we return to Paro, a drive of approximately 4 hours. In the afternoon you can start your culture tour of Paro valley by visiting the impressive Paro Rinpung Dzong, one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. You can also visit the National Museum. This was previously housed in the Ta Dzong (watch tower) built on top of the hill above Rinpung Dzong to defend Rinpung Dzong and the Paro valley during times of war, in an unusual circular construction resembling a conch shell. Unfortunately, an earthquake in September 2011 damaged the Ta Dzong and the contents of the museum were moved to a neighboring building. You can still see a magnificent collection of Bhutanese artifacts – costumes, religious paintings, arms, textiles and a fascinating collection of Bhutan stamps. The National Museum is due to reopen in the Ta Dzong in 2017. Near to the museum you may also be able to see a demonstration of traditional woodturning skills by local artisans who make traditional wooden bowls and cups – and you can try your hand as well if you wish. Overnight in Paro.
Day 5: Tiger's Nest’
Take a day walk to the Tiger's Nest’ the sacred Taktshang monastery which clings to the rock face 900 meters above the valley floor. Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown to the site riding on a tigress. He subsequently meditated here for three months. It is one of Bhutan’s most holy sites and draws pilgrims not only from Bhutan but also from neighboring Buddhist countries. You can have lunch at the Taktshang cafeteria from where you get a spectacular view of the monastery. Nearby you can also visit the 7th-century Kyichu Lhakhang, a temple of historical significance and one of the most sacred shrines in Bhutan. Alternatively, you may be interested to visit a manor house turned museum in a local village. The house dates from the 17th Century and the museum is designed to showcase the culture of medieval rural Bhutan. Overnight in Paro
Day 6: Departure
After breakfast, you will transfer to airport for further connection.
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