Bhutan, a Buddhist kingdom on the Himalayas’ eastern edge, is known for its monasteries, fortresses (or dzongs) and dramatic landscapes that range from subtropical plains to steep mountains and valleys. In the High Himalayas, peaks such as 7,326m Jomolhari are popular trekking destinations. Paro Taktsang monastery (also known as Tiger’s Nest) clings to cliffs above the forested Paro Valley..
After arriving in Paro, you will check-in to your hotel and briefing on the bikes. By that time it will be lunch time so after having lunch at the hotel and followed by sightseeing: Paro valley extends from the confluence of the Paro Chhu and the Wang Chhu rivers at Chuzom up to Mt. Jomolhari at the Tibetan border to the North. This picturesque region is one of the widest valleys in the kingdom and is covered in fertile rice fields and has a beautiful, crystalline river meandering down the valley. The country’s first international airport is located in Paro. Due to the close proximity of the airport and the many historical and religious sites in the region there are a large number of luxurious, high-end tourist resorts in Paro. 1. Watch Tower: 200 year old Watch Tower was renovated and converted into National Museum in 1968. It houses a fine collection of national costumes and fabrics, gallery of Thangkas, an impressive stamp gallery with three dimensional and CD stamps issued as early as 1960 that are remarkable and other galleries showcasing armour and silverware with the handsome Royal tea pots. 2. Ringpung Dzong: Ringpung Dzong meaning “fortress of the heap of jewels” The Dzong was built by ZhabdrungNgawangNamgyel. 3. Kyichu Lhakhang:Kyichu Lhakhang is said to have been built by King SongtsenGampo of Tibet. It’s believed that it holds down the left foot of an ogress, so large that it covers Bhutan and most of eastern Tibet. It’s one of the 108 temples built by the Tibetan King in one day throughout the region of the Himalayas; according to legends. The temple also houses a museum dedicated to late DilgoKhyentseRimpoche and hosts a range of artifacts belonging to the Rimpoche. Accentuating the natural beauty are the many elegant, traditional-style houses that dot the valley and surrounding hills. Paro town has been growing rapidly in recent years and there are plenty of restaurants, bakeries and cafes to choose from. One of the distinctive features of Paro town is that it is situated in a flat valley bottom and follows a grid-like pattern. The central plaza is adorned with a large prayer wheel and a small amphitheatre at which events such as concerts are often organized. Overnight at Hotel Olathang
After driving for around 35mins, Taktsang hike will began early in the morning as it will be cool. You will begin the hike at the Taktsang base where there will be some shopkeeper and horseman will be found. Your walk will be through forest for almost 1hr 30mins and you will reach to Taktshang Cafeteria. You will have a tea at cafeteria which gives very spectacular view of Taktsang monastery. 1. Paro Taktsang: A temple complex was first built in 1692, around the Taktsang Senge Samdup, cave where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours in the 8th century. Padmasambhava is credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan and is the tutelary deity of the country. After visiting Taktsang monastery, you will return to Taktsang Cafeteria to have lunch and walk down to the base,drive towards Paro to visit: 2. Drugyel Dzong:Drugyel Dzong, although mostly now in ruins and under construction. It was built in 1647 by ZhabdrungNawangNamgyel to commemorate the victory over Tibetan Invaders, which indicates by the name of the Dzong meaning Victorious Bhutanese Fort. Overnight at Hotel Olathang or similar
Chelela is located between Haa and Paro which is 50 Km away from Paro Valley. It is situated as the highest motorable pass of Bhutan with 3,988 meters (13,084 ft). From here you can view some of the highest unclimbed beautiful Himalayan mountain pass on a clear day. On reaching the pass we could see prayers flags fluttering wildly in the breeze and chilly wind. Some of the snow capped mountains can be viewed from here during summer too. After riding around 30mins, you will have lunch at Haa valley. Proceeds towards Thimphu: Attraction: 1. Memorial Chorten: Memorial Chorten, built in 1974 in loving memory of the Third King, His Majesty Jigme DorjiWangchuck, where a multi-storied Stupa and numerous paintings are exhibited providing an insight into Buddhist philosophy. 2. Trashichhoedzong: Also known as “fortress of the glorious religion”, it was initially built in 1641 and later rebuilt in its present form by King Jigme DorjiWangchuk in 1965. The Dzong houses, main secretariat building which houses the throne room of His Majesty, the King of Bhutan. The National Assembly Hall is housed in a modern building on the other side of the river from the Dzong. During the warmer summer months, the monk body headed by His Holiness, the JeKhenpo, makes its home in the Dzong. 3. Buddha Point (KuenselPhodrang): Located at a short drive from Thimphu city centre, visitors can get a good overview of the Thimphu valley from the Buddha point (KuenselPhodrang). You can pay your obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha, the largest statue in the country and then walk around and take a glimpse of the valley. 4. Towards evening, have some tea and you will have leisure time walking around Authentic Bhutanese Craft (ABC) Bazaar, is consist of products made from locally available raw materials mostly from rural. The initiative is also expected to bring about equitable socio-economic development and which in turn preserves and promote Bhutan’s unique culture, specially 13 different Arts and crafts of Bhutan. Overnight at Hotel PhuntshoPelri or similar
Thimphu city is spread out laterally in a north-south direction on the west bank of the valley formed by the Raidak River, which is known as the Wang Chuu or ThimphuChuu in Bhutan. Thimphu is the third highest capital in the world by altitude and is spread over an altitudinal range between 2,248 metres (7,375 feet) and 2,648 metres (8,688 feet). Unusually for a capital city, Thimphu is not served by an airport, but relies on the Paro Airport connected by road some 65 km away. 1. Dochula Pass is 45km from Thimphu. Dochula pass at 10,500 ft. (23km from Thimphu – 45 minutes drive), where you can see one of Bhutan’s most enchanting views. At Dochula, you will also see a unique cluster of 108 NamgyelKhangzangChortens that spiral up to the main Chorten known as the “DrukWangyalKhangzangChortens”. Taking some leisure time at Dochula to check the views of Eastern Himalayas, you will have a coffee or tea or otherwise a lunch at Dochula Cafeteria. After that your journey towards Punakha starts. The road is 100 percent tarmac and double lane. Before reaching Punakha if you wish to visit the following: 2. Chimi Lhakhang: It was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley (also known as the Divine Madman by the West). It is believed that childless women who visit the monastery will conceive after receiving the ‘wang’ (blessing). And you have to travel around 30mins to reach Punakha Dzong: 3. Punakha Dzong:Punakha Dzong located strategically at the junction of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu Rivers built in 1637 by ZhabdrungNawangNamgyel. The Dzong served as the religious and administrative centre of Bhutan until the mid-1950s. It was here that the dual system of government was introduced in the early 17th century and where the Bhutanese enthroned the first King. You can also walk on the longest suspension bridge and enjoy the views if wanted. Overnight at Zhingkham Resortor similar From here you can have an Ariel view of Punakha valley.
After breakfast, your journey begins from Punakha to Wangdue. It will be same temperature of Punakha. As you approach to Phobjikha valley through a forest of oak and rhododendron, it will be colder. The road will be mostly black topped but in some places, widening of road is still going on but soon it will be a double lane with tarmac. You will have lunch at Nobding, small town located in between Wangdue and Phobjikha. Phobjikha is one of the few glacial valleys in Bhutan and chosen home of black necked cranes, which migrate from the central Asiatic Plateau to escape its harsh winters. Reaching to Phobjikha, followings will be visited: 1. GangteyGoenpa: GangteyGoempa, the Gangtey monastery, is perched atop a small hill that rises from the valley floor. Gangtey, which is now controlled by the government, is the only Nyingmapa monastery on the western side of the Black Mountain’s and is also the biggest Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan. It is directed by Gangtey Tulku, the ninth reincarnation (Tulku) to bear that name. 2. Black Necked Crane Information Centre situated on the edge of the forest and wetland along the main road of Phobjikha valley, the black-necked crane information Centre has an observation room equipped with high power telescope and spotting scopes for catching the best view of the cranes. The centre also offers display information that outline the natural and cultural history of the area. There is a small gift shop, which sells handicrafts produced by the local people. 3. Walk aroundPhobjikha Valley, at an altitude of 2900 m, falls under the district of Wangduephodrang and lies on the periphery of the Black Mountain National Park. The valley boasts two beautiful meandering rivers, NakayChhu (ChhuNaap-black water) and Gay Chhu (Chhu Karp-white water). Overnight at Hotel Dewachen or farm house/home stay. A visit of Killar village and its surroundings are planned.
After breakfast, proceed to Trongsa, stopping along the way for sightseeingat 1. ChendebjiChorten: The chorten is situated at the point believed to be where the three ridges and the three edges of the sky meet. It is an important chorten in Bhutan, and is recognizable by its roundish shape and the eyes painted on its sides, which bears similarity to the JarungKhashor (Bodhanath) stupa in Nepal. After the sightseeing you will stop for lunch, which would be served in local restaurant, famous for its cuisine. And you will be officially entering Central Bhutan. The road is still a double lane under construction. The vegetation seen along the route consists of shrubs of edgeworthia (high altitude dwarf bamboo), which are used for making paper. On reaching to Trongsa, Followed by sightseeing: 2. Trongsa Dzong:Trongsa Dzong is the largest Dzong fortress in Bhutan, located in Trongsa (formerly Tongsa) in Trongsa district, in the centre of the country. Built on a spur overlooking the gorge of the Mangde River, a temple was first established at the location in 1543 by the Drukpa lama, NgagiWangchuk son of NgawangChhojey. In 1647, his great-grandson ZhabdrungNgawangNamgyal constructed the first Dzong to replace it, called ChökhorRabtentse Dzong with a shorter version of Choetse Dzong. 3. Ta Dzong: This watchtower (ta dzong) overlooking the dzong now houses an excellent museum. The five floors of displays focus on Buddhist art and royal memorabilia, including such varied treasures as the 500-year-old jacket of NgagiWangchuk and the football boots used by the teenaged fourth king. You can drive here or walk up a steep staircase from town. The most sacred religious item is a copy of the Padma Kathang, a biography of Guru Rinpoche written by his consort YesheTsogyel. There are two lhakhangs inside the Ta Dzong; the Gesar Lhakhang is dedicated to the 19th-century penlop of Trongsa, Jigme Namgyal. Two British soldiers are said to have been kept in the dungeon here for several months during the Duar War. There are sweeping views from the roof, a souvenir shop, and a cafe on the ground floor provides refreshments (and lunch by prior arrangement). Overnight at Yangkhil Resort or similar.
You will travel to most extensive protected areas network in Bhutan. The northern two-thirds of the district (the gewogs of Chhoekhor and Tang) belong to Wangchuck Centennial Park, buffered by pockets of biological corridors. Southern Bumthang (the gewogs of Chhumig, Tang and Ura) is part of another protected area, Thrumshingla National Park. Bumthang is known for its important population of black-necked cranes migrating in winter. You will have lunch at Bumthang Town and visit some sightseeing: 1. Jakar Dzong:Jakar Dzong is constructed in 1549 by the great grandfather of the first Zhabdrung; the Dzong was initially built as a monastery. It was upgraded in 1646, after the Zhabdrung had firmly established his power. Jakar Dzong is now used as the administrative center for Bumthang valley, and also houses the regional monk body. Bumthang farm yields buckwheat, dairy products, honey and apples among other products. 2. And followed by leisure time at Bumthang town, something unique for outsiders because of its structural and the architectural design and a geographical location. Then the product they sell. One can also sit in some cafe and enjoy the coffee. A coffee cafe in the wilderness. Overnight at Hotel Ugyen Ling or similar The day is yours to visit Chamba and its surroundings.
Bumthang directly translates as “beautiful field” – thang means field or flat place, and bum is said be an abbreviation of either bumpa (a vessel for holy water, thus describing the shape and nature of the valley), or simply bum (“girl,” indicating this is the valley of beautiful girls). Bumthang attraction. 1. MembarTsho (Burning Lake): where sacred scriptures hidden by Guru Rimpoche in the 8th century where later recovered by Pema Lingpa in the 15th century 2. Kurje Lhakhang: Located further along the valley, Kurje Lhakhang comprises three temples. The one on the right was built in 1652 against the rock face where Guru Padmasambhava meditated in the 8th century. The middle temple is built on the site of a cave containing a rock with the imprint of the Guru’s body, and is therefore considered to be the most holy. The temple on the left was built in the 1990s by H.M. AshiKesang, the Queen Mother. These three temples are surrounded by a 108 Chorten wall. After sightseeing, you will have lunch at Chamkhar Town and followed by sightseeing after lunch also: 3. Jambay Lhakhang: Jambay Lhakhang is one of the most ancient temples in Bhutan. It is built in 7th century by the Tibetan king SongtsenGampo. It is one of 108 monasteries which he built to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region. Its present architectural appearance dates from the early 20th century. 4. Tamshing Lhakhang: Tamshing Lhakhang is the most important Nyingmapa temple in the country. Located across the river from Kurje Lhakhang, this temple was founded in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa, a re-incarnation of Guru Padmasambhava. There are very old religious paintings around the inner walls of the temple, which was restored at the end of the 19th century. Bumthang farms yield buckwheat, dairy products, honey, apples, potato, rice, woolen products and many other products. Bumthang is rich in producing wheat and buck wheat. 5. Ogyenchholing museum in Tang valley (40 Km approx.)The family that owns Ogyen (or Ugyen) Chholing has turned part of the complex into a museum to preserve its legacy and provide a place for religious studies, research and solitude. The fascinating and well-captioned exhibits offer real insights into the lifestyle of a Bhutanese noble family. Highlights include a book of divination, a dakini dance costume made of bone and the revelation that petrified yak dung was one of the ingredients for Bhutanese gunpowder,dyeing and weaving, architectural overview, grain stores,agriculture,trade,tools and implements,kitchen,arms and armoure. Textiles,bed room,living and administrative room, bamboo and rattan ware, library,printing Overnight at Hotel Ugyen Ling or similar
The journey from Bumthang to Mongar is one of the most beautiful in the Himalayas crossing 3800 m high Thrumshing la (pass). Gushing waterfalls, steep cliffs with even steeper drops, blazing flowers and constantly changing vegetation combine to make this journey as varied as it is beautiful. Mongar marks the beginning of Eastern Bhutan. The second largest town in the sub-tropical east, Mongar like Trashigang further east, is situated on the side of a hill in the contrasts to other towns of Western Bhutan which was built on the valley floor. Attraction: 1. Mongar Town:Like many other settlements in Eastern Bhutan Mongar town is situated atop a hill rather than within a valley. This town is considered the main trade and travel hub of eastern Bhutan and most travelers and merchants active in East pass through here often spending the night at one of the local hotels. The main street is lined with traditionally painted stone buildings with wooden facades and verandas. Near the clock tower there is a large prayer wheel around which people often gather to meet old friends and chat. The local restaurants offer a decent variety of Bhutanese and Indian cuisine. : 2. Mongar Dzong: Although built in the 1930s and one of Bhutan’s newest Dzongs, it was constructed in the same way as all earlier dzongs, without plans or nails. However unlike the earlier Dzongs, that are located in strategic positions, Mongar Dzong is located on a small gently sloping area just above the town. A visit to Mongar Dzong demonstrates how traditional Bhutanese architecture has continued to thrive through the centuries. 3. Zhongar Dzong: The ruin of Zhongar Dzong endures to this day as a testimony to the skill of its builders, most notably the renowned master craftsman, ZowoBalip. It is located on a hilltop overlooking the village of Themnangbi and is visible as one descends to Lingmenthang from the highway. Constructed in the 17th century, the Dzong is believed to have been built at a site where the master architect ZowBalip saw a white bowl. A visit to the ruins can be a memorable experience and will give you a sense of medieval Bhutanese administration. Overnight at Wangchuk Hotel
The travel towards Tashigang will be mostly through rough road which leads to taking more time even for short distance. The beginning of the journey is through leafy forest filled with ferns and later road decends rapidly through corn fields and banana groves arriving the famous Zigzags of Yadi, which is a recent settlement Tashigang is the center of the biggest and most populated district in the country. Visit Trashigang Dzong, standing at the extreme end of the spur, overhanging the Gamri River. It serves as the administrative seat for the district and part of the Dzong is occupied by the Drukpa monastic community. After that follows the Gamri River until the bifurcation to Dametsi, this temple perched on top of steep hill and is founded by ChoedenZangmo and is the most important monastery of eastern Bhutan. About 30km onwards lays Tashigang at 1000m. Reaching to Tashigang, you will have lunch in the town followed by sightseeing’s: 1. Trashigang Dzong:Trashigang Dzong or ‘The Fortress of the Auspicious Hill’ was built in 1659, to defend against Tibetan invasions. This imposing fortress is strategically situated high atop a spur overlooking the Dangmechu River. According to legend it is said that upon seeing the Dzong, invading Tibetan armies remarked that the Dzong was “not on the ground. It has been the political stronghold of Eastern Bhutan for over 300 years. Mount Meru is the site of the palace of the DrukChhoglayNamgyal (victory of Bhutanese Over enemies in all directions). It is accessible only from the north, via a narrow road, paved by blasting through the cliff-side. Due to its location Trashigang Dzong is one of the most strategically placed Dzongs in Bhutan. The present Dzong was enlarged by DzongponDopola, in 1936. Trashigang: The Jewel of the East – Trashigang spans the easternmost corners of the kingdom, skirting up to the edge of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. It is the country’s largest district, with an altitude ranging from 600m to over 4000m. Overnight at DrukDeothJungResort.
Merak-Sakteng stands out as a distinct attraction in Bhutan. Unlike anywhere else in the country, it offers a visitor to experience a unique semi-nomadic lifestyle, culture and vernacular in one of the most scenic pastoral valleys in the protected area of Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS) in Trashigang Dzongkhag (District), in Eastern Bhutan. Situated at an altitude over 3,500 meters, the exotic valleys of Merak and Sakten have been home to the Brokpas for centuries since their displacement from Tsona in southern Tibet. The nomadic indigenous farmer of eastern Bhutan, the Brokpas seasonally move their herds of livestock from the lower valleys. You will have lunch at villages along the way while riding towards MerakSakten Riding towards Merak and Sakteng will be a different experience and the road is a farm road as of now and you will be away from any communication or mobile network until your destination. Till than you will be away from the civilization, very calm and scenic. After reaching MerakSakten, followed by sightseeing: 1. Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary: The trek lies within the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS). It was created in April 2003 with a strong agenda for conservation and to protect the unique assemblage of biological and cultural diversity in the region. It covers an area of 650 km2 and is bordered by the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh (Tawang) in the north and east, PhongmeyGeog and KangparaGeog in the west, and Shingkhar Lauri Geog in SamdrupJongkhar. It is connected to Khaling Wildlife Sanctuary by a biological corridor, a part of the Bhutan Biological Conservation Complex (B2C2). Overnight stay with the nomads(You will have different experience)
Wildlife Sanctuary is located in north-western part of Bhutan and covers an area of 1,545 sq. km with 420 sq. It has one of the richest temperate Fir forests in the eastern Himalayas and provides an ideal protected habitat for big cats like Tigers and Leopards. The district is also home to a number of other rare animals including Barking Deer, Himalayan Black Bears, Red Pandas and hundreds of Black Necked Cranes that migrate to the region every winter. Attraction: 1. Gom Kora – 24 km from Trashigang, the temple of Gom Kora is set on a small alluvial plateau overlooking the river. Surrounded by rice fields and clumps of banana trees, it looks like an oasis in an arid landscape. It is one of the famous places where Guru Rinpoche meditated in order to subdue a demon that dwelt in a huge black rock. Have lunch at Tashi Yangtse Town followed by visiting the places: 2. Chorten Kora – dazzling white stupa is situated on the riverbank below the town. Constructed in 1740 by Lama NgawangLoday, it is built in the same style as Bodhnath stupa in Nepal, with eyes painted at the four cardinal points. During the second month of the lunar calendar there is an interesting celebration here, known as ‘Kora’. 3. ZorigChusum (13 traditional arts and crafts):This art and craft institute south of town was opened in 1997 to provide vocational training opportunities for those who are not continuing in the higher education system. Ten of the ZorigChusum (13 traditional arts and crafts) are studied here, including thangka painting, embroidery, sculpture, metalwork and wood-turning. You can visit the school, watch the students at work and take photographs, though the selection of crafts for sale is rather disappointing. The people of the region have developed incredible skill at woodworking and paper making. The items they produce such as traditional wooden bowls are prized throughout the country. An Institute for 13 Arts and Crafts (ZorigChusum) has been established in the region leading to a greater number of skilled artisans.You will return back to Tashigang. Overnight atDrukDeothjung Resort.
Travelling towards SamdrupJongkhar will be fifty fifty of rough road and double lane of tarmac road.The ride will be through the hot climate comparing to Tashigang. The SamdrupJongkhar is a small border town with town a few hotels and restaurants. Although SamdrupJongkhar region is not a popular destination, the town’s proximity with Indian town makes it an important place. 1. The Townmarket is an interesting mixture of Bhutanese and Indian shops and eateries. There are two hospitals in the dzongkhag, 13 Basic Health Units and some more outreach Clinics. Water supply and electricity is available to most of the households in the Dzongkhag. There is one hydroelectricity generation plant in the Dzonkhag, the Kurichu Hydropower. You will have Lunch at the town after taking some walk around followed by sightseeing after lunch: Attraction: 2. Zangtopelri Lhakhang:Zangtopelri is a new monastery located across from the entrance to the dzong. Even though made of cement and lacking the character of older monasteries, Zangtopelri is perhaps S/Jongkhar’s only tourist site. 3. Shopping Market:Just past the border gate is an Indian market called Mella Bazaar. Here, there are an array of stalls selling goods at much lower prices than in S/Jongkhar and some specializing in Assamese and northern Indian food. The chaos and noise is quite a contrast to the peace and harmony that exists just the other side of the gate in Bhutan. 4. Bhangtar:A picturesque village inhabited by Bhutanese of Nepalese descent. The town in SamdrupJongkhar is one of the oldest in Eastern Bhutan and has seen gradual development over the years. It is a bustling little town with shopkeepers and hawkers coming from the nearby border of Assam to sell their wares. It also houses the oldest cinema theatre in the country that is popular among the Assamese from across the border for the Bollywood films it screens. Overnight at TashiGatsel Hotel.
You will start your journey from here towards India in the morning.