This journey takes you to four distinctly different, as well as breathtakingly beautiful valleys with lush green paddy fields, incredulous fortress-like monasteries known as Dzongs and majestically flowing rivers.
The flight to Paro is an experience like no other. During the journey, you will get inspiringly beautiful glimpses of some of the worlds most famous Himalayan peaks. At the airport, Sakten staff will welcome you and escort you to your hotel. Drive up to your hotel, check in and begin the sightseeing with Ta-Dzong, the National Museum (closed on Sundays and Mondays), which was originally the watch tower of the Paro Dzong and stands imposingly on a hillock overlooking the Paro valley. A short visit here will give you an idea of the cultural and ecological richness of Bhutan. Ramble down to visit the Paro Rinpung Dzong, the 'fortress of the heap of jewels' and on to Dungtse Lhakhang by crossing Namai zampa (a traditional cantilever bridge). This Lhakhang is conceived as a 'mandala' with the different storeys corresponding to different levels of initiation and has a remarkable collection of some of Bhutan's most interesting paintings. Overnight: Gangtey Palace/Olathang hotel/Janka resort, Paro.
The main highlight of the day is the hike to one of Bhutan's most venerated pilgrimage sites, the Taktsang Goemba, commonly referred to as the 'Tiger's Nest'. According to legend, Guru Rinpoche miraculously flew here on the back of a tigress, meditated in a cave here for three months and converted the whole of Paro valley to Buddhism. Resting at an altitude of 900 m above the valley, Taktsang is an architectural wonder and the spectacular four hour walk will be your most overwhelming experience ever.Drive on to visit Drukgyel Dzong (the ruined fortress -17 km from the town), built in 1647 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetans in 1644. Drukgyel means 'fortress of the victorious Drukpas'. The Dzong, with a delightful village nestling at its foot, and the Mount of Jumolhari (Alt 24,000 feet) appearing as a back drop on a fine weather is an awe-inspiring sight. On the way back, stop at one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, the Kyichu Lhakhang built in the 13th century by the famous Buddhst Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo . Overnight: Gangtey Palace/Olathang hotel/Janka resort, Paro.
The 2 hour picturesque drive (68 km) along the course of the Paro Chhu (Paro River) and the Wang Chhu (Thimphu River) will bring you to the capital city of Bhutan, Thimphu. Check into your hotel and begin the sightseeing with a visit to the Memorial Chorten and the Changangkha temple. In the afternoon visit the Folk Heritage Museum, the Institute of Arts and Crafts, the Institute of Traditional Medicine,the National Library and the Paper factory. Drive up to the BBS tower view point and enjoy the stunning view of the entire Thimphu town. On the drive back, stop at the mini Takin zoo (Takin is the national animal of Bhutan). Ramble along the numerous handicraft stores in town in the evening to check out intricately woven Bhutanese textiles and exclusive handicrafts which you can take back with you as a souvenir of your trip to Bhutan. Overnight: Hotel Phuntshopelrig /Druk/Riverview, Thimphu.
Take an early morning drive to "the fortress of the glorious religion", TashichhoeDzong. It's a majestic fortress in all its grandeur and serves as the seat of Bhutan's government. The Dzong houses the secretariat, the throne room, the offices of his majesty the king and the ministries of home affairs and finance. On the drive back, you will pass the only golf course in the country. Visit the post office in town to see/buy a wondrous collection of Bhutanese stamps and postcards. Afternoon: Tango excursion (optional) Enjoy your afternoon with a hike to Tango Monastery at the head of the valley. En route, stop at Pangri Zampa. Here you will see two imposing white buildings in a grove of giant cypress trees. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel lived here after his arrival to Bhutan in 1616 since this temple is believed to have appeared in a vision that directed him from Tibet to Bhutan.At present, a well respected astrologer lives here in the upper storey. From the base point at Dodena (45 min drive from Thimphu), it's an enjoyable one hour walk uphill to Tango. Visit the monastery and the holy caves. Tango is presently the residence of the 7th reincarnate of the 4th Desi (Temporal ruler) of Bhutan, Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye. After your descent, enjoy tea and snacks on the bank of the Thimphu River next to the picturesque Cheri Zam (Cheri Bridge), one of the last remaining traditional suspension bridges in the Himalayas. OR visit the weekend market and the local shops and handicraft stores in town. Overnight: Hotel Phuntshopelrig /Druk/Riverview, Thimphu.
Drive to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. On the way, at the Dochula pass (2 hrs from Punakha), stop for some tea and snacks. On arrival at Thimphu, check into the hotel. After lunch at the hotel, visit the National Library which has a vast collection of ancient manuscripts and the Zorig Chusum (Institute of traditional arts and crafts) where young students are taught the art of making mud/wooden statues, painting of Thankhas and various traditional arts and crafts Also visit the Handicrafts emporium where a vast collection of Bhutanese textile/fabrics and arts/crafts are displayed and can be purchased. O/n: Hotel Phuntshopelrig/Jumolhari, Thimphu.
Visit Chimi Lhakhang in the village of Lobesa (20 mins from Punakha), the auspicious fertility temple built by the famous divine madman. It's a beautiful 30 min walk amidst paddy fields and typical Bhutanese houses. Stop at some of the local village homes here to get a feel of the traditional Bhutanese way of living. The temple is beautifully perched on a small hill top overlooking the entire village. Picnic lunch on the way back. After lunch, drive back to Paro valley. Once in Paro, check into the hotel. Overnight: Gangtey Palace/Olathang hotel/Kyichu resort, Paro.
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