6 Days / 5 Nights
Day 01: Arrive, Transfer to Thimphu (1.5 hrs drive)
In clear weather, Druk Air’s flight to Bhutan provides a wonderful view of the Himalayan scenery. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills from Kolkata, it is a breathtaking journey, culminating in an exciting descent past forested hills into the kingdom.
On arrival at Paro airport and after completion of airport formalities, you will be met by your tour guide. Drive from Paro to Thimphu, the modern capital town of Bhutan. Upon arrival, check into the hotel.
After lunch, visit the Institute of Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School) where students undergo a six-year training course in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts; Folk Heritage Museum; the National Memorial Chorten, within which there are finely executed wall paintings and delicately fashioned statues which provide deep insight into Buddhist philosophy; a private weaving centre; and lastly the Handicrafts Emporium, which displays a wide range of traditional handicrafts for which Bhutan is renowned for. Evening is at your leisure.
1 night stay in Aman Thimphu
Day 02: Explore Thimphu Valley/Transfer to Punakha Valley (2.5 hrs drive)
Thimphu, perhaps the most unusual capital city in the world, is the seat of government. This bustling town is home to Bhutan’s royal family, the civil service, and foreign missions with their representation in Bhutan. It is also the headquarters for a number of internationally funded development projects.
This morning, you will head to the north end of the valley to view Trashi Chhoe Dzong, the seat of Bhutan’s government and Royal offices. Next, pay a visit to Pangri Zampa, two 16th century buildings which now house a monastic training school for astrologers. Then it’s time for you to transfer to Punakha across Dochula Pass (3,088m/10,130ft). The highest point on the road is marked by a large Bhutanese chorten and prayer flags fluttering on the hill. On a clear day, enjoy breath-taking views of the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas from this spot. On reaching Punakha, check into hotel. The remaining of the day can be spent browsing the little shops in town.
1 night stay in Aman Punakha
Day 03: Punakha Valley Exploration
Punakha served as the capital town of Bhutan until 1955, and it is still the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot). Sights in Punakha Valley includes the impressive Punakha Dzong situated at the junction of Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers, which is home to the remains of Bhutan’s first ruler Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal, and serves as the winter residence of the monastic order’s leader and his entourage of monks. Pay a homage to Chimi Lhakhang, the auspicious fertility monastery built in 1499 and the temple dedicated to the Divine Mad Man of Bhutan and the. Rest of the day is at your leisure.
1 night stay in Aman Punakha
Day 04: Transfer to Paro Valley (4hrs drive)
After descending back down from Dochula Pass, you will follow your way back up the dramatic Wang Chu and Paro Chu river valleys, before crossing through Paro Town towards the north end of the valley to visit the National Museum which is housed in the Ta Dzong (Watchtower). The Ta Dzong was built to defend Rinpung/Paro Dzong during inter-valley wars of the 17th century. Here, an intriguing collection of artefacts provide a wonderful introduction to the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom. Just a short walk downhill lays the dominating Paro Dzong, a fine example of Bhutanese historic architecture built in 1646 during the time of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It now houses Paro’s monk body and the offices of the civil administration. Rinpung Dzong is the venue for the famous Paro Tsechu, held annually in the spring. From the Dzong, the tour crosses Nyamai Zampa, a traditional cantilever bridge and guests are then driven to the town’s temple built in 1525, to view the ancient wall. Then head up towards Kyichu Lhakhang, established in the 7th century and is one of the two oldest shrines in the Kingdom (the other is in Bumthang), marking the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan. During the evening, there is an opportunity for a quick stroll to the nearby ruins, or ramble down Paro’s main street.
1 night stay in Aman Paro
Day 05: Taktshang Hike/Valley Exploration
This morning will begin with a hike to view one of Bhutan’s most revered monuments, the Taktshang Goemba, more commonly referred to as the “Tiger’s Nest”. The 4 to 5 hour return trek offers spectacular views of this sacred monastery perched on a cliff face 900m above the valley floor. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche, founding father of the Bhutanese form of Mahayana Buddhism, arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery. The main structure was severely damaged by a fire in 1998, but after many years of painstaking restoration work, the complex has now been fully restored to its former glory. After the hike, we will drive up the valley to view the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong or “the Fort of Drukpa Victory”. In former times, the Bhutanese repelled invasions by Tibetans from this fortress. Though largely destroyed by fire in 1951, the ruins still present an imposing sight. On a clear day, there is a splendid view of Bhutan’s sacred mountain, Chomolhari from the approach road to Drukgyel Dzong. Evening is at your leisure.
1 night stay in Aman Paro
Day 06: Depart Paro to onward destination
After breakfast, you are transferred to the airport for your flight to your next destination. Your guide from the SmileBhutan will bid you farewell and the remote and legendary Dragon Kingdom will again disappear behind its guardian mountain.
*Please note that some of the sights/itinerary may change due to season, weather, national holidays, and special events. We maintain the rights to alter the itinerary since tours are made in advance and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve your overall travel experience in Bhutan.