Paro Tsechu
9 Days / 8 Nights

Day 01: Arrive Paro, transfer to Thimphu (1.5 hrs drive)
In clear weather, your flight to Bhutan will provide breathtaking views of Mount Everest, Kanchen Junga and other Himalayan Peaks including sacred Chomolhari and Mount Jichu Drake. 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 hotel and enjoy your first Bhutanese cuisine for lunch. After lunch, visit the National Memorial Chorten, the National Textile Museum, the Folk Heritage Museum and National Library. In the evening, stroll the main street for some interesting Himalayan artefacts or textiles.

Altitude: 2200m
1 night stay in Thimphu

Day 02: Thimphu Valley Exploration
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, visit Zorig Chusum (where students learn the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan). On your return to town, there may be opportunities to visit a few of the capital’s cottage industries like traditional paper making and the weaving centre. At the head of the valley, should you wish to stretch your legs; a short hike will take you to Cheri Goemba. In the evening, visit the Takin Reserve Centre and take a stroll around Thimphu town.

Altitude: 2200m
1 night stay in Thimphu

Day 03: Transfer to Punakha Valley (2.5hrs drive)
After breakfast, drive to Punakha Valley. We opt for an early departure for a drive over the high mountain pass of Dochula and into Punakha Valley. Sights on the way include one of Bhutan’s first fortress monasteries, the 17th century Simtokha Dzong, and ancient wall paintings at the Hongtsho Goemba monastery. The journey continues over the 3,050m mountain pass where on a clear day, towering Himalayan peaks are clearly visible. Time will be afforded to explore this small village and its row of intimate shops before heading back into Punakha Valley. Rest of the day, stroll around the shops.

Altitude: 1350m
1 night stay in Punakha

Day 04: Punakha Valley Exploration
After breakfast, visit the village of Talo; home to the Queens and the valley’s protective deity Lhakhang. Next, visit the impressive Punakha Dzong. This ancient fortress is the winter residence of the monastic order’s head and still serves as the administrative headquarters for the Punakha region. We will also visit Chimi Lhakhang, the auspicious fertility monastery built in 1499. Rest of the day is at your leisure.

Altitude: 1350m
1 night stay in Punakha

Day 05: Transfer to Phobjikha Valley (2hrs drive)
After breakfast depart for Gangtey via Wangdi. You will drive up a winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forest, and over a high pass down to Phobjikha Valley – surely one of the loveliest high altitude valleys in Bhutan. Phobjikha is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home for the black-necked cranes migrating from the Tibetan plateau. The endangered black-necked cranes arrive in Bhutan in November and leave by early March each year. Next, visit Gangtey Gompa (Monastery), the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan. Rest of the day is at leisure.

Altitude: 3000m
1 night stay in Phobjikha

Day 06: Transfer to Paro Valley/Explore (4hrs drive)
After breakfast, 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. Upon arrival, check into the hotel and after lunch visit the National Museum, housed in the Ta Dzong (Watchtower). Here, an intriguing collection of artefacts provide a wonderful introduction to the rich culture and heritage of the Kingdom. Just a short walk downhill is the dominating Paro Dzong, a fine example of Bhutanese historic architecture. From the Dzong, the tour crosses Nyamai Zampa, a traditional cantilever bridge and guests are then driven to the town temple, built in 1525, to view ancient wall paintings. In the evening, there is an opportunity for a quick stroll to the nearby ruins, or ramble down Paro’s main street.

Altitude: 2200m
1 night stay in Paro

Day 07: Paro Tshechu
A ‘Tshechu’ is a religious festival held annually by most Dzongs and monasteries. The festival pays homage to the great deeds of the Buddhist Saint Padmasambhava, popularly known as ‘Guru Rinpoche’ who was responsible for introducing Buddhism to Bhutan. The dances (most of which are performed by monks) bring blessings to the onlookers, as well as instructing them about the Buddhist dharma.

Altitude: 2200m
1 night stay in Paro

Day 08: 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.
Next, visit Kyichu Lhakhang, established in the 7th century and one of the two oldest shrines in the kingdom (the other is in Bumthang), marking the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan.
Evening is at your leisure.

Altitude: 2200m
1 night stay in Paro

Day 09: Depart Paro to onward Destination
After breakfast, you are transferred to the airport for your flight to your next destination. Your guide from 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.