“Beauty of Western and Central Bhutan” – June 2021 tour

TOUR SUMMARY

The Spiritual Journey to Western and Central Bhutan covers the valleys of Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Trongsa, and Bumthang. In these townships you can discover the spirit of the Bhutanese, as well as visit numerous sacred sites, dzongs, temples, landmarks, monasteries, markets, farmhouses, schools & museums. It is a well planned tour, designed to provide the opportunity to really savour the unique highlights of Bhutan’s western and central districts which offer diverse mountainous landscapes, a rich Buddhist heritage including monasteries, temples, historical fortresses and an extremely hospitable people. You will discover the vibrant history of Bhutan visiting the Dzongs and century old monasteries. In Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, you will visit Dechen Phodrang Monastery where you will see important historical Bhutanese artifacts including 12th century paintings monitored by UNESCO and noted statue of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal known colloquially as the Bearded Lama (the unifier of Bhutan as a nation-state) on the upper floor. You will be crossing the 3150 m Dochula Pass with its 108 stupas, numerous prayer flags and spectacular Himalayan views into the sub-tropical Punakha Valley featuring the incredible Punakha Dzong. The centerpiece to this tour is time spent exploring the central districts of Trongsa, the birthplace of monarchy, and the Bumthang Valley, Bhutan’s spiritual heartland featuring 7th century Jambay Lhakhang and Kurje Lhakhang with its rock imprint of Guru Rinpoche. The tour then returns westward to Paro valley, where you will hike up to the sacred Chumphu Lhakhang and famous Taktsang Monastery (Tigers Nest), perched on a cliff 900m above the valley floor.

We can easily customize your Bhutan tour to spend more time in the places that you like best, doing the activities that you are most interested in. We will try to visit all of the places listed below but the time and date of visits to each location may change base on your interests, weather conditions and road conditions.

TOUR OVERVIEW

Date Activity/Valley
7 June Reception at Paro International Airport and drive towards Thimphu valley, visit Dechen Phodrang Monastery
8 June Hike to Cheri Goempa and visit Changangkha Lhakhang
9 June Drive towards Punakha valley, have tea at Dochula mountain pass and visit Sangchen Dorji Lhuendup Nunner
10 June Hike to Khamsum Yuelly Namgyel Chorten and visit Punakha Dzong (Fortress)
11 June Drive towards Trongsa valley and visit Trongsa Dzong (Fortress)
12 June Drive towards Bumthang valley, visit Jambay Lhakhang and Kurje Lhakhang
13 June Hike towards Zhuk Dra Temple and visit Zhab Jae Thang
14 June Hike up to Tharpaling Monastery
15 June Visit Me- Bar tso (the burning lake) and Ugyen Choling palace
16 June Fly to Paro valley, visit Kyichu Lhakhang and Dzongdrakha
17 June Hike to Chumphu Lhakhang
18 June Receive teaching from HH Kyapgoen Ngawang Tenzin Rinpoche
19 June Hike to Tigers Nest
20 June International Departure

Day 01| Arrive at Paro Intl. airport and drive towards Thimphu valley (7 June)

Altitude of Paro Valley – 2,250 m / 7,382 ft
Driving distance Paro to Thimphu – 2 hours (65 km)

Flight Details:

  • Monday 17th August, 2020
  • Kathmandu, Nepal  – Paro, Bhutan
  • Depart – 14:30 | Arrive – 15:50
  • Baggage allowance – Checked baggage – 30 kg, and Cabin baggage – 5 kg

When you first arrive at Paro International Airport, our delightful tour guides just outside the arrival hall will welcome you. At 2,235m above sea level, the first thing you will likely notice is the effect of the high altitudes, so we will give you time to acclimate as we take an hour and a half drive towards Thimphu valley.

We end the day with a visit to Dechen Phodrang monastery meaning “Palace of Great Bliss” located at the north end of Thimphu town. Built in the 12th century, it is one of the original dzongs of Bhutan and currently serves as a Monastic school where over four hundred monks are enrolled.

Program of the day:

  • Reception at Paro International Airport
  • Drive towards Thimphu valley
  • Visit Dechen Phodrang Monastery
  • Hotel check in
  • Dinner at a local restaurant

Day 02 | Hike to Cheri Goempa and visit Changangkha Lhakhang ( 8 June)

Altitude of Cheri Goempa – 2859 m
Hiking Distance – 1 Hour

Cheri Goempa was established in 1620 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The monastery, which is now a major teaching and retreat center of the Southern Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, located at the northern end of the Thimphu Valley about 15 kilometers from the capital. It sits on a hill above Dodeyna and it takes about an hour to walk up the hill to reach the monastery.

Program of the day:

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Hike to Cheri Goempa
  • Picnic Lunch by the Thimphu river
  • Visit Changangkha Lhakhang, the oldest temple in Thimphu, dating back to the 12th century
  • Take a leisure walk around Thimphu town and visit our local handicraft shops
  • Dinner at a local restaurant

 

Day 03 | Drive towards Punakha valley (9 June)

Altitude of Punakha Valley – 1,310 m / 4,300 ft
Driving distance Thimphu to Punakha – 2 hours 30 minutes (72 km)

Today we travel to Punakha valley, the former capital of Bhutan until 1955, and will stop off at Dochula Pass along the way. This popular tourist spot provides stunning 360-degree views of the Himalayas. It is also home to the 108 Druk Wangyal stupas that were built on a small hill to memorialize the Bhutanese soldiers killed in a 2003 battle with Assamese insurgents from India.

 Program of the day:

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Stop en route at Dochula pass to view the stunning panoramic view of the Himalayan Mountains
  • Lunch at Lobesa in a local restaurant
  • Visit Sangchen Lhendup Nunnery and witness the gigantic stupa, which resembles the Boudhanath stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal. You will also get the opportunity to get a panoramic view of Punakha valley.
  • Hotel check in
  • Dinner at the hotel

 

Day 04 | Hike to Khamsum Yulley Chorten and visit Punakha Dzong (10 June)

Hiking distance – 45 minutes

Enjoy the day exploring some of the many sites around Punakha, including Khansum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, built by the third Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon wangchuck this Chorten is a splendid example of the Bhutanese architecture and art and is the only one of its kind in the world. It has been built over eight and a half years and its details have been drawn from religious scripture.

We will tour what is considered one of the most beautiful site in Bhutan, Punakha Dzong. Sitting at the fork of two rivers, it is a stunning example of Bhutanese architecture. Built in 1637, it is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan. It was also the location of the royal wedding of Bhutan’s current king Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck to Jetsun Pema in 2011.

Program of the day:

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten, a 45-minute hike from the Punakha suspension bridge, amid viridian infused pastures and untouched jade-hued woodlands. Socialize with local farmers, glimpsing the simple and humble traditions of the Bhutanese people and their way of life.
  • Picnic Lunch at Zamling Thang near river side
  • Visit Punakha Dzong
  • Dinner at the hotel

 

Day 05 | Drive towards Trongsa Valley and visit Trongsa Dzong (Fortress) (11 June)

Altitude of Trongsa valley – 2,200 m/ 7,200 ft
Driving distance Punakha to Trongsa  – 5 hours (142 km)

Program of the day:

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Drive towards Trongsa valley
  • Lunch at the hotel in Trongsa
  • Visit Trongsa Dzong, the largest dzong at a striking location, is an important administrative building, providing the headquarters of the government of Trongsa district.
  • Dinner at the hotel

 

Day 06 | Drive towards Bumthang and visit Jambay and Kurje Lhakhang (12 June)

Altitude of Bumthang valley – 2,800 m/ 9,185 ft
Driving distance Trongsa to Bumthang  – 3 hours (85 km)

Bumthang Valley is known as the heartland of Buddhism in Bhutan. In 746 AD, it is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here to exorcise a demon from the king and then converted the people to Buddhism, restoring peace to the region. Guru Rinpoche stayed in the valley to build more than 40 temples.

Upon arriving Bumthang valley we will first visit the 7th century Jambay Lhakhang. It dates back to the origins of Buddhism in Bhutan and is one of the Kingdoms oldest temples, after lunch we will proceed to Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom where Bhutan’s patron saint Guru Rinpoche meditated and left his body print on the cliff.

Program of the day:

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Drive towards Bumthang valley
  • Visit Jambay Lhakahng
  • Picnic Lunch near Kurje Lhakhang
  • Visit Kurje Lhakhang
  • Hotel check in
  • Dinner at the hotel

 

Day 7 | Hike to Zhuk Dra and Zhabjae Thang (13 June)

Drive towards the basement of Zhuk Dra, which takes around 2 hours of bumpy road drive from the hotel and hike up to Zhuk Dra that would take 30 minutes.

Zhuk Dra is one of the most sacred temples in Bumthang valley. It is one of the four main scared cliffs founded by the Tibetan saint Guru Padmasambhava (lit. “Lotus-Born) also known as Guru Rinpoche, who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century.

We will proceed to visit Zhab Jae Thang temple, another very old and sacred temple owned by a family.

Program of the day:

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Drive towards Zhuk Dra base
  • Picnic Lunch near Zhab Jae Thang
  • Visit Zhab Jae Thang Temple
  • Dinner at the hotel

 

Day 8 | Hike upto Tharpaling Monastery (14 June)

Tharpaling Monastery is situated above Chumey valley at 3,600m.

Overlooking the breathtaking valley of Chumey, Tharpaling Monastery, or the place of liberation, is a beautiful complex attracting innumerable tourists and locals alike. It is believed to have been first established around 12th century by Lorepa, a Drukpa Kagyupa Master from Tibet. The main part of the monastery was founded by Longchenpa or Longchen Rabjam (1308-1363) during his self-exile from Tibet. This monastery was also used as a place of meditation by Jigme Lingpa, Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. The monastery contains statues of Longchenpa and Jigme Lingpa in meditation posture and frescoes of the lineage of Longchenpa and Jigme Lingpa. Above the Tharpaling Monastery (to the north) is the Chodrak Monastery, a place where Guru Rinpoche is said to have meditated and the first settlement here is attributed to the Drukpa Kagyupa master, Lorepa (1187-1250), who founded Chodrak. Above Chodrak Monastery is the meditation cave of Guru Rinpoche, Longchenpa and a rock throne, where Longchenpa wrote part of the Seven Treasures. Tharpaling is known for Longchen Rabjampa, who was a major teacher in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. His major work Seven Treasures encapsulates the previous 600 years of Buddhist thought in Tibet.

Program of the day:

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Drive towards Tharpling monastery base and hike up to the monastery
  • Picnic lunch at Chodrak monastery
  • Dinner at the hotel

 

Day 9 | Visit Me- Bar tso (The Burning lake) and Ugyen Cholling palace (15 June)

According to legend Terton Pema Lingpa had a vision of the sacred treasures that Guru Rimpoche had hidden within the lake centuries earlier. However, the people of Tang and the local ruler were cynical of his claims. In order to prove his claims, Pema Lingpa held a butter lamp in his hand as he jumped into the lake. After remaining under water for a long time he re-emerged holding a chest and a scroll of paper with the butter lamp held in his hand still burning bright. Thereafter, the lake came to be known as Mebartsho (the burning Lake).

The Burning Lake, Mebar Tsho is located along the way to the Tang village over the feeder road under Bumthang valley. It takes approximately 45 minutes’ drive to the Mebar Tsho from the hotel. Mebar Tsho is considered one of the most sacred sites in the region as it is related to the renowned religious treasurer (Terton) Terton Pema Lingpa. Pema Lingpa is considered an incarnated disciple of Padmasambhava who discovered treasure within the lake in late 15th century.

After lunch we will drive towards Ugyen Choling palace located in Tang valley, an ancestral home turned into a museum. The restored traditional house has preserved its medieval ambiance and the much of the décor inside the house are the original content from the ancient era. It has history associated with great Buddhist masters and hence the chapel in the complex is considered sacred. Today the revived complex also has guesthouses, extensive exhibitions and the privately owned property aims to provide a place for religious studies, research and a retreat center.

Program of the day:

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Drive towards Me – Bar tso
  • Picnic lunch
  • Drive towards Ugyen Choling palace
  • Dinner at the hotel

 

Day 10 | Fly to Paro valley and visit Kyichu Lhakhang (16 June)

Flight Details:

  • Wednesday 26th August, 2020
  • Bumthang – Paro
  • Depart – 09:15| Arrive – 09:50
  • Baggage allowance – Checked baggage – 20 kg, and Cabin baggage – 5 kg

The beautiful valley of Paro is home to many of Bhutan’s old monasteries and temples. The country’s only airport is in Paro. The valley is also home to Mount Jomolhari (7, 300m) situated at the northern end of the valley whose glacier water forms the Pa Chhu flowing through the valley.

We will visit Kyichu Lhakhang, a beautiful seventh-century Buddhist temple, one of the oldest in Bhutan. According to legend, a giant demoness lay her body across the Himalayas to prevent the spread of Buddhism. Tibetan King Songtsen Gambo built 108 temples throughout the region and around her body to pin her down, with Kyichu Lhakhang built to hold down her left foot.

Program of the day:

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Drive towards Jakar domestic airport
  • Visit Kyichu Lhakhang upon arriving Paro valley
  • Lunch at a local restaurant
  • Dinner at the hotel

 

Day 11 | Hike to Chumphu Lhakhang (17 June)

Hiking distance – 6 hours walk

After breakfast we will set off early for a hike to Chumphu Monastery, where the floating statue of Dorji Phamo (Vajravarahi) is situated. It is believed that Goddess Dorji Phamo flew here from Tibet and stayed on in the form of a statue. It is a life-sized statue and it is believed that the statue is floating, some people test this belief by passing a money note below her feet and it passes through smoothly without a hitch. The serenity of this temple is just amazing.

It takes about 1 hour drive to the base and leaving your vehicle the walk is casual and not too tiring as the hike path goes through the forest with lot of shades and cool breeze.

Program of the day:

  • Breakfast at the Hotel
  • Set off early for Chumphu Hike
  • Picnic lunch at Chumphu Lhakhang
  • Dinner at the Hotel
Alternate program for those who cannot do the long hike to Chumphu Lhakhang

Program of the day:

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Visit Drukgyel Dzong where you will get to enjoy the stunning view of the sacred Jomolhari mountain standing between the boarder of Tibet and Bhutan
  • Lunch at a local restaurant
  • Visit Paro fortress, which is ranked as a high point of Bhutanese architecture. The massive buttressed walls that tower over the town are visible throughout the valley. It was formerly the meeting hall for the National Assembly and now, like most dzongs, houses both the monastic body and district government offices, including the local courts.
  • Dinner at the Hotel

 

Day 12 | Visit HH Kyapgoen Ngawang Tenzin Rinpoche (18 June)

Biography

His Holiness Kyapgoen Ngawang Tenzin is a high reincarnation of the Drukpa Kagyu Lineage of Buddhism in Bhutan. He is regarded as one of the most revered teachers of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage in Bhutan. He is the reincarnation of Drubthop Chenpo Jinpa Gyeltshen Rinpoche who was alive in the 18th century. He started studying Buddhism and learning chanting at the age of 5. By age of 16 he was able memorize all chants, became a dance master and knew how to construct all the sand mandalas. He went on to study Buddhist Philosophy at Tangu Monastery in Bhutan.

At the age of 45, the Royal Government of Bhutan and the center monastic body chose him to become Tshenye Lopen, which means he is now recognized as a philosophy master. Five years later, he became H.H. Dorji Lopen Rinpoche by appointment and oversaw the monasteries and monastic practice of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage in Bhutan.

His Holiness Ngawang Tenzin is recognized as a great scholar and meditation master. His teachings are clear, concise and presented in a way that is understandable to the listener. Throughout his life, he has spent 28 years in retreat. His Holiness always radiates great peace, joy, love, compassion and tolerance and many who have met him have been very moved by these qualities, which he exudes.

Program of the day:

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Visit HH Kyapgoen Ngawang Tenzin Rinpoche
  • Lunch at a local restaurant
  • Relax for the day

 

Day 13 | Hike to Tigers Nest (19 June)

On our final tour day, we take an exhilarating two-hour hike to Taktsang Monastery (or Tiger’s Nest), one of the most recognizable sites in Bhutan. Built precariously on a hillside cliff, it sits more than 10,000 feet above sea level. Accessible only by foot, we follow a trail decorated with colorful prayer flags along the way to protect travelers from evil spirits. Built over the caves that Guru Padmasambhava meditated in for three years, this eighth-century father of Bhutan Buddhism is said to have been brought there on the back of a tigress. One of the most sacred sites in Bhutan it offers breathtaking views to those energetic enough to make it to the top.

Thereafter, spend the rest of the day at leisure in Paro, take a stroll around Paro Town to pick up some souvenirs.

For people who cannot do the hike at all, site seeing around the Paro valley will be arranged.

Program of the day:

  • Breakfast in the hotel
  • Visit Dzongdrakha Goempa where you will see a group of monastery overlooking the Paro Valley. The temples are situated on the cliffs above the terraced fields of village called Bondhey. The local chief, Chogay Dragpa, built the temples in the 16th century. There are four temples, which are dedicated to Tara, Tsheringma, Guru and Jowo Jampa.
  • Lunch at a local restaurant
  • Visit Dumtse Lhakhang, an unusual stupa-like temple that was built in 1433 by the iron-bridge builder Drubthob Thangtong Gyalpo. You will see his mural by the entrance. The atmospheric temple was built to subdue a demoness and the pilgrim path winds clockwise up through the temple core, passing some of the finest murals in Bhutan, representing hell, earth and heaven on three floors. It’s essential to bring a good torch to see centuries old paintings on the wall
  • Dinner at the Hotel

 

Day 14 | International Departure (20 June)

Today we will bid fond farewell to this beautiful Himalayan country and take an early flight back. We hope by now you would have kept many photos and beautiful memories of Bhutan! And we look forward to seeing you again in this beautiful land of endless Enchantments. Tashi Delek!

Flight Details:

  • Sunday 30th August, 2020
  • Paro Bhutan – Kathmandu Nepal
  • Depart – 07:45| Arrive – 08:45
  • Baggage allowance – Checked baggage – 30 kg, and Cabin baggage – 5 kg

Trip Highlights:

  • Witness spectacular bird’s eye view of the Himalayas while flying in/out from Bhutan
  • Explore Bhutan’s important spiritual & pilgrimage sites
  • Visit Punakha Dzong – the most beautiful monastery in Bhutan
  • Explore the most beautiful valley, Bumthang
  • Explore some of the most important monasterie and temples in Bumthang valley
  • Private audience with HH Kyapgoen Ngawang Tenzin Rinpoche
  • Hike to Taktsang Monastery ‘Tiger’s Nest’- one of the most famous monastery in Bhutan and the sacred Chumphu Lhakhang

Thimphu – 2N | Punakha – 2N | Trongsa – 1N | Bumthang – 4N | Paro – 4N

Travel Duration: 17th  –30th August 2020

Bhutan tour package price per person
For double occupancy  For single occupancy
USD 3,145,00  USD 3,535 .00

 

The Bhutan tour package price includes the followings:

  • A minimum of 3 star accommodations
  • All meals in Bhutan
  • English speaking tour guides
  • All internal ground transportation
  • USD 65 Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) in Bhutan
  • International Air fares (USD 450) Kathmandu – Paro – Kathmandu
  • Domestic Airfare (USD 200) Bumthang – Paro
  • Visa for Bhutan
  • Mineral drinking water
  • All entrance fees

The Bhutan tour package price do not include the followings:

  • Travel and medical insurance, personal expenses, calls, laundries, and tips for guides and drivers
  • Kathmandu: Visa to be obtained at arrival: Tibet International hotel including transfer to/from airport can be booked at special group rate
  • Delhi: Indian visa must be obtained in your country, hotel can be booked at special group rate; $ 200 more for (Delhi – Bhutan) round-trip airfare

 

 TASHI DELEK!