Spiritual Journey to Bhutan with Lama Tenzin – Aug 2023

TOUR OVERVIEW

Once we arrive in Bhutan we will begin to explore the holiest spiritual sites and important cultural monuments of Bhutan, which provides an in-depth view into the ancient way of life and rich culture that still thrives in Bhutan today. It is a well paced tour, designed to provide the opportunity to really savor the unique highlights of Bhutan’s western and center districts of Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey and Bumthang valley, which offer diverse mountainous landscapes, a rich Buddhist heritage including monasteries, temples and chortens (stupas), historical fortresses and extremely hospitable people. You will discover the vibrant history of Bhutan while visiting the Dumtse Stupa, Kyichu Monastery, and the famous Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) in the beautiful valley of Paro.

The centerpiece to this tour is time spent exploring the beautiful Bumthang Valley. We will continue driving to the central districts of Trongsa, the birthplace of the 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, taking direct flight from Bumthang to Paro valley, where you can hike up to the famous Taktsang Monastery, perched on a cliff 900m above the valley floor. We can easily customise your 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 based on your interests, weather conditions and road conditions

 

Day Activity/Valley Overnight
30 July Reception at Paro International Airport drive towards Thimphu valley Thimphu
31 July Hike to Tango Monastery Thimphu
01 Aug Drive towards Punakha Valley, and visit Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery Punakha
02 Aug Hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten and visit Punakha Dzong Punakha
03 Aug Drive towards Gangtey valley, and visit Gangtey Goempa Gangtey
04 Aug Hike Gangtey Nature Trail, and drive towards Trongsa valley Trongsa
05 Aug Visit Trongsa Dzong and drive towards Bumthang valley Bumthang
06 Aug Visit Jampey Lhakhang, and Kurje Lhakhang Bumthang
07 Aug Visit Mebar Tsho – the Burning Lake and Tang Ugyen Cholling palace Bumthang
08 Aug Fly back to Paro valley, and visit Dumtse Lhakhang Paro
09 Aug Hike to Chumphu Lhakhang Paro
10 Aug Receive teaching from Kyapgoen Ngawang Tenzin Rinpoche Paro
11 Aug Hike to Tigers Nest Paro
12 Aug Visit Ugyen Guru Lhakhang Paro
13 Aug International Departure

Day 01 | Arrive at Paro International Airport / Drive towards Thimphu

Reception at Paro International Airport

Altitude of Paro – 2200 m/ 7,200 ft

Driving distance from Paro –  Thimphu: (45 Km 1hr 30 minutes)

The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth.

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
  • Hotel check- in
  • Visit Dechen Phodrang monastery
  • Dinner at the hotel and briefing about the tour

 

Day 02 | Hike to Tango Monastery

Altitiude of Thimphu valley – 2320m/ 7656ft
Driving distance Thimphu city to Tango Parking area – 45 minutes

Programs of the day:

  • Breakfast in the Hotel
  • Drive towards Tango Monastery
  • In the 19th century, the Shabdrung Jigme Choegyal installed a golden roof top on the monastery. Like many famous Bhutanese infrastructures, even Tango has been built like a Dzong. It has curved outside walls and a beautiful main tower. The courtyard has a gallery that has a showcase of the Drukpa Kagyupa lineage. In 1616, the great Lama Zhabdrung Ngywang Namgyal also visited the monastery and the founded the Drukpa Kagyupa school of Buddhism in Bhutan. Currently it functions as upper-education monastic school and an important annual festival known as ‘Yarnay” is held in this monastery that commences from 15thday of the 6th month of the Buddhist calendar till the 30th day of the 7th month. We can experience some of the most beautiful sceneries along with the exotic floral and faunal biodiversity of the country such as many varieties of Rhododendrons and birds.
  • Lunch at the Monastery
  • Dinner at the Hotel

Day 03 | Drive Towards Punakha Valley

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 Sangchhen Lhuendrup Nunnery, complex serves as a nunnery center in Bhutan. It has been upgraded to Buddhist college in 2015 by the Bhutan Nun Foundation’s patron, Her Majesty Gyalyum Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk.  The temple is considered as one of the first institutions which offer a masters degree in Buddhist studies for nuns. Apart from the Buddhist studies, the college provides life skill training. Training such as tailoring, statue making, thanka painting and embroidery. It also housed a permanent higher learning and meditation center for nuns.
  • Hotel check in
  • Dinner at the hotel

Day 04 |  Explore Punakha valley

Hike to Khamsum Yulley Chorten and visit Punakha Dzong 

Altitude of Punakha Valley – 1,310m / 4,300ft

Programs of the day:

  • Breakfast in the hotel
  • Hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, a 45 minute up hill hike from the Punakha suspension bridge through rice fields. Socialise with local farmers, glimpsing the simple and humble traditions of the Bhutanese people and their way of life. The Chorten was especially built by the queen mother for the well being of all living beings. It was built over the span of eight and a half years, with its design being drawn from religious scripture rather than architectural schematics.
  • Picnic Lunch at Zamling Thang near river side
  • Visit Punakha Dzong
  • Dinner in the hotel

Day 05 | Drive towards Gangtey valley

Explore Gangety Valley, and visit Gangtey Goempa

Altitiude of Gangtey valley – 3000m/ 9800ft
Driving distance Punakha to Gangtey – 2 hours 30 minutes (75km)

Programs of the day:

  • Breakfast in the hotel
  • Drive towards Gangtey Village
  • Lunch in a local restaurant
  • Visit Gangtey Goempa
  • Dinner in the Hotel

Drive towards Gangtey via Wangdue, one of the major towns and district headquarters of Western Bhutan. We then climb steadily passing through semi-tropical vegetation and then finally onto Gangtey/Phobjikha valley (3,000 m) with an alpine environment of rhododendrons and dwarf bamboo farmhouses and temples dot the landscape. The wide and picturesque Phobjikha valley is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black necked cranes (November – March) migrating from the Tibetan plateau.

Visit Gangtey Goempa (Monastery), an important monastery of Nyimapa school of Buddhism, the main seat of the Pema Lingpa tradition. Monastery’s history traces to the early 17th century and back to the prophecies made by the well-known Terton (treasure finder) Pema Lingpa in the late 15th century. In 1613, his grandson, and reincarnation of Pema Lingpa, fulfilled the prophecy by building a Nyingma temple at the location. Kuenzang Chholing, the long white building nearby, is where monks go to meditate for three years, three months, and three days.

Day 06 | Explore Gangtey valley  and drive towards Trongsa valley

Hike the 2 hours Nature Trail and drive towards Trongsa valley

Altitude of Trongsa valley – 3,300 meters / 10,930 ft
Driving distance Gangtey to Trongsa – 3 hours  (85 km)

Programs of the day:

  • Breakfast in the hotel
  • Set off early for the beautiful hike which gives you a nice feeling of the village. It is the most beautiful and the shortest of the existing nature tarils in Bhutan. From the small hilltop overlooking Gangtey Goempa, head downhill through flower meadows to Semchubara village and from here through beautiful forest and into the open valley.
  • Picnic lunch at the end of hiking trail
  • Drive towards Trongsa valley

Day 07 | Visit Trongsa Dzong and drive towards Bumthang valley

Altitiude of Bumthang valley – 2,800m/ 9,185ft
Driving distance Trongsa to Bumthang – 2 hours  (70km)

Programs of the day:

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

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.

Day 08 | Explore Bumthang valley

Visit Jambay Lhakhang and Kurje Lhakhang 

 Programs of the day:

  • Breakfast in the hotel
  • Visit Jambay Lhakhang and Kurjie Lhakhang
  • Lunch in a local restaurant
  • Dinner in the Hotel

In the morning visit the 7th century Jambay Lhakhang, which is one of the oldest temple in the kingdom. Songtsen Gampo, a Tibetan King in the 7th Century AD founded it. The king was destined to build 108 temples known as Thadhul Yangdhul (temples on and across the boarder) in a day to subdue the demoness that was residing in the Himalayas. The temple is one of the 108 built in a day.

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 imprints inside the cave.

Day 09 | Explore Bumthang valley

Programs of the day:

  • Breakfast in the hotel
  • Visit Mebar tso – The Buring lake
  • Lunch in a local restaurant
  • Visit Ugyen Choling palace
  • Dinnter in the Hotel

Enjoy the day exploring some of the many sites around Bumthang. Visit the pool of Mebartso (The Lake of Fire). Me-Bar Tsho (Burning Lake) One of the most sacred sites in Bhutan, the holy lake is said to be one of the holiest lakes in Bhutan. Long time ago, Terton Pema Lingpa (Buddhist saint and treasure discoverer) dived into the lake while holding a burning butter lamp on one hand. Several hours later when he came out of the lake, he was holding some relics one one hand and the butter lamp on his other hand was still burning. Thus the lake was called Me-Bar Tsho (Me-bar=Burning Tsho=Lake).
It is here that Pemalingpa (founder of the Nyingmapa sect) is said to have found treasure hidden by Guru Rinpoche.

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.

Day 10 | Fly back to Paro valley

Programs of the day:

  • Breakfast in the hotel
  • Fly to Paro valley
  • Visit Dumtse Lhakhang, built in 1433 by the iron bridge builder Thangton Gyalpo, the temple was built to subdue a demoness and so was chained firmly to the ground. It’s three floors represents hell, earth and heaven.
  • Dinner in the Hotel

Day 11 | Hike To Chumphu Lhakhang

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

Day 12 | Teaching with Kyapgoen Ngawang Tenzin Rinpoche

Biography

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.E. Dorji Lopen Rinpoche by appointment and oversaw the monasteries and monastic practice of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage in Bhutan.

His Eminence Ngawang Tenzin is recognised 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 Eminence 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.

 

Day 13 | Hike to Tigers Nest

Altitude at Tigers nest – 3,120m / 10,240ft
Hiking distance:4 hours hike uphill

Programs of the day:

  • Breakfast in the hotel
  • Set off for hike to Tigers Nest
  • Take leisure walk around Paro town
  • Dinner at the hotel

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.

Day 14 | Visit Ugyen Guru Lhakhang

Terton Sherab Mebar came to Bhutan from Kham (Tibet) in the 15th century and founded this Goempa.

 

Day 15 | International Departure

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:

  • Paro Bhutan – Kathmandu Nepal
  • 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
  • Explore until the center of Bhutan
  • Hike to Taktsang Monastery ‘Tiger’s Nest’- one of the most famous monastery in Bhutan
  • Explore Gangtey and Bumthang valley, the most beautiful valley in Bhutan
  • Receive private audience with His Eminence Ngawang Tenzin Rinpoche
Bhutan tour package price per person

Travel Duration: 30 July – 13 August 2023

14 Nights | 15 Days

Thimphu – 2 N | Punakha – 2N | Gangtey – 1N | Trongsa – 1 N | Bumthang – 3N | Paro – 5N

For Double occupancy For Single occupancy
USD 4,230.00 USD 4,650.00
The above Bhutan tour package price includes the followings:
  • 3 star accommodations in Bhutan
  • All meals in Bhutan
  • English speaking local tour guides in Bhutan
  • All internal ground transportations in Bhutan, including airport pick-up and drop-off
  • Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) $ 65 per night in Bhutan
  • International Air fare (Kathmandu – Paro – Kathmandu)
  • Domestic Air fare (Bumthang – Paro)
  • Visa fee for Bhutan
  • Mineral drinking water
  • All entrance fees in Bhutan
The above Bhutan tour package price do not include the followings:
  • Other personal expenses like overseas calls, laundry, and tips for Guides and Drivers
  • Travel and Medical insurance
  • Bank transfer fees
  • Beverages
Please bring:
  • Warm jacket as it may get cold in the Gangtey and Bumthang valley
  • Summer cloths as during the day it will be very warm
  • Good leather or waterproof fabric boots or shoes with good soles for hiking
  • A jumper/sweater, denim jeans, and scarfs
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Sandals and flip-flops
  • Backpacks to carry your snack food and drinking water during the long day tour
  • Hat, sunglasses, sun cream and lip balm, for the strong Himalayan sun
  • A good torch for dark temple murals
  • Easy-to-forget toiletries like dental floss and motion sickness medication.
  • Ear plugs – essential against nocturnal barking dogs
What to wear

Bhutan has a fairly formal dress code for both Bhutanese and visitors. For men, a shirt with a collar, preferably long sleeves, and long trousers are required to enter a temple or monastery. For women to enter monasteries and temples, a long skirt (covering to the ankle) or trousers are required and a shirt with long or short sleeves. Bare shoulders and bare legs are not permitted in temples or monasteries (f. ex. do not wear tank tops, spaghetti straps, shorts, or skirts above the ankle). One set of slightly nice clothes is good for hotel dinners. Remember to dress in layers as temperatures vary a lot during the day, especially in spring and summer. A compact umbrella or rain jacket is useful any time of the year. We recommend you wear slip-on shoes, as you’ll need to take them off at every temple or monastery.

Additional information regarding dress:
For women, we can arrange for you to buy traditional Bhutanese skirts, which are very easy to wear, and it would look even more respectful and elegant while visiting monasteries and fortresses. A simple cotton skirt would cost between € 15 – € 30.