HARMONY ( Thimphu–Punakha-Bumthang-Punakha-Paro )

9 Nights | 10 Days

The mighty Himalayas protected Bhutan from the rest of the world and left it blissfully untouched through the centuries. The Drukpa Kagyupa school of Mahayana Buddhism provided the essence of a rich culture and a fascinating history. The Bhutanese people protected this sacred heritage and unique identity for centuries by choosing to remain shrouded in a jealously guarded isolation.Opened for tourism in 1974, after the coronation of the fourth King, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, Bhutan is perhaps the world’s most exclusive tourist destination.

The 10 Day journey takes you to the remote central valleys of Bhutan. The country still retains all the charm of the old world, and travelers experience the full glory of this ancient land as embodied in the monastic fortresses, ancient temples, monasteries and stupas which dot the countryside, prayer flags fluttering above farmhouses and on the hillsides, lush forests, rushing glacial rivers, and – perhaps most important of all – the warm smiles and genuine friendliness of the people.

Day 01: Arrive Paro, Transfer to Thimphu Valley (1hr/54kms)

Your journey to Bhutan begins with the most spectacular flight experience with views of major Himalayan peaks such as Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga and Makalu, all dressed in beautiful white snow. The final show of Bhutan’s own magnificent peaks awaits your arrival. The sight of marvelous mount Jomolhari along with Jichu Drake and Tserimgang greeting you is a must experience at all cost. You fly over the southern hills, known as ‘Duars’, or gateways into the Himalayas as they rise from the plains until they meet the great snow-capped peaks that rise up to the sky.

After landing at Paro airport and while completing of airport formalities, you will be received by your guide for the rest of your stay in Bhutan. You will then be driven from Paro to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan and an exciting blend of tradition and modernity.

After the swift drive to Thimphu, you will be taken to you hotel to freshen up and after which you can take a leisure stroll around the town.

Rest of the day at leisure or free time to explore the capital town.(Overnight at Hotel 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 servants, and foreign representatives in Bhutan. It is also the headquarters for a number of internationally funded development projects.

Today’s visit will include:

Buddha Dordenma is one of the most popular attractions in the country. The 51.1 meters tall statue of Buddha Shakyamuni sits on top of a hill overlooking Thimphu valley. The Statue is probably one of the tallest in Asia. The site of Buddha Dordenma offers unobstructed views over the capital town.

Visiting hours: (Closes Daily Nov-Feb at 4pm & Mar-Oct at 5pm)

National Memorial Chorten: the construction of this landmark was originally envisaged by Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. He wanted to erect the monument to spread an aura of peace and prosperity in the world. The construction was completed in 1974 after his untimely death. The stupa serves as a memorial to the Late King (“the father of modern Bhutan”), and a monument dedicated to peace. The place gets swamped during the mornings and evenings with people of all ages circumambulating the Chorten/stupa, praying and prostrating at the shrine. Turning the big prayer wheels, offering butter lamps, basking in the sun as they socialize and mingle, is a must observe activity.

Visiting hours: (Closes Daily Nov-Feb at 4pm & Mar-Oct at 5pm)

Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre: Weaving is predominantly a woman’s domain but this private weaving center is different as it is owned and run by Mr. Kesang (a man – which is very rare in Bhutan).  He weaves, creates original and unique patterns, strives to create atypical color combinations and is very involved.  The center frequently produces ceremonial textiles for Bhutanese royals. The center was also responsible for producing the wedding dress for the Royal bride and groom (King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema) for their highly publicized royal wedding in October 2011.

Visiting hours: (Closing based on owner’s discretion, in such an event we will replace with another site)

Zorig Chosum: Widely known as known as the painting school, the center offers a six year course in the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. The students follow a comprehensive course that starts with drawing and progresses through painting, woodcarving, embroidery and statue-making. This is a great opportunity to interact and photograph the students while they practice their skills in the classroom.

Visiting hours :( Closed on Sat 1pm, Sun, Govt. Holidays, School Break Jul, Jan-Feb).

National Library: The National Library was established in the late 1960s mainly to preserve the literary treasures which form a significant part of Bhutan’s cultural heritage. It now houses an extensive collection of Buddhist literature mostly in block-printed format, some of which are several hundred years old. This collection is known as the Choekey Collection and it mainly comprises of Buddhist literature written in Choekey language. Choekey is the religious script of Northern Buddhism and also includes scripts written in Tibetan and in Dzongkha. Dzongkha is Bhutan’s national language. The national library also flaunts of the biggest book in the world – “Bhutan” (a former Guinness Book of World’s Record holder). Besides its sheer size and weight, the continuously printed images (printed on a roll of paper longer than a football field and with a gallon of ink) are spectacular – vivid colors and human size portraits.

Visiting hours: (Closed Sat, Sun, Govt Holidays)

Jungshi Paper Factory: The traditional paper factory is located opposite to the centenary farmer’s market in Thimphu. There, you can witness the process of traditional paper making from start to finish. The paper is made from the barks of the black Daphne tree. In ancient times, the traditional paper was used to write Holy Scriptures. The thicker paper is used for scriptures and the thinner ones are used for wrapping gifts and various other purposes.

 (Overnight at Hotel in Thimphu)

Day 3: Transfer to Punakha Valley (3hrs/76ms)

Second day begins with a hearty breakfast and driving towards the historical valley of Punakha. Taking you over the high mountain pass of Dochula Pass at 3,050 meters, the drive is a refreshing one. A quick stop at the pass will let you enjoy the view and will treat you with fresh mountain air. The pass graces the onlookers with a panoramic view of the towering Himalayan peaks on a clear weather day.  The pass is adorned with 108 mini stupas built by the Queen Mother to mark a significant event in the history of Bhutan.

Punakha valley is located in a sub-tropical region with warm summers and pleasant winters. Punakha also served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955 after which the seat of government moved to Thimphu. Punakha still serves as the winter residence for the chief abbot and the central monk body.

Later visit the magnificent Palace of great bliss (Punakha Dzong)

Punakha Dzong: The fortress is strategically built at the junction of the Pho Chu (male) and Mo Chu (female) river. After being damaged by 4 catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the dzong/fortress has been fully restored to its former glory. Punakha Dzong is one of the most beautiful fortresses in Bhutan. The fortress is known to give immense joy to the person looking at it, hence its Dzongkha name Punthang Dewachenpoi Phodrang literally translates to; The palace of great bliss. The fortress plays a significant role in the history of Bhutan as most of the remarkable events occurred in the fortress which aided in shaping Bhutan as a nation.

Visiting hours: (Open 11am-1pm & 3pm-5 pm)

Overnight at Hotel in Punakha)

Day 4:  Transfer to Bumthang Valley (8 hrs/220 kms)

The drive takes you across the Black Mountain Range that divides western and central Bhutan. You will drive up winding mountain roads through oak and rhododendron forest and across the Pele-la pass (3,300m), the traditional boundary between east and west. The pass is marked by a large white chorten and prayer flags. There is an abrupt change in vegetation at this point, with mountain forest replaced by high altitude dwarf bamboos.

You will stop for a quick break at Chendebji Chorten. The structure of the Chorten resembles Kathmandu’s Swayambhunath Stupa, with eyes painted at the four cardinal points. It was built in the 18th century by Lama Shida from Tibet, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot.

The impressive Trongsa Dzong (fortress) stretched along a ridge above a ravine first comes into view about an hour before the winding road suddenly leads you into the town. From here it is about a 3 hour drive to Bumthang over the picturesque Yotong-la Pass (3,400m). The road winds steeply up to the pass, then runs down through coniferous forest into a wide, open, cultivated valley known as the Chumey valley and down into the Chhume Valley, home of Bhutan’s famous Yatra weaving. Here you will have a chance to browse the traditional textiles and perhaps see the weavers create their intricate handiwork.There will be occasional breaks along the journey to stretch your legs and take pictures.

(Overnight at Hotel in Bumthang)

Day 5: Bumthang Valley Exploration

Bumthang is the general name given to a group of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura, with altitudes varying from 2,600 to 4,000m (8,530-13,125ft).  Bumthang region is home to many ancient Buddhist temples and monasteries. The district is widely known as the religious hub of the country.

Three Temples-Valley visit: Start at Jambay Lhakhang which was built in the 7th century by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. It is one of 108 monasteries which he built to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region. Then continue to Kurjey Lhakhang, heading further into the valley through farmlands for half an hour. Kurjey Lhakhang comprises three temples. The one on the right was built in 1652 against the rock face where Guru Padmasambhava meditated in the 8th century. The middle temple is built on the site of a cave containing a rock with the imprint of the Guru’s body, and is therefore considered to be the most holy. Both Jambay and Kurjey Lhakhang are located on the left banks of ChamkharChhu (river). Continue the valley walk from Kurjey Lhakhang across a suspension bridge through small villages and farmlands.

Enjoy a traditional lunch at a farmhouse. You will be served a combination of the local Bumthap cuisine, only indigenous to Bumthang valley. The food consists of items made from buckwheat flour (which is widely grown in this region) and other Bhutanese dishes.

Continue walking towards Tamshing Lhakhang located across the river from Kurjey Lhakhang. This temple was founded in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa, a re-incarnation of Guru Padmasambhava. There are very old religious paintings around the inner walls of the temple, which was restored at the end of the 19th century.

End the day with a visit to the Red Panda Beer Brewery and the Cheese Factory

Visiting hours :( Closed Sun & Govt. Holidays). (Overnight at Hotel in Bumthang)

Day 6: Explore Tang Valley (Bumthang):

Today you will further explore the Bumthang region with an excursion to the stunning Tang Valley. The initial drive along the national highway takes you past beautiful meadows and pastures where you can spot sheep grazing. We then leave the highway and continue on a farm road up towards Tang valley. Although the farm road can be rough at times but this seldom visited valley offers a treat in revealing some off the beaten track monasteries and quaint villages. A short hike takes you up to Ogyencholing Manor, an ancient noble family home that has now been turned into a museum. A visit to this museum will give you a glimpse of the bygone way of life of the aristocrats in Bhutan.

While driving back you can visit Mebar tsho (Burning Lake) which is just below the main road junction. where the Terton Pema Lingpa, the reincarnation of Padmasambhava, is supposed to have discovered religious treasure in the 12th century. This lake is very sacred and is visited by many Bhutanese during auspicious days to offer butter lamps. The importance of the site is indicated by the extensive array of prayer flags and is considered as one of the most holy places for Buddhist pilgrimage.

 (Overnight at Hotel in Bumthang)

Day 7: Transfer to Punakha Valley (8 hrs/220 kms)

We will then drive on through the mountains and down to Punakha back tracking on the same highway travelled earlier. En-route in Trongsa you can visit Royal Heritage Museum on the hillside above the town. Initially built as a watchtower to guard Trongsa Dzong, the museum is circular in structure to watch out for enemies from four directions. You will enjoy the trip as you work your way around this quaint watchtower and discover the history of the Monarchs through the numerous artifacts displayed here.

Visiting hours: (Closed Sat, Sun, Govt. Holidays)

Continue to drive towards Punakha. There will be occasional breaks along the journey to stretch your legs and take pictures. On arrival, we will take a walk to Chimi Lhakhang; a temple dedicated to the “Divine Madman”, an eccentric monk from the 16th century famous for many his many amusing, Rabelaisian folklore stories. Check-in at the hotel.

(Overnight at Hotel in Punakha)

Day 8: Transfer to Paro (4 hrs/130kms)

After a hearty breakfast, you will be driven back to Paro over Dochula pass at 3,088 meters.

Upon reaching Paro you can take a break or freshen up and later visit the National Museum.

National Museum: Originally built as a watch tower to protect the Paro Dzong, the museum has circular body structure like most of the watch towers. Later it was refurbished as a national museum to exhibit history to the visitors. The museum flaunts some of the rarest ancient Bhutanese art and artifacts, weapons, coins, stamps and a small natural history collection.

Visiting hours 🙁 Closed on Govt. Holidays)

After that you can spend your time strolling around Paro town to browse through the numerous handicraft and textile shops. Or take a coffee break at one of the many cafés in Paro town.

(Overnight at Hotel in Paro)

Day 09: Taktsang Hike (Total Hike Time 4-5 hrs)

The Tiger’s Nest monastery is the most famous attraction in the whole of the country. The marvelous structure is spectacularly suspended on the side of a cliff at 900m above the valley floor. Legend has it that in the 8th century Guru Rinpoche rode on the back of a flying tigress from eastern Bhutan to the current monastery site and meditated in a cave here for several years, hence the name, “Tiger’s Nest”. The principal temple of the present monastic complex dates from 1692. The main structure was relentlessly damaged by fire in 1998, but after many years of painstaking restoration work, the complex has now been fully restored to its former glory. A pilgrimage to Taktsang is the dream of a lifetime for any visitor. 

The hikers can hire Ponies with a little extra charge to carry the stuffs or even ride one to the monastery. They are available from the base point.

Explore the beautiful Paro town in the evening

 (Overnight at Hotel in Paro).

Day 10: Depart Paro

Transfer to Paro International Airport for your onward flight.

We cannot change the night halt at designated places but our sightseeing programs are completely flexible and upon arrival the guide can speak with the guests about any special interests they may have. Running day to day, the program remains open to what the guests would like to experience (hiking, Mt. biking, rafting, kayaking, fly fishing, etc.)We only offer a recommended program as a guideline and not a mandatory list to follow sternly.

The driving and hiking times mentioned are approximate times and do not include breaks in the journey for sightseeing, photo/tea/meal/rest or stops. During the treks/hikes, there may be delays or diversion of hiking trails due to trail conditions, inclement weather and other unforeseen natural circumstances.

Places of Interest

These are the most popular ones there plenty more to discover,hidden places but we can t put them all here