Day 1- Arrive Paro –(reporting time at Bangkok airport is at 4 AM) Arrive from Bangkok at 9.30. Transfer to Udumwara resort, tea will be served on arrival. Then take a little rest, wash up and have lunch at the lodge. After lunch visit the Paro Rinchenpung Dzong There after climb up to Ta Dzong (watch tower) built by Tenzin Drungda, Paro Penlop ( 1656-1667) which now houses the National Museum. The Museum is considered one of the best of its kind in Asia. It boasts an exhaustive collection of Bhutanese Textiles, Armory, Earth & Stone Wares, Buddhist Scriptures & Manuscripts, Philatelic etc. After seeing the Dzong drive down towards the market on way visit the Dungtse Lhakhang on the left bank of the Pachu (Paro River) Evening Drinks and Dinner at Richen Ling Lodge.
Day 2 – Paro to Thimphu Leave Paro at around 8 AM, arrive Thimphu at around 10 AM and go straight to the Tashi Chhoe Dzong to witness the Thimphu Lhamoe Drupchen. This is the most sacred Prayers cum festival in the Thimphu valley. Return to town to check into hotel and lunch. Afternoon or later in the evening come back and visit the Thimphu Tashichhoe Dzong again, the seat of His Majesty the King and the Je Khempo, the head abbot of the Monk Body. The Dzong is open to visitors only after 5 PM on working days. The Dzong was built in 1772 and was burnt down 3 times and rebuilt immediately. In 1962 His Late Majesty the 3rd King of Bhutan started the restoration and enlargement of the Dzong. The work was completed and consecrated on 24th to 26th of June 1969. It is a marvel of Bhutanese Architecture and craftsmanship. Not a single nail was used in the construction of this large monument.
Day 3 - Thimphu to Punakha – Morning witness the Lhamoe Drupchen at the Tashi chhoe Dzong again. After lunch drive to Misina/Punakha, it is a 2 to3 hour 70 KM drive from Thimphu, stop at the Docho la cafeteria for tea-snacks and a view of the Himalayas, on clear days it is one of the best view points. After crossing Docho la the vegetation is entirely different from the Thimphu side, which is covered with Blue Pine forest. The vegetation on this side is broad leaf and there is a greater variety of Plants and trees. Evening at hotel YT at Misina.
Day 4 - Morning hike to Khamsum chorten – The walk to the monastary is very breathtaking amidst the paddy fields. It takes about 45 minutes to the chorten. This chorten is dedicated to the 5th King of Bhutan. The chorten houses the 108 Vajra kilas (phurpas) an assortment of wrathful yab yum (male and female lhatshogs an integral part of the Tantric or mahayana buddhism. After lunch we can visit the divine madman temple and get blessed with the wooden effigy of his phallus to clear all obstacles in life. If one desires we can also be blessed with fertility.
Day 5 – Misina to Bumthang We will start early so that we will be in Trongsa for Lunch. After lunch visit the Trongsa Choetse Dzong and carry on for Bumthang., and stay at the Jakar village Lodge.
Day 6- Bumthang After an early breakfast start off for the Tamshing Pala Choedpa, this is a small local village festival one of its kind.
Day 7 - Bumthang - Mongar - One of the most fascinating drives. The journey takes you to the highest Pass in the country, the Thrumsing la is at feet and then down to one of the lowest and warmest valleys in the country Limethang where one is back in to sub-tropic vegetation, an eye feast for the Botanist or the Nature lover. The vegetation changes almost every 10 KMs on this drive. This stretch of drive could boast the best Rhododendron varieties in the world. End of March, April and May are the best time for the Rhododendrons. Packed Lunch will be served at a beautiful spot where one can enjoy and be real close to mother nature in its best form. Evening at a hotel in Mongar.
Day 8- Mongar - Lhuntsi - It is only about 75 KMs and home to the best weavings of Bhutan. The drive is all along the Kurichu and in Chirpine forests and steep cliffs. Lhuntsi does not have any good hotels accept for a Government Guest house. Best bet would be to camp out or stay with a local family. After lunch visit the Lhundup Rinchen tsi Dzong perched on a steep cliff, one of the most spectacular Dzongs of Bhutan. Later afternoon visit Gangzur village to see Earthen wares being made so skillfully, a dieing art of Bhutan. Evening at a camp or a local village house with dances and drinks from the local people in the old traditional way.
Day 9 - Lhuntsi Local village - A 2 hour trek into Khoma village, a home for most of the weavings and Kiras found in Thimphu, Lunch in the village a typical Kurtoep style. Late afternoon return to camp and relax.
Day 10 - Lhuntsi - Bumthang - Start as early as possible, lunch at Thrumsing la, enjoy the scene east while packed lunch is being served. Evening at hotel.
Day 11 – Bumthang Tangbi Mani, yet another small local festival, it is the last day of the festival and the most important.
Day 12 - Bumthang Valley- Trongsa - Bumthang is one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan and also the most sacred valleys. It is the Holy Abode of Guru Padmasambhawa or locally known as Guru Rinpoche. The valley is also the home of the Great Treasure Revealer Terton Pema Lingpa. The valley therefore has great Buddhist monuments, temples and history. One can spend days exploring Bumthang. In our Itinerary we have the Kurjey Lhakhang a very old temple to visit, this is where Guru Rinpoche left His Body (Ku) impression (jey) in a rock. Then we could visit the Jambey Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the valley. After lunch at the hotel pack and carry our luggae on way out of Bumthang visit the Mebhar (burning fire) Tso (lake), where Terton Pema Lingpa went into a lake with a burning lamp to discover treasures from the lake. Late afternoon drive to Trongsa, stay at Puenzhi Guest. The guest house has overlooking view on the magnificient Trongsa Choetse Dzong.
Day 13 - Trongsa - Wangdi – Once again enjoy the scenic drive and all the changing vegetation back to Wangdi. Packed lunch will be served around Pele la. If time permits, on way down Pele la take a short left diversion to the Phobjikha valley, a home to the Black Neck Crane in winter (December till February). Evening at a hotel in Wangdi.
Day 14 – Wangdi – Thimphu – Start early, en-route visit the Punakha Dzong in its best splendor and grandeur. Punakha Dzong was built by the Shabdrung (1616-1651) with enlargements and additions by later Desis and Je Khempos. The Dzong was destroyed several times by fire and floods and restored immediately there after. The most recent restoration being by His Majesty the 4th King of Bhutan, is the biggest of them all, it is a work of admiration and wonder. Lunch at Docho la café, rest of the afternoon free for exploring Thimphu. Evening at Pedling Hotel, Thimphu.
Day-15 - Thimphu Valley and to Paro –After breakfast visit the School for Traditional Arts & crafts, the Institute of Traditional Medicine, the Nunnery at Silukha, then drive up to Sangay gang to get a panoramic view of the Thimphu valley. After an easy lunch drive on to Paro, back to Rinchen Ling Lodge. On way back to the Lodge visit the Kyichu Lhakhang, built in 638 AD under the order of the Tibetan King Songtsengampo, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, a very very sacred temple for the local people.
Day 16 - Paro Taktsang Monastery - A final touch of Bhutan - After breakfast a short drive and a short trek up the mountain to view the most sacred Buddhist shrine, Taktsang monastery is perched on the face of cliff 800 mts. above Paro valley. It’s a memorable spiritual journey. It was here that the great Tantric teacher Guru Rinpoche flew from Tibet on the back of a flying tigress to bring Buddhist teachings to Bhutan. The main monastery was razed down to the ground by a fire in 1998, but has been rebuilt with much more grandeur and beauty than the earlier one, with no change in the architectural design and the size. Many cannot notice the changes. The view point is at about 10,200 feet. After lunch at the cafeteria or our own packed lunch, return to the Lodge for a peaceful evening. On the way back to the Lodge take a short detour, drive north 7 Kms to see the ruined Drukgyel Dzong. This Dzong was built by the Shabdrung in 1647 after the Bhutanese defeated the Tibetan Army of the Gelukpas and the named the Dzong “Victorious Drukpa” Drukgyel Dzong. The Dzong was ruined in a fire in 1951 and it remains that way even today.
Day 17 - Paro- Rest Day.
Day 18 - Departure from Druk Yul,Tashi Delek and lok jeige la.