Please Note : All prices are based on the current rate, it is subject to change anytime.
Distance: 53 kms/32.9 miles
Drive Time: Approximately 1hr.
Altitude: Paro: 2200m/7200ft and Thimphu: 2320m/7710ft
Flying into Paro on Druk Air or Bhutan Airlines. We get to see a great view of the snow-capped peaks of inner Himalayas on a clear day, and possibly a glimpse of Everest. As the plane approaches Paro, little farmhouses dotting the hillsides and beautiful tributaries of Pa Chhu ( Paro river ) form a picturesque view.
The representatives from Red Stag Adventure will greet you at the exit point with company placard, Our team will drive you to Thimphu. Its approximately one hour scenic ride through the country side, you can clearly feel by the nature of the air why Bhutan is a Carbon neutral country. The smooth ride takes you through countryside following the Paro river until you reached Chuzom. Through out you drive you will see local farmhouses, stupas, Monasteries and fluttering prayer flags dotting every hill top. Before reaching downtown Thimphu make a visit to Simtokha Dzong (1629) officially known as ‘Sangkak Zabdhon Phodrang’ or the Palace of the Profound Meaning of Secret Mantras. It’s the first of many Dzongs build by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The name Simtokha is derived from the word Sinmo (demoness) and dokha (on the stone). A legend has it that the dzong was built on a demoness who vanished into a rock.
Once you have reached Thimphu, your guide will escort you to your hotel where all the arrangements have been arranged.
Tashichho Dzong. This dzong has been the Seat of the government since 1952 and presently houses the Golden Throne room of His Majesty the King and it also houses the Chief Abbot and the Central Monastic Body as their summer residence. The impressive structure was built roughly around the Renaissance period in Europe.
Note: Tashichho Dzong is open during weekdays after office hours (5pm onwards) and from 9am to 5pm on weekends.
Altitude: 2,320 m/7710ft
Thimphu The Capital of Bhutan, Thimphu sits in a valley in the western interior of the country , the fast expanding city is home to a little over hundred thousand people and is the main center of commerce, administration and religion of the kingdom of Bhutan. Its economy is bustling with an abundance of restaurants of different choices, cozy cafes, colorful shops and several ATM machines if you are a shopaholic…, Thimphu offers an incredible insight into a blend of modernized town with its traditional heritage still intact. The singular feature of Thimphu is that it is the only capital in the world with out a single Traffic light despite the increasing no of cars every month. Thimphu Tshechu is a popular religious festival for the locals as well as for the international tourist. A very ideal place and friendly city with smiles around you, we recommend you to explore the city at your leisure apart from those sightseeing included in your normal itinerary.
Places of interest in Thimphu :
There are also several beautiful hikes to choose. Ask your local guide to help you choose the best ones according to your wish and time availability.
Day 3: Drive to Gangtey
Distance: 155 kms / 97 miles
Drive Time: 5 hrs/ approx.
Altitude: 3,000 m / 9,500 ft
On the 3rd day after breakfast we will drive for five hours to the ancient glacial valley of Gangtey, From Gangtey, one can closely see the picturesque black mountain ranges as well as the beautiful Phobjikha valley which is one of the biggest and the most beautiful valleys in the country.
Dochula Pass : After 40 minutes we will cross over Dochula pass at an altitude of 3100m, Located on East West high way the Dochula pass offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the Himalayan range. Set up against the crisp blue sky and majestic mountains, it is one of the prominent landmark between Thimphu and Punakha. Dochula pass also contains the 108 Chortens also known as the Druk Wangyal Chortens constructed by the eldest Queen Mother, Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk. It was built in the name of Fourth Druk Gyalpo to honor the triumph over the Indian Militants groups in 2003. Dochula pass also serves as a spiritual destination for both locals and tourists as an important temple is located on the crest of the pass. You can take a short walk around the pass to the temple above the parking lot and around the beautiful park where you will see some interesting flora and man-made caves. The park was created to mark the 60th birth anniversary of the former king.
Wangdue : Travelling on we will see Wangdue Phodrang Dzong which is being renovated after it suffered a tragic fire disaster in 2012. Built in 1638, it is the third oldest dzong of the country. The strategic location of the dzong gave the governor of this district perfect control of the routes to East West North and South. After stopping at the new Wangdue town we will continue driving along the Dangchu river crossing beautiful terraced rice fields. The nice little stupa at Lawala pass (3000m/9842ft approximately) greets you to the amazing Gangtey and phobjikha valley.
There is an option for you to visit the Gangtey monastery locally known as Gangtey Goenba. The monastery is one of the main seats of the religious tradition based on Terton Pema Lingpa’s revelations and one of the two main centers of Nyingmapa school of Tibetan Buddhism in the country.
Altitude : 3000m/9500ft
After your breakfast we will drive over Pele la pass (3420m/11,230ft) to Longtey village to begin your hike back to Gangtey valley. It is approximately a 3 to 4 hours hike through rhododendron, spruce, and birch forests. Just before reaching your finishing point the trail leads you through thick rhododendron shrubs and out of nowhere the Phobjikha valley opens up vast and magnificent. This glacier valley is situated on the western slope of the Black Mountain and it is the winter habitat of one of the most endangered and sacred bird species, the Black Necked Crane. After the hike enjoy your hot lunch and if you still feel energetic there is another beautiful short hike on a Nature Trail or you can visit the Crane information center.
Day 5: Gangtey/Drive to Punakha
Distance: 78kms / 48 miles
Drive Time: 3-4hours approx.
Altitude: 1,242m/ 4,075ft
After breakfast we will embark on the 5th day journey to Punakha Valley. Enroute visit Chimmi Lhakhang which sits atop a small round hillock in Sopsokha village, flanked with hundreds of prayer flags. The monastery was built in 1499, dedicated to Lam Drukpa Kinley, also known as ‘the Divine Madman’ or the ‘Mad Saint” due to his unconventional way of teaching the Dharma. The tradition of painting phallic symbols on walls of the building and hanging carved wooden phalluses on the edges of the rooftops to ward off evil spirits is inspired by his famous technique of using his “thunder bolt” to oppress such evil spirits. Chimmi Lhakhang also has become a fertility temple among Bhutanese, and is gaining popularity for this among foreigners as well.
Punakha Dzong: Later we shall visit the majestic Punakha dzong also known as ‘the palace of great bliss’. It is the second oldest and allegedly the most beautiful dzong in Bhutan. Constructed on the 8th day of the 8th month of lunar calendar of the Fire ox year in 1637, Punakha dzong was the administrative center and the seat of the Government of Bhutan till 1955.
From Punakha Dzong we shall walk on for 10-15 minutes until we get to one of the longest suspension bridges in Bhutan.
Day 6: Punakha
Altitude : 1,242m/ 4,075ft
Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten : After breakfast, we will hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal chorten, a modern example of fine Bhutanese architecture and artistic traditions. It is an hour hike to the Chorten on a moderately inclined trail surrounded by terrace rice and vegetable fields at the lower level and pine trees at the higher level. Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten stands out on a beautiful ridge above the Neynzegang village. This 4-storey temple was built by Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck as per the Holy Scriptures in 1990. It took nine years to complete and it is dedicating to her son the present king who was then crown prince of Bhutan and for the world peace. Although you are not allowed to take photographs inside the temple, take your cameras with you to capture the breathtaking scenic view from the parapet of the stupa.
You will also have an option to go rafting in the Mo chu River (extra cost applicable). Rafting in Bhutan is an entirely unique experience as it is a gentle drift-down-the-river that gives you time to admire the scenery with sudden bursts of excitement now and then in the rapids. We will drift past Punakha Dzong and if lucky we may even catch a glimpse of the world’s rarest bird, the white Belled Heron in its natural habitat and Kingfishers frolicking on the riverbank.
Day 07: Punakha / drive back to Paro
Distance: 143kms/ 88 miles
Time: 4 hours approx.
Paro : After breakfast we will drive back to Paro and visit the National museum and Paro Dzong.
Paro district is one of the most developed comparing to other districts in the country. Apart from containing many ancient Buddhist temples and monasteries it is also home to the only international airport of Bhutan, which was built in 1983. The land is so fertile that almost anything can grow here and Paro is considered the rice bowl of the Nation.
The National museum of Bhutan : Perched strategically above the Paro valley Ta dzong, is a unique circular conch shape building built as a watchtower to guard Paro Dzong in the chaotic days of old when invasions from Tibet was common. It was renovated in 1968 by HM the third king and later transformed into the national Museum. After severe damage by an earthquake on September 18th 2011 that required its closure and nine years of renovation,. After 9 years of renovation the Museum has reopened to the public since 24th of June 2020.
Paro Dzong is locally known as Ringpung Dzong which means ‘the fortress on a heap of jewel’. This impressive dzong is one of the finest examples of ancient Bhutanese architecture. It is the center of religious and administration of Paro district and was the venue for the royal wedding of the third king of Bhutan. Some initial scenes from the 1993 movie Little Buddha featuring Keanu Reeves, Bridget Fonda and Chris Isaak were shot inside the dzong.
Haa Valley : Today we will drive over the Chelela pass to Haa valley (2670m/8758ft) which is one of the most furthermost valleys of Bhutan bordering with Tibet. Haa maybe the smallest district but this tiny region is one of the most beautiful and isolated areas in the kingdom adorned with pristine alpine forests and tranquil mountain peaks. The wooded hills of Haa provide an ideal location for hiking and mountain biking around the valley. Haa is one of the last remaining regions whose inhabitants still practices animism. Home to a number of nomadic herders it hosts an annual summer festival that showcases their unique lifestyle and culture.
While in Haa we suggest you try a local delicacy Habi Hoentey (Buckwheat dumplings) for your lunch. After lunch we shall take in the rustic charm of the little valley and walk through the town towards Lhakhang Karpo and Lhakhang Nakpo. The white and the black temple often known as the embodiment of the Tibetan Dharma King Songtsen Gampo. It is believed that a white and a black bird emanated from the body of the kind and landed where the temples are today.
After a detour we shall head back to Paro where your guide will brief you on tomorrow’s wonderful hike to Tiger’s Nest.
Hike Duration: Approximately 5 hours (two ways)
This day will begin with a hike to the iconic Taktsang monastery and later visit to Kyichu Lhakhang.
Tiger’s Nest : The hike towards Taktsang Monastery gradually winds up 900m through pine, oak and rhododendron forest on both side of the trail. It is visited by almost all the celebrities and dignitaries of the Western world including Kate and William. The Western media likes to point out that Kate finished the hike without breaking a sweat. There is also the option to take a pony till 70% of the way for USD. 20. The beautiful monastery is located on the Northern side of Paro valley and hangs precariously from the side of a vertical cliff at 3000 m altitude. It is known as Tiger’s Nest as legend has it that Guru Rinpoche flew there on a tigress manifested by one of his consorts. It has become the unofficial symbol of Bhutan appearing in various travelogues, newspapers, and websites around the world.
Kyichu Lhakhang is located close to the Paro Airport. It is an important Mahayana Buddhist temple. Built in the 7th century, this is one of Bhutan’s oldest religious sites in Bhutan. It is believed to be one of the 108 temples built within one night to subdue a gigantic demoness who was plaguing Tibet and Bhutan. Its sister temple stands in Bumthang Kurjey.
Transfer to the airport after breakfast