GOLDEN WEEK IN BHUTAN

With a population of only 750,000, this remote Kingdom is most famous for its invention of the “Gross National Happiness” index. Tucked between the foothills of Himalaya, the entire region is covered with ancient Buddhist temples and traditional architecture, some of which are built on steep cliffs that humbles modern engineering techniques! Experience ancient festivals and traditions that are still religiously guarded today, and be greeted by friendly local people adorned in traditional daily wear no matter where you go.

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1: Kathmandu Arrival
Kathmandu arrival and transfer to hotel. Check-in and refresh. In the evening, enjoy Nepali dinner with cultural program.
Overnight at hotel in Kathmandu.

Day 2: Fly to Paro and drive to Thimphu
After breakfast, fly to Paro (1 hour). From the left seat, you can see mountain range including Mt. Everest (8848 m, highest peak in earth) and the spectacular view of Bhutan’s snow capped peaks as you approach Paro. On arrival you will be received by our representative and drive to Thimphu, which will be approximately 1.5 hrs drive. Thimphu is situated at an elevation of 2500 meters / 8200ft.
Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.

Day 3: Sightseeing of Thimphu City
Visit King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk Memorial Chorten, Dupthop Lhakhang ( Monastery for the nuns), National Library, the Painting School where traditional art is still kept alive through instructions in the art of painting Thangkhas ( sacred Buddhist religious scrolls), and the Medicine Institute where traditional medicines are prepared according to ancient practices. After lunch you will visit Lungtenzampa to observe the traditional silver smiths plying at their crafts and tour the Bhutanese traditional paper factory. Return back to town to visit the handicraft stores and stroll around the tiny capital city.
Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.

Day 4: Drive to Punakha
Leaving Thimphu the road climbs steeply through a forest of pine and cedar, festooned with hanging lichen high up near Dochula pass (3,050 m). This pass offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges. Your car will drop you at the mule track, from where you will hike through the Rhododendron, Magnolia, juniper and pine forest with chirping sounds of the many rare species of birds that are found in Bhutan. Your picnic lunch will be served at a good spot. You will then be driven to Lobesa where you will make another hike to Chimi Lhakhang Temple on small hill. This temple is dedicated to the great Yogi in 14th century known as Drukpa Kuenley or popularly known as “Divine madman” to the westerners. We will proceed to old Punakha town to view the majestic Dzong ( fortress), situated between the two rivers Pho Chu and Mochu (male and Female River). This fortress is now used as the winter seat of the Je Khenpo ( the Spiritual head of Bhutan). In the past this Dzong was the capital seat of the Kingdom. Evening walk around to the Punakha Bazaar.
Overnight at hotel in Punakha.

Day 5: Drive back to Paro and sightseeing
After breakfast, drive back to Paro and evening sightseeing of Drukgyal Dzong built in 1647 by  Shubdrung Nawang Namgyal, the Dzong was destroyed by fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. On a clear day you can get a magnificent view of the  Mount Chomolhari, alt. 7314 m / 23,990 ft.
Overnight at hotel in Paro.

Day 6: Sightseeing of Paro Valley
After breakfast, drive to Satsam Chorten, built in memory of the late Dilgo Khentse Rinpochey, and continue on to Kyichu Lhakhang, built in seventh century by a Tibetan King, Songtsen Gonpo. After lunch visit the National Museum of Bhutan, (Ta Dzong) which contains works of art, handicrafts, costumes, armor and rare stamps. Take a leisurely hike down to Rimpung Dzong. You will walk through a traditional covered bridge across the river and walk around the the Paro Bazaar. If time permits, hike up the near by hill to get a panoramic view of the Paro Valley.
Overnight at hotel in Paro.

Day 7: Hike to Taktsang Monastery
After breakfast your car will drop you at the starting point of the excursion to view the spectacular Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s lair). The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. You stop at the cafeteria for a rest and refreshments and continue the hike (if not tired) for short while until you see, clearly and seemingly within reach, the remains of Taktsang monastery. Built in 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. The history states that Guru Padmasambhava, the Tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, landed here on the back of a flying tiger. Looking at the monastery flying tigers doesn’t seem so impossible after all. Lunch will be served at the cafeteria.
Overnight at hotel in Paro.

Day 8: Departure to Kathmandu from Paro
After breakfast, transfer to Paro International Airport for flight back to Kathmandu.
Kathmandu arrival and transfer to hotel. Optional sightseeing or full day rest.
Eve: Enjoy farewell dinner at one of the nice restaurant.
Overnight at hotel in Kathmandu.

Day 9: Departure from Kathmandu or Extend Nepal Tour
Breakfast and timely transfer to airport for departure from Kathmandu.