Explore the main extractions of western Bhutan that starts from Thimphu, the capital city and takes on a number of beautiful districts

Tour outline

  • Day 1: Arrive Paro International Airport and travel to Thimphu (55km, 2hrs)
  • Day 2: Thimphu tour and travel to Punakha
  • Day 3: Punakha & Wangdi tour and travel back to Paro
  • Day 4: Paro tour
  • Day 5: Depart from Paro International Airport

Detailed Itinerary.

Day 01: Arrive Paro International airport and transfer to Thimphu.

The only two international flight (Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines) to Paro is one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights. Soon after you leave the Indian low lying plains and the great view of The Mount Everest from your window, you will be flying over densely forested areas and will see the far-flung Bhutanese Temples and Monasteries built on the steep terrain mountains and cliffs. Before you cease your imagination and wondering how people are going to get there on foot, you will be informed by flight attendant to fasten your seat belt to prepare for landing at Paro International Airport, the airport which has only one strip runway lying between a local community of Traditional Bhutanese Houses on one side and a high way motor road on the other side. Then as you descend towards the Paro Valley, you will be flying very close overhead the Paro Villages. The valley of Paro contains a wealth of attractions, with cover of green paddy fields, crystal clear Pa Chu river, the Paro Dzong (Fortress) and then slowly but spine chillingly (for the First timer into Bhutan), you will land at the airstrip and on landing, you are sure to wonder, “wow!!! the Pilot is really good…Thank God we have landed”. And usually, the First Timers flying into Bhutan, clap in unison and then there is a guffaw of laughter and giggles….Truly an instant awakening of happiness from the moment you land.

On arrival at Paro international airport, You will be then ushered to immigration counter and baggage claim areas by very astonishing and helpful airport staffs. After then, your tour guide will be waiting for you at the exit door with full of excitement expression on his/her face with Khadhar (a white scarf on his/her hand to offer you as tradition culture). The reason for offering a white Khadar is; traditionally we believe white colour symbolising a purity, hence to show you, you are now encircled by pure-hearted people, you are welcome and be loved as our guest and you will be taken full care. The good-humoured drivers and his cheerful assistant will be happy to gently pack your luggage in SUV cars and hit on the road towards Thimphu.

Travel to Thimphu: The distance of about 55kms from Paro town takes around 1hr excluding the sightseeing stops. Drive south following Pachu River to the river confluence at Chuzom. Along the way to Chunzom, you will first pass villages like Bondey, right after the airport. Then the next village is Shaba and followed by Isuna, the road crosses the bridge to the other side of the river. Just 5kms before Chuzom is Tamchog Lhakhang, a private temple owned by the descendants of famous Tibetan bridge-builder Thangtong Gyalpo.

Visit Tamchog Lhakhang: On the way to Thimphu, we will take an opportunity to visit Tamchog Lhakhang. This temple en route to Thimphu capital city of Bhutan, so anyone can visit this temple which is situated on a small hill overlooking the Paro river. One has to cross an ancient bridge and this bridge is the main attraction as the irons on this bridge are ancient and legend has it that these irons were pounded into Chain links by the Treasure Hunter of Bhutan in the 16th Century. The pounding was done by beating the iron on his thighs.

After then we will continue our smooth journey towards Thimphu, the next remarkable spot comes is Chhuzom (Confluence), is the juncture of Thimphu river (Wang Chu) and Paro river (Pa Chhu). Chuzom is also a major road junction, with southwest road leading to Haa (79km), south road to Phuntsholing (141km) and northeast to Thimphu (30km). From Chuzom, the road follows Wangchu River upstream as you pass through villages and suburbs to the capital, Thimphu. The notable villages you will see along the way are Kharbije, Ramtogto and on the opposite side of the river is Sisina, where you can stop to see the small nunnery institutions, Khasadrapchhu with Hydro plant and shops, Namseling with extensive rice paddies, apple orchards and several old houses. As you approach Thimphu, the suburbs are Simtokha and Lungtenphu.

We will straight away take you to the hotel, serve you lunch and let you take rest for while. After brief rest we will be doing Thimphu sightseeing of the following:

Visit Archery fields where most of the time there will be competitions. You must be knowing that Archery is national game for Bhutan. You will enjoy watching Bhutanese unique style of archery game, as Competitions are a riot of colour and excitement, with two teams in traditional dress shooting at small wooden targets placed 140m apart (Olympic standard is 50m). The distance is so great that team members gather dangerously close to the target to yell back how good the archer’s aim was. This is often accompanied by howls, chanting, encouragement and jokes. Members of the opposing team may shout back how terrible the archer’s aim is and make ribald remarks. When an arrow hits the tar­get, team-mates perform a celebratory dance and sing the praises of the shooter, who tucks a coloured scarf into his belt. For major tournaments, each team brings its own cheerleading section of girls decked out in their finest clothes. They perform dances in between play, and dur­ing the shooting they do brief routines and shout lewd and disparaging comments about the opposing archer’s parentage or sexual prowess.

Visit varieties of international and local restaurants and cuisine to taste food and drinks

Visit handicraft shops and traditional paper factory to explore the best skills of Bhutanese arts and crafts.

Visit Local farmer market where market consists of an explosion of colours and scents. You will see Thimphu residents, international people and peoples from other parts of Bhutan throng the market to buy the freshest local produce (pure organic) from across the country, as well as a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and other products imported from India. You’ll see the variety of food in the country, including basket fiery chillies, fresh cheese, and fruits and the seasonal vegetables are eaten by the Bhutanese, including various types of Orchids and Ferns.  In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. It’s fun to meander the aisles, taking in the lively atmosphere of the market.

Visit radio tower, which will give you a spectacular bird’s eye view of Thimphu valley.

Visit National Institute of Traditional Medicine where centuries old healing arts such as acupuncture and herbal remedies are still practised.

By evening we will conclude the program and take you to the Hotel, serve you dinner and usher you to the room for rest.

Day 02: Thimphu Tour

After breakfast, sightseeing of Thimphu valley includes the following;

Visit Tashichho Dzong; the Dzong has been the seat for Bhutan’s government since 1968. It presently houses the throne room and offices for the king, the cabinet secretariat and the Ministry for home & cultural affairs. It also houses the Central Monastic Body and the living quarters of the Chief Abbot and the senior monks.

Visit Textile Museum, you will see the Royal Collection, of Bhutanese antique textile artefacts, warp pattern weaves, and weft pattern weaves including crowns of Bhutan’s kings, Namzas (dresses) and other accessories are worn by the Royal Family, The ground floor of the Textile Museum has displays demonstrating the skills of spinning, colouring fibres, preparing a loom, and manipulating two sets of yarns. Decorative fabrics and textile arts and crafts are categorically displayed in the galleries situated on the first floor of the Textile Museum. There are displays showing the traditional regional garments produced by women and men in Bhutan, and those garments used for special religious occasions.

Visit Folk Heritage Museum. This museum lets you experience the traditional way of lifestyle at Bhutanese home. The museum also displays an impressive collection of typical household objects, tools and equipment. The Folk Heritage Museum is set inside a three-storied, 19th-century traditional house. The museum also organizes regular demonstrations of rural traditions, skills, habits and customs as well as hosting educational programs for children.

Visit The National Library; was established in 1967 for the purpose of preservation and promotion of the rich cultural and religious heritage of Bhutan. It holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts and contains arguably the best collection of religious and historical literature in the Himalayas.

Visit National Institute for Zorig Chusum. Zorig Chusum refers to the thirteen traditional visual arts and crafts that Bhutanese have practised for generations. The thirteen arts and crafts include; painting, carving, sculpture, calligraphy, carpentry, gold- silversmithing, bamboo work, wood turning, weaving and embroidery, pottery, blacksmithing, masonry and incense-stick making. You can have an interview or conversations with the students and instructors to know more. The showroom sells good-value pieces made by students.

Visit Simtokha Dzong; Built-in 1627 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, (the founder of Bhutan), the Dzong is the oldest fortress in Bhutan. The site is said to guard a demon that had vanished into the rock nearby, hence the name Simtokha, from simmo (demoness) and do (stone). The site was also a vitally strategic location from which to protect the Thimphu valley and entryway to the Dochu La and eastern Bhutan.

Visit Centenary Farmer Market is a must, The Centenary Farmer’s Market in Thimphu is an explosion of colours and scents. Thimphu residents throng the market on the weekends, to buy the freshest local produce (pure organic) from across the country, as well as a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and other products imported from India. You’ll see the variety of food in the country, including basket fiery chillies, fresh cheese, and fruits and the seasonal vegetables are eaten by the Bhutanese, including various types of Orchids and Ferns.  In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. It’s fun to meander the aisles, taking in the lively atmosphere of the market.

Visit The TAKIN Preserve: Located in Motithang about 3km away from the heart of Thimphu city is a wildlife reserve area for Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. The reason for declaring takin as a national animal of Bhutan on 25 November 2005 is attributed to a legend of the animal’s creation in Bhutan in the 15th century by Lama Drukpa Kuenley. When a small number of Takin were confined in a “mini-zoo” in Thimphu, the Fourth King of Bhutan felt that it was improper for a Buddhist country to confine animals for religious and environmental reasons. He, therefore, ordered the release of the animals and the closure of the mini-zoo. To everyone’s surprise, the takin, known for their docile behaviour, refused to leave the immediate area and stayed in the streets of Thimphu in search of food for weeks.

Visit National Memorial Chorten (Stupa): This stupa one of the most visible religious structures in heart of Thimphu city, The building of this landmark was originally envisaged by Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (“the father of modern Bhutan”) who has wished to erect monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as a monument to peace. Visitors will find elderly

Bhutanese people circumambulating the Chorten throughout the day. Chorten literally means ‘Seat of Faith’ and Buddhists often call such monuments, the ‘Mind of Buddha’.

Buddha Dordenma Statue: This massive statue of Shakyamuni measures at a height of 51.5m, making it one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world. The statue is made of bronze and is gilded in gold. 125,000 smaller Buddha statues have been placed within the Buddha Dordenma statue; 100,000 statues of which are 8-inches-tall and 25,000 statues of which are 12 inches tall. Each of these thousands of Buddhas has also been cast in bronze and gilded. The throne that the Buddha Dordenma sits upon is a large meditation hall.

Travel to Punakha (71km, 3hrs) We should conclude the visit by 3 pm local time to allow us plenty time to travel to Punakha district, In the evening, by 3.30pm local time, we got to be heading towards Punakha district.

Stop for Docula Pass (30km, 50min) On en route to Punakha we’ll have a chance to stop for a photo shooting at Dochula Pass. Dochula pass is a popular location among tourists as it offers a stunning 360-degree panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range. The view is especially scenic on clear, winter days with snowcapped mountains forming a majestic backdrop to the tranquillity of the 108 chortens gracing the mountain pass. Bhutanese families enjoy visiting the pass during holidays and weekends to picnic and simply enjoy the scenery. It is common to see families and groups of friends seated amongst the chortens, enjoying a packed lunch and hot tea. For tourists, this is an ideal location to capture beautiful pictures of the Himalayan mountain range during clear, warm days. By the time we reach Punkha, it would be already late evening, so we will take you directly to the hotel, serve you dinner and we’ll let you take rest after long day.

Day 03: Punakha and Wangdue tour

After breakfast, sightseeing of Punakha and Wangdue includes the following;

Visit Chime Lhakhang, located on a hillock among the green and lush paddy field stands a pilgrimage site for a childless couple. Chimi Lhakhang is known as the “Temple Of Fertility”. The temple was built over half a millennium ago by Ngawang Choegyel, the 14th Drukpa hierarch. The monastery is renowned throughout Bhutan as a fertility inducing magnet, pledging that all who wish to conceive will find guidance at the temple. Thousands of pilgrimage within and across the country visit the Fertility Temple in the hopes of having a child, as well as receiving a wang, blessing, from the saint with the ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom. Couples with new-borns often visit the temple so that a local lama, Buddhist teacher, can bestow a resounding forename on the child, whilst eager travellers can approach lamas for their unique Bhutanese name and special meaning. Myth and folklore cloak Chimi Lhakhang and its maverick saint, Drukpa Kunley. He preached Buddhism is an unconventional manner, by way of song, comedy, and shocking sensual connotations. Legend has it that the Yogi buried a dog-like demoness under the rotund earth, shaped in the female form, that now stands under the Stupa floor.  He actively encouraged phallus symbols to be used throughout the design of the temple in paintings and carvings. To this day, the monastery safeguards the original wooden phallus symbol, embedded with a silver handle, from Tibet, that is used to bless visitors and pilgrims. You will be also given a wooden phallus symbol locket or wristband.

Visit Punakha Dzong: The journey continues through varying scenes of greenery all the way to Punakha Dzong. The Punakha Dzong lies between two great rivers with their local names as the Phochu (Male River) and the Mochu (Female River). Presently, this Dzong serves as the winter residence for the Je Khenpo, Chief Abbot of the Central Monastic Body and also the office of the District Administration. Punakha Dzong was built in 1637 by the founder of Bhutan, Shabdrung Rimpoche. Shabdrung Rimpoche went into meditation in 1651 at the age of 58, for 12 long years in the Punakha Dzong, after he had established the DUAL system of Governance in Bhutan. Shabdrung Rimpoche’s death was announced only 25 years after his death, as it was believed that even after his physical death, he remained in a meditational form which all the great Buddhist Lamas can only perform. The Dzong houses many sacred, holy ancient relics, the most sacred being the RANGJUNG KHARSAPANI. This relic is a self-created image of Avalokiteswara that miraculously emerged from the vertebrae of Tsangpa Gyarey, the founder of the Drukpa School when he was cremated. The first national assembly was hosted here in 1953. Punakha Dzong is not only the second oldest and second largest dzong but it also has one of the most majestic structures in the country.

Visit Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten: The magnificent chorine sits high above Punakha Valley, affording panoramic views of the verdant hillsides below. The four-storey temple remains a worthy example of the country’s traditional architecture and artistic techniques. This chorten, however, is unique. It is not designed for community worship or for a monastic retreat or education like other Buddhist Institute and Colleges. It is designed as a magical tool. This is a temple situated on a hilltop and built by the Queen Mother of Bhutan for the fifth and reigning King of Bhutan. The temple is a mark of Bhutanese architecture and paintings. Its a half day hike round trip.

Experience river rafting in Phochu and Mochu: This river facing experience will surely offer you the best opportunity to briefly break away from the tour itinerary. The Pho Chu, with its approx 16 km course with about 15 rapids of class 2-4 is the most popular for rafting in Bhutan followed by Mo Chu river with 10 Km course comprising around 10 rapids with 2 –  2+ rapids. you are not only enjoying the rafting but can also watch world’s rarest bird, the white belled Heron in its natural habitat and Kingfishers frolicking on the riverbank – all these topped off with the spectacular sight of serene lush green alpine valleys,  are the most amazing experience you would love to treasure. Rafting in Bhutan is a superb experience in its own right. No special experience is required as long as you do not mind doing a bit of paddling and getting a bit wet – or quite possibly very wet! – then you will have an exciting time riding the white waters of the Himalayan rivers. Rivers in Bhutan also offer great potential for Kayaking. If you are looking for more adventure, we will be happy to customize a suitable Kayaking adventure in Bhutan.

Travel to Wangdue Phodrang Dzong (13 km, 40min): The Dzong overlooks the convergence of the Dangchhu and Punatsangchhu clearly chosen for its commanding view of the valleys below. The ridge where the dzong was built resembles a sleeping elephant. Wangdi region itself was considered as important in the history of Bhutan because in the early days it was the country’s second capital. There are also a few popular short-easy and long-hard hike trail.   The district of Wangdiphodrang is also famous for its bamboo products, slate and stone carvings.

Drive Back to Paro (130km, 5-6hrs). After lunch drive to Paro with a short stop at Dochula pass. Later en route visit Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress of the Kingdom built in 1627, it now houses the School for Buddhist studies.

By the time we reach Paro, it will be already late evening so we will take you directly to the Hotel, serve you dinner and usher you to the room for rest.

Day 04: Paro Tour (54km, 1-2hrs)

After breakfast, sightseeing of Paro includes the following;

Visit Paro Rinpung Dzong: One of the main attractions in Paro is the Paro Rinpung Dzong (fortress), which was built in 1646. The Dzong now houses for the office of the district Administration and district monastic body of Bhutan. On the way to Dzong, you can able to see Bhutanese traditional wooden bridge built in ancient style. Along the wooden galleries lining the courtyard of the Rinpung Dzong are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore such as four friends, the old man of long life, the wheel of life, scenes from the life of Milarepa, Mount. Sumeru and other cosmic Mandala.

Visit The National Museum (Ta-Dzong) is located just above the Paro Rinpung Dzong, which was built to be used as the watchtower for the Dzong during inter-valley wars of the 17th century. The Ta Dzong is now serving as National Museum. The Museum has got a collection of all kinds of traditional Masks, extinct wildlife animals skin cover, Stamps, Photos, Statues, Pottery, Arms and Ammunition, ancient costumes, relics, religious paintings, handicrafts, and hangs the Biggest mask in Bhutan. The collection at the National Museum preserves a snap-shot of the rich cultural traditions of the country.

Visit Drugyal Dzong (Victorious Fortress), Another site worth visiting in Paro is Drugyel Dzong or The Fortress of the Victorious Bhutanese. It was constructed by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 to commemorate his victory over marauding Tibetan armies. On a clear day, one can get a spectacular view of Mountain Jhomolhari, the third -highest mountain in Bhutan at 7,326 meters. The fortress was destroyed by fire in 1951 but the ruins remain an impressive and imposing sight.

Visit Kyichu Lhakhang, (Lhakhang means temple) is the oldest temple in the country, built in the 659 AD, by the King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet. It is believed that king had built 108 temples in the various place he visited on earth to spread Buddhism and Kyichu Lhakhang is included as one. The Lhakhang is located in between Paro Town and Drugyal Dzong. In Bhutan, people believe that the place where Lhakhang is built is considered one of the holiest place in the country, as it marks the advent of Buddhism in the country.

Visit Taktshang Monastery. (Taktshang means tiger nest) The Monastery’ is one of the Himalaya’s most incredible sites, miraculously perched on the side of a sheer cliff 900m above the floor of Paro valley. The Monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff drop of nearly 4000 ft and overlooks the Paro valley and the river. It’s the goal of every visitor to Bhutan and while getting there involves a bit of uphill legwork, it’s well worth the effort. It is said that in the second half of the 8th century, Guru Padma Sambhava known as the second Buddha in Bhutan meditated on this spot where the Monastery is situated having alighted there on the back of a flying tigress and now this site is a sacred shrine for Bhutanese pilgrims.

Visit Kila Goenpa: This nunnery perched on a vertical hill is great to go for hiking because the place is well known for its serenity and beauty of looking down at the Bonday Valley. It’s only a half day hike, which we recommend you to take chance.

Visit Chelela Pass – Located at 3810m (13,000ft), between the valley of Paro and Haa, Chele La pass is the highest road pass in the country.  It is popular for short excursion for maybe two and half hours. You will see many tourists visiting this vantage point. Some prefer driving, some hiking and many wheels down either to Haa or Paro valley in their mountain bikes. The drive to Chele La is through dense spruce and larch forests. Depending on the season you will encounter various sights such as a frozen river, waterfall, Rhododendron forest and yaks grazing peacefully.  On a clear day, you can view Mt. Jumolhari (the third -highest mountain in Bhutan at 7,326 meters) along with other sacred mountains Jichu Drake and adjoining peaks to the North West, as well as the view of both the valley (Paro and Haa).

In the Evening we’ll visit Paro market and take a stroll through the town’s main street. And this successfully concludes your whole trip package with serving traditionally farewell Dinner in the hotel.

Day 05: Paro Depart

After breakfast drive to the airport for flight to onward destination. Our sincere service doesn’t end here. While you and tour guide exchange thanksgiving and bids farewell, our good-humoured drivers and his cheerful assistant gently stack your valuable luggage on the trolley, helps you to push till check-in counter and waits until you get through to board gate.

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Package Inclusion:

  • Airport Transfers
  • Stay in hotels as indicated in the itinerary
  • All three meals, tea and coffee
  • Dedicated SUV vehicle with a driver and
  • English Speaking Guide throughout the Trip
  • Short hikes, Packed lunches and snacks wherever required
  • Monumental Fees
  • Bhutan Tourism Development Fee
  • VISA processing Fee

Package Does Not Include:

  • International Airfare
  • Refreshments and bottled drinks and alcoholics/gratuities
  • Cost arising out of Flight Cancellation/road blockades/ landslides and events beyond our control
  • Expenses of personal nature and any other expenses not mentioned in the above cost
Tashichodzong, Thimpgu+Tashichodzong, Thimpgu
Paro Dzong+Paro Dzong
Punakha Dzong+Punakha Dzong
Duchula pass+Duchula pass

Contact us

Tel: +975 7779 3477
Email: info@absolutehappinessbhutan.com

Address
Dazhi Lam road, Kabisa
Thimphu, Bhutan

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