In this two week tour of Bhutan, you will journey through the western districts of Paro, Thimphu, Haa, and Punakha, as well as visit the scenic Gangtey valley. The highlight of this tour is the extraordinary three-day visit to Bumthang district, the most beloved tourist destination in Bhutan.
In Paro, you will visit the ruins of the Drugyel fortress, the Paro Rinpung fortress, Kyichu monastery, and the National Museum which was built to serve as a watchtower for the Paro fortress. The museum holds an impressive collection of precious antiques and artifacts. You will also hike to the most iconic and sacred places in Bhutan, Taktsang (Tigers nest) built precariously on a hillside cliff.
From Paro, you will fly to Bumthang for an unforgettable three-day stay. On your first day, you will visit Bhutan’s most sacred Buddhist sites such as the Tamshing monastery, which houses original un-restored paintings by Terton (treasure-finder) Pema Lingpa, Kurjey monastery, and Jambay monastery, which was built by the divine powers of Tibetan King Songtsen Gempo in on a single day. You will visit the magnificent Jakar fortress, also known as ‘castle of the white bird’. According to local legend, when Buddhist saints convened to decide the site for a monastery, a big white bird rose suddenly in the air and settled on a spur of a hill. This was interpreted as an important omen, and the hill was chosen as the site for a monastery and for the fortress. In the evening, you will taste the popular Bumthang cheese fondue at the Swiss Guest House.
On your second day, you will visit the Bumthang Brewery, the brewer of the famous Red Panda beer, for a quick tour of the brewery and beer tasting. You will also visit the Burning Lake (Mebar Tsho), where Terton (treasure-finder) Pema Lingpa jumped into with a burning butter lamp and reemerged with Buddhist relics in one hand and the butter lamp in his other hand still burning bright. You will then visit the Ugyen Chholing Palace, a 17th century country manor converted into a museum that was financed by the owners and established with artifacts found in the manor. It was set-up with the hope of sharing the family’s heritage with others and preserving the structure as a religious and social center. A visit to this museum is a unique opportunity for travelers to get a glimpse of the life in a Bhutanese lord’s mansion from a bygone era.
On your third day, you will drive to Ura valley and hike across the valley. Ura valley is paradisiac settlement of about 40 closely packed houses along cobblestone streets and a monastery, exuding a extraordinary medieval appeal. You may time your trip in May to attend the famous Ura Yakchoe (Ura Yak dance) festival. During the festival an ancient sacred relic is put on display for people to receive blessings from it.
In Punakha, you will visit the magnificent Punakha fortress, and the Khamsum Yulley Chorten,
In Gangtey, also known as Phobjikha, you will visit the Gangtey monastery, and the Black-necked crane Information Center.
In Haa, you will visit the 7th century White temple (Lhakhang Karpo) and the Black temple (Lhakhang Nagpo), both built in the 7th century by Tibetan king Songtsen Gempo in his mission to build 108 monasteries in one day. You may time your visit in the summer to attend the famous Haa Summer Festival, a jubilant celebration of the nomadic lifestyles and traditions of Bhutan. Set among pristine lakes and high alpine valleys, the Haa summer festival provides enriching insight into the lives and traditions of Bhutan’s nomadic herders. Immerse yourself in this one of a kind experience by playing the local sports, tasting delicious home-cooked cuisine and local liquor (Ara), and enjoying traditional songs and dances.
In Thimphu, you will visit the Tashi chho Dzong, National Institute for Zorig Chusum (13 traditional arts), National Memorial Chorten, Jungshi paper factory, Takin reserve, Buddha Dordenma statue, and the adjacent Kuensel Phodrang Park where you can view a panoramic look of Thimphu town.
In addition to visiting all of the above cultural and historical spectacles, your itinerary will also include enjoyable recreational activities such as learning how to play archery, relaxing in a traditional hot stone bath, and sampling a range of interesting local cuisine