East – West Cultural Tour
The flight into Paro on our national carrier, Druk Air, is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of our country. In clear weather, magnificent views of the world’s highest peaks, give way to the lush green Paro valley as you land.
- Day 01: Arrive Paro
- Day 02: Paro – Thimphu
- Day 03: Thimphu
- Day 04: Thimphu – Punakha
- Day 05: Punakha – Trongsa
- Day 06: Trongsa – Bumthang
- Day 07: Bumthang
- Day 08: Bumthang – Mongar
- Day 09: Mongar – Trashigang
- Day 10: Trashigang – Tashi Yangtse – Mongar
- Day 11: Mongar – Bumthang
- Day 12: Bumthang – Wangdue
- Day 13: Wangdue – Thimphu – Paro
- Day 14: Paro – Paro
- Day 15: Paro – Airport
The flight into Paro on our national carrier, Druk Air, is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of our country. In clear weather, magnificent views of the world’s highest peaks, give way to the lush green Paro valley as you land. Your Bhutanese escort from Chhundu Travel & Tours will greet you on arrival, and then drive you through the beautiful valley of Paro to the Hotel. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel.
Today in the morning we spent exploring the Paro. The first stop is Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. Below the museum is the Paro Rimpung Dzong, the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley. A short walk takes you to the base of the dzong and across a traditional cantilevered, covered bridge. A short distance further is one of the innumerable archery grounds. (Archery is the national sport of Bhutan). If we are lucky, we may catch a match in action. We then drive to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong 16 km up the valley. Built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the dzong was destroyed by accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. Explore the ramparts and on a clear day experience an unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m). After lunch we depart for the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu. Dinner and overnight at The Hotel.
The day begins with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten built in honour of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and the Dupthop Lhakhang one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan. We then visit the National Library, stocked with ancient Buddhist manuscripts, and the Painting School where traditional art is still kept alive through instructions in the art of painting Thangkas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls). After lunch we drive to the Traditional Medicine Institute where medicines are prepared according to ancient practices, and to Lungtenzampa to observe the Royal silver smiths at work. Other highlights include a visit to the Tashichho Dzong, seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan). The Tashichho Dzong is open to visitors only in winter when the Je Khenpo and the Monk Body move to Punakha the ancient winter capital of Bhutan. We finally visit the Handicrafts Emporium, which has all types of Bhutanese handicrafts for sale. Overnight at the Hotel.
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 often offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges. After stopping for tea and the view, we descend along a series of hairpin bends to the fertile valley of Punakha. We take a stroll through the small town and view the Punakha Dzong, winter seat of the Je Khenpo and ancient capital of Bhutan, remarkably located between the rivers of the Mo (Female) Chu and Pho (Male) Chu. The dzong is open to visitors only in summer when the Je Khenpo and the Monk Body are in Thimphu. Lunch at Hotel Zangtopelri in Punakha. In the afternoon visit the home of a local family for a close up view of everyday Bhutanese life. Overnight at the Hotel.
The drive to Trongsa takes approximately 5 hours. We start early for the fabulous drive to the central valleys of Bhutan. We pass Wangdue, one of the major towns and district headquarters of Western Bhutan where we make a short stop to view the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong dramatically located on the spur of a hill at the confluence of the Tsang Chu and Dang Chu rivers. We then climb steadily passing through semi-tropical vegetation and then to Pelela Pass (3,300 m) with an alpine environment of rhododendrons and dwarf bamboo. This pass is traditionally considered the boundary between West and East Bhutan. We stop near the pass for the packed lunch. If the weather is clear the Himalayan ranges can be seen, particularly the peak of Jhomolhari (7,314 m) to the west. En route we cross Chendebji Chorten built many centuries ago to suppress a demon. Overnight at Trongsa Lodge.
After breakfast we go out to view the impressive Trongsa Dzong, ancestral home of the ruling dynasty. In olden days the dzong commanded the passage between East and West Bhutan. We visit the Ta dzong, an ancient watchtower, above the main dzong, which has an interesting display of Mongol armour, and then explore the quaint town of Trongsa. We then drive to Bumthang valley (described as “ one of the most beautiful spot in the Himalayas” across the Yotongla pass (3,400 m). Overnight at Bumthang Lodge.
After breakfast we drive through the picturesque valley of Bumthang to visit the sacred sights, shrines and monuments. We also view the Jakar Dzong (Castle of the White Bird) and observe the famous Bumthang Yatha (woollen cloth) being woven. In the afternoon we visit the woodcraft centre followed by a stroll through the interesting town of Bumthang.
After an early breakfast, we drive to Mongar (198 kms) which takes 8 hours. At a distance of 42 kilometres from Bumthang, the road reaches the Ura Shelthangla, where there is a magnificent view in clear view of Bhutan’s highest peak, Gangkar Puensum (7,500 m). The road then descends into Ura valley by long loops across fields and pastures. Ura’s main occupations raising sheep, yaks and the introduction of potato farming has brought a certain degree of prosperity of people. At the far end of the Ura valley, the road starts to climb towards the highest pass in Bhutan, Thrumshingla (3,800 m). The mountains of eastern Bhutan can be seen in clear weather. From the pass, along the highway, the road begins a dizzying descent passing through semi-tropical forests of bamboo and liana before reaching Kuri Chu river. In the early evening we arrive at Mongar. Packed lunch will be served en route. Overnight at the Mongar Lodge.
After breakfast we visit Mongar Dzong which houses the local monastic community and the District Administrative offices. Mongar is the first town, which is built on a mountainside instead of in a valley. The valleys are usually little more than riverbeds and the mountain slopes, which rise abruptly from the rivers, flatten out as they approach their summits.We then drive 4 hours to Tashigang, away over the Korila pass (2,450-m). We check in to the Tourist Lodge and refresh ourselves. After lunch, we set out to view the Tashigang Dzong and stroll through the bustling town. This is a relatively relaxed day to recuperate from the long drive from Bumthang to Mongar. Overnight at the Tourist Lodge.
After an early breakfast, we drive for two hours to Tashi Yangtse (the nation’s nineteenth and most recently created, district) and the impressive monument of Chorten Kora. This whitewashed monument is uniquely constructed in the Nepalese style and is the site of a great annual religious festival drawing devotees from all over Bhutan and neighbouring India. We also view the Tashi Yangtse Dzong. Packed lunch is served on one of the many inviting spots along our route. From Tashi Yangtse, we drive straight to Mongar. Dinner and overnight at the Mongar Tourist Lodge.
Overnight in Bumthang
The drive takes about 7 hours via Trongsa and Wangdue. Pack lunch will be served at convenient spot. Dinner and overnight at Guest house in Wangdue.
After breakfast we return over the Dochula Pass to Thimphu. The drive will pass by the Mendegang village. Lunch at the hotel in Thimphu. After shopping for souvenirs we depart for Paro. Overnight at Hotel Druk, Paro.
After breakfast drive to the base camp of the famous Taktsang Monestary where you will start the 5-6hrs hike to Taktsang Monestary. Lunch will be served at the Cafeteria at the half way point on your way back from Taktsang. Please note that lunch will be all vegetarian dishes only.