Day 1 : Arrive in Paro by Druk Air
Arrive Paro by druk air, the only national carrier. The flight offers you beautiful view of mountains and landscapes. Upon arriving the Paro Valley and after completing visa formalities, you will be met by Gawaling Tours & Treks’ representative at the airport. We will then drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, it would take us one and half hours.
Day 2 : Thimphu
Morning, we will attend the Weekend Market(if the day coincides), where all manner of goods are for sale: everything from handicrafts to dried yak meat is available to the hundreds of people who shop at this weekly event. It will be also interesting to see especially how the farmers engage themselves in carrying out commerce.
Next, we will visit the National Painting School where we will see the young men and women at work in the production of handicraft items. Some specialize in mask making, some in wood curving, some in slate curbing, and others in embroidery and scroll painting.
After lunch, we will visit the Folk Heritage Museum. It has a collection of utensils and objects of religious rituals depicting the daily life of the Bhutanese. The Textile Museum nearby has a wonderful collection of unique Bhutanese textiles and it is here where we will be introduced to Bhutan’s exquisite weaving tradition. The fabrics are intricately designed and are used as clothing, blanket, and ceremonial wear and put to many other uses.
We can also visit the Handmade Paper Factory and Handicraft Emporium, attend the Weekend Market where wide assortments of goods are sold, and Traditional Medicine Institute, where traditional medicine is manufactured and being dispensed to cure diseases.
After the market, visit the National Memorial Chorten, Mini Zoo at Motithang to see the Bhutan’s national animal- Takin, and Changangkha Monastery. Overnight stay in a hotel.
Day 3 : Thimphu to Punakha
Drive over the DochuLa pass in the morning. On clear weather, we can see around 200 miles of Himalayan summits bordering northern Bhutan.
As we descend from the pass, we will notice that the vegetation changes from sub-alpine to sub-tropical. At the lower elevation, we can see banana plants, cactus and other semi-tropical plants, and the green terraced rice fields of Punakha.
We begin our explorations of Punakha valley with a visit to Punakha Dzong, located between two rivers. It serves as the winter residence for the central monastic body.
Next, visit Wangdiphodrang Dzong built in 1638 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and then take a hike to Chimi Lhakhang, the monastery dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kunley ” Divine Madman” knows for his outrageous behavior. Overnight stay at hotel.
Day 4 : Punakha to Paro
After breakfast drive to Paro; en-route stop to visit Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress built in 1629 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (the man who unified Bhutan).
Afternoon, visit Ta Dzong (watch tower) that houses the National Museum. The museum has an interesting collections of different costumes and thangkas from various parts of Bhutan. After Museum visit, we drive towards the north to see the Drukgyel Dzong, which is in ruins. Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel built it in 1649 to commemorate a victory over the Tibetan forces. Unfortunately the fortress was destroyed by fire and was never rebuilt. On clear weather, we will be able to see Mt. chomolhari from the Drukgyal Dzong. En-route visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the two oldest monasteries built in Bhutan by the King of Tibet, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. Overnight at a hotel in Paro.
Day 5 : Paro
Paro is a valley of religion and myth. The most famous landmark, the Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest), stands on a granite cliff about 800 m above the valley. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche, a famous Buddhist saint, flew to Paro on a tigress and meditated at Taktsang. The monastery is considered as a national treasure of Bhutan.
The hike to Taktsang would take us around two and half hours. To reach a cafeteria, a point from where one can enjoy a great view of the monastery is more than an hour walk from the road-head uphill. Those interested can walk further 45 minutes uphill to get a closer view of the monastery and return to the cafeteria for lunch. The journey downward to the road-head would take us less than one and half hours.
Day 6 : Departure
After breakfast drive to the airport for departure.