Bhutan – The Last Shangrila is an easy paced holiday that combines three most visited destinations of Bhutan i.e. Thimphu, Punakha Valley and Paro. Here the travellers capture the Himalayan character of Bhutan. Here you will visit monasteries of Thimphu areas, marvel at the views of Punakha Valley, enjoy riverside character of Paro and end the trip with a visit to the Tiger’s Nest monastery. Bhutan is not carbon neutral, it is the only CARBON NEGATIVE country in the whole world.
Bhutan – The Last ShangriLa Highlights
Arrival at Paro. The flight into Bhutan takes you over the great Himalayas, offering the scintillating scenery of the world's highest glacial peaks. Upon arrival meet our representative and get introduced to your private driver for the entire trip. Drive to Thimpu (55 Kms / 1 hour), the capital city of Bhutan, is known for its laidback character, monasteries and viewpoints. On the route visit Simtokha Dzong, the oldest fortress of the Kingdom which now houses the School for religious and cultural studies. Spend the evening at leisure or explore Thimphu on own.
Explore Thimphu to experience its very laidback character. First in the morning you visit the Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang) located at a short drive from Thimphu city centre, offering a good view of the Thimphu valley. Pay your obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha, the largest statue in the country and then walk around to take a glimpse of the valley. Next, visit the National Memorial Chorten, a monument of world peace and prosperity. The paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy. Rest of the day is available at leisure or explore Thimphu on own.
Drive in the morning to Punakha Valley (3 hours drive), the old winter capital of Bhutan. The road from Thimphu climbs via a series of zigzags over the Dochu La Pass, 10,000 feet/3,048 m where on a clear day, you will get panoramic views of the Eastern Himalayas including Bhutan's highest mountain, Gangkar Punsum, 24,770 feet / 7,550 m. The road drops down through varied forest finally emerging into the highly-cultivated Punakha valley.
Thereafter in the afternoon take a hike to Chimi Lhakhang, the divine mad monk’s temple. It is a enjoyable walk through a lovely village. Thereafter visit the courtyard of Punakha Dzong. Return to Punakha hotel by evening and thereafter spend rest of the evening at leisure or explore Punakha on own.
Expert Tip: Those interested in Bird watching may stop at Dochu La Pass and explore a little before moving on to Punakha. Dochu La is renowned for high altitude Himalayan birds.
Go for a hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten. A beautiful hike takes you to the regal Khamsum Yuelley Namgel Chorten, which was built to remove negative forces and promote peace, stability and harmony in the changing world. The Chorten dominates the upper Punakha Valley with commanding views across the Mo Chhu and up towards the mountainous peaks of Gasa and beyond. Evening return to Punakha.
Expert Tip: Those interested in Himalayan Bird watching may opt for full day guided birding trip to Jigme Dorji National Park
Today you Drive back to Paro (3½ hours drive). Upon arrival check in at the Hotel. Spend the rest of the day at leisure and/or exploring beautiful Paro on own.
Start exploring Paro with first visiting Ta Dzong, once a watchtower, built to defend Rinpung Dzong during inter-valley wars of the 17th century. Ta Dzong was inaugurated as Bhutan's National Museum in 1968. It is home to a collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings and Bhutan's exquisite postage stamps. The museum circular shape and collections are displayed over several floors.
Next walk down a hillside trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, which was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan. The Dzong houses the monastic body of Paro, the office of the Dzongda (district administrative head) and Thrimpon (judge) of Paro district. The approach to the Dzong is through a traditional covered bridge called Nemi Zam. A walk through the bridge, over a stone inlaid path, offers a good view of the architectural wonder of the Dzong as well as life around it. Return to hotel by late afternoon. Rest of the day spend at leisure and/or exploring Paro on own.
Expert Tip: Ta Dzong is closed on Sundays, Mondays and Govt holidays.
Take an excursion to Taktshang Pelphung Monastery or 'Tiger's Nest'. It is one of the most renowned of Bhutan's monasteries. It is located on the face of a 900 m sheer cliff and requires a short hike or pony ride. From the trail head at Rumtokto (2600m), the walk till the Cafeteria is a steep one hour uphill (about 350 m ascent). From the Cafeteria (2940 m), one can get a good close-up view of Taktshang. Going uphill for another 45 minutes is a high observation point (3140 m) where there is a Chorten. Walk further for half an hour to reach monastery. Inside the monastery, there are several shrines or temples with few monks in residence. Upon return, choose to take Lunch at the Cafeteria. After lunch, retrace back the base point (takes about half an hour). Return to Hotel. Spend rest of the day resting or exploring Paro on own.
Expert Tip: If you wish to spend more time/energy and are looking for a challenging experience, you may start early and trek beyond Takstang to see several monasteries, temples, retreat houses in the surrounding area.
Depart from Paro for onward international destination.