Day 1: Arrive in Paro, Explore Paro
Arrive in Paro in Western Bhutan, where you will be met at the airport by your guide from Bespoke Bhutan Tours. It is a short drive to your hotel in the Paro Valley.
After lunch, we will visit Paro Dzong (a fortress, housing both civil administration offices and a monastery) and explore Paro town, with its wooden fronted shops, where you can buy local handicrafts.
If time allows, we may also visit Kyichu Lhakang, in the Paro Valley, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, dating back to the 7th century.
Day 2: Drive to Punakha Valley (4.5 hours)
We leave Paro for the drive east to the Punakha Valley. En route, we will stop at the Dochu La road pass to wander among the 108 chortens and take in the views. On a clear day, a panorama of snow-capped peaks fills the horizon.
Not far from the Punakha valley, we will visit Chimi Lhakhang, the temple of the Divine Madman. It is a short 20 minute stroll through rice fields to reach the temple.
Day 3: Explore Punakha Valley
We will start the day with a 45 minute hike up through fields of chilies, cabbages and rice along the banks of the Mo Chhu to the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten. From the top floor of this imposing stupa, built in the 1990s, in honour of the King, there are stunning views across the Punakha Valley.
This afternoon, we will visit the impressive Punakha Dzong, at the confluence of the Mother and Father Rivers. Depending on timing, we may also visit a nunnery, on a hill overlooking the valley.
Day 4: Drive to Thimphu (3.5 hours)
The drive from Punakha to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital, takes about 3.5 hours. Before reaching the city, we may stop to visit Simtokha dzong, at the entrance to the Thimphu Valley.
After checking into our hotel in Thimphu, we will stroll along Norzim Lam, Thimphu’s main street. There are several places of interest close by, including the National Memorial Chorten, the Postal Museum, the famous traffic policeman and a wide range of local shops. Enjoy free time this afternoon to explore downtown Thimphu.
Day 5: Explore Thimphu
We begin the day with a short drive to the Buddha Dordenma, one of the largest Buddhist statues in the world, built on a hillside, overlooking the Thimphu Valley. Several temples are housed inside the statue. From there, we will drive to the takin reserve, to see Bhutan’s national animal and then on to the telecom tower. It’s about a one hour walk from the tower, along the ridge, to Wangditse and Dechen Phodrang monasteries, before descending back down to the road where our transport will be waiting.
Optional visits for this afternoon include a traditional paper factory, the National Textile Museum and the National Library, or, if visiting on a weekend, the Centenary Farmers Market. It may also be possible to watch a game of archery in the national stadium.
Day 6: Drive to Paro (1.5 hours)
We say goodbye to Thimphu this morning for the 1.5 hour drive back to Paro.
This afternoon, a short drive takes us to Sangchokkar Buddhist College, above Paro town. if you would like to experience a traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath, we can arrange this at a rural farmhouse. Or enjoy some free time to explore Paro town.
Day 7: Tiger’s Nest hike
Today we will hike up to Taktsang, Tiger’s Nest monastery, perched on a cliff face 800m above the Paro valley. Legend has it that this is where Guru Rinpoche landed on the back of a flying tigress, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan for the first time. Pilgrims from all over Bhutan make the steep 1.5 to 2 hour climb up to the monastery. We will visit several ancient temples in the monastery complex and take in the stunning views back along the Paro Valley. We will have lunch in the café on the way down from the monastery.
After the hike, relax at the hotel or visit Paro town.
Day 8: Departure
After breakfast in the hotel you will be transferred to Paro airport for your flight home.