Bhutan, officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by the People’s Republic of China. Bhutan is separated from the nearby country of Nepal to the west by the Indian state of Sikkim, and from Bangladesh to the south by the Indian states of Assam and West Bengal.
Bhutan existed as a patchwork of minor warring fiefdoms until the early 17th century, when the area was unified by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who fled religious persecution in Tibet and cultivated a separate Bhutanese identity. In the early 20th century, Bhutan came into contact with the British Empire, after which Bhutan continued strong bilateral relations with India upon its independence. In 2006, Business Week rated Bhutan the happiest country in Asia and the eighth-happiest in the world, based on a global survey.
Bhutan’s landscape ranges from subtropical plains in the south to the sub-alpine Himalayan heights in the north, with some peaks exceeding 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). The state religion is Vajrayana Buddhism, and the population of 691,141 is predominantly Buddhist, with Hinduism the second-largest religion. The capital and largest city is Thimphu. In 2008, Bhutan made the transition from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy, holding its first general election. Bhutan is a member of the United Nations and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC); it hosted the sixteenth SAARC summit in April 2010. The total area of the country has been reported as 38,394 square kilometres (14,824 sq mi) since 2002. The area had previously been reported as approximately 46,500 km2 (18,000 sq mi) in 1997.
Day 01 Arrive Paro International Airport
The flight to Paro crosses the Himalaya Mountains, affording spectacular views of the awesome peaks including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks in Bhutan. Upon arriving in Paro, you will be greeted by our representatives and transferred to your hotel.
In the afternoon you can visit the Paro Dzong. It was built in 1646 and now houses government offices religious institutions, as do all the Dzongs (forts) currently. You’ll cross a traditional wooden bridge on the way to the Dzong. You can then tour the National Museum, formerly the watchtower for the Dzong. Its now houses a collection of fine arts, paintings, thankas, statues and antiques. Afterwards you will visit Kyichu Lhakhang, the oldet temple in the country. In the evening you can stroll through the Paro market an town. Overnight in Paro.
Day 02 Paro – Thimphu (morning hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastry)
After breakfast hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan’s most famous monastery. Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown on the back of a tigress from Singye Dzong in Lhuntse to meditating a cave where Taktsang Monastry now stands. It is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900 meters above Paro valley. The hike to reach the viewpoint to the monastery makes for a nice half-day excursion. After lunch, drive to Thimpu. In the evening you can explore Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan and absorb the lifestyle of the people. You can also visit some interesting handicraft shops. Overnight in Thimpu.
Day 03 Thimphu sightseeing
After breakfast you will visit the King’s Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972). Changgangkha Monastery, the radio tower (for a great view of Thimpu Valley and the Thimpu Dzong), and the zoo, which contains the national animal of Bhutan: the takin. From there you will visit the nunnery temple, the National Library (where ancient manuscripts are preserved), abd the School of Arts and Crafts (also known as the painting school). After a relaxing lunch, you will visit the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, a traditional paper factory, the majestic Tashichodzong and Simtokha Dzong (the oldest fortress in the kingdom). Overnight in Thimpu.
Day 04 Thimphu – Wangduephodrang(3 hours drive)
After breakfast you will drive to Wangduephodrang, with a stop in route for tea at Dochu La (3,100 meters), where on a clear day you can get spectacular views of the Himalayas. After lunch you will drive to Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan and visit Punakha Dzong, which is noteworthy both for being one of the most beautiful dzongs in Bhutan and also for having been built the first Shabdrung in 1637. On the way back you will stop at Metshina Village ant take a 20 minute walk through the rice fields to Chimi Lakhang, which is a fertility temple, where you may receive a special fertility blessing if you wish.
Day 05 Wangduephodrang – Thimpu
In the morning you will drive back to Thimpu. In the afternoon you can visit the Textile Museum and the Folk Heritage Museum or you can hike to Tango Monastery, which was built by the “Divine Madman” in the 15th century. It’s a center of study for monks and it affords a great view of the Thimpu Valley. On the grounds of the monastery is a “sin-testing” tunnel – it is said that if you have sinned, you will get struck in the tunnel and if are without sin, you will go through with ease! Overnight in Thimphu
Day 06 Trek Begins, Thimpu – Phajoding (distance 8 km, time 4-5 hours)
The trek is all uphill through forest, mostly blue pine for the first day. The camp is at Phajoding Monastery and you can walk around the area and see the monastery, altitude 3,780 meters.
Day 07 Phajoding – Simkota Tsho (distance 8km, time 5-6 hours)
The trial continues to climb for about an hour until you reach Phume La (pass) at 4,210 m. From here you will have a view of Gangkhar Puensum, the highest mountain in Bhutan, as well as other Himalayan peaks. The trial then descends to Simkota Tsho (lake), where the camp is located. It’s possible to go trout fishing here if you wish, altitude 4,040 m.
Day 08 Simkota Tsho – Jimilang Tsho (distance 11 km, time 5 hours)
The trial will take you on short ups and downs and through a yak herder camp. Before arriving at the camp the trial will descend through dwarf rhododendrons. The camp is at Jimilang Tsho (Sand Ox Lake), where you will again have the chance to fish for giant trout, which the lake is known for. There is a good view of Jichu Drake Mountain from here, altitude 3,880 m.
Day 09 Jimilang Tsho – Jangchu Lakha (distance 11 km, time 5 hours)
The trek will begin with an hour-long ascent, following the ridge above the tree line and then eventually descending. The camp is near a yak herders’camp and there are lovely views of Jumolhari Mountain from here. You may spot some pheasants in the area, altitude 3,780 m.
Day 10 Jangchu Lakha – Jili Dzong (distance 10 km, time 4-5 hours)
There are many ups and downs above the tree line during the first half of the trial. The trial then descends through rhododendron and thick alpine forest to Jili Dzong and across Jili La (pass) at 3,490 m. You can visit the dzong and explore the area. The camp is a way below the dzong, in a yak pasture, altitude 3,450 m.
Day 11 Trek Ends, Jili Dzong – Paro (distance 10 km, time 4 hours)
The trial today is all downhill, pass some villages. The trial ends near the Ta Dzong in Paro. You will be met by your driver and driven to your hotel at Paro. In the evening you can visit a traditional farmhouse and if you wish, enjoy a typical Bhutanese dinner. Overnight in Paro.
Day 12 Departure to own destination
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