ACROSS THE COUNTRY 13 DAYS

Bhutan is historically divided into three zones, the west, East and the central. We have designed this program to experience Bhutan from the historic west to the spiritual central valleys and to the far remote Eastern Valleys. The trip includes varieties of experiences, starting out by car from Paro you journey east through the Bhutanese Capital of Thimphu and then the picturesque valleys of Punakha, Phobjikha and Trongsa. You will spend a couple of days in the spectacular valley of Bumthang, hiking around the valley visiting the sacred and ancient old temples that dot the valley, and take excursions to villages. We continue another day of driving to Mongar through the lush pristine forest, spectacular waterfalls and medieval villages. After a night in Mongar we further continue our drive through the historical Trashi Yangtse, Trashigang and finally to the plains of Bhutan and to Guhati, India, from where you will take your flight to Bangkok, Delhi, or Kolkatta for your connection flight home.


DAY 01  BANGKOK TO PARO

PARO ALTITUDE 7,600 feet / 2,280 meters

THIMPHU ALTITUDE 7,730 feet / 2,320 meters

DISTANCE PARO – THIMPHU = 54 kilometers / 33.75 miles time taken 2 hours

Fly from Bangkok to Paro on Druk Air. From a window seat on clear days you can experience a spectacular view of Himalayan peaks as you approach Paro. On arrival you will be received by our representative, and then drive to hotel for lunch. After lunch visit the National Museum of Bhutan, (Ta Dzong) which contains works of art, handicrafts, costumes, armor and rare stamps. Take a leisurely hike down to Rimpung Dzong. You will walk through a traditional covered bridge across the river to your waiting car and drive to your hotel. Overnight at hotel.


DAY 02  PARO SIGHTSEEING

After breakfast visit, Drukgyal Dzong built in 1647 by  Shubdrung Nawang Namgyal, the Dzong was destroyed by fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. On a clear day you can get a magnificent view of the  Mount Chomolhari, alt. 7314 m / 23,990 ft. Drive south to Satsam Chorten, built in memory of the late Dilgo Khentse Rinpochey, and continue on to Kyichu Lhakhang, built in seventh century by a Tibetan King, Songtsen Gonpo. After lunch drive to Thimphu, the capital city. Overnight at hotel.


DAY 03  THIMPU SIGHTSEEING

After breakfast you will start your sightseeing of Thimphu starting off with a visit to the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, here traditional medicines are prepared according to ancient practices and a museum of herbal medicines and herbs are displayed. Then we head to The National Institude of Zorig Chusum, in this institute the 13 different traditional arts are kept alive through young Bhutanese who take 4-6 years course in different arts. Next we will visit the National Library and then to Bhutan heritage Museum, a nineteenth century house, preserved to present the visitors with how middle class Bhutanese lived in the past. A Bhutanese traditional lunch will be served here. After lunch, we’ll visit Textile Museum, the traditional gold and silver smith workshop, weaving center and other places of interest. Overnight at Hotel.

OPTION: If you are in Thimphu during Public holidays or weekends then the sightseeing will be, visit to Thimphu weekend market, which is in a permanent set of stalls, vendors from throughout the region arrive on Friday afternoon and remain selling their goods until Sunday night. It’s an interesting place to visit, where village people jostle with well-heeled Thimphu residents for the best – and cheapest – vegetables and foodstuffs. This is the only time that fresh produce is easily available and the shopping is enhanced by the opportunity to catch up on the week’s gossip. At the northern end of the market is a collection of stalls called the indigenous goods and handicrafts section. Here you will find locally produced goods, including religious objects, baskets, fabrics and different hats from various minority groups. Continue your sightseeing to Zangdopelri temple, the Changlimithang where you can witness young Bhutanese practicing their favorite archery game. Return to hotel for lunch, after lunch visit the Memorial Chorten built in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, Dupthop Lhakhang (Monastery for the nuns) and other places of interest.


DAY  04  THIMPHU-PUNAKHA

PUNAKHA: ALTITUDE: 4,162 feet / 1,250 meters

DISTANCE: 71 Kilometers / 44.38 miles

TIME TAKEN; 2.5 hours driving

ALTITUDE GAIN: 2,730 feet  & ALTITUDE LOSS 6,298 feet

After breakfast we will start our drive to Punakha early before the clouds come in and block the views of the Bhutan’s Snowcapped Mountain seen from the Dochula Pass. Leaving Thimphu the road climbs steeply through a forest of pine and cedar, festooned with hanging lichen high up near Dochula pass (10,460 feet / 3,140 m). This pass offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges, as we descend along a series of hairpin bends to the fertile valley of Punakha (1,350 meters/ 4,162 feet). Before proceeding further to our hotel we will hike up to the Chimi Lhakhang temple on a small hilltop. This temple is dedicated to the great Yogi in 14th century known as Drukpa Kuenley or popularly known as “Divine madman” to the westerners. It is believed that this temple blesses women who seek fertility; it is about one hour of round trip walk. After lunch we will proceed to Punakha town to view the majestic Dzong (fortress), situated between the two rivers Pho Chu and Mochu (male and Female River). This fortress is now used as the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (the Spiritual head of Bhutan). In the past this Dzong was the capital seat of the Kingdom. Overnight at Hotel.


DAY  05  PUNAKHA – TRONGSA

TRONGSA: ALTITUDE: 7,259 feet / 2,180 meters

DISTANCE: 143 Kilometers / 89.38 miles

TIME TAKEN; 6 hours driving

We will have a heavy breakfast today as our lunch will be late and simple. The drive to Trongsa takes approximately 6 hours. We start early for the fabulous drive to the central valleys of Bhutan through the breathtaking beauties and serenity of Bhutan’s rich flora and fauna. From Tikki Zampa (Bridge) we then climb steadily passing through semi-tropical vegetation and then to Pele la Pass (3,300 m/ 10,989 ft.)  With an alpine environment of rhododendrons and dwarf bamboo, the Pass is traditionally considered the boundary between West and East Bhutan. During the clear weather we can view the high snow capped peaks specially the Mount Chomolhari (7,314 m/ 24,355 ft.). We continue our drive till Longtoe Village through dwarf bamboo meadow, alpine oak etc for about 20-25 minute; from here we will hike downhill to Rukubji village through similar vegetation with mountain views and prayer flags dotting the landscape. Visit the village and its temple, continue our hike till the highway where our car will be waiting for us, the total hike time would be about 1-1.5 hours. From here we continue our drive to Chendebji Chorten, where we will make a brief stop. A Lama known as Shida in order to nail into the ground a demon that had been terrorizing the inhabitants of this valley and the Ada valley just over the ridge built this Chorten or Stupa in 18th century. As you enter Trongsa valley, the huge fortress of Trongsa makes you wonder if you will ever reach it. Backing on mountain and built on several levels, the Dzong fits narrowly on a spur that sticks out into the gorge of the Mangde River and overlooks the routes south and west. The view from the Dzong extends for many miles and in former times nothing could escape the vigilance of its watchmen. Arrive Trongsa and overnight at Yangkhil Resort, this resort offers a superb view of the soaring mountains and the majestic Trongsa Dzong.


DAY  06  TRONGSA – BUMTHANG (JAKAR)

BUMTHANG: ALTITUDE : 8,591feet / 2,580 meters

DISTANCE: 71 Kilometers / 44.38 miles

TIME TAKEN; 2.5 hours driving

ALTITUDE GAIN: 1,245 meters / 4,145 feet  & ALTITUDE LOSS 845 meters 2,814 feet

After early breakfast we drive to visit the majestic Trongsa Dzong, built in 1647, by Shubdrung Nawang Namgyal, this Dzong was the source of many important historical events in making of Modern Bhutan. Next, we will drive to Taa Dzong, the ancient watchtower. This tower had served as the watchtower in the ancient time. Now it is turned into a beautiful museum dedicated to the Kings of Bhutan. We will then drive to hotel for lunch. After lunch we will start our drive to Bumthang, crossing the Yotongla Pass at an altitude of 3400 meters / 11,300 feet and into the first four valley of Bumthang known as Chumey (2800 meters / 9184 feet). We will make a short stop at Tsungney village, where we will observe the weavers weaving the famous Bumthang fabric known as Yathra. Continue our drive for an hour and arrive at the Chokhor Valley (2,600 meters / 8,528 feet), if time permits your car will drop you at the Chamkhar Bazaar, from where you can walk back to the hotel after sightseeing around the market. Overnight at Yugharling Resort.


DAY  07  BUMTHANG SIGHTSEEING 

After early breakfast we will start our sightseeing around Chokhor valley. We begin our walk around the valley from our lodge carrying our daypack towards the Jambay Lhakhang temple through scattered and clustered villages of Jakar. A Tibetan King, Songtsen Gonpo, built this temple in the 7th century. Your next stop will be Chakar Lhakhang, which was built in the 8th century. This House was a castle of the King Sindhu Raja who used to rule the Bumthang Valley. Continue your hike to Kurjey monastery, it is here, the great tantric saint Padmasambhava had meditated and subdued a local deity known as Shelging Karpo. Continue your hike north and cross the Chamkhar River over a suspension bridge and we will arrive at Tamshing Lhakhang. Terton Pemalingpa built this temple in 1500s. Your final stop of the hiking will be at Konchogsum Lhakhang, built in 7th century. After Lunch we will proceed to visit a Nunnery at Bebzur, the 9th Gangtey Tulku, the lineage holder of Pema Lingpa, established this nunnery in 2001. The nuns had to live under few makeshift huts for several years until they themselves built the present Monastery in 2005.  Also known, as Pema Thekcholing is a Non-Profit Organization working to support education and generate self-sufficient girls and women in Bhutan. Pema Choling Shedra is the first Buddhist College to produce women completing masters in Buddhist philosophy and to women seeking a spiritual path. The nunnery consists of over 100 nuns coming from various society and educational background. The shedra offers a 9-year masters degree in Buddhist philosophy as well as other regular school courses. Overnight at Yu-Gharling Resort.


DAY   08  DAY HIKE TO SHUDRAG GOENPA.

Today after an early breakfast we will drive for about 50 minutes to visit Thangbi Temple, we will visit this small temple which was established in 1470s by a Karma Kagyu teacher known as Shamarpa Choki Drakpa the 2nd in line of Karma Kagyu lineage holder. It was later taken over by saint Pema Lingpa and has since been Temple for both Nyingma and Karma Kagyud practitioners. From here we will start our hike on a dirt road visiting villages, farm houses etc. Our destination Shugdrak is located on a cliff, it is believed that patron saint of Bhutan known as Guru rinpochey and his consort had visited here and meditated for several months. The hike takes you along the river down Choekhor Valley through farmlands, flower meadows and mixed coniferous forest. After the visit your car will be waiting at the roadside and drive back to hotel.


DAY  09  BUMTHANG – MONGAR

MONGAR ALTITUDE : 5,350 feet / 1,600 meters

DISTANCE: 190 Kilometers / 118.75 miles

TIME TAKEN; 6 hours driving

The drive from Bumthang to Mongar will surely enchant you as it offers one of the most spectacular views of the country. Evergreen junipers and colorful Rhododendrons cover the hillsides, as fresh new scenery unfolds with every twist and turn of the winding road. Sound of the rushing streams and cascading waterfalls greets you as you look down at the valley looming in the distance below the precipitous rock face. You will be so captivated by its beauty that the seven hours journey will hardly be noticed. Overnight at Guest House.


DAY 10  MONGAR – TRASHIGANG Via TRASHIYANGTSE

TRASHIGANG ALTITUDE : 4,329 feet / 1,300 meters

DISTANCE: 90 Kilometers / 56.25 miles (This is straight drive, since we will be travelling via Trashiyangtse the total kilometers will be 170 kilometers.

TIME TAKEN; 8 hours driving

TRASHIYANGTSE: (altitude 6,000 feet) Driving from Mongar to Trashigang you take the left road to Trashiyangtse before crossing Chazam (Bailey bridge) to Trashigang. The road traverses north and takes about 2 hours to reach at Trashiyangtse. Tashiyangtse Dzong is half-hour walk from the main road. Established in 1656, the Dzong was completely renovated in 1976.Tashiyangtse is a small village with a garden aspect and a lovely place from where to launch a couple of hour’s stroll into surrounding countryside.  The drive is again a picturesque with sub tropical forest blooming with different vegetation and wild life the place is paradise for nature lovers. On your way to Trashigang you will make several stops before turning back for Trashigang. Gomkora: 15 miles from Trashigang before arriving Trashiyangtse is a popular pilgrim site where Guru Rinpochey had meditated and subdue the demon that dwelt in the vicinity. This is also the venue for Gomkora Festival held in early spring. Duksom. A small village with many shops and small eating places, this is a small shopping area for the surrounding villages, you will find women weaving cloth in particularly colorful patterns using back strap looms. Continue your drive North to Chorten Kora, a large stupa designed similar to Nepal’s Boudnath stupa, this large white stupa was constructed in 1740 by Lama Nawang Lodey. During the second month of Lunar calendar that is March or April the people in Trashiyangtse celebrate a festival known as Chorten Kora. You have arrived in Trashiyangtse, stroll the bazaar before you turn back to Trashigang. Overnight at Guest House in Trashigang.


DAY 11  TRASHIGANG

In the morning visit the Trashigang Dzong, Afternoon free for individuals to explore the small town of Trashigang, here you will meet several different ethnic groups of eastern Bhutan that come to shop here. In particular the Merak Sakten people, who have complete different language and dress code. After Lunch we will


DAY 12  TRASHIGANG – SAMDRUP JONGKHAR

SAMDRUP JONGKHAR ALTITUDE : 735 feet / 220meters

DISTANCE: 180 Kilometers / 112.05 miles

TIME TAKEN; 6 hours driving

After breakfast we will resume our drive to Samdrup Jongkhar the border town between Bhutan and India, the drive. En route we visit the Zangdo Pelri temple at Kanglung, a town with clock tower and the college campus, this is the first degree college of Bhutan. The road climbs through fields of corn and potatoes crossing through Yongphu La Pass (7190 feet) and swoops along the top of the Bartsam valley, cuts across a ridge into another valley, then winds down again and enters into Khaling. Khaling is the home to the National institute for the disabled. After visiting the institute you will drive few kilometers further and then visit Khaling National Handlomm Development project, operated by the National Women’s Association. The hand woven products manufactured from this institute are sold in Thimphu market. You can purchase any hand woven products that you may like. You will continue the drive through sub tropical forest to tropical forest and arrive in Samdrup Jongkhar. Overnight at hotel.


DAY 13  DEPART BHUTAN

If you have tour organized in India, then you should let your Indian agent pick you up this morning from Samdrup Jongkhar. Otherwise our vehicle can drop you at the Guhati Airport (A small surcharge will be added above your cost) if this service is required.

Note: This is a sample intended to give you a general idea of the likely trip schedule. Numerous factors such as weather, tour conditions, the physical ability of the participants’ road condition etc., may dictate itinerary changes either before departure or while on the tour. We reserve the right to change this schedule in the interest of the trip participants’ safety, comfort and general well being.

Thanks again so much for all your patience and kindness while I was there.

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