In this tour you will visit four regions of eastern and central Bhutan – including the sacred valleys of Paro and Bumthang, and the “bustling” city of Thimphu – the seat of the worlds newest democracy in 2008. Plus you will discover the isolated regions of eastern Bhutan where few tourists venture. We will visit fortress-like Dzongs (temples), see traditional handicrafts being made and make visits to smaller villages on one of our famous “village strolls”. Depending on the timing of the tour we will include local religious dance festivals on the intinerary.
Day 01: Arrive by flight to Paro
The flight to Bhutan takes you over the great Himalayas, offering (clouds permitting!) the most scintillating scenery of the world’s highest glacial peaks. Upon your arrival representative from Himalayan Dragon Tours & Treks will receive you and transfer you to your hotel through the fascinating valley of Paro.
Day 02: Paro sightseeing
After breakfast, visit to Ta Dzong (national Museum). Rinpung Dzong (the fortress of the heap of Jewels built in the 17th century). After lunch visit ruined Drukgyel Dzong, the place of a historic war between Tibet and Bhutan in the 17th century; Kyichu Lhakhang, built in the 7th century during the reign of the first Tibetan king. Evening leisure walk in Paro mini town. Overnight in hotel.
Day 03: Paro to Thimphu (56 Kms.)
Morning hike to Taktsang Monastery, the hike will take about an hour uphill till the viewpoint and another hour to monastery. Guru Rinpoche visited and meditated in 8th century at this particular site. Lunch at cafeteria on way down. Later stroll down to the road and drive to Thimphu about one and half hours. Thimphu is the modern capital town of Bhutan, its has about 100,000 thousand inhabitants. Overnight in hotel.
Day 04: Thimphu sightseeing.
Sightseeing includes – Folk and Heritage Museum; Late King’s Memorial Stupa; Traditional Hand made Paper Factory; Painting School; Drubthob Lhakhang, Tashichhodzong; the textile museum; Sangay Gang to see Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. National Handicraft Emporium. Evening free walk in busy Thimphu City.
Day 05: Thimphu to Punakha (74 Kms.)
Depart to Punakha across Dochula pass (3,100m). The pass offers the most spectacular view over the greater eastern Himalayas including highest peak of Bhutan. Short excursion about an hour to the temple of “the Divine Madman”, through villages and the rice fields. Arrive Punakha the capital city of Bhutan till 1955. The Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot, resides there during the winter. P.M visit Dzong. Overnight in hotel.
Day 06: Punakha to Trongsa via Phobjika Valley (143 Kms.) Depart to Trongsa via Gangtey.
Phobjikha is one of the few glacial valleys in Bhutan and chosen home of the rare black necked crane, which migrate from the central Asiatic Plateau to escape its harsh winters. Explore Phobjikha and also visit Gangtey Monastery. Continue your journey crossing Pele la Pass (3,300m), the traditional boundary between east and west. Stop for late lunch at Chendebji Chorten. Arrive Trongsa and check into the lodge for overnight.
Day 07: Trongsa to Bumthang (69 Kms.)
At morning visit Trongsa Dzong. Then visit Ta Dzong (watchtower museum). Drive to the Kuenga Rabten Palace, south of Trongsa. After lunch drive about 3 hours to Bumthang. Stop at chume weaving centre producing typical woolen product from Bumthang valley. Overnight at Mountain Lodge or similar.
Day 08: Bumthang sightseeing
Morning – visit Kurjey Lhakhang; Jambey Lhakhang; short visit to Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 15th century by Pema Lingpa, the treasure revealer; Jakar Dzong, the Dzong of white bird, which houses the administrative seat of the district. Evening, take a stroll through Bumthang market area. Overnight in hotel.
Day 09: Bumthang to Mongar
The journey continues eastwards winding through more rugged terrain, spectacular views will take about 6 to 7 hours. Pass through the picturesque Ura village before climbing sharply to the highest motorable pass in the Kingdom, the Thrumshingla pass – 3,700 m (12,465ft). Gradually drop to Sengor, watching cascading water falls on the way. The descent stops at 2,130ft. on a bridge over the Kurichu. Vegetation becomes more tropical and we ascend again through pine forests, maize fields and eastern hamlets to Mongar town. Visit the recently built Mongar Dzong. Overnight at local hotel.
Day 10: Mongar to Trashigang.
This trip of about 96 kms passes through Kori la pass (2,450m). The road descends rapidly through cornfields and banana groves arriving the famous zigzags of Yadi, which is a recent settlement. We then follow the Gamri River until the bifurcation to Drametse, this temple perched on top of a steep hill was founded by Choeten Zangmo and is the most important monastery of eastern Bhutan. The famous masks dance with drums originated from here. About 30km onwards lies Trashigang, the biggest and most populated district in the country. Visit Dzong. Overnight at the Hotel (Note: Accomodation in Trashigang is very “rustic”).
Day 11: Trashigang and day excursion to Rangjung & Radhi Village.
Today, we’ll visit Rangjung Monastery one the Nyingma monasteries overseen by Garab Rinpoche. Although it’s relatively new it has a unique Tibetan style architecture and paintings are completely different from other temples. A few km beyond is Radhi village, well known for raw silk weaving in east.
Day 12: Trashi Yangtse and day excursion to Chorten Kora
24kms from Trashigang visit the temple of Gom Kora, set on a small alluvial plateau overlooking the river. Gom Kora is the famous place where Guru Rinpoche dedicated in order to subdue a demon. In former times Trashiyangtse was an important centre because it lay on one of the caravan routes leading from western and central Bhutan. Evening return to Trashigang.
Day 13: Trashigang to Samdrup Jongkha
Drive to Samdrup Jongkha about six hours. Enroute stop Wamrong Zangdopelri. Overnight hotel (Basic).
Day 14: Samdrup Jongkha – Gauhati Exit.
Morning drive to the Gawahati airport in Assam(India) about three hours from Bhutan border for flight to onward destination.
Best of West, Central & Remote East Bhutan Details:
• March – April
• September – November
Tour length: 14 days, 13 nights
Activity type: Touring
Tour price: From US$4,300 (AU$4,210)
Note: This tour can be modified
• Visit the most sacred valleys and temples in Bhutan
• Larger cities and small villages
• Discover the remote East
• Cross many high passes
• Wide range of handicrafts
• Alpine to tropical landscapes