Trip OverviewU nwind in the glorious natural beauty of Bhutan. Let the fresh, crisp Himalayan air cleanse your body and mind as you take a step into wellness and dip into healing hot springs of Gasa. This journey takes you through significant cultural and spiritual sights of Western Bhutan and into the remote ravishing beauty of Gasa. From the lush and melodious valleys of Haa, over the stunning views of East Himalayan peaks at Chelela and Docula passes, see the vibrant cultures of Thimphu and Punakha, and hike to the marvellous and iconic Tiger’s Nest (Taktsang) Monastery. Reclaim your inner balance and serenity on this unforgettable journey.
Day 1 – Paro; Day 2 – Haa; Day 3&4 – Thimphu; Day 5 – Punakha; Day 6&7 – Gasa; Day 8 – Day 8 – Punakah; Day 9-11 – Paro.
USD 2,385 (approx. AUD 4,055)*BOOK NOW PAY FOR TRIP
All prices based on twin share. Single supplement: USD405
* AUD estimate based on AUD/USD 1=0.7
Inclusions: accommodation, meals, dedicated transport, entry fees to museums and attractions, licensed guide and driver, visa processing fees, all administrative costs.
Exclusions: international airfares (contact us to arrange), comprehensive travel insurance, personal expenses and tips.
Day 1 – Paro
Arrive into Paro, a beautiful valley encapsulating a rich vibrant culture, scenic beauty and plenty of myths and legends. During the flight to Paro, look out for the breathtaking views of Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga and other famous Himalayan peaks, including the sacred Mount Jomolhari and Mount Jitchu Drake in Bhutan. After being picked up at the airport you will drive towards the gorgeous Haa Valley passing through Chelela Pass (alt 4,200 m) which, on a clear day, affords a spectacular view of Mount Jumolhari and Jitchu Drake. Colourful rhododendrons and primulas blooms abounds in Spring. Overnight in Haa Valley.
Day 2 – Haa
Toady, visit Katsho Village then head an hour uphill to the Juneydrak Hermitage, a cliff side retreat that contains the footprints of Maching Labdrom (1055 – 1132), a female Tibetan yogin, student of the famous Tibetan master Phadampa Sangye (1045 – 1117). The place is a perfect spot for a leisurely picnic lunch, or add a bit of excitement by arranging an optional horse riding session (additional charge). Overnight in Haa Valley.
Day 3 – Thimphu
From Haa drive through the valleys to Bhutan’s capital city of Thimphu – the seat of government, religion and commerce in Bhutan. Thimphu is a unique city with unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. The city maintains a strong national character in its architectural style and is a city with no traffic lights, enroute visit Dobji Dzong – a 16th century fortress is perched on a hilltop and flanked by a hair-raising ravine descending to the basin of the Pachu-Wangchu. Meet the women and children at READ (Rural Education and Development) Centre in Changjiji and see how this low-income housing colony is working to bring education to underprivileged communities. Head up to Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang) to see the largest statue of Buddha in the whole of Bhutan and the commanding view of this valley. The Buddha is visible anywhere within Thimphu city. Overnight in Gaa Yul Homestay surrounded by a beautiful flower and vegetable garden. For the culinary hearted, you may want to partake in some cooking lessons!
Day 4 – Thimphu
You’ll have a full day to explore Thimphu. Hikers and outdoor lovers, hike from Sangayang to Wangditse Monastery for great views of the impressive Tashichho Dzong, the seat of government and central monastic body of Bhutan. From here you can be driven to Wangchu and take a 50 minute hike to the sacred Cheri Monastery. For the culturally inclined there are many options around town. Go to the Folk Heritage Museum for a glimpse into how life is in Bhutanese villages. See the vibrant designs of Bhutanese weaving at the National Textile Museum. Browse the Arts and Crafts Bazaar, or learn about how Daphne tree barks are turned into handmade paper at the Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory. Along the Thimphu riverside, you’ll find VAST Gallery which features modern Bhutanese art and sculpture, and if you happen to be here on a weekend, the Centenary Weekend Market offers a range of local and regional organic fruits, vegetables and snacks. Further along is Children’s Park – a popular botanical garden playground for children, and young Bhutanese alike. From here, follow the sound of cheering and singing to the National Stadium archery field across the road to watch Bhutanese men best each other at their national sport. As the sun starts to set, the 500 year old Tashichoedzong will be open to public. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 5 – Punakha
Drive from Thimphu – Punakha via Dochu La – a beautiful mountain pass (alt 3,140 m) fluttering prayer flags and a spectacular set of 108 miniature chortens (stupas). On a clear day, you will get glimpses of the stretch of towering, awe-inspiring Himalayan peaks. Visit Punakha Dzong, arguably the most beautiful and impressive architectural building in Bhutan. Overnight in Punakha.
Day 6&7 – Gasa Hot Springs
Today you will be driven North to the remote dzongkha (district) of Gasa where you will spend the next two nights. Visit the Gasa village and school, interact with the locals, then head to the unique circular-designed 17th century Gasa Dzong (named after the region’s protecting deity “Tashi Thongmon”) fortress which served as a defending barrack against the invading Tibetan army. Make your way to the Gasa Tsachu (hot springs), renowned for its medicinal properties and dip into this wonderful healing experience. Overnight camp at Gasa.
Day 8 – Punakha
Today takes you back towards Punakha. Along the way, you’ll see the fascinating Khamsum Yule Namgyel Chorten built by the Queen Mother of the 5th King to wish for peace in the world. The chorten houses the best of the spiritual art works on its inner walls, including numerous paintings of Buddhist teachers and tutelary deities of Bhutan. This is a great temple to study the symbolic meanings from frescoes and sculptures. At the Nalanda Buddhist College (referred to as the Dalayna by locals), take the opportunity to converse with the monks about their instructions of Bhutanese Buddhism in the Vajrayana tradition . If you think Buddhism is all serious, a turn about the fertility temple Chimmi Lhakhang dedicated to the famous and unorthodox Buddhist master, Drukpa Kinley (endearing referred to by the Bhutanese as the ‘Divine Madman’), who is associated with the phallic symbols. Learn about the master’s deeds painted on the walls and ask the locals you meet about his stories. You may be surprised by what you find out! The temple is also frequented by couples who are praying for children and families who come to be blessed. Babies whose parents have brought them here to be named will bear the first name of ‘Kinley’ or ‘Chimmie’. Overnight in Punakha.
Day 9 – Paro
Continue onto Paro and visit the National Museum (Ta-Dzong ) – originally the watchtower for the Paro Dzong on the hillock overlooking the Paro valley. The museum is a treasure trove of Bhutanese art, relics, religious thangka paintings, natural history artefacts, and Bhutan’s exquisite stamps, coins, and handicrafts collection. A short visit here will give you an idea of the cultural and ecological richness of Bhutan. Goto the 16th century Rinpung Dzong, ‘fortress of the heap of jewels’ to see where some of scenes from the film ‘Little Buddha’ by Bernardo Bertolucci in 1995 was filmed. Relax and get ready for tomorrow’s unforgettable hike to Tiger’s Nest! Overnight in Paro.
Day 10 – Paro
Today you’ll hike up Bhutan’s most iconic and awe-inspiring Tiger’s Nest (Taktshang) Monastery. Perched seemingly perilously on the edge of a sheer cliff face, Taktshang is one of Bhutan’s most venerated pilgrimage sites. According to legend, Tibetan Buddhist Master Guru Rinpoche miraculously flew here on the back of a tigress, meditated in a cave here for three months and converted the whole of Paro valley to Buddhism. Resting at an altitude of 900 meters above the valley, Taktshang is an architectural wonder and the spectacular four-hour walk will be sure to be one of your most overwhelming and unforgettable experiences. After descending from the heights of Tiger’s Nest, visit one of the oldest temples in Bhutan – 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang which was built by the famous Buddhist Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo. The house next to the museum contains photographs and artifacts belonging to the late Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche – the Vajrayana master, scholar, poet, teacher, and head of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. Overnight in Paro.
Day 11 – Paro
After breakfast, you will be transported to Paro International Airport for your onward journey.
Image courtesy of kcocco.com.