Trip OverviewAn off the beaten path journey to the medicinal springs of Dangchu rumoured to cure wounds, sores, arthritis, and even cancer (!). Visit the Dangchu school and meet the locals, listen to their stories about the meditation cave of Guru Rinpoche and the monastery with 100 foot prints of the fairies. Take a stroll in the wetlands of Phobjikha/Gangtey valley, where the endangered Black Necked Cranes from the Tibetan plateau fly over the Himalayan ranges (some over Mt Everest) to Bhutan to escape the harsh northern winters. Visit Thimphu and learn how Draktsho Vocational Training Centre for Special Children and Youth in Thimphu is giving special needs children and youth a chance at making a living. Last, but certainly not least, hike up to the iconic Tiger’s Nest that is perched on the edge of a cliff-face and marvel at this incredible feat of architecture and act of devotion.
USD 2,157 (approx. AUD 3,667)BOOK NOW PAY FOR TRIP
All prices based on twin share. Single supplement: USD362,
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, Thimphu; Day 2 – Thimphu; Day 3 – Docula, Punakha; Day 4&5 – Dangchu valley; Day 6 – Phobjikha/Gangtey; Day 7 – Punakha, Paro; Day 8-10 – Paro.
Day 1 – Paro
Arrive into Paro International Airport. 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. Paro a beautiful valley encapsulating a rich vibrant culture, scenic beauty and is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest temples and monasteries. The fertile soil in the valley produces a bulk of the locally famous red rice from its terraced fields. Mout Jomolhari (7,314m) reigns in white glory at the northern end of the valley and its glacial water plunges through deep gorges to form Pa Chhu (Paro river). You’ll be picked up at the airport and transferred to the capital city of Thimphu. Spend the afternoon seeing some of the cultural sites such as the National Memorial Chorten, and the Weaving Centre in Thimphu. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 2 – Thimphu
Today you’ll get the chance to visit the Draktsho Vocational Training Centre for Special Children and Youth, a non-profit organisation that gives children and youth with various types of disabilities vocational skills training so that they have better opportunities for employment. You can then choose to take an hour hike to Cheri Monastery or spend the day exploring Thimphu valley. Visit the Folk Heritage Museum to see how life was lived in a Bhutanese village a hundred years ago, or the National Textile Museum which has a collection of intricate and exquisite Bhutanese hand-woven textiles. Head to the Institute of Zorig Chusum to see the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. Modern Bhutanese art is featured at VAST gallery situated on the banks of Thimphu river and on the weekend, the Centenary Weekend Market is just up the road where a range of organic local farmers produce and snacks can be found. There is also an arts and textiles market on the other bank of the river on the weekend and a daily one within the main township. As the sun starts to set, visit the magnificent Tashicoedzong – the 500 years old fortress in the grandeur of traditional Bhutanese architecture that houses the office of the King, ministers and various government organisations, as well as headquarters for the central monastic body of Bhutan. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 3 – Punakha
From Thimphu, head East to Dochula pass (3,100 meters), a beautiful mountain pass framed by 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. Descend into Punakha valley, the ancient capital of Bhutan. Visit Punakha Dzong, arguably one of the most impressive and beautiful in Bhutan situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers). The three-story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. Then take 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 you would have seen on your travels in Bhutan so far. 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 4-5 – Punakha, Dangchu Valley
From Punakha, drive 4-5 hours to Dangchu valley and spend the next two days exploring the school and township and soaking in the medicinal spring water that is known to cure wounds, sores, arthritis, cancer etc. Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave is about 1.5 hrs walk from the camp site, close by is also the monastery of 100 foot prints of fairies. Overnight at campsite.
Day 6 – Gangtey/Phobjikha valley
After breakfast, drive to Phobjikha/Gangtey (6 hours), one of the few glacial valleys in Bhutan and chosen home of endangered Black Necked Crane, which migrates from the central Asiatic Plateau to escape its harsh winters. See cranes roosting and dancing in the valley during the months of November to February. Explore the valley on the easy Gangtey Nature Trail and learn about the cranes’ habitat at the Black Necked Cranes Information Centre. Overnight in Phobjikha/Gangtey at a homestay.
Day 7 – Gangtey, Paro
Retrace the road back West towards Paro Dochula pass. Overnight in Paro.
Day 8 – Paro
Today you’ll hike up to 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, 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. If there’s time in the afternoon, visit the National Museum (Ta-Dzong) which contains displays of Bhutanese art, relics, religious thangka paintings, natural history artefacts, and Bhutan’s exquisite stamps, coins, and handicrafts collection. Then see the 16th century Rinpung Dzong (‘fortress of the heap of jewels’) where some of the scenes from the film ‘Little Buddha’ by Bernardo Bertolucci in 1995 was filmed, or the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, 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. Relax in the evening with a traditional Bhutanese Hot Stone Bath. Overnight in Paro.
Day 9 – Paro
Today you have the option of exploring Paro valley further, or drive to Chelela La for an expansive view of the Himalayan peaks and a short hike. In Paro, you can visit the Ta-Dzong hich contains displays of Bhutanese art, relics, religious thangka paintings, natural history artefacts, and Bhutan’s exquisite stamps, coins, and handicrafts collection. For a bird’s eye view of Paro walk uphill further to Zuri Dzong. Overnight in Paro.
Day 10 – Paro
After breakfast, you’ll be transported to Paro International Airport for your onward journey.
Cover image courtesy of Jan Abadschieff