Day 01: Arrival and sightseeing in Paro (2,250m/7,382ft)
As our flight nears Bhutan we can enjoy amazing views of the Himalayas including the sacred Chomolhari and Jichu Drake peaks. At the airport, we will be greeted by a representative from Himalayan Glacier who will take us to our hotel. After lunch, we visit Rinpung Dzong, meaning ‘fortress of the heap of jewels’. Next, visit Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country. From here we will be taken to the Drugyal Dzong (Bhutan Victory Fort), which was built in 1646 to commemorate Bhutan's victory over Tibetan invaders during the 1600s. On a clear day we can see Mount Chomolhari, Bhutan's second-highest mountain, at 7,314meters. Overnight in Paro.
Day 02: Paro to Haa Valley (2250m/ 7381ft): 65 km, 2 hours
In the morning we drive to Haa valley across Chele La pass at 3810m. The pass is dotted with colorful Buddhist prayer flags and offers stunning views of Mount Chomolhari and the valley below. We hike further down the pass to the Kila Gompa Nunnery, which is perched precariously along the rock face. Next, walk for a few miles through coniferous forests before driving downhill towards the picturesque Haa Valley. Overnight in Haa Valley.
Day 03: Haa Valley to Thimphu (2,320m/7,424ft): 115, 4 hours
We drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, through beautiful villages and pine forests. It is a pleasurable ride, with many optional stops along the road. After passing Dobji Dzong, our trail descends and joins the main road at Chhuzom. We can stop here and enjoy watching local farmers sitting by the roadside and selling vegetables, apples and dried cheese. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 04: Sightseeing in Thimphu
In the morning, we visit King's Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972), the nunnery temple, the mini-zoo to see Takin, the national animal of Bhutan and the radio tower (for a great view of the Thimphu Valley and the Thimphu Dzong). After lunch, we visit other landmarks of Thimphu including the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Bhutanese traditional painting school, folk-heritage museum, the majestic Tashichho Dzong and the traditional paper factory. However, some of the landmarks are closed on the weekends (Saturdays and Sundays). Therefore, if we are in Thimphu during the weekends, we explore the Weekend Market instead. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 05: Thimphu to Punakha: (1,250m/4,100 ft): 76 km, 2 - 3 hours
After breakfast, we set out on a scenic drive to Punakha with a stop at Dochu La pass (3,100m), where on a clear day we can get spectacular views of the Himalayas. From the pass, we drive downhill through rhododendron, fir and hemlock forests. We stop at Lobesa and hike through rice paddies to Chimi Lhakhang temple. This temple is dedicated to Drukpa Kuenley, or the ‘Divine Madman’, who is believed to bless women who seek fertility. After reaching Punakha, we visit the Punakha Dzong, which is situated between the male and female rivers like an anchored ship. Overnight in Punakha.
Day 06: Village hike in Punakha
After breakfast, we begin our hike to a village connected by the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan. The views from the bridge of the nearby mountains and the river below are breathtaking! We walk on a leveled trail along the Mo Chu River and come to a local village where we tour farmhouses and meet families who may offer you a cup of butter tea or an “ara” which is a local wine made of wheat or rice. Later in the afternoon, we can hike further to Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten, a delightful 3-story chorten that looks down on the upper Punakha Valley. The views of the valley and the surrounding snow-capped mountains are stunning. Overnight in Punakha.
Day 07: Punakha to Paro: 124 Km, 4 hours
After breakfast, we drive to Paro via Dochu La pass. There, we visit the new Druk Wangyal Monastery. With elaborate paintings depicting the lineage of the present monarchy and their visionary works, the Druk Wangyal Monastery is the only one of its kind in the country. After the tour of the monastery, we continue our drive with a stop in Thimphu for lunch. Overnight in Paro.
Day 08: Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery
After breakfast, we hike for 4 -5 hours to Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan's most famous monastery situated at 3,180 meters. Guru Rinpoche (spiritual master) is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. Lunch will be served in the Cafeteria Restaurant, located about halfway up the mountain. After having explored the monastery, we hike down to the valley floor and return to Paro. Overnight in Paro.
Day 09: Paro to Phuentsholing: 180 Km, 6 hours
After early breakfast, we drive to Phuentsholing, a border town in southern Bhutan. It is also the administrative seat of Chukha District of Bhutan. The town lies opposite the Indian town of Jaigaon, and cross-border trade has resulted in a thriving local economy. Lunch will be served en route in a local restaurant. The 6-hour long drive is beautiful, and we will see some waterfalls along the way. Overnight in Phuentsholing.
Day 10: Final departure
After breakfast, we drive out of Phuentsholing for our next destination.