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 Punakha (1300m / 4265 ft) via Dochu La pass (3,100m): 4 hours
We drive through the Paro Valley to the confluence of Paro and Thimphu rivers where three different styles of chortens adorn the confluence. We continue our drive to Punakha via Dochu La Pass, where on a clear day we get spectacular views of the Himalayas. Next, we drive downhill through rhododendron, fir and hemlock forests. On the way, we visit Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple dedicated to the Divine Madman or Lama Drukpa Kuenley. Overnight in Punakha.
Day 03: Explore Punakha
We begin our tour of Punakha after breakfast. Punakha Dzong was built between 1637-1638 and is the second oldest and the second largest dzong in Bhutan. Later, we visit Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten. It is located on a beautiful hillock called Ngezergang and contains elaborate paintings dedicated to the old sect of Buddhism. Today we also visit the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup nunnery which is set in a gorgeous location on a mountain ridge with spectacular views of the surrounding valleys. While here, we can admire the huge nepali-style stupa which is bright, modern, airy and has the most beautiful paintings and statues.Overnight in Punakha.
Day 04: Punakha to Trongsa (2,180m/7,150ft): 146km, 4-5 hours
We leave Punakha in the morning for Trongsa and pass through Wangdi province on the way. Here, we visit the Wangdi Dzong (fortress), which happens to be the only dzong in Bhutan with its original roof. Next, we continue our drive over Pele La pass at 3300m which forms a part of the Black mountain range that divides the country into east and west. Enroute we may take a short break and go for a hike to the remote village of Rujubji. The drive is long, but the landscape is picturesque and worth the drive. Overnight in Trongsa.
Day 05: Trongsa to Bumthang (2,800m / 9,185ft): 68km, 2-3 hours
Early in the morning we proceed to Bumthang through lush valleys and hilly forests. Along the way we stop at a yathra (textile weaving) factory, where the yathras are designed with patterns unique to Bumthang, and we can even watch some of the weavers at their looms. Overnight in Bumthang.
Day 06: Hike to Ngang Lhakhang: 3 hours
After breakfast we begin our hike to Ngang Lhakhang temple. We walk up the Bumthang River from Thangbi Gompa to the small region of Ngang Yul (Swan Land). The temple is located about 100m above the valley. It is believed that Lama Namkha Samdrup built the temple in the 15th century. After touring the area we hike back to Bumthang to spend the night.
Day 07: Hike to Petseling Monastery: 3-4 hours
We begin our hike to Petseling Monastery after breakfast. We ascend on a steep trail while enjoying panoramic views of the central Bumthang Valley. After touring the monastery, we may cross the ridge a little further beyond the Petseling Monastery to better enjoy the scenic views of the nearby mountains as well as the monastery. Later, we hike back to town and end today’s hike at Tamshing Lhakhang temple. Overnight in Bumthang.
Day 08: Bumthang to Phobjikha Valley (3,000m/9,800 ft):129km, 5-6 hours
Today we leave Bumthang for Phobjikha Valley. The beautiful Phobjikha valley is the winter habitat and protected sanctuary for the endangered black-necked cranes. After arriving at the beautiful valley, we visit the Gangtey Gompa, a 15th century monastery which provides an excellent view of the valley. Overnight in Phobjikha Valley.
Day 09: Phobjikha Valley exploration
Today we explore the Phobjikha valley, which is believed to be one of the most beautiful places in Bhutan. While touring several villages in the valley, we get to admire the broad Phobjikha valley with its best-known marshland in Bhutan. The valley is also rich in faunal biodiversity and has, apart from the globally threatened black-necked cranes, 13 other globally threatened species. Overnight in Phobjikha Valley.
Day 10: Phobjikha Valley to Wangdiphodrang (1,310m / 4,300ft): 65km, 2 hours
Wangdiphodrang is a big village and also the home to many traditional Bhutanese houses. Here we visit the Wangdiphodrang Dzong located at the confluence of the Mo and Tang Rivers. This large dzong is a striking sight and there are excellent views across the valley. While here we also tour nearby villages which are known for their slate and stone carvings. Overnight in Wangdiphodrang.
Day 11: Wangdiphodrang to Thimphu (2,320m/7,424ft)
We leave for Bhutan’s capital early in the morning. After reaching Thimphu, we check-in to our hotel before touring a few landmarks of the city including Changangkha Monastery, the majestic Tashichhodzong and the giant Buddha statue. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 12: Thimphu sightseeing
In the morning, we visit Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972), the nunnery temple, and the mini-zoo to see Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. Today, we also visit other landmarks of Thimphu including the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Bhutanese traditional painting school, folk heritage museum and the traditional paper factory. However, some of the landmarks are closed on the weekend (Saturdays and Sundays). Therefore, if we are in Thimphu during the weekend, we explore the Weekend Market instead. Drive to Paro for a goodnight’s sleep.
Day 13: Drive to Paro and Hike to Tigerâ€™s Nest Monastery
After breakfast, we hike for 4 to 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 the 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. Overnight in Paro.
Day 14: Final departure
Today we bid farewell to the tiny Himalayan Kingdom and her friendly people. Druk Air generally departs in the early morning to avoid adverse weather conditions. Therefore, after breakfast, we will be taken to the airport in the morning for final departure.