Arrive Phuntsholing. Explore the town. Evening at leisure.
Drive about 7 hours to Thimphu visiting Kharbandi monastery.
Drive to Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan. Stop at Hongtsho for a short hike to Hongtsho Monastery, founded by 14th Drukpa hierarchy of Tibet in 1525. Stop at Dochu-La pass (3,088m/10,13ft) and admire the beauty of the pass surrounded by prayer flags and 108 little chortens (Stupas). Take a short visit to Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (monastery) overlooking the unique 108 spiral of Khangzang Wangyal Chhortens.
A short drive and a 40 minute hike across the river takes you to the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, a newly built stupa showcasing fine Bhutanese architecture and arts. Proceed to the Punakha Dzong, built strategically at the Junction of Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers in 1637 to serve as the religious and administrative center of the region. After lunch drive to Lobesa and take a short walk through farm houses and fields to Chimme Lhakhang. This monastery was built in the 15 century and dedicated to the famous Lam Drukpa Kunley or divine mad man. He is one of the most famous saints in Bhutan and his temple is visited mostly by childless couples.
Drive 6/7 hours crossing 3 passes over 3000 meters. The route offers magnificent views of the Himalayas and beautiful landscape through scattered hamlets and forest of rhododendrons and pine. After one and half hours from Chendebji Chorten arrive at a small town known as Trongsa meaning new village. The town mainly consists of fresh Tibetan refugees but the most impressive of all is the Trongsa Dzong. The whole of eastern Bhutan was controlled from this fortress during the mid 17th century. Visit Trongsa Dzong and proceed another 2 hours to Bumthang visiting the Chume weaving center.
Today you will hike to Petsheling Monastery. It is located about three hours hiking distance above the Swiss Guest house on a steep incline. It offers fine panoramic views of the central Bumthang valley. Stay high and circle the end of the valley to reach Kunzangdra Gompa. Then descend steeply to the road and drive back to Bumthang visiting Membartsho lake.
The few houses and potato fields that make up Tangsibi are 24 km from Bumthang. The road climbs to 3420 m, where there is a monument with a cross, in memory of a Indian road supervisor who died here in a 1985 road accident. The road finally crosses Shertang La pass (3590 m), also known as Ura la. It’s then a long descent into the Ura valley to the Ura village which lies below the road. The descent on foot from the pass makes for a nice hour-long walk into the village.
Am – take a short walk to nearby Jamabay lhakhang where one of the most sacred festivals of Jambay Lhakhang Drup takes place every year. Then walk about 30 minutes north of the valley to Kurjey lhakhang. This lhakhang is complex of three temples, on the right beneath a giant cypress tree, the main temple built in 1652 by Minjur Tempa, Trongsa Penlop. This temple houses the cave where Guru Rimpoche had meditated and left his body imprint. The middle temple was built by the First King of Bhutan during his tenure as Trongsa Penlop in 1900. The third temple is recently constructed under patronage of Her Majesty queen mother Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuk. Visit Tamshing lhakhang which is located opposite Kurjey Lhakhang on the other side of the river. If was built by Terton Perma Lingpa.
PM – visit Jakar Dzong. The road to the dzong starts near the junior high school and climbs westwards to a parking lot. The final approach to the dzong is made on foot along a stone-paved path.
Drive 5-6 hours to Gangtey via Pele La pass. You may take a walk from the pass till Gangtey monastery which is about 7 km but there is no separate walking trail so one has to follow the main road.
Today we walk to the Gangtey Gompa valley at an altitude of 2800 meters (about 1 & half hours). The only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan is located here. Drive back to Dewachen. PM – visit nearby crane center or free to relax.
Early morning breakfast and take the Sashila Nature trail to Khelekha. The trail is about 3-4 hours of walk through thick forests filled with wild orchids. It goes through quaint villages and yak pasture land. If lucky we will come across some wild life and birds. Towards the end of the trail, it gets little hard on the knees with slopes going down the mountain side, it is advisable to be wearing good walking shoes. The vehicle will be waiting at the end of the trail to drive us to Thimphu.
Tango Monastery – The trail to the Goemba is a climb of 280m & takes about half an hour if you follow the steeper shortcut, or about an hour if you take the longer, more gradual trail. Lama Gyalwa Lhanampa founded the goemba in the 12th century. The present building was built in the 15th century by the ‘Divine Madman’, Lama Drukpa Kunley.
Cheri Goemba – A short distance beyond the turn-off to Tango Goemba the roads end at Dodina. A walk of about 1 1/2 hours leads to Cheri Goemba. Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, built this goemba in 1620 & established the first monk body here. A silver chorten inside the goemba holds the ashes of the Shabdrung’s father.
Thimphu s/seeing – visit Painting school, Paper factory and Motithang zoo. Drive back to Paro and afternoon walk along the Paro river through farmhouses and paddy fields into the Lango village (about 1 hour walk).
AM – visit the ruined fortress of Drugyel dzong which still attracts visitors due to the strategic location of the fort. The fort defended the Paro valley from the Tibetan invasion from the north in the early 17th century. On clear weather Mount Chomolhari 7320 meters can be seen towering over the dzong.
PM – Wind through pine forests past the tiny monastery of Gemjola high above Uma Paro to a pretty picnic spot in the grounds of the fortress-like monastery of Zuri Dzong. Traverse across to Ta Dzong, housing Bhutan’s National Museum and on to Rinpung Dzong. The trail then leads across Paro Chhu River via a traditional covered bridge and into Paro town.
Day hike to the Taktsang monastery (4-5 hours) The monastery clings to a huge granite cliff 800 meters from the paro valley. It is believed that the great saint Padmasambhava came in the 7th century on a flying tigress and meditated in a cave for 3 months. The demons were subdued who were trying to stop the spread of Buddhism and converted the Paro valley into Buddhism. During the end of the 17 century a monastery was built on the spot where the saint mediated and it is a pilgrimage site for every Bhutanese to visit once in their life time. Stroll back to Resort. Evening at leisure.
After breakfast drive to the airport and depart.