Day 1: Arrive in Paro, Bhutan on Druk Air, the national airline of Bhutan.
Druk Air flights into Bhutan are spectacular. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu, over the foothills from Kolkatta or following the coastline of the Indian Ocean en-route from Bangkok, every Druk Air flight is memorable and offers incredible scenery. (Get your camera ready!) After arrival at the Paro airport and sailing through immigration and custom formalities, you will be greeted by your All Access Bhutan guide and driver and warmly welcomed to the enchanting Land of the Thunder Dragon. We will drive for two hours alongside mountains, rivers, and fields of red rice to Thimphu, our capital city. After your first lunch in Bhutan, we will visit Nado, Bhutan’s famous traditional incense maker and the colorful Gagyel Lhendup weaving center. Later in the evening, you may wander and explore the fascinating streets of Thimphu, the world’s only capital city without a traffic light! Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
Day 2: Thimphu sightseeing.
Early in the morning, you can take a self-guided fifteen-minute walk from the hotel to the Memorial Chorten, a shrine built in the memory of the late king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Many Bhutanese people gather here to pray every day. After breakfast, we’ll begin our sightseeing with a visit to a nunnery on the outskirts of Thimphu, Changgangkha Lhakhang, We will then visit the School of Arts and Crafts where students follow an eight-year program in traditional arts, such as drawing, painting, woodcarving, and sculpture. Visit Textile Museum, Folk Heritage Museum, Mini Zoo to see national animal – Takin and the national library. In the afternoon we’ll visit our indigenous hospital, hand made paper factory, gold and silver smiths and finally make a stop at a handicraft emporium. Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
Day 3: Thimphu to Punakha.
In the morning we drive to Punakha, an old winter capital of Bhutan. En-route stop at Dochu La Pass, 10,000ft/3,048m to view the eastern Himalayas, including Bhutan’s highest mountain, Gangkar Punsum, 24,770ft/7,550m. The road then drops down through varied – ever changing forest, finally emerging into the highly cultivated Punakha valley. In Punakha, visit huge and impressive Punakha Dzong. Later in the after noon we’ll visit Chimi Lhakhang (the fertility temple) built by lama Drukpa Kunley (Divine madman) in 1499. He subdued the demoness of the Dochu la with his ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom.’ A wooden effigy of the Lama’s thunderbolt is preserved in the Lhakhang, and childless women go to the temple to receive a wang (blessing) from the saint. It’s a 20-minute gentle walk across the rice fields from the road at Sopsokha to the temple. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana.
There are few young monks at the temple, which is surrounded by a row of prayer wheels and some very beautiful slate carvings. And later in the evening we visit Wangduephodrang Dzong (fortress) dates back to 1639. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 4: Punakha to Trongsa.
Drive down the valley to the town of Wangdiphodrang. Our road gradually winds its way up towards the Pele La Pass at 11,152ft, where we make stop for views of the snow clad peaks, including that of Bhutan’s sacred peak Mt. Chomolhari. We again make a stop for tea / coffee at Chedebji Chorten (Stupa) patterned after Swayambhunath in Kathmandu. On arrival in Trongsa, check in the hotel and after lunch we visit the inner courtyard of historical Trongsa Dzong. Trongsa is a very popular place with largest Dzong in Bhutan and certainly one of the most impressive ones. It was from here that the present royal family emerged as the most powerful force at the beginning of this century. From the fortress we walk up to the watch tower for 20 minutes passing the town of Trongsa. Overnight at hotel in Trongsa.
Day 5: Trongsa to Bumthang.
After break fast, drive to Bumthang for 3 hours across the Yotong La pass 11,234′, then descend into Chumey valley, the first of four Bumthang valleys. In Chumey, visit Yathra Weaving centers (a Colorful wool weaving). Then drive onto the Jakar the center of Bumthang valleys. Bumthang valley is considered one of the most sacred in the kingdom and innumerable legends surround the area. It is here that the kings were cremated and the present royal families trace their ancestry back to a famous saint called Pemalingpa, who was also a smith in Jakar Township. Overnight at the hotel in Bumthang.
Day 6: Bumthang Valley sightseeing.
In the morning drive to Jamba Lhakhang the 7th. Century Temple, Visit Jakar Dzong (literally meaning castle of the white bird) is located on picturesque place overlooking the Choskhor Valley and was first built in 1667. Then visit Wangdichholing palace, built in 1857 on the site of the battle camp of the Penlop of Trongsa, Jigme Namgyal. It was the first palace that was not designed as a fortress. Wangdichholing was the early home of the third king, who moved the court to Punakha in 1952. Visit Kurjey Lhakhang temple, named after the body print of Guru Rinpoche, which is preserved in a cave inside the oldest of the three buildings that make up the temple complex. The first temple is the oldest and was built in 1652 by Mingyur Tenpa, when he was Penlop of Trongsa. The second temple was built by Ugyen Wangchuk, the first king of Bhutan in 1900 when he was still Penlop of Trongsa. The third building in the complex is an elaborate three-storey lhakhang built by Ashi Kesang Wangchuk, in 1984 under the guidance of Diglo Khyentse Rimpoche.
Walk across the suspension bridge to Tamshing and visit Tamshing Goemba monastery, established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and is the most important Nyingmapa Goemba in the kingdom. Pema Lingpa built the structure himself, with the help of Khandroms (female celestial beings) who made many of his statues. Also, worth visiting in Jakar is cheese factory and microbrewery. Over night at the hotel in Bumthang.
Day 7: Bumthang to Phobjikha.
From Bumthang, we will ascend out of the valleys on a twisting mountain road towards the Yotong La (11,200ft/3,370m). Near the pass is an area of wild cane/bamboos that is a well-known habitat for Red Panda. The road then descends to Tongsa but instead of stopping here for the night you will drive on to Chendebji Stupa our lunch stop, over the Pele La (11,000ft/3,353m) and start the descent for few kilometers to the junction where it leads to the glacial valley of Phobjikha. Overnight at hotel in Phobjikha.
Day 8: Phobjikha to Paro.
In the morning drive west to Thimphu. First descending to Wangduephodrang and Punakha valley and the climb to Dochula pass again and en route Thimphu for lunch and finally to Paro valley. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 9: Paro Valley Sightseeing.
In Paro we visit Bhutan’s national museum, a fascinating place housed in an old watchtower above the huge Paro, magnificent Paro Rinchen pung Dzong which houses administrative seat of the local government and residence of regional monk body, Paro Kichu Monastery the oldest temple in Bhutan and the old ruin Drugyal Dzong. Overnight at hotel in Paro.
Day 10: Hike to Taktsang Monastary.
Your hike this morning is to site of Taktsang Monastery (meaning Tiger’s nest), which is perched some 2,000ft/600m up on a sheer cliff overlooking the valley and was said to be where the legendary Indian saint, Guru Padmasambhava, flew from Tibet on the back of a tiger to defeat five demons, who were opposing the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan. The hike is about two and half hour to get to the monastery. Lunch is served at the tea house with the majestic views of Taktsang above and the Paro valley at the bottom. The return trek to the road head is downhill and takes about half the time it has taken you to come up. Meet the transport and drive to Paro. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 11: Depart Paro.
After breakfast at the hotel we’ll drive to the nearby Paro airport. On your flight, it’s likely that you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of Mt. Chomolhari, Bhutan’s second highest peak, and Mt. Everest, the world’s highest mountain.