All Access from West to East

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 take a short drive to our hotel. In the evening, you may take a walk through the colorful streets of “downtown” Paro. Overnight at hotel in Paro.

Day 2: Paro Valley sightseeing.

After breakfast, visit to Ta Dzong (Watch Tower) but now it house as the National Museum of Bhutan, and then walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong which has a long and fascinating history.
In the afternoon visit to Drukgyel Dzong, the ruined fortress from where Bhutanese repelled several invasion of Tibetan armies. Then visit a traditional farm house which offers good insight into lifestyle of local people. While returning visit to Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 3: Hike to Taktsang Monastary & Drive to Thimphu.

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 one hour to the teahouse, from where you may either opt to go further uphill near the monastery for one and half hour more. 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. Later in the evening drive to Thimphu for two hours. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.

Day 4: 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 (or “painting school”), where Bhutanese children can 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 after noon we visit indigenous hospital, hand made paper factory, gold and silver smiths and finally to the handicraft emporium. Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.

Day 5: 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 6: Punakha to Phobjikha.

After our breakfast we drive to the east ascending through Black Mountain to remote Gangtey in Phobjikha valley. The beautiful Gangtey Goenpa monastery sits on the top of the hillock that overlooks the wide Phobjikha valley and is one of the oldest and the largest Nyingma School in the western part of Bhutan.

Phobjikha is a designated conservation area; flocks of rare and endangered Black-Necked Cranes migrate here from Tibet and Siberia between October and March. These cranes (called ‘Thrung Thrung Karmo’ locally) have inspired many Bhutanese folk songs and dances and many myths and legends exist about the bird. Watch their interesting mating dances and take a short walk of the valley. Overnight at the hotel in Phobjikha.

Day 7: Phobjikha to Bumthang.

Drive back to the main road, cross the black mountain at Pele la pass and continue scenic drive through ever changing vegetation, dramatic landscapes, passing many villages and arrive in Trongsa after about three hours. Lunch and short stop in the town before continuing across Yotong la pass to Bumthang, which takes another less than three hours. En route, stop at Zugney village to see the weavers at work again. Overnight at the hotel in Bumthang.

Day 8: 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 brewery. Over night at the hotel in Bumthang.

Day 9: Excursion to Tang Valley.

Today we drive to Tang the third valley of Bumthang, we are going to visit the Tang Ugen Choling palace built in 1825 by Deb Tshokey Dorji the Trongsa governor. The hike is for one hour from the road point. Your lunch will be arranged in the palace. On your return visit Taag Rimochen Lhakhang (Tiger stripe Temple). Drive back to Bumthang. Overnight at the hotel in Bumthang.

Day 10: Bumthang to Mongar.

From Bumthang, it takes about 8 hours to drive overland to Mongar. The road crosses two passes (Sherthang La at 3573m and Thrumshing La at 3800m) and traverses several wild roads that cling to the side of the hills. It is one of the most spectacular drives in the country descending 3200m in a distance of 84km.

Your drive passes through wide pasturelands and fields to the valley Ura (3000m) and just before the pass there is a magnificient view in clear weather of Bhutan’s highest peak, Gangkar Puensum (7540m) to the north. Continue drive to Mongar passing through Sengor and Namling which has the reputation for being the most hair-raising section of the road across Bhutan. From Lingmithang (650m), the road climbs through corn and potato fields for about half an hour to the small town of Mongar at 1600m. It is the first town built on a mountainous side instead of in a valley. The valleys in Eastern Bhutan are usually little more than riverbeds and mountain slopes that rise abruptly from the rivers flatten out as they approach their summits. Overnight at the hotel in Mongar.

Day 11: Mongar to Lhuentse.

After breakfast visit Mongaar Dzong which was built in 1950 after that we drive to Lhuntse descending down for half hour and follow Kurichu up stream the biggest river in Bhutan for two and half hours till we reach Tsa Zam and start hiking for about one hour to Khoma, a village considered to be the best for KISHU THARA textiles. Later in the evening walk back to the road point and drive to Lhuentse. Overnight at Lhuentse.

Day 12: Lhuentse to Trashigang.

In the morning visit Lhuentse Dzong and drive to Mongar for lunch. After lunch we continue our journey to Tashigang which takes about 3 hours. Leaving Mongar, the road climbs past fields of corn to the Kori La pass (2400m) from where the road drops into the upper reaches of the Manas Chu drainage, switch backing down through corn fields. En route at Ngatshang Lhakhang, a small private goemba that can be figured out from the small buildings alongside the road. The road descends further through the village of Yadi and following the Gamri Chu you arrive at Cha Zam (cha is iron, zam means bridge) from which point it is a gradual climb uphill for about 20 minutes to the town of Tashigang at 1100m. Overnight at the hotel in Tashigang.

Day 13: Excursion to Trashi Yangtse.

A full day excursion to Tashiyangtse visiting Gom Kora and Chorten Kora stupa built in typical Nepali architecture. Also you will see the wood works and weaving. Return to Tashigang for overnight. Overnight at the hotel in Tashigang.

Day 14: Excursion to Ranjung & Radhi.

Today we drive to Ranjung and visit the largest monastery in the east and the small town. After that we drive for half an hour to the village where it is famous for the RAW SILK (BURA) weavers. We are going to take the picnic lunch. In the evening we return to Trashigang. Overnight at the hotel in Trashigang.

Day 15: Trashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar.

After break fast we drive down towards southeast of Bhutan to Samdrup Jongkhar, bordering with India. On our way we stop at the Handloom weaving center were you will see young girls learning how to weave. We continue our journey making lots of stops for views and pictures. Overnight at the hotel in Samdrup Jongkhar.

Day 16: Samdrup Jongkhar Depart.

After break fast we drive to Guwahati, India airport for two and half hours, to catch your flight to onward destinations.

Trashi Delek!

All Access Bhutan

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