14-Day Journey to the East

Overview

14-Day Journey to the East tour takes you across western Bhutan to the far eastern region of Trashigang. Drive through abundant natural beauty,  spectacular  landscapes, rich flora and fauna, breath taking hills and snow capped mountains and iconic Buddhist monasteries. Enjoy the drive through a  region of diverse people with unique dialects, dress, food and lifestyle.

  1. Accommodation (twin sharing basis) in Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB)
    certified 3 star hotels
  2. All meals
  3. All internal transport in a SUV or Mini Bus
  4. A licensed tour guide and a driver during the tour
  5. Entrance fees and activities as per itinerary
  6. All taxes and charges
  7. Government Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) of US $ 65 per night
  8. One time visa processing fee of US $ 40
  1. All drinks, laundry and items of a personal nature
  2. Tips and gratuities
  3. Flight tickets
  4. Insurance

Upon cancelation of the tour after booking, the following charges apply:

  1.      Cancelled 40+ days prior to arrival date in Bhutan            – Full Refund
  2.      Cancelled 35-39 days prior to arrival date in Bhutan         – 50% Refund
  3.      Cancelled 30-34 days prior to arrival date in Bhutan         – 25% Refund
  4.      Cancelled within 30 days prior to arrival date in Bhutan    – No Refund

Brief Itinerary

Arrival in Paro

Thimphu sightseeing

Transfer to Punakha

Punakha to Trongsa

Trongsa to Bumthang

Bumthang sightseeing

Bumthang to Mongar

Mongar to Trashigang

Trashigang to Mongar via Trashi Yangtse

Mongar to Bumthang

Bumthang to Phobjikha

Phobjikha to Paro

Tiger’s Nest Hike

Depart from Paro

Detail Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at Paro

Paro International Airport is the only international airport in Bhutan. As you land on the runway, you can see the most spectacular mountain valleys surrounding you. Our guide will receive you at the airport.

We move out for sightseeing around Paro. First visit to Paro Rinpung Dzong, a fortress consecrated in 1646 as the administrative and monastic center of western Bhutan. Across the cantilever bridge, your vehicle will be waiting to take you to a monastery called Dungtse Lhakhang built in 1421 by an eminent Tibetan Saint named Thangtong Gyalpo.

Next, Drive uphill to Ta Dzong (National Museum) and get oriented with Buddhist relics, art and handicrafts that will throw some lights in understanding Bhutan’s culture and history. On return, we will drive to 7th century Kyichu Lhakangone of 108 lhakhangs constructed by Buddhist Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo. This temple is considered to be very holy and holds great significance of Bhutanese history. Drive to Thimphu and overnight stay at Thimphu.

 

Day 2: Thimphu Sightseeing

Next morning, after the breakfast, we will drive up the hill Kuenselphodrang to see 169 feet (51.4 meters) tall statue of Shakyamuni Buddha called the Dordenma. Although this bronze statue gilded in gold is still under construction, it is open to tourists and safe to visit. On return, you will enjoy taking pictures of spectacular Thimphu valley with a panoramic view of the city.

Then visit the school for Bhutanese traditional arts and crafts the Institute of Zorig Chusum (the 13 crafts) to see trainees in their work. Drop in to Zilukha Nunnery to meet Bhutanese anims (nuns) and understand about their daily lives. Next, visit a Park in Motithang to see the national animal of Bhutan Takin which is supposed to be found only in eastern Himalayas. Further, drive up the hill to BBS tower (Sangaygang) to enjoy the bird’s eye view of Thimphu valley.

Next, stop at a 12th century monastery called Changangkha Lhakhang believed to be the residence of the protective deity Tamdrin. All new born babies get their names from here.

Visit to National Memorial Chorten (Stupa) built in memory of our third king of Bhutan who passed away in 1972. Enjoy the scene of locals circumambulating the chorten religiously and have a look at intricate Bhutanese designs and paintings.

Next visit is Jungshi paper manufacturing unit where handmade authentic Bhutanese paper called Desho is produced involving indigenous method.

In the evening, visit Tashichhodzong which has the seat of the monarch. Enjoy the beautiful exhibition of ancient Bhutanese architecture. Although it was originally constructed as early as 13th Century, it was renovated several times until 1952.

 

Day 3: Thimphu to Punakha

After 45 minutes’ drive uphill, stop at Dochula pass,  from where on a clear day you can capture incredible view of distant Himalayan mountain ranges. 108 Druk Wangyal miniature chorten (stupa) maintain the serenity of the place. Then, we descend down the mountains through meandering roads and myriads of colorful rhododendron shrubs that bloom in the month of April and May.

Before reaching Punakha, stop at Chhimi Lhakhang, the temple of fertility situated on a spherical hillock built in 1499. Walk about 15 minutes through a village and paddy fields. There is an interesting history behind this sacred place about Drukpa Kuenley whose crazy wisdom of teaching Buddhism through sexual references using wooden Phallus as one of the symbols for driving away evils, because of which he is commonly referred as ‘The Divine Madman’.

Visit to Khamsum Yulley Namgyel chorten built by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. It is about 30 minutes hike from a bridge, through rice fields and uphill.

 

Day 4: Punakha to Trongsa

In the morning, visit Punakha Dzong across a cantilever bridge built by Zhabdrung in 1637 at the confluence of two big rivers – Pho chu (male) and Mo chu (female). This Dzong holds a great significance in history of Bhutan.

Trongsa is a district in central Bhutan which has a great political importance. It is about 6 hours journey by bus. On the way we pass through Pele La, a mountain pass at 3,390 metre from where we descend down the mountains and enjoy the sights of rural settlements through richness and abundance of great natural beauty of several miles of pristine alpine and sub-tropical forests. We have chances to see yaks. Stop for a while over an 18th century Chendebji Chorten (2430 m) which bears some resemblance to bodhanath temple in Kathmandu in Nepal. After about one hour drive from here, we can view the most imposing Trongsa Dzong across a deep canyon majestically elevated on a hill. On one long curve we reach the Trongsa Dzong.

Built in 1648, Trongsa Dzong is the largest Dzong in Bhutan which has remained as the seat of power until the reign of second king. Even today, prior to ascending the throne, kings are invested as Trongsa Penlop (the Governor). It has the maze of massive doorways, courtyards, corridors and many temples inside. The watch tower just above the Dzong which was later converted to Ta Dzong (museum) in dedication to Wangchuk dynasty displays the archive of Bhuddhist arts and royal souvenirs.

Halt in Trongsa.

Day 5: Trongsa to Bumthang

Bumthang is Bhutan’s spiritual hub and has some of the oldest religious sites with mesmerizing landscapes and breathtaking scenery. Drive to Bumthang from Trongsa is nearly about 3 hours, crossing over the highest mountain pass of the region, Yotongla at 3,425 meter. Descend down to Chumey valley through evergreen thick forests, meadows, barley fields, apple orchards, dairy farms and dots of traditional houses. Stop at a handloom to see the weavers with their yarns busy weaving the most popular textile of the region, Yathra.

Lunch at one of the local resorts.

Visit Jakar Dzong built in 1549 by Tibetan Lam Nagi Wangchuk overlooking Chamkhar valley on a hill top believed to be the site chosen after an omen indicated by nestling of a ‘white bird’ which is the translation of Jakar. Later, stroll around shops of handicrafts and dairy products in Jakar town.

Overnight in your lodge, Bumthang.

Day 6: Bumthang

Next, visit some of the most venerated temples in the valley like Jambey Lhakhang (built in 7th century when Buddhism was introduced to Bhutan), Kurje Lhakhang (In 8th century Guru Rinpoche meditated in a cave and left behind his body prints- kurje which is still visible) and Tamshing Monastery (built in 1501 by Pema Lingpa).

Visit to Mebar Tsho (the Burning Lake), one of the most sacred sites of the region located about 30 minutes drive away from the town to Tang village. In late 15th century, Pema Lingpa the terton (the treasure discoverer) jumped into this lake and emerged with a treasure box, a paper scroll and a butter lamp still alight proving his claims to be true about hidden treasures by Guru Rinpoche centuries ago.

Day 7: Bumthang to Mongar

The drive from Bumthang to Mongar is about 7 hours on winding 198 Km road. There are spectacular views on the way with evergreen junipers and colorful Rhododendrons and captivating waterfalls. After half an hour drive, across Tang Chu, you will pass through Tangsebgi village crossing over high pass of Sherthang la (3600m). As you descend down the hill, you will reach to enticing Ura valley, one of the most beautiful valleys of the country. It has a clustered village with giant traditional houses and round sweeping slopes, fertile pastures and wide fields.

Leaving Ura valley you will enter Thrumshingla National Park and climbing up the hills, you will reach Thrumshingla Pass (3750m) from where on a clear day, you can see the highest peak of Bhutan Gangkar Punsum (7541m/2974ft). From here, you will experience an amazing descend of almost 3200m down until you reach Kuri chu valley at 570m where you can notice tropical vegetation like bamboos and ferns, mangoes and Guavas, lush greenery, corn fields and rice terraces.

Overrnight at Guest House.

Day 8: Mongar to Trashigang

Drive from Mongar to Trashigang is about 92 Km and takes close to over 3 hours. The winding road attached to the cliffs pass through Kilikhar where a Buddhist college is located. Then it climbs up through deep rhododendron forests to Kori La Pass (2400 m) and goes down to a village of Yadi (1480m). The meandering road drops to Sherrichu valley and then to the valleys of Thungdari. From here till Chazam (the famous Iron Bridge built in 15th century) the road runs alongside the river Drangme Chu from where it takes only about 20 minutes to reach Trashigang. Trashigang is considered to be one of the largest districts in Bhutan. It has Bhutan’s first accredited college, Sherubtse College founded in 1966. Yonphula Airport, the domestic flights connecting to the east is also located in this district. Trashignag Dzong was built by the third temporal ruler of Bhutan Minjur Tenpa in the 17th century overlooking the convergence of Drangme Chu & the Gambri Chu. Night halt in Trashigang.

 

Day 9: Trashigang to Mongar via Trashiyangtse

From Trashigang, after you cross Chazam, the road traverses north and takes about 2 hours to reach Trashi Yangtse (1715m). After driving 13 Km uphill from Chazam, you will come across Gom Kora (literally means ‘meditation’ and circumambulation). It is believed that Guru Rinpoche mediated here and left his body impression on the rock. This temple was also built by Minjur Tenpa in 17th century. A three day unique festival is held here in March or April. Continue driving North to Chorten Kora, a large white stupa resembling Nepal’s Boudanath constructed in 1740 by Lama Nawang Lodey. During the second month of Lunar calendar in March or April, people in Trashiyangtse celebrate a festival known as Chorten Kora.

Once you reach Tashiyangtse, you may wish to stroll around for an hour or two. Visit to the institute of Zorig Chusum (13 arts and crafts) for which this place is very popular. Return to Mongar.

 

Day 10: Mongar to Bumthang

Since today’s journey is very tedious, we will start after breakfast to Bumthang crossing the highest Pass on the way back. You can stop on the way should there be any points of interest or taking photos. Just let your guide know in advance.

 

Day 11: Bumthang to Phobjikha valley

Journey from Bumthang to Gangtey (2,800 m) is six hours. Traditional lunch in one of the farmhouses. Interact with locals and learn more of Bhutanese tradition and culture.

One of the most stunning sites is Phobjikha valley, the winter (November – March) habitat of rare migratory black necked cranes that fly from Tibetan plateau. Anyone would be enraptured admiring at the astonishing landscape formed by receding glaciers once upon at time. Take a stroll and capture some pictures and breathe the freshness of air from pristine nature.

Visit Gangtey Goempa founded in 1613, the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan.

Overnight at a lodge in Gangtey.

 

Day 12: Phobjikha to Paro

Journey from Gangtey to Paro is approximately 7 hrs. From Gangtey the road gradually descends into the gentle valleys of Wangdue and Punakha and further climb up through Dochula Pass and again down to Thimphu valley.

Enroute to Paro, if you are not tired a quick visit to Tachogang Lhakhang (literally, temple of the excellent horse) built by Tibetan monk Thangtong Gyalpo in 15th century. It is situated on a hillock across an iron bridge constructed in a traditional style very near to Paro.

Onward to Paro. Overnight in your hotel.

 

Day 13: Taktsang Hike

People often say that your visit to Bhutan is incomplete without a trip to Taktsang. Built in 1692, Taktsang literally means ‘Tiger’s Nest’ in Paro, is perched amazingly on a rocky cliff believed to be the cave where Guru Rinpoche, the whisperer of Buddhism in Bhutan, flew on a tigress’s back and meditated for years to subdue evil demons.

After breakfast, we hike uphill for 1.5 to 2 hours to reach to the monastery. The experience of walking through the forest of pine trees is off course exhausting but is fanned away by refreshing air which is irresistibly gratifying. The view of incredible grandeur of the structure clinging on a crag and literally entering the cave will leave a lasting impression of your journey to Bhutan.

Lunch at Cafeteria on the way return from Taktsang.

After lunch, visit to a historic site of a ruined Drugyel Dzong approximately 9 miles towards north built somewhere in 1647 to commemorate victory of Drukpas (Bhutanese) over Tibetans. Unfortunately, in 1951 it caught fire and raged to ground leaving behind the collapsed walls outlining this historic site.

Experience the last serve of farmhouse dinner in Bhutanese style.

 

Day 14: Depart from Paro

After breakfast, your guide will see you off in the airport for your onward destination. Thank you for visiting.

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