12 nights and 13 days
Knowledgeable textile guide with good command over English
Textiles, cultural sightseeing, interaction with the locals, beautiful landscape and nature
Day 1: Arrival in Paro
The flight to Paro crosses the Himalayan Mountains, with the spectacular views of some of the highest and sacred peaks of the world. As you enter Bhutan, you will be welcomed with the stunning view of mt. Jomolhari and Jichu Drakey both over 7000m. At the only airport in Bhutan, the representative of Across Bhutan Tours and Treks will welcome you.
Drive to the hotel through the scenic landscape of Paro. After lunch visit the following places.
Built in 17th century, as a Watchtower and to defend against the enemies, it now is the treasure house of the country. The museum or called as Ta- Dzong houses the religious artifacts, religious paintings, rare stamps and textiles.
The visit to the museum is a good introduction on Bhutanese cultural history.
Paro Rimpong Dzong
The original Paro dzong dates back to 17th century, built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the man who unified Bhutan, but then it was burnt down in 1907 and was rebuilt in the same year with the same architectural design. Currently it is the head quarter of the district headed by the head administrator and the monastic body with about 200 monks.
Hike down to the bridge and drive to the town, stall around the town
Day2: Excursion to Takshang
Takshang (2900m/10000ft) is considered as one of the holiest site for the entire Buddhist. It was said that Guru Rimpoche, the founder of Buddhism in Himalayan countries came to this place riding on the tigress and had meditated for about three months. Takshang has been important place of pilgrimage and refuge for more than 1200 years. The monastery clings to sheer cliff two thousand feet above Paro valley.
The total hike will take about 4 hours. One hour hike from parking will take you to the tea house. Another one and half hours to the temple, it is possible to go inside the temple. Overnight hotel
Day 3: The Capital of Bhutan
In the morning drive to Thimphu. Visit the following places after checking in the hotel. King’s Memorial Chorten.
It was built in the memory of the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who ruled from 1952 – 1972. He is known as the father of modern Bhutan.
Called as the school of thirteen arts and crafts, in this school the students learn about 13 different arts including weaving.
This visit will familiarize you with the general ideas of textiles in Bhutan. it has the collection of some of the finest textiles in the country.
Changzamtok Textile weaving Centre
You can meet some weavers and interact with them. They weave wide varieties of textiles using different materials.
You will see the biggest statue of Buddha in the world. The view of Thimphu town is stunning. In the evening stall around the town. Overnight hotel
Day4: Thimphu- Punakha
It is advisable to start early in the morning to take glimpse of Himalayas in Bhutan from Dochula pass.
En route stop at Dochula pass (3150m), enjoy the panorama of the Bhutan Himalayas. Here you can spend sometime walking around and photographing the 108 Druk Wangyel Chortens. Built in 2004 to “celebrate the stability and progress that His Majesty has brought to the nation,” this hill of 108 religious monuments in the middle of the pass reflects Bhutan’s spiritual and artistic traditions.
As you descend from the pass, you will observe dramatic changes in vegetation. At the lower elevations in Punakha and Wangdue, cacti, banana plants, poinsettias and other semi- tropical plants dominate the exotic landscape.
Continue your drive towards Punakha and visit Punakha Dzong. Built in 1637 between the confluence of the Po chu (male river) and Mo chu (female river), this fortress monastery is the winter residence of Bhutan’s spiritual leader, the Je Khenpo or Head Abbot, and the central Monk Body comprising of over 350 monks.
On the way back to the hotel stop at Lobesa and take a short hike to Chhi- med ( means no dogs) Lhakhang in the picturesque valley, to visit the temple of Bhutan’s foremost Saint, the Lama Drukpa Kuenley, popularly known as the Divine Madman. Overnight hotel
Day 5: Punakha – Phobjikha – Phobjikha Drive: 3h
This part of drive is one of the most scenic; you will be crossing streams, waterfalls, prayer wheels turned by water, yaks with their herders, remote and picturesque villages and lots of birds.
As we approach Pelela pass (3420m/10825ft), you will get the first glimpse of Black mountain ranges. In olden days it was used as border between east and west. Before reaching the pass, we will take right towards the valley of rare and famous Black Necked Cranes. First stop is at the village of and Gangtey (3000m/10100ft), followed by Gangtey Gompa.
The villagers are said to be descendents of about 150 gomchens or lay monks who settled there long time ago. Gangtey Gompa monastic school built in 1613 is the biggest Nyimapa School in the western part of Bhutan. The body reincarnation of Pema Lingpa, one of the foremost saints born in Bhutan heads this school.
After visiting the School hike to the glacial valley of Phobjikha (2900m/10440ft). This is one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan. It is the nesting ground of the rare Black necked Cranes in winter. To the locals they are the symbols of faithfulness and long life. Overnight hotel
Day 6: Phobjikha – Trongsa
En route to Trongsa, you can make numerous stops to visit villages and to enjoy beautiful landscape.
En route visit imposing Trongsa Dzong, built in 17th century, it was the home to first two kings. It is one of the biggest and most strategically located dzong in the country.
The Ta- dzong, which houses the Museum dedicated to the royal family and Trongsa dzong. Overnight hotel
Day 7: Trongsa – Chumey – Bumthang Drive: 1h
En route to Jakar valley, stop at Zungney and visit some houses and meet the locals weaving. This area is famous for textiles called Yaktra and Bumthang Tsangthra. It is woven out of woolen and yak hair. Continue towards Jakar for overnight.
Day 8: Explore the valley
Explore the valley by visiting the following places:
The imposing Jakar Dzong considered as the largest dzong in the country was also built in 17th century. Named after the white bird, it had played its role in defending the country from external and internal forces. Home to about 60 monks and the district headquarter.
Built in 1900 was the summer home to the first two kings. It is almost abandoned, but the government has a plan to restore and convert it to a museum. The paintings are neatly done and are very detailed.
Built by the king Tsongtsen Geombo of Tibet, it is one of the oldest temples in the country. The temple is dedicated to the future Buddha Mytriya or Buddha Jampa.
The word kurjey means body imprint. This is the place where the Guru Rimpoche came for the first time to Bhutan in 8 century and converted the local king and people to Buddhism. One can still see the cave where he meditated and left his body imprint.
The building in the middle houses a huge statue of Guru Rimpoche. Surrounded by 108 chortens/ stupas, this site is considered as one of the holiest sites in the country.
Lunch, it is possible to have lunch at a local farmhouse to try the real Bhutanese cuisine.
Pema Lingpa built it in 15th century. He was the only religious treasure discoverer born in Bhutan. It was said that he was a great artist and architect. The paintings inside the temple are the oldest in the country. An iron chain, which was used by Pema Lingpa, is still inside the temple and people carry it around the temple three times to cleanse their sins. It is advisable to take flashlight for the paintings.
Stall in the town. Overnight hotel
Day 8: Bumthang – Mongar Drive: 7h
This is the most beautiful drive in the country. On the way, stop at the picturesque village of Ura. Most of the inhabitants are lay monks and lay nuns. The head lama of the village is said to be hereditary. Stall for a while in the village. After the village, you will be heading towards the Thrimshingla pass 3750m/ 13500ft. This area is also protected as the Thrimshingla National park. The drive towards the pass is beautiful with its panorama of snow capped mountains and beautiful landscape.
Stop at the highest pass between the east and the centre and enjoy the panorama of eastern Himalayas. As you cross the pass, you will be entering the wild east. East is still not exposed to tourism as compared to the west.
You will be driving through the beautiful landscape, high water falls and remote villages. This area is also one of the hotspot for bird lives. Overnight hotel
Day 9: Mongar – Lhuntse Drive: 5h
After breakfast, drive for about one hour through the village of Tangmachu and hike to Khoma village. Home to the most famous and most beautiful textile in Bhutan called Keushuthara. You will be able to interact with the weavers and visit some houses for textiles.
Hike back to the road and drive for about an hour to Lhuntse dzong.
In the evening drive back to Mongar.
Day 10: Mongar – Tashigang Drive: 4h
En route, stop at the village of Yedi to see women weaving outside their homes.
Drive to Dramitse village, which is 17 km from the main road to Tashigang.
In Dramitse, visit the 15th century monastic school overlooking the whole valley of Tashigang. The drive is quite impressive.
In Tashigang, visit the dzong overlooking Dragme Chhu. It houses the district administration and the monastic school. Stall in the town in the evening.
Day 11: Tashigang – Ranjung- Radhi – Tashigang 3h
Stop at Ranjung and visit the famous Garab Rimpoche’s temple, which houses about 200 monks, explore the small village. Continue towards Radhi, the village known for raw silk, which is also called as Bura.
You will see some women weaving outside their houses.
Day 12: Tashigang – Samdrupjonkar Drive: 9h
On the way stop at Kanglung collage and visit near by temple. Visit the Khaling weaving centre founded by National Women Associations. It trains Bhutanese women in weaving.
You will be driving through the beautiful landscape and villages. Stop at Womrong for a cup of tea and toilets.
From there you will take about 4 hours to get to the border. Starch your legs at the village of Narphung. This village is famous for home made tea. It is very good for making butter tea. After crossing Narphungla pass at 2200m/ 6000ft you will plunge through the dense sub- tropical forest to Samdrupjongkhar.
Upon arrival, check in the hotel and stall around the town.
Day 13: Samdrupjongkhar – Gauwahati airport for Departure Drive 3h
The border is few minutes away from the hotel. The drive to the airport in Assam will take about 3 hours crossing tea gardens, Big and small towns, trucks full of people and lots and lots of bicycles.