Five Valleys Tour
09 Nights / 10 Days Tour
The Kingdom of Bhutan hidden in the heart of the high Himalayas between India and Tibet, is an exotic land of snow-clad peaks and lush valleys, dense forests and clear running springs, a pristine ecology and an incredible wealth of wildlife. Sparsely populated, this landlocked nation is the last surviving Mahayana Buddhist state in the world today. A land that offers travelers a rare opportunity to discover the richness of nature and the simplicity of life, among warm-hearted and friendly people.
Day 1: Arrive Paro by Flight & transfer to Thimphu (55km, approx. 1.1/2-hour drive)
On arrival, in Thimphu check-into the hotel. The capital town of Bhutan and the centre of government, religion and commerce, Thimphu is a unique city with unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. With the population of about 1,00,000 it is perhaps still the world’s only capital city without a traffic light.
Evening an exploratory walk around Thimphu main street and market area.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2,320 m)
Day 2: Thimphu
Then, visit King's Memorial Chorten continuously circumambulated by people, murmuring mantras and spinning their prayer wheels. Construction of this landmark was the idea of Bhutan’s third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk (“the father of modern Bhutan”) who has wished to erect monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as a monument to peace.
Afternoon the visits include:
Textile Museum: is worth a visit to experience the living national art of weaving. Exhibitions introduce the major weaving techniques, styles of local dress and textiles made by women and men.
Folk Heritage Museum: The Museum is dedicated to connecting people with the rich Bhutanese Folk heritage and rural history through exhibits, demonstrations, educational programs and documentation of Bhutanese rural life.
Trashichhoedzong: This is the center of government and religion, site of monarch’s throne room and seat of Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. Built in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was reconstructed in 1960s in traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans.
Evening time can be spent strolling through Thimphu city centre and local crafts bazaar, to browse through example of Bhutan's fine traditional arts. Here you can buy hand-woven textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewelry, interesting items made from local materials.
Day 3: Thimphu – Gangtey (150km, approx. 5-hour drive)
At Dochula Pass, 108 chortens or stupas known as Druk Wangyal Chortens have been built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the eldest Queen Mother. These chortens are built in three layers, the first lowest level layer has forty-five chortens, the second has thirty-six and the top layer has twenty-seven, built around the main chorten.
Then drive onto Gangtey, passing through dense forests of oak and rhododendron tress.
The valley of Gangtey is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled places in Bhutan. The surprise of finding such a wide, flat valley without any trees after the hard climb through dense forests is augmented by an impression of vast space and is an extremely rare experience in Bhutan where most of the valleys are tightly enclosed. A few kilometers beyond the Gangtey Monastery, on the valley floor lies the village of Phobjikha.
Afternoon explore fascinating Phobjikha valley. This place is the winter home of black necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains in the north to pass winter in milder and lower climate. The valley boasts two beautiful meandering rivers, Nakay Chhu (Chhu Naap-black water) and Gay Chhu (Chhu Karp-white water).
Overnight at the hotel in Gangtey. (Altitude 3,000m)
Day 4: Gangtey – Bumthang (153km, approx. 6-hour drive)
Trongsa town, perched on steep slopes above a river gorge, forms the central hub of the nation and is the place from where attempts at unifying the country were launched. The landscape around Trongsa is spectacular.
Then continue drive to Bumthang across Yutong-la pass (3,400m/ 11,155 ft). The road winds steeply up to the pass from Trongsa, then runs down through coniferous forest into a wide, open cultivated valley known as the Chumey valley.
Take a short stop at Chumey, a wide fertile valley where wheat, barley, potatoes and buckwheat are cultivated. Chumey is particularly known for its famous wool weaving called ‘Bumthang Yathra’.
On arrival in Bumthang, check in to the hotel.
Day 5: Bumthang
After breakfast, visit Jambey Lhakhang. This monastery was built in the 7th century by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. It is one of the 108 monasteries built by him to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region. Its present architectural appearance dates from the early 20th century.
Afterwards visit to Jakar Dzong. Founded by great grand-father of the first Shabdrung, the Dzong was initially built as a monastery in 1549. It was upgraded after the Shabdrung had firmly established his power in 1646. The Dzong is now used as administrative centre for Bumthang valley and houses the regional monk body.
Post lunch visit Tamshing Lhakhang, the temple founded in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa, the re-incarnation of Guru Padsambhava. The monastery has very ancient religious paintings like 1,000 Buddhas and 21 Taras (female form of Buddhistava). The temple was restored at the end of the 19th century.
Then drive to Lhodrak Kharchhu Monastery. Located above the main town, the monastery was founded by Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche in 1984 who was recognized at a very young age by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama and H.H. 16th Karmapa as the reincarnation of a Tibetan lama. The monastery has become part of an extensive effort to preserve and revitalize Tibetan culture. The monks regular curriculum include reading, memorizing the daily prayers, learning dharma dances, drawing mandalas, learning the melodies of sacred rituals, learning the use of ceremonial instruments and the art of making sacrificial objects, grammer, poerty, karika along with the basics of contemplation and instruction on the different stages of tantra.
Evening take a stroll around centre of Bumthang town, exploring shops and local market.
Day 6: Bumthang – Punakha (215km, approx. 7-hour drive)
Evening at leisure in Punakha.
Overnight at hotel in Punakha. (Altitude 1300m)
Day 7: Punakha
Then visit Punakha Dzong or (Palace of Great Happiness), built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, at the junction of the Phochu and Mochu rivers. This majestic dzong served as both the religious and the administrative center of Bhutan in the past. It measures some 600 by 240 feet and has a six-story, gold-domed tower. Inside are courtyards and religious statuary that hint at the depth of history and spiritual tradition embodied here. Your guide will illuminate your understanding of this intricate culture that is exotic to us, though long established here.
Afternoon a beautiful hike (total about 2 hours round trip walk) takes you to the regal Khamsum Yuelley Namgel Chorten, which was built by the Queen Mother of Bhutan to remove negative forces and promote peace, stability and harmony in the changing world. The Chorten dominates the upper Punakha Valley with commanding views across the Mo Chhu river and up towards the mountainous peaks of Gasa and beyond.
Overnight at the hotel in Punakha. (Altitude 1,300m)
Day 8: Punakha – Paro (125 km, approx. 4.1/2-hour drive)
At Dochula pass, visit to Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (temple), built in honour of His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The past and future appears to merge in the details of the temple and its structure tells the story of a supreme warrior figure, whose vision pierces the distant future in a fine blend of history and mythology.
Later in the day after checking into hotel at Paro, proceed to visit Ta Dzong, originally built as Watchtower, which now houses National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.
Then walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, meaning (‘fortress of the heap of jewels’), which has a long and fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore such as four friends, the old man of long life, the wheel of life, scenes from the life of Milarepa, Mount. Sumeru and other cosmic Mandala.
Evening to explore Paro city centre.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2,280m)
Day 9: Paro
After breakfast, driving excursion to Chelela pass.
Evening an exploratory walk around main street and market area.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2,280m)
Day 10: Depart Paro