Discover some of the most sacred Buddhist monasteries and temples in the Himalaya
Experience Bhutan’s unique culture up-close with farmhouse visits and village excursions
Walk to Baylangdra, a sacred site visited by many spiritual masters
Attend the morning Buddhist prayer lead by Lama Gyalwa Shacha
Learn about the herbal medicines dispensed at the Traditional Medicine Centre
Ideal for those seeking solace, rest and recuperation, this 11-day cultural and spiritual journey explores Bhutan most significant spiritual sites. Whether it’s a session of peaceful, contemplative meditation with a lama, a relaxing soak in a mineral hot spring bath or the all-natural remedies of traditional local medicine, Bhutan has just what you need to revive and rejuvenate your body and spirit.
After arriving at the Paro International Airport, your guide will be waiting outside the arrival terminal and traditionally welcome you by offering a 'khadar' or greeting scarf.
The tour begins with a drive to Thimphu Valley, a city that retains its ethnic architectural style and is the only capital in the world with no traffic lights.
After checking into your hotel and enjoying lunch, go on a local sightseeing tour. First, visit Bhutan Post. Located at the heart of Thimphu, it is renowned for its extensive varieties of exotic stamps made out of metal, silk and three-dimensional images. Next, visit the National Library, which has an extensive collection of ancient Dzongkha and Tibetan scripts. Apart from the silk cloth printing and wrappings kept on the second floor, the library also has traditional wood blocks used for printing books and prayer flags. Then, gain insight into the way of Bhutanese culture at the National Folk Heritage Museum. Continue to the Traditional Medicine Centre, which produces and dispenses herbal medicines locally grown from medicinal plants. Lastly, visit Changlimithang and Tasghichho Dzong.
Witness the Morning Prayer at Changangkha Lhakhang monastery. After breakfast, partake in a 'Barchelamse' prayer to keep away bad luck and misfortune while wearing traditional dress. After refreshments of salted tea (suja) and sweet rice (dresse), receive a 1-hour teaching from Lama Baza Guru. Later, visit the choesum alter, garden, greenhouse, apple orchard and the paintings on the rock.
The day continues with more religious and historical sightseeing. Visit the Memorial Chorten, one of the tallest structures in the town and a centre of worship for religious people. Enjoy lunch and then head towards Pangri Zampa Lhakhang, which is now a school for Buddhist Astrology. Then, drive to Begana to the Guru’s Lhakhang, where you can toss a pair of dice (known as sho zho ni) and have your fortune told by a monk.
Return to Thimphu and visit a popular Buddhist site located on a hilltop with a 51.5-metre-tall Buddha Dordenma. This statue fulfils an ancient prophecy from the 8th century and is said to emanate an aura of peace, tranquillity and happiness. Enjoy the rest of the evening at your leisure.
Dinner and accommodation at a hotel in Thimphu.
Enjoy breakfast and then visit the 8th-century Tsheluna Nye, a sacred place where the Second Buddha Guru Rinpoche once visited. Within the cave, there's a treasured imprint of Guru Rinpoche and other enlightened imprints such as the Phurpa (ritual dragger), the Emanation of Buddha of compassion, the Drelbu (ritual bell rock painting), Khandu Yeshey Tshogyel’s hair, tooth relics of Buddhisatava and the Seat of Guru (Zhukthrel). Then, visit the Takin Preserve, home to the national animal, a rare bovid mammal that only lives in Bhutan. Then, drive to the BBS Tower for an aerial view of Thimphu Valley and fly prayer flags for peace, serenity and luck.
After breakfast, travel through the spiralling mountain road through the Dochula Mountain Pass toward Punakha Valley. On a clear day, Dochula offers stunning views of the snowcapped Himalayan range. With powerful binoculars, you can view Jejekangphu Gang, Zongophu Gang (Table Mountain) and Gangkhar Puensum. Then, visit Druk Wangyel Chorten, a new landmark for travellers as you cross the first mountain pass within the country. Continue with a drive to the impressive Punakha Dzong, which was built in 1637 and is said to be one of the most beautiful dzongs of Bhutan. Inside, there is a set of the 108 volumes of Kanjur, a holy book of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage, written in gold. The dzong also safeguards Bhutan’s most treasured possession, the sacred Rangjung Kharsapani relic.
Drive through the dense forest amongst chirping of birds and the sounds of wild animals via the Pelela Mountain Pass. Along the way, go through scenic Trongsa villages and the three most beautiful districts of Central Bhutan. Then, visit Chendebji Chorten, a replica of Swayambhunath Temple in Kathmandu that sits quietly by the side of the road a few miles from the small village of Chendebji. Then visit the Trongsa Dzong, which due to its highly strategic position between the only connecting route between east and west of the country, the Trongsa Penlop controlled the entire eastern region effectively centuries ago. Continue to Ta Dzong, a state-of-the-art museum dedicated to the Monarchs of Bhutan.
After breakfast, visit Jambay Lhakhang, one of the 108 monasteries built by the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gembo, to subdue the evil spirits in the Himalayan region. Carry on to Chakhar Lhakhang, an Iron Castle temple that was once the palace of the Indian King Sindhu Raja who first invited the Second Buddha Guru Rimpoche to Bumthang. Next, visit Kurjey Lhakhang and the neighbouring Tamshing Monastery. The mural paintings within are unrecorded ancient painting. Enjoy a hike for about an hour and relish in the serene beauty of valley from Kurjey over Chamkhar River. Then, visit the 17th-century Jakar Dzong, which is now used as an administrative centre for Bumthang valley. Conclude the day's trip with a visit the Wangdichholing Palace, the first palace that was not designed as a fortress and home of King Ugyen Wangchuk.
After breakfast, drive to Punakha with many beautiful ridges, creeks and hillocks along the road and eye-catching sites for photography. Once you arrive, check into your hotel in Punakha and enjoy leisure time in the city.
After a sumptuous breakfast, visit Baylangdra in Wangdue Dzongkhag and see the enormous legendary cypress tree (Cypresses Cashmeriana). The Sacred Ney of Baylangdra is situated on a cliff, a 1-hour drive from Chuzomsa through the ravines of Sha village. This sacred site where so many spiritual masters have visited is a 1.5-hour walk away from the main road.
After breakfast, don traditional kira and gho attire to attend the morning prayer and the Buddhist teaching from Lama Gyalwa Shacha. Then, visit a place where monks perform rituals followed by more teachings from Lama Gyalwa Shacha. Afterwards, take a 20-minute walk through the village of Sopsokha to a temple on a small hill in the centre of the valley below Metshina. Known as the 'Fertility Temple', it is believed to bless childless couples seeking blessings. After lunch, pass through the idyllic countryside dotted with villages and paddy fields and cross over rivers and through forests on your way back to Paro.
After an early breakfast, take a short drive to the trailhead of the famous Taktsang Monastery, which clings precariously to a cliff 900 metres (2,600 feet) above the Paro Valley. Also known as Tiger's Nest, Taktsang is one of the holiest sites in the country and one of the most recognised Buddhist monuments in the Himalayas. The climb to the viewpoint will take approximately three hours. Enjoy lunch at the cafeteria near Taktshang, then continue with a visit to Drukgyal Dzong. Now in ruins, it once helped to prevent numerous invasions all through the course of Bhutanese history, beginning in 1646. In fine weather, the towering peak of Mount Jumolhari, which marks the frontier with Tibet, appears as a backdrop.
Then, visit Kyichu Temple, one of the 108 temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King, Songsten Gampo, to battle against a giant demoness that was believed to be preventing the spread of Buddhism. In the evening, visit a local farmhouse and see firsthand how rural Bhutanese live. The farmhouses are very decorative and built and painted in a classical 3-storey style. The ground floor is used for cattle and the top floor is used for drying hay whilst the family lives on the middle floor. Relax with a hot stone bath, known as ‘dotsho’, which alleviates joint pains and aids in reducing high blood pressure.
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