Happiness On A Horizon
Places covered: Paro, Punakha, Thimphu, Wangduephodrang
Duration of tour: Five days (Four Nights)
First Day – Arrival at Paro
Druk Air is the national airline of Bhutan. You can board a flight on it, bound for Paro from Bangkok, Kolkata, New Delhi or Kathmandu.
The preview to what Bhutan has to offer starts immediately once aboard the flight, as you feast your eyes on the majestic peaks of the eastern Himalayas. From above you can see some of the untamed or unclimbed peaks of Bhutan as part of the mountain range. Before that, you will already have had enjoyed a bird eye’s view of the highest mountain range of the world, the Mt. Everest and also Mt. Kanchenjunga.
A representative from A Way To Bhutan, your guide will receive you upon arrival and drive you to your hotel. Feel free to take a walk through Paro’s old-fashioned two-street town toward evening (a guide can accompany you if you wish), browse through the shops, or just take in the scenery which you will find appealingly different.
Second Day – Thimphu and Punakha
After breakfast, engage in sightseeing of Thimphu valley which includes a visit to the National Library, a treasure trove of priceless Buddhist manuscripts; the Traditional Institute of Medicine, where centuries old healing arts such as acupuncture and herbal remedies are still practiced; the Painting School, where young monks learn the art of Buddhist thangkha painting; the workshops for mask making and fine metal craft, weaving, ceramics and paper and; the Textile and Folk Heritage Museum, a fascinating testimony of Bhutanese material culture and living traditions.
Also visit the late King’s Memorial Chorten where one can observe prayers and ceremonies that are performed throughout the year.
Visit the Handicrafts Emporium and local shops for souvenirs ranging from Bhutan ’s fine traditional arts, textiles, thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and woodcarvings, jewelers to other interesting items made from local materials.
Toward evening drive to Punakha and spend overnight at a hotel in Punakha
Third Day – Punakha to Wangduephodrang to Paro (150 Km, 5 Hours)
After breakfast prepare for visit to Punakha Dzong, the 17th century fortress that was once the capital of the nation. Then drive to Wangduephodrang to see the local market.
After lunch drive to Paro with a short stop at Dochula pass.
Your overnight stay will be at a hotel in Paro
Fourth Day – Paro sightseeing
The day’s plans are not nearly tiring as the climbs and drops of the landscape may suggest. After breakfast visit the Ta Dzong. The name Ta Dzong translates to ‘watch tower’ and it served the function of watch tower for the Paro Rinpung Dzong.
Back in the day, similar look-out points were built for other dzongs (fortresses) to counter any approaching hostilities, for those were the days of frequent strife. These towers were specifically built high atop hills and other vantage points during the old days.
Presently serving as the national museum, it houses an array of antiquities such as ancient thangka (exquisite scroll painting), mural paintings and other forms of art done by great personalities of those days, original textiles of the kingdom which represent the culture that still flourishes, weapons & armour used back in the day, household objects typical to the Bhutanese people’s way of life back then and even now, and other natural and historical artifacts.
After a brief walk down from the museum you will have reached Rinpung Dzong (‘fortress of a heap of jewels’). It serves as seat of the Paro district administration and residence for the monastic school. Rinpung dzong like all other dzongs in Bhutan is adorned with wall murals that symbolize the lives of the Bodhisattvas and other prominent saints, drawings from Buddhist parables within which the country’s culture and traditional life is intricately represented and holy symbols that signify their own individual religious meanings.
Drukgyel Dzong or the fortress of the victorious Drukpas will be the next stop. History recalls the dzong as being built to celebrate the victories over several Tibetan invasions which were successfully countered from this defence point. The fort was gutted by a fire disaster in the 1950s but has been left in the form of historical ruins to this day to pay homage to what it stands for. You can also see the white dome of Mount Jomolhari (mountain of goddess) from the location.
Fifth Day – Departure
Representative (s) from A Way To Bhutan and your guide will accompany you to the Paro Airport to bid you farewell.