GNH Travel – a touch of Bhutan’s Happiness Formula
Day 01 : Arrive Paro (Bhutan) by Flight & drive to Thimphu (55km, approx 1.1/2 hour drive)
- Meeting & assistance on arrival and transfer to Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan en route visiting Tamchog Lhakhang, by crossing a traditional suspension bridge.
- Drive further, taking a short stop at Chuzom, the confluence of Paro & Thimphu rivers. Three different styles of stupa namely Tibetan, Nepalese and Bhutanese adorn the confluence.
- On arrival in Thimphu, check into the hotel.
- Later take an exploratory walk around Thimphu city centre.
- Evening presentation by an expert on GNH (Gross National Happiness). The phrase Gross National Happiness, as the guiding philosophy of Bhutan’s development process, is coined by His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, soon after his enthronement in 1972. The concept implies that sustainable development should take a holistic approach towards notions of progress and give equal importance to non-economic aspects of wellbeing.
- Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2,320m)
Day 02 : Thimphu
- After breakfast, drive to Pangri Zampa. Here is a monastic school where Buddhist students monks learn Lamaism and astrology based on Buddhist philosophy.
- Then visit Simply Bhutan, a living museum and studio encapsulating rich cultural heritage of Bhutanese people.
- Afterwards visit Textile Museum for deep insight into one of Bhutan’s most distinctive art form.
- National Library, holding vast collection of ancient Buddhist texts and manuscripts is next in sightseeing schedule. This is followed by visit of Institute of Zorig Chusum or Arts & Crafts School.
- Post lunch, visit Changangkha Lhakhang, the beautiful temple situated on a hillock also providing fascinating view of Thimphu valley.
- Then drive to Kuenselphodrang, to see the largest statue of Buddha in the country.
- Later visit to Memorial Chorten, the stupa built in the memory of Bhutan’s Third King His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk who is popularly regarded as Father of modern Bhutan.
- Conclude the day with visit of Trashichhoedzong, beautiful medieval fortress / monastery.
- Dinner with a local family which provides opportunity to understand and experience local culture, traditions and way of life.
- Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 03 : Thimphu / Punakha (75km, approx 3 hours drive)
- After breakfast drive to Punakha, the ancient capital town of Bhutan en route taking a short stop at Dochula pass (3,080m) that heralds the most enchanting views of Bhutan and also the site of picturesque Druk Wangyal Chortens.
- Post lunch, visit Punakha Dzong or ‘The Palace of Great Bliss’. This Dzong has played an important role in Bhutan’s history.
- Later embark on a short walking excursion to Chimi Lhakhang also known as ‘Fertility Temple’. It is widely believed that couples who do not have children and wanting one, if they pray at this temple, they are usually blessed with a child very soon.
- Evening visit a village farm house, enjoying local tea & snacks.
- Later witness traditional cultural program. All Bhutanese art, dance, drama and music has its roots in the Buddhist religion. The music of Bhutan is an integral part of its culture and plays a leading role in transmitting social values. Traditional Bhutanese music includes a spectrum of subgenres, ranging from folk to religious song and music.
- Overnight at the hotel in Punakha. (Altitude 1,300m)
Day 04 : Punakha
- After breakfast, walking excursion to regal Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten (approx 2 hours round trip walk).
- Post lunch, enjoy rafting on Punakha rivers. The crystal clear rivers of Bhutan are one of the Kingdom’s best kept open secrets. Mo chu river originating in the mountainous hills of Northern Bhutan and Pho Chu river fed by Glaciers in upper Punakha glacial valley offer tremendous rafting opportunity. The Pho Chu river, with its approx 16 km course with about 15 rapids of class 2-4 and Mo Chu river with 10 Km course with 10 rapids of class 2 - 2+ are chosen for our white water rafting packages in Bhutan. After the confluence of these two rivers near Punakha Dzong, the main river is known as Puna Tsang chu which offers even more exciting river run acknowledged mostly for its culturally stimulating and exciting rapids.
- Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 05 : Punakha / Gangtey (85 km, approx 3 hours drive)
- After breakfast, drive to enchanting Gangtey.
- Afternoon explore Phobjikha valley on mountain bike. This beautiful valley is winter home of black necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains in the north to pass winter in milder and lower climate. Also visit Black Necked Crane Information centre.
- Overnight at the hotel in Gangtey. (Altitude 3,000m)
Day 06 : Gangtey
- Early morning visit Monastic School to witness elaborately arranged prayer ceremony with full religious musical set.
- Then visit Gangtey Goenpa, the only Nyingmapa monastery on the western side of the Black Mountains and also the biggest Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan.
- Later embark on an approximate two hours fascinating walk on Gangtey Nature trail.
- Afternoon explore the local villages.
- Overnight at the hotel in Gangtey.
Day 07 : Gangtey / Trongsa / Bumthang (153 km, approx 6 hour drive)
- Morning after breakfast, proceed to central region of Bhutan.
- Drive across Pelela pass (3,300m) and stop en route at Chendbji Chorten, the stupa patterned on Swyambhunath in Kathmandu.
- Further ahead, take a short stopover at Trongsa to visit its majestic Dzong.
- Also visit, Ta Dzong, a cylindrical stone structure rising five stories, was built in 1652 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa. After more than 350 years, it has been resurrected into a classy museum, that represents a tasteful blend of tradition and modernity.
- Then drive further across Yutongla pass (3,400m) and later stopping at Chumey valley to witness Yathra weaving.
- Overnight at the hotel in Bumthang. (Altitude 2,600m)
Day 08 : Bumthang
- Morning meditation session at a local monastery.
- Later full day explore mesmerizing Bumthang, the valley that has an individuality to charm its visitors and separate it from the other regions.
- Visit the ancient temples of Jambay Lhakhang, Kurje Lhakhang, Tamshing Lhakhang and Tangbi Goemba.
- Also visit Jakar Dzong, the fortress which is now used as administrative centre of Bumthang valley.
- Overnight at the hotel in Bumthang.
Day 09 : Bumthang / Paro by Flight
- Morning at leisure in Bumthang valley.
- Later depending upon flight time, transfer to the airport for flight to Paro.
- Today’s sightseeing in Paro includes, visit to Ta Dzong (national museum) ; holding fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings and Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps, Rinpung Dzong ; the fortress which has a long and interesting history, Kyichu Lhakhang ; one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the country.
- Afterwards time for traditional hot stone bath. The traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath, known as Dotsho in local language has been practiced in Bhutan for centuries as a medicinal soak. Many Bhutanese believe that the bath helps in curing joint pains, helps in relaxing and other medical problems. River stones are heated and then put in water to heat the water; sometime medicinal herbs are added to the water before it is ready for the soak.
- Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2,280m)
Day 10 : Paro
- After breakfast, excursion to famed Taktsang Monastery or Tiger’s Nest (approx 5 hours round trip walk). It is one of the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries perched on 900m above Paro valley floor. Legends say that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery hence it is called Tiger’s Nest’. Meditation session near famed Taktsang monastery.
- Later in the afternoon witness & participate in Archery. The national sport of Bhutan since 1971, Archery is a competitive and favourite recreational sport for young and old alike. People from different social strata consider it one of the most enjoyable sport.
- Evening for shopping and at leisure.
- Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 11 : Depart Paro
- After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flight to onward destination. Our representative will assist you with exit formalities and bid you farewell.