Bhutan Photo Tours (13 Nights/14 Days)
Day 1 BANGKOK-PARO-THIMPHU
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular of all the mountain flights. The first three gifts you will receive from Bhutan will be cool, clean fresh air you feel as you step out of the plane. The second will be warm welcome you will receive from the your YANA Expeditions Team. The third – the enchanting Paro valley. Lunch in Paro. After lunch you will drive to Thimphu through the scenic Paro valley with its rich terraced farmland. Welcome dinner and overnight hotel.
Day 2 THIMPHU SIGHTSEEING
Your day begins with visit to the weekend market, which is in a permanent set of stalls; vendors from throughout the region arrive on Friday afternoon and remain selling their goods until Sunday evening. It’s an interesting place to visit, where village people jostle with the Thimphu residents for the best and cheapest vegetables and foodstuffs. This is the only time that fresh produce is easily available and the shopping is enhanced by the opportunity to catch up on the week’s gossip. Next you will visit the Bhutan Post, where you will have time to admire and buy some stamps – Bhutan is well known among the philatelists ands stamps constitute one of its most delightful exports. Lunch in town. After lunch you will visit the Memorial Choeten, a stupa built in 1974 to honor the memory of the third king, His Late Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The stupa is one of the most elegant and masterpiece built in the 20th century with its detail religious wall painting and sculptures. Then we visit the 14th century Changangkha Lhakhang, which is also a focus of daily worship for many Thimphu residents. Then we drive up to Sangaygang – the viewpoint. It is also known as “Lover’s Point,” where young couples come to enjoy the bird’s eye view of the Thimphu valley. Then you will visit the Dupthob Monastery built by the Dupthob Thangthong Gyalpo, also known as “Iron Bridge Builder” in Bhutan’s history. It is now a nunnery and it has more than 70 practicing nuns. You will then visit the Textile Museum, Government Handicrafts Emporium. Overnight at hotel.
Day 3 THIMPHU TSHECHU (FESTIVAL)
All day at the festival. Drive back for lunch at hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Day 4 THIMPHU-PUNAKHA
Morning at the festival. Lunch in town and after lunch you will drive to Punakha via the Dochula Pass (3,100m). The views from the pass are magnificent, offering a panorama of the eastern Himalayan ranges. Tea stop at the cafeteria at the pass. Overnight at hotel.
Day 5 PUNAKHA VALLEY SIGHTSEEING
After breakfast you will visit the Punakha Dzong. Punakha, situated at an elevation of 1400m served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955 and still serves as the winter residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and the Central Monk Body. Blessed with temperate climate and fed with the Po Chu (Male) and Mo Chu (Female) rivers, Punakha is one of the most fertile valleys in Bhutan. The climate allows for two crops of rice to be grown a year. And is also good for growing fruits with oranges and bananas in abundance. Visit the Punakha Dzong and admire the beauty of the Bhutanese art and architecture where dzongs were built with no iron nails. Check in and lunch at your Bhutanese home – a family run hotel in Lobeysa. Afternoon you will explore the valley which includes visit to the YANA Expeditions owned farmhouse about 10 minutes from your hotel. A visit to the farmhouse would offer you a closer look at the Kingdom’s unique culture, which dictates simple hospitality extended to any and all guests, even to perfect strangers. Overnight at hotel.
Day 6 PUNAKHA-TRONGSA
You start early for the fabulous drive to the central valleys of Bhutan through the breathtaking beauties and serenity of Bhutan’s rich flora and fauna. As you enter into Wangdiphodrang valley, you will stop to photograph the majestic Wangdiphodrang Dzong, which stands on a spur of a hill at the confluence of Puna-Tsang Chu and Dang Chu rivers. Then the road ascends steadily passing through sub-tropical vegetation across the Pelela Pass (3300m). The pass is traditionally considered the boundary between west and central Bhutan. During the clear weather you can view the high snow capped peaks specially Mt. Jhomolhari Mt. Jhomolhari (7314m). As you descend from the pass through the draft bamboo and quite often Yaks grazing, you arrive at Chendebji Choeten. This choeten was built in the 18th century by Lama Shida to cover the remains of an ogress subdued at this spot. Lunch box will be served near the Choeten. After lunch resume your journey to Trongsa – the ancestral home of Bhutan’s Royal Family. The hilly landscapes surrounding the Dzong and wooden slatted houses overlooking the town are spectacular. At one with an undulating ridge top, it is arguably the most impressive dzong in the kingdom. Overnight at hotel.
Day 7 TRONGSA-BUMTHANG (JAKAR)
Today you will drive to Bumthang, which is considered one of the most sacred and religious valleys in Bhutan. The valley is the site to many important monasteries and temples. Check in and lunch at the hotel. After lunch you will visit the Jakar Dzong “The fortress of the white bird” and explore the Jakar town. Overnight at lodge.
Day 8 BUMTHANG (THANGBI MANI)
Thangbi Mani is a small annual three-day local festival celebrated at the Thangbi Temple. Far less crowded than the Thimphu festival, you will have ample of opportunity to interact with and photography the local festival goers. Lunch box will be served at Thangbi. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 9 BUMTHANG (THANGBI MANI)
Morning you will attend the festival take more pictures. You will drive back to hotel for lunch. After lunch you will do additional sightseeing of the Bumthang valley. After lunch you will visit Kuenchosum Lhakhang. Next well will visit Tamzhing Goenpa – a monastery founded by the great treasure revealer Terton Pema Lingpa. It contains exquisite religious paintings and statuary dating back to 14th century. You will the hike to the Kurjey Lhakhang – the temple where the Tantric Master, Guru Rinpoche meditated and you can see the imprint of his body in the rock. You will then visit the Jambay Lhakhang – the 7th century temple built by King Songtsen Goenpo. Overnight at lodge.
Day 10 BUMTHANG-PUNAKHA
Today you will drive back to Punakha with photo stops along the way. Lunch box will be served at the Chendebji Choeten (Buddhist Stupa). This stupa was built in the 18th century by Lama Shida to cover the remains of an Ogress subdued at this stop. After lunch resume your return journey. Overnight at hotel.
Day 11 PUNAKHA-PARO
Today you will drive to Paro. You will have ample opportunities to photograph on the way. A brief lunch stop will be made in Thimphu. After lunch resume your journey to Paro visiting the Simtokha on route. This dzong is the oldest in the country built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1627. It now houses the Institute for Language and Cultural Studies. Overnight at hotel.
Day 12 PARO SIGHTSEEING
Morning you will visit the National Museum of Bhutan. You will have time to admire the museum’s collections of rare Bhutanese artifacts and art, traditional weaving and other eclectic pieces including a piece of “moon rock,” a bequest of Neil A. Armstrong and the other astronauts who made the first landing on the moon. After the museum you hike down to visit the Paro Dzong – who now house the offices of the district administration and the district monk body. You will continue your hike down to the traditional cantilever bridge. One of the scenes in the film little Buddha includes this bridge. Your transport will pick you from the other side of the river. Lunch in downtown restaurant. Afternoon you will visit the Drukgyal Dzong built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1647 to commemorate the victory of the Bhutanese over the Tibetan invaders. It was destroyed by fire in 1951 and it is now in ruins. On the way back you will visit the Kyichu Lhakhang built in the 7th century by King Songtsen Goenpo. He built 108 temples in a day to pin down an Ogress who tried to destroy his mission to spread Buddhist teachings along the Himalayas. Out of the 108 sacred temples including the Jambay Lhakhang in Bumthang. Overnight at hotel.
Day 13 PARO
Day Excursion to Taktshang Monastery literally known as Tiger’s Nest. This is one of Bhutan’s most sacred places, and an important pilgrimage destination. You will walk along a trail that slowly rises above the valley, taking you through fields and past four large prayer wheels turned by a stream. Continuing across an open meadow, you hike up a section of trail to a ridge where prayer flags rustle in the wind next to a massive prayer wheel. Just beyond is the Taktshang Cafeteria at 9,200 feet, where you stop to enjoy a hot drink and the striking views of the Monastery across the valley. Depending on your energy level, you may relax in the pleasant atmosphere of the cafeteria until lunch or continue on for a mile of steep climbing to another dramatic viewpoint. You return to the cafeteria for a delicious buffet of typical Bhutanese food. You may want to try Emadatshi (A chili cheese dish), vegetables with cheese sauce and other dishes. Farewell dinner and overnight hotel.
Day 14 PARO-BANGKOK
After breakfast you will drive to Paro International Airport for your onward destination. Your YANA Expeditions Team will assist you with check in formalities and bid you farewell.