Bhutan Travel in Winter (8 Nights/9 Days)
Traveling in Bhutan in winter is a unique experience in it’s own way. The days are clear with intensely blue sky and bright sunshine melting the nighttime frost. By around 9 o’ clock in the morning, the nippy chill is out of the air, and a pleasant winter day in the mountains arrive. Bhutan awaits those seeking a pampered getaway with the promise of discovery. Your YANA Expeditions Team will help you share the country’s many cultural and religious wonders. Bhutan promises to charm you with an unspoiled ancient landscape and quietly challenge your view of the world. Come and discover it for yourself the YANA Expeditions way.
Day 1 BANGKOK-PARO
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. After lunch visit the National Museum. You will have time to admire the museum’s collections of rare Bhutanese artifacts and art, traditional weaving and other eclectic pieces. 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. You return to your traditionally styled hotel and relax with an orientation and welcome of Asian/Bhutanese cuisine. Overnight at hotel.
Day 2 HAA VALLEY
Day excursion to Haa valley. The visit to 100 years old local farmhouse and Chundu Lhakhang will give you an insight on the history of the valley. Will in restaurant in Haa town. Return to Paro for our final night in the country. Overnight at hotel.
Day 3 PARO-PUNAKHA
After breakfast you will drive to Punakha. Tea-stop at the Dochula Cafeteria and an opportunity to enjoy the most spectacular view of the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas. The road to Punakha descends from the pass through the magnificent pine and rhododendron forests and wanders through some of Bhutan’s most spectacular countryside. Punakha, situated at an elevation of 1400 m 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. After lunch you will the Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative center of the region. Overnight at hotel.
Day 4 PUNAKHA SIGHTSEEING
After breakfast you will do the easy hike to up to the Chimi Lhakhang (temple) on a small hilltop. This temple is dedicated to the great Yogi of the 14th century known as Drukpa Kuenlay or popularly known as “Divine Madman” to the westerners. It is believed that this temple blesses women who seek fertility. After that you will drive to Wangduephodrang Wangdi/Wangdue in short). Wangdi is the last town before central Bhutan, which is like an enlarged village with a few well-provided shops. This place is known for it’s fine bamboo works, slate and stone carvings. Lunch in Wangdi. After lunch you will explore the Wangdi town. Evening at leisure. Overnight at hotel.
Day 5 PUNAKHA-THIMPHU
After breakfast you will drive to Thimphu – capital town of Bhutan. Upon arrival in Thimphu, you will visit the post office, where you will have time to admire and buy some stamps – Bhutan is well known among the philatelists and stamps constitute one of its most delightful exports. Lunch at restaurant in town. After lunch you will visit the National Library – a tall stately building in the traditional Bhutanese style that is a repository of precious historical and religious manuscripts written in gold. Next you will visit the Institute for Zorig Chusum – a painting school where the traditional style of Thangka painting is passed on to the next. You will then visit the Traditional Paper Factory followed by a visit to the Textile Museum, Government Handicrafts Emporium. Overnight at hotel.
Day 6 THIMPHU SIGHTSEEING
After breakfast, you will attend the National Day Celebrations at the Changlingmithang Stadium. You will then begin your sightseeing with a visit to 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. Lunch in town. After lunch you will drive north of Thimphu valley to visit the Cheri Goenpa – a monastery built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1620. On route view the Dechencholing Palace where His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck was born in 1955. Continue our drive further north to the starting trail to the monastery. The trail starts by crossing a lovely bridge that spans the Thim Chu, and then climbs gradually to the Monastery. Evening at leisure. Overnight at hotel.
NATIONAL DAY: December 17 is celebrated as the National Day in Bhutan and it commemorates the ascension to Golden Throne of Ugyen Wangchuck, the first King of Bhutan at Punakha Dzong on 17 December, 1907.
Day 7 THIMPHU-PARO
Morning at leisure – time for final shopping you may have – Bhutanese souvenirs for your loved ones at home. Lunch in Thimphu. After lunch you will drive to Paro. On route you will visit the Semtokha Dzong built in the 1627 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. This is the oldest dzong in the kingdom and it now houses the Institute of Language and Cultural Studies. Resume your journey to Paro. Overnight at hotel.
Day 8 PARO VALLEY
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 Emadatsi (A chili cheese dish), vegetables with cheese sauce and other dishes. Farewell dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 9 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.