Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang are the administrative centers of their respective Dzongkhangs. As they are located close to each other in the same valley, they are often referred as one. It takes around 3hours drive from Thimphu to reach either of these towns. Compared to Thimphu or Paro, the valley is at much lower elevation at about 1250m above sea level. Therefore it enjoys subtropical climate with warm summers and pleasant winters. The valley boasts of at least two crops a year and subtropical plants like Cactuses, Mandarin, and Bananas grow here. The town of Punakha was relocated recently to Khuruthang from its location near Punakha Dzong. Punakha was the former winter capital of Bhutan, the tradition that is still kept by the monastic body, who moves their capital to Thimphu in the summer and return to Punakha Dzong in the winter. It is around half hour drive between Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang. The small township of Wangdue with clusters of small shops tightly packed together, surrounding a truck stop is quite interesting to visit. Across the river, on the opposite ridge is the village of Richengang, known for cluster of houses connected to one another.
Day 01| Arrival in Paro – Thimphu
Upon your arrival in Paro airport our guide will be there to welcome you and transfer to Thimphu. After Lunch visit the Memorial Chorten built in memory of the late 3rd King. This place now happens to be a get together point for the elderly people, who spend their whole day chanting prayers and meeting their friends. Visit Changangkha Lhakhang,the oldest temple in the valley offering a beautiful view of the valley. Enclosure where the national animal, Takins are kept and drive to visit the largest and the newly built statue of Buddha offering magnificent view of entire Thimphu valley, After 5 PM, visit the fortress of Thimphu, Tashichho Dzong, which houses the throne of the king. Evening walk around the happening town, the largest and the most crowded town in Bhutan
Day 02| Thimphu Sightseeing B/L/D
Morning visit the happening weekend market (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) where the locals from the surrounding villages come to sell their produce. They sell their goods and in return they buy their basic necessities. In olden days, bata system was practiced by everyone. Visit the traditional Hand Made Paper Mill. Visit the School of Arts and Crafts where students learn 13 different arts used predominantly in Bhutan. Visit Folk Heritage Museum which explains how a traditional house used to be like in the olden days, later visit the National Library which houses the collection of Bhutanese rich religious text and the contemporary Buddhism teachings from master all around the world. Drive further up to visit the Dechenphodrang monastic school and meet the young monks. Later continue to Zilukha nunnery to meet the nuns and interact with them.
Day 03| Thimphu – Punakha
Morning drive to Punakha, crossing over Dochula pass (3200 mts), If the weather permits one can enjoy a spectacular breath taking view of the highest mountain peaks of Bhutan at a site that stretches almost 180 degrees. Take a break and walk around the newly built 108 stupas and continue to the sub-tropical valley of Punakha offering a different vegetation. En route just before arriving the hotel, taka a nice hike through the paddy field and old village to visit Chimi Lakhang, the temple of fertility associated with religious art of phallus.
Visit Punakha Dzong, which houses the most elaborated temple in the country, This is a must to see fortress in Bhutan and a fine example of Bhutanese rich Art and Architecture. After the visit if you are in mood for a nice half-day hike, you could start the hike right above the Dzong with a short steep climb offering a great view of the valley with houses spread all around and the never ending turquoise river and its sandy river bed. This trail is also popular for mountain biking. The hike ends through the farm field crossing the newly constructed bridge, where your car will be waiting at the other side of the river. If you choose the entire activity can be done on foot from your hotel. After lunch could relax in the balcony of the hotel to enjoy the view and the nature, or could go for an hour hike (uphill) to the temple of Khamsum Yuley Lakhang overlooking the paddy field and the snakelike river bends. Later back to the hotel.
Day 04| Punakha – Paro
Early morning it will be a treat to walk up to the hilltop to visit the nunnery and interact with the nuns and enjoy the magnificent view of Punakha and Wangdi valley. Later after breakfast retrace your drive back to Paro. En route could stop in Thimphu for lunch. After lunch could continue some of the sightseeing that you might have had missed earlier, later in the afternoon continue your drive to Paro. Upon arrival in Paro, we will visit Farm House, after that, check in the hotel.
Day 05| Paro Sightseeing
Morning drive to Chelela Pass, 3800m one of the highest motorable road in Bhutan, If the weather permits one can view the most scared and the highest mountain peak in the country Mt. Jomolhari (7314m) overlooking at you. Walk around the pass with prayer flag fluttering and enjoy the fresh air, afternoon back to the hotel. Later visit Paro Dzongon foot and continue walking through the oldest wooden bridge still in use. Continue further to stroll around the old Paro town and peep into some local handicrafts stores. Could get some opportunity to see the traditional game, Archery match going on, Evening back to the hotel
Day 06| Paro Sightseeing
Morning drive to the base for the hike (3 hrs uphill) to Tiger’s Nest, the most revered temple in the country that literally hangs on a granite cliff overlooking the Paro valley. Most of the day will go on the hike. On the way back, if you have the energy and time visit the Kichu Lakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan which marks the beginning of Buddhism in the country, farewell dinner with your guide
Day 07| Departure
Morning transfer (15 mins) to the airport for your departure flight, your guide will bid you farewell at the airport.
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