Travel ▻ Himalayas ▻ Bhutan7-Day Cultural Tour to Paro, Thimphu, Punakha
7-Day Cultural Tour to Paro, Thimphu, Punakha

7-Day Cultural Tour to Paro, Thimphu, Punakha

7 days

7-Day Cultural Tour to Paro, Thimphu, Punakha
from $1745 USD

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Seven days of cultural tours including Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and a half-day hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery. Add a day to this tour and attend a Tshechu (Festival).


Day 1: Fly to Paro, drive to Thimphu (Tashichho Dzong)

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On arriving at the Paro International Airport, your tour guide will meet you and escort you to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. The one-hour drive to Thimphu takes you on a winding road along the Paro and Thimphu River with views of lots of beautiful hamlets.

Just before reaching Thimphu, you will visit Tashichho Dzong (dzong means fortress). This impressive fortress/monastery houses the secretariat building, the throne room of His Majesty the King, and various government offices. It is also the summer residence of the Chief Abbot and the central body of monks. It was rebuilt in the early 1960's after a fire destroyed most of the building. The amazing thing about this building is that it was built without a single drawing or a single nail!

Meals included: Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Peaceful Resort or similar in Thimphu

Day 2: Sightseeing in Thimphu (Memorial Chorten, the Folk Heritage Museum, the Institute of Traditional Medicines, and the National Library of Bhutan)

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First, you will visit Memorial Chorten, also known as the Thimphu Chorten, a large Tibetan-style Buddhist Monastery. The Memorial Chorten is a popular landmark in the city with its golden spires and bells. The building of this landmark was envisaged by the third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it is both a memorial to the late king ("the father of modern Bhutan") and a monument to world peace.

Next, you will visit the Folk Heritage Museum, which is housed in a three story 19th century traditional earthen and timber building. Established in 2001, the museum provides a glimpse into the traditional Bhutanese culture and way of life.

Later, you will visit the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, which was established in 1988 with the concept to merge the allopathic and traditional systems of healing. The Institute also has a small museum and a gift shop, and also produces the famous herbal tea, Tsheringma.

Last, you will visit the National Library of Bhutan, which collects and preserves important documents on Bhutan. The library also contains a representative collection of English and other western language books mainly related to the Himalayas, Bhutan, and Buddhism.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Peaceful Resort or similar in Thimphu

Day 3: Drive to Punakha for sightseeing (Do Chula Pass, Chimi Lhakhang, Punakha Dzong)

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After breakfast, you will drive to Do Chula Pass (3,150 meters). On a clear day, you can see the breathtaking views of the whole range of Eastern Himalayan Mountain ranges.

On the way, you will do an easy hike to Chimi Lhakhang (the fertility temple) where childless women go to receive blessing from the saint. It was built by Saint Drukpa Kunley (Divine madman) in 1499. Legend has it that he subdued the demoness of the Dochu La with his magic thunderbolt of wisdom. A wooden effigy of the Lama's thunderbolt is preserved in the Lhakhang.

Finally, you will visit the Punakha Dzong built by Shabdrung in 1637. Punakha Dzong has undergone flooding from a glacial lake high above in the mountains of Lunana, which periodically has broken through its barriers, and has been ravaged by fire, but it has stood on its remarkable site since the 17th century. The flash flood of October 1994 caused a great deal of damage but miraculously spared the statue of Lord Buddha. The three-story Machhen Lhakhang is a fine example of traditional architecture, crafted from cypress with four intricately embossed entrance pillars decorated in gold and silver, the inside walls are covered with elaborate murals depicting the teaching of the Buddha. The Chorten which contains the Kudung is adorned with precious jewels and took twenty craftsmen four years to construct. The drive from Thimphu to Punakha is 77 km / 3 hours.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Dragon Nest Resort in Punakha

Day 4: Sightseeing in Punakha (hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten)

wp-content/uploads/itineraries/Bhutan/bhutan (24).jpg After breakfast, you will drive 12 km north of Punakha and hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, a fine example of Bhutanese architecture and artistic traditions. This is a moderately easy hike, which should take about an hour, through a moderately inclined trail surrounded by pine trees. The Chorten, which was dedicated to the well-being of the kingdom, its people and all sentient beings, dominates the upper Punakha Valley and offers commanding views across the Mo Chhu and up towards the mountainous peaks of Gasa and beyond.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Hotel Olathang or similar in Paro

Day 5: Sightseeing in Paro (Simtokha Dzong, the National Museum, and Paro Dzong)

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On your way back to Paro (122 km / 4 hours), you will visit Simtokha Dzong, located 5 km south of Thimphu. Simtokha Dzong is one of the oldest Dzongs in Bhutan. It was built in 1629 A.D. by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the founder of Bhutan, and it was the first Dzong to be built by him.

Next, you will visit the National Museum of Bhutan, which is housed inside the revamped circular Ta-Dzong, an ancient watchtower above the Paro Dzong. This unusual round building is said to be in the shape of a conch shell. The original building was constructed in 1656, but the building was converted into a museum in 1968. The National Museum has in its possession over 3,000 works of Bhutanese art and houses some of the finest specimens of Bhutanese art, including masterpieces of bronze statues and paintings gathered from different parts of the country.

Later, you will visit Paro Dzong, also known as the Ringpung Dzong, which means "fortress on a heap of jewels," and is one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. It is also the administrative seat of the district of Paro. The Paro Dzong was built in the 16th century on the foundation of a monastery built by Guru Rinpoche and was used on numerous occasions to defend the Paro Valley from invasions by Tibet. You will also have the opportunity to take a stroll in downtown Paro this afternoon, before returning to the hotel.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Hotel Olathang or similar in Paro

Day 6: Sightseeing in Paro (Taktsang Monastery, Kyichu Monastery, Drugyal Dzong)

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Today, you will hike to Taktsang Monastery, also known as the Tiger's Nest. This magical monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff 3000 feet above the valley floor. The primary monastery was built around Guru Rinpoche's meditation cave in 1684 AD by Gyaltshe Tenzin Rabgay. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD, flew here on the back of a flying tigress. The old monastery, unfortunately, was destroyed by fire in 1998, but has been completely restored. The hike takes about 4 hours round-trip. Once you reach the view point of the Monastery, you have the option to visit the Monastery, which takes about another hour to reach.

Next, you will visit the Kyichu Monastery built in the 7th century. This is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan built by the great Tibetan King Songsten Gyepo and the main statue is of the Future Buddha which is similar to the main Buddha statue in the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. Pilgrims turn the many prayer wheels along the walls as they circumnavigate the temple. The statues of the Bodhisattvas and the Buddha are national treasures. The wooden floor of the sanctum is inlaid with turquoise and coral gemstones offered by pilgrims.

Last, you will visit the ruined Drugyal Dzong, whose massive ruins offer insight into the unique construction of Bhutan's famous fortresses. From its ramparts, the Bhutanese repelled Tibetan invaders. Weather permitting, you will have great views of Mt. Chomolhari at 24,000 ft.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Mid-Range Accommodations: Hotel Olathang or similar in Paro

Day 7: Departure

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Meals included: Breakfast


7-Day Cultural Tour to Paro, Thimphu, Punakha
from $1745 USD
*** Contact Us for other itinerary and lodging options! ***

NOTE: Prices are per person in U.S. dollars based on double/triple occupancy. All quotations are based on the current rates of park fees, VAT, other government taxes, and current exchange rates. Should any of these be increased or a new tax introduced, these increases will be added on even if your trip has already been paid for.

  • All accommodations per itinerary
  • All meals per itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • All tours and entrance fees per itinerary (unless listed as excluded)
  • All transportation and transfers per itinerary
  • Qualified local guide speaking fluent English
  • All lodging in 3-star hotels
  • All meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea/coffee)
  • All entrance fees
  • All transportation in minivans
  • Driver
  • Bhutan visa and Tourism Development Fund (TDF) fee
  • International and domestic flights
  • Meals not listed
  • Beverages and alcohol
  • Tips for guides, drivers, hotel staff
  • Optional tours
  • Single room supplement
  • Personal expenses (visas, airport taxes, Internet, etc.)
  • International and domestic flights
  • Tips for guide and driver
  • Tips for restaurant service
  • Donations at monasteries and photography fees
  • Personal expenses (Internet, drinks, travel insurance, shopping, etc.)

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