Gangtey Lodge Dining Room Office
Amankora Paro Bon Fire
View from Gangtey Lodge
This is an 8 nights Bhutan cultural tour itinerary. The itinerary includes cultural sightseeing, walks, hikes, etc. There are two Luxury hotels in Gangtey/ Phobjikha. One is the Amankora and the other is the Gangtey Lodge. This itinerary suggests Gangtey lodge in Gangtey and Amankora in Thimphu, Punakha and Paro for accommodations. The itinerary is a crafted for comfortable stay with two nights each in four main destinations. The destinations are; Paro, Thimphu, Punakha/Wangdue, Gangtey/Phobjikha. The itinerary takes you through the most developed place in Bhutan, Thimphu to the untouched places like Gangtey and shall give you the most diverse Bhutan travel experience.
Travelers traveling to Bhutan may also luxury accommodations other than what the name of the itinerary suggests. The other options 5* and 4* Luxury categories are;
Paro : Uma Resort, Hotel Zhiwaling, Le Meridien River Front and Naksel Boutique.
Thimphu : Taj Tashi, Le Meridien and Termalinca Resort ;
Punakha : Uma Resort, Dhensa Boutique Resort and RKPO Resort;
Gangtey : Amankora.
DAY 1 – Paro – Thimphu
DAY 2 – Thimphu
DAY 3 – Thimphu – Gangtey
DAY 4 – Gangtey
DAY 5 – Gangtey – Punakha
DAY 6 – Punakha
DAY 7 – Punakha – Paro
DAY 8 – Paro
DAY 9 – Departure
Driving Distance – 65 Km. | Driving time – 1.5 to 2 Hr. | Altitude of Paro – 2280 m. | Altitude of Thimphu – 2350 m
On your journey to Paro, the panoramic views of the Himalayas are sensational, including the Everest and other famous Himalayan Peaks. The approach through the Bhutanese foothills and the landing, including a few steep turns to land at the tiny airstrip of Paro becomes more exciting as you enter Bhutan.
On arrival, you will be received by your Bhutan tour guide from Find Bhutan with “Tashi khadar”, then drive to Thimphu.
Driving through the well maintained road between Paro to Thimphu shall be a great experience. The barren mountains, the Paro River (Pa Chhu) joining the Thimphu River (Wangchhu) at Chuzomsaa and the three stupas, and the Tamchog Lhakhang are some of the interesting sights as you travel from Paro to Thimphu. You shall also see the three stupas built in Nepalese, Tibetan and Bhutanese styles. They were placed here for good luck and safe passage.
Check in Amankora-Thimphu. After Lunch, you may relax or go around the Thimphu town and valley – A time for yourself. If you are interested in cycling, you may choose to do so, we shall arrange it for you at an extra cost. If you have enough time, you can also choose to sightseeing.
In the evening; visit the Tashichhodzong. The Dzong is the seat of the National Government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan) at present. A Doom (Blue Stone) was built on the hill above Thimphu in 1216 the Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa. A few years later Lama Phajo Drugom Shigpo, who brought the Drukpa Kagyu lineage to Bhutan, took over the Dohon Dzong. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (The one who unified the country) acquired the Dzong in 1641 from the descendants of lama Phajo and renamed it as Tashichhodzong.
Dinner and overnight: Amankora Resort – Paro.
After a leisure breakfast, your sightseeing for the day includes;
Sangaygang view point (2685 meters): You can have a very good view of whole Thimphu valley from this place. Walking through the hundreds of colorful prayer flags that dot the hill could be another good experience.
Takin Preserve Centre: Takin, the national animal of Bhutan can be seen here. This particular animal is found only in the Himalayan region.
Changangkha Monastery: This monastery is built on a hill overlooking the Thimphu valley. It was built in 15th Century by Lama Phajo Drugom Zhipo. Many parents of Thimphu take their new born babies to this monastery to be blessed by a high lama.
Folk Heritage Museum: Founded by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck the museum is one of a kind that portrays the lifestyle of a family in the Thimphu valley in the olden days. This is a three storied, 19th century traditional house giving an insight to the Bhutanese lifestyle, and artifacts from the rural households. The museum contains typical Bhutanese household objects, tools and equipment.
After lunch sightseeing includes;
The Institute for Zorig Chusum: Zorig Chusum means the thirteen traditional arts and crafts. Students are taught the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan in this institute.
The Institute of Traditional medicine: Medicines are prepared according to the Tradition practices in this institute. People are also treated here in traditional ways.
Kuenselphodrang: A place for refreshing with a huge statue of Buddha. The area also gives a very good view of the Thimphu Valley from the west. The place also consists for biking trail and has a picnic spot.
National Memorial Chhorten: This Chhorten was built in the honor of the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, also known as “The Father of Modern Bhutan”. This Chhorten was built in 1974 in a typical Tibetan style. This Chhorten is also a center of worship for the people living in Thimphu and contains many religious paintings and tantric statues. Lighting Butter lamps and circumambulating the chhorten can be a great experience and a good way to earn merits as per Buddhist beliefs.
A private traditional cultural show over the dinner.
Overnight: Amankora – Thimphu
Driving Distance – 140 km approx. | Driving time – 5 to 6 Hr | Altitude of Gangtey/Phobjikha – 2900 m
After breakfast, drive to Punakha. The travel from Thimphu to Punakha/Wangdue first gives you the view of Simtokha Dzong and then the winding roads leads you through blue pine forests and the villages of Hongtsho (2890m) and Yusipang. The local villages sell apples, walnuts, dried cheese in this area.
Drive further till you reach the Dochula Pass. Stop at Dochula pass at 3150 m, the most known pass in Bhutan. On a clear day, spectacular view of the mighty Himalayas mountain ranges can be seen. The pass also has 108 Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chhortens which is believed to bring multi fold merit to all sentient beings.
After a good time in Dochula Pass, follow the road downhill, the vegetation now changes from oak, maple and blue pine to a forest of Hemlock, fir, Rhododendron, alder cypress, etc. You shall come across a chorten which was built because of frequent accidents in the area. The road leads you to the Royal Botanical Park and then slowly descends towards Thinleygang. The wind gets warmer here and you shall experience that the vegetation is mostly of cactus, oranges, bamboo, pine and paddy fields. You shall also start to see the views of the Wangdue and Punakha Valley after some time.
Drive further to Gangtey Valley. On the way you shall come across villages, monuments and beautiful landscapes. Stop at places for sightseeing and photography.
Check in Gangtey Lodge. You may choose to relax in the evening.
Dinner and overnight: Gangtey Lodge.
Altitude of Gangtey/Phobjikha: 2900 m.
You could opt to take a private walk in the morning before breakfast. It could be beautiful to see the mists hanging low and the waking up of the valley.
After breakfast, visit the Gangtey Goemba. This Monastery overlooks the large green expanse of the Phobjikha Valley. Gyaltse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa founded the Temple in 1613, and Tenzin Legpai Dhendup, the second re-incarnation, built the temple.
You may choose to do any of the following for the rest of the day:
- Visiting villages and interacting with People
- Hikes in the valley
- Photography, etc.
Phobjikha Valley is of immense beauty. It is one of the most beautiful glacial valleys in the Himalayas and the winter roosting place of the endangered black necked crane.
Dinner and overnight: Gangtey Lodge.
Driving Distance – 78 Km approx. | Driving time – 3 Hr. approx. | Altitude of Punakha/Wangdue – 1310 m.
After breakfast, drive via same road to Punakha valley. Check in Amankora – Punakha.
After lunch take a short and easy hike through paddy fields and villages to visit the Chhimi Lhakhang. This temple is located on the way to Punakha. This temple is also known as the temple of fertility and was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley in the 15 century. Lama Drukpa Kuenley is also known as the Divine Madman.
Then, visit the impressive Punakha Dzong. This Dzong was built by the Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1637. It is built at the junction the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu Rivers. The annual Punakha Tshechu (Festival) is held here. The monk body resides in this Dzong in winter.
In the evening, explore the Punakha and Wangdue town and valley.
Dinner and overnight: Amankora – Punakha.
Altitude of Punakha/Wangdue – 1310 m.
After a leisure breakfast, excursion to Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chhorten. This Chhorten is built on a ridge above the Punakha valley. It took around nine years to build the Chhorten. It is said that the Bhutanese craftsmen consulted Holy Scriptures to construct this 4 story temple. The temple was built by Her Majesty, the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck
Take a short drive to the base and then walk through paddy fields before you climb a moderately inclined trail surrounded by pine trees. You shall be hiking for approximately 1 hr. to reach the temple.
Enjoy a picnic lunch today.
After lunch visit Chorten Ningpo. The chorten dates back to the 17th century and is less visited by outsiders. The magnificent statue of Maitreya (the future Buddha) and images of the great lamas of the Drukpa lineage can be seen here. There is a great oak tree outside Chorten Ningpo. It is said that this tree grew out of the blazing log thrown by Drukpa Kuenley, the Divine madman. It also consists of a small Buddhist institute.
Then explore the remote villages around here. Visit villages and village Houses, interact with people and experience the village life in Bhutan. Walking through the paddy fields from a village to another and reliving with nature shall be another bigger experience.
If you are interested in rafting, you could choose to do the same in Punakha at an extra cost.
Dinner and overnight: Amankora – Punakha
Driving Distance – 135 Km. | Driving Time: 4 to 5 Hrs. | Altitude of Paro: 2280 m.
After breakfast, drive to Paro. On the way stop at Lamperi to visit the Royal Botanical Park. The park covers an area of 47 sq. Km. and contains a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna, featuring a huge species of plants and animals including endangered species such as Himalayan yew, native Rhododendron, Royal Bengal Tiger, Musk Deer, Red Panda, Blood pheasants and Himalayan Monal. You can also find Tetracentron (an ancient relict angiosperm with no vessel in its trunk) in the park. The park has 14.5 km of trails for eco trek for cycling and walking and one of the main attractions is the rhododendron garden including a picnic spot with children’s playground.
Drive further to Paro. Lunch at Paro. After lunch, visit;
Rinpung Dzong: Meaning “fortress of the heap of jewels”. The Dzong now serves as the administrative and judicial seat of Paro district and residence for around 200 monks of Paro and was built at the same time of Drukgyel Dzong. The famous Paro Tshechu (festival) is held here in spring.
Ta Dzong: It overlooks the Rinpung Dzong and was built in 1951 as a watch tower. This Dzong is Round, more like parts of a European castle. The Dzong was established as the National Museum of Bhutan since 1967 and holds fascinating collection of arts, relics, religious thangka, etc.
In the evening, witness an Archery Match (if going on) or experience a private Khuru (Traditional Bhutanese sport) or archery. If time permits, explore the Paro town and Valley.
Dinner and overnight: Amankora – Paro.
Altitude of Paro – 2280 m.
After breakfast, start your day with a hike to the abode of gods and monks, the Taktshang Monastery. It shall be taken care of that the time shall be yours for the hike, no hurries and no worries. Reaching the top shall be worth the climb; the touch of the Himalayan breeze, the views of the valley below and temple on the rocky cliff shall be fascinating and shall let you feel the real freedom of mind and happiness.
Taktshang Monastery: The primary lhakhang was built surrounding Guru Rimpoche’s Meditation cave in the 1684 by Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer Rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava flew here on the back of a tigress which gives its name “Taktshang” meaning Tiger’s nest. It is a two to three hours excursion uphill; however, one feels truly blessed reaching the monastery.
Picnic Lunch among the woods shall be another great experience. After lunch, visit the Kyichhu Lhakhang.
Kyichhu Lhakhang: This temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Bhutan. The Tibetan King, Songtsen Gompo miraculously built 108 temples to consecrate the entire region of Himalaya in the 7th century. Kyichhu Lhakhang is considered to be one of them.
Then we have a special program for you to feel the pure Bhutanese hospitality. Drive to a village house. You shall be served with the local Bhutanese alcohol (Arra) and shall have the opportunity to understand and experience the life in a village in Bhutan. Right from the daily household chores to other works in the field. Also relax in traditional hot stone bath (optional)
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.
You may choose to have your dinner with the family. (Optional)
Dinner and overnight: Amankora – Paro.
After breakfast, a small Bhutanese ritual shall be held by a monk for a safe journey home wards.
Drive to Airport and farewell.