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10 Day Cultural tour

Experience the enchanting beauty of Bhutan with Touch Bhutan's cultural sightseeing tour. Explore Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha, and Paro over 9 nights and 10 days. Discover ancient temples, majestic monasteries, and breathtaking landscapes. From the world's largest Buddha statue to the iconic Tigers Nest monastery - immerse yourself in Bhutan's rich heritage. Indulge in delicious local cuisine, relax in comfortable accommodation, and create unforgettable memories. Join us on this captivating journey through the Land of Happiness.


Cultural Sightseeing Tour

9 Nights / 10 Days

Day 1: Paro to Thimphu (1.5 Hours)

Arrival & Welcome

Your friendly tour guide will be eagerly awaiting your arrival with your surname written on a plaque outside the exit doors at Paro International Airport. We will immediately head off to Thimphu and as we follow the Paa Chu (river), we will pass the picturesque Tamchog temple (lhakhang), built in the late 13th century by the great Tibetan saint Drupthob Thangthong Gyalpo. If requested, we can stop long enough to take in the vista and snap a photo or two. Arrive at your hotel in the centre of Thimphu and take your time to unpack and relax. There will be a welcome dinner where your tour guide will give you a brief introduction about the tour. Time permitting, we encourage you to take a stroll in the town. Most shops close at 9pm with bars and nightclubs closing around 12pm. Your guide will be available to accompany you and offer advice. Overnight: The Willows hotel (located in the centre of town) (L,D)

Day 2: Thimphu

Exploring Thimphu Town

Today we will explore a few sites in and around the Thimphu valley. After breakfast we will make our way to the Buddha Dordenma statue at Kuenselphodrang, which towers over the city of Thimphu. It is the largest sitting statue of the Buddha in the world at a height of well over 50 metres. From here you will be able to view the whole of the Thimphu valley as well as go inside the statue that contains hundreds of smaller replica statues of the outer statue and offer prayers if you wish. We will also visit the National Memorial Chorten, completed by the Royal Queen Mother as a memorial for the 3rd King who passed away in 1972. This is a wonderful place to observe the older devout Buddhist population circumambulating the chorten in their colourful national dress. We will then have a few options. We could make our way to the Textile Museum where you will be able to learn about the history of Bhutanese textiles. The museum was established in 2001 under the royal patronage of Her Majesty, the Queen Mother, Sangay Choden Wangchuck. Another option is a visit to the Zorig Chusum, the school of arts and crafts where you will be able to observe the students engaging in the 13 artistic skills or if arts is not your thing, we can visit the 12th century Changangkha temple and Zilukha nunnery and even the Takin preservation centre, the national animal of Bhutan. After lunch there will be time to wander around the streets of Thimphu. There is a craft market near the magnificent Pemako hotel where you will be able to purchase local handicrafts at a reasonable price. Numerous handicraft shops are also scattered throughout the town. For a nice cup of coffee, we recommend Ambient café which is located near the only traffic light in the whole of Bhutan which is manually operated by a traffic policeman with white gloves. There are also a handful of shops selling the traditional attire which your guide will be more than happy to take you to. You may also wish to visit the main post office which offers for sale a wide array of stamps for the avid philatelist or visit the vegetable market to observe the hustle and bustle. If you are active, there is always the option to go on a short hike to Wangditse monastery, a short distance above Thimphu town. At 4:30 pm we will regroup to visit the summer residence of the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan known as Tashichho Dzong, which is also the seat of the government of Bhutan and houses His Majesty’s office. Overnight: The Willows hotel (B, L, D)

Day 3: Thimphu to Punakha (2.5 hours which includes stopping at Dochu La to take in the view of the Himalayas)

Onwards to Punakha over the mountain pass

Today we will be having an early start to venture to Punakha. Enroute we will pass Semtokha dzong built by the founding father of Bhutan, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, in 1629. We will continue ascending to Dochu La (pass) to view the 108 stupas commissioned by the Queen mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, as a memorial to those who lost their lives during a conflict in late 2002 when Bhutan evicted Indian rebels camped in the jungle on the Bhutanese – Indian border. On a clear day you will witness a breathtaking view of the eastern Himalayas. Before arriving in Punakha, we will stop at Chimi Lhakhang, a monastery built by Ngawang Choegyel in honour of Lama Drukpa Kuenley (also known as the divine madman due to his enlightened though unusual behaviours). It’s an easy 20-minute picturesque stroll through a traditional village and across rice paddy fields. Lunch at Nobgang B & B restaurant (12:30 – 2:30pm) After lunch we will visit the winter residence of the Central Monastic Body known as Punakha dzong. This dzong was also built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (in 1637) and was where he established his formal way of governing the land, known as the dual system of governance. Punakha dzong is one of the most breathtaking dzongs in Bhutan, situated at the confluence of two rivers. It is the second largest dzong in Bhutan after Trongsa dzong. We will enter inside the dzong as well as have time to stroll around the picturesque grounds. We will also visit the suspension bridge behind the dzong – a favourite amongst visitors. Overnight: Zhingkham resort (B, L, D)

Punakha dzong 2.jpg

Day 4: Punakha

Sightseeing in Punakha

First thing after breakfast, we will head to the upper Punakha valley to walk through lush paddy fields to the beautiful temple known as Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Lhakhang. The leisurely walk to the temple will take around an hour. From there you will be able to enjoy stunning views of the lush green valley and meandering river. We will have a casual picnic lunch on the banks of the gushing river. In the afternoon we will visit Wolakha nunnery. Free time Overnight: Zhingkham resort (B, L, D)

Day 5: Punakha to Phobjikha (2.5 hours)

Beautiful Gangtey Monastery & valley

After breakfast we will head eastward to the Gangtey valley. The Gangtey valley is a broad glacial valley located in the central region of Bhutan which is often referred to as the Phobjikha valley. It is one of the most beautiful destinations in Bhutan. The valley is home to the black-necked cranes that arrive annually from the Tibetan plateau in late October and depart in mid-February. The locals believe that the arrival of these cranes bring with them a good harvest and blessings for the entire valley. During our stay in this sacred valley, we will be visiting the magnificent Gangtey monastery which was built in the 17th century and is home to the revered Nyingma Buddhist master, Gangtey tulku. We will wander around the grounds, meet with the monks, and take in the stunning views of the Phobjikha valley from the monastery. Afterwards we will go on a relaxed 2.5-hour hike along the Gangtey nature trail as well as visit the crane information centre to learn more about these beautiful birds and the natural environment. Overnight: Local farmhouse (B, L, D)


Day 6: Phobjikha to Paro (5 hours)

Leisurely drive back to Paro with hot stone bath experience

Today we will have an early start as it is a driving day, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the view. If we are lucky, we will come across the grey langur, one of several species of primates found in Bhutan. The Bhutanese believe that seeing one is a very auspicious sign. On the way we will stop briefly at the Royal Botanical gardens at Lampelri. After arriving in Paro and resting for a while at our quaint homestay, we will drive to nearby Kyichu Lhakhang on the outskirts of Paro town which is one of Bhutan’s oldest and most beautiful temples boasting an orange tree that perpetually bears fruit. In the evening you will enjoy free time to roam around Paro town which offers good shopping for traditional jewellery and handicrafts and houses a few quaint cafés serving locally roasted coffee. After exploring the town, you will be able to enjoy the famous hot stone bath and the local hospitality of our hosts who will serve up a sumptuous Bhutanese dinner. Overnight: Kichu homestay (B, L, D)

paro taktsang

Day 7: Paro (short hike)

Exploring the Paro Valley

After breakfast we will take a short drive to see the Drukgyel dzong with its stunning forest and mountain vistas. This dzong (the name literally translates to ‘the fortress of the victorious Drukpas’) was built after the victory over the Tibetan – Mongols in 1649. After an early lunch we will visit the national museum known as Ta dzong which houses a fine collection of ancient thangka paintings, textiles, weaponry, and other artefacts. From above the museum, we will take a short 2.5-hour leisurely hike, known as the Zurik trail, which leads to a stunning view of Paro dzong, the airport and the whole of Paro valley and township. Our driver will be waiting to pick us up at the end of the airport. Overnight: Khangkhu resort (B, L, D)

Day 8: Chele La ridge hike (4- 5 hour hike)

Sky burial hike, nunnery & cliff face monastery

Today we will drive to the pass between the Paro and Haa valleys which is at an altitude of 4000 metres. From this windswept location you will be able to experience stunning views of the Himalayas and the Haa valley. From the drop off point we will hike to a sky burial site. In Bhutan the method of sky burial is used for children under the age of 8 years old. As per the local Buddhist customs they should not be cremated. Once reaching the site we will descend to Kila nunnery where you will be able to mingle with the nuns. Our driver will be waiting for us at Kila nunnery from where we will drive to Dzongdrakha Lhakhang which is a short walk from the roadside. The Lhakhang’s location is stunning and is known as the second Taktsang as it is also built into the cliff face. Overnight: Khangkhu resort (B, L, D)

Day 9: Paro (Taktsang hike – 5-6 hour round trip)

Taktsang Monastery (Tigers Nest)

The big day has arrived! After a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, we will make our way to the base of the Taktsang hike. (Note: for those who don’t feel up to the hike there is an option to ride up to the viewpoint on a horse). For those going on horseback, you must alight at the viewpoint and walk the rest of the way if you wish to enter the temple, which involves a further short walk and a steep descent and ascent along steps. Most find this walk not too taxing as they are mesmerised by the stunning view of Taktsang monastery – one of Bhutan’s national treasures. Taktsang monastery (Tigers Nest) clings impossibly to a cliff of rock at over 800 metres above the valley floor and where Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress to subdue the local demons followed by 3 months meditation in a cave still visible in the monastery. In 1998 the monastery was seriously damaged by fire and has since been painstakingly reconstructed to its original condition and consecrated by the 4th King in 2005. On the way down we will enjoy lunch at the Taktsang cafeteria overlooking the Taktsang monastery. Free time to roam around the town and for last minute shopping. Overnight: Khangkhu resort (B, L, D)

Day 10: Paro (Departure)

Till next time

Free time to relax this morning before we leave for the airport and onward flights. In Bhutan we never say goodbye as we always believe we will have the good fortune of meeting again. So, from the team at Touch Bhutan Travel, we sincerely hope you enjoyed travelling with us. Take care until next time. (B)

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