Bhutan is renowned for the enduring strength and vitality of its traditional Himalayan Buddhist culture and the dominance and purity of its natural environment. This journey through the country’s west encapsulates both these elements. Touring the major historical centers and day hiking to other important sites are combined with stepping off the beaten track, into a world that not long ago existed throughout the country and for many still represents the norm. There is a particular emphasis on traditional arts and crafts, observing the perpetuation of skills that have been carefully maintained through the generations.
Pamper your leisure tour in th Kingdom of Bhutan in the comforts of Zhiwa Ling Hotels. Six years in the making, Zhiwa Ling Heritage in Paro is a tribute to the ornate architectural arts of Bhutan. “It is an architectural gem that unites Bhutanese culture and heritage with 21st century comforts,” states the National Geographic review. “This is the first and only five-star Bhutanese owned hotel, and its 46 beautifully appointed suites look out over the emerald foothills of the Himalaya.”
The main building is built in the tradition of a Bhutanese Dzong (Fortress) with intricate carvings, paintings and antique Bhutanese textile collections. This traditional Bhutanese architecture and design flows throughout the property and also features in all the rooms. Zhiwa Ling Heritage is an exuberant celebration of the best of a 1,000-year-old culture combined with modern day innovations and in 2015, Zhiwa Ling Heritag has been listed as a Unique Lodge of National Geographic.
Enjoy your magnificent flight to Paro by Druk Air/Bhutan Airlines. As we near Bhutan (and if the weather is clear), we can see the massive peaks of the eastern Himalayas, including Kanchenchunga (third highest mountain in the world) and Bhutan’s holy mountain, Chomolhari. Upon arrival in Paro, the immigration official will stamp your Bhutan visa into your passport. Our Yangphel Adventure Travel guide and driver outside the customs exit area will receive you.
Drive to the hotel for check in & to refresh from the stress of your flight. You will be received to the hotel with a grand Chipdrel ceremony which is a traditional welcome procession.
After checking in and refreshments – we will embark on a short hike in the vicinity to acclimatize and familiarize yourself with the premises of the big compound of the hotel and then gather in the evening for a briefing of the trip followed by an hour long cultural program that is a shorter version of a Bhutanese festival. (Mask dances & folk dances).
Dinner will be served after the program.
Today, we drive to a wonderful destination – the Dochula pass via the capital of Bhutan - Thimphu. The winding road follows the Pa Chu river until we reach the confluence of Chuzomsa and then up-valley to Thimphu, The capital. As we enter the Thimphu Valley we will pass by Simtokha Dzong built in 1629 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (the man who unified Bhutan). Simtokha Dzong is the first fortress built in Bhutan; it originally used to serve as a stronghold to protect the region but today acts as an administrative center and the center for the monks’ religious activity.
We then continue our journey eastwards crossing over to the Dochu La (la means pass) at an altitude of 3,300m where in good weather 300 kms of the Bhutanese Eastern Himalayan summits are in view against the backdrop of 108 stupas adorning the site. You can then joy tea/coffee and after leisure time, we will participate in a prayer flag hoisting ceremony that will be for good luck, prosperity & long life. We will have lunch at the mountain top restaurant that will be exclusively arranged for us. The area is great for group photo as it is very scenic with the panorama of snow peaks in view.
Afternoon we drive back to Thimphu for a series of sightseeing. We drive to the view Point of Thimphu & visit the tallest seated Buddha statue in the world at 169ft height This Buddha is considered a wish fulfilling Buddha for those that pray there. We will have an opportunity to go inside & meditate. Then visit the Zilukha nunnery that comprises of about 65 nuns. The temple which houses the nuns is dedicated to the famous saint Drubthob Thangthong Gyalpo, the man who first introduced and built the chain of iron bridges in Bhutan. On your way back check at the small zoo in the pine trees to spot some Takins, the national animal of Bhutan.
In the morning we will visit the magnificent Mmorial Stupa in th heart of the city. You will notice people from all walks of life circumambulating the sacred temple. In the corner, the elders will be seen turning the prayer flags and catching up with good old times. We will then stroll around th city where you will also come accross man in blue and white uniform controlling the traffic! Other options of your interests may include; Postal Museum, Farmer's Market, handicraft shops, Textile Museum, Painting School.
Afternoon, we drive back to Paro & visit National Museum of Bhutan that houses many ancient antiques, paintings, Indo-Bhutan frindship display, information on flora and fauna. Next visit the Paro Dzong that is home to about 500 monks and also houses the offices of the governor and the district judge. From the Dzong, one can view th Kinga Rabten palace and the valley filled with paddies below. Later we will walk down for about 15 minutes to the cantilevered bridge spanning over pachhu river, where the vehicle awaits you.
On our way back to the hotel, we will visit the one of the oldest and most auspicious 7th century Kyichu temple. Here you will be treated to a ritual ceremony that will ward off misfortunes and bad lucks and to instill peace of mind and for the wellbeing of your loved ones.
In the evening, there will be a demonstration of traditional archery & dart games in the vicinity of your hotel ground. Those interested can participate & try the games.
After an early breakfast today, we drive for 15 minutes and prepare for our hike to the ‘Tiger’s Nest’ or the Taktsang Monastery. This magical monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff 701m above the valley floor. The legend of Taktsang (Tiger’s lair) dates back to 747 AD when Guru Rinpoche (Padma Sambhava), is believed to have arrived at this site on the back of a tigress and subdued the evil spirits in the region. The Guru then meditated in the holy cave that is the site of the Pelphug Lhakhang today. According to Tantric Buddhist mythology, the vanquished local deities became the protectors of the dharma and one of them, Singye Samdrup, is recognized today as the guardian deity of Taktsang. Guru Rinpoche is also believed to have concealed among the rocks of Taktsang various forms of Dharma treasures known as Ters, which were destined to be discovered later by Tertons (treasure discoverers) for the propagation of Dharma.
In approximately one hour, we will reach a small teahouse that has a wonderful panoramic view of the temple. For those interested, it is possible to get a closer view by hiking another 45 minutes to an hour (each direction) to reach the small chorten directly across from the temple. Anyone not interested in hiking further can relax at the teahouse and enjoy the view OR venture inside the temple as Yangphel Adventure Travel has secured special permission for you.
Return to the comforts of our hotel and towards evening, driv to small town of Paro for last minute shoping and souvenir. Tonight a sumptuous farewell dinner will be arranged along with cultural program.
Elevation gain: 600m/2,000 ft
In the morning the resident monk will perform a blessing ceremony to wish you safe flight and Longevity. Your guide and driver will drop you to the airport and bid you farewell. We wish you Bon Voyage and safe flight home. TASHI DELEK!