Bhutan Trip Itinerary, Unplugged Life, Punakha Dzong, Travel Bhutan, Bhutan on Budget, Kingdom of Happiness, Simply Bhutan, Travel Asia, History
Bhutan by Road
Duration: (08 Nights | 09 Days)

Day 01: Bagdogra Airport to Phuentsholing (India-Bhutan Border)
Day 02: Phuentsholing to Thimphu
Day 03: Thimphu Local Sightseeing
Day 04: Thimphu to Punakha via Dochu La (10,171 ft.)
Day 05: Punakha: Excursion to Gangtey
Day 06: Punakha to Paro via Dochu La (10,171 ft.)
Day 07: Paro: Tiger’s Nest Monastery & Chele La (13,083 ft.)
Day 08: Paro to Phuentsholing
Day 09: Phuentsholing to Bagdogra/NJP

• India-Bhutan border crossing by road
• Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery
• Drive over the famous Dochu La (10,171 ft.) & Chele La (13,083 ft.)
• Phuentsholing (2N)
• Thimphu (2N)
• Punakha (2N)
• Paro (2N)
• Day visit to Gangtey
• Visit famous Dzongs, Museums, & Monasteries

Cost Includes
• Room category & accommodation as desired
• 02 Nights’ stay at Phuentsholing
• 02 Nights’ stay at Thimphu
• 02 Nights’ stay at Punakha
• 02 Nights’ stay at Paro
• Meals on CP Basis (breakfast included)
• Transportation: All sightseeing tours by non-ac sedan car as per the itinerary
• Paro Airport pick-up & drop
• Fuel, driver allowances
• All applicable taxes

Cost Excludes
• Airfare
• Entrance fee for monasteries/dzongs, museums, etc.
• Expenses of personal nature, such as laundry, telephone calls, room service, alcoholic beverages, mini bar charges, tips, portage, camera fees, room heater, etc.
• Any meals and services not specifically mentioned in the inclusions
• Any expense incurred or loss caused by reasons beyond our control such as bad weather, natural calamities (landslides, floods), flight delays /rescheduling /cancellations, any accidents / medical evacuations, riots/strikes/war/roadblocks, & force majeure events, etc.
• Medical insurance/travel insurance
• Additional sightseeing charges or extra usage of the vehicle apart from the suggested itinerary

DETAILED ITINERARY
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Day One: Head For The Border

Arrival – Bagdogra Airport | Transfer to Phuentsholing (India-Bhutan Border)

Upon arrival at Bagdogra airport, you will be welcomed by Unplugged Life’s representative who will drive you to Phuentsholing (India-Bhutan Border). Upon arrival check-in at the hotel. The rest of the time is at leisure. Go for a walk across the town. Enter back into India by foot and walk back into Bhutan. Overnight at the hotel.

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Day Two: Getting There Is Half The Fun

Phuentsholing to Thimphu

After breakfast, you will apply for the route permit and depart for Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.
On the way, you will visit the famous Kharbandi Gonpa, from where you will have a scenic view of the plains of India. You will pass numerous small towns of Gedu, Chukha and, Chunzom, the confluence of Pa Chu and Thin Chu. Continue the drive to reach the capital. Upon arrival check-in at the hotel.

In the evening, visit the Tashichho Dzong; the main secretarial building which houses the throne room of His Majesty the King of Bhutan and also the head seat of Chief Abbot of Bhutan. It is the summer residence of the monk body, the winter being in Punakha Dzong. Located at the banks of the Wangchhu River the massive fortress was built in 1641 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and rebuilt in its present form in 1965 by the Third King of Bhutan Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.

You will spend the rest of your time browsing through the Handicrafts Lane of Thimphu where there are more than 50 Government appointed shops selling the traditional Bhutanese crafts that you can buy as souvenirs. Rest of the time is at leisure. Overnight at the hotel.

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Day Three: Miles and Smiles Away

Thimphu Local Sightseeing

Today after breakfast you will begin your day with a visit to the famous landmark of the capital, the Memorial Chorten, consecrated in the memory of the Third kind of Bhutan who is regarded as the father of modern Bhutan. Just as you enter the Chorten, you will be amazed to witness the local people, young and the old alike, circumambulate the Chorten with the prayer beads or the prayer wheel in hand, murmuring the sacred words of prayers. The tall four-storied Chorten contains statues and iconography of deities from the tantric teachings.

It is time to witness the National Animal of Bhutan, Takin, at the Takin Reserve. Takin are related to sheep and weigh up 650 kgs. According to the local folktale, the Devine Madman, Drukpa Kunley, created the Takin by joining the goat’s head in the body of the Cow. This interesting animal is an endangered species found only in few pockets of the Himalayas.

National Library. Originally established in 1967 and housed inside the Tashicho Dzong, it was moved to the present site in 1984. It houses important historical documents and photographs. The World’s biggest published book that weighs 68 kilograms and about 02 meters in height is also housed here.

After this interesting visit, you will now visit the rich Art and Crafts Centre of Bhutan at the Institute of Zorig Chusum. This institute provides opportunities for vocational training in Bhutanese Arts and Crafts. You can witness the student’s training and give an idea to the visitors on the traditional form of the Arts and crafts.

Visit Folk Heritage Museum, one of the oldest houses in Thimphu was converted to the Folk Heritage Museum in 2001 to give an insight into the traditional lifestyle of the Bhutanese forefathers. It is like entering a traditional Bhutanese home in, say, 150 years back.

Next, You will visit Buddha Dordenma, which is one of the largest Buddha statues in the World at 169 feet. The body of the Buddha is filled with 1,25,000 smaller statues of Buddha. The view of the Thimphu valley is spectacular from this point. Overnight at the hotel.

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Day Four: Different Worlds

Punakha – Thimphu | DochuLa | Simtokha Dzong | Chimi Lakhang | Punakha Dzong

Gorge on a delicious breakfast & pack your bags for a breathtaking drive to Punakha from Thimphu. Punakha is a Himalayan town that is recognised by a number of landmarks that you will visit on day three.

The following places comprise the first leg of the journey:

  • Dochu La: Dochu la pass which is undoubtedly recognised among the most beautiful passes in the Asian continent. Enjoy the 360-degree views of the Himalayas.
  • 108 beautiful Chortens: Built by Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. From here, on a clear day, you can have a superb view of the highest peaks, the sharp peak being Masagang (7200m) dominating the region, others are Tsendagang (6960m), Terigang (7060m), Jejegangphugang (7158m) and Kangphugang (7170m).
  • Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (temple): Built-in honour of the fourth Druk Gyalpo (head of the state of Bhutan), Jigme Singye Wangchuck the open grounds in its front yard is a venue for the annual Dochula Druk Wangyel Festival.

After breathing in the captivating amphitheatrical vistas of the mountains, we will resume the downhill drive towards Punakha. You will stop for lunch in the afternoon. To burn the extra fat that you just devoured on, it is time to take a beautiful hike on the paddy fields to reach your next destination – Chimi Lhakhang (fertility temple).

  • Chimi Lhakhang: Chimi Lhakhang is a temple built after a divine Mad Man called Drukpa Kuenley. Go for easy walks in the paddy field and come back to resume the second leg of the journey. It is a short walk that will consume an hour as you to-&-fro.
  • Punakha Dzong: As we near the Punakha Valley, you will stop to navigate across the valley to reach Punakha Dzong. It is the most bewitching Dzong in Bhutan. The establishment dates back to 1637 as an old capital that served as the winter residence of the monk body. It is now the winter residence of the Central Monastic Community and administrative headquarters of Punakha district.
  • Get ready for the next stop which is one of the longest suspension bridges in Bhutan. An off-the-beaten 350meter long bridge suspended on the very swift Po Chhu river. The bridge connects the town of Punakha and the Punakha Dzong and is mainly used by locals.
  • Dinner & overnight stay at the hotel.
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Day Five: What A View

Punakha: Excursion to the Glacial Valley of Gangtey (Phobjikha)

  • Fill your stomach with a healthy & tasty breakfast meal before leaving for Gangtey today. Gangtey (3000m) is a serene glacial valley of rolling hills and undulating meadows. Peer at the serrated mountains loomed in the distance to identify the picturesque Black Mountain range in the beautiful Phobjikha Valley.
  • Perched atop a small hill in the valley is Gangtey Gonpa – a timeless monastery surrounded by a large village inhabited mainly by the families of the 140 Gomchens (Lay Monks).

Interesting Fact: The Gangtey Gonpa is the biggest and the only Nyingmapa Monastery on the western side of the Black mountains.

  • Besides the Gangtey Monastery, the Black Necked Crane center is adored for the famous Black Necked Cranes who migrate from Tibet to call it their winter home.
  • Before the sun slides down the horizon, make your way back to your hotel in Punakha.
  • Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel!
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Day Six: Another Day In Paradise

Punakha to Paro via Dochu La | Tachog Lhakhang | Ta Dzong | Paro Dzong | Cantilever Bridge

After an early breakfast, you will set off for Paro via Dochula Pass and Simtokha.

Along the way, you will explore:

  • Chuzom: Chuzom is the place where Paro Chhu (Paro River) and Wang Chhu (Thimphu River) meet. At the confluence point, look out for the 3 ancient Chortens (stupas) – each characterizing Bhutanese, Tibetan, and Nepalese styles of architecture.
  • Tachog Lhakhang: As you drive a few kilometers on the Paro-Thimphu highway after Chuzom, you will take a small photoshop at Tachog Lhakhang. It is a private temple owned by the descendent of the famous Tibetan bridge builder, Thangthong Gyelpo (famous as the Iron Chain Bridge Builder). The 15th-century landmark (the bridge) is marked with fluttering prayer flags and strong wind; commanding every visitor’s attention!

Upon arrival in Paro, check-in at the hotel. After a filling lunch, the second leg of the expedition will follow where the next stops will be:

  • Ta Dzong: Ta Dzong is the cultural museum of Bhutan which was built in 1968 and houses some of the most impressive exhibits in the country. The displays include a rare collection of thangkas, and fearsome festival masks. Several sections also boast ancient textile work, jewelry, and handicrafts along with a few galleries of stuffed animals and butterflies from Bhutan.
  • Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong): Established in the 15th century, the Rinpung Dzong is a Buddhist monastery and fortress. It is an imposing square fortress with a central tower and courtyards housing the administrative quarters; it stands today as a marvel of Bhutanese architecture
  • Bhutanese Cantilever Bridge: Following the museum & fortress visits, sped downhill to cross the Bhutanese Cantilever Bridge – one of the finest specimens in Bhutan with its shingle roof and two guard-houses at each end.
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Day Seven: Make-A-Wish

Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) | Chele La (13,083 ft.)

Hike to Taktsang Monastery – Make an early start to Taktsang Monastery or Tiger’s Nest monastery.

  • Paro Taktsang or Tiger’s Nest, as christened popularly is a prominent temple complex that appears to have clung on the cliffside of the upper Paro valley. The temple was built around 1692 and is devoted to Padmasambhava. Magnetizing hordes of tourists from all across the world, it is famed as the face of Bhutan on the internet which makes for a good trekking adventure and a spiritual escape.
  • The trek to the temple through the pine tree and sweet aroma of the air invokes mountain vibes as you walk uphill on the well-marked trail for 3 hours until you reach the cafeteria (lunch point) that imparts every visitor with the best views of the Temple (the one you see on the internet).
  • Post Lunch, there is a 2-hours long walk to the monastery. After the visit, it is an easy descent of another 5 to 6 hours.
  • As you reach the start point, we’ve arranged a comfortable vehicle to take you back to the hotel.

OR

Take an excursion to Chele La

  • Embark on a drive to Chele La (3,988m) – a high-altitude mountain pass that encompasses a breathtaking view of the Paro Valley.
  • At 13,083ft. Chele La is one of the highest motor-able passes in Bhutan where you reach after a 45-minute drive on the winding mountain road to Haa (another valley) from Paro.
  • Soak in an unreal & unhindered view of Mount Jomolhari & Jichu Drakey.
  • Things to do: Stroll in the Pine & Rhododendron forests around the area. Click unlimited pictures for drool-worthy Instagram posts.
  • After witnessing some Himalayan peaks up-close, drive back to Paro. The rest of the evening at leisure.
  • Overnight stay at the hotel.
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Day Eight: Overland to India

Paro to Phuentsholing

After breakfast retrace back to Phuentsholing. Upon arrival check-in at the hotel. The rest of the time is at leisure. Overnight at the hotel.

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Day Nine: Fantastic Voyage

Phuentsholing to Bagdogra Airport Drop

In the morning, you’ll be driven to the airport where you’ll board the flight to your onward destination.