Bhutan– The Kingdom of Happiness or the Last Shangri La or the Land of Thundering Dragons hasn’t been much explored, and remains unseen by millions of travellers. However, this 7-day itinerary to Bhutan – The Last Shangri La, has a little bit of everything, be it adventure, culture or tradition.
7 Day Itinerary in Brief
Day 1 – Arrive in Bagdogra and drive to Phuentsholing.
Day 2 – Phuentsholing to Thimphu. Explore Thimphu pubs and bars.
Day 3 – Thimphu sight-seeing – National Memorial Chorten – Buddha Dordenma– Folk heritage museum
Post breakfast, first head out to the 169 feet bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma. This Vajra Throne Buddha is located in the Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and is one of the largest statue of Buddha in the world.
The hill top location provides a panoramic view of Thimphu and some amazing photo shoot location. Learn more about Buddhism, like the significance of the 8 lucky symbols, and the history of Buddha as depicted on the wall paintings inside.
Next, visit the National Memorial Chorten which is built in honour of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and admire the Thimphu Dzong or the Tashichho Dzong, the largest Dzong in Bhutan, and also the seat of the office of the King of Bhutan, from a nice vantage point.
Visit the Thirteen Traditional Arts and Crafts School and the Folk Heritage Museum, before continuing to the National Library, where you’ll find the world’s largest published book.
Once you are done with all the sightseeing, head out to the Thimphu Post Office, and send a postcard or two, from the Last Shangri La, to your near and dear ones. You can get a post card for around Nu 20 and the international postage stamp amounting to Nu30. Then head out for a nice long walk along the lanes of Thimphu and check out the different souvenirs that are sold at the Norzin Lam Craft Stalls!
Day 4 – Thimphu to Punakha via Simtokha Dzong, Dochu La Pass, Chimmi Lhakang – Punakha Dzong and suspension bridge
Day 5 – Punakha to Paro – Paro Dzong (Rinpung Dzong)
Day 6 – Hike to Tiger’s Nest– Bhutanese hot stone water bath
Day 7 – Visit Namgay Artisanal Brewery overlooking Paro airstrip, and Paro – Phuentsholing
If you love your beers, or fancy trying out some new tastes, make your way to the Namgay Artisanal Brewery. This picturesque brewery, offers amazing panoramic views of Paro city, and of the Paro airstrip as well, which is directly in your line of sight.
The beers are dirt cheap, and the artistic labels also make the Bhutanese beer as nice souvenirs to take back to India. Try out the wheat beer, and the red rice beer for sure.
Day 8 – With loads of happy memories, bid adieu to Bhutan and make your way from Phuentsholing to board your flight back from Bagdogra, India
Trip to Bhutan Ends with loads of happy memories.
Check out the detailed 7 Day Itinerary to Bhutan here.
Also, when in Bhutan, you should be definitely ticking these things off your bucket list!
Visiting the various Dzongs – Punakha | Paro | Thimphu
Monasteries in Bhutan are known as Dzongs or goembas, pronounced very differently from the Tibetan equivalent, gompa. They provide the necessary solitude for both study and meditation. Usually built on rocky buttress or on a remote hillside. The architecture is massive in style with towering exterior walls surrounding a complex of courtyards, temples, administrative offices, and monks’ accommodation.
In Bhutan, Dzongs serve as the religious, military, administrative, and social centers of their district. They are often the site of an annual tsechu or religious festival.
The most popular Dzongs that you should visit are the Rinpung Dzong or Paro Dzong, Punakha Dzong, Simtokha Dzong (Thimphu) and Tasichho Dzong (Thimphu) – which has been the seat of the Government of Bhutan since 1952.
Visiting the Temple of Fertility near Punakha
Chimmi Lhakang also known as The Fertility Temple of Bhutan, is dedicated to the Divine Madman and childless couples from all over the world come here to pray for children, and are believed to be blessed with a baby after the visit.
The hike, through open fields and specially through the village of Sopsokha, will surely stun you up. As you will see plenty of Phalluses, painted on walls, and also available in different sizes as souvenirs.
As travellers, we come across so many unique traditions and beliefs across the world, and getting to know more about this tradition in Bhutan by visiting The Fertility Temple of Bhutan, is one such experience without which your trip to Bhutan will be incomplete.
For your information, in Bhutan, the phallus is a symbol of prosperity and luck, and is also used to ward off evil and malice, which is why you’ll see phalluses everywhere, being sold off as souvenirs in different shapes, or as paintings on walls, not only in this village of Sopsokha, but also in other cities of Bhutan, like Thimphu and Paro.
Witnessing a festival – Paro Tsechu
Paro Tsechu is one of the most popular festivals in Bhutan. Featuring dances performed by trained monks and laymen in amazing masks and costumes, Tsechus (festivals) are one of the best ways to experience the ancient living culture of Bhutan. A Tsechu is a Buddhist festival in honour of Guru Rimpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan.
The tshechu involves a series of dances, held over three days, to honour Guru Rinpoche. The timing of the event varies by district and from temple to temple, but are always held of the 10th day of a month in the Bhutanese calendar, a day dedicated to Guru Rinpoche.
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The focal point of the tshechus are Cham dances. These costumed, masked dances typically are moral vignettes, or based on incidents from the life of the 9th century Nyingma teacher Padmasambhava and other saints. . Most tshechus also feature the unfurling of a thongdrel – a large thangka typically depicting a seated Padmasambhava surrounded by holy beings, the mere viewing of which is said to cleanse the viewer of sin. The thongdrel is raised before dawn and rolled down by morning. . Snippets of Paro Tsechu 2019 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #EatTravelLiveRepeat #weekendvibes #ETLRWithArnav #experiencenortheast #travelwithoffbeattracks #indiantravelblogger #ilovebhutan #outlooktraveller #postcardsfromtheworld #amazing_bhutan #storiesofhimalayas #bhutan_ig #bhutan🇧🇹 #happinessisaplace #bhutantraveller #beautifuldestinations #highONhimalayas #tripotocommunity #festivalsoftheworld #festivalvibe #buddhistfestival #tsechu #parotsechu #nustaharamkhor #meinbhisadakchap #photographers_of_india #indianshutterbugs #rangeenbandar #whp
Paro Tsechu is held in spring and Thimphu Tsechu is held in the autumn, and these two are the largest of the festivals held in Bhutan. Interestingly, Tshechu dances generally follow the same sequence, although there are local variations.
Hiking up Tiger’s Nest
Tiger’s Nest or Taktsang Lhakang in Bhutan, located 10 km north of Paro, at an altitude of 10, 000 feet, is Bhutan’s most iconic landmark.Tiger’s Nest or Taktsang, constructed back in 1692, is located on a cliff about 3000 feet above Paro Valley, with the temple being one of the most important holy sites in the kingdom. A hike up the Tiger’s Nest is a 100% must, and trust me, the 2 hours of hike up, is definitely rewarding.
The legend says that Guru Rimpoche flew to the site atop the back of a tigress and meditated in the cave for 3 years, 3 months, 3 days and 3 hours in order to subdue evil demons residing within it. The cave has been considered a sacred site ever since and many famous saints have travelled to meditate in it.
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There's a reason Bhutan is called as the Last Shangri La. . . Despite being frequented by tourists from all over the world, there's no pollution in this kingdom. . . Not plastic pollution and not even sound pollution. . . The 2 hour hike up to reach Tigers Nest near Paro, has no shops en route except one designated cafeteria. . . As there's nothing being sold, read, water bottles, chips, chocolates etc there's no trash lining the trail. However, there are designated garbage dumps, which ensure proper waste disposal at the source itself. . . And the best part, there's no one playing blaring music on their Bluetooth speakers, everyone is just enjoying the beauty of nature. (Unlike popular Indian hiking trails ) . . This is Responsible tourism at it's best. Everyone automatically becomes responsible the moment they enter the kingdom. . If only we could follow this here in India, the trash problem can be solved at the grassroot itself. . What are your thoughts on this ? Do Share in comments. . . . . . . . . . . #EatTravelLiveRepeat #ETLRWithArnav #ETLRTravelDiaries2019 #travelwithoffbeattracks #bhutantraveller #bhutantourism #bhutantravels #bhutan_ig #bhutantour #highONhimalayas #whereisnortheast #happinessisaplace #himalayasarecalling #visitbhutan #responsibletravel #responsibletourism #tripotocommunity #instatravels #igtraveler #travelBlogger #indiantravelblogger #iamtb #tigersnest #tigersnestmonastery #tripotocommunity #postcardsfromtheworld #quechua #decathlon #photographers_of_india #traveldiaries2019
The climb up to the viewpoint will take around 1 1⁄2 hours and from there you will enjoy a spectacular view of the monastery clinging to the side of the cliff. Stop for refreshment at the View Point Cafeteria. Then walk further up to the monastery which will take about 30 – 45 minutes. Ideally, you should be done in a matter of 5 – 6 hours, including spending around one hour at the monastery itself.
Start the hike up by 8 – 8:30 AM, and you should be back at base by 1-2 PM just in time for lunch. The entire trail is a wide dirt trail, and is easily doable by almost everyone. The trail gets easy once you cross the view point, as from this point on, there isn’t much of an altitude gain.
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Hi, I am Arnav Mathur, a hard core foodie and a travel aficionado at heart. Having changed over 8 schools in 6 different cities, every 2 years, since birth, traveling and socializing has been in my DNA. “Follow your Passion and Travel to a new place every 3-4 months and Eat, Travel, Live and REPEAT.”That’s my mantra to live a life without regrets.