The sightseeing in Thimphu will include the main Secretariat building, and the Tashichho Dzong is the most prominent building consisting of the main Secretariat, the National Assembly Hall, the Office of the King and the Throne Room. It’s remarkable construction is in traditional Bhutanese style without the use of nails or metal of any kind. You could also visit the large Stupa dedicated to the late King HM. Jimge Dorji Wangchuk, regarded as the founder of modern day Bhutan. Drive to the capital to visit the National Library, Memorial Chorten and the Institute for Zorig Chusum, an Arts and Craft School where visitors can watch students working with paints, clay, woodwork and other traditional arts, again an educational learning for your family and children. The Institute for Zorig Chusum, an Arts and Craft school is a highlight for those interested in Asian artworks and was established to ensure traditional arts and continuation of cultural heritage as there is also an opportunity to purchase arts and crafts from the shop at this schoo……..on the East Himalayan Kingdom Holiday Package!
From Thimphu, drive towards Wangduephodrang, locally known as “Wangdi”, changing climatic zones from mountainous to tropical. On the way, you cross over Dochu La, a high pass marked by prayer flags and a chorten and, if the weather is fine, a view of the eastern Himalayas, including the highest mountain in Bhutan, Mt. Gangar Punsum . You drive through forests of rhododrendron and magnolia, before the road descends into the warmer lowlands around Punakha.
Drive to one of the most remote and sacred valleys in Bhutan via the Chelela Pass. At the pass, hike to Kila Goempa Nunnery through the deep forest of pine trees and rhododendron which clings to a rocky cliff, and houses a few nuns. In the valley, visit Wangchuk Lo Dzong shrine and the Lhakhang Nagpo or the Black Temple, which is said to have been built by pigeon emanation of King Songtsen Gampo and Lhakhang Karpo or White Temple, which were built in the seventh century. It has to be noted that the Haa valley recently opened its doors towards tourism and is also the last valley of Bhutan adjoining with autonomous Tibet and it is worthwhile to ascend the walking trail to appreciate the monasteries breathtaking location on a cliff edge above the valley floor. From the pass you can get a good view of the Himalayan Ranges, as well, and the valley beyond.
Visit the Punakha Dzong, which once served as the old capital of Bhutan. This remarkable fortress was built between two rivers and has survived many glacial floods and fire. Every February there is a procession known as the Punakha Serda to commemorate the victory over the Tibetans, and no journey in Bhutan is complete without a visit to this fascinating and visually stunning Dzong.
Transfer to Paro where the sightseeing program includes visits to the Paro Dzong and the even older Ta Dzong that now houses the National Museum of Bhutan. The Paro Dzong is one of Bhutan’s most impressive and well-known dzongs, and perhaps the finest example of Bhutanese architecture to view. The massive buttressed walls that tower over the town are visible throughout the valley. At the top of the hill above Paro Dzong is an old watchtower that was renovated to house the National Museum. The unusual round building is said to be in the shape of a conch shell. and was originally the ta dzong or watchtower of Paro Dzong, which lies undefended below. While tourists are not permitted inside the monastery at the Dzong, you can take a look around inside this impressive building which is the monastic and administrative centre for South-West Bhutan. Ta Dzong is the original fort and has been carefully transformed into a museum with excellent displays of all facets of Bhutan’s rich cultural history. Old costumes and battle dresses, together with priceless jewellery and specimens of the kingdoms unique flora and fauna are included within the museum.
You drive on to the foot of the Taktsang Monastery, the famous Tigers Nest Monastery, said to have been one of the divine resting places of the Guru Ringpoche. The Taktshang Museum has on display festival masks, examples of regional dresses and explanations of the kabney or scarf hierarchy. The dried foods and herbs display is comprehensive including a bowl of cornflakes, and tourists can also taste local snacks and wine.
The remaining time is free to complete sightseeing and purchases before your departure.
Paro’s weekly vegetable market is not very large but it has a traditional feel and is a fine introduction to some of Bhutan’s unique local products. There are strings of chugo or dried yak cheese, either white, boiled in milk and dried in the sun, or brown and smoked. The fruit that looks like an orange egg is actually fresh husky betel nut, imported from India. The jars of pink paste contain lime, which is ingested with the betel nut. There are also exotic-looking ferns, powdered juniper incense, squares of dried jellied skin known as khoo, a local snack, and slabs of datse, the cheese used in almost every Bhutanese dish……..relish the delicacies on the East Himalayan Kingdom Holiday Package!