Thimphu, Punakha & Paro
Family Travel, Outdoor & Adventure, History & Culture
Forbidden to foreigners for centuries and hidden in isolation of the Himalayan peaks, this timeless Buddhist kingdom has preserved much of its spiritual traditions and ancestral way of life.
Let us take you across the charming capital of Thimphu, the stunning rice terraces of Punakha and the monastic masterpieces of Paro, anchored by the iconic Tiger’s Nest Monastery perched on a hilltop.
This trip is designed to cover both the iconic sights alongside hidden gems, uncovering some of the great outdoor hikes and authentic experiences to bring new twist into the classic Bhutan circuit.
Glorious snow-capped Himalaya on a clear day marked your descent into the hidden kingdom of Bhutan. From Paro International Airport, we drive 48 km or about 1½ hour into Thimphu.
Towering above the scenic Thimphu valley, your journey begins at the golden-gilded Great Buddha Dodernma before we continue into the Takin Preserve to come face-to-face with the beloved Bhutan’s national animal.
After paying respect at the Memorial Chorten which was erected in memory of Bhutan’s third king, you will mingle with the everyday Bhutanese as they shop for local produces at the Centenary Farmers Market (opens Fri-Sun) and the artisanal craft bazaar (closed on Tue). Time-permitting, what about an in-depth look into the local industries at Changzamto Weaving Centre and a handmade paper factory?
If you would like, we can arrange for you to dress up in traditional gho (men) or kira (women) for the day.
This morning, we drive 85km or about 2.5 hours into Punakha. Stretch your leg with a gentle scenic hike to Chimmi Lhakhang. Enjoy our treat of heart-warming tea and snacks overlooking the rice fields as you immerse in tales of this hillside temple for the widely adored Drukpa Kuenley.
Enjoy an evening prayer at a hilltop nunnery. Interact with the resident nuns of Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang and observe the spiritual Buddhist chanting dedicated to the bodhisattva of compassion.
Punakha is a haven for outdoor activities. Choose from two options:
Option A: Raft to Punakha Dzong
Following an early breakfast, fuel your adrenaline with a white water rafting until a take-out point, where you will enjoy a picnic lunch by the river. Afterwards, you will be driven to Punakha Dzong, hosting hundreds of saffron-clad monks and beautifully hugged by the confluence of two rivers.
Option B: Hike to Punakha Dzong
A spectacular hike to Khansum Yuelley Namgel Chorten rewards you with a view of Punakha valley’s northern ridges. On the way down, we follow the off-the-beaten Butterfly Trail through small farmer villages and virgin forests, crossing over a suspension bridge into Punakha Dzong.
This morning, we drive 126 km or about 4 hours back into Paro. We can include a seasonal apple plucking session (Jul-Aug) during your leg-stretching stop in Thimphu.
Time-permitting, a visit to the national museum of Ta Dzong (opens 9am-5pm) provides an insightful exhibit of Thangka paintings, religious arts and relics. Alternatively, you can enjoy an evening stroll of Paro street, dotted with charming Bhutanese shops and small lodges.
Let us whisk you off the tourist trail with a hike up to Zurig Lhakhang to admire the Paro valley. After visiting Paro Rinpung Dzong, we descent through a cantilever bridge with giant stupas. Continue to the remote ruins of Drukgyel Dzong (entry not allowed).
A picnic lunch will be set up at a scenic spot with a view of the Mount Jhomolhari on a clear day. Spend the afternoon getting acquainted with the national sports of Bhutan through a game of darts and archery.
It’s time for the big highlight! Perched on a jaw-dropping vertical cliff, the iconic Tiger’s Nest Monastery involves a scenic two-hour hike with picturesque views of pine forests, mosses and prayer flags.
We descend to light the butter lamps at Kyichu Lhakhang, before we meet the rural farmers to learn about their daily routines as you stroll along the fields. Conclude with a home-cooked dinner in an authentic farmhouse with a serving of the local wine known as ara!
After breakfast, you will be transferred to Paro International Airport for your flight home.
Osel Thimphu • Zhingkham Resort Punakha • Naksel Boutique Hotel Paro
One of the few boutique properties within the city vicinity with glorious views of the Eastern Himalaya, Buddha Dordenma and Tashicho Dzong.
Comfortably fitted with modern furnishings with a dash of Bhutanese accent, Naksel sits on a forest retreat with views of the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Mount Jumolhari, Sangachoekhor Monastery and the Paro Valley.
Taj Tashi Thimphu • COMO Uma Punakha • COMO Uma Paro
Blending dzong architecture with a dash of modern comfort, this hotel is beautifully set on the Thimphu valley overlooking the mountains and the township. (Opened: 2008; Rooms: 66)View More
An intimate retreat at the far western end of the Punakha Valley blessed with a view of the Mo Chu riverbend. (Opened: 2012; Rooms: 10)View More
Incorporating Bhutanese craftmanship into its largely contemporary design, this hotel is beautifully straddled amongst tree-clad hill overlooking the town. (Opened: 2004; Rooms: 29)View More
Six Senses Thimphu • Six Senses Punakha • Six Senses Paro
Flawlessly perched on a valley hillside south of the city centre, Six Senses Thimphu is a stunning retreat dubbed ‘Palace in the Sky’ with picturesque view of the Thimphu Valley and Buddha Dordenma.
(Opened: 2019; Rooms: 25)
Designed with the concept of a ‘Flying Farmhouse’, Six Senses Punakha blends into its rural rice field surrounds while comfortably furnished with modern amenities.
(Opened: 2019; Rooms: 19)
Incorporating neutral, relaxing tones with local touches, Six Senses Paro escapes the bustle of the town for a rewarding view of the Paro Valley.
(Opened: 2019; Rooms: 20)
Amankora Thimphu • Amankora Punakha • Amankora Paro
Built to resemble a traditional dzong, the Thimphu Lodge is quietly rested at the capital’s Motithang suburb which is often referred to as ‘the meadow of pearls’.
(Opened: 2005; Rooms: 16)
Beguilingly located over a suspension bridge of the Mo Chhu River, the Punakha Lodge offers scenic views of the famed Punakha rice terraces and an orange orchard.
(Opened: 2005; Rooms: 8)
Hidden in an atmospheric pine, the Paro Lodge is a sanctuary cleverly incorporating its rustic landscape with luxury facilities.
(Opened: 2004; Rooms: 24)
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