- Bhutan Photography tour is designed not only to guide you to the most photogenic locations carefully planned for the best light, but to aid you in mentally visualizing a scene before capturing the decisive moment. Bhutan provides a stunning array of photographic opportunities- mountainous landscapes, ancient temples, Dzongs (Fortress) and monasteries, lively, colorful festivals, a timeless Buddhist culture and fascinating people. The Bhutan Photography Tour is a suggested itinerary designed to make the most of these incredible features. This tour also visits remote villages, ancient places and fortresses, farm houses, temples and sacred sites throughout Bhutan’s western and central valleys. - The minimum daily package for tourists travelling in a group of 3 persons or more is as follows: USD $200 per person per night for the months of January, February, June, July, August, and December.USD $250 per person per night for the months of March, April, May, September, October, and November. There are also surcharges applicable for tourist travelling less than 3 persons: 1 pax $ 40 surcharge + the daily tariff per person per night 2 pax $ 30 surcharge + the daily tariff per person per night
About the creator
Rainbow Tours & Treks
Bhutan Photography tour is designed not only to guide you to the most photogenic locations carefully planned for the best light, but to aid you in mentally visualizing a scene before capturing the decisive moment. Bhutan provides a stunning array of photographic opportunities- mountainous landscapes, ancient temples, Dzongs (Fortress) and monasteries, lively, colorful festivals, a timeless Buddhist culture and fascinating people. The Bhutan Photography Tour is a suggested itinerary designed to make the most of these incredible features. This tour also visits remote villages, ancient places and fortresses, farm houses, temples and sacred sites throughout Bhutan’s western and central valleys.
- - The minimum daily package for tourists travelling in a group of 3 persons or more is as follows:
- There are also surcharges applicable for tourist travelling less than 3 persons:
- 1 pax $ 40 surcharge + the daily tariff per person per night
- 2 pax $ 30 surcharge + the daily tariff per person per night
After clearing customs and immigration we will be greeted by Rainbow Tours & Treks representatives, guides and driver. We then go to downtown Paro for our first Bhutanese meal. After lunch we will visit different sites in Paro: National Museum, once the watchtower for the Rinpung Dzong, located high on a promontory overlooking the Paro Valley. First constructed in 1645, the Rinpung Watchtower was converted to the National Museum in 1968. While photography within the museum is not allowed, there are numerous photo ops of the exterior and the valley below. This museum visit is meant to familiarize you with the history of this amazing kingdom in the clouds, and a visit to the National Museum is the very best way to quickly learn the culture and natural history since it houses everything that is Bhutanese in a very different museum style that will delight you.
We can walk or drive down to Paro Town and a walk along the Paro Chu (River) to take pictures of the Paro Dzong and the watchtower above. Here we will have photo ops of the covered foot bridge over the river, the huge wooden gate leading to the bridge, and the interior of the dzong. Built in 1645, this massive building now houses the District Administration Office and the Monk Body. A flagstone path leads to the dzong, rising gradually from the bridge that is abutted by two guard houses. The central tower, called the “Utse” of the Dzong, is clad in superb woodwork and is considered to be the nation’s most beautiful tower.
- Kyichu Lhakhang: It is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom dating back to 7th century (the other is Jambey Lhakahng in Bumthang). The lhakhang complex is composed of two temples. The first temple was built by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and in 1968, H.M. Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother of Bhutan, built the second temple in original pattern.
- Drukgyel Dzong : This Dzong, which was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders was destroyed by fire in 1951. On a clear day, this point offers bird eye view of the Mt. Chomolhari (7329m). Explore the village just below the dzong and get a feel of rural Bhutan.
Overnight in Paro
Paro to Thimphu via CheleLa Pass (139kms/4hrs)
Rise early, pack up and drive about one hour to Chele La (/la /means pass) 3,988 meters for one of Bhutan’s best views of the Himalayas. Boxed breakfast will be served at the pass. On a clear day you can see panoramic views of the western Himalayan mountain ranges. Then we drive two hours to Thimphu.
- After lunch visit Buddha Point – This massive statue of Shakyamuni measures in at a height of 51.5 meters, making it one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world. The statue is made of bronze and is gilded in gold. 125,000 smaller Buddha statues have been placed within the Buddha Dordenma statue, 100,000 8 inch tall and 25,000 12 inch tall statues respectively. Each of these thousands of Buddhas has also been cast in bronze and gilded. The throne that the Buddha Dordenma sits upon is a large meditation hall. The Buddha Dordenma is located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and overlooks the Thimphu Valley. The statue fulfills an ancient prophecy dating back to the 8th century A.D that was discovered by Terton Pema Lingpa (Religious Treasure Discoverer) and is said to emanate an aura of peace and happiness to the entire world.
- Zilukha Nunnery: This is the biggest nunnery in Bhutan. The Zhilukha Nunnery is overlooking the Tashichhoedzong or Thimpu Dzong. You can see many nuns chanting prayers and turning prayer wheels in Zhlukha nunnery. In Bhutan, girls and women are admitted to nunneries for short to long period of time. They are educated in Buddhism here and after their graduation they dedicate their lives in serving the community at large. Spend some time interacting with the nuns and learn about what it takes and feels like to be a Bhutanese Buddhist Nun.Overnight in Thimphu:
Visit the following places:
- Handmade paper factory: Handmade Paper Factory - Although the process of making traditional paper may be simple, a considerable amount of time is required to collect the raw materials, such as the bark of the Daphne plant and certain plant roots for glue. Apart from a small heater to dry the sheets of paper, everything is manually done. Daphne paper is one of the finest papers in the world and is highly recommended for artists.
- Painting School - It is the primary center of learning for Bhutanese artists. Depending upon the student’s interest, one can specialize in any of the thirteen arts and crafts, including painting, weaving, sculptures, blacksmithing, embroidery, etc. It is the best place for visitors to learn about traditional Bhutanese arts and crafts.
- Textile Musuem: Textile Museum - What would be the best dress to attend the festivals in Bhutan? The answer would be “colorful, hand-woven, and made of pure silk.” It takes almost a year to weave one dress, but textiles have become the largest industry in the country. The visit to the textile museum is an introduction to the Bhutanese national attire and the workforce responsible for these items of utility and beauty.
- Zoo - See the famous national animal of Bhutan called the Takin. These odd-looking creatures have a very strange shape and a very strong smell. Locals believe that the Divine Madman had to join the head of a goat and the body of a cow together to create Takin. From this point, you can get enjoy another spectacular view of the city.
- Memorial Chorten: Memorial Chorten. This stupa was built in 1974 to honor the 3rd King of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. This religious structure is circumambulated only in a clockwise direction (reciting prayers and whirling the large red prayer wheels).
- Tashichho Dzong: has been seat of Bhutan's government since 1952 and presently houses the throne room and offices of the king, the secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance. It also houses the monastic body.
Evening: stoll though Thimphu town and visit the local market.
Overnight in Thimphu
Thimphu to Punakha
Punakha Altitude: 1300m/4265ft. Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan during the time of Zhabdrun Ngawanf Namkgya, the founder of Bhutan. Today it is the administrative and religious center of the district and the winter home of Bhutan’s Central Monk Body.
Start your morning by enjoying and taking pictures of the Dochula Pass (3150m/10,000ft) with its panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges during clear, warm days. The pass is decorated with 108 Druk Wangyel Chorten, which were built to celebrate the stability and progress, brought to Bhutan by His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King.
Visit the following places in Punakha:
- Chimmi Lhakhang: take a short hike through the rice field to Chimmi Lhakhang, the 15th-century monastery built by Lam Ngawang Chogyal on the spot where his cousin Lam Drukpa Kuenley (popularly known as “the Divine Madman”) subdued a powerful demon. This monastery is also referred to as the “Abode of Fertility” and believed that any couple who gets blessing from this temple is blessed with a child in the next year or so.
- Punakha Dzong: The name means Palace of Great Bliss. This dzong stands magnificently on the spit of land where two rivers (Pho chu and Mo chu) meet. Punakha Dzong has special significance in Bhutanese history as the place where Bhutan's first King, Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned in 1907. It is also the winter residence for the Je Khenpo (spiritual leader) and the entire central monk body.
- Suspension bridge: Hike across this bride. This is an exciting bridge for photography enthusiasts.
Evening: Explore Punakha town
Overnight in Punakha
Punakha to Bumthang (214kms/8hrs)
En route visit the following places:
Trongsa Altitude: 2300m. Trongsa forms the central hub of the nation and is historically the place from where attempts at unifying the country was launched.
Visit the following places:
- Chendebji Chorten : Approximate four hours drive from Wangduephodrang is Chendbji Chorten, patterned on Swayambhunath temple in Kathmandu. It was built in 18th century by Lama Shida, from Tibet, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot.
- Trongsa Dzong : Like almost all towns in the Kingdom, this Dzong architecture dominates the entire Trongsa horizon dwarfing the surrounding buildings. Built in 1648, it was the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan. Both the first and second King ruled the country from this ancient seat. Protected from invaders by an impenetrable valley, Trongsa Dzong is an impregnable fortress. The Dzong itself is a labyrinth of temples, corridors and offices holding court over the local community. It is built on many levels into the side of the hill and can be seen from every approach to Trongsa heralding its strength as a defensive stronghold.
- Ta Dzong (Watch tower) : The Ta Dzong, a cylindrical stone structure rising five storeys, was built in 1652 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, a task entrusted to him by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. After more than 350 years, it has been resurrected into a classy museum, that represents a tasteful blend of tradition and modernity. There are 224 items on display including a sacred image of Sung Joenma Dorji Chang (self spoken Vajradharna), a bronze statue of Pema Lingpa, made by himself, and a number of centuries-old treasures like dance and ritual costumes and objects, ancient prayer books, paintings and scrolls, and textiles. The tower has always been a place of retreat and there are hermits in practice, including two yogis, who are in lifelong meditation.
Evening: Explore Bumthang town
Overnight in Bumthang
Bumthang Altitude: 2600m-4500m. The Bumthang valley is often compared to Switzerland because of its beautiful landscape. Bumthang gets its name from the valley’s ‘vessel’ shape (Bumpa is a vessel which holds holy water and thang means a field or wide plain). Bumthang is actually comprised of four valleys: Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura. The Chumey valley is wide and fertile, and wheat, barley, potatoes and buckwheat are cultivated here. It is famous for its famous woollen textiles known as Bumthang Yathra. Bumthang is the spiritual heartland of Bhutan, with many legendary temples, monasteries and palaces. This is the place where Guru Rinpoche first set foot when he came to Bhutan in the 7th century.
Bumthang has an individuality that charms its visitors and separates it from other regions. Comprising of four smaller valleys namely Tang, Ura, Choekhor and Chumey, this deeply spiritual region of Bumthang is shrouded in religious legend. Bumthang is also the ancestral home to the great Buddhist teacher Pema Linga whose descendants the present dynasty traces its origin.
Visit the following places:
- Jakar dzong (fortress of the White-bird):Built in 17th century, Jakar dzong and its forces for centuries defended against a host of enemies from both outside and within the country. The name “Jakar” originates from this place. It was said that lama Nagi Wangchuck, great grandfather of Shabdrung, came to this place and was looking for a site to build his hermitage. He saw a white bird flying from the place where the dzong stands today, so he took this as a good omen and named the place “Jakar,” meaning “white bird.” The Jakar dzong houses the Bumthang district headquarter and is home to about 60 resident monks.
- Jambay Lhakhang: The temple is dedicated to the Buddha of the Future and was built in the 7th century. It is one of the oldest temples in the country. There are three different temples to explore in the main building.
- Kurjey Lhakhang: Kurjey means “body imprint.” Guru Rimpoche first came to this place to help cure the local king who was being made seriously ill through the malevolent actions of the local deity. Guru Rimpoche meditated in one of the caves and left his body imprint inside (thus the name Kurjey). As the protector of Buddhism, he subdued the local deity, a feat that allowed him to convert the king and local people to Buddhism. This event marked the introduction of Buddhism to Bhutan.
- Lhodrak Kharchhu Monastery: Located above the main town, about 3 km from Chamkhar town, the monastery was founded by Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche in 1984 who was recognized at a very young age by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama and H.H. 16th Karmapa as the reincarnation of a Tibetan lama whose spiritual lineage dates back to the nearest disciples of the great 9th century master. Since then the monastery has developed considerably with increase in number of monks to almost four hundred. The monastey has become part of an extensive effort to preserve and revitalize Tibetan culture. The monks regular curriculum include reading, memorizing the daily prayers, learning dharma dances, drawing mandalas, learning the melodies of sacred rituals, learning the use of ceremonial instruments and the art of making sacrificial objects, grammer, poerty, karika along with the basics of contemplation and instruction on the different stages of tantra.
- Visit Cheese factory & Red Panda beer factory.
- Farm House: visit a traditional farm house. Experience the authentic Bhutanese lifestyle and enjoy the local hospitality.
Overnight in Bumthang
Bumthang to Phobjikha (188kms/5-6hrs)
En-route visit Tangsibi village and experience the daily life of the villagers or farmers up-close and personal. Meet the yak-herders and get a glimpse of their simple world. Enjoy some yak buttered tea.
- Phobjikha is a glacial valley on the periphery of the north western tip of the Black Mountain National Park. The valley is a conservation area and lies on the northern boundary of the Jowo Durshing range. People sometimes refer to the entire region as Gangtey after the name of the Gangtey Goenpa that is situated on a ridge overlooking the Phobjikha valley. The Phobjikha valley is also famous for the roosting grounds of the Black-necked cranes that migrates here each year in winter from its nothern habitats in Tibet and Siberia.
- Visit Gangtey Gompa: one of the biggest Nyingma temple of the kingdom located on the hilltop. Take the nature hike and end up at a farmhouse for butter tea and snacks.
Farm House: the local people there are shy but very friendly. They would be very happy to share home made corn and rice snacks with local ara (wine). There is a small temple in the locality. The caretaker of this temple will be pleased to show you how to use the musical horn, which is normally used to perform Buddhist rituals.
Overnight in Phobjikha
Phobjikha to Paro (195kms/6.5hrs)
After breakfast drive to Paro.
Enroute visit Simtokha Dzong. The name Simtokha means “atop a Demon” and the legend associated with the Dzong’s construction tells us that it was built in order to subdue an evil spirit that was harassing travelers in the region.
The Dzong houses countless statues and paintings of various Buddhas, deities and religious figures including The Eight Manifestations of Guru Rimpoche, Jampelyang the Bodhisattava of Wisdom, Shakya Gyalpo the Buddha of Compassion and many more, all carved and painted in exquisite detail.
Overnight in Paro
Paro sightseeing (Taktsang hike)
We get an early start to Tiger’s Nest to avoid the hot sun and any other tourists that may be there. The morning is spent hiking (or riding horses part way--you decide) up a forested path to Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan’s most famous and scenic icon. The climb is steep and takes about 2 hours to ascend comfortably, but those who want to can ride a Himalayan “bony pony” up (but not down) and we will have our guides to carry our photography gear and urge us on. An important place of pilgrimage and refuge for more than twelve hundred years, Taktsang Monastery clings to sheer cliffs two- thousand feet above Paro Valley, and from the most popular vantage points on rocky ledges directly across a chasm from it we will still need a two hundred mm lens and a steady tripod to get tight photographs.
This sacred place got its name when Guru Rimpoche rode there on the back of a flying tiger and meditated in a cave behind the present-day monastery. Sadly, in 1998, the central temple was destroyed by fire, leaving the country in mourning for their holiest of spiritual places. But religious leaders and the King quickly developed a plan to rebuild Taktsang and donations poured in from Buddhist centers all over the world. Today, the magnificent temple is completely rebuilt to its original glory. Tiger’s Nest is once again the subject of cloud-shrouded posters that say, “Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon.”
Picnic lunch in the forest halfway down the mountain.
After lunch we descend to the base of Taktsang where our car/bus will take us back to the hotel by way of any place around Paro that you might have missed earlier. Tonight would be a good night to luxuriate yourself with a hot stone bath and massage and then walk down through the authentic Bhutanese cluster village just beneath the resort, visiting farm houses for photo ops.
After breakfast, transfer to Paro Airport for departure
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