Explore the splendours of the Himalayan Kingdom in less than 10 days traveling from west to central Bhutan. Known as the “happiness country” to the outside world with friendly and hospitable people, this tour offers an incredible mix of fantastic mountain views, untouched wilderness, stunning flora and fauna and charming villages for all. Begin from Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan (still without traffic light) to Bumthang, the spiritual heartland of the country and home to the oldest Buddhist temples and monasteries and enjoy short hikes in between.
This itinerary has been crafted by our Local Agency with one idea in mind: to inspire you. Every element can be adapted to your needs and your interests, from duration to accommodation and activities.
On arrival in Paro you will be picked up from Paro International Airport after clearing the immigration and customs formalities and transferred to your hotel in Thimphu for check-in. Flying into Paro is not just to connect Bhutan but also get to enjoy the breathtaking views of the Himalayan ranges, including Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga and Mt. Gangkar Puensum. Travel to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan for an hour journey, home to approximately 138,736 inhabitants. Relax or explore the Centenary Farmers Market on the banks of the Wangchhu River selling farm produces, local arts and crafts, etc. We’ll cross Kuendeyling Bazaam (cantilever footbridge) to the west bank of the river selling clothing, textiles and handicrafts in stalls. Tonight enjoy a welcome drink and dinner with BGT. Overnight in Thimphu.
This morning, visit the National Memorial Chorten (Stupa), built in memory of the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and also dedicated to the World Peace. Join the elderly Bhutanese people or likeminded devotees circumambulating the stupa. Another must see place to tick off on your list, Kuenselphodrang (the largest Buddha Dordenma statue in the world at 51.5m) on a hill offering a panoramic view of the Thimphu valley. Then we leave the hustle and bustle behind, and we take a short drive (14-km) out of the capital of Bhutan. Among sacred sites, we will visit Cheri Monastery, built in 1620, by Ngawang Namgyal, founder of the Bhutanese state. Cheri Monastery is home to many sacred relics, located north of Thimphu. Cheri is a meditation center, accessible by a gentle hike through the forest. A visit to Cheri is spiritually purifying.
You will also have the opportunity to interact with Buddhist monks including retreat, meditations, mindfulness movement experiences, teachings, dialogue, transmissions, and a religious ceremony. Next, you are off to 17th century Pangri Zampa Lhakhang (temple), the only College of Buddhist Astrology in Bhutan with around 100 monks where all the Bhutanese astrologers get trained here for many years. After their studies, the monks are sent to other dzongs, monasteries and temples for any astrology related rituals. You have the opportunity to check what is in store in your lifetime! Overnight in Thimphu.
After breakfast, travel to Punakha for the distance of 77-km for about 3 hours journey. Punakha, at an altitude of 1,300m, was once the old capital of Bhutan and the seat of government until 1955. En route we will drive up to Tashigang Gonpa in Hongtsho, just outside of Thimphu.
From here enjoy one of the most picturesque hikes to the temple Lungchutse Gonpa, where one can enjoy 360° view of the breathtaking Himalayan mountain ranges from the top of Lungchutse including Jomolhari (7314m), Kang Bum (6494m), Gangchhenta (6784m), Masang Gang (7194m), Tsenda Kang (6,994m), Teri Kang (7304m), Jejekangphu Gang (7190m), Kangphu Gang (7212m), Zongpgu Gang (7,094m) and Gangkar Puensum (7,564m). Behind these major mountains lie the Tibetan plateaus. The trial will take you through a forest of moss-covered rhododendrons, gigantic hemlocks, junipers, and bamboo undergrowth. As you climb up the last 50 meters past a row of fluttering prayer flags, you reach the Lungchutse temple on heavily logged slopes greeted by friendly monks. Then we follow the trail downhill leading to the Druk Wangyal Chortens (108 stupas), constructed on the crest of Dochula Pass at 3,100m.
After lunch, continue your journey into the sub-tropical valleys of Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang. Later, discover the Chimi Lhakhang (temple) built by the legendary Lama Drukpa Kinley (known as the Divine Madman). The temple is known to the English-speaking world as ‘The Fertility Temple’, in the Punakha district of Bhutan, idyllically located on a round hill. Hike to the temple for about one hour (round trip), which is also revered as a sanctum of fertility. Legend has it that the childless couples wishing to have a baby from across Bhutan and occasionally from overseas are blessed with a child after visiting the temple – several Japanese and American couples visited this temple were believed to have blessed miraculously with children. Overnight in Punakha.
Enjoy a morning visit to the Punakha Dzong, (also known as the Pungthang Dechen Phodrang Dzong), which is strategically located at the confluence of the Phochhu (male) and Mochhu (female) Rivers. Now the dzong serves as the administrative centre of Punakha district and the central monastic body. Next, set off for a scenic drive to Gangtey (78-km) for about 3 hours via Wangdue Phodrang, the last town before entering into the isolated areas of central Bhutan. En route you will see Wangdue Phodrang Dzong. The fortress-like building was gutted by fire in 2012, which is under reconstruction. Visit the picturesque monastery of Gangtey Gonpa, which is located on a hillock overlooking a beautiful view of the Phobjikha valley. The monastery is an important Nyingmapa School of Buddhism and the main seat of the Pema Lingpa (Pedling) tradition.
The rest of the day is to explore this remote and beautiful valley encircled by pine forests; meet the local people and visit the Black-necked Crane Information Centre, which has lots of information on the valley and its famous migrating birds. Bhutan is an important winter roosting place for the rare Black-necked Crane, which breed in Tibet and then migrate over the Himalayas of Bhutan to spend their winter during the months of September and October and fly back to Tibet between February and March. They can be spotted in Phobjikha in Western Bhutan, Bumthang in Central Bhutan and Bomdeling in Eastern Bhutan. Overnight in Phobjikha.
After an early breakfast, our journey takes us to Trongsa (120-km) for about 4-5 hours via Pelela Pass at an altitude of 3,300m. The pass marks the physical boundary between western and central Bhutan and takes you over the Black Mountains (now Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park). It is not uncommon to encounter grazing yaks by the roadside along the highway. En route stop off at the Chendebji Chorten located below the road. Built in 18th century by lama Zhida, the temple resembles Kathmandu’s Boudhanath stupa in Nepal, with eyes painted at the four cardinal points.
Lunchtime is at Trongsa, the ancestral home of the present Royal Family of Bhutan (where the Institutional Monarchy of Bhutan was born). You’ll be awestruck by the majestic architectural masterpiece of Trongsa Dzong with a distinctive yellow roof. We visit the dzong and then continue towards Bumthang (68-km) via Yotongla Pass at 3,400m. You have an option to stop for a visit to the Yathra Weaving Centre at Chumey village, where they use yak and sheep wools for yathra products with patterns unique to Bumthang. Enjoy a tranquil evening strolling the streets of a small Bumthang town. Overnight in Bumthang.
Today enjoy a sightseeing tour in one of the most beautiful and rich spiritual valleys of Bhutan. Bumthang valley is wide, filled with green countryside, fast flowing mountain streams and snow-capped mountains. Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan in the late 8th century, is believed to have meditated in many local caves in the Bumthang valley. You will begin the day starting from Jambay Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, built in the 7th century by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet (so full of history and mystery) and Kurjey Lhakhang with three temples (the important seat of religious activities in Bumthang), built in 1652 and named after the body imprint of Guru Rinpoche who subdued a local demon.
Next, cross a bridge over the rushing Chamkhar Chu river and walk through paddy fields around 20-minutes to Tamshing Lhakhang, the most important Nyingma temple in Bhutan, built in 1501 (16th century) by Terton Pema Lingpa (the founder of religious treasures). End your day with a stop at the Lhodrak Kharchhu Monastery, perched on the hill just above the town of Bumthang. Here the monks are busy with their prayers, chantings and the drums in the backdrop. Or opt for a visit to the Swiss Project where local people produce cheese, beer, apple juice and honey. The evening is at leisure to relax, enjoy explore the delightful surroundings of Bumthang valley at 2,600m. Overnight in Bumthang.
After breakfast, you will visit the quaint Ura valley, passing through amazing mountain landscapes and several small villages. First we’ll visit Mebar Tsho (flaming lake) located towards Tang village, where the renowned treasure reveller, Terton Pema Lingpa, discovered religious treasures from the lake in the late 15th century. Stop at Ura Shelthangla, where you will enjoy a magnificent view of the Bhutan’s highest peak, Mt. Gangkar Puensum at 7,500m. Later, enjoy some sightseeing and visit a local temple in the Ura village. Travel back to Trongsa through Nangar – Ura (32-km) bypass highway.
Enjoy a visit to the Tower of Trongsa (Ta Dzong or ancient watchtower), a cylindrical stone structure rising five storeys above Trongsa Dzong, built in 1652 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa (the first Trongsa Penlop). The tower complex was intended to guard the 17th century Trongsa Dzong from the internal rebellion in olden times. Today the tower houses a museum (dedicated to the Wangchuck dynasty) presenting the rich historical and religious heritage of Trongsa Dzong.
The evening is at leisure to relax, explore and enjoy the idyllic atmosphere of the Trongsa town. Overnight in Trongsa.
After an early breakfast, we head back to Paro via Wangdue Phodrang and Punakha. The journey passes through the awe-inspiring mountains and lush vegetation. Paro is another beautiful valley and home to the famous Paro Taktshang (also known as Tiger’s Nest), National Museum, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. If time permits, we continue with the temple of Kyichu Lhakhang. Built by the first King of Tibet Songtsen Gampo, this 7th century monastery is one of the oldest and sacred landmarks that introduced Buddhism into Bhutan, while our country was still influenced by the Bon beliefs. The evening is at leisure to explore the Paro town and may wish to hunt for souvenirs in Handicraft Shops or visit a local farmhouse to drink tea with the farmer and his family, allowing you to experience the traditional Bhutanese village life. Overnight in Paro.
This morning you’ll take a short hike to Paro Taktshang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest), located 10 miles north of Paro town (20 minutes drive). No visit to Bhutan would be complete without a trip to Taktshang. It is stunning in its beauty and location. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche (Padma Sambhava) flew to Paro Taktshang cliff in the form of Guru Dorji Drolo, mounted on the back of a flaming tigress from Tibet to tame five demons, who were opposing the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan in the 8th century. The monastery is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, 900m above the Paro floor valley, and it takes between 4 to 5 hours to do the round trip hike plus an hour to tour the monastery.
The trail is a wide, uphill the entire way but not overly steep, on the well-maintained trail through beautiful pine forest, trees festooned with Spanish Moss and fluttering prayer flags. The hike starts at the base of the mountain by the car park. Here the locals sell souvenirs, hiking poles and also a horse/pony hiring is available from this start point. Gentle horse/pony rides are available for transport half-way up the trail, where you will be treated to a stunning viewpoint of the monastery clinging to the cliff wall. There is a small cafeteria located along the trail and stop for a rest, drink or lunch. You’ll also visit the Ta Dzong (ancient watch tower), which now houses the National Mu seum of Bhutan, and continue down o the Paro Dzong (also known as the Rinpung Dzong), built in 1644 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Overnight in Paro.
Your tour ends today, transfer to Paro International Airport for your onward journey accompanied by your guide from Bhutan Green Travel. Goodbye and Good luck! Tashi Delek!
The price reflects this specific itinerary and is designed to give you an idea of the budget required for this destination. Throughout the trip-planning process, our local agency will tailor your itinerary around your budget.
|2 Pax||3 to 10 Pax|
|Price per person in Peak Season ( Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct and Nov) - 3 Stars hotel||$2,720||$2,430|
|Price per person in Low Season ( Jan, Feb, Jun, Jul, Aug and Dec) - 3 Stars hotel||$2,240||$1,950|