Cultural Heart of Bhutan 14 Days / 13 Nights
Trip Code: HAT101
Bhutan Walking Tours
Hotels and guesthouses
March to May, September through November
Best Time For Travel:
Trip Over View
Adding hiking to some amazing places in your travel itinerary creates a magic of some enthusiasm and excitement and Bhutan indeed is a great place to create this magic by taking advantage of hiking. This grand tour of exploring the cultural highlights of Western and Central Bhutan offer some of the finest walks and hiking tours near Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and Bumthang Valley. Walking and Hiking provide vast opportunities to see the rural countryside, the unspoiled nature and the authentic Bhutanese culture and religion. Any travelers will be mesmerized by the sheer beauty of Bhutan - the pleasant trials, paddy fields, villages, and forests of blue pine, spruce and rhododendrons, remarkable Himalayan landscape etc. Take pleasure in walking at your own pace and as you interact with the locals, capture the beautiful scenery with your camera while visiting local homes with unique Bhutanese architecture. If you have good health condition, you will enjoy these walks which provide great opportunities and relive the timeless beauty of Bhutan.
Day 01: Flight to Paro.
Day 02: Hike to Taktsang Monastery and tour to Paro Valley.
Day 03: Chele La Hike.
Day 04: Drive to Thimphu.
Day 05: Tour the Thimphu Valley and hike Cheri Gompa.
Day 06: Hike to Chokortse Monastery. (B/L/D).
Day 07: Drive to Punakha.
Day 08: Chimi Lakhang hike and explorations of Wangdue Phodrang town and Dzong and drive to Trongsa.
Day 09: Trongsa/Bumthang.
Day 10: Walking tour of Bumthang Valley.
Day 11: Excursion to Ura Valley.
Day 12: Drive back to Wangdue Phodrang.
Day 13: Drive back to Paro.
Day 14: Depart Paro.
Day 01: Flight to Paro
Flight to Paro. We will meet and greet at the airport before transferring to the hotel. After some rest, in the evening, our guide will take us to Paro for orientation of the place and its people.
Day 02: Hike Taktsang Monastery and Tour the Paro Valley
The legendary Taktsang Monastery which is also called Tiger's Nest, perched some 2,000ft/600m up on a sheer cliff overlooking the valley is a popular hiking destination. The Monastery was first built in 1692 around Taktsang Senge Samdup cave where in the 8th century, Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated for three months. The return trek to the road head is downhill and takes a little more than half the time it took to come up. On the way back, we visit a typical Bhutanese village home to gain insight to the lifestyle of Bhutanese villagers. We drive back to our hotel in the evening.
Day 03: Chele La Hike
Today we take a scenic drive of about one and half hours to Chele La pass. At an altitude of approximately 3900m/13000ft, it is the highest point on the national highway. From here we enjoy spectacular views of Paro Valley on one side and Haa Valley on the other. We hike up to a cluster of shelters built on sheer cliffs, toa rock cave and then to a temple that house some 50 or so nuns.
We walk back to take our transport and drive back to Paro. In Paro, we visit Bhutan's national museum, a fascinating place housed in an old watchtower above the huge Paro Dzong. We also visit the Rinphung Dzong, a large Drukpa Kagyu Buddhist monastery and fortress. It houses the district Monastic Body and government administrative offices of Paro Dzongkhag.
Day 04: Drive to Thimphu
After breakfast, we drive for two and half hours to Thimphu; it is the least visited of all the Himalayan capitals. Check in hotel and after some rest, we embark on the tour of Thimpu, beginning from a Nunnery on the outskirts of town. We then visit the School of Arts and Crafts, Textile Museum, Heritage Museum, Changgangkha Lhakhang (temple), National Library, a Traditional Hospital and a traditional paper factory. At the end of the day, we may also pay a visit to the great Tashichho Dzong, seat of Bhutan's administrative and religious center.
Day 05: Tour to Thimphu Valley and hike to Cheri Gompa
Early in the morning, we visit the Memorial Chorten, a shrine built in the memory of the late king Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, where people gather to pray and pay homage.
Today, we also hike to Cheri Gompa Monastery. The monastery built in 1620 is now a major teaching and retreat center of the Southern Drukpa Kagyu order. It sits on a hill above the end of the road at Dodeyna and takes about an hour’s walk.
This is a pleasant rural walk, gently up a valley through paddy fields and woodland via a Tibetan village. We can enter the courtyard of the Gompa but entrance to the main shrine is not permitted for Non Buddhists. We descend to the bottom of the hill and meet our transport to drive back to Thimpu.
Day 06: Hike to Chokortse Monastery
This morning, we hike to Chokortse monastery which is situated on a saddle. The walk is uphill for 40-50 minutes and passes through forests of blue pine, spruce and rhododendrons. From here, the view of Thimphu valley below is breathtaking. It takes about 2 hours for the round trip. In the afternoon, we browse the markets of Thimphu and later drive to Paro for overnight.
Day 07: Drive to Punakha
After breakfast, we drive to Punakha, the old winter capital of Bhutan with a stop at Dhochu La Pass (10,000ft/3,048m) to appreciate the spectacular views of eastern Himalayas. Check in hotel and in the afternoon, we take a short trek to visit the Crown Prince's chorten and nearby villages. We return on a different route through the village of Sonagasa (the King’s winter residence) and through to Punakha following the Mo Chu River. We meet our vehicle and visit the huge and impressive Punakha Dzong which is also known as “the palace of great happiness or bliss”, it is the administrative center of Punakha District. Constructed in1638, it is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan and one of its most majestic structures. Punakha Dzong was the administrative center and the seat of the Government of Bhutan until 1955, when the capital was moved to Thimphu.
Day 08: Chimi Lakhang hike and explorations of Wangdue Phodrang Town and Dzong and drive to Trongsa
After breakfast, we hike to the legendary Chimi Lakhang, also known as the ‘temple of fertility’. It’s a 20-minute walk leading across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana. There are very few monks at the temple and it is surrounded by a row of prayer wheels and some very beautiful slate carvings.
We then proceed to Trongsa with a stop in Wangdue Phodrang. Here, we visit majestic Wangdue Phodrang and the interesting local market. We continue east on the road through an ever changing landscape as road gradually winds its way up towards Pele La Pass at 11,152ft. On a clear day, views of the valleys and mountains including Mt. Chomolhari, can be seen from here. After making several stops en-route for pictures, we arrive in time for lunch in the town of Trongsa. After some rest, we browse the town of Trongsa.
Day 09: Trongsa/Bumthang
In the morning, we visit Trongsa Dzong, the master piece of Bhutanese architecture and see Ta Dzong, the watch tower, which was built in the 18th century to defend this Dzong and surrounding region.
After visiting Trongsa Dzong, we drive across the Yotong La Pass at 11,234 ft and descend eventually into the valley of Chumey, the first of four Bumthang valleys. Here, we visit the Palace that is used primarily by the second King as his summer residence. A hike of about 15 minutes that brings us to the Prakar monastery, originally constructed in the 16th century. Legend has it that villagers observed white monkeys working on the temple after dark. The name of the place, Prakhar, which literary means, “white monkey” is derived from this story. We follow this with a visit to the Yathra Weaving Centers (a colourful wool weaving). From here we then drive onto Jakar - the center of Bumthang valleys.
Day 10: Walking tour of Bumthang Valley
After breakfast, start our walk from the hotel to Jambay Lhakang and continue to Kurjey Lhakang. After Kurjey, we cross the suspension bridge over to Tamshing Lhakang. We continue walking to the Swiss farm and then on to the main town area. Our vehicle will meet us at this point and drive us to visit other sites in and around Jakar; which may include the homeopathic hospital, the cheese factory, the castle of the 'White Bird', perhaps one or two local temples and a walk around to visit woodcraft workshops, dying workshops, and some of the five water wheels behind the Wangdi choling Old Palace.
Day 11: Excursion to Ura Valley
In the morning we will drive for about 1 hour to Ura Valley. In Ura, we will visit a monastery and a few houses of the Ura community. We enjoy a picnic lunch in Ura and drive back to Jakar. On the way back, we visit ‘Membartso’ (the flaming pool) of Pemalingpa. Pemalingpa (1450-1521) was one of the five great tertons (treasure discoverers) of Nyingma Buddhism. The artifacts he found and the dances he composed are all important parts of Bhutan’s heritage.
Day 12: Drive back to Wangdue Phodrang
From the township of Jakar, we first climb out of the Bumthang valleys on the twisting mountain road towards the Yotong La Pass (11,000ft/3,353m). Near the pass is an area of wild cane/bamboos that is a well-known habitat for the Red Panda. The road then descends to Tongsa and continues over the Pele La Pass (11,000ft/3,353m) and eventually on to Wangdue Phodrang.
Day 13: Drive back to Paro
We drive west towards to Paro across the Dochu La Pass where we short stop once again to view the Eastern Himalayas. At Paro, we participate in a special private prayer ceremony with Buddhist monks. There will be an opportunity to meet and receive teachings from a Lama or a senior Buddhist monk. Later in the evening we will arrange a Traditional Hot Stone Bath for you to have a relaxing experience.
Day 14: Depart Paro
After breakfast, we transfer to airport for your flight to your next destination.
- Accommodation on twin sharing.
- All transfers and sightseeing as on itinerary.
- Three meals a day.
- English speaking local Tour Guide.
- Sightseeing admission fee.
- Bhutan visa fee.
- Daily packaged water bottle.
- Airfare to and out of Bhutan (Separately quoted).
- Expenses of personal nature such as drinks, tip, laundry, phone etc.
- Extra expenses or loss due to nature and unforeseen events.
- Travel Insurance.
Passport and Visa
The remaining validity of your passport must be minimum 6 months when you enter Bhutan and also make sure to have at least one blank visa page.
Bhutan visa procedure will be taken care of by us as a part of the tour and we will email you the visa approval document about 3 weeks prior to your arrival date. You need to present the document when you check in flight to Bhutan. You will get authentic visa sticker on your passport upon arrival at Paro airport.