Grandeur of Western Bhutan 12 Days / 11 Nights
Trip Code: HAT72
Bhutan Walking Tours
Hotel and resorts
March to May, September through November
Best Time For Travel:
Trip Over View
As an introduction into the Kingdom of Bhutan, this is an exclusive experience of grandeur of western Bhutan tour. A journey planned as such to enable you to discover and identify with the culture of Bhutan where along with regular Bhutan attractions, will also take you to explore the grand temples and cultural attractions of Western Bhutan. Bhutan truly is a matchless country keeping with Buddhist values, the people here live in harmony with nature. The success here is measured by Gross National Happiness. Bhutanese people are very warm. They pride in their tradition and culture and the country’s distinctiveness. Bhutan is one of the top ten biodiversity hot spots of the world and the charm of an unspoiled ancient landscape challenges people’s view of the world year round.
This journey takes you to distinctly different places and the additional benefit would be some of the finest hikes and walking tours near Paro, Thimpu and Punakha, the major towns in Western Bhutan. You will have an opportunity to travel around the Phobjika Valley with its Black Mountain National Park - the winter habitat of black necked cranes. The breathtakingly beautiful valleys with lush green paddy fields, incredulous fortress-like monasteries known as Dzongs and majestically flowing rivers are few beautiful sights to take pleasure in. Also 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.
Visiting Bhutan any month of the year is surely an exclusive experience but if you would like to capture the sight of the black necked cranes, trip during winter - before mid-February, is best recommended.
Day 01: Flight to Paro.
Day 02: Hike Taktsang Monastery and tour to Paro Valley.
Day 03: Chele La Hike.
Day 04: Drive to Thimphu.
Day 05: In Thimpu
Day 06: Hike to Chokortse Monastery.
Day 07: Drive to Punakha.
Day 08: Chimi Lakhang Hike and explorations of Wangdue Phodrang Town and Dzong and drive to Phobjika Valley.
Day 09: Gangtey / Day Excursion to Sha Khotokha Village.
Day 10: Return drive to Thimphu.
Day 11: Thimphu-Paro.
Day 12: Depart Paro.
Day 01: Flight to Paro
Flight to Paro. We are met and greeted at the airport and transferred to 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 the Taktsang Senge Samdup cave where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated for three months in the 8th century. The return trek to the road head is downhill and takes a little less than half the time it took to come up. On the way back, we visit a typical Bhutanese village home to gain insights 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 the Thimphu Valley and hike 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 which was built in 1620 and now is 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 it 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, meet our transport and 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 at 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 Punakha following the Mo Chu river. We meet our vehicle and visit the huge and impressive Punakha Dzong. The Punakha Dzong, also known as “the palace of great happiness or bliss” 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 Phobjika Valley
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 drive to Gangtey via Wangdue Phodrang. Here we visit majestic Wangdue phodrang Wangdue Dzong and the interesting local market. Further ahead we pass through dense forests of oak and rhododendron, before reaching at Gangtey (Phobjikha). In the evening we take a walk around Gangtey village and visit the Gangtey Gompa, the only Nyingmapa monastery in this region. Explore Phobjikha valley which is famous for Black Necked Cranes. The cranes migrate here from Central Asiatic plateau to escape its harsh winters. Overnight in Gangtey.
Day 09: Gangtey/ Day Excursin to Sha Khotokha Village
Prepare yourself for a day walk in the vilalge known as the khotokha trail. It takes approximately 4 hrs walk for casual trekkers to reach Khotokha from Gangtey/Phobjikha. You will be walking through the forest and will get the chances to see some birds. In Khotokha you can visit the Monastery, which has around 100 monks and you are welcome to visit some farmhouses in the villa. After a packed lunch you will return to Gangtey/Phobjikha for the night (about 7-8 hrs in total round trip). Overnight in Gangtey/Phobjikha.
Day 10: Return drive to Thimphu
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 lunch, we proceed to Thimphu via Pele La (11,000ft/3,353m), Punakha and the Dochu La Pass where we make a short stop once again to view Eastern Himalayas. The descent from the pass brings us the village of Hongtsho, a Tibetan settlement. Overnight in Thimpu.
Day 11: Thimphu-Paro
On you drive to Paro, visit enjoy walk over Chunzom, a hub of road network. There are several stalls selling fresh vegetables (depending on the season) and other fast food like the rice porridge and dumplings. 20mins hike to Ta-Chog Lhakhang, the ancient temple is under the supervision of the descendants of the Drubthob Thangtong Gyalpo back in the 15th century. In the afternoon, 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. Evening, we can arrange herbal bath (Optional) at local farmhouse and farewell dinner with the families. Overnight in Paro.
Day 12: Depart Paro
After breakfast, we transfer to airport for your flight to 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
- 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.