Bhutan Walking Tours are like traveling back in time. Since hikes and short walks are all concentrated in an isolated village, serene landscape and for the love of undisturbed nature. These trails were once used by the locals during seasonal migration when there were no construction of roads until the early 1960’s. This program is tailored based on the hiking trails, school visits & village visits and interaction around the Western Bhutan which is one of the main rice production valley compared to the other parts of the country.
Explore the richness of the Western Bhutan of the Paro Valley, the most fertile agricultural land in the country. Also visit sacred sites and cultural heritage in Punakha, Thimphu and distant villages of Phobjikha Valley, winter home to the endangered Black-Necked Cranes.
- Lekshey Jungey primary school visit and interaction.
- Meet local family and visit their homes over a cup of hot tea for better understanding of lifestyle.
- Traverse beautiful landscapes of lush valleys, dense forests and rushing streams.
- Hike to some of the most sacred Buddhist monasteries and temples in the Himalaya such as Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal/ Fertility temple and Chari goemba.
- Explore Bhutan’s central valleys, rich with ancient historical and sacred Buddhist sites.
- Day excursions to Phobjikha valley
- Visit many cultural attractions including medieval fortresses (Dzongs), Colorful Centenary Farmers markets and museums.
- Butter lamp offerings at Taktsang Monastery.
- Prayer flag hoisting for world peace.
- Traverse beautiful landscapes from lush valleys to dense forests.
- Private ceremony for good fortune and to prolong life (Optional)
- Astrology reading for good fortunes in individual lives. (Optional)
- Archery shootings and practise wearing traditional costumes (Optional)
Day1 Arrive at Paro, transfer to Thimphu
(65km/43miles distance, elevation 2280m/7296ft)
On arrival at Paro airport, complete the immigration formalities. You need to present the visa document and you will get your passport stamped with actual visa. Photos are no longer required and visa fee is pre-paid by us. After completing immigration and custom, meet your guide and driver at the arrival gate.
Kyichu Temple which is one of the 108 temples that King Songsten Gampo of Tibet miraculously built in a single night in the 7th century in order to subdue a demoness! Next visit the Karma Lekshey Jugney Nursery (optional) and meet the students. Activities here include; Teaching basic nursery rhymes and student’s interactions are some of the. Enjoy a warm cup of tea with the students and Ani (nun) Kencho and other volunteer teachers who looks after these students selflessly. Most of the students here are 4-12yrs old and come from poor family background and some without parents. These are private schools therefore receive very less support from the governments as a result during your visit a small contribution will build a brighter future of this underprivileged students. (Note: when you visit a family or any schools, it is customary to give some presents such as school supplies for school, groceries for the hostel or anything handy that is useful for the student education).
Drive to Thimphu in the afternoon. Check in and later visit the Trasichoe Dzong that houses the Royal Throne and the seat of Chief Abbot of the central monastic body. (Time permitting) Photo shoot & leisure stroll around the Thimphu city.
Overnight at hotel in Thimphu. Meals: Breakfast/ Lunch and Dinner
Day2 Thimphu Sightseeing and Tango Cheri Hike
Breakfast at 0700am, leave hotel by 0745am drive 20mins north of Thimphu city to a remote village of Kabisa. Nearby walk a couple of hours to visit Cheri Gompa. This is the place where Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel established the first body of monks in 1620 when the gompa itself was founded. It takes about 45mins walk uphill to the monastery and then follow different route down so you avoid back tracking. On your return (If interested), stop at Pangri Zampa, a temple used recognized by many locals as profound astrology school for the state clergy and is home to more than hundred monks studying astrology. This centre has highly learned monks from the temple often invites both local and foreigners to read astrology for you. It has been observed as one of the best activities for our clients to learn and study Buddhist Astrology (optional) from Monks. (Note, advance notice of at least a week is required)
Colourful Farmers Market, probably the largest domestic markets in the country. (Open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday). Followed by Changlimithang Archery Stadium. On certain occasions and holidays or weekends most Bhutanese men plays archery amongst their friends and colleagues as leisure or even tournaments are held. Buddha View Point that has a gigantic statues of Buddha Dodenma. Buddha Point, a 51.5m/165ft tall giant statue is located on a hilltop overlooking Thimphu valley is made from bronze and gilded in gold. The throne that the Buddha sits upon is a large meditation hall. Some believes it is the largest of its kind ever to be built in the world. Takin Preserve (closed on Monday), Takin is the national animal of Bhutan. Memorial Chorten which was dedicated to the third king of Bhutan. This is an impressive shrine, with shining gold spires, tinkling bells, and an endless procession of devotees around it. Enjoy the rich Bhutanese arts and crafts at the Painting School a.k.a Zorig Choesum (closed on government holidays and Sunday). Authentic Craft Bazaar, the first ever of its kind aims to promote Bhutan’s craft industry by creating a viable market, which in turn acts to preserve and promote Bhutan’s unique culture. The initiative is also expected to bring about equitable socio-economic development in the country. Visitors will find an interesting assortment of genuine Bhutanese handicrafts and textiles available for sale here.
(Optional) Thimphu Post Office. During the 2011, following the Royal Wedding, a senior Japanese aide to Bhutan Post Office invented an idea enabling anyone to print their own postal stamp literally with your picture on it. You can then use it to send postcards/letters and etc back home to your family and friends with your own official stamp anywhere in the world with just 30cents worth the stamp. It costs about $7 for 10 stamps.
(Optional) Wangditse hike(1.5hrs or less), is fairly flat walk starting from the Radio Tower at Sangaygang through well paved bicycling routes till Wangditse Dzong (currently under renovation) but the trails are located in such a way you can enjoy magical view of the Tashichoe Dzong and beautiful rice terraces below. Avoid back tracking and continue walk till you arrive at Dechenphodrang Monastic School where you will be picked up by your driver and transferred to hotel.
Overnight at hotel in Thimphu, Meals: Breakfast/ Lunch and Dinner
Day3 Drive to Punakha
(76km/51miles distance, 3hrs drive, elevation 1250m/4100ft))
Following breakfast, we begin a scenic drive to Punakha, the former winter capital of Bhutan. As we leave Thimphu behind, the road gradually winds up through villages and pine forests to Dochula Pass (3100m/10168ft), marked by 108 Buddhist shrines, surrounded with the East-west highway. On a clear day, the pass offers superb panorama of the snow-capped mountains and the valleys. Two hours descend we’ll be in Punakha, the end of a road that drops slowly through the changing vegetation to the sub-tropical lowlands of the Punakha.
After lunch, we visit the stunning Punakha Dzong, probably the most impressive of all the Dzong (fortress) architectures of Bhutan. Today it serve as the winter residence of the Central monk bodies led by the chief abbot moves there from the capital. Next, we proceed for a pleasant hike to the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten – about 45-60 minutes up, but only 30 minutes down. The Chorten (stupa) shaped temple is situated atop a beautiful hillock overlooking the valley dipped into beautiful rice paddy fields. Built by the Queen Mother, and is an example of Bhutan’s finest traditional architecture. Evening, take 10mins walk from your resort to the nearest local vegetable markets at Metsina in Lobesa.
(Optional) WHITE RIVER RAFTING
Mo chu river originating in the mountainous hills of Northern Bhutan and Mo Chu river with 10 Km course with 10 rapids of class 2 – 2+ are chosen for our white water rafting packages in Bhutan. After the confluence of these two rivers near Punakha Dzong, the main river is known as Puna Tsang chu which offers even more exciting river run acknowledged mostly for its culturally stimulating and exciting rapids.
During this scrupulously organized river rafting trip, your journey through the most scenic and secluded miles featuring incredibly blue water, breath-taking alpine scenery, sighting world’s rarest birds and amazing rapids on the backdrop of striking 17th century Punakha Dzong (Fortress).
Note: US $150 will be charged as supplements for the river rafting for a group of 1-4people
Overnight at hotel in Punakha, Meals: Breakfast/ Lunch and Dinner
Day4 Day Excursions to Phobjikha
(2.5 hrs drive (each way), 68km/45miles distance, elevation 3000m/9600ft))
After breakfast, visit Fertility Temple, the divine madman’s temple is now a monastic school for the young novices as young as 6-7yrs old come to study Buddhists teaching as a only means of education in the particular family who cannot afford western system of education and school once upon a time. Rinchengang requires 20 minutes’ walk uphill with great sight of the Dzong, valley and the river. It is a small bunched village in front of the Wangdue Dzong(under renovation) and is famous for its proficiency in traditional means of stone stonework. It is about 20 minutes’ walk uphill with great sight of the Dzong, valley and the river. While Rinchengang is believed to be one of the oldest villages in Bhutan.
Continue drive 2-3 hour 43 miles drive, you are heading for the isolated Phobjikha Valley, also known as Gangtey. The road gradually climbs up through to dense oak, magnolia and rhododendron forests up to the most revered Black Mountain Range. You may take a short time-out with some tea and snacks at Nubding. Continue 30mins drive to Phobjikha Valley from here.
Prepare yourself for a 45mins hike around the Gantey Nature Trails of the valley. The trails starts from Gantey Monastery and finishes at Khewa Lhakhang. The hike will lead you around the roosting grounds of the cranes. Sarus Crane Information Center which has informative displays about the cranes and the local environment. Gangtey Goemba (monastery) enjoys the valley’s prime real estate, on a forested hill overlooking the green expanse of the entire Phobjikha valley. The valley and its wet-lands provide natural habitat of the endangered species of Black-Necked Cranes that fly all the way from Tibetan plateau during winter. It’s only been a couple of years since the first electricity arrived here and the only reason being it could be vulnerable to reducing the no. of cranes arriving into the valley.
Overnight at hotel in Punakha, Meals: Breakfast/ Lunch and Dinner
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch and Dinner
Day5 Drive to Paro
(141km/94miles distance drive, elevation 2280m/7296ft)
Retrace your way back to Paro. En route stop over at Dochula Pass, allowing you to hikes to Lungchutse Lhakhang. It can be done as a loop starting from Dochula and finishing at Hongtsho village with Lungchutse gomba and Trashigang gomba visit. A trail to the left just 150 meters below Lungchutse, leads to Trashigang village and temple. It slowly descends through spruce, rhododendron, hemlock and juniper forest. The village’s many dogs will warn the villagers about your arrival as you walk through the settlement down to the temple. It is nice to have lunch around the chorten in the temple’s courtyard while watching the monks in their daily endeavors. The trail leading down from the front of the temple zigzags quite steeply down the side of the mountain until reaching a farm road which takes you up to the main road. At Lungchutse one can enjoy 360° view of the Himalayan mountain range. You will start your hike from the large chorten in the middle of Dochula, the pass between Thimphu and Punakha at 3140 meters (10300 feet) above sea level. On clear days, you can enjoy a 360° view of the Himalayas including views of Jumolhari (7314 m/23404ft), and including the highest unclimbed virgin snow peak in the world Gangkhar Puensum (7520 m/24064ft).
Meet your driver and transfer to Paro via Thimphu. Hotel check in and relax. Evening briefing on Taktshang hike next day on dress codes and the overall briefing of the hike will be done by the guide before dinner.
Overnight at hotel in Paro, Meals: Breakfast/ Lunch and Dinner
Day6 Hike to Taktshang Monastery
(4-5hrs walk, 6km/4miles distance, elevation 3150m/10080ft)
Highlights of the day: Butter lamp offering / Prayer flags hoisting
Today, we go for a much awaited hiking trip to Takstang a.k.a Tiger’s Nest. The monastery, precariously perched on the edge of a 10000 ft high cliff above the valley floor, creates an impressive sight, and is the unofficial symbol of Bhutan. It takes roughly about 2 and half hour up and about an hour and half to go down. With prior arrangement, you can take pony ride until about half the way up but for the remaining journey and return trip down, you need to be on our own limbs!
Along the way, we stop in a typical farmhouse to get a glimpse of the local Bhutanese lifestyle and experience the local hospitality. Bhutanese farm houses are very colorful, decorative, and traditionally built without the use of any nails. All houses follow the same architectural pattern. (When you visit a family, it is customary to give some presents that could be anything such as medicines, warm hats or torch, school supplies for children etc. or anything handy)
(Optional) Hot Stone Bath: If you wish, you can experience the traditional Hot Stone Bath in a farm house. Hot stone bath is an ancient Bhutanese method of curing skin ailments, joint pains, hypertension, stomach disorder, arthritis and many other minor diseases and even you don’t have any of these issues and you will get relaxed after a busy day’s schedule. Advance booking is required.
Note: You are not supposed to carry bag packs, camera and cell phones but except for your wallets beyond the main entrance at the Tiger’s nest. You guide will help you find a locker where you can keep your belongings safe and get them on your return.
Overnight at hotel in Paro, Meals: Breakfast/ Lunch and Dinner
Your guide and driver will drive you to airport 2hrs prior to flight departure.
English speaking guide
3*star accommodations (1twin) 4*/5* star upgrade will require supplements.
Private SUV for two people/ 3-6 person in Minivan/ 7 and above we offer Toyota Coaster bus
Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner (at 3*star hotel and local restaurants)
Bottle mineral water
Entrance fee to local arts and crafts
$65.00 per person per day government royalty
$40.00 Visa Fee