Bhutan Karma Trails

The Eastern Wilderness -15Days


(Highlights: School visits and interaction with students and teachers)

Your Bhutan visa is part of the tour cost and we will arrange that for you. A copy of your Bhutan visa approval document will be emailed to you in advance which you will need to present at the airport to check-in for your Bhutan flight and again upon arrival at the Paro airport immigration where you get your final visa seal on your passport. After completing immigration and custom formalities, you will exit the airport and meet your guide and driver outside the terminal and then transfer to Thimphu. After brief introduction, you will drive to the National Museum in Paro.

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!

Later visit the Karma Lekshey Jugney Nursery and meet the students. Teaching basic nursery rhymes and student’s interactions are some of the. (When you visit a family or any schools, it is customary to give some presents such as school supplies for children or anything handy that is useful for the student education). Enjoy a warm cup of tea with the students and Ani (nun) Kencho and other volunteer teachers who help the students selflessly. Most of the students here come from poor family background or some without parents. Children’s as young as 4yrs old to 12yrs old. 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.

Organic dinner will be arranged at a tourist standard restaurant outside the hotel.

Note: Schools, Arts and crafts store and some Institute will remain closed in the moth of July, December, January to first week of February as a result chances for school visits are less)

Organic dinner will be arranged at a Folk Heritage restaurant outside the hotel. On your way back to the hotel you will have a chance to click the spectacular Tashichoe Dzong all lighted up at nighttime.

Overnight at hotel in Paro

Meals: Lunch and Dinner



(4-5hrs trek, 6km/4miles, Altitude 3140m/10048ft) 

(Highlights: Prayer flag hoisting for world peace/ Fun activities like playing archery wearing the national dress/ Optional hot stone bath)

Breakfast at 7am, start hike 0730am to the famous Takstang Monastery, a.k.a the Tiger’s Nest. The Monastery is theatrically perched on the edge at 10000 ft high cliff above the valley floor, creating an impressive sight. Tiger’s Nest, undoubtedly is the unofficial symbol of Bhutan and a must visit place during your trip to Bhutan. The total trip up and down will take about 4 hours. It’s also possible to take pony ride about half the journey up but for the balance of the trail and return trip down, pony ride is not advisable. Afternoon, you will experience Traditional Archery match among yourself accompanied by your guide and the driver for a 30min friendly tournaments. (Optional: $15 per person to play archery as supplements)

OPTIONAL: Hot Stone Bath: With advance notice, you can experience a traditional Hot Stone Bath in a farmhouse. Hot stone bath is purely a Bhutanese traditional method of curing arthritis, skin ailments, joint pains, hypertension, stomach disorders, arthritis, and many other minor diseases. Even you don’t have any of these issues, after a laborious hike of the day, you will feel relaxation from the hot stone bath. It costs around US$ 30 per person and an advance notice is required. 

Overnight at hotel in Paro

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


DAY3: DRIVE TO THIMPHU (1hrs drive, 65km/43miles, 2300Mm/7360ft)

Drive to the capital city, Thimphu. Home to over 90,000 people. En-route, stop to walk the ancient Iron Bridge at Tamchog Lakhang Temple built by the famous Tibetan Iron Bridge builderThangtong Gyalpo a yogi, an architect, engineer, physician, and a saint! The 14th century temple is still maintained by his descendants. Upon arrival in Thimphu, check into the hotel and then you can take a leisurely stroll through the township. After Pyongyang, Thimphu is the only capital in the world without a single traffic light! Walk along the beautiful Crafts Bazaar, it is a best place to shop authentic textiles, scroll paintings, wooden masks etc. which are locally handcrafted in Bhutan unlike some other handicrafts store where they import it from India and Nepal. The King’s 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. Next drive to Buddha Dodenma at Kuensel Phodrang overlooking Thimphu valley sits a 61m tall statue probably the largest statue of its kind in the world.

Late evening, you will visit the impressive Trasichoe Dzong. This fortress of the glorious religion is the administrative and religious center of Bhutan. The fortress houses the Royal Throne, National Assembly, and the seat of the Chief Abbot of the central monastic body.

Overnight at hotel in Thimphu

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



After morning breakfast, visit the Weekends Market, probably the largest domestic market in the country. Next to the market is the Changlimithang Archery Stadium, on government holidays or weekends you will normally find people playing archery as leisure among friends or even tournaments as well. Takin Preservation Centre, at Motithang followed by Zilukha Nunnery which is a residence of 40-65 nuns. The main shrine at the Nunnery is dedicated to the famous saint, Drubthob Thang Thong Gyalpo, popularly known as the Leonardo da Vinci of the Great Himalayas. The Painting School‘ a.k.a Zorig Choesum, operates four- to six-year courses that provide instruction in Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts. Students specialize in painting (furniture, thangkas – painted religious pictures, usually on canvas), woodcarving (masks, statues, and bowls), embroidery (hangings, boots, clothes) or statue-making (clay). The craft demonstrations are a photographers’ dream and it’s hard not to be impressed with the skill and discipline of the young students. The showroom sells good-value pieces made by students. Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory etc. You may or may not visit all the attractions depending on your interest and the available time today. 

For more active day, you may like an adventurous day for a hike to Tango, the first Buddhist Monastic School for Bhutan was started by Zhabdrung, which to these days has become a meditation centre for higher level Buddhist studies. The Monastery buildings are old and still contains many sacred relic from past. Definitely, visit to this place is more purifying and refreshing. From the road head at Dodayna it will take about 5mins to the parking lot where you begin the hike. The trail leaves Dodayna bride and gently goes up through woods of blue pine, Oak trees and with lots of Rhododendron under growth.

(Optional) Bicycle Ride, Thimphu City.

Cycling is therefore a very unique way of experiencing and interacting with the Kingdom, its people and its beautiful environment. You are more than equally rewarded with an extraordinary view and a rare experience. Riders should have an adequate level of fitness and stamina and be experienced in the required skills of cycling/mountain biking. All our small group mountain biking tours are fully supported by a support vehicle with mechanic which also allows the option to sit out a ride and take a break.

Cycling routes and supplements ($65 per person)

  1. Dechencholing-Dodina (12km/8miles, 1hrs)
  2. Thimphu-Tango/ Dechencholing to Semtokha (20km/13miles, 2hrs)
  3. Thimphu – Kuensel Phodrang- BBS Tower- Wangditse Goemba (15km/10miles, 1 ½ hrs)


Note: Please discuss the itinerary with the guide before executing the next day program cause due to unavailability of time chances are you may not be able to visit all sites (as mentioned above) in just one day.

Overnight at hotel in Thimphu

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


DAY5: DRIVE TO PUNAKHA (3hrs drive, 76km/51miles, Altitude 1650m/5280ft)

(The royal botanical hiking trails) 

As you leave Thimphu behind, the road gradually climbs to the Dochula pass (Alt. 3010m/9,872 ft), where you will stop briefly for panoramic views of the snowcapped mountains. Another striking feature of this pass is a group of Chortens (pagoda or stupas). Royal Botanical Hike, the trail begins at Dochula Pass, near the spectacular sight of 108 stupas framed by distant Himalayan peaks. It takes about 45 minutes of easy downhill hiking immersed in a pristine natural environment that features a wide variety of rhododendron, magnolia, oak and birch trees. Clear streams tumble down the hillside and bursts of melodious birdsong occasionally ring through the forest. The trails comes to an end just above the Baritso lake. Meet your transport and continue drive to Punakha Wangdue.

Punakha and Wangdue valleys at the elevation around (1400m/4, 592 ft). Next we take a 25-minute gentle hike through the paddy fields and villages to the Chimi Lakhang Temple also known as the “Fertility Temple“.

After check in (time permitting), you can take a 10 minutes gentle walk to the Metsina Farmers Market with farmers selling seasonal vegetable and the most popular rice puffed snacks called the ‘Maykhu’.

Overnight at hotel in Punakha

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



After a leisurely morning breakfast, take 1 hour pleasant hike to Khamsum Yuelley Chorten (stupa), the latest addition to Bhutan’s countless temples but has the finest of the spiritual artworks painted on the inner walls. On the way back stop to visit the prominent Punakha Dzong is one of the most impressive Bhutanese fortress architecture serving as the winter residence of the central monastic body. It sits strategically at the confluence of two rivers-Phochu and Mochu. Beside the Dzong is the longest suspension bridge that link the nearest Mendhagang Village people on the other side of the river. Sangchen Dorji Lhendrup Nunnery, houses some 70 nuns residing here some of them as young as 10-30 years old. Most of them are school dropout and village girls while few are college graduates. There are no certain age to join as nun or monkhood but as and when your heart decides is the right time. Incense Factory at Bajo, The age old art of making incense are still practiced to this day. In general there are just two kinds of incense “Veg and Non-Veg”. However, more than 18 different ingredients such as herbal plants, trees and etc. are been collected as low as 100m to as high as 4500m above sea level. 

(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).

After the hike, you will be driven few minutes to the raft put-in point. Prior to rafting, river guide provides a thorough briefing about the safety measures and guidelines. Thereafter, begins your rafting journey for about 2-3 hrs down to Raft put-out point. 

Rafting supplements: US $200 (in a group of 1-4 people) 

Overnight at hotel in Punakha

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


DAY7: PHOBJIKHA VALLEY (3hrs drive, 74km/49miles, Altitude 3080m/9506ft)

Today you are on the road heading east, drive across the impressive Wangdue Phodrang Dzong (under renovation) comes in view on a hillside opposite to the Wangdue Phodrang. Rinchengang Village is a 20 minute hike from the road and is an interesting village of about 45 compact mud houses and is one of the oldest villages in Bhutan.

You will follow the drive up a winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forests, over the Lowa-la pass (3,360m/10752) and down into the picturesque Phobjikha Valley. After wash and change, you will visit the Gangtey Gompa which is the only Nyingmapa Monastery in this region. The beautiful glacial valley bowl below the Monastery is interspersed with villages, potato fields, temples, hiking trails and if you are visiting during the winter months (November to February) you will get to see the nesting pairs of black-necked cranes and also 13 other vulnerable species of birds at the conservation area or habitat. Stop by the Black-Necked Crane Information Center.

Overnight at hotel in Phobjikha

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


DAY8: TRONGSA (4-5hrs drive, 129km/86miles, Altitude 2310m/7392ft)

Taking on the easy 1hour hike known as the Gangtey Nature Trail is the best way to witness the serene valley, a vast u-shaped valley surrounded by irregularly formed Himalayan mountain range carved by glacial activity.

The nature trail starts at from Khwe Lhakhang and ends in Gangtey Goempa, passing by grass planes, farm houses and dense forest of pine trees, then finally reaching a vast open space of the wide and flat valley. The walk offers a humbling experience, for it is one of those rare places that has a power to lift you up, to make you truly aware of your existence and to appreciate all over again the grandness of nature.

Rejoin the main highway to cross the Pele la pass (3420m/11, 218 ft) which is marked by a chorten and an array of prayer flags. The pass divides Western Bhutan with the rest of the country. The road drops through hillsides with bamboo bushes, follows the river, and then through rhododendrons, blue pines, spruces, oaks, and dwarf bamboos to Chendebji chorten. It is a large white chorten patterned after Swayambhunath Stupa in Kathmandu. Above the Chendebji Chorten, the valley widens and the road enters to the broad Mangde Chhu Valley. You will have stops at the Potala Lakhang in Tashiling and at a view point about 10 miles before Trongsa. Trongsa is a sleepy and pleasant town, lined with whitewashed shops decorated with pot plants and boasts the impressive Dzong. It was the ancestral home of the Royal Family of Bhutan.

Overnight at hotel in Trongsa

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


DAY9: BUMTHANG (2-3hrs drive, 68km/45miles, Altitude 2970m/10048ft)

The road now winds up to the Youtongla pass (3425m/11,234 ft) and then descends through blue pine, firs, and bamboo to Chumey, which was the first of the four Bumthang valleys. You stop at the roadside village of Zugney, the birthplace of Yathra to see the weaving of Yathra (deep coloured wool textile, a pattern typical to these parts of the country). Check in and relax. Afternoon, visit the attractions of Jakar. Jambay Lhakhang which was the first Buddhist temple built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century, even before the arrival of Guru Padmasambhava, Kurjey Lhakhang which is built around the cave where Guru Rinpoche meditated and left the imprint of his body on a rock, Tamshing Lhakang-one of the most important Nyingma Goemba and is a treasure house of interesting religious Buddhist paintings are the attractions of Jakar. Just 400m below Tamshing is a small but rural looking new built monastery called Kunchoksum that was recently constructed after a blazing fire destroyed most of this previous buildings. 

(Optional) Self Meditation experience can also be arranged but with prior notice to tour travel agents as it requires month notice to inform and get permissions from the Lama is very important. As a gratitude for allowing one to meditate inside the shrine we often make some small contributions for the welfare of the monks at the Kharchu monastery. After the end of the meditation, you will also get to offer butter lamps for world peace, wellbeing of your loved ones and to benefit the entire sentient beings. The contributions don’t have fixed amount as such but only if you wish not mandatory otherwise. Previously clients use to offer $50-$100 in return to the favour.



(Highlights: Horse riding/ Village visits)

The Tang Valley is located 2hrs drive from Jakar through unpaved roads and many small villages en route. These peaceful valley is known for its sheep and buckwheat (which dramatically flowers in October). Tang Valley where some of Guru Rimpoche’s treasures were found in the 15th century by famous Pema Lingpa. Visit the Burning Lake and Ogyen Cholling Palace as well as seeing remote communities and farms untouched by time. We generally say a visit to the Tang Valley takes a full day.

(Optional) Horse Riding Routes: ($75 per person)

  1. Tahong- Ugyencholing
  2. Tang- Pedtsiling

Overnight at hotel in Jakar

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


DAY11: MONGAR (6-7hrsdrive, 193km/129miles, Altitude 1600m/5200ft)

It’s going to be a long day drive today and so you will need to get an early start. On the way, you will enjoy the scenery, the beauty of snow-capped mountains, flowers, grazing yaks, and the dense forest. You will make a stop in the Ura valley to visit the village and its temple. Ura Village has a medieval look with compact houses lined up alongside the cobblestone streets and is known for the women’s typical sheepskin shawls. As you leave the Ura Village behind, you climb to the Trumshing La pass (3750m/12,300 ft.) that officially divides Central Bhutan with the Eastern Bhutan. You gradually descend to Sengor watching cascading waterfalls along the way. Once you cross the bridge over the Kurichu, then the trail begins to climb again and goes through pines, maize fields, and eastern hamlets to Mongar town. Arriving in Mongar marks the beginning of your eastern Bhutan experience. Mongar was the first town built on a mountainside instead of in a valley. Enjoy and evening by taking a stroll through quaint Mongar village.

Overnight hotel in Mongar

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

DAY12: DAY EXCURSION TO KHOMA VALLEY (3hrs drive, 75km/50miles, Altitude 1700m/10048ft)

Khoma village is a small village under Lhuntse Dzongkhag. The landscape is spectacular, with stark cliffs towering above river gorges and dense coniferous forests.

This village is known throughout the country for its production of Kishuthara, an extremely intricately patterned silk textile. The women of Khoma work in makeshift textile cottages, weaving delicate designs and patterns. Producing and selling Kishuthara has become the primary occupation of many of the villagers and it will be much cheaper to acquire some of this beautiful material here than in the handicraft shops in the capital. Evening drive back to Mongar.

Overnight at hotel in Mongar

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

DAY13: TASHIGANG (2hrs drive, 91km/61miles, Altitude 1100m/3250ft)

Unlike the west, most of the towns and settlements are situated on top of hills or ridges. Trashigang is one of Bhutan’s more interesting towns and a good base for excursions to Trashi Yangtse, Radi, Phongme and elsewhere in eastern Bhutan.

Accommodation here is fairly limited, but there is a variety of restaurants and you’re bound to find at least one amusing place to drink among the town’s 21 bars. Not many tourists make it to Trashigang, but there used to be many Canadian teachers working here and the people of Trashigang are used to Westerners.

Drive up to Chazam (13 miles, 1.5 hrs) and then take the branch that leads to Trashigang which is only a few miles ride. We check in hotel and soon, we set out for dirt road ride to far eastern Bhutan. You will stop at Rangjung Village where you visit Yeozerchholing, a large Nyingma Monastery. Continue further east on a gravel road and dirt track, absorbing the rich culture of eastern Bhutan, to Radi village which is famous for producing beautiful supplementary warp patterned fabrics or aikapur and raw silk bura the most popular and prestigious textiles made in eastern Bhutan. Woven of cotton, wild silk, or cultivated silk in five color combinations these textiles are so admired that weavers who knew this technique where once retained by the noble households. Prized for generations aikapur cloth has been saved for special occasions. You will have opportunity to experiment with vegetable dyes with the help of weavers. Afternoon, you drive back to the hotel in Trashigang. After wash and change, you may take a leisurely stroll through the town and visit its Dzong

Overnight at hotel in Tashigang

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


DAY14: TRASHIYANGTSE (2hrs drive, 55km/37miles, Altitude 1550m/4960ft)

Trashiyangtse. The road crosses the Korila pass (2,450m/8036 ft.) and follows a river valley and then climbs to Trashigang town. About 6 miles before Trashigang, the road takes you up north that will lead you to Trashiyangtse. You stop to visit Gomphu Kora, an extraordinarily picturesque temple, surrounded by terraced rice fields, where the Guru Rinpoche meditated and left a body impression on the rock. A few miles past Gomphu Kora is Duksum, a small weaver’s town where you will find a fair amount of weavers producing some very nice work. At Trashiyangtse, you will visit the Dzong and Chorten Kora, a large white stupa patterned after Boudhanath Stupa of Kathmandu. If you were not able to visit the National Institute for Zorig Choesum in Thimphu, you will have an opportunity to visit its branch in Trashiyangtse.

Overnight at hotel in Tashigang

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


DAY15: SAMDRUP JONGKHAR (6-7hrs drive, 180km/120miles, Altitude 450m/1440ft)

The road winds down to the Samdrup Jongkhar which is the southeastern border town of India. At Kanglung (13 miles from Trashigang, 45 minutes), you may want to stop to visit the Sherubtse College which was the only college in Bhutan in the 70s. The road then climbs through fields of corn, potatoes, it crosses Yongphula pass (2190m/7184ft.) offering the last glimpse of the Himalayas, and then enters the large valley of Khaling. Here you will stop to visit the National Institute for Disabled. Further 2 miles down is National Handloom Development Project which is one of several royal government initiatives to stimulate weaving as a national art and a source of livelihood for women. Wild silk yarn imported from Assam is dyed with vegetable colors and synthetic dyes. Khaling silk is sought after by Thimphu women for their own weavings. From here, it’s a further 3-4 hrs drive and there are a few small temples and villages but not largely significant. Upon arrival in the town, check into the hotel and take rest for the day. Samdrup Jongkhar is largely a frontier town and has very little cultural importance.

Overnight at hotel in Samdrup Jongkhar

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner



After breakfast, you are seen off by your Bhutanese Guide and driver. They will arrange a taxi for you for travel to Guwahati Airport which takes about 2.5 hr. You need to have an Indian visa beforehand.

Overnight at hotel in Punakha

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Trip Includes

  • 3 star standard accommodation in the cities and best available guesthouses in the eastern Bhutan
  • English speaking trained and certified local guide
  • All transfers and sightseeing by a private vehicle.
  • 3 meals a day
  • Service in Bhutan Visa processing.
  • Bhutan Royalties and visa fee.
  • Service of internal airfare reservation.
  • All sightseeing admission fees as per itinerary.
  • Hot stone bath experience.


Trip does not include

  • All international airfares arrival and return to the gateway city
  • Travel Insurance
  • Expenses of personal nature like drinks, tips, telephone, internet, laundry etc.
  • Extra expenses or loss due to nature or unforeseen events such as flight cancellation, road blockade, no show, emergency evacuation, etc.
  • Upgrading to luxury accommodations.
  • Use of ponies on hikes.