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This two-week cultural journey through the six districts of Bhutan – Paro, Bumthang, Trongsa, Wangdue Phodrang, Punakha and Thimphu offers a deep understanding of Bhutan’s rich culture and traditions that have remained untouched for centuries. The trip includes 5 days of easy and enjoyable trekking around scenic extreme remote villages in the central Bhutan district of Trongsa. The climate is warm and pleasant as the trail stays between 1000-1500m in altitude and there is a wide array of flora and fauna observable along the route including the rare Golden Langur, Red Pandas, Himalayan Black Bears, Rhesus Monkeys, Rufous-necked Hornbills and Clouded Leopards.
Hikers on this trek will have plenty of opportunities to experience traditional rural life as they will spend nights in the villages of Nabji, Korphu and Nyimshong. Nabji is an idyllic village surrounded by verdant paddy fields and the villagers of Korphu are famed for their hospitality. Visitors will often be greeted by a Chipdrel procession and Marchang ceremony, practices typically reserved for royalty. Nyimshong is a good place to observe some of the local cultures as women often put together cultural shows full of singing and dancing for visitors.
This is the perfect trek for visitors looking to learn about and experience traditional rural life firsthand while enjoying the natural beauty and biodiversity of Bhutan. The best time to embark on this journey is from late February to early June and late September to early December.
Paro International Airport, Bhutan
Late February to May and late September to early December
Easy to Moderate – This is a fairly easy cultural trip that includes 5 days of trekking through idyllic rural villages and natural environment endowed with a wide array of flora and fauna some of which are endangered species.
US$4000 (Base Price)
3.5% discount – for a couple or group of 2 people
14% discount – for a group of 3-5 people
18% discount – for a group of 6-10 people
20% discount – for a group of 11 people & above
Arrive Paro International airport by either of only two airlines operating in and out of Bhutan; Drukair, the national flag carrier or Bhutan Airlines, a private airline which was started in 2011. After arrival, your visa will be stamped on your passport at the immigration counter. You will be received by our guide and driver at the exit gate and then you will be on your first adventure in the ‘Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon’. We will visit an auspicious 7th-century monastery Kyichu Lhakhang and the National Museum of Bhutan. Later you will explore the Paro town and witness archery match if the game is in progress.
Note: The coverage of excursion on the first day depends on your flight arrival time.
Paro Kyichu Lhakhang is located just a few minutes drive from the main town of Paro and is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan. It is believed to have been built in 659 A.D. by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet in his effort to built 108 such temples across the Himalayan region to subdue the spirit of a demoness who was causing obstruction to the spread of Buddhism. Bhutan is blessed with two of these temples, one being Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang, central Bhutan which you will visit on Day 3. Both Kyichu Lhakhang and Jampa Lhakhang are believed to have been built on the same day.
The National Museum of Bhutan is located in Paro just above the Rinpung Dzong (administrative headquarter of Paro district) was established in 1968. It is housed in an ancient watchtower called Paro Ta Dzong (Ta Dzong means “watchtower fortress”) built in 1649. It displays hundreds of ancient Bhutanese artifacts and artworks including traditional costumes, armour, weaponry and handcrafted implements for daily life. The collection at the National Museum preserves a snap-shot of the rich cultural traditions of the country.
Leisure time to explore Paro town.
Overnight at Khangkhu Resort or Bhutan Mandala Resort.
Today, you will take a domestic flight to Bumthang in central Bhutan. This domestic flight service has helped the visitors cut short travelling time from 12-hour strenuous drive to just under 30 minutes and the flight presents stunning aerial views of the pristine valleys and mountainous topography of Bhutan.
On arrival in Bumthang, check into the hotel and later visit the Swiss Cheese and Wine factory which was established by Mr. Fritz Maurer, a Swiss volunteer who came to Bhutan in the early 1960s and made Bumthang his home. After that visit the sacred Tamzhing temple built in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa who is considered as the patron saint of Bhutan. Among the many treasures and religious artifacts handcrafted by the Pema Lingpa himself, there is an armory that stood the test of time for five centuries bearing no rust or any sign of deterioration. It is believed that you will be cleansed of all your past sins and defilement if you circumambulate the inner sanctum of the temple 3 rounds carrying that sacred armory. This is one activity enjoyed by all visitors with fun and a sense of veneration.
Leisure time in Chamkhar, the main town of Bumthang district.
|Distance to Tang Valley||30km|
|Time||2-hours round trip|
|Tang Valley Altitude||2,800m/9,185ft|
After breakfast, drive for about 45min to the sacred lake called Mebartso from where a sacred statue and other religious treasures were discovered by Terton Pema Lingpa. Visit the nearby Tang village and ramble through the rural settlements to understand the daily lives of the farmers of Bumthang. Home-cooked local cuisine unique to Bumthang will be organized at one of the village farmhouses for lunch. After lunch, spend some time with the local family.
Although Ogyen Choling was a palace owned by the ancestors of the Royal family of Bhutan, it was regarded as being a monastery or hermitage because of its past connections with great Buddhist masters like Longhcen Rabjam (1308-63) and Terton Dorji Lingpa (1346-1405). It was turned into a museum in 2001 to share its heritage and also to preserve and maintain its religious and cultural significance.
The curator, Kunzang Choden, is the owner of the museum and the direct descendant of the original family. If Kunzang Choden happens to be at home, she herself will guide you through the museum giving you profound insights not only about the lifestyles and living conditions of households of the religious and nobility during the 19th and 20th centuries but also on how Bhutan has changed over the years.
Drive back to Bumthang.
One of the oldest Lhakhang in the Kingdom, Jampa Lhakhang was founded by the King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet in the 7th century AD. The King was destined to build 108 Lhakhangs to subdue the spirit of the demoness that was residing in the Himalayas. Jampa Lhakhang is one of the two which were built in Bhutan. The other one is Kichu Lhakhang in Paro, both believed to have been built on the same day.
Visit Kurjey Lhakhang which is built on the sacred site blessed by Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century. Guru Padmasambhava brought Buddhism to Bhutan and is revered as the second Buddha in Tibetan Buddhism. If you wish, visit one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, the 7th century Jambay Lhakhang believed to have been built overnight by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo.
Overnight at Kaila Guest House or Mountain Lodge.
|Distance to Trongsa||70km|
Following hearty breakfast at the hotel, drive to the district of Tongsa. En route, stop briefly at Chumey village to see Yathra Weaving Center (Yathra is the colourful textiles hand woven out of sheep and yak hair) and get insights on the traditional attires and the weaving culture of the people of Bumthang. From there continue to drive gaining altitude gradually and reach a serene mountain pass, Yotong La at 3,425m/11,235ft and then descend down to Trongsa.
After lunch in Trongsa, visit Trongsa holds a significant place in the history of Bhutan as it was from here that the ancestors of the Royal family of Bhutan emerged as the most powerful rulers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The first and second hereditary Kings of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancient seat of power. There is a tradition that crown prince must be invested as Trongsa Penlop (Governor of Trongsa) here at Trongsa Dzong before he ascends the golden throne of the King.
From there walk up to the promontory on which the Royal Heritage Museum housed in the 17th-century watchtower is located. The Royal Heritage Museum provides an insight into the significance of Trongsa in Bhutan’s history and showcases the religious and artistic traditions of Bhutan.
Leisure time to explore Trongsa town.
Overnight in Tashi Ninjay Guest House.
|Hiking Time||3-4 hours|
After an early breakfast at the hotel, we drive for about 2.5 hours along the Trongsa-Zhemgang highway to the starting point of the trek, Tongtongphey.
En route, stop briefly and visit Kuenga Rabten Palace, an important heritage in Bhutanese history. It was built in 1929 as the winter palace of the second king. You will learn about the early days of Bhutan’s monarchy.
We then drive to the starting point of the trek and hike down to the Mangdi river where you cross a suspension bridge. On this stretch of the journey the otherwise rare Golden Langurs, an endangered species of primate are abundant and almost impossible to miss. You will come in contact with the Monpas who are believed to be the first inhabitants of Bhutan.
A glimpse into their lifestyle coupled with mythical legends about their origins further validates this claim. The campsite in Jangbi stands on the valley sill, which offers a resplendent view of the Mangdi valley.
Overnight outdoor camping.
|Hiking Time||6 hours|
The morning allows you to further interact with the Monpas. Before you proceed, you can also pay a visit to the orchid garden that houses around 75 different varieties of orchids. The trail to Kudra is especially interesting as it passes stone imprints of Guru Padmasambhava (known as Guru Rinpoche) is the Indian saint who came to Bhutan and introduced Tantric Buddhism in the 8th century A.D.Guru Rinpoche’s footprints, dagger and phallus. Lunch is served just before you arrive at Phrumzur, one of the Monpa villages. After a quick visit to the village Lhakhang in Phrumzur and you then proceed to the campsite in Kudra. En route, you’ll encounter another small Monpa village called Lekpogang, after which, the campsite in Kudra is just an hour’s walk. The campsite offers a bird’s-eye view of Nyimshong village and also of Zhemgang town.
Overnight outdoor camping.
|Hiking Time||5-6 hours|
This part of the trek is a collage of streams, waterfalls and thick forests that will give you an invigorating feeling of being out in the wild. Animals such as Himalayan Squirrels, Rhesus Mecaques, and small snakes are often spotted along the trail. Himalayan black bears, Red pandas, tigers and Clouded leopards are also present this region. Upon arrival at the holy tree in Nabji, the villagers will give you a warm reception. Nabji is a beautiful village with paddy fields circling the clustered houses. You can also hike to the community school and interact with students.
Overnight outdoor camping.
|Hiking Time||4-6 hours|
En route to Korphu, Nabji temple is located amidst verdant paddy fields. Inside, there is a stone pillar on which Guru Rinpoche imprinted the thumbs of two warring kings as a symbol of resolution after bringing about peace. Korphu is situated on a mountaintop at an altitude of 1,500m. The most striking thing about Korphu is that the people exemplify hospitality almost treating you like royalty.
You have the option of being welcomed with a traditional ‘Chipdrel’ procession and a ‘Marchang’ ceremony. These ceremonies are typically reserved for royalty but here the villagers will greet you by singing these traditional songs of praise and wellbeing. They also perform the traditional ‘Tashi Labey’ dance to bid you farewell. The villagers can explain and demonstrate and even allow you to participate in the quintessential Bhutanese games of ‘Khuru’, ‘Dego’, ‘Sok-sum’, and ‘Gee-dum’.
You can also visit the village temple that houses sacred relics of Pema Lingpa, the most famous Terton or ‘Treasure revealer’ in Bhutan. Lunch can be provided in the village campsite which also provides a spectacular bird’s-eye view of Nabji and other surrounding areas.
Overnight outdoor camping.
|Hiking Time||4-5 hours|
The hike from Korphu to Nyimshong is pleasant and arguably the best location for bird watching as it is home to over 395 avian species. The elusive Rufous Necked Hornbill has its nesting holes adjacent to the trail. The walk is interspaced with waterfalls and, streams and cantilever bridges. The evening brings you to Nyimshong village. The campsite is equipped with an amphitheatre. The women of Nyimshong have a penchant for singing and dancing and often put on cultural shows for visitors.
Overnight outdoor camping.
|Hiking Time||4-5 hours|
You begin by descending towards the Mangdi River. You are likely to see Herons, River-lapwings and even Golden Langurs in this region. A steep hour-long climb will bring you to the road from where your driver will be waiting. From there we drive to Phobjikha valley via Trongsa. Lunch will be served at Trongsa town.
|Distance to Phobjikha Valley||160km|
|Driving Time||5 hours|
After lunch at Trongsa, drive to Phobjikha valley. Phobjikha is a vast U-shaped glacial valley at an elevation of about 3,000 meters and it is a winter home for endangered Black Necked Crane from November and migrates back to Tibetan plateau by the beginning of March.
On arrival in Phobjikha, you will visit the famous landmark in this valley, Gangtey Monastery popularly know as Gangtey Gonpa (gonpa literally means “high remote place” and is usually a place of religious significance) founded in 1613. The name Gangtey is derived from the fact that the Goenpa is built on a peak (Tey) of a hillock (Gang). The present abbot of this monastery is the ninth Gangtey Trulku His Holiness Kunzang Rigzin Pema Namgyal. The monastery also has a monastic college where hundreds of monks study Buddhist philosophy for 9 years.
In the evening before dinner, you might want to take a therapeutic and revitalizing hot stone bath for an additional fee of about $15 per person.
Overnight at Yueloki Guest House or Dewachen Hotel & Spa.
Today, you will do Gangtey Nature Hike and after lunch, transfer to Punakha valley for overnight stay.
|Distance to Punakha||85km|
After breakfast, begin Gangtey Nature Trail Hike. The trail is about 5km long and takes approximately 2.5 hours including ample time to take photographs and observe pristine natural surroundings. The nature trail begins from Gangtey Monastery and leads through wonderful meadows, forests, beautiful traditional village houses, farmlands, crystalline streams. This short nature trail gives you a great feeling of the valley and understanding of the community living there.
In Punakha, visit Chime Lhakhang Temple located about a 30-minute walk from the nearest road through the beautiful terraced rice fields and farmhouses. Chime Lhakhang was built in 1499 by Lama Ngawang Chogyal on a site blessed by his older brother, Lama Drukpa Kuenley who was known as ‘Divine Madman’ for his obscene behavior and unorthodox ways of propagating Buddhism. He would often express his desire for sex and use phallus as a medium to subdue malevolent spirits. Today, one of the relics of Chime Lhakhang is a phallus. The blessing of the phallus is considered sacred particularly to women who are unable to conceive a child as it brings fertility to women, giving them the ability to bear offspring. Because of this belief, people like to call Chimi Lhakhang as “Temple of Fertility”. Married couples who are unable to conceive a child often come to this temple seeking blessings from the Divine Madman. As much as it sounds ‘too good to be true’, there are many stories of happy couples who are blessed with a child after visiting the temple.
Overnight at Hotel Lobesa or Meri Puensum Resort.
After breakfast, you will visit the hitoric Punakha Dzong and transfer to the capital city Thimphu.
The historic Punakha Dzong locally known as “Palace of Great Bliss” was built in 1637 to guard the region against Tibetan forces. This beautiful and most impressive Dzong in Bhutan is a fine example of traditional Bhutanese architecture, painting and craftsmanship. The Dzong served as the administrative centre and the seat of the Government of Bhutan until 1955. It now serves as the office of the District Administrator (Dzongdag) and the winter residence of the Chief Abbot of Bhutan, Je Khenpo.
Transfer to Thimphu via Dochula Pass.
|Distance to Thimphu||74km|
Thimphu is the capital city of Bhutan and is home to approximately 115,000 residents. This bustling little city is the main centre of commerce, religion and government in the country.
En route to Thimphu, stop at Dochula, a sacred mountain pass at an altitude of 3,150 meters above sea level from where you can see, on a clear day, some of the highest peaks of Bhutan. Before the construction of these beautiful 108 Druk Wangyal Chortens (stupas) in 2004, this mountain pass remained only as a sacred place blessed by a famous Buddhist saint, Lam Drukpa Kuenley in late 15th century. Lunch will be served at Dochula Cafe.
On arrival in Thimphu, visit the magnificent 169 feet tall bronze statue of Lord Buddha located on a hilltop overlooking the Thimphu valley. It was built to celebrate the 60th birth anniversary of the Fourth King His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The giant Buddha statue houses more than 100,000 8-inch tall Buddha statues of the same type. The construction began in 2006 and was completed in 2015 after almost 10 years.
Leisure time in Thimphu town.
Overnight at Kuenphen Rabten Resort or Hotel Amodhara.
|Distance to Paro||55km|
Today after early breakfast, drive to Paro and hike to the famed Taktsang Monastery. In the evening visit a farmhouse for home-cooked local cuisine.
Taktsang monastery is located on the face of a sheer 800-meter rock cliff in Paro. It normally takes about 2 hours to reach the monastery from the road head. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Bhutan. Taktsang which literally translates to ‘Tiger’s Nest’, is regarded as one of the most important monasteries in Bhutan. Its history is associated with the visit of Guru Padmasambhava (known as Guru Rinpoche), the Indian saint who came to Bhutan and introduced Tantric Buddhism in the mid-eighth century AD. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava flew to Taktsang from Kurtoe Singye Dzong in eastern Bhutan, riding on a tigress. Taktsang Monastery was originally built in 1692 on the sacred cave where Guru Padmasambhava meditated.
The trail takes you through the ancient path shaded by pine trees. After an hour of steep uphill hiking, you will reach a nice cafeteria from where you can see a spectacular view of Taktsang monastery perched on the face of a steep rock cliff. It takes a further 1 hour to reach the monastery.
After lunch at the Taktsang cafeteria, we retrace our steps back to the base where our driver will be waiting. From there we drive to Paro town and spend some leisure time.
Towards the late afternoon, visit one of the beautiful farmhouses and experience the traditional Bhutanese way of life. If you are interested, you can soak in a traditional hot stone bath for an additional fee of about US$15 per person. Specially selected stones believed to contain minerals are heated in a wood-fired fireplace and dropped into a chamber of wooden tub releasing minerals. If desired, you can lighten up with a warm cup of locally brewed liquor known as “Ara”. Delicious dinner of authentic home-cooked local cuisine will be served.
Overnight at Kuenphen Rabten Resort or Hotel Amodhara.
After breakfast, transfer to Paro International Airport for your onward journey. Your guide will assist you to complete all exit formalities before you check-in.
All tour services we provide are independent with flexible itineraries which can be customized to suit your interest and requirement. You can form a group to get discounts. Apart from the predesigned packages which have proven successful, Bhutan Acorn Tours & Travel can also arrange the following add-on activities to enrich your experiences in Bhutan. These activities can be fitted into any tour itineraries.
Please note that some of the activities may involve extra fees.
All your deposits and any payment less administrative fees of US$100 per person will be refunded if you notify us at least 30 days prior to your arrival date. Refer the cancellation fee schedule below to determine the applicable charges:
|DAYS TO ARRIVAL||CANCELLATION CHARGES PER PERSON|
|30+||US$100 administrative fee per person|
|16-29||50% of the total cost|
|8-15||20% of the total cost|
|0-7 days||No refund is available|
In the case of trekking, no refund is permitted if the trek could not be completed due to inclement weather conditions or illness. However, accommodation and meals will be provided.
In case the trip is cut short or duration lost due to unforeseen reasons after arrival in Bhutan, no refund is available as the payment would have been already made to hotels and other logistics.
There shall be no charges for the number of days of delay either during arrivals or departures or both, due to weather conditions, communication problems, cancellation or delay in Bhutanese airline flights, sickness or any other legitimate reason as Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) may deem reasonable. However, the Tourist will be charged on the actual expenses on accommodation, food, transport and any other services provided.