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While the Rodung La Trek does not ascend to very high altitudes, it is still fairly challenging as the trail covers some fairly steep climbs and descents. The trail takes you from Bumthang in Central Bhutan to Trashiyangtse in the far eastern reaches of the kingdom.
The route was once an important trade road in the past but has fallen into disuse since the advent of modern roads in Bhutan. It is now mainly used as a hiking trail and quite often used by the cow herders especially from Lhuentse in eastern Bhutan where you will spend a day resting and sightseeing (Day 10).
The trail passes through alpine and bamboo forests, meadows and mountain passes, through villages and temples offering hikers an incredible array of biodiversity to appreciate. This trekking trip is best carried out in winter between late September-November or in spring between late March-May.
Paro International Airport, Bhutan.
Alternatively, you can plan to exit Bhutan via Samdrup Jongkhar in eastern Bhutan and then to Guwahati Airport in India for your onward journey.
Late March to early May, October, November
During the months of March, April, May, September, October & November
US$4880 (Base Price)
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 Drukair, the national flag carrier of Bhutan. On the way, if the weather is clear enough you will see Great Himalayan mountain ranges and as you enter Bhutanese airspace and soon approach Paro valley, you would already notice the green mountainous landscapes and Paro river meandering down the valley. After passing through the immigration and customs formalities, your guide and driver will receive you and then drive to Thimphu.
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.
Thimphu is the capital city of Bhutan and it is 55km away from the main Paro town. The drive should not take more than 2 hours including stopovers on the way. Thimphu is home to approximately 115,000 residents. This bustling little city is the main centre of commerce, religion and government in the country. Arriving Thimphu, our guide will assist you to check into the hotel so that you can relax for a while and then have your first taste of Bhutanese cuisine for lunch. In the afternoon, you will be taken on your first excursion in the Land of the Thunder Dragon.
The magnificent 169 feet tall bronze statue of Lord Buddha is located at Kuensel Phodrang, a hilltop overlooking the Thimphu valley. It was built to celebrate the 60th birth anniversary of the Fourth King His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck and also for the purpose of bringing peace in the world. 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.
The National Institute of Zorig Chusum (Zorig Chusum means 13 Traditional Arts & Crafts) was established to promote and preserve the thirteen traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan and to facilitate increased access to learning Zorig skills by Bhutanese youths. The thirteen arts and crafts are categorized as Shing Zo (woodwork), Dho Zo (stonework), Par Zo (carving), Lha Zo (painting), Jim Zo (sculpting), Lug Zo (casting), Shag Zo (woodturning), Gar Zo (blacksmith), Troe Zo (ornament making), Tsa Zo (bamboo work), De Zo (paper making), Tsem Zo (tailoring, embroidery and applique) and Thag Zo (weaving). These thirteen arts and crafts are an essential part of Bhutan’s cultural heritage that has been practiced from time immemorial. If the class is in session when you arrive, you will be allowed to enter the classroom and observe students as they get hands-on training. Opens during working weekdays & on Saturdays 10am-noon.
Leisure time in Thimphu town.
Note: The coverage of excursion on the first day depends on your flight arrival time. If you arrive in the morning, you should be able to visit all of the sights listed below. If it is in the afternoon, we might be able to visit a few only.
Overnight at Kuenphen Rabten Resort or Hotem Amodhara.
Today, after early breakfast, we will drive to Punakha valley. En route, we will stop at Dochula, a sacred mountain pass.
About 45 min drive from Thimphu towards Punakha is a 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 Choetens (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.
From Dochu La Pass, we will continue driving towards Punakha, passing through some villages, the elevation drops gradually and the road winds through the pine trees. As you reach the lower subtropical valley, you will feel the drastic change in altitude from 3,150m just an hour and a half ago to warmer lower valley at 1,200m.
Arriving Mesina or Lobesa, a small quaint town about 11 km before reaching Punakha town, you will visit a 15th-century Buddhist temple called Chimi Lhakhang.
Chimi Lhakhang is located on a gentle hilltop near the village of Sopsokha. To reach the temple, you have to walk 20 – 30 minutes through beautiful terraced paddy fields and traditional farmhouses. The history of Chimi Lhakhang is associated with 16th century Lama Drukpa Kuenley who was affectionately known as “Divine Madman” for his obscene behavior and outrageous ways of cleansing people from religious dogmatism and egoistic self-possession by exhibiting his strong desire for sex. He would often use phallus as a tool to subdue malevolent spirits. Using the phallus was also intended to free up the social inhibitions enforced by the socially established values. 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”.
Lama Drukpa Kuenley built a small black stupa on this hilltop to mark the burial site of demons whom he managed to subdue after chasing all the way from Dochula Pass, where the demons were terrorizing the travellers. This black stupa can be seen even today just outside of the main temple. It was Lama Ngawang Chogyel, the younger brother of Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who built the present temple in 1499 AD.
The historic Punakha Dzong was originally known as Pungthang Dewa Chenpoi Phodrang, meaning the “Palace of Great Bliss”. It was built in 1637 AD by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (Tibetan Buddhist master who came to Bhutan in 1616 and founded the nation-state of Bhutan) on a small stretch of land where the rivers Phochu and Mochu converge. Punakha Dzong is the second oldest and second-largest Dzong in Bhutan. The sacred wall paintings and main artifacts inside the dzong, the intricate woodworks and the architectural structure of the dzong display fine examples of Bhutanese arts and craftsmanship which continues to influence Bhutanese architecture even today.
After visiting the Punakha Dzong, you will walk to the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan and enjoy its beauty.
Overnight at Hotel Lobesa or Meri Puensum Resort.
After breakfast, if you wish, we can drive to a peaceful hilltop where Sangchen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery is located. You can interact with nuns and pray at the monastery. Then transfer to Trongsa in Central Bhutan.
After lunch, transfer to Trongsa in central Bhutan. From Punakha, it takes about 4-hours to reach Trongsa. En route drive through the highest mountain pass between Punakha and Trongsa (Pelela 3,350m). You will have several opportunities for photography and views of valleys and mountains along the way.
Lunch will be served on the way. On arrival in Trongsa, visit the largest fortress in Bhutan, 17th-century Trongsa Dzong (Optional as it will be the same as any other fortresses). 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.
Overnight at Tashi Ninjay Guest House or a similar one.
After breakfast at the hotel, drive to Bumthang valley which is also known as Jakar. Bumthang is considered as the religious heartland of Bhutan and home to some of the oldest temples and monasteries in the country.
The drive takes approximately 3 hours through the serene mountain pass, Yotong La at 3,425 meters (11,235 ft) above sea level and gradually descends to the village of Chumey. At Chumey stop by the roadside 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. Continue driving towards Chamkhar, the main town of Bumthang.
On arrival in Jakar, check into the hotel and settle for lunch. After lunch, you will visit some of the most revered sites in the valley.
After lunch, 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.
Overnight at Kaila Guest House or Mountain Lodge.
After breakfast, you will visit the two most popular temples in Bumthang valley and then transfer to Tang Valley for overnight stay.
One of the oldest Lhakhangs 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 Lhakhang 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. One of the important objects you will see in this temple is the statue of Guru Padmasambhava discovered by the Terton Pema Lingpa in the 15th century from a sacred lake Mebartso (Burning Lake). You will visit this sacred lake tomorrow on the way to Tang Valley.
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.
|Tang Valley Altitude||2,800m/9,185ft|
From Jakar, it takes only about 1-hour to reach the Tang Valley from where you will begin the exciting trek tomorrow. En route, stop at the Burning Lake (Mebartso) from where a sacred statue of Guru Padmasambhava and other religious treasures were discovered by Terton Pema Lingpa in the 15th century.
On arrival Tang valley, check into the Ogyen Choling Guest House where sumptuous lunch will be served. After lunch, you will visit the Ogyen Choling Museum.
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 with the aim 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.
Overnight at Ogyen Choling Guesthouse. If the Guesthouse is not available, you will stay at one of the farmhouses with the local family.
After early breakfast, we will meet the trekking team at the starting point. The pack animals will carry all the trekking equipment and supplies including your baggage. You will carry only your day backpack. Today’s walk is through bamboos, hemlock and finally up to an alpine forest. The camp is in a meadow at the head of the valley and the base of the Rodung La.
Rodung La (4,160m), the highest mountain pass on this trek, is about three hours slow-paced climb from the camp. From the pass you then continue downhill through a gorge, overlooking scenic mountain valleys covered in lush pine forests. The region is rich in folklore concerning spirits and yetis. Near the camp, you can see a ruined stone building that once acted as a grain storehouse during the reigns of the first and second king.
This trail winds through the villages of Ungaar, Bulay, Kulaypang and Gomda before bringing you to Drula village and Kheni Lhakhang. One of the oldest temples in the country, it was built in the mid 7th century by the King Songtshen Gampo of Tibet to subdue demons.
From your camp, the trail goes down to a stream and back up to a basic health unit and a community school in Gorsam. Further on, you pass a Tibetan-style Umling Mani, built by a lama from Tibet, and a chorten on Zerim La (1,940m). Before reaching the next pass, Tage La (1,760m) you will see Menjabi, a beautiful Bhutanese village with large white houses. The campsite for the night is located South-east of Tage La near Tangmachu High School.
Today, you will rest and do some sightseeing in Lhuentse, a district in the eastern Bhutan popularly known for producing the best handwoven traditional textile called Kishuthara.
After leisurely breakfast, visit the world’s tallest statue of Guru Padmasambhava which is located in the neighbourhood. The main statue was completed and consecrated in 2015. It was constructed with prophecies from Buddhist luminaries like Terton Lerab Lingpa and Dudjom Jidrel Yeshey Dorji. It is for the peace and prosperity of Bhutan and also as a monument of world peace. You will have an opportunity to pray and spend some time.
After visiting the statue of Guru Padmasambhava, we will drive to visit Gangzur Village situated around 2 km from the proper Lhuentse. This village is famous for its pottery as its women folk are skilled artisans of this dying art and you will definitely want to witness the women displaying their skills. Earthenware pots were mostly used for cooking in the olden days. One particular pot you would see in every household especially in the east is the one they use for brewing the local alcohol known as ‘Ara’.
The village of Khoma is known throughout the country for its signature handwoven textile, the Kishuthara. Not many years ago, many of the Bhutanese households would have at least one member of the family weaving. With modernization creeping into even the remotest villages, the art of traditional weaving is diminishing. The government has helped this community set up a center to promote and preserve traditional weaving. The women weavers sit in a row of the makeshift textile cottage, weaving intricate designs and patterns. If you find any piece of textile you like, this is the best opportunity to buy at a much cheaper price than buying it from other handicraft shops elsewhere in the country.
Lunch will be served at Chimi Yuden Homestay located in the heart of the Khoma Village. You will also stay overnight in this beautiful homestay.
After breakfast, drive to the starting point of the remaining 3 days of the trekking. A new set of trekking team will meet us there.
You will hike uphill through thick forests of oaks and rhododendrons overlooking spectacular mountains. A gradual but long climb will bring you to several patches of meadows used by the cow herders in summer months. The camp is located on a meadow surrounded by forests at an altitude of 2,400m.
You will continue the gradual climb through the thick forest until you reach a Dong La, a beautiful mountain pass at about 3900m altitude. You will stunning views of the snow-capped surrounding mountains. From this point on, you descend all the way down until you reach Taupang where you will camp overnight.
|Trashi Yangtse Altitude||1,800m/5,900ft|
Today is the last and longest day of the trek. It is a gradual descent to Trashi Yangtse. As you descend the Chir pine and hardwood forests are slowly replaced by oak trees and bamboos. Your driver will be waiting for you at the roadside to transfer you to Trashi Yangtse town. It will take about 45mins to reach Trashi Yangtse town.
Overnight at Hotel Karmaling.
The people of Trashi Yangtse are well known for their incredible skills at woodwork and paper making. The items they produce such as traditional wooden cups and bowls known as Dhapa are prized throughout the country.
After breakfast at the hotel, you begin the sightseeing by first visiting one of the well-known landmarks in this region, Chorten Kora (Chorten means ‘Buddist Stupa’ and Kora means ‘circumambulation’) built in 1740 AD over the span of 12 years. Though smaller in size, Chorten Kora is believed to be the replica of the Boudanath Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal. Two annual festivals are hosted here during Spring attracting hundreds of spectators from other parts of the country as well.
Also located in this town is the School of Traditional Arts where the six forms of traditional Bhutanese arts are taught – Painting, Pottery, Wood Sculpture, Wood Turning, Lacquer work and applique embroidery. After lunch drive back to Transhigang.
En route, you will briefly stop at Gom Kora or Gomphu Kora (Gomphu means “Meditation Cave”) Lhakhang which is 23km from Trashigang and located just below the road amidst terraced rice fields and overlooking Dangme Chhu, one of the largest rivers in Bhutan. The temple was built in the 17th century on a sacred site blessed by Guru Rinpoche in the mid-eighth century AD who left body imprint on the huge rock just outside of the temple after subduing a demon. A dazzling annual religious festival is hosted here sometime between March and April attracting lots of spectators not only from around the country but also from the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
On arrival in Trashigang, visit Trashigang Dzong (The Fortress of the Auspicious Hill) built by the First Trongsa Penlop (Governor of Trongsa) Chogyal Minjur Tempa in 1659 AD. The Dzong stands on a ledge with very steep cliffs on three sides, overlooking the Gamri Chhu and one of the largest rivers in Bhutan, Dangme Chhu. The Dzong was expanded in 1680, 1694 and in 1936. The earthquake of 2009 caused major damage to the Dzong and it is under renovation and is expected to complete by June of 2018. Every year in November, a three-day long festival is hosted at the Dzong with hundreds of people attending the celebrations on each day. Leisure time to stroll the town and visit a local market.
Overnight at 3-star hotel: Lingkhar Lodge or Hotel Druk Deothjung.
Today, you will be transferred to Paro by domestic flight from Yonphula. On arrival in Paro, you will visit one of the oldest and revered temples in Bhutan.
After breakfast and depending on the flight departure time, you will be transferred to Yonphula Domestic Airport. The flight takes only 45mins and offers a grand view of the mountains and valleys of Bhutan.
The auspicious Kyichu Lhakhang (temple) 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 the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo. According to the legend, the spirit of a giant demoness lay spread across Tibet and Bhutan causing obstruction to the propagation of Buddhism. In order to subdue this demoness, King Songtsen Gampo was required to build 108 temples across the affected region. Kichu Lhakhang, built to pin down the left foot of the giant demoness, is one of the two temples that were built in Bhutan. The other is called Jambay Lhakhang located in the district of Bumthang in central Bhutan and was built to pin down the left knee. Both the temples were believed to have been built overnight.
Leisure time in Paro town.
Overnight at Khangkhu Resort or Bhutan Mandala Resort.
|Total Hiking Time||4-5 hours|
Today, on the last full day of your trip, you will hike to the famed Taktsang Monastery and in the late afternoon, visit a beautiful farmhouse for an authentic home-cooked local cuisine.
Taktsang monastery is located on a sheer 800-meter rocky cliff in Paro. It normally takes about 2 hours to reach the monastery from the nearest road point. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Bhutan.
Taktsang, or the Tiger’s Lair (people prefer to call 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 8th century A.D. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava flew into the cave from Lhuentse Singye Dzong in eastern Bhutan, riding on a tigress.
After visiting Taktsang monastery and a sumptuous lunch at Taktsang cafeteria, retrace your steps back to the road point where your driver will be waiting. From there drive to Paro town and spend some leisure time.
Towards the late afternoon, visit a beautiful farmhouse for home-cooked local cuisine. You may also participate and learn how to cook some of Bhutan’s popular dishes. If interested, you can take a revitalizing and therapeutic hot stone bath for an additional fee of US$15 per person charged by the owner.
Overnight at Khangkhu Resort or Bhutan Mandala Resort.
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the 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.