Bhutan hides itself between the mountains of Himalayas. The strong storms which often appear on the Himalayas is the reason for the other name of the country – ‘The Land of The Thunder Dragon’. Bhutan culture is the great combination of Buddhism and the Himalayan heritage. It has a uniqueness that tourists can only experience here. That is why tourists visit Bhutan every year because they are curious and attracted by the culture. Bhutan cultural tours are the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you to come in contact with the cultural heritage of the country.
Coming to Bhutan, you will be able to visit Dzongs (fortresses), monasteries, chortens, old temples. These are the religious destinations, which embrace the Buddhism in their architecture. Some of the famous Dzongs like Thimphu Dzong, Ta Dzong, Punakha Dzong and Trongsa Dzong are hundreds years old, becoming the iconic image of Bhutan culture.
Bhutanese are proud of the diversity and the richness of their culture. People here can be seen practicing Buddhism, twirling praying wheels and fingering praying beads in many places and even at home. They have Tshechus (festivals) during certain time of the year. These festivals are simply charming and fun-filled. And rarely in any nation’s cuisine will you find chilies as the main ingredient of the dish, but that is the distinctive characteristics of Bhutanese food. Keep this in mind when you try some Bhutanese dishes like the traditional dish ema datshi (chili with cheese).
Tour duration – 10 days/ 9 nights
Tour destination – Paro, Thimphu, Gangtey, and Punakha.
Tour overview – If you prefer a new way to exploring Bhutan, the Kingdom of Himalaya, this package is the one for you. The tour will visit Thimphu, Gangtey, Punakha and Paro valley. For you to understand more about the culture and history of Bhutan in a holistic way, we will take you to Bhutan’s Dzongs, museums, and especially Cheri monastery and the Tiger’s Nest, which are most holy places of the kingdom. On the trails, you can truly relish in the feeling of being one with Bhutan nature, walking in the dense forests, farm lands of apple orchards, potato fields, vegetable gardens and the whole view of the Gangtey valley and the Tiger’s Nest.
Day 01: Arrival in Paro and move to Thimphu:
- Altitude in Paro: 2280m
- Distance: 55km
- Estimated time: 1.30hr
The flight to Bhutan provides the most spectacular view of The Himalayas. As the plane approaches Paro, you will see the beautiful snow peaks of Himalaya range. The first gift from Bhutan will be cool, clean fresh air as you step out of the plane. Our representative will meet you and drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan at 2320m, also the only capital in the world that does not use traffic lights. You can stop on the way to take in the magnificent Tachogang Lhakhang, the temple of the hill of the excellent horse.
On arrival in Thimphu, check in the hotel. After a brief rest we will drive up to Motithang, a north-western suburb of Thimphu to have Wangditse Gomeba hike. On the way, we will visit the Motithang Takin Reserve to see the national animal of Bhutan, the Takin that has the body of a cow and head of a goat. The legend says that attribute the creation of these animals in Bhutan by a 15th century saint name Drukpa Kunley, popularly known as the Divine Madman.
On the trail hike to the Wangditse Gomeba are yellow, green, red, white and blue prayer flags fluttering in wind. In our physical world these manifest as earth, water, fire, air or wind and space. Wind houses together the garuda, the dragon, the tiger, the snow lion and various mantras or a short sutras text in prayer flags contact with the natural energy of the wind impartially increase the life, fortune, health and wealth among all living be-ings. When you reach Wangditse Gomeba, overlook from here is view of Tashicho Dzong, Buddha statue and Thimphu valley.
In the late afternoon, we take a stroll around to explore Thimphu town and soak in the at-mosphere of this charming capital with crowded shops, bazaars and hospitality local in national dress.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 02: Thimphu sightseeing
We will begin our day‘s sightseeing of the following sites:
The Folk Heritage Museum, restored three-storey, rammed mud and timber house replicates a rural household and is furnished as it would have been in the mid-19th century to provide an interesting glimpse into rural Bhutanese life.
The National Textile Museum, is the place to learn about Bhutan’s living national art of thagzo (weaving). Weaving is an integral component of the culture and tradition of Bhutan. It displays Royal Ghos and Kiras and introduces the major weaving techniques, styles of local dress and type of textiles made by women and men.
The Jungshi Handmade Paper factory, this small factory produces traditional Bhutanese paper from the bark of two tree species, the Daphne and Dhekap tree. You can observe the entire process of producing handmade paper. It is named Deh sho paper, was originally used by monasteries for woodblock and manuscript books and also for writing prayer books.
If your trip happens to fall on a weekend, we will take a quick visit to the farmer’s market. Farmers come from all over the country to sell their farm products in the market, so we will see all kinds of vegetables, fruits dried stuff, cereal, rice, poultry, meat and even incense.
Then we will visit the National Institute for Zorig Chusum, commonly known as the Arts And Crafts School or the Painting School, operates four to six- year courses on the thirteen traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. You will be able to see students doing painting (thangkas- painted religious pictures, walls, and statues to the decorations on furniture and window-frames), embroidery (hangings, boots, clothes) or clay arts (religious statues, pottery), wood carving (masks, statues).
In the later afternoon we visit the Tashichho Dzong, fortress of The Glorious Religion. It has been the seat of the government since 1952, after the Third King, His Majesty Jigme Dorje Wangchuck made this dzong to be a symbol of the new capital of Bhutan. It houses secretariat building, the throne room of His Majesty, the King and various government offices. It is also the summer residence of Chief Abbot and central monk body.
Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
Day 03: Discover Thimphu
Today we will hike to the Cheri Goemba, located on a hillside north of Thimphu valley. It was the first monastery of Bhutan established in 1620 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of the Bhutanese state. This place was first visited by Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century. In 13th century Phajo Drugom Zhigpo, the Tibetan Lama who first established the Drukpa Kagyu tradition in Bhutan visited here.
After 40 minute drive from the town, the drive ends at a covered bridge that crosses the river, then we start to hike to Cheri Goemba. The hike is through the forest of blue pine and fir and rhododendron trees. On the way, sometimes you might spot goral (wild goat) jumping around the cliffs nearby. It will take about 2 hours to hike.
Then we visit the Buddha Point, a massive statue of Shakyamuni Buddha measures in at a height of 51,5 meters is located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park .You can pay your obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha, the largest statue in Bhutan and then walk around to enjoy the great view of Thimphu valley
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Day 04: Thimphu to Gangtey
- Altitude in Gangtey: 2900m
- Distance: 160km
- Estimated time: 6hrs
Today we will drive to Gangtey. On the way we stop and take a short hike to the Hongtsho Goemba, a monastery built in 1525 by Lam Ngawang Chogyal, the older brother of Drukpa Kuenlay. The trail leads up passing farm lands Apple orchards, potato fields, and vegetable gardens. The Hungtsho Goemba stands overlooking the village below and serves as the Buddhist community centre.
Afterwards we continue to drive and stop at Dochula pass for a hot drink and enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the Eastern Himalaya ranges. Dochula pass is high on top of a mountain, overlooking the Himalayas with 108 chortens (stupas) known as “Druk Wangyal Chortens” and Druk Wangyal Lhakhang, built in memory of Bhutanese sol-diers killed in the 2003 battle against Assamese insurgents from India. The Queen Mother, Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, commissioned the monument after the Fourth King, His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck was victorious in the struggle to dislodge the rebels who were using Bhutan as a base to raid India. Continue on the highway follows the scenic Dang Chhu before climbing through forests of bamboo and oak.
Overnight at the hotel in Gangtey
Day 05: Gangtey sightseeing
In the morning, we will visit the Gangtey Goemba, the only Nyingmapa monastery in this region, sits at the head of Gangtey valley.
Then we take the Gangtey Nature walk. This pleasurable walk will give you a great feel of Phobjikha valley and takes you 2 hours. From the small hilltop overlooking Gangtey Goemba, you head downhill through flower meadows to Semchubara village, then through forests of blue trees and into the open valley. The trail ends at the local community school after passing a chorten and Khewa Lhakhang. If you come here in winter, from later October to the end of February you can see the black necked Cranes. We also visit Black-Necked Crane Information Centre which has informative displays about the black-necked cranes and the valley environment.
After lunch, we drive 40 minutes from Phobjikha valley to Longtey village. Longtey hike start by walking downwards following the trail to the right of the road and will take 4 hours. The trail will lead through bush bamboo towards a small cluster of village houses. There are beautifully colored rhododendron forests on both sides of the valley, and in the winter months, yaks graze in the area. Continue straight through the village upwards until you reach the start of mystifying old growth rhododendron forest. Enjoy the impressive view of the Gangtey Goemba, The Shedra, the lodge and the rest of the valley when you reach at the last trail.
Overnight at the hotel in Gangtey
Day 06: Gangtey to Punakha
- Altitude in Punakha: 1300m
- Distance: 74km
- Estimated time: 3hrs
After breakfast we drive to Punakha. On arrival in Punakha, we visit the Punakha Dzong, “Palace of Great Happiness”. It is an imposing structure and was built in 1637 at the confluence of two rivers, the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu. It served as the capital and seat of government until the early 1950s. The dzong is still the winter residence of the monk body.
After lunch we take a hike to the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, stands majestically on a strategic ridge above the Punakha valley. After crossing a suspension bridge, it is a pleasant hike through beautiful fields of rice and pine trees. It takes about an hour from the road point to hike up to the temple, and 30 minutes downhill.
In the evening we will take a walk to explore Punakha village located right on the bank of river.
Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 07: Punakha to Paro
In the morning we head to the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang, a temple plus nunnery perched on a ridge overlooking the valleys of Punakha and Wangduephodrang, comprises a double storied temple, a chorten resembling Nepal’s boudhanath stupa and a nunnery complex.
On the way back to Paro, we will take a pleasant hike to across hillock fields to the Chimi Lhakhang, the temple of Fertility and built in the 15th century by Lama Drukpa Kuenley –“Divine Madman”.
Then we visit the Simtokha Dzong, one of the oldest fortresses in Bhutan, built in 1629 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. The dzong houses statues and paintings of various Buddhas, deities and religious figures including The Eight Manifestations of Guru Rinpoche, Jampelyang the Bodhisattava of Wisdom, Shakya Gyalpo the Buddha of Compassion and others.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 08: Discover Paro
In the morning, you can start your culture tour of Paro valley by visiting the National Museum of Bhutan (Ta Dzong), originally built as watchtower around 1649. It is on top of the hill above Rinpung Dzong to defend Paro Rinpung Dzong and Paro valley during times of war, in an unusual circular construction resembling a conch shell. This dzong was converted into the National museum of Bhutan in 1968. The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons and armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.
Then we visit the impressive Paro Rinpung Dzong, meaning the fortress of The Heap of Jewels, is one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. It was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal between 1642 and 1646. This dzong now houses monk body and administrative offices of Paro and is symbolic as the religious and secular center of all affairs of the valley. Along the wooden galleries lining the inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore such as four friends, the old man of long life, the wheel of life, scenes from the life of Milarepa, Mount. Sumeru and other cosmic Mandala.
Next we head to the Sangay Handmade Bowl and Cup Factory, nearby Paro Rinpung Dzong. You will see demonstration of traditional wood turning skills by local artisans who make traditional wooden bowls and cups. It calls Shagzo – the art of wood turning, one of thirteen traditional Bhutanese arts. You can try your hand as well if you wish.
On the way back the hotel, we visit The Dungtse Lhakhang was built in 1421 by famous Tibetan lama, Thangtong Gyalpo (1385-1464). This temple is remarkable primarily because it is in the form of a Chorten, one of the very few which exist in Bhutan, is conceived as a mandala, with the different storeys (three floors) corresponding to the different levels of initiation, leading progressively upwards towards the heart of the mandala.
In the evening an explorative walk around main streets and market at Paro town.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 09: Paro sightseeing
Today we take a hike to the Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest. It is one of the most holy sites in Bhutan, clings to a cliff more than 3000 metres above sea level and 900 metres above The Paro valley floor. The legend says that Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) arrived here on the back of a tigress in the 8th century. Subsequently, he meditated here for three months. Every Bhutanese person is expected to complete the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. You will have lunch at Taktshang cafeteria from where you get a spectacular view of the monastery.
After the hike we will visit the Drukgyel Dzong, was a fortress and monastery, built in 1647 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal(Zhabdrung Rinpoche), to commemorate his victory over an invasion from Tibet in 1644. In the early 1950s, Drukgyal Dzong was almost completely destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt and reinstated in 2016. From here you also see snowy peak of sacred Mount Jomolhari. It is second highest mountain (7,134metres) above sea level in Bhutan. This mountain marks the frontier with Tibet.
Afterwards we visit the Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built in The Himalayas by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. This temples marks the introduction of Buddhism in Bhutan. In the 8th century the temple was visited by Guru Padmasambhava.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 10: Depart Paro
After early breakfast at the hotel, your guide will accompany you to the airport for flight to your onward destination. Tashi Delek (goodbye and good luck) and hope to see you again.
- Single traveler: US$ 2,617 per person
- Group of 2 people: US$ 2,527 per person
- Group of 3 people: US$ 2,257 per person
OFF PEAK SEASON
- Single traveler: US$ 2,167 per person
- Group of 2 people: US$ 2,077 per person
- Group of 3 people: US$ 1,807 per person
- If you are planning to travel Bhutan with a group of 4 people and more, please feel free to contact us to get the cost for your group.
|The cost includes||The cost excludes|
|Bhutan visa fee.||Laundry/beverages/telephone calls and any personal expenses.|
|3 star categories hotel/resort twin sharing room.||Travel insurance.|
|Accommodation in the best 3 star hotels/resorts in Bhutan.||Airfares.|
|All meals in day.||Airport taxes if any.|
|Bottled water on the trip.||Excess baggage charge.|
|A sustainable development fee.||Tips to guides and drivers.|
|Museum fees and other special entry fees.||Services not mentioned.|
|Internal transportation with experienced driver throughout the trip.|
|Sightseeing as per itinerary with English speaking guide.|