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– 11 days/ 10 nights
Tour destination – Paro, Thimphu, Gangtey, Bumthang, and Punakha.
Tour overview – Hidden in the Himalayan range, surrounded by layers of cloud, Bhutan welcomes visitors to the country with its pristine nature and stunning landscapes. This tour will take you to five destinations of Bhutan – Thimphu, Gangtey, Bumthang, Punakha and Paro valley. While Thimphu is the capital city, Bumthang is called Switzerland of Asia for its attractiveness with tourists. Ura valley in Bumthang is one of the most beautiful valleys of Bhutan. You will visit Bhutan’s Dzongs with their distinctive architecture, some of which are enormous, and are used partly as a place for Buddhism practice. Trips to sacred like Tiger’s Nest and Mebar Tsho – The Flaming Lake are an important part of the tour to let you learn more about the history, tales and life in Bhutan
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.
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 hear is view of Tashicho Dzong, Buddha statue and Thimphu valley.
In the late afternoon, 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, a 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 late afternoon 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: Thimphu to Gangtey
- Altitude in Gangtey: 2900m
- Distance: 160km
- Estimated time: 6hrs
In the early morning we drive to Gangtey. On the way we will 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.
After lunch, we will visit the Gangtey Goemba, the only Nyingmapa monastery in this region, sits at the head of Gangtey valley and take a walk to Phobjikha valley.
Overnight at the hotel in Gangtey.
Day 04: Gangtey to Bumthang
- Altitude in Gangtey: 2800m
- Distance: 158km
- Estimated time: 6hrs
In the morning we drive to Bumthang. On the way we visit the Trongsa Dzong, the most spectacularly sited dzong in Bhutan, high above the roaring Mangde Chhu with a sheer drop to the south that often just disappears into cloud and mist. Then head to the Ta Dzong, which was once a watchtower which guarded the Trongsa Dzong from internal rebellion. This magnificent watch tower sits on a spur overlooking the Trongsa Dzong and has now been converted into a state-of-the Art Museum (National Museum).
The trip will be continued at Yathra factory, a very popular weaving center in Chumey valley (Bumthang)
Overnight at the hotel in Bumthang.
Day 05: Discover Bumthang
After breakfast we will drive to the Jambay Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Goenpo in the 7 century throughout Tibet and the Himalayas overcome a giant demonen. Like Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro, the temple is one of the two of the 108 built in Bhutan. Legend says that Guru Rinpoche visited the site several times and deemed it exceptionally sacred. From here we take a walk to the Kurjey Lhakhang where Guru Rinpoche meditated here, subdued demonen and left his body imprint on a rock.
After having lunch at farmhouse, we drive to the Lamey Goemba and take a short hike from there. The hike takes approximately around 2hrs. It is a very gentle hike through blue pine trees, and ends in Rinchenling village which is located approximately 15 minute away from town.
Overnight at the hotel in Bumthang
Day 06: Bumthang sightseeing
In the morning we head to the Mebar Tsho – The Flaming Lake which located along the way to the Tang village over the feeder road under Bumthang valley. It takes approximately thirty minute drive to the Mebar Tsho from Chamkhar town. Mebar Tsho is considered one of the most sacred sites in the region as it is related to the renowned religious treasure reveler (Terton) Terton Pema Lingpa. Pema Lingpa is considered an incarnated disciple of Padmasambhava who discovered treasure within the lake in late 15th century. Nowadays is a sacred pilgrimage site for the Bhutanese with bright multicolored prayer flags surrounding it and a small altar dedicated to Terton Pema Lingpa has also been set up. On auspicious day people offer butter lamps at the lake.
Then we will drive to Ura valley, visit one of the most interesting villages in Bhutan and highest among the valleys in Bumthang. There are around 40 clustered whitewashed houses along cobblestone streets. We will take around 2 hours to explore village lifestyle and learn about history and culture of this village. Frist we drive about 2 hours to Shelthang La pass and start to hike from here. The trail is downhill. Scenery turned more alpine as we descended into the valley. The trail meanders slowly down through meadows with a clear view of the village the whole way. On the way you will visit a temple. You will see a huge statue of Guru Rinpoche and beautiful frescoes. From here, walk through the small village towards the local secondary school and get a feel of the village atmosphere.
Overnight at the hotel in Bumthang.
Day 07: Bumthang to Punakha
- Altitude in Punakha: 1300m
- Distance: 212km
- Estimated time: 8hrs
Today after breakfast we will drive to Punakha valley with sightseeing en-route. We will stop at certain places for tea/refreshments and drive slowly towards Punakha valley.
Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.
Day 08: Punakha to Paro
After breakfast, we visit 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.
Afterwards we head to 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.
On the way returning to Paro, we take a pleasant hike to across hillock fields to Chimi Lhakhang, the Temple of Fertility and built in the 15th century by Lama Drukpa Kuenley –“Divine Madman”.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 09: Paro sightseeing
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.
Afterwards we visit 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 we take an explorative stroll around main streets and market at Paro town.
Overnight at the hotel in Paro
Day 10: 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.
On the way, 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.
Then we head to 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 11: 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$ 2,874 per person
- Group of 2 people: US$2,774 per person
- Group of 3 people: US$ 2,474 per person
OFF PEAK SEASON
- Single traveler: US$ 2,374 per person
- Group of 2 people: US$ 2,274 per person
- Group of 3 people: US$ 1,974 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.|