10 Days Bhutan Western and Cultural Tour

Paro - Thimphu - Punakha - Trongsa - Bumthang - Wangdi Phodrang - Paro - Taktsang - Paro

From USD p.p

This 10-day Bhutan western and cultural tour provides a rare chance for you to explore the little known regions across this Himalayan country. Besides the popular destinations of Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, you will also get off-the-beaten-track to discover the hidden beauty of central Bhutan, in Trongsa, Bhumthang and Wangdi Phodrang. The itinerary will let you see ancient Buddhist temples and heritage sites in each place, experience grand celebration of Tsechu Festival in Thimphu, take in the fascinating landscape of Phobjikha Valley, trek to the world-famous Taktsang Monastery and explore the scared Bhumthang Valley.

From Paro to Thimphu, you will first start your trip by participating in the Thimphu Tsechu Festival and visiting the famous cultural sites in the capital city. Then, you will head to Punakha via Dochu La Pass, and visit the noted Punakha Dzong. As you travel to Trongsa, you will visit Phobjikha Valley and Gangtey Monastery. Moving eastwards, you will head to Bumthang and tour the famous attractions there, like Jakar Dzong, Jampey lhakang, Chakhar Lhakhang etc. After that, you will drive the way to Wangdi phodrang, and then back to Paro. The last highlight of this trip will be the trek to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, one of the most sacred sites in Bhutan standing high above the cliff, providing an awe-inspiring view that you should never forget.

Itinerary Day by Day

Day1 Arrive in Paro; Transfer to Thimphu

When you arrive in Paro International Airport, your tour guide will meet you at the airport and transfer you to the hotel in Thimphu. It takes about 2 hours to reach Thimphu. The rest of the day is for you to take a rest in the hotel or stroll around.

Stay overnight in Thimphu.

Day2 Thimphu Sightseeing: Tsechu Festival in Tashichho Dzong, National Memorial Chorten, Changangkha Lhakhang

In the morning, you will head to visit Tashichho Dzong, the famous Buddhist monastery in Bhutan, located on the west bank of the Wangchu River. You will watch the Grand Festivities in Tashichho Dzong - Tsechu Festival, the annual religious Bhutanese festivals held on the tenth day of a month of the lunar Tibetan calendar. During the celebration of Tsechus, you will enjoy the brilliant Cham Dance, a religious mask dance, and see the unfolding of the giant Thangka painted or embroidered religious picture.

After lunch, you will visit National Memorial Chorten (Thimphu Chorten), one of the most prominent religious structures in Bhutan, and the Changangkha Lhakhang, a beautiful old temple for you to enjoy nice and quiet moment there. You can pray inside and walk around the stupas, as well as take in the enchanting view of Thimphu city and the lush green mountains.

Stay overnight in Thimphu.

Day3 Thimphu to Punakha: Dochu La Pass, Punakha Dzong

In the morning, you will drive to Punakha from Thimphu. On the road, you will pass Dochu La Pass (3100m), where you can see the 108 memorial chortens. Known as "Druk Wangyal Chortens", these chortens have been built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the eldest Queen Mother.

After arriving in Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan, you will pay a visit to the famous Punakha Dzong, which is also known as Pungtang Dewa chhenbi Phodrang. It is noteworthy both for being one of the most beautiful Dzongs in Bhutan and also for having been built by the first Shabdrung in 1636.

Stay overnight in Punakha.

Day4 Punakha to Trongsa via Gangtey: Phobjikha Valley, Gangtey Monastery

Today we will depart for central Bhutan through the tropical vegetation to Trongsa. Throughout your trip you will come across the beautiful sceneries of rural Bhutan, with scattered settlements far from the road. We drive about an hour towards Pelela Pass and retrace our steps and take a road that heads to Gangtey Monastery over Tashi La pass, and then descend about an hour to Phobjikha Valley.

The Phobjikha Valley is one of the most beautiful destinations in Bhutan, and the chosen home for Black Neck Cranes Which migrate from the central Asiatic Plateau to escape its harsh winters. While exploring the valley, you will also visit the Gangtey Monastery, the only Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan, ideally located on a hill overlooking the valley.

After visiting the monastery we drive back over the Pelela pass, and descend through the open meadows and valley of yak herders and several villages via Chendeji Chorten built in a form of Nepalese style in 15th century. We will drive for another 2 hours passing through several villages like Tsangkha, Tashicholing, before reaching Trongsa.

Stay overnight in Trongsa.

Day5 Trongsa to Bumthang: Trongsa Dzong

After breakfast, we will visit one of the most beautiful Dzongs (forts) of Bhutan, Trongsa Dzong which is built on hill overlooking the Mangde Chhu Valley. The temple was first established at the location in 1543 by the Drukpa lama, Ngagi Wangchuk son of Ngawang Chhojey.

In the afternoon, we will drive to Yotong La Pass (3425m) and then slowly descend to Zungney, passing through fir, blue pine and bamboo forests, before reaching Bumthang. Upon your arrival, you can have a good rest in the hotel.

Stay overnight in Bumthang.

Day6 Bumthang Sightseeing: Jakar Dzong, Jampey Lhakang, Chakhar Lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang

Today, you will enjoy the sightseeing in Bumthang. Bumthang is one of the most beautiful and sacred valleys in Bhutan. The main town in the valley is Jakar. You will first Jakar Dzong, also called the “Castle of the White Bird”, which dominates the Chamkhar valley and overlooks the town. Constructed in 1549, by the Tibetan Lam Nagi Wangchuk, the Dzong played an important role as the fortress of defense of the whole eastern Dzongkhags. It also became the seat of the first king of Bhutan.

Then you will also pay a visit to the Jampey Lhakang, Chakhar Lhakhang and Kurjey Lhakhang. Jampey Lhakhang is said to be one of the 108 temples built by the Tibetan King Srongtsen Gampo in 659 AD. The Chakhar Lhakhang is the site of the palace of the Indian king Sendha Gyab, better known as the Sindhu Raja, who first invited Guru Rinpoche to Bumthang. And the Kurjey Lhakhang is a large, active and important temple complex named after the body print of Guru Rinpoche, which is preserved in a cave inside the oldest of the three buildings that make up the temple complex.

Stay overnight in Bumthang.

Day7 Bumthang to Wangdi Phodrang

Today, you will drive from Bumthang to Wangdi Phodrang (Wangdue). It will be a long drive of 7 to 8 hours. After arriving, you can visit the Wangdi Phodrang Dzong, if time permits.

Stay overnight in Wangdi Phodrang.

Day8 Wangdi Phodrang to Paro: Paro Dzong, Drukgyel Dzong

Today we will drive along the winding mountain road to Paro. It will take about 4 hours to complete this short road trip.

In the afternoon, you will visit the Paro Dzong, commonly known as Rinchen Pung Dzong or Ringpung Dzong in short. Paro Dzong is regarded as one of the finest Bhutanese architecture. In 1968 it was renovated as the home of the National Museum of Bhutan. Above the Dzong there is a seven-storied the watchtower fortress built in 1649.

Then you will drive to visit the Drukgyel Dzong, which is built in a location that was chosen for its control over the route to Tibet. A spectacular view of Mount Jumolhari (7314m) can be seen from here.

Stay overnight in Paro.

Day9 Trek from Paro to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest Monastery)

Today, you will trek from Paro Valley to Taktsang Monastery, which is commonly known as Tiger's Nest. Standing 3000 meters high on the cliff, it is one of the most sacred sites in Bhutan. It is said that the Guru Rinpoche once flew here from Tibet on the back of a tigress.

The trekking to Taktsang is a challenging one and you can choose to reach there by walking or horseback. Starting with a gentle forest climb, you will pass a creek and some prayer wheels, as the trail gets steeper and steeper.

On the way, there is a nice tea house where you have a short rest and have a great view of the monastery. As you continue your trek, you will climb to the viewing point which is the best place to take photos of Taktsang. After that, the trail goes down until you make it to the entrance. Please note that you will be required to leave your backpacks, phones and cameras during the visit.

After visiting the monastery, trek down the mountain and head back to Paro.

Stay overnight in Paro.

Day10 Depart from Paro

Today, the guide will transfer you to the airport, then you can take your flight home or your next destination.

Service Inclusion

  1. Domestic train/flight tickets as indicated in the itinerary
  2. All lodging listed in the itinerary
  3. Meals listed in itinerary
  4. Entrance fees of all tourist sites listed in the itinerary
  5. Local Tour Transfers according to group size
  6. Local English-speaking guide
  7. Government tax and travel agency service

Service Exclusion

  1. Bhutan visa
  2. International flight to and out of Bhutan (We can provide you the Bhutan flight ticket booking service; please contact us for the details)
  3. Domestic flight/train not listed in the itinerary
  4. Meals not specified the itinerary
  5. Tips and gratitude to tour guide and drive
  6. Personal expenses, like laundry, phone call, snacks, soft drinks, optional tour activities, etc.

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