Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon, Kingdom of Happiness. The Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan lies along the lofty ridges of the eastern Himalayas, bordered by China (Tibet) to the north and northwest, and by the Indian states in the south and west respectively. Opened for tourism in 1974, Bhutan is perhaps the world’s most exclusive tourist destination. The country still retains all the charm of the old world, and travelers experience the full glory of this ancient land as embodied in the monastic fortresses, ancient temples, monasteries and stupas which dot the countryside, prayer flags fluttering above farmhouses and on the hillsides, lush forests, rushing glacial rivers, and – perhaps most important of all – the warm smiles and genuine friendliness of the people.
Our Bhutan tour officially comes to an end in Delhi, India.
To round off this wondeful journey, we have put together an optional extension that includes several amazing locations:
You can find more details below in the Itinerary section.
Extension: Agra - Taj Mahal - Mathura
Duration: 5 days / 4 nights
Price: US$ 1499
Single Supplement: US$ 200
If you're interested in coming with us on this extension, please make a note during registration.
Main Tour (tap to jump):
Paro – Thimpu – Punakha – Phobjhikha – Bumthang – Mongar - Trasigang – Samdrup Jonkhar – Guwahati - Delhi
Optional Extension: Delhi – Agra – Mathura (see below)
The flight to Paro on a clear day is one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights. One can see Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu and other peaks in Bhutan such as Chomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsering gang. The first gift from Bhutan will be cool, clean fresh air as you step out of the aircraft. On arrival at Paro airport, received by our representative and transfer to Paro. On a festival day you can explore the Paro Thechu ground for unique photography experience.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel at Paro.
Clinging precariously to a sheer rock cliff overlooking the Paro Valley approximately 3000 feet below is a cluster of four temples, eight caves, and several buildings that make up Bhutan’s most famous monastery, Paro Taktshang, or Tiger’s Nest Monastery. For tourists, no tour or visit to Bhutan is truly complete without a trip to this iconic religious site.
Taktshang : 1300 Years of History
Legend has it Guru Rinpoche, flew to Taktshang back in 8 th Century AD on the back of a pregnant tigress, the manifestation of the Guru’s consort, Yeshi Tshogyel. For three months, three days and three hours, Guru Rinpoche meditated in what is today called as the Taktshang Sengye Cave, before emerging in eight different incarnations. A staute of Guru Dorje Drolo guards the entrance to the cave. Over the centuries, famous Tibetan saints came to meditate at Tiger’s Nest Monastery including Milerapa, Thangthong Gyalpo ( Bhutan’s Iron Bridge Builder), and the Terton Pema Lingpa. Consturction of monastery began in 1630s. During 1644-46 war with Tibet, the Zhabdrung prayed to Guru Rinpoche for success. Upon victory, he wanted to build the temple to honor the Guru at Taktshang. The monastery was finally completed in 1692.
Lunch at the Cafeteria on your way back.
In the afternoon you can also explore the festival in Paro.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Paro.
After breakfast proceed for afternoon sightseeing: It includes visit to Kichu Lhakhang or Kichu Temple. It is located short distance north of Paro town. It is one of the oldest and the most beautiful temples. The temple is popularly believed to have been built in 659 AD by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet, to pin down ‘the left foot of the supine Ogress’, which was thwarting the establishment of Buddhism in Himalayas. Kichu is said to be one of the main 12 temples of the 108 temples that were built overnight across Tibet and borderlands. The temple was adopted by different sects and many important Buddhists teachers spent time here and unearthed concealed teachings (tertons). The inner hall of the main Jowo Lhakhang shrine conceals the original 7 th Century Jowo Jamba Statue. Its central image of Jowo Jamba is flanked by eight standing bodhisattvas and by the statue of Zhabdrung and Guru Rinpoche.
Later visit the National Museum of Bhutan. Perched above Paro Dzong is its Ta Dzong ( watchtower),built in 1649 to house the National Museum. The unusual round building is said to be in the shape of a conch shell, with 2.5m-thick walls. The Ta Dzong suffered damage in the 2011 earthquake but is due to reopen . Until then a sample of the exhibits are currently on display in an adjacent annexe. After lunch we drive to Thimpu. Enroute we stop on the Tamchog Lhakhang and Traditional bridge for a photo stop and then again we stop at Chuzom Confluence of 2 rivers to have another brief photo stop.
Proceed to Thimphu and check in at Hotel.
Dinner and overnight at your hotel at Thimphu.
Thimphu sightseeing will include the visit to Simtokha Dzong, one of the oldest fortresses of the country which now houses the School for religious and cultural studies. Later Explore the art of weaving and the country’s rich textile heritage at Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan, a modern building combining Bhutanese traditional design. Established in 2005, the academy features a museum detailing the national art of weaving. Admire royal robes worn at a wedding by a king and his four wives, or watch the video demonstrating how to put o the gho and kira, traditional Bhutanese garments. You can also view jewelry, kettles, crowns, and armory donated by the royal family.
We will have lunch at the local restaurant with typical Bhutanese red rice and curry.
Later we will take you to visit the Nunnuery, which is called as Thangthong Dewachen Nunnery. It is a Buddhist monastery located located in Zilukha. Thimphu overlooking Tasshichhodzong and is a few minutes drive from the town. It is popularly known as the Zilukha Anim Dratshang . It was built in 1976 ny 16 th emanation of Thangthong Gyalpo, Drubthob Rikey Jadrel. Currently, The nunnery is home to about 60 nuns. Later in the evening visit the J ungshi Handmade Paper Factory. This small factory produces traditional Bhutanese paper handmade from the bark of the Daphne bush. You can see the whole process, from soaking and boiling the bark to sorting, crushing,pulping, layering, pressing and drying. Products for sale here includes lovely decorated paper,as well as cards, notebooks, lampshades and calendars. Jungshi means ‘natural’.
Your final sightseeing for Thimphu includes the visit to the Tashichhodzong: The “ fortess of the Glorious Religion” , was initially built in 1641 and rebuilt by King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the 1960s. Tashichhodzong houses some ministries, His Majesty’s Secratariat, and the central monk body.
Back to the hotel for freshen up and later in the evening we will take you to a Bhutanese Restaurant for dinner. After dinner drive back to hotel and enroute see the beautiful illuminated Dzong of Thimphu from a distance. You will be able to get some perfect night shot with a tripod.
Dinner and overnight at your hotel at Thimphu.
Morning, in Thimphu visit to local farmer’s market. Then proceed to Punakha across Dochula pass (3,O8Om). In Bhutan, the passes are marked by a large Bhutanese Chorten and prayer flag. Dochula pass offers the most spectacular view over the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas on a clear day. Have lunch at the Druk Wangyel Cafeteria .
Later will be enjoying the beautiful easy hike from this location. It is called as the “ The Royal Botanical Trail”.
The Royal Botanical Trail takes you along the important religious route the clergy used since the 17 th century. They shifted their headquarters biannually between their winter residence in Thimphu and their summer residence in Punakha. The entire entourage of the central monastic institution would travel this trail on foot, taking about a week to reach each seasonal residence. The practice continues to this day, however, now the entourage travels by vehicle on Bhutan’s major Highway”.
The trail begins at Dochula Pass, near the spectacular sight of 108 stupas framed by distant Himalayan peaks. On a clear day, these include Masang gang, Table Mountain, and Tiger Mountain, which lies on the northern border with Tibet. You might be lucky enough to see rare species like musk deer and leopards are always a possibility. Speaking of big cats, the park has even recorded the presence of Bengal tigers via a camera trap.
This Royal Botanical Trail and Garden is a botanist’s dream, but you certainly don’t have to be an expert to appreciate all that is has to offer.
Dinner and overnight at your hotel at Punakha.
Today we will drive you to the base of suspension bridge from where you will begin your hike. ( Total time required is around 4-5 hours).
The first step of Jiligang hike – the off the beaten Bhutan Adventure in Punakha, western Bhutan begins from the suspension bridge over Mo chu. The female river which meanders along the valley until it meets her partner Phochu (male river) foeming a confluence below the Pumakha Fortress, Palace of Great Bliss. The breeze of the splashing glacier river and the swinging bridge will give you a prior taste of adventure in Bhutan of the beautiful hike ahead. Amongst the Himalayan river breeze to the sight of wavering paddy fields enjoy a relaxed hike through traditional Bhutanese houses replete with Bhutanese farm life.
And you can experience a unique Bhutan Holiday. Hike uphill till you reach about 1,800 meters on the hilltop through the chirpine forest.
The moderately strenuous hike is through the cool shades of pine trees and serene environment with peeping views of the Punakha Dzong and valley below. As you hike up, the aesthetic view of the meandering river and the melodic chirping of the birds will welcome you all the way. During summer,numerous species tropical birds can be spotted including the Himalayan water birds. As you climb a little higher , the view of Jiligang Monastery will wash away your weariness and a gush of newfound energy will greet you along with the warm smiles of the caretakers of the temple.
Interact and experience the hospitality of the caretaker and family at the monastery.
Have lunch at the restaurant in Khuruthang town.
Later visit the astonishing Punakha fortress.
Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the founder of Bhutanese state, built Punakha Dzong in 1637. It was originally named Punthang Dechen Phodrang Dzong, which means the Palace of Great Bliss.
Back to the hotel for freshen up.
Dinner and overnight at your hotel at Punakha.
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After breakfast drive to Gangtey ( Phobjikha) crossing Wangdiphodrang District and the Beautiful Wangdiphodrang Fortress which was severely damaged by the recent fire the reconstruction work is still going on. The position of the Fort is remarkable as it completely covers the spur and commands an impressive view over both the north-south and east- wast . Wangdue district is also famous for its bamboo work, slate & stone carving . The approach to Phobjikha valley is through a forest oak and rhododendron. Phobjikha is one of the few central Asiatic Plateau to escape it winter. Explore Phobjikha valley and also visit Gangtey monastery; the only Nyingma monastery in Western Bhutan.
Later your another beautiful Gangtey Nature Hike begins from here. The Gangtey Valley, also known as Phobjikha Valley, is a breathtaking glacial valley in mystical Bhutan.
Taking on the easy two hour trek know as the Gangtey Nature Trail is the best way to see Phobjikha Valley, a vast U – shaped valley surrounded by irregularly formed Himalayan mountain range carved by glacial activity.
The Nature Trail starts from the Gangtey Goempa and ends in Khewang Lhakhang, passing by grass planes, farm houses and dense forest of pine trees, then finally reaching reaching a vast open space of the wide and flat valley.
Dinner and overnight at your hotel at Gangtey/Phobjikha.
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Morning explore Phobjikha valley for Black Neck Crane and later drive to Bumthang across Pelela Pass ( 3,300m). This pass is traditionally considered the boundary between western and Central Bhutan. Further ahead stop en route at Chendebji Chorten, built in 18 th Century in Nepalese style.
Have lunch at Chendebji Resort.
The landscape around Trongsa is spectacular and for miles on end the Fort of Trongsa seems to tease you so that you wonder if you will ever reach it. Upon reaching Trongsa visit Trongsa Dzong, situated at the altitude of 2,200m and built in 1647 by the Zhabdrung, it is the most impressive Dzong in Bhutan. Then proceed to Bumthang, one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heartland of Buddhism, 29 Kms ahead of Trongsa cross Yutongla Pass ( 3,400m) and from here again the landscape looks different and dense forests of conifers stretches. The arrival of Bumthang begins with wide , open cultivated Chumey valley.
Dinner and Overnight at the hotel at Bumthang.
There are 2 options for this day and both are equally interesting but it is not possible to complete both the options in 1 day.
Bumthang is the general name given to a complex of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitude varying from 2,600m to 4,000m.
Day Excursion to Tang Valley.
Tang is one of the four valleys of Bumthang district and it is higher than Choskhor ( Jakar). From Jakar, following the west-east road towards Ura for about 10 Km, unpaved road on the left ( north) branches off climbing up hill, leading to narrow gorge of Tang. Almost immediately after the turn-off, there is a parking lot for short walk to Mebartsho. The road climbs above the river and reaches Drangchel village after 7 Km. Perched o a high cliff above the road, you will notice the monastic hermitage of Kunzangdrak Goemba, founded in 1488 by Pema Lingpa. This is a side excursion which takes around 2hrs of steep uphill climb. Continuing along the feeder road for about 3Km, you will pass through Jamzhong village and then after a short descent of 2Km or so, you will arrive at Mesethang with a school and few shops. Short distance away from Mesethang, is Tang Rimochen Lhankhang, located below an enormous rock. Tang Rimochen Lhakhang marks a sacred place where Guru Rinpoche meditated. A rock in front of the lhakhang has a body-print of the Guru and his two consorts. The name Tag Rimoche ( An impression of tiger’s stripes) is derived from the tiger stripes that appear on a rock cliff behind the building. The temple was founded in 14 th Century by Dorji Lingpa. After Rimochen, the road is rougher as it approaches Kizum, 3KM away. Beyond Kizum, cross the bridge over Tang Chhu river and climb up to the hill top Ugyencholing manor. At the time of print, it was not possible to drive and the walk uphill takes about 45 minutes. Ugyen Chholing Palace, was originally built by Deb Tshokey Doje, a descendant of Dorji Lingpa in 16 th Century. The present structure, including the temple, servants quarters and a massive residential building, was rebuilt after their collapse in the 1897 earthquake. The complex has been turned into a museum of sorts for religious studies, research and solitude.
Its exhibits in the main building are captioned with descriptions of the lifestyle and art works of a Bhutanese noble family. Have a picnic lunch at Tang Valley. Later in the evening drive back to Bumthang. Dinner and Overnight at the Hotel in Bumthang.
Drive to Padselling Monastery and hike downhill.
After breakfast proceed for sightseeing: It includes the drive to Padselling monastery for about 45 minutes. Here you can interact with the monks and it also offers the beautiful view of the whole of Chamkhar town. Spend some time here at the monastery and later hike downhill towards the Swiss Farm . The hike will take about 2 hours maximum downhill and it is an easy hike and at the same time you can enjoy the beautiful view of the valley.
Have lunch at the restaurant in town.
Later in the afternoon visit Kurjey Lhakhang, one of most sacred places in Bhutan as Guru Rinpoche meditated here. From Kurjey; a tarmac road heads south along the right bank of the river to the Jambay Lhakhang. Like Kichu Lhakhang in the Paro valley, this temple is said to be the first that King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet constructed in the 7 th Century. Later visit Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by the treasure discoverer , Terton Pema Lingpa. Later visit the Jakar Dzong, “ castle of white bird”. Evening take a stroll through Bumthang market area.
Dinner and overnight at the Hotel in Bumthang.
The journey continues eastwards winding through more rugged terrain. The drive with spectacular views will take about 7 hours. Pass through Ura village in Bumthang before climbing sharply to the highest motor able pass in the Kingdom, the Thrumshingla Pass- 4000m. Here we will stop for a while and try to spot some high altitude birds.
It is the prime habitat for Blood Pheasants and also holds other high altitude species like, Snow pigeons, Orange flanked Bush Robin, Golden and white-browed Bush Robin, Fire- tailed Myzornis, Spotted Nutcracker, Red- billed Chough, Fire- tailed Sunbirds, Greats Parrotbills, Stripe-throated and Rufous- vented Yuhinas, Thrush, White- collared and Grey- winged Blackbird, Rusty-falnked Treecreeper Buff-barred, Ashy throated, Blyth’s and Large-billed Leaf Warbler. Have lunch at Restaurant in Sengor.
Later we will stop at Sengor for a while and do the birding around Sengor looking for Satyr Tragopan. It is the know hotspot for Satyr Tragopan.
Proceed towards Yongkola. This is again a perfect spot for Birding. Bird species such as Bay Woodpecker, Great and Golden- throated Barbets, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Maroon Oriole, Scarlet and Grey-chinned Minivets, White-gorgeted, Little Pied, Ultramarine and Verdieter Flycatchers, Little Forktail, Black-throated Prinia, Grey-hooded, Grey- cheeked and Chestnut-crowned Wrablers and many more are spotted here. Later drive towards Mongar.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Mongar.
This trip is about 96Kms and it takes 3 hours passing through Korila Pass ( 2,450m). The place is marked by pretty chorten and a stone wall. The first part of the journey is through leafy forest filled with ferns. Here at Korila Pass, there are some prime birding habitats. We will take a short hike downhill for birding opportunities. There should be enough birds to keep you busy such as Super Skuker, Red Faced Liocichla, few species of Laughing Thrushes, Black Eagle, Oriental Cuckoo, Speckled Wood Pigeon, Brown Parrot Bill, Darjeeling Woodpecker ect.
Later drive to Tashigang, the road descends rapidly through corn fields and banana groves arriving the famous zigzags of Yadi, which is a resettlement. Have lunch at the restaurant.
After lunch drive towards Tashigang along the Gamri River until the bifurcation to Drametsi, this temple perched on the top of the steep hill was founded ny Choden Zangmo and is the most important monastery of eastern Bhutan. This is the place from wghere the famous Nag Chham, mask dance with drums originated. About
30Km onward lies Tashigang at 1000m. Tashigang is the centre of the biggest and most populated district in the country. Visit Tashigang Dzong, standing at extreme end of the spur, overhanging the Gamri River. It serves as the administrative seat for the district and part of the dzong is occupied by the Drukpa monastic community.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Tashigang.
24 KM from Tashigang, visit the temple of Gom Kora, set on a small alluvial plateau, overlooking the river. Gom Kora is a famous place where Guru Rinpoche subdued a demon. Further ahead reach Doksum village where you can see women busy in weaving traditional Bhutanese fabric and a cahin bridge dating of the 15 th Century. Visit to Trashiyangtse Dzong, situated at the altitude of 1,850m. In former times Trashiyangtse was important centre because it lies on the caraven routes leading from western and central Bhutan . The Dzong is new and near by are the Arts school and the famous chorten Kora.
Have lunch at the restaurant in Tashiyangtse.
Evening return to Tashigang.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Tashigang.
The Tashigang – Samdrup Jongkhar road was completed in 1965, and the journey down it to the Indian border takes about 6 hours. Along the way, we pass by Sherubtse College in Kanglung, which was founded in 1978 and is a degree- granting institution affiliated to the University of Delhi. We also visit the nearby Zangtho Pelri temple representing Guru Rinpoche’s paradise, built in 1978 by the late Minister of Home Affairs. We then drive on to Khaling, home of the National Institute for the Disabled and the Weaving Centre. Visits to these may be arranged by prior request only, before leaving Thimphu. From here, it is a further 80 km. to Deothang, which is remembered in history as the site of a famous 19th century battle fought during the Duar Wars, in which the forces of Jigme Namgyal defeated the British. The road then descends fairly rapidly to the plains through dense tropical forest with an abundance of teak, bamboo and ferns. Overnight at the lodge in Samdrup Jongkhar.
After breakfast, drive to Guwahati, the capital town of the Indian north-eastern state of Assam, for flight to Delhi/Calcutta or onward program in that region.
Meet our representative at airport on arrival and transfer to Hotel.
Overnight stay at Hotel.
After breakfast, drive down to Old Delhi to savour the old world charm of historic Delhi experience an unfeigned India. The chaos of the rickshaws, hand driven carts, the fast moving, jostling pedestrians all infuse it with a kind of liveliness that lends a distinct character to it, making it all the more attractive. This walled city also preserves some of the greatest monuments of the Mughal Era such as Red Fort and Jama Masjid. The Jama Masjid is located in the centre of the old city and was built by Sultan Ahmed Shah in 1423. The Red Fort on the western bank of the river Yamuna was built in red stone by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1638. Later visit The Raj Ghat where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated in 1948. Rest of the day free for shopping and local running.
Overnight at the hotel
In the morning start drive 210 Kms / 03 hrs for Agra.
Enroute we will cover Mathura – for photographing the Holy Sadhus and visit Temple of Lord Krishna.
Continue to Agra. On arrival in Agra transfer to hotel. In the afternoon visit Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is everything that has been said about it and more. Taking 22 years and 20,000 men to build, the white marble was quarried 200 miles away and was transported to the site by a fleet of 1000 elephants. Built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as an expression of his love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, in mid 17th century, the Taj Mahal is truly one of the wonders of the world. After Taj tour you will be driven to the Red Fort or Agra Fort - the seat and the stronghold of the Mughal Empire under successive generations. This was the seat of Mughal rule and administration and the present structure owes its origins to Akbar who erected the walls and gates and the first buildings on the eastern banks of Yamuna River. Shah Jehan added the impressive quarters and the mosque while Aurangzeb added the outer ramparts. Visit its Hall of Public Audience and its Royal Pavilions. Return to your hotel after your tour.
Overnight at the hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel, you will be driven from Agra to Delhi again (210 Kms / 03Hrs. We will visit Fatehpur Sikri - drive to the impressive sandstone fortress of Fatehpur Sikri. The fort was built in the 16th century and only occupied for a few years before being abandoned, leaving the buildings in virtually perfects conditions.
Drive directly to Delhi and check in at hotel. Free evening
After Breakfast we transfer you to the International Airport for you to catch your flight home.jump to top
(receive sporadic emails with workshop updates)
✔ Accommodation, full board
✔ Transport for all days
✔ Accompanied English speaking guide
✔ All entrance fees ✔ Visa fees
✔ Tax and royalty to Bhutan government ✔ On the way back: airport transfer from the Indian border to Guwahati airport and flight to Delhi
✗ International flights to Paro
✗ Drinks, spa or other personal expenses
✗ Optional tours
✗ Travel insurance
Prices are per person in a double room. Single travelers must pay single supplement: US$ 490 (Bhutan tour), the single supplement for the optional Taj Mahal extension is US$ 200
You will organise your own travel to Paro, Bhutan. We will make recommendations.
Getting to Paro is straight-forward and usually includes a lay-over in Delhi or Kathmandu. The return flight from Guwahati, India to Delhi is included. You should thus plan your return flight from Delhi. If you join our Taj Mahal extension, this will also start and end in Delhi.
Wikipedia on Bhutan
Payment for this tour will be split into two installments. To secure your spot on the tour you pay an immediate deposit payment of US$ 1000. This deposit is non-refundable. The remaining balance is due 5 months before the tour. Please read the Terms and Conditions for more details.
Author: Chris Marquardt