Bhutan is the land of the Thunder Dragon. Totally surrounded by the incredibly beautiful eastern Himalayas, its dense green valleys and white snowcapped peaks are some of the most spectacular places to visit on this earth. It is a land of ancient culture that is still practiced today.
Here you will see villagers wearing their traditional national costumes every day as they work in the terraced fields. There are high mountain passes that your private vehicle will take you over as you gaze in amazement at the mountain peaks which pierce the cobalt blue skies.
This trip will take you to the ancestral home of the Bhutanese Royal Family in the east-central part of the country. The Bumthang Valley is considered the spiritual heartland of Bhutan and its many temples and monasteries is a perfect place to pilgrimages by either walking or driving.
This 10 Day Cultural Tour to Bumthang is a wonderful tour of the land of the Thunder Dragon. Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition is pleased to be able to offer you this wonderful opportunity to visit the land of Bhutan. While only a limited number of visitors are allowed to enter each year, we are one of the specialist companies who have a very strong working relationship with the government and businesses of this beautiful country. Visitors are limited by the government in order to preserve its unique culture. So visiting here is a privilege as well as a wonderful opportunity.
DAY 1 – Arrival at Paro International Airport, transfer to your hotel.
DAY 2 – Sightseeing in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.
DAY 3 – Drive to Punakha.
DAY 4 – Drive to Bumthang
DAY 5 – Sightseeing in Bumthang
DAY 6 – Drive to Gangtey elev. 2900 m)
DAY 7 – Drive to Paro
DAY 8 – Visit Paro Rinpung Dzong
DAY 9 – Walk to The Tiger's Nest
DAY 10 – Departure
DAY 1 – Arrival in Paro, Bhutan (elev. 2280 m): Your arrival at Bhutan's only airport just outside of the city of Paro is a great introduction to this unique and remote country. You will be met by your guide and taken to your hotel which is about a one hour journey as you make your way to the capital city of Thimphu. The capital sits at an elevation of 2320 meters, and even takes a short stop on the way at Tamchhog Lhakhang, the hereditary place of worship for Bhutan's iron bridge builders. Check into your hotel and then take an easy stroll around the city with its busy shops and bazaars.
DAY 2 – Thimphu Sightseeing: Thimphu is a combination of modern and culture. The hotels here are very modern and enjoyable, yet on the streets you will find yourself being quickly immersed in the local culture of Bhutan. We will be visiting the weekly market where an amazing assortment of items is sold. There is the revered Memorial Chhorten along with the national library and the School of Traditional Arts. On top of the hill is Changangkha Temple where devotees will walk to and circumnavigate around it as well as turn prayer wheels in keeping with the Buddhist faith. You will have a chance to learn more about the culture in the Folk Heritage Museum as well as enjoy scenic overlooks of the city, the valley and the mountains. It will be a full day before returning to your hotel for dinner and to spend the night at your hotel.
DAY 3 – Travel to Punakha (elev. 1250 m): It is a three hour trip by private vehicle to the old capital city of Punakha. We climb up Dochu La Pass at 3050 meters, and then we drop down to the Punakha Valley which is at 1250 meters. We will visit The Palace of Great Happiness (Punakha Dzong) which was built in 1637. It was built at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Po Chu Rivers. We will take an hour walk across the terraced fields to the Temple of Fertility (Chimi Lhakhang) that dates back to the 15th century. This temple was established by Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who is affectionately known as The Divine Madman. Couples seeking to have children will come here to pray. We will spend the night in Punakha.
DAY 4 – Travel to Bumthang: Bumthang is one of the most wonderful areas of east-central Bhutan. It is not only the ancestral home of the Bhutanese Royal Family, it also contains some of the most spectacular scenery with its high valleys and rich farmland. We enter the Valley at Trongsa at 2180 meters and proceed eastward along roads that feature many switchbacks as they rise and descend along these mountain roads. There is a newly opened museum at the Ta Dzong (watchtower) dedicated to the history of the Wangchuk Dynasty that shares the story of the Royal Family. It is a 2 ½ hour drive from Trongsa to Bumthang as we cross elevations of 2580 to 3100 meters. We will spend the night in Bumthang.
DAY 5 – Sightseeing in Bumthang: Considered the spiritual heartland of Bhutan, it is really four beautiful valleys: Chokhor, Tang, Ura and Chhume. You have your choice of either a walking or driving tour as you visit such sacred sites as Jamba Lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang along with Tamshing Lhakhang. There will also be a visit to the sacred lake of Membar Tsho, which means The Flaming Lake. The largest ancient fortress of Jakar Dzong sits in a very picturesque location, overlooking the Chokhor Valley. We will also visit the valley's famous Swiss Cheese factory and dairy farm. We will spend one more night in Bumthang.
DAY 6 – Drive to Gangtey (2900 m): It is a 5 – 6 hour journey to Gangtey where we will pass through numerous picturesque valleys as we reach the remote Phobjikha Valley in the midst of Black Mountain Range. Here we will find one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan as well as traditional rural life. Every year in November, hundreds of black-necked cranes come to winter here after spending their summers in the high Tibetan plateau. We will overnight in Gangtey.
DAY 7 – Return to Paro: We return to Paro, but by way of the picturesque city of Wangdi (also known as Wangdue Phodrang) which was originally considered Bhutan's secondary capital. We will stop for lunch here and then arrive in Paro to check into our hotel.
DAY 8 – Paro: We will explore this wonderful city on the western end of Bhutan. Our visit today will include the Paro Rinpung Dzong, one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. There will be a visit to the National Museum as well as seeing ancient watch towers (Dzongs) that served to defend the valley from invading Tibetans in past centuries. There is no fear of any invasion from Tibet today, but there is a history of wars with what are now our friends to the north. There is the ruin of the Fortress of Victory (Drugyal Dzong) that was built in 1644 to commemorate the victory over the invading Tibetans. There will also be a visit to the Kychu Lhakhang, a temple that dates back to the 7th Century.
DAY 9 – Walk to The Tiger's Nest: We definitely saved the best for last. The most famous picture of Bhutan usually shows this incredible monastery that literally hangs off the side of the cliff. It is said that the famed Buddhist lama and guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress in order to meditate in the caves on this cliff. Located 900 meters above the Paro Valley floor, it offers a spectacular view of the valley and surrounding mountains. We will lunch here at Taktshang Cafeteria which not only has a good lunch, but offers the perfect photo-op of The Tiger's Nest. This place is considered one of Bhutan's most holy sites and draws pilgrims from around the world. We will return to our hotel for the night.
DAY 10 – Final Departure: All good things must come to an end and your visit to Bhutan is no exception. In the early morning, your guide will accompany you to the airport to catch your flight as he wishes you Tashi Delek (Goodbye and good luck). This has been a wonderful time and we at Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition are pleased to be able to offer many different and wonderful adventures into the Himalayas. Be sure to talk with your representative at Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition about these other wonderful places to visit.
Your safety is of paramount importance while traveling with Swiss Nepal Family Trekking & Expedition. Please note that your leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Every effort will be made to keep to the above itinerary; however, since this adventure entails traveling to remote mountainous regions, we cannot guarantee that we will not be forced to make last minute changes due to Weather conditions, health conditions of a group member, unexpected natural disasters, etc. The team leader will do everything possible to ensure that the trip runs according to plan. Be prepared for any last minute changes. The Himalayas are a big and wild place.
All hotels in Bhutan are approved and categorized by the government as Grade A, Grade B and Grade C Hotels. If you compare these government approved hotels, they are equivalent to 3-4 star hotels elsewhere. A Grade Hotels will be provided in Paro and Thimphu based on availability at the time of booking your trip. We provide you the best hotel in Thimphu. Our accommodations during the trek will be camping (tents). All accommodations are on a twin-sharing basis. If you need single supplement, you will be charged an additional fee.
Different varieties of meals are available at most hotels such as popular Indian, Chinese, and Continental foods. In most parts of Bhutan, non-vegetarian dishes are available such as beef, pork chicken and fish. We recommend you to ask the hotel and restaurant to offer what is fresh and seasonal. Our company however will send you wide assortment of foods during the actual trekking days. According to our plan, we provide three meals a day: breakfast, hot picnic lunch on the way and dinner at the campsite with evening tea and snacks. Swiss Nepal Family Trekking Expedition has well-trained cooks and can whip up delicious meals at any attitude. We request you to let our company know prior to the trip if any special dietary needs are required.