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13-Day Active Bhutan with Day Hikes

Active Bhutan with Day Hikes -- Trip Photo of Bhutan tour  Bhutan map

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Itinerary

Day 1 : Arrive Paro, transfer to hotel, afternoon sightseeing

Visiting: Paro

Fly into Paro to be met by your guide. The great snow-capped peaks of the inner Himalayas rise up to the heavens can be seen during clear weather. As the plane approaches Bhutan, if you look down, farmhouses as dots on the hillsides can be seen. As the aircraft enters the Paro valley, you will see Paro Dzong on the hillside overlooking the Paro Chu (river), with Ta Dzong, formerly a watchtower and now the National Museum, above it.

Your guide will take you on some local sightseeing if timing allows. Rest of the evening is at leisure.

  • Meals: D
  • Standard Lodging: Tenziling Resort
  • Luxury Lodging: Zhiwaling Resort

Day 2 : Fly to Bumthang, afternoon sightseeing and hike (10km/2hrs hiking)

Visiting: Bumthang

After breakfast at the hotel, drive to airport for your flight to Bumthang.

Upon arrival at Bumthang, drive to hotel for refreshment. Then visit the Kujey Lhakhang (Kujey means "Body imprint"). The temple to the right is the oldest and was built by Minjur Tempa in 1652. It was built around the cave in which Guru Rimpoche meditated and left his body imprint.

Visit Jakar Dzong, "castle of the white bird". According to legend, when the lamas assembled in about 1549 to select a site for a monastery, a big white bird rose suddenly in the air and settled on a spur of a hill. This was interpreted as an important omen, and the hill was chosen as the site for a monastery and for Jakar Dzong. The fortress is now used as an administrative center of the valley and summer residence of Trongsa monks.

In the afternoon, we will hike up to Thangbi Valley (10 km / 2 hours hike), crossing a suspension bridge to visit the Thangbi Lhakhang built in the 14th century via an unpaved road.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Standard Lodging: Mountain Lodge
  • Luxury Lodging: Mountain Lodge

Day 3 : Bumthang sightseeing and hike (3hrs hiking)

Visiting: Bumthang

Today we will visit Chakhar Lhakhang. Besides the main road, a short distance beyond Jambay Temple is Chakhar (Iron Castle) Lhakhang. Although it is easy to mistake it for a house and drive right by, this is an interesting temple and is worth a short visit. It is one of the 108 monasteries built by him to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region.

After lunch, hike to Petseling Monastery. It is located about three hours hiking distance above the Swiss Guesthouse on a steep incline. It offers fine panoramic views of the central Bumthang valley. You can also hike beyond the monastery across the ridge and feel the spirit of the mountains and monastery. We will then head back to the town.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Standard Lodging: Mountain Lodge
  • Luxury Lodging: Mountain Lodge

Day 4 : Tang Valley sightseeing and hike (1.5hrs hiking)

Visiting: Tang Valley

Tang is one of the four valleys of Bumthang district and it is higher than Choskhor (Jakar).

From Jakar, follow the road towards Ura for about 10km. The unpaved road on the left (north) climbing uphill, leads to a narrow gorge of Tang. The road then climbs above a river and reaches Drangchel village after about 7km.

Perched on 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 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.

At a short distance away from Mesethang, is Tang Rimochen Lhakhang, located below an enormous rock. Tang Rimochen Lhakhang marks a sacred place where Guru Rinpoche meditated. The rock in front of the Lhakhang has a body-print of the Guru and two consorts. The name Tag Rimoche (an impression of tigers stripes) is derived from the tiger stripes that appear on a rock cliff behind the building. The temple was founded in the 14th century by Dorji Lingpa. After Rimochen, the road is rougher as it approaches Kizum, 3km away. Beyond Kizum, tractor road continues to Gamling and a sheep breeding center. From Kizum, cross the bridge over Tang chu river and climb up to the hill of Ugyencholing mansion.

We will take a 45-minute walk up to Ugyen Chholing Palace, originally built by Deb Tsokye Dorje, a descendant of Dorje Lingpa in 16 century. The present structure, including the temple, servants' quarters and a massive residential building, was rebuilt after the collapse in the 1897 earthquake. The main building in the complex now features a fascinating museum offering a real insight into the lifestyle of a Bhutanese noble family. Highlights include a book of divination, a dakini dance costume made of bones.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Standard Lodging: Mountain Lodge
  • Luxury Lodging: Mountain Lodge

Day 5 : Drive to Trongsa, visit Trongsa Dzong, drive to Gangtey (135km/5-6hrs driving)

Visiting: Trongsa, Gangtey

After breakfast, drive to Trongsa. Visit the Trongsa Dzong the most impressive Dzong in the Kingdom and perched on a strategic position above the Mangde Chu (river). This Dzong is the ancestral home of Bhutan's royal family.

Also visit the Ta Dzong an ancient watch tower and Chendebji Chorten (Stupa).

Later continue drive to Gangtey.

Rest of the evening can be spent exploring the valley and visiting the locals.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Standard Lodging: Dewachen Resort
  • Luxury Lodging: Gangtey Goenpa Lodge

Day 6 : Half day hike in Jigme Singye Wangchuk National Park (4-5hrs hiking) (2hrs driving round-trip)

Visiting: Jigme Singye Wangchuk National Park

Today after breakfast, you will hike through Jigme Singye Wangchuk National Park, which is spectacular untouched territory. The hike starts with an extremely bumpy one hour drive from the end of the paved road in the lower part of the valley. The road ends in Zizi village. Here you will start your hike by crossing the river and continuing along the river on a path leading through marsh land, flat land and meadows before getting into denser forest.

The path is easy to walk as it continues without any steep climbs through breathtaking rhododendron forests, old forest vegetation, scenic waterfalls and beautiful flowers of different species. It continues further down the valley and into the National Park territory until you reach Khebaythang. You will follow the same route back and out of the Park.

Later in the evening, visit Gangtey monastery.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Standard Lodging: Dewachen Resort
  • Luxury Lodging: Gangtey Goenpa Lodge

Day 7 : Drive to Punakha via Wangdi, hike, visit local farmhouse and dinner with family (2hrs hiking) (78km/3hrs driving)

Visiting: Punakha

After breakfast, visit the local market at Wangdi. Then drive to Punakha. After lunch, hike to Khamsumyuley Namgyel Chhorten. This hike is through the farmer's field and then through the pine forest. The hike is about 1 hour up steep climb to visit the Kamsum Yule Namgyel Chorten, which has a temple inside. The temple offers good examples of tantric Buddhist and its philosophy. On your way back, you can take through the fields of Kabesa Village.

You will also visit the local farm house and witness the traditional lifestyle of the Bhutanese. Later you get to enjoy some home cooked dinner and interact with the family.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Standard Lodging: Punatsangchhu Cottage
  • Luxury Lodging: Dhensa Boutique

Day 8 : Punakha sightseeing (Punakha Dzong) and hike (3hrs hiking)

Visiting: Punakha

Today you have an optional early morning short drive to view the sunrise and walk back to hotel for breakfast.

After breakfast, hike up Dompala hill from the Punakha Dzong, which will take you to the Limbukha Village. Then walk across the 200m long suspension bridge with a fascinating view of Punakha Dzong, Phochu River, and Mochu River. Amidst chirpine forest and absolute fresh and natural breezes, you will reach the beautiful Limbukha village without realizing that you have climbed almost three hours uphill.

Limbukha farmers grow Bhutan's famous red rice which is supposed to have medicinal value. Limbukha is also known for its love of peace and tranquility.

In the evening, visit the Punakha Dzong, located on the island of the Pho - Chu (male) River and the Mochu (female) River. Visit the Dho Jha Gha Lam Temple.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Standard Lodging: Punatsangchhu Cottage
  • Luxury Lodging: Dhensa Boutique

Day 9 : Drive to Thimphu via Dochula Pass, hike to Divine Madman and sightseeing (National Library, Tashichho Dzong) (30min hiking) (77km/3hrs driving)

Visiting: Thimphu

After breakfast, drive to Thimphu. En route, hike to Chimi Lhakhang (30 minute hike), which is dedicated to the legendary Lama Drukpa Kinley (known as the Divine Madman). The monastery is also revered as a sanctum of fertility. Legend has it that the couples wishing to have a baby are blessed with a child after visiting the temple. Punakha, at an altitude of 1300m, was once the old capital of Bhutan and the seat of government until 1955.

Continue drive to Thimphu the crossing the Dochula Pass (3150mts). On a clear day the whole range of Eastern Himalayas can be seen from here. In the evening, visit Buddha point where visitors can get a good overview of the Thimphu valley from the Buddha point (Kuensel Phodrang). You can pay your obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha, the largest statue in the country and then walk around and take a glimpse of the valley.

Later, visit the National Library of Bhutan was first established in 1967 under the patronage of HM Queen Ashi Phuntsho Choden (1911–2003) with a small collection of precious texts. The library was initially housed within the central tower of Tashichodzong. Later, due to its growing collection, it had to move to a building in the Changgangkha area of Thimphu and memorial choten. Today the picnic lunch will be arranged at Buddha point.

Visit the Tashichho Dzong, located on the northern edge of the city of Thimpu on the western bank of the Wang chu. Tashichho Dzong is Bhutan's most stately and arguably the most impressive building. It has traditionally been the seat of the Drukdesi or "Dharma Raja", the head of Bhutan's civil government, an office which has been combined with the kingship since the creation of the monarchy in 1907, and summer capital of the country.

In the evening, you will visit a local family home and enjoy dinner with the family.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Standard Lodging: Peaceful Resort
  • Luxury Lodging: Druk Hotel

Day 10 : Thimphu sightseeing and hike (Cheri Monastery, Zilukha Nunnery) (2-3hrs hiking)

Visiting: Thimphu

After breakfast at the hotel, about an hour's drive north of Thimphu lies Cheri Monastery, the premier Buddhist academic institutions in Bhutan. The trails Cheri monastery takes about 1.5 hours uphill hike through the forest. Cheri Monastery was established in 1620 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The monastery is now a major teaching and retreat center of the Southern Drukpa Kagyu sect.

Latter, visit Drubthob Goema / Zilukha Nunnery perched on a promontory overlooking picturesque Trashichhoe Dzong. It is the only nunnery in capital known as Zilukha Anim Dratsang, once belonged to the Drubthob (Realized one) Thang Thong Gyalpo often referred to as The King of the open field (In the early 15th century with his multiple talents he popularly became the Leonardo da Vinci of the Great Himalayas). You may interact here with some of the nuns who have devoted their life to spirituality and Buddhism.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Standard Lodging: Peaceful Resort
  • Luxury Lodging: Druk Hotel

Day 11 : Drive to Paro, afternoon sightseeing

Visiting: Paro

Today we will head back to Paro valley. On arrival, check into your hotel.

In the afternoon, visit Ta Dzong, inaugurated as National Museum in 1968, and holding a fascinating collection. We will then take a walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, also known as "fortress of the heap of jewels". Built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan.

Evening visit Kyichu Lhakhang, built in 7th century, is one of the two oldest and most sacred shrines in Bhutan (the other being Jambay Lhakahng in Bumthang) and evening walk for leisure at town.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Standard Lodging: Tenziling Resort
  • Luxury Lodging: Zhiwaling Resort

Day 12 : Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery (4-5hrs hiking)

Visiting: Paro

After early breakfast, hike to one of Bhutan's most revered icons, Taktsang (also known as Tiger’s Nest Monastery), perched 3000 feet above the valley floor. Far from being a monument, it is a living, breathing monastery, home to a handful of monks. Hang a prayer flag to send Buddhist blessings via the winds. Afterward, enjoy a lunch overlooking Taktsang.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Standard Lodging: Tenziling Resort
  • Luxury Lodging: Zhiwaling Resort

Day 13 : Transfer to airport for departure

Visiting:

After breakfast, transfer to the Paro airport to board your departure flight.

  • Meals: B

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