13 Days / 12 Nights
Day 01: Fly to Paro, transfer to Thimphu Valley (1.5hrs drive)
In clear weather, your flight to Bhutan will provide breathtaking views of Mount Everest, Kanchen Junga and other Himalayan Peaks including sacred Chomolhari and Mount Jichu Drake. On arrival at Paro airport and after completion of airport formalities, you will be met by your tour guide. Drive from Paro to Thimphu, the modern capital town of Bhutan. Upon arrival in Thimphu, enjoy your first Bhutanese cuisine for lunch, then visit the Textile Museum, followed by the Folk Heritage Museum, Painting School and Zilukha Nunnery.
1 night stay in Thimphu
Day 02: Thimphu – Punakha (2.5 hrs drive)
After breakfast, visit the National Memorial Chorten, a large Tibetan-style chorten which is the most visible religious structure in Thimphu. The whitewashed chorten, with its sun-catching golden finial, is decorated with richly painted annexes facing cardinal directions, and features elaborate mandalas, statues and a shrine dedicated to the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. Throughout the day, people circumambulate the chorten, whirl the large red prayer wheels and pray at a small shrine inside the gate. Chortens are Buddhist reliquaries and memorials to the teachings of the Buddha. Sometimes stupas carry relics of the Buddha or revered monks. Whether or not there are relics inside, the stupa’s mark the landscape with reminders of the Buddha’s teachings.
From here, drive to Punakha which will take about 3 hours. About an hour’s drive from Thimphu, we will be crossing the Dochula Pass. On a clear day, enjoy breath-taking views of the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas from this spot; east of Chomolhari to Gangkhar Puensum. The pass has 108 chortens, honouring those who laid down their lives while flushing out insurgents from southern Bhutan in December 2003.
En-route visit the Temple of Divine Mad Man (Temple of Fertility). After lunch, visit the magnificent Punakha Dzong Fortress, the winter seat of the Head Abbot. A pleasant hike through rice fields to a Tantric Buddhist temple brings the day to an end.
1 night stay in Punakha
Day 03: Punakha – Limbukha (Trek starts)
We will start our trek from Changokha Village (opposite to Punakha Dzong). En-route we will pass by villages, paddy fields and the forest of pine and rhododendron. Overnight at camp at Limbukha.
Altitude: 2120m, Distance: 11km, Time: 4-5hours
1 night stay in Lumbukha
Day 04: Limbukha – Chungsakha
We will be passing by the rhododendron and oak forest and orchids can be seen also. Your camp will be set up in front of Lama Drukpa Kuenley’s Lhakhang, in the middle of Chungsakha Village. Experience the Bhutanese way of life and visit a farmer’s house.
Altitude: 1700m, Distance: 14km, Time: 5-6hrs
1 night stay in Chungsakha
Day 05: Chungsakha – Samtengang
Today’s trail will take you to the paddy fields, visit the farmers, the farmhouses, the Village of Sha Wangdi, a lake and many more. Overnight at camp at Samtengang.
Altitude: 1920m, Distance: 9km, Time: 3-4hrs
1 night stay in Samtengang
Day 06: Tikazampa – Trongsa
From Samtengang Valley, stroll down to Tikizampa, where the trek ends. Bid goodbye to our cooks, horsemen and other trekking staff. Our driver will meet us and take us towards central Bhutan, Trongsa. This is the place where the monarchy of Bhutan was born. Overnight at hotel.
1 night stay in Trongsa
Day 07: Trongsa – Bumthang
After breakfast, visit Trongsa Dzong, the ancestral place of the royal family. An architectural wonder built by Chogyel Minjur Tempa, the Third Desi in 1648. Built at split-levels on a narrow spur, the Dzong is an architectural wonder. Views from here are extensive, creating a strategic location of this Dzong. We will also visit Ta Dzong, the early tower of Trongsa which was built in 1652 by Choegyel Mingyur Tenpa, who was also entrusted by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel with the enlargement of Trongsa Dzong. In the years following, more structures were added on. The towers are prominently situated on a steep hill above the main Dzong. The structures consist of a massive circular five-storey tower or utse, flanked by two lower towers. These South and North towers connect to the utse by multi-storey wings. Two smaller free standing semi-circular towers are located further down the hill. The tower complex was intended to ward off attacks on the Dzong. Once peace came to Bhutan, the tower lost its military function and it became home to two hermits, who continued to live here in the southern wing. Ta Dzong houses two temples. One is dedicated to the legendary King Gesar of Ling. The other is the shrine dedicated to Jowo Jamba, or Maitreya Buddha. Today, Ta Dzong serves as a museum and more recently new galleries have been established. Ta Dzong is both a place of worship for Bhutanese Buddhists and a museum presenting the rich historical and religious heritage of Trongsa Dzong. Next, we head off to Bumthang. Cross Yutongla pass to the valleys of Bumthang and Chummey, the heart of the famous Bumthang Yathra-weaving region.
Here we will visit the Center of Yathra Weaving. Yathra is the name for the locally produced hand-woven woolen cloth. Distinctive patterns and bright, earthy colors enliven the fabric, which is used for a wide variety of purposes and are widely sought after throughout Bhutan. Overnight at hotel.
1 night stay in Bumthang
Day 08: Bumthang – Gangtey
After breakfast, drive towards Gangtey Valley. Gangtey Valley is a wide glacial valley with a central stream meandering through the open grassland and thickets of dwarf bamboo. Farmlands occupy the peripheral slopes where potatoes and turnips are grown. The forests beyond the farms are mostly coniferous. The general vegetation is composed of mainly blue pine, birch, maple and several species of rhododendrons. The Central Valley inhabited by the cranes in winter has mostly dwarf bamboo. The repeated grazing of the bamboos by the local cattle and horses in summer prepares the ground for the wintering cranes. The magnificent Black-necked cranes heighten the breathtaking scenery of Phobjikha in winter respiratory. Overnight in hotel.
1 night stay in Gangtey
Day 09: Gangtey – Thimphu
After breakfast, visit the Gangtey temple before driving back to Thimphu. Overnight at hotel.
1 night stay in Thimphu
Day 10: Thimphu – HAA
After breakfast, spend some time in town. Thimphu has a population of approximately 45,000, composed mainly of monks, the Kingdom’s royal family, government and civil service, and a growing middle class. We will also visit the weekend market. Next, visit the Institute of Traditional Medicine. Bhutan has a long and rich tradition of medicine-based natural remedies derived mainly from plants, the earth, and animals. The institute has a showroom that provides excellent insights to traditional medicine. The tour continues to Changangkha Lhakhang. After lunch, visit the tallest Buddha statue in the world to get a bird’s eye view of the capital city of Bhutan before leaving towards HAA. Overnight at hotel.
1 night stay in HAA
Day 11: HAA – Paro
Today, explore the beautiful valley of HAA by visiting temples and farm houses before heading to Paro Valley via Chele La Pass. On this route, you may witness some rare birds of Bhutan like the Monal and Blood pheasant, etc with great views of the mountains on reaching Chela La Pass. Overnight at hotel.
1 night stay in Paro
Day 12: Hike to Tiger’s Nest
After breakfast, drive towards north of Paro Valley. Today, we will have a full day hike up to Taktsang Lhakhang, more commonly known as the Tiger’s Nest. This monastery was established in the eighth century when Padmasambhava, the country’s patron saint, who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, flew here on the back of his mythical tigress consort to meditate. The main buildings sit astride a sheer rock cliff 10,000ft over the Paro Valley. The most prominent building burned to the ground in 1998, but was rebuilt with no visual architectural differences from its predecessor. Our hike begins at roughly 8,000ft and goes to just over 10,000ft. On reaching the main temple you will capture a million dollar view of the valley and the temple. On return to the valley floor in the late afternoon, take a rest in the hotel by dipping in a traditional hot stone bath to ease your mind and body after a day’s hike. Tonight you will enjoy a farewell dinner with our local guide. Overnight Paro.
1 night stay in Paro
Day 13: Depart Paro to onward destination
After breakfast, you are transferred to the airport for your flight to your next destination. Your guide from the SmileBhutan will bid you farewell and the remote and legendary Dragon Kingdom will again disappear behind its guardian mountain.
*Please note that some of the sights/itinerary may change due to season, weather, national holidays, and special events. We maintain the rights to alter the itinerary since tours are made in advance and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve your overall travel experience in Bhutan.