Highlights of Bhutan Tour
Private Group Journeys

Highlights of Bhutan Tour

Paro - Bumthang - Punakha - Thimphu - Takstang Tour.

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The Highlights of Bhutan tour offers a comprehensive 10-day, 9-night journey that captures the essence of the Kingdom. This immersive experience takes you from the enchanting town of Paro to Bumthang in the heart of central Bhutan.
Set at an invigorating pace, this tour still manages to embrace key destinations, popular sites, and renowned tourist attractions. The tour has been rebranded from its former name, “Grand Cultural Tour.

After visiting serene Paro valley, take a short flight to Bumthang, where we spend two nights and visit this cultural heartland. Nestled in the heart of Bhutan, Bumthang boasts a captivating blend of cultural heritage and scenic beauty, often drawing comparisons to the idyllic landscapes of Switzerland.
Traversing a minimum of three mountain passes, the journey from central Bhutan to the western region leads through villages and towns, encompassing a visit to Trongsa’s Tower Museum before reaching the serene Gangtey in Phobjikha Valley.
Nestled within a bowl-shaped valley, designated as a conservation area, the Phobjikha Valley enchants all who visit with its awe-inspiring natural beauty. Between late October and March, the valley becomes a sanctuary for a significant population of migratory black-necked cranes from Central Asia.
Continuing the journey, you’ll descend to the semi-tropical Punakha and Wangdue valleys. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to visit Rinchengang village, marvel at the grandeur of Punakha Dzong, and embrace the enchanting lowland valley adorned with picturesque rice fields.
Journeying across the breathtaking Dochula Pass, where panoramic views of snowcapped peaks unfold, you’ll reach the vibrant capital city of Thimphu. Thimphu caters to a wide range of visitors, seamlessly blending its rich historical heritage with modern attractions and experiences.
Following the tradition of many Bhutanese trips, the adventure reaches its zenith with a captivating hike to the renowned Taktsang Monastery.
Embarking on the “Highlights of Bhutan” journey is like stepping into the past, offering a precious glimpse into traditions and customs that are vanishing elsewhere in the Himalayan realm.

Outline Itinerary 

Day 1: Arrive in Paro
Day 2: Paro Valley
Days 3 & 4: Fly and spend two nights in Bumthang
Day 5: Drive to Gangtey, Phobjikha
Day 6: In Punakha & Wangdue
Day 7 : Drive to Thimphu
Day 8: In Thimphu
Day 9: Paro (Taktsang Hike)
Day 10: Departure 

To cover this extensive itinerary, we utilize domestic flights between Paro and Bumthang. Given that these flights are not operational every day, slight schedule adjustments may be needed to accommodate this arrangement.

Overview

cultural_tour Trip Type Culture Tours
Activities Included Activities Included
Activities Included Culture Tours
Accommodation Accommodation Hotels are selected for prime locations, exceptional services, and in addition to their amenities. The selection encompasses establishments ranging from 3 to 4-star hotels and lodges with opportunities to upgrade to luxury or deluxe accommodations in certain towns.
Meal Meal All Meals.
Best Seasons Best Seasons Possible through-out the year. Best from late Feb till May & from mid Sept till November.
Route Route Paro-Bumthang-Gangtey-Punakha-Thimphu-Par0
  Best Months Best Months March, April, May, September, October, November

Good Months Good Months January, February, May, December

Lean Months Lean Months June, July, August

Cost Information

The land cost ranges from $1500 to $2300 Per Person, excluding $900 Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) per person, in a standard 3-4star hotels. Also available for upgrade of hotels.

Please reach out to us for specific pricing, as it varies depending on your travel dates and the number of travelers. The provided cost is intended to give you a general idea.

Included

  • Accommodations as listed or option to upgrade
  • All three meals (lunches in local restaurant)
  • All land transfer and transportation by good quality private vehicle
  • Sightseeing with entrance fees
  • English speaking Guide.
  • Bhutan Visa fees
  • SDF  (Sustainable Dev. Fee) as listed
  • Internal flights Paro to Bumthang

Not included

  • Flights into and out of Bhutan.
  • Travel/Medical Insurance
  • All personal expenses including optional tips/gratuities to the local staffs, drinks, beverages, laundry and other personal expenses.

Detailed Itinerary

Expand All
Day 1:

Arrive in Paro

Upon completing the immigration and customs procedures, you will be welcomed by Wind Horse guide and driver. They will be waiting to receive you and ensure a smooth and pleasant start to your journey.

Based on our arrival time, our planned itinerary includes a visit to Rinphung Dzong, a fortified monastery, and administrative center. It’s an excellent starting point for your visit, as you can delve into its architecture, history, and potentially witness any scheduled activities or ceremonies.
Following this, a leisurely walk across the traditional cantilever bridge awaits, along with an exploration of the vibrant farmer’s market. Afterward, we intend to enjoy a relaxed stroll through the town’s charming streets. If our schedule permits, we eagerly anticipate the possibility of visiting the nearby Dumtse Lhakhang temple to further enrich our experience.

With most flights landing in the morning, we can likely see all the sights. If your flight is later, we'll try accommodate the visits on other days.

MEALS:
Lunch
Dinner
Altitude Altitude: 2200m
Day 2:

Paro Valley 

During our tour in Paro, we will explore this enchanting valley through a mix of easy short walks and drives. We’ll begin by heading to the north end of the valley to visit the ancient Drugyal Dzong ruins, currently under repair. Along the way, we’ll also stop by the serene and ancient Kichu Lhakhang temple, boasting a history dating back to the 7th century.
Next on our itinerary is the fascinating Ta Dzong, a remarkable watchtower transformed into a captivating museum that showcases the rich tapestry of Bhutanese art and artifacts.
We also visit a local village and traditional farmhouse, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in the authentic local way of life. We will also try to find local archery game during the course of the day.
We will wrap up the day by leisurely exploring the enchanting township of Paro once more, in case you had the opportunity to do so yesterday.

While our tour encompasses many attractions, Paro offers even more to explore for those with extended stays. If you have specific sites you wish to visit, our experienced guides will gladly tailor the tour to accommodate your preferences.

MEALS:
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Altitude Altitude: 2200m
Days 3 & 4

Fly to Bumthang

Transfer to the airport in time for your early morning flight to Bumthang. Upon arrival, meet and transfer to the hotel. (Your guide will accompany you by air if seats are available; otherwise, an alternative guide will travel by land ahead of time to meet you at the airport)

We have nearly two full days to explore Jakar and its surrounding areas, delving into its historical sites and cultural attractions. While many sites can be reached by a comfortable drive, certain places are more interesting by through leisurely walks.

Among other attractions, we will explore the Kurjey Temple complex, the 7th-century Jampay Lhakhang temple, the Chakar Temple, and the Tamshing Monastery. We will make a stop at the Swiss farm to savor locally produced cheese and beers. Additionally, we will have the chance to visit a local home, nearby villages, and possibly a school. An exciting highlight includes a visit to the Kharchu Dratsang monastery, where you can witness their lively evening debates or communion prayers.

Our itinerary also features a visit to the Jakar Dzong, followed by a leisurely downhill walk through the village, offering glimpses of hidden shrines. You won’t want to miss the impressive giant water-powered prayer wheels near Wangducholing Palace. If time permits, we may also explore Membartsho (known as the ‘burning lake’), a revered site where Pema Lingpa, one of Bhutan’s patron saints, is said to have unearthed sacred treasures.
You will also have the opportunity to savor local dishes, including the renowned buckwheat noodles.

MEALS:
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Altitude Altitude: 2600m
Day 5:

Drive to Gangtey, Phobjikha

Set off early for an extended and breathtaking drive, crossing no fewer than three mountain passes. Winding your way from Bumthang to the captivating haven of Gangtey, alternatively called Phobjikha, this journey unravels through a tapestry of villages, towns, and ever-evolving landscapes, ensuring an ever-changing and enriching experience.
We will make occasional stops to pause, take pictures, stretech legs. We will also visit the Tower of Trongsa Museum and admire the Trongsa Dzong from outside.
Intermittently, we will make stops to linger, capturing moments through the lens and granting respite to stretch our legs. Moreover, we are scheduled to explore the Tower of Trongsa Museum and also admire the view of the majestic Trongsa Dzong, albeit from an outside only!
Upon your passage over the Lawala Pass, prepare to be greeted by a breathtaking spectacle: the expansive and stunning Phobjikha Valley unveils itself, offering a feast for your eyes that is nothing short of extraordinary. Towards the evening, take a stroll along the nature trail in the valley.

Note: Phobjikha Valley transforms into a winter sanctuary for the endangered black-necked cranes, embarking on their migration from central Asia. This natural spectacle adorns the valley with a substantial presence of these birds, an awe-inspiring sight that lasts from late October to early March.

Longest drive in the Itinerary 6hrs +

MEALS:
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Altitude Altitude: 2900m
Duration Duration: 175KM/6+hrs
Day 6:

Phobjikha - Punakha & Wangdue

Embrace the morning by taking a tranquil stroll through the valley, allowing you to appreciate the panoramic view, perhaps even before your breakfast. Next, proceed to the Black-necked Crane Visitor Centre. Afterward, embark on a visit to the ancient Gangtey Monastery, perched atop a hillock that offers a commanding view of the valley.
Descend through a landscape of ever-changing vegetation, transitioning to the semi-tropical ambiance of the Wangdue Punakha Valley.
Upon your arrival, take the opportunity to explore Rinchengang village, which is renowned for its remarkable collection of interconnected houses. Later in the afternoon, venture to Punakha Dzong, majestically situated at the confluence of the Pho Chhu (male) and Mo Chhu (female) rivers. Don’t miss the chance to stroll behind the dzong, crossing a lengthy suspension bridge for a unique perspective.

MEALS:
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Altitude Altitude: 1300m
Duration Duration: 60KM/2-3hrs drive
Day 7:

Drive to Thimphu

This morning, if walking is feasible for you, you have the option to visit Khamsum Chorten. If walking isn’t suitable, you can instead explore Chimi Lhakhang temple. Depending on the available time, you might even consider visiting both attractions.
Khamsum Yuelley chorten is a short drive through idyllic countryside, from where you begin 45 min of walk uphill through rice fields. Once there, it provides sweeping view of the valley.
Chimi Lhakhang, or the “Temple of Fertility,” holds cultural reverence as a sanctuary linked with Lama Drukpa Kunley. With its distinctive blessings for fertility, the temple draws couples, while its traditional architecture and tranquil surroundings provide a serene and meaningful visit.
After lunch, embark on a scenic drive through the breathtaking Dochula Pass (3100m), treating you to panoramic views of snow-capped peaks along the Bhutan-Tibet border. A brief stop at Lamperi Nature Park adds an extra touch of natural beauty to the journey.
In Thimphu, visit the remarkable Tashichho Dzong. This grand fortress-monastery serves as a seat of government, a monastic center, and an architectural gem, reflecting Bhutan’s spirituality and governance. Stroll through the city in the evening.

MEALS:
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Altitude Altitude: 2300m
Day 8:

In Thimphu

As the capital city, Thimphu boasts the most diverse range of attractions in the country. Your guide will prioritize the places based on your interests, ensuring you visit the most relevant sites first and covering the rest within the available time. Here is a list of attractions, ranked in order of popularity:
Memorial Chorten: A stupa built in memory of the third king of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, which serves as a center for religious and social gatherings.
Buddha Dordenma: A gigantic bronze statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, perched on a hilltop, offering panoramic views of the valley.
Zorig Chusum (National Institute of Zorig Chusum): An institute where traditional arts and crafts, including painting, sculpture, and woodworking, are taught.
Takin Preserve: A sanctuary dedicated to the unique national animal of Bhutan, the takin, which seems to look like a combination of a goat and a cow.
National Textile Museum: Exhibits a vast collection of traditional Bhutanese textiles and weaving techniques.
Weekend Market: Bustling with activity even on weekdays, the Weekend Market draws locals and tourists alike to shop for fresh produce, local snacks, handicrafts, and souvenirs.
Craft Bazaar: A vibrant market offering various handicrafts, textiles, and local products, ideal for souvenir shopping. Also stroll through Changlimithang area, where you might see the archery match in progress.

If time permits, you can also visit Folk Heritage Museum, Changangkha Lhakhang, Simply Bhutan Museum, Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory, Simtokha Dzong

Additionally, Thimphu offers numerous options for short or full-day hikes that can be combined with sightseeing, providing an opportunity to explore the breathtaking natural landscapes surrounding the city.

MEALS:
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Altitude Altitude: 2300m
Duration Duration: 80KM/2-3hrs drive
Day 9:

Paro (Taktsang Hike)

The drive from Thimphu to Paro and proceed directly to the trail head (2hrs). Enjoy picturesque landscapes, traditional villages, and the merging rivers at Chunzom bridge along the way.
Embark on an exhilarating hike to Takstang, also known as Tiger’s Nest, one of Bhutan’s most iconic and revered landmarks. Perched dramatically on a cliffside at an altitude of 3,120m, Takstang is a sacred Buddhist monastery symbolizing Bhutan’s spiritual heritage.

The hike begins from the parking lot at base of the mountain at 2,600m. As you ascend, the trail takes you through pine and oak forests, offering refreshing natural surroundings and glimpses of the breathtaking Paro Valley below.

After an initial ascent, you’ll reach a cafeteria area to take a short break and enjoy refreshments while admiring the spectacular view of Takstang above. Continuing on the trail, you’ll encounter prayer flags, prayer wheels, small shrines, and waterfalls, adding to the spiritual ambiance of the hike. As you get closer to Takstang, the trail becomes more challenging, with steep sections and stone steps, but the anticipation of reaching the sacred monastery keeps you motivated.

Upon reaching Takstang, you’ll be rewarded with an awe-inspiring sight. The monastery clings to the cliffside, seemingly defying gravity, and offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche, the spiritual master who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan, meditated here in the 8th century, making this site especially revered by Bhutanese people.

Take some time to explore the monastery’s different temples and shrines, and if you wish, participate in the serene atmosphere of prayers and meditation. After soaking in the spiritual and natural beauty of Takstang, begin your descent back to the base. The hike to Takstang is not only a physical accomplishment but also a deeply rewarding and transformative experience, leaving you with cherished memories of Bhutan’s cultural and natural wonders.

The hike from the base to Takstang takes between 2 to 4 hours uphill, and with the time taken to visit and explore sights in the area, it becomes a full-day adventure

MEALS:
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Altitude Altitude: Taktsang Monastery - 3120 m
Duration Duration: 2-3hrs walk uphill + return (is a full day affair)
Day 10:

Departure 

After breakfast, we’ll transfer you to the airport for your departure. If your flight is late, we can cover more tour activities. In case of a flight delay, our guides will stay with you until your check-in.

MEALS:
Breakfast

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Overview

cultural_tour Trip Type Culture Tours
Activities Included Activities Included
Activities Included Culture Tours
Accommodation Accommodation Hotels are selected for prime locations, exceptional services, and in addition to their amenities. The selection encompasses establishments ranging from 3 to 4-star hotels and lodges with opportunities to upgrade to luxury or deluxe accommodations in certain towns.
Meals Meals All Meals.
Route Route Paro-Bumthang-Gangtey-Punakha-Thimphu-Par0
Max Group Size Max Group Size Private with any group
Best Seasons Best Seasons Possible through-out the year. Best from late Feb till May & from mid Sept till November.
Best Months Best Months March, April, May, September, October, November

Good Months Good Months January, February, May, December

Lean Months Lean Months June, July, August

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