Consider packing your bag with daily essentials.
Bhutan Adventure Tour
"There is a strange spiritual awakening I felt in Bhutan yet I cannot fathom the endless adventure possibilities in this beautiful country”, writes one of our travellers, and it's a possibility that one cannot help but notice in Bhutan.
Reviews 5 Reviews5/5
Vacation Style Adult Group
Activity Level Challenging
Group Size Minimum
"There is a strange spiritual awakening I felt in Bhutan yet I cannot fathom the endless adventure possibilities in this beautiful country”, writes one of our travellers, and it's a possibility that one cannot help but notice in Bhutan. One adventure tour in Bhutan is all it takes to put any predetermined notions away, for this is a destination simply awaiting discovery.
Not only is it home to some of the Himalayas’ most rugged topography, it's also one of world's most scenic places, filled with valleys, rambling mountain ranges, forests and rivers. This trip will take you cycling as well as rafting, along with wandering the historic streets of Thimphu and Paro. Then it's off to Punakha, a stunning region of verdant hillsides and rolling plains. Then its rafting in the Pho Chu River, an experience of Bhutan is style.
- Bhutan visa
- All transfers including airport collections in Paro
- Twin share or double rooms at all places on the itinerary
- All meals and mineral water included while in Bhutan
- All tour arrangements including Bhutanese guide (English speaking trained and licensed by the Department of Tourism).
- Private vehicle and driver
- All entry fees to museums and sites where applicable
- Financial protection insurance with International Passenger Protection
- Pre departure support and advice from Bhutan Dragon Adventure by email, phone or face to face meetings in Paro. After booking with us we will send our comprehensive “Bhutan Pre Trip Information” notes
- International flight to/from Paro.
- Travel insurance
- Use of bar and beverages in hotel, laundry, telephone calls or internet and personal shopping
- Tips to your guide and driver
- Other items not listed in “What is included”.
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth. Our Bhutan Dragon Adventures representative will meet you at Paro airport. After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the National Museum, Ta Dzong. This museum houses many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan's historical, cultural, and religious past. Next, visit the Rimpong Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa, considered as the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime. Dzong's are large monasteries and district administrative centers, which were once strategic forts. Afterwards walk to the beautiful cantilever wooden bridge still in use. Before dinner at the hotel there will be an orientation on Bhutanese etiquette by your guide. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
After breakfast guest will begin a full day's ride to Thimphu till the point guest can ride. The average gradient of the road is excellent for cycling, as there are few steep climbs or descents. Enjoy riding beside rivers and through a mixture of rice fields, coniferous forests and hills dotted with chortens and monasteries. After enjoying a picnic lunch at a wayside spot, continue riding via a narrow gorge through to the widening valley at Namseling. Finally, the quaint suburbs of Thimphu begin to appear and you will see the impressive Semtokha Dzong, built in 1627. The 'Bridge of Prophecy' decorated with many prayer flags welcomes you to downtown Thimphu where you will continue down the main street to your hotel. Enjoy remainder of day at leisure. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Enjoy sightseeing in Thimphu beginning with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten depicting the Buddhist faith in the form of paintings and statues. This temple was first initiated by the Third King as a protection from the negative elements of modernization. The Royal Queen Mother completed it as a memorial stupa for the third King who passed away in the year 1972.
Other highlights include the 12th Century Changangkha Temple, Drubthob monastery housing the Zilukha nunnery, the School for Arts and Crafts where the students are taught to master the 13 types of Bhutanese art, the National Library housing a collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century, and a fascinating replica of a medieval farmhouse at the Folk Heritage Museum. If there is time, you may also visit the nursing pen for the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. And Tashichhodzong. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
THIMPHU – PUNAKHA (Cycling)
The road to Punakha begins with a 22km ride and a height gain of 670m up to Dochu La Pass (3,100 meters). The hillsides are covered in a luxuriant temperate forest of abundant rhododendron and magnolia and several species of deer and monkeys make their home in this forest. Stop for lunch at Dochu La where on a clear day you will have a spectacular view of the Himalayan Mountains.
The downhill ride from the Dochu La into the Punakha valley will leave you speechless as you glide through lush forest spread over a distance of 50 kilometres.
After refreshing in the hotel in Punakha, visit Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 by Shabdrung, the 'Unifier of Bhutan'. It is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers) and is the winter residence of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu in the colder months. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha.
PUNAKHA – GANGTEY/PHOBJIKA (Rafting)
After breakfast, hike through pine forest and fields along the bank of Pho Chu River for about 2 hours until you reach Samdhingkha, where your rafting crew will be waiting. After a debriefing, you will start rafting along the rocky Pho Chu River coming across exhilarating stretches of Class II and IV rapids. Accompanying this fine stretch of river are beautiful landscapes of farmlands, hills dotted with monasteries, and forest areas full of birdlife. As well as superb rafting conditions, the river also affords an insight into rural daily life in Bhutan.
Enjoy lunch on a sandy embankment close to a Chorten before driving through oak and rhododendron forests, and down into the wide and picturesque Phobjikha valley. Phobjikha is one of Bhutan's few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black necked cranes (November – March). Overnight at your hotel in Phobjikha.
GANGTEY – GOGONA (Trek: 15km, 6-7 hours)
Trek commences today. The trail winds up through meadows and fields before ascending the Tselela Pass (3,400m) where you will stop for lunch. The path then descends gradually for some time through forests of junipers, bamboo, magnolias and rhododendrons. After one last short climb, you will reach Gogona village. The people of Gogona were originally nomads and they speak a language called Bjopkha. Overnight at Camp.
GOGONA – KHOTOKHA (Trek: 16 km, 7 hours)
The trail winds gently above Gogona village climbing into a forest of firs, oaks, spruce, rhododendron, cypress and junipers. A long and gradual climb leads to Shobjula Pass (3,400m). Later the track leads down to a wide valley of Khotokha, the summer location for the people of Sha (Wangduephodrang district). Overnight at Camp.
KHOTOKHA – WANGDUEPHODRANG (Trek: 12km, 5 hours) – TRONGSA
A short climb leads to a pass then followed by a path that descends steeply through ever changing vegetation until reaching the bridge leading to Wangduephodrang. Your trek ends here and your car will be waiting to take you to Trongsa.
Drive over the Pele La pass (3,420m) on the Black Mountain range, which divide western and central Bhutan. White langur monkeys can often be spotted in the moss-draped forests in this area. Further on, in silent isolation surrounded by great forest hills is beautiful Chendibji Chorten built in the 18th Century to commemorate the subjugation of a local demon. The imposing Trongsa Dzong can be viewed across a deep canyon to signal your approach to the town around a curving road. Overnight at your hotel in Trongsa.
TRONGSA – BUMTHANG (Cycling)
Trongsa is the ancestral home of Bhutan's ruling dynasty. After breakfast, visit Trongsa Dzong, the largest Dzong in Bhutan. The view from the Dzong is spectacular and one can see across the landscape for many miles. Also visit the Ta Dzong museum housing an incredible collection of historical artefacts of the Royal Family.Afters light refreshments begin the drive to Bumthang, one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the spiritual heartland of the kingdom. The road climbs rapidly up a series of hairpin turns out of Trongsa. After passing through cultivated fields and forested hillsides you will reach the Yutung La Pass (3400m). From here you will ride down through a dense, coniferous forest to a wide, cultivated valley known as Chummey valley. From here you can continue riding in the to the town of Jakar. Overnight at your lodge in Jakar, Bumthang.
Take a day to enjoy short hikes through the peaceful Bumthang valleys. Options include:
KUNZANGDRA: Kunzandra was the meditation site of Pemalingpa and other Nyingmapa scholars. Some very important relics are kept here. The hike up takes about 2 hours at a leisurely pace. Enjoy a picnic lunch at Kunzandra, a pleasant and refreshing spot. The walk down takes about an hour.
THANGBI: This relatively easy walk begins at the bridge above Kurjey Lhakhang. After about an hour and a half walking you will reach the Thangbi valley. Explore the village as you proceed towards Thangbi Monastery, belonging to the Nyingmapa sect. Along the way you can see rock carvings of the Karmapa sect. GESA THARPALING: Tharpaling Monastery was built by one of the great Nyingmapa Scholars, Lobchen Ramjampa. Start the walk above Jakar Dzong, and hike up through tranquil pine forests. It takes about 4 hours to reach Tharpaling; the walk down only takes about 2-½ hrs.
PETSHELING MONASTERY: About four hours walk round trip. The monastery was founded by Pemalingpa. There is a local festival held here during the early summer.
NYIMALUNG MONASTERY: Nyimalung Monastery is about 45 minutes beyond Prakhar Temple in the Chhumey Valley. It is renowned for its quality of its teachings, and for its musicians.
Overnight at your lodge in Jakar, Bumthang.
BUMTHANG – PUNAKHA
In the morning visit Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the Kingdoms most sacred places as Guru Rimpoche meditated and Jambay Lhakhang, erected by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. It dates back to the origins of Buddhism in Bhutan and is one of the Kingdoms oldest temples. Afterwards drive to Punakha, stopping for lunch along the way. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha.
PUNAKHA – THIMPHU (Cycling)
Enjoy a leisurely ride of about 12 kms to reach Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten situated on a beautiful hillock. It houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions. Take a picnic lunch on a picturesque riverside before riding back to Punakha. Afterwards, drive for Thimphu. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
THIMPHU – PARO
After breakfast you can either begin riding back to Paro, or elect to drive there later to allow time to stroll around Thimphu. If it's the weekend, you can walk through the market to see the variety of food of Bhutan, including basket upon basket of fiery chillies, fresh cheese and a variety of fresh greens. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. On arrival in Paro, check into the hotel. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The walk of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometre above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to cafeteria). The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. The great Guru Rimpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. Nearby there is a teahouse where you can stop for refreshments before returning to Paro for lunch.
In the afternoon drive to the ruins of the 17th Century Drukgyel Dzong, built to commemorate a victory against invading Tibetans in 1644. In fine weather the towering peak of the sacred Mount Jomolhari (7314m) appears as a stunning backdrop. On the return drive to Paro, visit 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. Alternatively, day 14 could be spent on a day trip to the Haa Valley, one of the most picturesque districts in Bhutan. Reached via the beautiful Chelila Pass, Haa Valley is characterised by its surrounding rugged and mountainous terrain. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination. Tashi Delek!
Consider packing your bag with daily essentials.
Tourist hotels tend to provide meals buffet-style which gives you the opportunity to try a variety of Bhutanese dishes. In the larger hotels a la carte service is also available, although they do not always have everything on the menu. Thimphu has a pizza restaurant (the Seasons) and there is a good café in the centre of Thimphu (near the Swiss bakery) called the Art Café which serves sandwiches, cake and filter coffee.
Please note that there is currently a shortage of hotel accommodation in Bhutan especially during festivals or the peak trekking season of October. We reserve rooms at all hotels in advance but the bookings are never certain until the group check in on the day. Bearing this in mind we will reserve rooms in the following hotels:
Thimphu: Peaceful Resort, Hotel Pedling or Hotel Wangchuk.
Punakha: Meriphuensum Resort or Damchen Resort
Bumthang: Swiss Guesthouse, Hotel Mipham, Garden Hotel or River Lodge
Phobjikha: Dewachen Hotel.
Comfortable shoes i.e trail shoes or trainers.
Flip flops or sandals.
Travel clothes. You will need clothing as follows:
Lightweight waterproof jacket.
Casual long sleeved shirt with collar (for visits to Dzongs).
Socks and underwear etc.
Please carefully read Ethics and Etiquette paragraph for dress code when visiting Dzongs.
Bandana or face mask
Toiletry bag include toilet paper, soap, towel, toothbrush, etc.
Headtorch. Useful during power cuts.
Backpack for day trips. Recommended size is 15 to 20 litres.
DRESS CODE AND CULTURAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR ENTERING DZONGS & MONASTERIES
Depending on whom you talk to the exact dress code for dzongs, monasteries and lhakhangs can differ. Use the details below to assist with your planning and we recommend you discuss each days visits with your guide to reconfirm appropriate attire.
Go for smart casual look such as long sleeved shirt with collar i.e no T shirts or short sleeved shirts.
Full length trousers or long skirts (ankles must be covered) i.e no shorts, ¾ length trousers or short skirts.
Shoes with socks covering ankles i.e no sandals or slippers.
No hats and umbrellas allowed.
Photographs are only allowed to be taken in the courtyard of most monasteries.
Walking around Buddhist temples or stupas is traditionally done clockwise.
Turn off your mobile/ cell phone and talk in a quiet tone.
It is customary to give a small donation when visiting a monastery.
The Royal Government of Bhutan has a strict policy to preserve its cultural and traditional values.
All lakes in Bhutan are believed to be inhabited by spirits therefore no fishing, swimming or throwing stones is permitted.
Do not disturb or feed wildlife or do anything to destroy their natural habitat.
Do not use detergent in or near rivers, for personal washing use biodegradable soap at least 50m from any watercourse.
Do not give sweets, pens or gifts to children or distribute medicine to villagers (there is a network of Basic Health Units operated by Bhutan Government throughout the country).
Do not purchase local household items or religious artefacts from villagers, please note that antiques may not be taken out of the country.
Please respect the culture and traditions of local people (trek crew, villagers or pack animal owners).