Consider packing your bag with daily essentials.
Central Bhutan Tour
This intimate glance at the unfamiliar, infrequently viewed regions of Bhutan begins at Paro. After Paro we move along the quiet road to the capital, a place bordered with glorious vistas of verdant hills.
Reviews 5 Reviews5/5
Vacation Style Adult Group
Activity Level Easy Leisure
Group Size Minimum
This intimate glance at the unfamiliar, infrequently viewed regions of Bhutan begins at Paro. After Paro we move along the quiet road to the capital, a place bordered with glorious vistas of verdant hills. You’ll visit its lively market and see its historical places which have the atmospheric ruins of its glory days still abundantly clear, thanks to modern renovation. Central Bhutan is full of opportunities for meandering walks where beautiful sights and sounds engulf us. You will also gain unbridled access to the lush interior that is studded with magnificent forests, birds, and wildflowers.
- 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”.
ARRIVE PARO – THIMPHU
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 representative from Bhutan Dragon Adventures will meet you at Paro airport exit doors following customs formalities.
After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum housing 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 centres, which were once strategic forts. Afterwards, drive to the capital, Thimphu (1.5 hours) following the Pachu River. Before dinner at the hotel there will be an orientation on Bhutanese etiquette by your guide. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Once a rustic village sitting in a broad, fertile river valley, Thimphu is today the nation's bustling capital. Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, completed by the Royal Queen Mother as a memorial stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972. Continue on to 12th century Changangkha Temple and the Zilukha Nunnery. If your visit to Thimphu coincides with the weekend, you can walk through the Thimphu Market (Open only from Friday until mid Sunday). Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Continue sightseeing in Thimphu. Visit the School for Arts and Crafts, The National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century, the Traditional Paper Factory and a fascinating replica of a medieval farmhouse at the Folk Heritage Museum.
If there is time, you may visit the nursing pen for the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan, and Tashichhodzong, 'the fortress of the glorious religion' housing some ministries, His Majesty's secretariat, and the central monk body. Other options for the day include a hike to Tango and Cheri Monasteries (45 mins), two of the most ancient monasteries in the Thimphu region or a hike to Phajoding Monastery providing a splendid view of the valley. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
THIMPHU – PUNAKHA
Drive over the Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters), which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into balmy Punakha valley (about 3 hrs total driving time). The drive through the countryside affords a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdoms. In the Dochu-La area there are vast Rhododendron forests that grow to tree size and bloom in late April/early May covering the mountains in a riot of glorious spring colour.
Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. On arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, the "Palace of Great Happiness" built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the 'Unifier of Bhutan'. It is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. 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. It was here in 1907 that Bhutan's first king was crowned.
After lunch, enjoy a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of Drukpa Kuenly. He inherited the Divine Madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism in his time. He taught the people that religion is an inner feeling and it's not necessary that one should be an ordained monk. He is also considered a symbol of fertility. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha/ Wangduephodrang.
PUNAKHA – TRONGSA – BUMTHANG
Drive from Punakha to Bumthang via Trongsa (8 hrs) over the Dochu-La pass (3,100m) and Pele La pass (3,420m) on the Black Mountain range. Enroute visit beautiful Chendebji Chorten, erected in the 18th century. The imposing Trongsa Dzong can be viewed across a deep canyon to signal your approach to the town around a curving road. Trongsa is the ancestral home of Bhutan's ruling dynasty. After lunch, 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.
Continue driving to Bumthang, home to some of Bhutan's oldest Palaces and temples. The valley's barley fields, apple groves and meadows lay below huge hills which climb up towards the Himalayan mountain wall separating Bhutan from Tibet. Overnight at your lodge in Jakar, Bumthang.
In the morning visit Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom where Bhutan's patron saint Guru Rimpoche meditated and 7th century Jambay Lhakhang. It dates back to the origins of Buddhism in Bhutan and is one of the Kingdoms oldest temples. After lunch, visit Jakar Dzong and Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Pemalingpa and containing interesting and ancient Buddhist wall paintings. Afterwards enjoy exploring the village of Jakar, Bumthang's main township. Overnight at your lodge in Jakar, Bumthang.
Enjoy a day exploring some of the many sites around Bumthang. The 16th century Tang Ugyen Chholing Palace stands features a museum containing an excellent overview of traditional rural life in Bhutan. Continue on to visit the pool of Mebartso (The Lake of Fire). It is here that Pemalingpa (founder of the Nyingmapa sect) is said to have found treasure hidden by Guru Rinpoche. Overnight at your lodge in Jakar, Bumthang.
BUMTHANG – GANGTEY
Start early today for Gangtey, about 6 hrs from Bumthang. Farmhouses and temples dot the landscape and you will see local farmers wearing the traditional woven bamboo hats of central Bhutan. The wide and picturesque Phobjikha valley is one of Bhutan's few glacial valleys, and chosen winter home of black necked cranes (November – March) migrating from the Tibetan plateau. Visit Gangtey Goempa (Monastery), the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan and explore Phobjika Valley with time to view the Black-Necked Cranes. Overnight at your hotel in Phobjikha.
GANGTEY – PARO
Morning visit to view the Black-Necked Cranes (winter only) before departing for Paro (approx 7 hrs). From Gangtey the road gradually descends into the balmy Punakha valley before climbing up over Dochu La Pass. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
GANGTEY – 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. Make 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).