This popular tour takes you right through the country, travelling from the western valleys and towns, including the capital city Thimphu, to Bumthang in central Bhutan and finally visiting the less-travelled districts in eastern Bhutan and exiting from Samdrup Jongkhar. You will see numerous dzongs (fortresses), visit ancient monasteries and explore quaint villages and remote settlements along the journey – an opportunity to experience the rich local culture and tradition up-close.
The highlight of the tour is the popular Thimphu Festival (Sep dates).
Duration – 15 days, 14 nights in Bhutan
Dates: 13-27 Sep 2024. Same itinerary available for other months (will not include festival), please enquire
Price: from £4,415 land price only
- Visit the Tiger’s Nest (Taktsang) Monastery
- Immerse yourself in Thimphu’s various museums and sights
- Enjoy the Thimphu and Gangtey Tshechus
- Visit the old capital, Punakha and its grand dzong
- Explore the beautiful valleys of Phobjikha, Bumthang and Merak in Easter Bhutan
- Explore Eastern Bhutan including the textile capital
- Experience traditional hot stone bath in a farm house
- Exclusive cultural programme
- All accommodation (3* deluxe, twin sharing basis) and meals
- Transportation within Bhutan incl airport pick-up & drop-off
- English speaking experienced guide
- Entry into all monuments and temples (listed in tour)
- Visa fees and relevant taxes, including SDF
- Talk by a prominent artist in his art gallery
- Travel book on Bhutan (authored by Simply Bhutan Founder)
Day 1, September 13: Arrive. Sightseeing in Paro
Arrive at Paro by flight. Your flight into Bhutan takes you over the Mighty Himalayas with the spectacular views of the snow-peaked mountains. On arrival, you will be received by your guide and your driver. In the afternoon, drive across the valley to visit Ta Dzong, the National Museum of Bhutan. It holds fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha (scrolls), paintings and Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps.
Later visit Drukgyal Dzong (built 1647 and currently undergoing renovation). On a clear day, you will see the magnificent Mt. Jhomolhari (7313m) in the distance.
Night halt: Paro
Day 2, September 14: Hike to Taktsang Monastery
Today, you will trek up the mountain to view the magnificent Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) that clings dramatically on a huge rock cliff, 900 m above the valley.
The 2-3 hours easy-medium hike (steep climb towards the end) takes you along winding footpaths and through pine forests with spectacular views of the wide valley below.
Later in the afternoon, slowly make your way to Thimphu, the capital city, 60 km away.
On the way, stopover along the highway to make a detour to visit the charming Tamchhog Lhakhang (monastery), situated across the river.
After the visit, continue your journey to Thimphu.
Night halt: Thimphu
Day 3, September 15: Thimphu Tsechu (festival)
After breakfast, you will make your way to the beautiful Trashichho Dzong (fortress) where you will attend the first day of the popular Thimphu Tsechu (festival) for the day. The three-day festival takes place in the newly built courtyard next to the Dzong.
Monks and laymen perform masked dances and every mask dance performed during a Tsechu has a special meaning depicting ancient events and teachings in Buddhism. Mingle with the crowd dressed colourfully and soak in the enchanting festivity around. Evening at leisure.
Night halt: Thimphu
Day 4, September 16: Full day sightseeing
Today, you will visit some of the landmarks in the city. Make your way across the town to visit the Zorig Chusum Institute, which literally translates as the thirteen (chusum) arts and crafts (zorig) of Bhutan. You will meet the talented artists and students at work. Visit Simply Bhutan – the ‘living museum’ that depicts Bhutan’s ancient cultural heritage. After lunch, take a walk in the town visit the Royal Postal Museum to learn about Bhutan’s development story through the evolution of communications and postal system in the country. Later, take a short drive to the Takin Nature Preserve and see the unique animals grazing on the mountainside. Later in the evening, take a short drive to see the giant statue of Buddha Dordenma, standing at a height of 51.5 metres, it is one of the biggest and tallest Buddha statues in the world.
Night halt: Thimphu
Day 5, September 17: Thimphu – Punakha
After breakfast, make your way to Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan.
Stopover at Dochhu La (3,050m) to enjoy the view of the spectacular Himalayan ranges in the horizon and visit beautiful 108 Druk Wangyal Chortens. Stopover at the Lampheri Botanical Park where you will see the rhododendron flowers in full bloom in their natural habitat this time of the year. Continue your journey to Punakha. Visit the lovely Punakha Dzong (fortress) – the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan and one of the most majestic structures in the country. Evening at leisure
Night halt: Punakha
Day 6, September 18: Punakha – Phobjikha (Gangtey)
After breakfast, spend the morning to visit the charming Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten (stupa) which sits on a ridge overlooking the valley.
After early lunch, you will make your way to Phobjikha valley, 80 km away. You will pass the newly renovated Wangdue Dzong. Soon you will leave the highway and drive down a narrow winding road to Phobjikha Valley – one of the three winter roosting grounds in the country for the endangered black-necked cranes, who fly in every winter from Tibet and Central Asia to escape the bitter cold.
Make your way to the 17th century Gangtey Monastery to attend the Gantey Tsechu (Festival). The festival will be smaller in size and will provide you an intimate experience with the locals visiting from the surrounding villages.
Night halt: Phobjikha valley
Day 7, September 19: Phobjikha – Trongsa
In the morning, visit the Royal Society for Protection of Nature Centre (RSPN), a conservation NGO, to learn more about the cranes. You will then slowly make your way to Trongsa, 125 km away. You will pass by the lovely Chendibji Chorten (stupa), a white-domed shaped stupa constructed in similar style to the famous Boudhanath stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal. You will soon come upon the magnificent Trongsa Dzong. The16th Century Trongsa Dzong is the largest and most impressive dzong in the country. Visit the lovely Dzong and its numerous temples.
Night halt: Trongsa
Day 8, September 20: Trongsa – Bumthang
After early breakfast, you will make your way to Bumthang, 79 km away. You will pass Yotong La pass (3551m) from where you will descend down and enter Bumthang district. Bumthang is made up of four main sprawling valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura. Bumthang is also known for the local textile called yathra, woven from sheep and yak wool. There are several small cottage industries producing these textiles. Continue to Chamkhar, the main town.
Night halt: Bumthang
Day 9, September 21: Bumthang full day sightseeing
Today, you will spend a leisurely day in the beautiful valley of Bumthang, often called the ‘spiritual heartland’ of the country as the valley houses some of the most revered and ancient monasteries in the country. Some of the them are – the lovely seventh century built Jambay Lhakhang and the three temples of Kurjey Lhakhang. Later, take a scenic drive to the lovely Tang valley to visit the Ogyen Choling Museum. The sprawling Bumthang valley is a delightful place to explore on foot. Evening at leisure.
Night halt: Bumthang
Day 10, September 22: Bumthang – Mongar
You will begin your journey to Mongar after breakfast in the morning. You will drive over Ura La pass (3590m) and in the distance, enjoy the view of Bhutan’s highest peak, Mt. Gangkar Puensum (7541m). On the way, visit Mebar Tsho (the Burning Lake), one of the most revered pilgrimage sites in Bhutan.
Take a detour to visit the picturesque village of Ura Makrong, the largest village in the Ura valley. The lovely village consists of closely built shingled houses with cobblestone paths.
Your journey to Mongar, the gateway to Eastern Bhutan, will take you over one of the highest passes in the country, the Thrumshing La pass (3,800m), which treats you to a fantastic panoramic view of the mountains of the East. From here, you will see a dramatic change in the vegetation from the alpine forest to sub-tropical bamboo.
Night halt: Mongar
Day 11, September 23: Lhuentse Day Visit
Today, you will drive north to visit the main town of Lhuentse and the surrounding villages for the day, 60 km away. Visit the lovely 1654 built Lhuentse Dzong. Lhuentse is also historically an important district as it is the ancestral home of the Wangchuck dynasty, our Monarchy. Take a drive along the feeder road to visit the remote textile rich village of Khoma in Lhuentse. The village produces the famous Kushuthara, a lavishly decorated weave with intricate patterns used for traditional women’s dress (kira). A short drive up the highway will lead you to Tangmachu village to where you can visit the giant statue of Guru Padmakara. The giant 157 feet statue is said to be the largest Guru statue in the world.
Take a leisurely drive back to Mongar.
Night halt: Mongar
Day 12, September 24: Mongar – Trashigang (visit Gomphu Kora)
In the morning, make your way to Trashigang, 91 km away.
You will slowly climb through thick sub-tropical forests and pass Kori La pass (2400m) and several villages along the way. At Chakzam bridge, you will do a small detour to visit the quaint Gomphu Kora monastery situated among green fields, 13 km away. Visit the monastery and see the beautiful murals and paintings that date back to 15th Century. Make your way back to Chakzam bridge and gradually climb up the mountain towards Trashigang, 9 km away.
Night halt: Trashigang
Day 13, September 25: Day visit to Merak village
In the morning, you will make your way to the remote settlement of Merak for a day visit. Along the way, you will also pass by the villages of Radi and the small town of Rangjung. Radi village is well-known for their bura (raw silk) textiles.
Unlike anywhere else in the country, Merak, like its sister village Sakten up north, offers a visitor to experience a unique semi-nomadic lifestyle, culture and vernacular in one of the most scenic pastoral valleys in the protected area of Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary. The people of Merak and Sakteng are known as the Brokpa (highlander) to the people living on the lowlands. The Brokpas have maintained their unique traditions and customs. In the evening, drive back to Trashigang.
Night halt: Trashigang
Day 14, September 26: Trashigang – Samdrup Jongkhar
After breakfast, you will start slowly for the southern border town of Samdrup Jongkhar, around 200 km away. Take a leisurely drive, meandering past the prosperous Rongthong village. You will then come upon the settlement of Kanglung and Sherubtse College, the first Degree Institution in the country, founded in 1964. Passing along maize and potato fields, you will descend down to Khaling town along the way. Continue your journey down south. You will pass numerous small towns and villages along the way.
Samdrup Jongkhar is a commercial town that serves as an important market town for the districts of Eastern Bhutan. Take a stroll in the small town and enjoy farewell dinner at a popular restaurant.
Night halt: Samdrup Jongkhar
Day 15, September 27: Depart from Samdrup Jongkhar
In the morning, your guide and driver will accompany you to the Guwahati Airport in Assam, 110 km away. They will see you off for your onward journey.
- No minimum group size apply. Tours of all group sizes can be arranged.
- To keep our tour intimate and personalised, group size is usually smaller than 10 guests.
- Four * and luxury hotels available. This can be discussed during booking.
- All our tours are family friendly. We run this tour only for families as well.