Bhutan, or the Land of the Thunder Dragon, is the only remaining Buddhist Himalayan kingdom. Often referred as The Last Shangri-La, Bhutan is possibly the last untouched country in the world. The humble agricultural country is rich with ancient culture and traditions and blessed with pristine natural beauty.
This tour includes the key highlights of Bhutan, which we feel every first time visitor should not miss. You will get to visit to the Bhutanese capital – Thimphu, the old capital – Punakha, a day at the green valley of Haa, and finally, Paro – home of the international airport. The tour extends to the Haa valley which, until 2002, was closed to the outside world. Less than 10% of visitors to Bhutan make it to this picturesque valley. The strong-boned and resilient people of Haa inhabit the high valleys above 3000m. Typically yak herders and farmers, they cultivate high altitude crops such as wheat, potatoes, barley and millet.
You will also visit the Dochula pass and Chele La Pass which is the highest motor road in Bhutan where you get a chance for spectacular views of the Himalayan mountains. Schedule your trip during a local Tshechu (Festival) which all Bhutanese try to attend at least once in a lifetime. For many, watching the mystical dances at a Tschechu is essential to gain enlightenment.
SINGAPORE – PARO (2,280m) – THIMPHU (2,334m)
Touching down at Paro International Airport, you will be greeted by your guide upon exiting the arrival hall. Today, we will take it easy to acclimatise to the altitude. Drive to Thimphu, check in to the hotel and have your first taste of Bhutanese cuisine. After which, you will visit the National Memorial Chorten which is built in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Thimphu Dzong, the largest Dzong in Bhutan, is also the seat of the office of the King of Bhutan. Every Saturday and Sunday, most of the Thimphu population congregate on the banks of the river where the Weekend Centenary Farmers’ Market is held. Here villagers from the valley and other nearby places come to sell their agriculture products. Thereafter, we will drive up to Kuenselphodrang Nature Park where the 169 feet bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma, Vajra Throne Buddha is located. It one of the largest statue of Buddha in the world. You can enjoy the night walking around Thimphu Town after dinner.
Overnight: Khang Residency or similar
THIMPHU SIGHTSEEING (2,334m)
Situated at an altitude of 2334m, Thimphu is the centre of government, religion and commerce. The capital has an interesting combination of tradition and modernity, and includes some of the most advanced and remotest parts of the kingdom. It is home to the Kings and the Royal family members, civil servants, expatriates, politicians, business persons and monks. Enjoy this cultural mix based on livelihood. We will take you through temples, dzongs, chortens, museums, handicraft stores, nunneries, parks and many more. Allow yourself to meet both traditional and contemporary artist.
We begin our trip with walk to Cheri Gompa (2850m), was first built in 1620 by Zhabdrung and it was here that the central monastic body (Dratsang) was first established. Many of the important priests of Drukpa Kagyu lineage passed periods here, and so it is an important pilgrim site for Bhutanese. Weaving is considered the national art of Bhutan, so at The National Textile Museum, you will learn all about the brightly colored and beautifully designed fabrics that are worn by the Bhutanese people. Thanks in part to our Queen Jetsun Pema, the fabrics of Bhutan are widely considered high fashion around the world. Due to the importance of this living art form, the Royal Government of Bhutan works to preserve and promote these traditional weaving methods.
Drive above Thimphu city, pass Mothitang area and drop by the Takin Reserve to see our national animal called ‘Drong Gemtse’, an animal supposed to have the body of a cow and head of a goat, believed to have been created by Buddhist Master popularly known as Divine Mad Man. The peace road finishes at Sangay Gang where we have the BBS tower and many prayer flags fluttering. The trail leads up through many hanging prayer flags making the place beautiful and if you look back you will get a goof view of Thimphu city. At first the trail seems to head up into the mountain towards Phajoding. But after 10 minutes of abrupt climbing you will take the side footpath to right and the trail gets gentler and easier. You will find apple orchard and few farm houses above the trail. From here the trail drops down gently through oak, blue pine and rhododendron until you will reach Wangtse monastery. The view of Tashicho Dzong, Thimphu city, and Buddha statue is stunning from here.
Overnight: Khang Residency or similar
THIMPHU (2,334m) – PUNAKHA (1,300m)
We will set off early from Thimphu after breakfast, perhaps with a visit to the weekend market first. Then proceed to Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan, about 2.5 hours drive from Thimphu across Dochu-la pass. Once you cross the pass, you wind down into a warm fertile valley and meander along a gently flowing aquamarine river that leads you to the Punakha Dzong, the second dzong to be built in Bhutan.
On your way to Punakha, stop at Dochula Pass to have a coffee break and admire the grand 108 stupas. If in good weather, take in the enchanting views of Mt. Himalaya. You can also do a Dochula Natural trail hike(1.5 hours). Upon arrival in Punakha, visit Punakha Dzong, the beautiful Bhutanese architecture armed by the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers, serving as the religious and administrative center of Bhutan until the mid 1950s.
Head for a suspension bridge and start hiking up to Khamsum Yuelley Chorten, passing by nice rice terraces and pine forests en route. When reaching the stupa atop, take in the superb views. Later drive to Lobesa and continue another 20 minutes’ hiking to Chimi Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to the Devine Madman and now a sacred place where women pray for children.
Overnight: Lobesa Hotel or similar
PUNAKHA (1,300m) – PARO (2,280m)
The beautiful valley of Paro is home to many of Bhutan’s old monasteries and temples. The country’s only Airport is in Paro. The valley is also home to mount Chomolhari (7,300 meters) situated at the northern end of the valley whose glacier water forms the Pachu flowing through the valley.
Paro Valley – The beautiful valley is home to many of Bhutan’s old monasteries and temples. The country’s only Airport is in Paro. The valley is also home to mount Chomolhari (7,300 meters) situated at the northern end of the valley whose glacier water forms the Pachu flowing through the valley. The following are some of the prominent places to visit in Paro. Paro Dzong also known as Rinpung Dzong, this 15th century massive fortress/monastery, is also the administrative center of the dzonkhag. A morning drive, north of Paro valley brings us to the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong. Built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the Dzong was destroyed by an accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate.Explore the ramparts and relive the memories of a glorious past.
Overnight: Metta Resort & Spa or similar
PARO (2,280m) – HAA (3,056m) – PARO (2,280m)
Drive to Haa through Chele La (3,988 m). From the pass, you can see Paro valley on one side and then Haa valley on the other. You can also have a picnic at Chele La if you like to. In Haa, some sightseeing and then going to katsho village and visiting the Katso Lhakhang. The valley of Haa was only opened to Tourist in 2002 and Haa is the least visited valley in Bhutan due to the lack of Tourist infrastructure. This has helped in keeping Haa the way it has always been, with Bhutanese families living their traditional and simple life. There are no tourist standard hotels in Haa valley, so we return to Paro for the night.
Overnight: Metta Resort & Spa or similar
Are you ready? We will be making the hike up to one of the key highlights in Bhutan today! Tiger’s Nest aka Taktsang Monastery. A one hour hike to the cafeteria is also a vantage view whereby you can enjoy the stunning view of Taktsang Monastery. Prayer flags adorn the cliffs and this is also where Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigress in the 8th century. After a sumptuous local lunch, we will retrace our steps to visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan.
Overnight: Metta Resort & Spa or similar
PARO (2,280m) – SINGAPORE
Today we will bid farewell to this beautiful Himalayan country and take an early flight back to Singapore. We hope by now you would have made some friends and also kept many photos and beautiful memories of Bhutan! And we look forward to seeing you again in this beautiful land of endless Enchantments! Tashi Delek!
- Return international air ticket (Druk Air – Flag Carrier of Bhutan)
- Bhutan Visa (USD 40)
- Private guided tour with Licensed English Speaking Guide and separate driver
- All accommodations in Bhutan (3 stars or similar)
- All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
- Drinks (water, tea, coffee) during meals
- Mineral bottled water
- Government fee, royalty, taxes & surcharges
- Set of traditional costumes (Gho or Kira) throughout the stay (to be returned at end of trip)
- All entrance fees to places of interest
- Travel insurance
- Additional dishes or drinks other than water, tea, coffee during meal times
- Mineral water and drinks outside meal times
- Tips for guide and driver
- Activities not mentioned in itinerary
We consider hiking up to Tiger’s Nest tough for a beginner so good fitness is essential for a comfortable experience. However, reaching the temple is not mandatory and we can always adjust the itinerary according to your preference.
Need more information on Bhutan? Read through our Bhutan Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and get them answered!
We love the view from most of the guest houses planned, journey was pushing but we were well guided. Guide and porter were amazing folks who constantly looked out for us to make sure we don't loose footing on tough terrains. Jungle trail with all the streams and mosses were my favourite part of the journey and of course definitely the peak of Poon Hill! BLESSED WITH CLEAR SKY! 🙏🏼 THANKS HS for being so patience and quick to my enquiries and I would definitely look for you again for my future treks! ✌️😎
– Jodie (Group of 3 on a 11D10N Kathmandu, Pokhara & Poon Hill trip in Apr 2019)
Thoroughly enjoyed the Poon Hill trek! Beautiful scenery and Puskar was a patient and responsible guide. He made our trip possible and hassle-free. We also found the hotel in Pokhara in an extremely good location with many restaurants in the vicinity.
– Peiying & Photon (Group of 2 on a 12D11N Kathmandu, Pokhara & Poon Hill trip in Nov 2017)
The whole trip was nicely planned from the start till the end. Our guide Puskar was generally very kind and helpful. The food was relatively good through out as well. Overall, it was a lovely trip. Will definitely come back to do this trek again.
– Mus & Sandija (Group of 2 on a 18D17N Kathmandu & EBC trip in Oct 2017)
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