Bhutan Tour Plan

Bhutan is among countries that start with B listed on Thimphu is the capital of the Buddhist country Bhutan in which the Tibetan-related language Dzongkha is spoken. The population of the Bhutan kingdom, which is called Druk Yul (Land of the Thunder Dragon) in the local language, is partly of Tibetan, partly of Nepalese and partly of originally Bhutanese origin.

Bhutan 3

  • Day 1: Our journey begins
  • Day 2: Arrival in Delhi
  • Day 3: Flight over the Himalayas and drive to Thimphu
  • Day 4: Hike to the Tango Castle & the largest seated Buddha
  • Day 5: Through rice fields over the Dochula Pass into the Punakha Valley
  • Day 6: Punakha Dzong & the Divine Madman
  • Day 7: Over the Pele La Pass to the seat of the kings of Bhutan
  • Day 8: To the “spiritual heart of Bhutan” – Bumthang
  • Day 9: Through the Chokhor Valley to the Shugdrak Temple
  • Day 10: With the black-necked cranes in the Gangtey glacier valley
  • Day 11: On a tour of discovery through the nature reserve
  • Day 12: Panoramic hike on the Dochula Pass with a 360 ° view
  • Day 13: On the cultural footsteps of Thimphus
  • Day 14: Above the Paro high valley to the tiger’s nest (Taktsang monastery)
  • Day 15: Over the Himalayas to Delhi
  • Day 16: Flight home and arrival in Europe

The monastery castle “Tango” got its name from the horse-head-like shape of the stone at its top. The more than 300 year old walls are one of the most important Buddhist training centers in the country. We look at ornate wall paintings and immerse ourselves in the life of the monks. If the weather is good, our Bhutanese guide will set up a picnic by the river. We continue hiking through floodplains and rhododendron forests until we stand in front of the largest sitting Buddha in the world. In the evenings, our host families look forward to seeing us, whom we can help prepare traditional Bhutanese dishes.

Happiness as a national goal, the giant mountains of the Himalayas and the ubiquity of Buddhism attract people from all over the world. We look forward to a journey into happiness that will take us to numerous monasteries (including the famous Tiger’s Nest monastery), hikes through glacial valleys and a nature reserve, and encounters with Bhutanese: sometimes we dine on farms, sometimes we visit a village school.

On our way through the Gangtey glacier valley, we meet farmers with their traditional bamboo hats. The valley of Phobjikha is home to the black-necked cranes during the winter months. This protected species is drawn here from the high plateaus of Tibet. A festival is even held in their honor in November. It is said that the birds signaled their arrival by circling Gangtey Monastery three times over the valley.

Meals: B = breakfast / L = lunch / packed lunch / D = dinner

1st day:

Our journey begins

Today we are flying to Delhi, the capital of India.

2nd day:

Arrival in Delhi

In the morning we land in Delhi and meet our on-site supervisor, who takes us to a nearby hotel. Here we can relax. Depending on the arrival time, we will take a small sightseeing tour through Delhi.

Overnight in a hotel in Delhi
(- / – / -)

3rd day:

Flight over the Himalayas and drive to Thimphu

Our flight starts in the morning from the warm, humid climate of the big city to the mountainous and cooler land of happiness, to Bhutan. Above the clouds we have an unobstructed view of the mighty main Himalayan ridge (weather permitting). When we arrive in Paro, our Bhutanese guide awaits us. Before we get to the capital Thimphu, about 30 km away by vehicle, we visit the Paro Dzong: The Buddhist monastery castle towers majestically over the Paro high valley (2,195 m), which is known for its scenic charms, and formed the backdrop for the film “Little Buddha”. During the journey we breathe fresh mountain air and can take a look at the traditional Bhutanese construction: The houses are made of the natural materials wood, Built of stone and clay and adorned with ornate wood carvings. The iron, freely swinging Chuzom Bridge looks a bit like a springy trampoline, adorned on the right and left with colorful prayer flags. There we see three different stupas, in the Bhutanese, Tibetan and Nepalese style, standing close together. This is also where the Paro and Thimphu rivers meet. Hence the name Chuzom (place where the rivers meet).

Overnight in a hotel / guest house in Thimpu
Travel time: approx. 2 hours
(B / L / D)

4th day:

Hiking to the Tango Monastery Castle & the largest sitting Buddha

After a half-hour journey, we are already hiking. A holy place of retreat awaits us after an hour’s hike through multi-colored rhododendron forests. The monastery castle “Tango” (2900 m), which is one of the most important Buddhist training centers in the country, welcomes us with its prayer flags. It got its name from the horse’s head-like shape of the stone at its tip. We immerse ourselves in the more than 300-year-old history of the building, in the atmosphere of active monastic life of the monks, look at artful wall paintings and enjoy (in good weather) a picnic by the river.
In the late afternoon there is a panoramic hike in Thimpu. It leads us through natural floodplains, pine and rhododendron forests and always gives lovely views of the valley and the city. Birds that are beautiful to look at are our musical companions. We meet the gigantic and world’s largest seated Buddha Dordenma. At around 50 m high, the city lies at his feet, as is the Wang Chhu River. In the evening we look forward to learning step by step together how we can prepare traditional Bhutanese dishes at home. And of course we will taste our culinary skills together afterwards, before we enjoy the folk performance organized for us with a campfire.

Driving time: approx. 1 hour. Hike: in the morning approx. 2.5 hours (+ 300m / -300m), in the afternoon approx. 2 hours (+0 m / -200 m)
Overnight in a hotel / guest house in Thimpu
(B / Picnic lunch / A)

5th day:

Through rice fields over the Dochula Pass into the Punakha Valley

Before we arrive in the tropical warm Punakha, we cross the Dochula Pass (3,100 m) on our journey. 108 magical memorial stupas are set up along this. Travelers hang garlands of prayer flags here to appease evil spirits and ask for a safe journey. On a clear day you have an unbelievably wide view of the Himalayan massif and numerous of its impressive peaks. The pass itself is almost entirely overgrown by lush rhododendron forests. The plants here reach the size and shape of trees. During the flowering period in April and May, entire mountain slopes glow in bright red and pink. After about 3 hours of driving we arrive at Thinley Gang. From here we continue on foot. The oldest hiking trail in the country leads us over rice fields and meadows, through villages and pine forests. On our way we always meet locals who are happy to give us a glimpse of their lives in a traditionally hospitable manner. Because of Bhutan’s good school and education system, most of the people living here speak English well. Schoolchildren who go home from school in groups in the afternoons also like to chat with us hikers. Tonight we will find our accommodation in the middle of rice fields. There we are invited (optional) to try on traditional clothing, try our hand at archery or in the rice fields.

Driving time: approx. 3 hours.
Hike: approx. 3 hours (-200 m / + 100 m)
Overnight in a hotel / guest house in Punakha
(B / L / D)

6th day:

Punakha Dzong & the Divine Madman

We drive into the Punakha Valley to reach the temple of Drukpa Kuenly after a short walk. He is better known as “Divine Madman”, the divinely mad man who revolted against Orthodox Buddhism and advocated religion as an inner feeling. The way there is adorned with phallic symbols of all types and sizes, which are intended to honor his work as a symbol of fertility. Today childless couples still make a pilgrimage to the small temple to ask for fertility. We are then taken by car to the Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Luck”. An imposing example of traditional architecture from the 17th century. Shimmering in gold and silver, the former headquarters of the government has always been the coronation site of all kings and was the wedding palace of the reigning king in 2011, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. Erected in the middle of the Punakha Valley at the point where the feminine, gentle and the masculine, wilder section of the river meet. Due to the warm climate in Punakha (1,350 m), the monastery castle is used as a winter residence for many monks from Thimphu. We take our lunch with a farming family. Afterwards we will attend an archery performance or lend a hand ourselves – as the Dukes of Cambridge did on their visits.

At the beginning of our afternoon hike, we cross a swinging suspension bridge decorated with colorful prayer flags and then walk through picturesque rice terraces. The four-storey temple Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten awaits us at the summit with a panoramic view over the Punakha Valley. His paintings come from the oldest of the four traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, the Nyingma tradition. The mother of the current king had this magnificent temple built a few years ago.

Travel time: approx. 30 min.
Hike: approx. 1.5 hours (+200 m / -200 m)
Overnight in a hotel / guest house in Punakha
(B / L / D)

7th day:

Over the Pele La Pass to the seat of the kings of Bhutan

On our drive to Trongsa we pass the Pele La Pass (3,400 m) and visit the large white temple built on it called Chendebji Stupa from the 18th century. Four eyes are painted on the stupa that look in each of the four cardinal directions to ward off evil spirits. Once in Trongsa, we visit the imposing Trongsa Dzong, the largest dzong in all of Bhutan. The imposing monastery fortress towering over the gorge and skyward is visible from afar from the road. There is a mystical atmosphere in the narrow, nested courtyards. We enjoy a wonderful view from the terraces and turrets. The view extends for many kilometers (in suitable weather conditions). Since Trongsa was the former seat of Bhutan’s ruling families, the Ta Dzong Museum shows which is housed in the old watchtower, true treasures of historical artifacts of the royal family. We learn interesting facts about the history of Bhutan.

Driving time: approx. 6 hours
overnight at the hotel in Trongsa
(B / L / D)

8th day:

To the “spiritual heart of Bhutan” – Bumthang

After breakfast we drive over two passes into the spiritual heart of Bhutan, to Bumthang. Home to some of Bhutan’s oldest temples and monasteries. We’ll take a look at the 7th century Jampey Monastery. which is considered to be the oldest monastery in Bhutan. Inside, colorful wall paintings with scenes from the life of the Buddha have been preserved in their original state. After a traditional lunch on a farm with butter tea and macaw (local schnapps) we start our monastery hike, which leads us to two more spiritual highlights. To one of the holiest monasteries in Bhutan, the Kurjey Lhakhang: The famous Tibetan monk Guru Rinpoche is said to have meditated and taught here in a cave that is now part of the temple. The already somewhat dilapidated Thamsing Temple is adorned with valuable wall paintings.

Driving time: approx. 3 hours.
Hike: approx. 1 hour (flat)
Overnight stay in a hotel / guest house in Jakar (Bumthang)
(B / picnic lunch / D)

Day 9:

Through the Chokhor Valley to the Shugdrak Temple

While we enjoy the beauty of the landscape passing by, a somewhat bumpy road leads us to the starting point of today’s hike in the Chokhor valley. It is said that this area is literally breathtaking and that there are no words to describe it. The gently ascending path leads us across blooming meadows to a path that in turn leads us to a handful of houses belonging to the farmers who live there. In addition to dairy products, honey, apples and wheat are among the diverse yields from this district. We pass prayer wheels driven by streams and reach the Shugdrak Temple, which is located on a rock. The special feature are the steps to the entrance of the temple, which are enclosed by a cave. When we sit down on the wooden veranda with a beautiful view over the valley, we do the same as Guru Rinpoche, who is said to have meditated here for a day. Built on a rock, the temple reminds us a little of the famous Taktsang monastery (tiger’s nest) in Paro.
After a picnic in a beautiful landscape by the turquoise blue river, we visit Bhutan’s oldest dzong, the Jakar Dzong, which defiantly watches over the plain. Perhaps we will see the monks blowing their long horns and practicing mask dances for the next festival.

Driving time: approx. 1 hour. Hike: approx. 2 hours (+ 200m / -200m)
Overnight stay in a hotel / guest house in Jakar (Bumthang)
(B / L / D)

10th day:

With the black-necked cranes in the Gangtey glacier valley

Today we start early in the morning to get to the starting point of our hike in time. We start in the village of Rukhupchu (3200m). The local population uses this route to switch between their homes in summer and winter. It leads us through yak pastures and rhododendron forests, which bloom in bright pink and red tones in spring. At the highest point, the longtail pass (3650m), the wide high valley of Phobjikha (also called Gangtey valley) opens up. There is something picturesque about it: It is one of the few glacial valleys in Bhutan and during the winter months from November to March it is home to the black-necked cranes. This now legally protected species is drawn here from the high plateaus of Tibet. There is even a festival in their honor in November. It is said that the birds signal their arrival,

Driving time: approx. 5 hours. Hike: approx. 4 hours (+ 450 / -400m)
Overnight in a hotel in Wangdue / Gangtey
(B / L / D)

11th day:

On a tour of discovery through the nature reserve

How convenient. If we want to hike the Phobjikha valley, we can do it directly from our hotel. Put your shoes on and let’s go! The “Black-Necked Crane Information Center” is only a few steps away. It contains interesting information about the protected valley and its flora and fauna. Not far from here we visit the local school in the village of Beta and see how the children are taught. They always look forward to visits from guests. On the further way we pass the Gangtey monastery again, which has recently been extensively renovated, pass through the village of Semchubara and blue pine forests. The locals also call the lichens on the trees “the beard of old men”. When we look at them, we know why. Maybe we are lucky and we can watch the black-necked cranes on their flight for the favor of the opposite sex. On the way back to our hotel we pass a few villages.

Hike: approx. 4 hours (+ 100m / – 100m)
Overnight in a hotel in Wangdue / Gangtey
(B / L / D)

12th day:

Panoramic hike on the Dochula Pass with a 360 ° view

From the Gangtey valley the road towards the Punakha valley climbs steadily until it climbs the Dochula pass (3100 m). Today’s circular hike in the “land of the thunder kite” – as Bhutan is also called – begins at the large chorten of the pass. We hike uphill through fir and rhododendron forests, past colorful fluttering prayer flags to the monastery and meditation place Lungchutse (3600m). There, the 360 ​​° view of the Himalaya mountains lets us pause for a moment. If the weather permits, we look at the peaks Chomolhari (7,326 m), Masang Gang (7,165 m), Zongophu Gang (7,100 m). And to the highest peak in Bhutan: Gankar Puensum (7,570 m). To this day it is the highest mountain in the world that has not yet been conquered. Eagle eyes can even spot the Gasa Dzong monastery fortress 50 km away in the middle of a sea of ​​green.
Our vehicle then continues to Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan, which we reach in the evening.

Walking time: approx. 4 hours (+ 500m / -500m) Driving
time: approx. 4 hours
Overnight stay in a hotel in Thimpu
(B / L / D)

13th day:

On the cultural footsteps of Thimphus

Today we dedicate ourselves to the history and culture of Thimphus. We have the opportunity to visit the National Memorial Chorten, a memorial to the third king who died in 1972. With its golden towers and bells, the Chorten is a particularly striking point in the cityscape and is also known as a landmark of Bhutan. We also visit the takin, Bhutan’s national animal, in the extensive royal park and the Zilukha nunnery and the school of arts and traditional handicrafts. The National Library houses a valuable collection of Bhutanese writings dating back to the 8th century. When we arrive in Paro in the evening, it’s time to relax or take another leisurely tour of the city.

Driving time: approx. 1.5 hours
overnight in a hotel in Paro
(B / L / D)

14th day:

Above the Paro high valley to the tiger’s nest (Taktsang monastery)

We leave after breakfast. The path is pleasantly wide and takes us uphill to the monastery in around 2 hours. We hike high above the Paro Valley. If necessary, we can also organize horse transport to the lookout point. The most famous monastery castle in Bhutan, the Tiger’s Nest, (3,120 m) sits confidently on a rocky promontory. It offers an impressive view over the Paro valley. It is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists. It is said that Guru Rimpoche flew here on the back of a tiger when he brought the teachings of Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th century. Then he meditated for months in the cave where the Taktsang monastery was built. We enjoy the atmosphere of the holy place and refresh ourselves in the nearby tea house. On the way back to Paro we visit Kyichu Lhakhang.

Travel time: 1 hour. Hike: approx. 4 hours (+600 m / -600m)
Overnight in a hotel in Paro
(B / L / D)

15th day:

Over the Himalayas to Delhi

Our guide accompanies us to the airport after breakfast. We have another chance to see the Himalayas from a bird’s eye view. When we arrive in Delhi, our local partner awaits us and takes us to the hotel. Free time in Delhi in the afternoon.

Overnight in a hotel in Delhi

16th day:

Flight home and arrival in Europe

Back in another world. When you come home, it is also important to give yourself some time to get back home.

Bhutan 4

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