Whitewater rafting, hiking, archery lessons: the whole family will enjoy an active exploration of Western Bhutan on this 10-day itinerary. Highlights include the uphill climb to the Tiger's Nest Monastery, a rafting trip down the Punakha River, and an overnight stay with a Bhutanese family in their farmhouse. With a mix of cultural education and outdoor adventure, this lively trip is wonderful for travelers of all ages.

Highlights

  • Hike to the famous Tiger's Nest Monastery
  • Have fun white-water rafting on the Punakha River
  • Try archery, the national sport of Bhutan
  • Experience Bhutanese family life at a homestay in a farmhouse

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Paro & Drive to Thimphu Thimphu
Day 2 Sightsee in Thimphu Thimphu
Day 3 Explore the Phobjikha Valley Phobjikha
Day 4 Visit the Temple of a "Divine Madman"  Punakha
Day 5 Hike & Raft in the Punakha Valley Punakha
Day 6 Picnic in the Hills Ha
Day 7 Go Hiking in the Ha Valley Ha
Day 8 Discover the Paro Valley Paro
Day 9 Trek to Tiger's Nest Monastery Paro
Day 10 Depart Bhutan   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Paro & Drive to Thimphu

Grand architecture and scenery in Bhutan 

Welcome to Bhutan! Arrive in Paro. You'll be welcomed by your guide and transfer to the capital city of Thimphu. Depending on your time of arrival, there may be time to visit the great Buddhist monastery of Tashicho Dzong and the famous stupa known as Memorial Chorten. From the Giant Buddha, enjoy sweeping views over the valley below as the sun goes down. 

Day 2: Sightsee in Thimphu

The Bhutan Takin, a cross between a goat and an antelope

The capital has many attractions for visitors. During a guided tour today, you will visit several of Thimphu’s cultural sites, monuments, and temples. You'll also attend a crafts workshop and explore the Textiles Museum. Check out the archery ground at the National Stadium, and stop by the Takin Preserve to see the Bhutan takin, a quirky-looking animal that's related to the goat and the antelope. It's the national animal of Bhutan.

Day 3: Explore the Phobjikha Valley

A village in the Phobjikha Valley

Today you will drive to the Phobjikha Valley. As soon as you leave Thimphu, you'll be surrounded by forest. The road climbs gently to the Dochu La Pass at an altitude of 10,000 feet (3050 meters); from here, you can enjoy spectacular mountain views to the north. Continue driving to the subtropical valley of Punakha. Then it's another two hours to the glacial valley of Phobjikha, where you'll visit the centuries-old Gangtey Goenba monastery and the Black-Necked Crane Center to learn about the graceful birds that migrate to Bhutan every winter.

Day 4: Visit the Temple of a "Divine Madman" 

Chimi Lhakhang (Monastery of Fertility) in Bhutan

Today, your driver will transport you to lower-altitude Punakha. You'll notice the temperature is warmer due to the lower altitude. In the valley, you will visit Chimi Lhakhang, the famous temple of the "divine madman" Drukpa Kinley. This famous fertility temple is visited by people from all over Bhutan (and the world) who seek blessings as they attempt to fulfill the wish of having children. 

Day 5: Hike & Raft in the Punakha Valley

Punakha Dzong, an architectural marvel 

After breakfast, drive into the idyllic countryside north of Punakha. From a small suspension bridge, you will start a short, steep hike to Khamsum Yuelley Chorten, a relatively new stupa with wonderful views of the valley below. Then return to the bridge; from here, you'll embark on a white-water rafting trip. The Punakha Chu is a gentle river, so the adventure is well-suited to families. End the river trip at the impressive Punakha Dzong, an architectural masterpiece on the confluence of two rivers. 

Day 6: Picnic in the Hills

Hiking near the Dochu La Pass

Today, drive back over the Dochu La Pass and enjoy another opportunity to view Bhutan’s peaks in the north. These mountains form the natural boundary with the Tibetan Plateau. Even finer views will appear as you approach the hilltop Lungchutse Lhakhang. A two-hour hike through birch, hemlock, and rhododendron trees will bring you to the Lungchutse Temple. Enjoy a picnic lunch — the views are astonishing on a clear day! Then walk downhill to another retreat and monastery, Trashigang Goemba. Your car will pick you up here and drive you to the Ha Valley, where you will spend the night in an authentic Bhutanese farmhouse.

Day 7: Go Hiking in the Ha Valley

A hiking trail in the Ha Valley

From your homestay, drive to the northern end of the Ha Valley, the most scenic part of the valley. Today's agenda features an easy hike through lovely villages, passing temples along the way. The hike takes around three to four hours to complete. In the afternoon, visit the impressive temple complex of Lhakhang Karpo.

Day 8: Discover the Paro Valley

Blue skies over the Paro Valley

After breakfast, drive to the Paro Valley via the Chele La Pass. At 12,500 feet (3800 meters), it's Bhutan's highest road that's navigable by cars. On the way to Paro, you will stop to visit the Dzongdrakha Cliff Temples. Then enjoy exploring the Paro Valley, one of the loveliest valleys in Bhutan. The roads are lined with willow trees, and you will see apple orchards, whitewashed farmhouses and temples, terraced fields, and forested hills in this wonderfully peaceful landscape. In the late afternoon, visit the National Museum and the Rinphung Dzong Fortress.

Day 9: Trek to Tiger's Nest Monastery

Tiger's Nest Monastery

Enjoy a hike today to the legendary Taktsang Goenba (Tiger's Nest Monastery). A steep climb will bring you face-to-face with this spectacular monastery. You may also hike beyond Taktsang to more remote monasteries further uphill, such as Zangdopelri and Ugyen Tshemo, to get away from tourist crowds and enjoy fantastic views. Return to the Paro Valley, where you will stop to check out Bhutan’s oldest temple, Khyichu Lhakhang, dating back to the 7th century. Enjoy one last dinner before the trip comes to a close.

Day 10: Depart Bhutan 

Bhutanese children in traditional clothing

After breakfast, transfer to the airport in time for your departure flight. Safe travels!

More Bhutan Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Bhutan? Check out these other 10-day Bhutan itineraries, with trekking adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 

Or, describe your ideal trip and we will connect you with a local specialist to make it happen.

Map

Map of Family Adventure in Western Bhutan - 10 Days
Map of Family Adventure in Western Bhutan - 10 Days