Take in the best Bhutan has to offer, from culture to mountain scenery. Visit the impressive dzongs of Thimphu and Punakha, see the real Bhutanese countryside, and set off on day hikes before embarking on the arduous 7-day Jomolhari camping trek. Soak in the world of stunning snow-capped mountains, takins, Himalayan vultures, and even encounter the elusive snow leopard.

Highlights

  • Take on a 7-day camping trek to the Himalayan giant of Mount Jomolhari 
  • Explore the main cultural highlights of Western Bhutan
  • Day hike to the spectacular Tiger's Nest Monastery
  • Experience local life in Bhutan’s authentic countryside

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Paro and drive to Thimphu Thimpu
Day 2 Thimphu Thimpu
Day 3 Thimphu - Punakha Valley Punakha
Day 4 Punakha Valley Punakha
Day 5 Punakha - Paro Paro
Day 6 Drive to Shana and begin trek to Thongdu Zam Tented camp
Day 7 Trek to Soi Tangthanka Tented camp
Day 8 Trek to Jangothang Tented camp
Day 9 Rest day for acclimatization Tented camp
Day 10 Trek across Bhonte La to Soi Yaksa Tented camp
Day 11 Trek to Thongbu Shong Tented camp
Day 12 Trek to Shana and drive to Paro Paro
Day 13 Hike to Taktsang Goenba Paro
Day 14 Depart from Paro  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Paro and drive to Thimphu

Tashicho Dzong

Upon arrival in Paro today you are welcomed by your guide and transferred to Thimphu (1.5 hours) at 7600 ft (2320 m). Depending on your arrival time, you'll have the opportunity to visit the great Tashichho DzongMemorial Chorten, and the Giant Buddha statue, from where you'll enjoy stunning valley views as the sun sets in the valley. 

Day 2: Thimphu

Children hiking above Thimpu

The capital of Bhutan has endless sights for visitors to explore while here. A full day tour of Thimphu’s cultural sites and monuments will take you to spots such as the Traditional Art School (painting school), Indigenous Hospital, and Nunnery at Zilukha. After a break for lunch, continue on to other attractions such as the Takin Sanctuary (the national animal of Bhutan), Zangdopelri Temple, Changangkha Monastery, Simtokha DzongTextile Museum, weekend market, and National Stadium.

Day 3: Thimphu - Punakha Valley

Chimi Lhakhang Temple

After breakfast, set off on your transfer to Punakha (3 hours). As you leave Thimphu, the forests begin to thicken and the road climbs toward the Dochu La Pass at 10,000 feet (3050 m). From here, visitors can see as far the northernmost mountains of the country on a clear day. After descending into the valley of Punakha,  you will have the chance to visit the traditional village of Richengang and take a short hike to Chimi Lhakhang Temple, dedicated to Bhutan’s famous Saint Drukpa Kuenley.

Day 4: Punakha Valley

Suspension bridge over the  Punakha Chu (River)

After breakfast, you set off to the idyllic countryside north of Punakha. From a small suspension bridge, start your short and steep hike to Khamsum Yulley Chorten, a relatively new stupa with amazing interiors and spectacular valley views. From here you continue hiking through rice fields and along the riverside to another suspension bridge. At this bridge, your car is waiting to drive you to the impressive Punakha Dzong, an architectural wonder located on the convergence of two rivers. Later this afternoon, visit Punakha town and market where you can attend an evening prayer ceremony at the local nunnery.

Day 5: Punakha - Paro

View atop Lungchutse Lhakhang

Today you drive back to Dochu La Pass for another opportunity to view Bhutan’s peaks in the north which form the natural boundary with the Tibetan Plateau. Even better views emerge from Lungchutse Lhakhang, located above the Dochu La Pass atop a hill. A two-hour hike through rich vegetation including moss, laden birch, hemlock, and rhododendrons trees, will bring you to the Lungchutse Temple. Sit down to a picnic lunch with astonishing views (on a clear day) before walking downhill to another retreat and monastic center, Trashigang Goemba (1-hour walk). Here you will be picked up and driven to Paro for the evening (2 hours).

Day 6: Drive to Shana and begin trek to Thongdu Zam

Drugyel Dzong ruins
Drugyel Dzong ruins

This morning you leave Paro and drive 30 minutes north to the ruins of Drugyel Dzong. Originally burned down in a fire in the 1950’s, the once stunning fortress is currently being rebuilt. From here you drive another hour or so along rocky farm road to Shana Zam. Here you meet your trekking crew and companions for the next six days. Hand over your luggage and begin your trek! Today’s route is a 3-4 hour gradual hike up the valley following the Pa Chu River to where your camp awaits at Thongduzam

Hiking Distance: 5 miles (8 km) / 3-4 hours

Day 7: Trek to Soi Tangthanka

Camp at Soi Tangthangka

Embark on a short day of trekking with slow gains in height in order to let your body adjust to the lack of oxygen. Continue along the river through a magnificent forest of pine and spruce, mixed with oak, birch, and maple. As the valley begins to narrow, you follow the winding trail to bridge between two valleys from where (weather permitting) you can view Jomolhari at the head of the valley. Your trail them continues along the west bank of the Paro Chu for another half mile or so to Soi Tangthangka where the camp staff is waiting with a hearty meal. 

Hiking Distance: 6 miles (9 km) / 4-6 hours

Day 8: Trek to Jangothang

Camp at Jangothang

Leave the forest behind as you cross a small army post and stupa to enter a more open landscape surrounded by high ridges and snow-capped peaks. The trail continues through juniper forest, past yak-herder villages, to your camp atop a beautiful grassy meadow facing the enormous east face of Jomolhari.

Hiking Distance: 9 miles (15 km) / 6 hours

Day 9: Rest day for acclimatization

View of Chomolhari

Today is a scheduled rest day, intended to aid in acclimatization before crossing the high passes on your upcoming trek. Jangothang is one of the most spectacular camping places in the entire Himalaya. Snow-capped peaks form the western side, with the majestic Jomolhari mountain just in front of you, while clear streams run through the valley, surrounded by villages and thriving lakes. One option is to take a short hike up the ridge to a grassy summit at approximately 16,000 feet (5000 meters) from where you can take in an incredible close-up view of Jomolhari and its glaciers. Afterwards, the cooks will have had all day to prepare a small feast for your dinner.

Day 10: Trek across Bhonte La to Soi Yaksa

Peaks of Jichu Drake and Tserim Kang

Today's hike is a bit challenging, as you cross the first real pass on the trek. The trail starts with a steep hike to Tshopu Lake. Looking back towards the west, great views of Jomolhari and Jichu Drake begin to appear as you continue the gradual climb up to Bhonte La Pass (16,000 ft). From this area, you can often spot blue sheep, marmots, and migrating Himalayan birds, as well as fabulous views of the Jichu Drake and Tserim Kang peaks alongside Jomolhari. After the pass, it is a steep descent downhill to the small yak-herding village of Soi Yaksa and your camp near Dumzo.

Hiking Distance: 10 miles (16 km) / 7 hours

Day 11: Trek to Thongbu Shong

Soi Yaksa Valley ridge

This morning your hike starts with a gentle climbing trail to the top of the eastern ridge of the Soi Yaksa Valley. From here, enjoy an incredible view of the range of mountains to the north. Afterwards, cross Jomolhari (14,800 ft) and descend to your campsite in the wide grassy Thangby Valley.

Hiking Distance: 7 miles (11 km) / 5 hours

Day 12: Trek to Shana and drive to Paro

Local Bhutanese people

Embark on the last day of your trek! After a short, steep climb out of camp, leave the remote rocky area by following a ridge to Thombu La. From this vantage point, you can catch a glimpse of the Paro Valley to the south as well as stunning mountain views in all directions. Start the steep descent and rejoin the route to Shana, where you began your trek. Bid farewell to your trekking crew and meet your vehicle for the drive back to Paro and the comforts of your hotel.

Hiking Distance: 8 miles (13 km) / 5 hours

Day 13: Hike to Taktsang Goenba

View of Tiger's Nest Monastery

Embrace your final full day with a hike to the legendary Taktsang Goenba (Tiger's Nest Monastery). A steep 1-3 hour climb will bring you face to face with this spectacular monastery. For those up to it, you will have the chance to hike beyond Taktsang to visit more remote monasteries such as Zangdopelri and Ugyen Tshemo. With this experience you will find yourself away from the ‘crowds’ at Taktsang and able to take in the great valley views in solitude. Return to Paro Valley, where you stop at Bhutan’s oldest temple, Khyichu Lhakhang, before returning to Paro for a farewell dinner.

Day 14: Departure from Paro

Young Bhutanese monks

After breakfast, it's time to transfer to Paro airport to board your homebound flight.