Longing for an adventure that's truly off the beaten track? This immersive, culturally rich tour of western Bhutan is just the thing. Fall in love with the capital, where ancient traditions go hand-in-hand with modern life. Explore the beautiful glacial valley of Phobjikha. And don't miss out on a mountain hike to a peaceful monastery.

Highlights

  • Hike to the famed Tiger's Nest monastery
  • Visit Phobjikha - the Valley of the Cranes
  • Explore Paro, Bhutan's capital
  • Hike through a rhododendron forest for a Himalaya view

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Thimphu Thimphu
Day 2 Sightseeing in Thimphu Phobjikha
Day 3 Phobjikha - the Valley of the Cranes Phobjikha
Day 4 Punakha and the Punakha Dzong Punakha
Day 5 Paro and Dochu La Paro
Day 6 Hike to the Tiger's Nest Monastery Paro
Day 7 Departure   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Bhutan!

Streets of Paro

Welcome to Bhutan! When you arrive at the airport in Paro, your guide will be waiting to welcome you and transfer you to the capital city of Thimpu, 7,612 feet (2320m) above sea level. Settle into your hotel, then head out again to visit the great Tashichhoedzong monastery, the Memorial Chorten stupa, and the giant Buddha statue, where you'll have sweeping valley views as the sun sets.

Day 2: Sightseeing in Thimphu

Monks in the garden at Simtokha Dzong in Thimphu

Experience everything Bhutan's capital has to offer with a half-day tour of its most important cultural sites and monuments. Highlights may include the Choki Traditional Art School, the Institute of Traditional Medicine Services (formerly known as the Indigenous Hospital), the Thangthong Dewachen Nunnery, the Takin Sanctuary (where the national animal of Bhutan is on display), the Zangdopelri Temple, the Changangkha Monastery, Simtokha Dzong fortress, a craft workshop, a textile museum, a weekend market, and/or the Changlimithang Stadium.

After your morning tour and a tasty lunch, head to the Phobjikha Valley - also known as the Valley of the Cranes. As you leave Thimphu, you'll be surrounded by forest as your car climbs to the Dochu La Pass, with its spectacular northern-facing mountain views. Continue to the subtropical Valley of Punakha and down into the glacial valley of Phobjikha.

Day 3: Exploring Phobjikha

Phobjikha Valley

Today is all about the Phobjikha Valley. Start with a visit to Gangtey Gonpa - an important monastery. From there, a beautiful nature trail winds down into the valley. As you amble down the trail, you'll come to the wetlands where the famed cranes reside in winter. If you're still feeling adventurous, the nearby villages, local monasteries, and farmhouses are worth a visit. Finally, wrap up the day with a stop at the Black-Necked Crane Information Center

Day 4: Punakha

Punakha Dzong

After breakfast, make your way from Phobjikha to Punakha where you'll visit the impressive Punakha Dzong, an architectural masterpiece located on the confluence of two rivers. In the late afternoon, visit Punakha's town and market. Then attend the evening prayer ceremony at the nunnery.

Day 5: Paro and Dochu La

Chimi Lhakhang temple

Start your fifth day in Bhutan with a short, easy hike to the Chimi Lhakhang temple, which is dedicated to Bhutan’s famous Saint Drukpa Kuenley. Then climb back into the car for a drive back up to the Dochu La Pass where another hiking opportunity awaits. Hike through a rich landscape of moss, laden birch, hemlock, and rhododendron trees, winding your way 1,640 feet (500m) above the pass to the Lungchutse Temple at Lungchutse Lhakhang. Picnic here against a backdrop of sweeping views, then make your way about an hour downhill to the monastic center Trashigang Dzong.

From Trashigang Dzong, head to Paro by car and spend the late afternoon exploring the Paro Valley. The Ta Dzong (watchtower) (which houses the National Museum), Rinphung Dzong fortress, and Dumtse Lhakhang temple (known to hold some of the finest murals in the kingdom) are just a few of the gems the valley has to offer. 

Day 6: Hike to the famed Tiger's Nest Monastery

The Tiger's Nest Monastery

On your last full day in Bhutan, strap on your hiking boots and spend the day winding your way up the trail to the legendary Taktang Monastery (Tiger's Nest). The steep one- to three-hour climb will bring you face-to-face with one of Bhutan's most iconic sites. If you're feeling adventurous and are longing for a more remote experience away from other tourists, several more monasteries - including Zangdopelri and Ugyen Tshemo - await further up the hill with fewer tourists and more views.

When you're done soaking it all in, make your way back down to the Paro Valley for a stop at Bhutan's oldest temple: Khyichu Lhakhang. Then return to Paro for a farewell dinner with your guide. Traditional Bhutanese dishes to try before you go include Ema Datshi (chiles and cheese), Jasha Maroo or Maru (spicy chicken), and Phaksha Paa (pork with red chiles).

Day 7: Departure

Children in Bhutan

Farewell, traveler! Pack your bags, enjoy a hearty breakfast, and then head to the airport to catch your flight!