The tranquil kingdom of Bhutan awaits travelers with spectacular landscapes and sacred temples. Explore the best of Bhutan's natural wonders and cultural highlights on this 7-day itinerary. Begin with sightseeing in the capital of Thimphu, then drive across the high-altitude Dochula Pass to the semi-tropical valley of Punakha, where you'll hike across suspension bridges and go river rafting. Continue to the Ha Valley, where you will sleep in a traditional farmhouse, then cycle to Paro and end the trip with a trek to the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery.

Highlights

  • Explore the capital's best museums and markets
  • Go on a rafting trip through the Punakha Valley
  • Visit Bhutan’s oldest temple in the beautiful Paro Valley
  • Enjoy a homestay on a Bhutanese family farm
  • Hike to the famous Tiger's Nest Monastery

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Paro & Transfer to Thimphu Thimphu
Day 2 Go on a Guided Tour of Thimphu Punakha
Day 3 Explore the Punakha Valley on a Rafting Trip Punakha
Day 4 Hike to Lungchutse Goemba Ha
Day 5 Enjoy a Cycling Trip to Paro Paro
Day 6 Trek to Paro Taktsang Paro
Day 7 Depart Bhutan  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Paro & Transfer to Thimphu

The Memorial Chorten in Thimphu
The Memorial Chorten in Thimphu

Welcome to Bhutan! Begin by transferring from Paro to the capital city of Thimphu. You'll do some sightseeing around town this afternoon. Start at the Memorial Chorten, resplendent in the sunlight with its golden spires and soft sounds of religious bells. This center for tantric Buddhism contains one of the finest collections of Buddhist statues in the world. Continue to Kuensel Phodrang, home to the Buddha Dordenma — one of the largest Buddha statues in the world at 169 feet (54 meters) tall. It's a great place to watch the sunset. 

Day 2: Go on a Guided Tour of Thimphu 

A local archer at Changlimithang Stadium
A local archer at Changlimithang Stadium

After breakfast, you'll set off on a guided tour of Thimphu. You'll start with the oldest temple in the city, Changangkha Lhakhang. Pass through Changlimithang Stadium, where you can shoot some arrows at the archery ground. Depending on your interest, you can make your way to other attractions such as the Motithang Takin Preserve, home to Bhutan's national animal, or the Textile Museum. You could also venture out on a hike to the Tango Monastery on the northern end of Thimphu Valley.

In the afternoon, your guide will drive you across the Dochula Pass to Punakha. When the weather is clear, you can see wonderful views of the eastern Himalayas on this route. You'll arrive in Punakha and visit Chimi Lhakhang, the famous fertility temple that is devoted to the "divine madman" of Buddhism, Drukpa Kinley. Then you'll have the evening free to relax.

Day 3: Explore the Punakha Valley on a Rafting Trip

Rafting in the Punakha Valley
Rafting in the Punakha Valley

After breakfast, you'll travel to the idyllic countryside of the Punakha Valley north of Punakha. Cross one of Bhutan's many iron suspension bridges, then begin your short, steep hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chöten, a shrine built in 2004 to guard Bhutan against evil forces. There are fantastic valley views from the rooftop.

After descending back to the bridge, you will start your rafting trip down the Po Chu River. This gentle river makes for a relaxing rafting trip, and you will be able to enjoy more views of the beautiful valley before returning to shore at the impressive Punakha Dzong, an architectural masterpiece located on the confluence of two rivers. Your guide will show you all the chapels and notable sites inside the compound. After your tour, you will continue to the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan. You'll also have the option to attend an evening prayer ceremony at the local Buddhist nunnery. 

Day 4: Hike to Lungchutse Goemba

The view from Lungchutse Goemba
The view from Lungchutse Goemba

Today, your guide will drive you to Dochula Pass for yet another opportunity to view Bhutan’s peaks in the north that form the natural boundary with Tibet. From here, take a two-hour hike through rich forests of birch, hemlock, and rhododendrons to the small temple of Lungchutse Goemba. The temple is located 1600 feet (500 meters) above the Dochula Pass on a hilltop. You'll take in astonishing views among the wispy clouds and enjoy a quiet picnic lunch.

If you'd like to continue exploring, you can walk an hour downhill to another retreat and monastic center, Trashigang Goemba. After you look around, your driver will pick you up and take you on a three-hour ride to Ha, where you will spend time with a host family and sleep in an authentic Bhutanese farmhouse. The impressive Lhakhang Karpo, one of the finest temples in Bhutan, is within walking distance of where you'll be staying tonight.

Day 5: Enjoy a Cycling Trip to Paro

A pair of travelers biking to Paro
A pair of travelers biking to Paro

A cycling adventure awaits today! Your guide will drive you to Chele La Pass this morning to pick up your rental bike. You'll cycle 22 miles (36 kilometers) down a quiet, paved road to Paro. Along the way, you will be able to stop to see the cliffside temples of Dzongdrakha. Then you'll pedal along roads lined with willow trees, apple orchards, large whitewashed farmhouses, ancient temples, terraced fields of rice, and forested hills. In the late afternoon, you will tour the National Museum and the Rinpung Dzong Fortress before settling in at your hotel for the evening.

Day 6: Trek to Paro Taktsang

A view of Paro Taktsang
A view of Paro Taktsang

Today, your guide will take you on a hike to Bhutan's most recognizable landmark, the legendary Paro Taktsang (Tiger's Nest Monastery). The steep climb will bring you face to face with this spectacular monastery, which was built in 1692. You will see intricate prayer wheels, tapestries, statues depicting important Buddhist figures, and more. If you'd like to get off the beaten path, you can visit more remote monasteries further uphill such as Zangdopelri and Ugyen Tshomo. After you finish exploring the temple complex, you will return to the Paro Valley for a tour of Bhutan’s oldest temple, Kyichu Lhakhang. At the end of the day, enjoy a farewell dinner with your guide on the last night of the trip.

Day 7: Depart Bhutan

Inside one of Paro's many dzongs
Bhutanese children in traditional dress

It's time to say goodbye to Bhutan! Transfer to the airport for your flight out. Tashi delek (blessings and good luck) and safe travels!

More Bhutan Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Bhutan? Check out these other 7-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 Culture & Outdoor Adventure in Bhutan - 7 Days
Map of Culture & Outdoor Adventure in Bhutan - 7 Days