If you can't choose between a cultural tour and a trekking adventure, this 5-day trip around Bhutan is the one for you. You'll get the best of both worlds along the journey, visiting dzongs (fortresses), temples, museums, and historic monuments in the Paro Valley and Thimphu. Then you'll drive to Chele La Pass for panoramic views over the mountains, getting out of the car to hike through native forest to one of the kingdom's oldest Buddhist nunneries.

Highlights

  • Visit temples and fortresses in the Paro Valley
  • Hike to one of the oldest Buddhist nunneries in Bhutan
  • Take in sweeping views of the Himalayas from Chele La Pass
  • Get your photo printed on a Bhutanese stamp in Thimphu

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Paro & Get Oriented in Bhutan Paro
Day 2 Sightsee in Paro Paro
Day 3 Explore the Thimphu Valley  Paro
Day 4 Drive to Chele La Pass & Hike to Kila Goemba Paro
Day 5 Depart Bhutan   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Paro & Get Oriented in Bhutan

The National Memorial Chorten

Welcome to Bhutan! You'll start in the Paro Valley. Do some sightseeing today, starting at Paro Dzong (also called Rinpung Dzong, the "Fortress of a Heap of Jewels"). Constructed as a simple fort in the early 15th century, it was developed into a much more commanding fortress in 1646. It's one of the finest examples of traditional Bhutanese architecture in existence. Today, the building houses a monastic school and several interesting paintings, including an unusual Bhutanese interpretation of a mandala. Cross the traditional wooden covered bridge across the Paro River. In times of war, the bridge was frequently retracted to protect the dzong.

Day 2: Sightsee in Paro

A stupa facing out over a valley in Bhutan

Today, continue to explore quaint Paro and its surrounding areas. You'll tour Ta Dzong, a watchtower built in 1649 and renovated in 1968 to house the National Museum. The unusual round building is said to be in the shape of a conch shell. Displays include an impressive collection of thangkas (Buddhist paintings on cloth) depicting Bhutan's important saints and teachers. There's a natural history gallery with a three-dimensional map of Bhutan, and an underground tunnel is said to lead from the watchtower to the water supply below. Later, swing by Kyichu Lhakhang, a Buddhist temple in Paro. It is one of the oldest monasteries in the country, built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. 

Day 3: Explore the Thimphu Valley 

After breakfast, begin your day with a visit to the Changangkha Lhakhang, a fortress-like temple perched on a ridge above Thimphu. Established in the 12th century, the temple's courtyard offers a fascinating view of the Thimphu Valley. Spend some time exploring the capital of Thimphu, which has many attractions for visitors. During a guided tour today, you will visit several of the city's cultural sites, monuments, and temples. You'll attend a crafts workshop and explore the Textiles Museum.

Check out the archery ground at the National Stadium, where you can try Bhutan's national sport for yourself, 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. Or step into the School of Astrology, a popular stop for Bhutanese parents in search of auspicious names and blessings for their newborns. Pick up a one-of-a-kind souvenir at the post office museum, which traces the development of the Bhutanese postal system — and prints your photo on a Bhutanese stamp.

Day 4: Drive to Chele La Pass & Hike to Kila Goemba

Looking out over the Paro Valley

Begin the beautiful drive to Chele La Pass this morning. At 12,500 feet (3800 meters), it's Bhutan's highest road that's navigable by cars. On a clear day, you can see the snow-capped dome of Bhutan’s second-highest peak, Mount Jhomolhari. You'll get out of the car to hike along an Edelweiss-covered ridge, descending through dense rhododendron forest and passing shaggy yaks, on your way to Kila Goemba. This serene retreat is the home of Buddhist nuns who lead an undisturbed life of religious studies, prayer, and meditation. The nunnery is one of the seven oldest nunneries in the kingdom. It's a sacred place — ample reward for the effort of the hike.  

Day 5: Depart Paro 

Traditional prayer flags

Today the trip comes to an end. Transfer to the airport to catch your flight out. Safe travels!

More Bhutan Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Bhutan? Check out these other 5-day Bhutan itineraries, with trekking adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 

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Map

Map of Cultural Tour of Paro & Trekking in Bhutan - 5 Days
Map of Cultural Tour of Paro & Trekking in Bhutan - 5 Days