Scenic Bumthang Bhutan. A typical Buddhist dzong of Bhutan.

Explore the best of Bhutan

Trips/Discover Bhutan

12 days

Bhutan is beloved for it's rich culture, peaceful ethos and sky-piercing peaks that drop away into lush valleys dotted with small towns, farmhouses and livestock like yaks. Yet we know it can be daunting to plan the perfect itinerary, so we've done it for you! Simply pop this itinerary into your checkout basket for an epic cultural tour of beautiful towns, valleys, monasteries and fortresses.

Detailed Itinerary

Bhutan map

Day 1: Fly into Paro and drive to Thimphu

The flight into Paro is one of the most spectacular in the entire Himalayas! Upon landing, your guide drives you to Thimphu, which sees you passing Tschogang Lhakhang, a 15th-century Tibetan Buddhist temple. You also stop en route at Chhuzom, where the Thimphu and Paro Rivers converge and there are pretty Tibetan, Nepalese and Bhutanese stupas to appreciate. After checking into your hotel, enjoy an evening walk along the main street and explore the market and crafts bazaar.

Paro Airport, Bhutan

Day 2: Visit Buddha Point and do a pretty nature walk (2 hr)

Today we visit Buddha Point, which has the largest statue in the country and offers a great view of Thimphu valley. From here we do an easy two-hour hike along a pretty forested trail that passes villages and thousands of prayer flags. The trail ends at Changangkha Lhakhang, an historic temple and monastic school. After lunch, we take a short drive to Pangri Zampa, one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan, and then to visit a traditional paper-making factory. In the evening we visit Tashichho Dzong, which houses the king's throne room and various government bodies.

Buddha viewpoint with Himalayas behind, Bhutan

Day 3: Scenic Dochu pass drive and explore Gangtey

Today we drive to Gangtey (Phobjikha), which takes us over the famous, chorten-dotted Dochu mountain pass (3,080 m). On a clear day, you can enjoy a spectacular view of the peaks of the eastern Himalayas. En route we visit the market of Wangdue Phodrang, a town famous for its bamboo products, slate and stone carvings. The valley of Gangtey is one of the most beautiful spots in Bhutan. After lunch, we explore Gangtey village on foot and visit Gangtey Goempa which is the biggest Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan.

A foggy morning in the kingdom of Bhutan, memorial stupa at the highest point of Dochu-la pass

Day 4: Gangtey Nature Trail (2 hr) and Tangjey Lhakhang hike (5 hr)

After an early breakfast, enjoy the easy Gangtey Nature Trail, which introduces you to Phobjikha valley. From the small hilltop overlooking Gangtey Goemba, you head downhill through flower meadows to Semchubara village, and from here through beautiful forests and into open valley. Later we head to Tangjey Lhakhang (3,050 m), walking through dwarf bamboo stands, vegetables fields, orchards and the small village of Kilkhorthang. We end up at Tangey Lakhang (temple) โ€“ its foundation dates back to the early 1500s. A nice way to end the day is with a little of the locally distilled traditional drink!

Low angle view of small wooden footbridge over stream in lush Landscape of mountain Phobjikha valley, Bhutan

Day 5: Drive to Trongsa (4 hr) and visit two historic fortresses

After breakfast we drive to Trongsa across the Pele mountain pass (3,100 m). En route we visit Chendebji Chorten, which was built in the 18th century by Lama Shida from Tibet to cover the remains of an evil spirit. After checking into the hotel in Trongsa, we visit the striking Trongsa Dzong (fortress), ancestral home of the royal family built in 1648. Both the first and second kings of Bhutan ruled from here. All four kings were invested as Trongsa Penlop ('governer') prior to ascending the throne. We then visit the mountainside Ta Dzong, built to guard Trongsa.

Trongsa dzong and town, Bhutan travel guide

Day 6: Travel to Bumthang (3 hr) and see traditional wool weaving

We drive this morning to Bumthang, crossing Yutong pass (3,400 m) to get there. Bumthang is one of the most spectacular regions in Bhutan and encompasses four valleys (Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura) that range in altitude from 2,600 m to 4,000 m! the landscape here is a mixture of farmland and conifer forests. Bunthang is the heartland of Tibetan Buddhism in the country and therefore unsurprisingly is home to many prominent temples and monasteries. Once settled in, we visit a traditional wool fabric weaving centre and then after that the day is yours to explore at leisure.

Buddhist prayer wheel in a temple in Bumthang, Bhutan, Asia

Day 7: Guided tour of the best of Bumthang

After breakfast we embark on a guided tour of Bumthang. We start by visiting Kurje Lhakhang (a temple built where the saint Padma Sambhava subdued a local demon), Jambey Lhakhang (a seventh-century temple!) and Tamshing Lhakhang (which houses some of the oldest wall paintings in Bhutan). We then head to Jakar Dzong, a huigely impressive fortress-monastery. We take a stroll into the village to visit the little handicrafts shop at the entrance to the town. After lunch we enjoy a short hike up to Lhodrak Kharchhu, a working monastery that sits above the main town. The monastery is part of an extensive effort to preserve and revitalise Tibetan culture.

Tibetan yak in green field

Day 8: Scenic drive to Punakha (7 hr)

Today is one of those necessary days of driving, as driving is the best way (and often only) way to get around the country. So after breakfast, we checkout from the hotel and drive west to Punakha, the old capital town of Bhutan. Upon arrival, you can check into the hotel and then have the rest of the day at leisure. We recommend just exploring the town on foot, as it's very pretty. Punakha sits in a lush valley and has a beautiful dzong at the confluence of the Pho and Mo Rivers.

Punakha footbridge with prayer flags

Day 9: Hike to Chimi Lhakhang (1.5 hr) and visit Punakha's fortress

After breakfast, take short roundtrip hike through rice paddies and villages to Chimi Lhakhang, known as the temple of fertility. It's widely believed that couples unable to conceive should pray here and then they'll be blessed with a child very soon. Later we visit Punakha Dzong, a massive fortress built at the confluence of two rivers. We then head to Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang, a nunnery that's perched on a ridge amid pine trees and overlooking the valleys of Punakha and Wangduephodrang. The complex is a higher learning and meditation centre for nuns and offers religious as well as life skills training like embroidery, statue-making and thangka painting.

Tibetan Buddhist monks in red robes sitting on low wall by Punakha Dzong with jacaranda in bloom

Day 10: Drive to Paro (4.5 hr) and explore three incredible fortresses

After breakfast, we drive to Paro along a scenic highway. En route, we visit Simtokha Dzong, the country's oldest fortress, built in 1627. Once in Paro, and after lunch, we visit Ta Dzong, originally built as watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons and armour. We then do a short walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong (or Paro Dzong), which means 'Fortress of the heap of jewels'. Along the wooden galleries lining the inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore.

Kingdom of Bhutan - Paro Dzong - Himalayas

Day 11: Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery

This morning we hike to Taktshang Monastery (or Tigerโ€™s Nest), an improbably placed complex that clings to a cliff 900 m above the floor of Paro Valley. While the winding climb can be taxing, the pristine forest and sweeping views are ample reward! In the afternoon we drive to Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. And in the evening, we visit the seventh-century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of 108 temples built in the Himalayas by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo. The temple's building marked the introduction of Buddhism to Bhutan.

 Man in cap wearing backpack sitting and looking across at Tiger-s Nest Monastery, Paro valley, Bhutan (1)

Day 12: Departure day

After breakfast at the hotel, your tour guide drives you to the airport and helps you with the exit formalities for your flight home. We feel sure that you're going to be leaving Bhutan with incredible memories that will stay fresh in your mind for years and years to come!



A black necked crane standing on green grass, bird of Bhutan


Price Includes

Daily visa (which is a sustainable development fee, or SDF)

All ground transport, including airport transfers

4-star accommodation in Thimphu, Paro and Punakha, 3-star in Gangtey, Trongsa and Bumthang

Breakfasts, lunches and dinners

2 bottled waters per person per day

Experienced and knowledgeable English-speaking tour guide and driver

Price Does Not Include

International flights

Travel insurance


Tips (customary)

Where you'll stay

Grey deluxe room Hotel Druk, Thimphu

Hotel Druk Thimphu

Newly renovated, most of the rooms at this stylish hotel offer a lovely view of the Wangchu (Thimphu River) and the city beyond.

Exterior facade of Tenzinling Resort, Paro, Bhutan

Tenzinling Resort

This beautiful resort is ideally situated for you to explore Paro on foot. Room service is available, and there's range of cuisine on offer in case you're feeling homesick for a familiar meal.

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Taktshang monastery in Paro (Bhutan)
Tibetan yak in green field
 Bhutan mutton momo soup with dumplings
Group shot in Bhutan, Bhutan travel guide
 Tiger's Nest with prayer flags on a sunny spring day