Bhutan Cultural Tour takes you to the fascinating cultural hubs in the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon.’ Discover one of the greenest nations in the world. Journey across a mountain kingdom where ‘Gross National Happiness’ is used to measure prosperity. You will be one of the chosen few visitors to step on this mountain kingdom that remained hidden from foreign eyes for centuries. The five days of your Bhutan short tour will be spent totally in immersing yourself in Bhutan’s unique Himalayan culture.
Your journey begins from the city of Paro and covers the cultural hubs of Thimpu and Punakha. Step into ancient fortresses and palaces built by Bhutanese royals. Set your eyes on ancient Buddhist relics and murals. Drive past a high mountain pass Dochula Pass (3100m) en route Thimphu to Punakha. Visit local homes and sacred monasteries and interact with monks and locals. Your itinerary includes a homestay in a traditional Bhutanese home. Amble down busy local markets and paddy fields. Learn how to wear a traditional Bhutanese dress. Enjoy a relaxing soak at the traditional Hot Stone Bath. The finale and highlight of your short trip to Bhutan is the incredible hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest), nestled on a cliffside, high above the Paro Valley. Are you interested in visiting the major Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Nepal and Bhutan? We have just the right itinerary for you – Nepal and Bhutan Buddhist Pilgrimage Tour. If you want to discover more of Bhutan then we suggest you book our longer Bhutan Heritage Tour.
Spring, Autumn and early Winter are the best seasons to take this trip. During these seasons the daytime temperatures are just right, neither too hot nor too cold. It may be a little chilly during the early mornings and evenings in Autumn and early Winter. During Spring, the flowers bloom and it is a delight to visit the Bhutanese countryside. Paro Dzong, covered by purple jacaranda blooms, looks heavenly during this time.
The Bhutanese Government has classified all hotels operating in Bhutan under grades A, B and C. Only hotels offering 3, 4 and 5 star services are graded. Based on availability you will be accommodated at either A or B grade hotels. On this tour accommodation is on a twin-sharing basis. If you are traveling alone you will get to share the room with a person of the same sex. Single supplement will be available on request.
In Paro you will be staying at the beautiful Tashi Namgyal Resort overlooking the Pa Chu River. The resort is located near the international airport and offers comfortable deluxe rooms, cottages and executive sites with attached bathrooms. At Thimpu your address is the Namgay Heritage Hotel. This hotels offer luxurious deluxe rooms and premium suites.
Featured amenities at both these establishments include free Wi-Fi, multi cuisine restaurant, bar, spa, fitness centre etc.
In Punakha enjoy a local homestay. You will be staying at a traditional farmhouse with a local family. If you wish to skip the homestay, you will be accommodated at Drubbchu Resort, which offers similar facilities like the above mentioned hotels.
Restaurants and eateries in Bhutan serve continental, Indian and Bhutanese dishes. Traditional Bhutanese dishes are made with cheese, chilies, meat, mushrooms, red rice and buck wheat. All meals are included in the trip price.
Enjoy phenomenal views of sacred Bhutanese peaks – the snowcapped Jumolhari and Jichu Drake- while flying into Paro. Bhutan has only one international airport located in Paro. Your guide will meet you at the airport terminal. Have lunch or some refreshments at a restaurant before heading to Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower now converted into the National Museum. The museum houses armors used by Bhutanese warriors in the bygone days, ancient thangkas (scroll paintings), old stamps, festival masks, manuscripts etc. Afterwards head down to Rinpung Dzong, also known as Paro Dzong or the ‘Heap of Jewels Fort’. The exhibits at this ancient fort include exquisite paintings depicting the life of Lord Buddha. ‘Little Buddha’ a movie by Bernardo Bertolucci was filmed here. Later take a scenic drive to Thimphu, the country’s capital. Overnight in Thimphu.
Head to one of the oldest Buddhist temples in the valley Changkha Lakhang. The temple is about eight hundred years old and sits high above the city of Thimphu. Parents of new-born babies bring their infants to this temple with the hope that they could get an auspicious name from one of the resident monks. Later head down to the main city and try dressing up like the locals. Your guide will take you to a shop where you can rent a traditional dress. The male’s traditional attire is known as ‘Gho’ while the female’s is known as ‘Kira’. The shop’s attendant will help you get dressed. Take pictures and commit this moment to memory. Later visit the local market or the school of traditional arts. Late afternoon, bid goodbye to Thimphu and drive to Punakha, the winter residence of Je Khenpo(Chief Abbot) and his council. En route stop briefly at Dochula Pass and enjoy mesmerizing views of Himalayan peaks. The pass is dotted with 108 memorial chortens built by the Queen Mother. After a brief stopover continue driving towards Punakha. Head to a traditional local home where you will spend the night. Overnight in Punakha.
Enjoy a traditional Hot Stone Bath before heading to Punakha Dzong. The Hot Stone Bath is taken in a traditional wooden or stone tub where hot stone slabs are immersed in the bath water to heat it. After the traditional bath head to Punakha Dzong, a traditional fortress dating back to 17th century. This grand whitewashed monument lies at the confluence of the Mo Chhu (silent mother) and Pho Chhu( noisy father) rivers. Cross a wooden cantilever bridge to enter the dzong. One of the most beautiful and ancient dzongs in Bhutan, Punakha Dzong now houses a monastery and a government office. Later drive to Paro. On the way stop at Lobesa and walk past traditional farms and mustard and paddy fields to Chimi Lakhang Temple. The temple is dedicated to a Buddhist ascetic named Drukpa Kuenley or the ‘Divine Madman’, who lived during the 14th century. He is known as the ‘Mad Saint’ or ‘Divine Madman’ for his unconventional methods of preaching Buddhism. After visiting the temple you continue driving towards Paro. Cross the picturesque Dochula Pass and the capital Thimphu before finally arriving in Paro. Upon reaching Paro, head to a hotel and take a well deserved rest. Overnight in Paro.
This day is packed with adventure. Have an early start and drive to the starting point of Taktsang Monastery Hike. The monastery hangs precariously on a rocky cliff 3000 feet above Paro valley. It is a steep ascent right upto the monastery. Pony rides are available till the halfway point. Though the hike up to the monastery may be tough, once you reach the top you are rewarded with astounding 360 degree views of the Paro valley and the surrounding peaks. Visit the monastery and pay obeisance to the guardian deities. It is said that this place has been blessed by Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche. The monastery is also known as Tiger’s Nest because according to legend Padmasambhava flew to this cliff on a tiger and meditated here. Overnight in Paro
After a delightful stay it’s time to bid farewell to Bhutan. Your guide will drive you to the airport on time to catch your international flight.
Click this tab for a detailed Trip Note containing essential information about this trip, including gear and equipment lists and practical information.Essential Trip Information
It was a fantastic trip. I really had a great time. Bhutan is an ideal destination if you like peaceful places, greenery and are interested in Buddhism. Being a Buddhist I found the visits to the monasteries and Buddhist shrines enlightening. After a tiring hike to Tiger’s Nest, it was good to spend some quiet time meditating. I enjoyed the homestay with a local family as well as the hot stone bath. The family was so warm and welcoming. Thanks to my guide Ugyen and driver Sonam. They were attentive, friendly and full of information about the local practices and culture.
You can fly into Bhutan from these cities - Kathmandu, Bangkok, Singapore, Dhaka, Delhi, Kolkatta, Mumbai, Bodhgaya, Bagdogra and Guwahati. Only two Bhutanese ailine companies - Druk Air & Bhutan Airlines- operate flights to Bhutan. Overland, there are three border (Indo-Bhutan) crossings from where you can enter Bhutan - Gelephu, Phuentsholing and Samdrup Jongkhar.