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Bhutan Drukgyul Hiking Tour is a 12-day adventure in the Land of Druk- Thunder Dragon. The comprehensive tour package takes you on an escapade to the inimitable landscape of Bhutan, familiarizes you with the Bhutanese Tribes and their age-old architectural masterpieces. An important aspect of this extensive walking tour is the consistency in the architecture of the dramatic monasteries from the rural settings to the urban ones in Paro and Thimphu.

Bhutan is decorated with monasteries built in ancient times by the lineage that ruled the Kingdom. It is an unparallel experience to walk the caves of the Tiger’s Nest that was once walked by the spiritual leader of Bhutan, Guru Rimpoche. It is an experience unlike others to view the snow-capped mountains from the viewpoint of Chele la Pass and observe the unique collection of ancient armories in the Gangtey monastery. It is interesting to visit the largest dzong, the Trongsa monastery and one of the oldest temples in Kyichu Lakhang. Excursing through the rhododendron and pine laden forests and intermingling with the villagers in Longtey and the town of Chamkhar is another pleasant experience. All these experiences make up for the best hiking destination in the Land of Druk, Bhutan. 

Highlights

  • Visit the Rinpung Dzong which is one of the largest monasteries in Bhutan built in the 15th century.
  • Cross the Chele La Pass to be offered with vistas of snowcapped mountains like Mt. Jumolhari and Jichu Drake.
  • Get the chance to visit the Kila Gompa/Chele La Gompa with seven in the vicinity.
  • Get amazed by the curved frontier of the Tango monastery built by the Divine Madman, Lama Drukpa Kunley
  • Visit the teaching center and mediational retreat of Cheri Goemba built by Ngawang Namgyal in the 16th century
  • View the 108 memorial Druk Wangyal chortens in the viewpoint of Dochula pass
  • Visit the second largest and second oldest Punakha Dzong sitting on the riverbed between Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu rivers
  • Interesting sightseeing of the Chimi Lhakhang temple built by the Divine Madman with phallus objects and paintings symbolizing fertility.
  • Visit the pagoda styled Gangtey Monastery in Phobjikha valley
  • Visit the Trongsa dzong that is the ancestral home of the royal family built in the 16th century
  • Make a stop at the Yathra factory with textile weaving factory located in Chumey with female workers working on wooden looms
  • Visit the Kurje Lhakhang which is the resting place of the remains of three Druk Gyalpos.
  • Excursion of one of the oldest temples, Jowo Temple in the Kyichu Lakhang
  • An adventurous hike to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, one of Guru Rimpoche’s meditation retreats, clinging on a rocky cliff 900m/2,952ft above the valley of Paro

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights
Day 1 Arrival in Paro
Day 2 Excursion to Chele La Pass and Kila Gompa Nunnery
Day 3 Hike to Tango and Cheri Monastery
Day 4 Drive from Thimphu to Dochula and hike to Lungchuzekha Monastery
Day 5 Punakha Village Hike
Day 6 Drive from Punakha to Phobjikha Valley with Gangtey monastery tour
Day 7 Hike from Gangtey to Longtey Village and drive to Trongsa
Day 8 Drive from Trongsa to Bumthang
Day 9 Bumthang Hike
Day 10 Fly from Bumthang to Paro
Day 11 Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery
Day 12 Final Departure from Paro

Trip Overview

Bhutan Drukyul Hiking tour takes you to the mystical realm of Bhutan and introduces you to the dzongs, temples and Goempas amidst the green hills and milky mountains. The Land of Thunder Dragon welcomes you to visit some of its oldest and largest monasteries like Rinpung Dzong, Tiger’s Nest monastery, Jowo Temple in Kyichu Lakhang, Punakha Dzong and more. These monasteries hold cultural and spiritual significance to date. Along with the momentous architectural sites, you get a chance to interact with the Bhutanese tribes living in the central villages of Punakha, Phobjikha, and Longthey. The way of life, culture, traditions of Bhutan is truly depicted in this tour.

The tour begins in the valley town of Paro with a visit to one of the largest monasteries, Rinpung Dzong. It is known best for the amazing wooden carvings on the doors and windows, fourteen shrines and chapels along with cultural wall paintings. The next day takes you to the Chele La pass at 3988m in between the Paro and Haa valley, with majestic views of Mt. Jumolhari and Jichu Drake. After a three-hour hike, you reach Kung Karpo La towards the Kila Gompa nunnery. The nunnery is a meditation center for the practicing nuns.

The nest day’s hike takes you to Tango from Begana. The Tango Dzong built in the 12th century by Lama Drukpa Kunley/ Divine Madman holds the sandalwood statue of Chenresig. You will spot many monks in their maroon outfit, practicing meditation. You will then visit the Cheri Goemba which is currently a teaching center and meditational retreat. Along the way, you can spot many Gorals- mountain goats.

You will take a drive to the Dochula pass and view the 108 memorial Druk Wangyal chortens on the next day. Then you will head to Lungchuzekha monastery through rhododendron clad forest. The same day tour takes you to Punakha Dzong sitting in between the Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu river. It was once the administrative center for the government of Bhutan.

The next day's hike is around the Punakha Village where you will visit the Khamsum Yueley Namgyal chorten through Yabesha village. Then begin your walk to Chimi Lakhang through Lobesa. The Chimi Lhakhang built by the Divine Madman contains phallus paintings and objects which was promoted by him. On the next day, you will drive to Phobjikha valley with views of semi-tropical vegetation and an alpine environment towards Lawala Pass at 3200m. The main attraction of the day is the Gangtey monastery where the black-necked Cranes are known to circle the monastery when they come to roost in the winter.

You will head on from Gangtey to Longtey village on the next day. After visiting the Kaychu La pass, you will take a descend to Longtey village. You visit the largest Dzong in Bhutan, Trongsa which is known to house as many as 25 temples.

The next day’s drive to Bhumtang stops briefly at Yathra factory where you can witness the women engaged in textile weaving. After reaching Bumthang, you will visit Chamkhar Town and get introduced to the locals. You will begin the next day’s hike to Kurje Lhakhang through the Chokhor Valley. Kurje Lakhang is known to be the place where spiritual leader Guru Rimpoche left the secret spiritual treasure. From there you move on to Dorjibi village and then to another landmark Tamshing Goemba.

You will take a short visit to the Kyichu Lakhang on the next day after flying to Paro from Bumthang. Kyichu is known best for one of its oldest temples Jowo Temple built in the 7th century. This is also one of the places which are known to hold spiritual treasures concealed by Guru Rimpoche.

The next day’s hike is a special one as you visit the cultural icon, Tiger’s Next Monastery where Guru Rimpoche is known to have flown on a tiger’s back and meditated for 3 months. You can visit the two caves Thulo Phuk and Pel Phuk known for their cultural significance. After an excursion of the amazing architectural wonders in the landscape of Bhutan, you will head back home on the next day’s flight from Paro International airport.

Route Map

Bhutan Drukyul Hiking Tour 12 Days Route map

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Paro

The Bhutan Drukyul hiking tour begins with your flight to the valley town of Paro. As you land at the Paro International Airport, the only international airport in Bhutan, you will experience the adventure of flying closely between the high hills, a challenge on its own. The mountains are seen in a panoramic view from the window. Our representatives will welcome you at Third Rock Adventures, then transferred to your respective hotel.

You will begin your day tour on today itself. Your first hike will take you to Rinpung Dzong after crossing an old wooden bridge. Rinpung meaning ‘fortress of the heaps of jewels’ is one of Paro's most prominent monasteries as it is one of the largest in Bhutan. Built-in the 15th century by the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu sect as a fortress, Rinpung now serves as a monastery. You will head upwards by crossing long stone stairs to reach the main building. The main attractions of this monastery are the fourteen shrines and chapels found inside. You can spot the fine wall paintings and the wood-carved windows and doors.

After heading back, you will be taken to your hotel in Paro for the night's stay. You can enjoy the evening market with your new-found friends in Bhutan. 

Day 2: Excursion to Chele La Pass and Kila Gompa Nunnery

On this day, after having breakfast, you will head to Chele La Pass by crossing a forest which eventually opens up to a view of snowcapped mountains like Mt. Jumolhari and Jichu Drake. Chele La at the altitude of 3988m lies between Haa and Paro valley. The road is narrow and steep and has prayer flags at the pass. From there you will take a three-hour hike to Kung Karpo La at an elevation of 4,100m/13,451ft. From the pass, you will get to see the vistas of snowcapped mountains.

You will head on to the Kila Gompa nunnery after taking a steep descend from the Kung Karpo la. Kila Gompa, which is locally named Chele La Gompa is bestrode in the cliff that faces Paro. There are seven temples along with retreat huts in the vicinity. It was established in the 9th century as a meditation center by Drupthob Chhoeje Norbu and is prominent for being the oldest nunnery in Bhutan. You will find the nuns committed to a secluded life and conducting their daily spiritual practices. After you head downwards, you will be met with the driver who will take you on a long drive to Thimphu for the overnight stay.

Day 3: Hike to Tango and Cheri Monastery

Cheri Monastery Cheri Monastery also known Chagri Dorjeden Monastery is built by Ngawang Namgyal in the 16th century

Early in the morning, you will take a morning drive from Thimphu to Begana. The Bhutan Drukyul hike gets even more exciting on this day as you take a hike towards Tango Goemba. Through a steep trail, you will take a climb for about an hour and then an ascend will take you to Tango. You can opt to visit the Zhabdrung cave as you take the left on the way. Tango was built in the 12th century by the Lama Drukpa Kunley who is dubbed as the ‘Divine Madman’. The curved frontage of the monastery is unique to Bhutanese dzongs. One of the major attractions of Tango apart from the amazing exterior is the sandalwood statue of Chenresig which was built by Zhabdrung sometime in the 16th century. At present, you will spot the monks studying and practicing Buddhism here.

Cheri Goemba is our next stop for a cultural excursion. After crossing a wooden bridge and taking a steep route you will head on towards the monastery. Since the route aligns with the Day Hikes In Bhutan And Cultural Discovery, you will get a chance to intermingle with other tourists on this day and a few more days. Along the way, you will spot Gorals- mountain goats. Cheri Goemba is known to be built by Ngawang Namgyal in the 16th century and served the Southern Drukpa Lineage as a teaching center. At present, it acts as a meditation retreat for monks. You will be driven back to Thimphu after enjoying the day's hike. Overnight stay at hotel in Thimphu.

Day 4: Drive from Thimphu to Dochula and hike to Lungchuzekha Monastery

Dochula Pass Dochula Pass- Bhutan–High on top of a mountain pass on the road from Thimphu to Punaka

On this day, after having breakfast, you will head out on a long drive to Dochula pass which sits at an elevation of 3100m/10,170ft. On a clear day, you will be lucky to see the views of the snowcapped mountains. A wide space welcomes you to the sight of 108 memorial Druk Wangyal chortens. From here on you will begin your day’s hike to Lungchuzekha monastery. You will walk through the rhododendron covered forest on the steep trail. The high ridges are decorated with colorful Buddhist prayer flags. The vistas of the valley below and the green hills offers a wonderful sight, unlike others.

After having lunch and enjoying the mesmerizing natural beauty in the Land of Druk, you will head back to the rhododendron, hemlock, and fir laden forest into Punakha. Upon reaching Punakha, you will head on to visit the Punakha Dzong. Punakha Dzong sits between the river bed of two rivers, the Mo Chhu regarded as the female river and the Pho Chhu regarded as the male river. The monastery is an architectural marvel and is the second largest and second oldest in Bhutan. It is regarded as the ‘palace of great happiness or bliss’. Listed as a tentative site in Bhutan’s tentative list for UNESCO inclusion, Punakha Dzong was once the administrative center for the government of Bhutan.  From here on you will be transferred to your hotel in Punakha for the overnight stay.

Day 5: Punakha Village Hike

Today you will take a full day to explore Punakha which was once the capital of Bhutan until the capital was moved to Thimphu in 1955. You will head on to the Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten with a thirty-minute hike through a rice field from Yabesa village. The Chorten was built by Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchu, the Queen's mother in 2004. The exterior of the building is like a pagoda built with many wood carvings and the top looks like a stupa. The interior of this chorten has four stories with images of deities in the marvelous mandalas. From the viewpoint, you can spot the valley afar and rolling hills that seem to melt into the blue sky. The Chorten is silent and serene, so many tourists come here for some soul-searching. 

In the afternoon after having lunch, you will drive to Lobesa and begin your short hike through the rice fields towards Chimi Lhakhang temple. The temple is perhaps the most unique and interesting throughout Bhutan. It was built by Drukpa Kuenley- the Divine Madman who was known for his unconventional Buddhist teachings and practices. Among them, he promoted the symbolization of phallus objects and paintings denoting fertility. Chimi Lhakhang hosts several such paintings on the walls and objects nearby of cultural significance. Hence, Chimi Lhakhang is known as the fertility temple where females are believed to be blessed with fertility. After enjoying the stories and the views, you will head back to your hotel in Punakha for an overnight stay.

Day 6: Drive from Punakha to Phobjikha Valley with Gangtey monastery tour

Phobjikha Valley Phobjika or gangtey Valley is the favorite destination of bird watchers and nature lovers.

On this day, you will head to the Phobjikha valley which is a wide valley in central Bhutan. On the way during the winter season, you will spot black-necked Cranes gracefully flying around. The scenic splendor of the semi-tropical vegetation, alpine environment keeps you amazed. After heading through rhododendron and dwarf bamboo forest you will reach Lawala Pass at 3200m/10,498ft  just miles before Pele La pass which sits at an elevation of 3300m. The Lawala pass offers views of the cloudy forests and the green valley. It has a small stupa and is adorned with colorful prayer flags throughout the way.

On the small ridge of the center of the valley, you will see the Gangtey Monastery. The monastery is a pagoda-shaped marvel built in the 17th century and has been the seat of the Pema Lingpa tradition. One of the rather unusual mysteries of the monastery is the visit of the Black-necked Crane circling three times around the monastery as they arrive and circling three times as they return. You can spot the minute details in the architectural figures of Garuda, features of other Buddhist leaders can be found around the monastery. It boasts a unique collection of ancient armory and weapons. On this day you will stay at Phobjikha valley.

Day 7: Hike from Gangtey to Longtey Village and drive to Trongsa

Trongsa bhutan View From Trongsa, Bhutan Photo: Max/flickr

After having breakfast, you will start your hike from Gangtey to Longtey village. The hike takes you to a trail that stretches along meadows and into farms. After reaching the top of the Kayche La pass at the elevation of 3700m/12,139ft, marked with colorful prayer flags, you will take a gradual descend to Longtey village. You will spot yaks grazing in the fields that stretch a long way down.

You can have your lunch near the road point where you will be picked up for a drive to Trongsa. It Is situated almost at the center of Bhutan. Trongsa translates to a ‘new village’ in the Tibetan language. It is also the ancestral home of the royal family. The main site that you will go to visit is the Trongsa Dzong. The monastery was built in the 16th century by Ngawang Namgyal. It is the largest dzong of Bhutan and holds the administrative division of the government of Trongsa. It has been listed as a tentative site in Bhutan’s tentative list for UNESCO inclusion. It is known to have as many as 25 temples. After viewing the courtyards, passageways, temples, architecture of the monastery you will head back to Trongsa Town for an overnight stay.

Day 8: Drive from Trongsa to Bumthang

On this day you will be heading to the northern side of Bhutan, Bumthang, one of the most historic districts known for the abundance of cultural sites. It is a major highlight of your tour. Heading through the lush valley and hilly forests you will make a stop at the Yathra factory which is a textile weaving factory located in Chumey. You will find many female workers working with bright colored wool fabrics in a special weaving machine made of wood. The Yathra’s make good bags, jackets, seat covers, table cloths, and more. Chumey is located in the southern part of Bumthang. The factories are located right on the highway so all tourists that pass the highway make sure to visit it once. You can also buy some cheap but high-quality woolen products from the nearby area.

After that, you will continue your drive and reach Bumthang. You will be transferred to your hotel then head on for the exploration of Chamkhar Town after lunch. Chamkhar town is packed with traditional houses and restaurants, grocery stores, and more. You can intermingle with the locals with the assistance of your guide. The true lifestyle of the Bhutanese people can be spotted out on the streets of the town. Stay overnight at Chamkhar town.

Day 9: Bumthang Hike

Bumthang - Jakar Dzong Jakar Dzong (Bumthang) - Constructed in 1549, by the Tibetan Lam Nagi Wangchuk, It also became the seat of the first king of Bhutan.

This day marks one of the main highlights of your tour as you walk through the Chokhor Valley in Bumthang. You can begin with a visit to the Kurje Lhakhang. It is known best to be the final resting place of the remains of three Druk Gyalpo. According to the myth, Guru Rimpoche, the spiritual leader left hidden teaching in the form of a large tree while he was meditating in the caves. After viewing the main building, you can walk to the east to cross a footbridge and then uphill to an opposite trail. In a while, you will reach the Dorjibi village which has a weaving center where women are seen weaving. The area is known for potato production. You can interact with the locals in the farmhouses and understand more about the Bhutanese culture and traditions.

After that, you will have your lunch and head to another landmark, Tamshing Goemba which takes a 30-minute walk on the east bank trail. You will find monks roaming around the courtyards. It is also inscribed in the tentative list of World Heritage Sites in Bhutan. You can see some amazing wall paintings depicting Buddhist culture and butter lamps lit in front of it for traditional purposes by the devotees. After the wonderful trip to Bumthang, you will then be transferred to your hotel for an overnight stay.

Day 10: Fly from Bumthang to Paro

On this day, after having breakfast, you will be driven to the domestic airport on a flight to Paro. The flight is short yet alluring as you watch all the places you had been to. You will be transferred to your hotel in Paro. After having lunch, you can head for a visit to the Kyichu Lakhang monastery. It is situated in the Lango Gewong and the Jowo Temple in the vicinity is regarded as one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. It is known to have been built in the 7th century by Songsten Gampo, a Tibetan Emperor. As per the beliefs, Guru Rimpoche, the spiritual leader had visited this establishment and concealed many spiritual treasures. The temples have been restored many times before and new temples have been added throughout the centuries. The deity Vajrasattva, Vajrakilaya, and Palchen Heruka are worshipped in the annual rites of great accomplishments. It is a short hike day after which you will head back to your hotel for the night.

Day 11: Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery

Tiger's Nest Monastery Tiger's Nest Monastery (Taksang Monastery) Bhutan - Sacred Buddhist site located in Paro and constructed in 1692

You cannot complete the Bhutan Drukgyl hike without visiting the cultural icon, Tiger’s Nest Monastery. The monastery sits clinging on a rocky cliff 900m/2,952ft above the valley of Paro. Pine forests cover the area towards the monastery. The name Tiger’s Nest is attributed to the religious belief that Guru Rimpoche/Padmasambhava flew down to this cave on a tigress’s back to mediate. Guru Rimpoche is given a high value in the Bhutanese Culture as he is known to be the tutelary deity who introduced Vajrayana Buddhism to Bhutan. Also known as Paro Taktsang, it is one of the thirteen tigers' nest caves in which Guru Rimpoche did meditation.

There are four main temples and residential shelters for meditation. There are two main caves in particular that you need to see; Thulo Phuk where Guru Rimpoche first came to the cave on a tiger’s back, and Pel Phuk where he resided and did meditation. You will find many images of Bodhisattvas in the caves. As per tradition, the idols are worshipped with butter lamps placed in front that light up the place. From the rocky stairways, you can go from one building to the other for the excursion. From the balcony of the buildings, you can view the amazing Paro valley enveloped by green hills. After enjoying the ravishing spectacle, you will head back to your hotel in Paro for the night.

Day 12: Final Departure from Paro

You will prepare yourself for the final departure from Bhutan on this day. Our coordinates at Third Rock Adventures will transfer you to the Paro International Airport for your homeward flight. You will remember the architectural marvel of Rinpung Dzong, the views of Jumolhari and Jichu Drake, the wonderful villages of Punakha and Bumthang, the majestic Tiger’s Nest, and many adventures in your tour, as you head back home. After the wonderful trip with us, you can opt to visit the neighboring countries of India and Nepal for an elongated stay with similar experiences.


Route Map

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Trip Reviews

Travel experiences of our clients who recently returned from their trips.
100%

Based on 3 reviews

Étienne Stuart
flagsSaint Barthelemy
Nov 18, 2019
Wonderful trip with Third Rock Adventures
Nous avons passé un merveilleux voyage avec Third Rock Adventures. Ils ont offert d'excellents services, un bon guide et la meilleure gestion. Nous avons apprécié chaque jour. Ce circuit de randonnée et de camping de 7 jours a beaucoup à offrir aux admirateurs de la nature comme moi. Tout ce que nous voulons dire à travers cette revue, c'est que Third Rock Adventures fait un excellent travail en offrant des services de classe mondiale. Nous les recommandons vivement.
Salustio Scioscia
flagsItaly
Oct 19, 2019
Wonderfull wonderful adventure
È stato un trekking meraviglioso in Bhutan. La nostra avventura è durata 12 giorni ma ha premiato i ricordi per tutta la vita. Abbiamo visitato il Rinpung Dzong, attraversato il Chele La Pass, esplorato il monastero di Gangtey, Punakha Dzong, il monastero di Tango e molti altri. Ci è stata assegnata la migliore guida turistica, il nostro viaggio è stato gestito alla perfezione e soprattutto i servizi sono stati di prim'ordine. Sono contento di aver selezionato la terza avventura rock
Beulah Hogan
flagsUnited States of America
Sep 12, 2010
Great Service!
My best friend and I did Bhutan Drukyul Hiking Tour - 12 Days. We choose Third Rock for two prime reasons- 1) We knew them from our past adventure and second, we loved the way they handle every trips and their service is exceptional. This trip is unique, at least for me. It features some unique visit and exploration. We visited the second largest and second oldest Punakha Dzong, Rinpung Dzong, and even hiked to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. There's more. We explored Jowo Temple in the Kyichu Lakhang. We enjoyed the whole trek. Never wanting to leave Bhutan, we had to leave, but promised to visit again..soon...
Our connection with Third Rock from past years and traveling with them for more than once, led us to choose this trip. We asked them if they could suggest some unique and new trek and they recommended us this trek.
Hike to Tiger nest monastery.
Just do it. If you want to explore Bhutan, this trip should be on your bucket list
Recommendation

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