Bhutan Tour via Phuentsholing - 7 days

Bhutan Tour via Phuentsholing - 7 days

The Bhutan Tour via Phuentsholing is a delightful tour of seven days that lets you discover the abundant nature and rich cultural heritage that Bhutan is known for. Take an exciting journey across Thimphu, Punakha, and Paro, the three important Bhutanese cities, and experience the cultural highlights of each of these places. Discover the emerald meadows of Gangtey Valley, where black-necked cranes come to roost every winter. Step inside ancient lakhangs and dzongs and get mesmerized by the beauty of Bhutanese architecture. Spend time in nature, basking in the quiet beauty of the pristine environment. Slow down, relax, and feel your stress disappearing in the gentle breeze.

How Much Does This Trip Cost?

The trip's price depends on the type of services chosen by our clients and the group size. The cost of each trip we organize is different because we see travelers as individuals having their own particular needs and preferences.

Get ready for an incredible journey tailored to your interests and preferences, whether you're looking for a budget-friendly adventure or a luxurious getaway. Leave the planning to us as we take care of all the details, ensuring your dream trip becomes a reality. You can relax and focus on creating unforgettable memories that will stay with you forever.

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Trip Highlights

  • Cross into Bhutan via its southern land border, Phuentsholing
  • Drive across the three major Bhutanese cities–Thimphu, Punakha, and Paro
  • Visit the awe-inspiring Bhutanese dzongs or traditional fortresses
  • Find out why the 'phallus' is a sacred symbol at the Fertility Temple
  • Discover the rarely visited glacial valley of Gangtey or Phobjikha, the winter habitat of the endangered black-necked cranes
  • Learn more about Desho, or the Bhutanese art of paper-making
  • Experience warm Bhutanese hospitality at a village homestay in Gangtey
  • Adventurous hike to Tiger's Nest

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights
Day 1 Arrive in Phuentsholing (300 m/985 ft) and drive to Thimphu (2,350 m/7,710 ft) - 4-5 hour s drive (150 km)
Day 2 Full-day Thimphu sightseeing
Day 3 Drive from Thimphu to Punakha (1,310 m/4,300 ft) - 2-3 hours drive (76 km)
Day 4 Drive from Punakha to Gangtey or Phobjikha Valley (2,900 m/9,500 ft) - 2 hours drive (85 km)
Day 5 Drive from Gangtey to Paro (2,200 m/7,299 ft) - 4-5 hour s drive (180 km)
Day 6 Hike to Tiger's Nest or Taktsang Monastery (3,180 m /10,236ft ) - 5-6 hours hike
Day 7 Final Departure - drive from Paro to Phuentsholing, 140 km/4-5 hours drive

Trip Overview

Your trip begins with your entry to Bhutan via its southern border, Phuentsholing. Our guide and driver will greet you at the border and drive you to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. In Thimphu, you will get to visit the hilltop statue of Buddha Dordenma, the National Memorial Chorten, a stupa with an interior that can be explored, and the ancient castle fortress of Tashichho Dzong. You will also get to observe the takins, Bhutan's unique national animal. A visit to a traditional paper-making factory will let you experience first-hand the traditional art of papermaking.

A short trip to Punakha via the Dochula Pass will acquaint you with Bhutan's rich history and Buddhist spirituality. Visit the stunning Punakha Dzong and the sacred Fertility Temple where childless couples pray for a child. Explore the glacial valley of Phobjikhaor Gangtey and enjoy a homestay at a local farm. Learn more about the rural lifestyle and the interesting tale of the endangered black-necked cranes that fly to Phobjikhafrom Tibet. End your tour with an exploration of Paro and a hike to the mountaintop monastery of Taktsang, or Tiger's Nest. You will depart from Bhutan via the same route that you took to enter the country. Our guide and driver will drive you to the border town of Phuentsholing and drop you off at the exit point.

The Bhutan Tour via Phuentsholing is the perfect holiday package for those who wish to escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life and spend their holiday connecting with nature. The trip offers interesting insights into Bhutanese culture and traditions that are saturated with Buddhist spirituality. This trip can be combined with an Eastern Nepal tour or a tour of the Indian hill stations of Darjeeling and Sikkim.

This trip can be done in all seasons. However, be informed that Bhutan receives a lot of rainfall during the summer season and some snow in the winter season. The best seasons to view the Himalayan mountains are autumn and winter. Since Bhutan is a small country, the distance between cities and towns is not that great. So you won't have to spend many hours on the road.

People of all ages can enjoy this trip. However the hike to Tiger's Nest can be physically exhausting for kids, elderly tourists and those who are not used to hill hiking. The hike can be skipped if you don't feel up to it by informing us in advance. You can choose an alternative sightseeing spot instead of the hike.

Bhutan is one of the greenest countries in the world, and a trip to this tiny Himalayan nation will let you appreciate the beauty of our natural world. There's so much destruction happening in the world in the name of progress and development. Bhutan is one special country where you will still get to experience the harmonious co-existence of humans with nature.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1
Arrive in Phuentsholing (300 m/985 ft) and drive to Thimphu (2,350 m/7,710 ft) - 4-5 hour s drive (150 km)

The border town of Phuentsholing lies close to the Indian state of West Bengal. You can enter Phuentsholing via Jaigaon, the border town on the Indian side. Jaigaon can be reached from Darjeeling, Sikkim, and Siliguri within a day. It also lies close to Kakarvitta, Nepal's border town. There are private taxis and buses that go up to the border town. There's also a train service that runs up to Hasimara, the nearest railway station from the Indo-Bhutan border. From Jaigaon, it takes only a few steps for you to reach Phuentsholing after completing the immigration formalities.

Once you enter the Bhutanese side (Phuetsholing), our representative will receive you and welcome you to the Land of the Thunder Dragon. You will board a private vehicle and head towards Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. The drive to Thimphu is filled with picturesque sights of rivers, hills, and rural areas. You can see the traditional Bhutanese houses and farms along the way. Enjoy the ride surrounded by nature. On reaching the capital city, you will be driven to your hotel. Check-in and take a rest.

Overnight in Thimphu.

Day 2
Full-day Thimphu sightseeing

Full-day Thimphu sightseeing Thimphu sightseeing

Today you have a full day of sightseeing. Your Bhutanese guide will take you to explore the highlights of the city: the National Memorial Chorten, Buddha Dordenma Statue, Tashichho Dzong, and Royal Takin Reserve.

You will start your tour by driving to the center of the city and visiting the National Memorial Chorten. The massive white chorten is a Buddhist stupa built in memory of the third king of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who ushered in modern reforms in the country. The sparkling white stupa has a golden spire and a golden turret. It is surrounded by a wide green lawn and flower garden, where locals love to spend their time.

The Memorial Chorten has three floors each filled with shrines, ancient manuscripts, statues of Buddhist deities, photographs of the third king, and thanka paintings. The stupa was built in 1974 to represent the mind of the Buddha as per the wishes of the late king. The Chorten, with its beautiful garden, is a great place for observing the locals as well as learning more about Tibetan Buddhist philosophy.

Later, you will head towards the outskirts of the city and visit the famous Buddha Dordenma Statue. This massive statue of the sitting Buddha stands on Kuensel Podrang Hill, overlooking the city of Thimphu. From here, you can enjoy sweeping views of the Himalayan mountains as well as Thimphu Valley.

The gigantic statue of Buddha Dordenma took more than eight years to complete. It is made of copper, and covered in gold. It rises to a height of 169 feet. Inside the statue are 125,000 smaller statues of Lord Buddha. The Buddha Dordenma was completed in 2015 and was built to usher in world peace and harmony. The statue, which is one of the largest statues of Lord Buddha in a sitting posture in the world, is an iconic landmark of Thimphu.

Later, you will visit the Royal Motithang Takin Reserve to observe the national animal of Bhutan, the Takin. The Takin is a unique animal that looks like a mix of bison and Himalayan goat. Afterward, you will be driven down to the city. En route, stop at Tashichho Dzong, a beautiful traditional fort with a glorious history. The fort now houses government offices and the palace of Bhutan's royal family. Only some parts of the fort are open to the public.

After exploring the fort, you will be taken to the Jungshi Paper Factory, where you can see the process of traditional handmade paper making. Bhutanese traditional paper, known as Desho, is made from the barks of dhenap (Daphne) and dhekap (Edgeworthia) trees. The factory uses age-old methods that have been used for generations to create the paper. The barks are soaked and turned into pulp. Later, the pulp is strained on wooden screens and left to dry. The end product is a beautiful sheet of paper with a lovely hue.

The traditional paper was used to write religious manuscripts and texts. Now it has become a popular export item of Bhutan. There's a small showroom at the factory where one can purchase handmade products made from paper—notebooks, wrapping paper, greeting cards, lampshades, etc.

You can end your day with an evening stroll through the streets of central Thimphu.

Overnight in Thimphu.

Day 3
Drive from Thimphu to Punakha (1,310 m/4,300 ft) - 2-3 hours drive (76 km)

Drive from Thimphu to Punakha (1,310 m/4,300 ft) - 2-3 hours drive (76 km) Punakha Dzong and the Mo Chhu River, Punakha

Wake up early and have breakfast. Today you will depart Thimphu and head towards Punakha, Bhutan's former capital. The drive takes you past green and peaceful scenery. On the way, you will make a stop at Dochu La Pass to savor the panoramic views of the mountains. The mountain pass of Dochula is decorated with 108 beautifully painted miniature chortens that were erected in memory of soldiers who lost their lives in the service of the country. There is also a large temple, Druk Wangyal Lakhang, located close to the memorials. If it's open, you can visit the temple and enjoy the beautiful paintings and murals depicting the life of Shakyamuni Buddha.

Later, continue your journey towards Punakha. On reaching Punakha, you will check into your hotel and begin your sightseeing tour. First of all, you will get to explore the most popular attraction in Punakha, the Punakha Dzong.

The Punakha Dzong sits in a picturesque location, at the confluence of the Mo Chhu (Mother River) and Po Chhu (Father River), surrounded by endless stretches of green hills and paddy fields. Built in the seventeenth century, the dzong is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan. The dzong can be accessed via a traditional wooden bridge built across the Po Chhu River. Inside this grand fortress are

Buddhist shrines, chapels, a monastery, and the administrative offices of the Bhutanese government. The courtyards are surrounded by wooden structures with beautiful carvings. It's one of the best places to experience the beauty of Bhutanese architecture, accentuated by fine wooden carvings and vibrant paintings.

Before the capital was moved to Thimphu, Punakha used to be the capital of this Himalayan kingdom. The Utse, or central shrine of the dzong, holds the embalmed body of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of Bhutan, and precious Buddhist relics. Only the king and the Chief Abbot are allowed to enter the Utse.

After exploring the dzong, you can walk on Bhutan's longest suspension bridge, which lies close to the dzong. The 180-meter-long metal bridge is built over the Po Chhu River. Surrounded by incredible scenery, the bridge is one of the most popular photography spots in Punakha.

Later, you will visit Chimi Lhakhang, or the Fertility Temple. And explore the village of Sopsokha. Chimi Lhakhang was founded in the fifteenth century and is one of Bhutan's oldest Buddhist temples. The temple is dedicated to the Buddhist saint Drukpa Kuenley, who is also known as the Divine Madman for his unconventional methods of teaching Buddhism. The temple is a sacred pilgrimage site for married couples who wish to conceive. It is believed that the temple deity blesses childless women who seek aboon at the temple by walking around the temple holding a wooden phallus.

The village of Sopsokha, which lies close to the temple, has homes with giant phallus painted on the walls and at the entrance of the homes. Bhutanese regard the phallus symbol as sacred and believe that drawing the phallus symbols in their homes destroys evil spirits and negative energies. You can explore the village and maybe purchase souvenir items at the shops that sit outside the temple.

Later, you return to your hotel and take a much-needed rest.

Overnight hotel in Punakha.

Day 4
Drive from Punakha to Gangtey or Phobjikha Valley (2,900 m/9,500 ft) - 2 hours drive (85 km)

Drive from Punakha to Gangtey or Phobjikha Valley (2,900 m/9,500 ft) - 2 hours drive (85 km) Stunning View of Phobjikha Valley

Continuing your journey, you will head towards Gangtey, or Phobjikha, a glacial valley surrounded by gentle rolling hills and mountains. Enjoy the drive past a winding road filled with tall cypress, fir, and pine trees. The landscape of Phobjikha, dotted with verdant pastures and alpine meadows with horses and cattle grazing on the green grassy fields, will remind you of Switzerland. In Gangtey, you will stay at a homestay run by a local family. Staying with a local host family will be an enriching experience, as you will get to know more about Bhutanese culture and food.

On reaching Gangtey, you will be introduced to the host family, and after a brief rest and some refreshments, your guide will take you to visit Gangtey Monastery. This gorgeous monastery was built in the seventeenth century and renovated several times. The latest renovation took place in the year 2008. The courtyard of this large monastery is the venue for the Gangtey Tsechhu and the annual Black-Necked Crane Festival celebrated in November. During the festival dances, songs and skits are performed by artistes and villagers.

Gangtey is the nesting site of the endangered Black-Necked Cranes, who migrate from Tibet to thePhobjika Valley during the cold winter months. Every winter, these beautiful birds flock to the marshes of the Phobjikha Valley. The locals regard these birds as sacred creatures and believe that they bring blessings to their land. For this reason, people strictly refrain from harming or hurting the cranes.

of the Phobjikha Valley. The locals regard these birds as sacred creatures and believe that they bring blessings to their land. For this reason, people strictly refrain from harming or hurting the cranes. If you make this trip during the winter, you can visit the Black-necked Crane Visitor Center and observe the birds from the center's observatory. The center has also adopted an injured black-necked crane named Karma, who is unable to fly and join its flock due to an injury that damaged its wing. Karma can be seen wandering about in an enclosure where it is kept.

Overnight at a homestay in Gangtey.

Day 5
Drive from Gangtey to Paro (2,200 m/7,299 ft) - 4-5 hour s drive (180 km)

After breakfast, you will leave Gangtey for Paro. Along the way, enjoy idyllic views of local farms, villages, and terraced fields. On reaching Paro, you will take a sightseeing tour of the city and visit the Paro Dzong and the Ta Dzong. The Paro Dzong is a traditional fortress dating back several centuries. In the olden days, the massive fortress protected the locals from the marauding Tibetan army. Inside ProDzong are government offices, a monastery, and about fourteen shrines and chapels. The fort has a beautiful collection of ancient paintings and thangkas. One can enjoy mesmerizing views of Paro Chu, the major river that flows by the city of Paro and Paro Valley. Paro Tshechu, the biggest festival celebrated in Paro, is held on the grounds of the Paro Dzong.

After exploring Paro Dzong, you will head towards Ta Dzong, a circular watch tower that is located right above Paro Dzong. This impressive dzong houses the National Museum of Bhutan. Inside the museum are six floors filled with precious Buddhist relics, antiques, scroll paintings, and artifacts dating back to the Stone Age. The museum is the ideal place to discover Bhutan's rich Buddhist culture and history.

Later in the evening, you can stroll around the market area of Paro and shop for souvenirs.

Overnight in Paro.

Day 6
Hike to Tiger's Nest or Taktsang Monastery (3,180 m /10,236ft ) - 5-6 hours hike

Hike to Tiger's Nest or Taktsang Monastery (3,180 m /10,236ft ) - 5-6 hours hike Tiger's Nest or Taktsang Monastery

Today you will visit the most popular tourist attraction in Bhutan, the Tiger's Nest. Tiger's Nest, or Taktsang Monastery, is a Buddhist monastery built on the side of a rocky mountain with a sheer drop-off. A sacred pilgrimage site, the Taktsang Monastery is revered as the meditation cave of Padmasambhava, or the Second Buddha, who introduced Buddhism in Tibet and the Himalayan Regions. According to local lore, Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, flew from Tibet to this particular hill on the top of a tigress. He meditated at a cave where the present monastery has been built, for three years, three months, three days, and three hours. En route to the monastery, there are several water sources blessed by Guru Rinpoche that have healing properties.

Your hike will begin early in the morning after a scenic drive from your hotel to the base of the hill where the monastery is located. After getting down at the car park, your guide will purchase entry tickets at the ticket booth, and you will start your hike. The trail is shadowed by giant trees of cedar, pine, and fir. The foliage becomes thicker as you go deeper and higher. Enjoy your walk with the cheerful chirping of birds and the flutter of colorful butterflies.

Although the trail weaves past a steep hill, you won't have to use any special climbing gear or equipment. Just a walking stick or trekking poles (or just your feet) will be enough to get you up the steep incline. Along the way, you will find benches where you can sit and catch your breath before moving on. You will also find several signposts with Buddhist sayings and motivational quotes to encourage hikers.

After walking on the steep path for an hour or a couple of hours, you will stop at the midway point where a restaurant is located. Here, you will take a break and have some refreshments. The restaurant offers an amazing view of the Taktsang Monastery and Paro Valley. Some hikers who are unable to proceed further take pictures of the monastery from here and return to the base.

After filling up your belly, you will continue your journey and walk the final leg of your hike. Enjoy mesmerizing views of the mountains and the valley below as you walk on the side of the mountain. The final few steps to the monastery take you on a descent and an ascent up a concrete staircase built on the side of a rocky cliff with a steep drop. As you reach the entrance of Tiger's Nest, you will be asked to leave your belongings (camera, mobile, bags, etc.) in a locker. Phones and cameras are not allowed inside the monastery, as photography is strictly prohibited inside.

Inside the Taktsang Monastery are a chapel, the meditation cave of Guru Padmasambhava, and the living quarters of the monks who reside at the monastery. If you have brought an offering, you can offer it at the chapel and spend some quiet time praying. Later, you will leave the monastery and retrace your steps down to the bottom of the hill, where our driver will pick you up and drop you off at the hotel.

Overnight in Paro.

Day 7
Final Departure - drive from Paro to Phuentsholing, 140 km/4-5 hours drive

After a week of amazing exploration, it's time to bid goodbye to Bhutan. Our driver and guide will drive you to the border town of Phuentsholing, from where you exit Bhutan and enter India.

If you wish to extend your tour and visit the Himalayan regions of Nepal or the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, please let us know. We have some delightful itineraries, and our travel consultant will assist you in planning yet another unforgettable Himalayan adventure.

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