Cultural Tour with Trans Bhutan Trail Hike - 7 days

Cultural Tour with Trans Bhutan Trail Hike - 7 days


Cultural Tour with Trans Bhutan Trail Hike lets you discover the rich cultural heritage of the last surviving Himalayan kingdom. The seven-day trip includes excursions to hilltop lakhangs or Buddhist temples, a handmade paper-making factory, local markets, and a village homestay. But the highlight of this trip is an inspiring hike on a section of the ancient Trans Bhutan Trail. The Trans Bhutan Trail, which dates back to the 16th century, is one of the oldest walking trails in the world.

Your journey begins with an amazing flight to Paro, a picturesque valley with the only international airport in Bhutan. Dotted with traditional houses and lush greenery you breathe in the fresh unpolluted air as soon as you set foot in Bhutan. With more than seventy percent of the land area covered by forests, Bhutan produces more oxygen than it consumes. During your week-long holiday, you will get to discover how the Buddhist culture in this Himalayan kingdom fosters practices of sustainable living and harmonious co-existence with the natural environment.

In Thimphu, we will take you on a hike to the cliffside monastery of Dodeydra. Here you can interact with monks and explore the richly decorated halls of the monastery. Statues of Buddhist deities and colorful murals adorn the prayer halls. A quick tour to the post office will have you own a couple of postage stamps with your picture printed on them.  Spend some time at a paper-making factory and try your hand at traditional paper-making using natural ingredients.

Leaving Thimphu you head towards Dochu La Pass and start your Trans Bhutan Trail Hike.  Follow the ‘Divine Madman Trail’ and walk across the sacred path taken by Drukpa Kuenley, the patron saint of Bhutan. En route hike past lush forests, majestic lakhangs, and isolated villages. You will spend a night at a village farm with a local family before heading to Punakha. Explore the awe-inspiring Punakha Dzong and Chimi Lakhang, the Fertility Temple in Punakha.

Your trip to Bhutan is incomplete without a hike to Tiger's Nest or Taktsang Monastery. A man-made marvel, the Taktsang Monastery in Paro is built on the face of a rocky cliff.  Your trip ends with a memorable hike to this sacred monastery.

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

  • Take the Trans Bhutan Trail hike and experience the rich Bhutanese culture
  • Follow the footsteps of the Divine Madman and hike across the ‘Divine Madman Trail’ from Thimphu to Punakha
  • Get blessed by a wooden phallus at Chimi Lakhang, the Fertility Temple
  • Thrilling hikes to the cliffside monastery of Taktsang or Tiger's nest and Dodeydra Monastery
  • Visit the stunning Punakha Dzong and the  Sangchen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery
  • Tour a traditional paper-making factory and design your own handmade paper
  • Stay with a local family in a rural homestead

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights
Day 1 Arrive Paro, Drive to Thimphu (55 Km/1 hour drive)
Day 2 Morning hike to Dodeydra, afternoon sightseeing (3.5 Km, 2-3 hours hike)
Day 3 Trans Bhutan Trail Hike, Homestay (13 Km, 5-6 hours hike)
Day 4 Sightseeing in Punakha
Day 5 Drive Punakha to Paro (120 Km/4 Hours Drive)
Day 6 Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery (4.5 Km, 3-4 hours hike)
Day 7 Depart Paro

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1
Arrive Paro, Drive to Thimphu (55 Km/1 hour drive)

The flight to Bhutan offers spectacular views of the Himalayan mountain range. An unending stretch of some of the tallest mountains in the world greet you as you fly into Paro, the only Bhutanese city with an international airport.

On reaching Paro, Third Rock Adventures' representative will greet you and escort you to your hotel in Thimphu. The drive to Thimphu takes about an hour and passes through a scenic landscape. Check into your hotel and relax. Later in the evening or afternoon, you can enjoy a stroll around Thimphu.

Overnight in Thimphu.

Day 2
Morning hike to Dodeydra, afternoon sightseeing (3.5 Km, 2-3 hours hike)

Dodeydra Monastery Built in 1779, the monastery houses statues of Lord Buddha, murals of Buddhist deities including the thousand-armed Avalokiteshwara, and an elaborate mandala.

After breakfast, you will be driven to the trailhead of your hike to Dodeydra Monastery. The monastery is set on the face of a rocky cliff and it takes an arduous ascent up a steep trail to get to it.

The hike to Dodeydra Monastery is quite popular in Thimphu. Built in 1779, the monastery houses statues of Lord Buddha, murals of Buddhist deities including the thousand-armed Avalokiteshwara, and an elaborate mandala. The monastery also has a rock wall with an impression of Dorje Phagmo or Vajravarahi. A spring near the monastery is said to heal those with hearing difficulty.

The trail to the monastery takes you past a wooded path filled with the sound of chirping birds. You can enjoy the raw beauty of nature and splendid views of Thimphu Valley during your hike. Once you reach the top you can explore the monastery and interact with the monks. Later you head down to the trailhead and explore more places in Thimphu. Your guide will take you to the Motithang Takin Preserve, General Post office, Buddha Dordenma Statue, and Jungshi Handmade Paper factory.

At the Motithang Takin Preserve, you will get to see Takins, the national animal of Bhutan. This unique animal has the face of a goat and the body of a cow. You can make your own personalized stamp at the General Post Office. A drive up a hill overlooking Thimphu will bring you to Buddha Dordenma, one of the largest statues of Lord Buddha in the world. The gilded statue is 51.5 meters tall and holds 100,000 smaller statues of Buddha inside its huge frame. A visit to the Jungshi Handmade Paper factory will allow you to observe the ancient process of papermaking. Here the paper is made from the bark of Dekap and Daphne trees. You can try your hand at creating your own customized paper with an ingredient of your choice.

Overnight in Thimphu.

Day 3
Trans Bhutan Trail Hike, Homestay (13 Km, 5-6 hours hike)

Temple of the Divine Madman Temple of the Divine Madman

Today you will get to walk through the Thimphu - Punakha section of the Trans Bhutan Trail. The Trans Bhutan Trail is an ancient foot trail that connected the major 'dzongs', towns, and villages of Bhutan. Dating back to the sixteenth century the Trans Bhutan Trail is one of the oldest hiking trails in the world. The 403 km foot trail stretches from Haa in western Bhutan to Trashigang in the east. It takes around 36 days to complete the trek.

The Thimphu-Punakha section of the trail, which you will cover, takes around 5 to 6 hours to complete.  The trail starts from the Dochula Pass and meanders past a wooded valley to join a sacred trail known as the "Divine Madman Trail."  Named after Drukpa Kuenley, the Divine Madman, the trail was used by the Buddhist saint in the sixteenth century when he journeyed from Tibet to Bhutan.

Follow his footsteps and trek to the hilltop lakhang of Thinleygang, the overnight stop of the central monastic body when they make their winter and summer migration from Thimphu to Punakha and vice versa. After a hearty picnic lunch, you continue your journey and descend to Toeb village.

Explore the Toeb Chandana Lakhang where according to local legend an arrow fired by Drukpa Kuenley from Tibet landed here. The lakhang which dates back to the fifteenth century was the religious seat of Ngawang Chogyal.

Leaving Toeb, you hike on a level path till you reach the highway at Sewdrangsa. A vehicle will be waiting for you to drive you to a local farmhouse at Laptsakha Village in Punakha. You will spend the night at a traditional home of a local family. Staying with them will give you an insight into the rural lifestyle in Bhutan.

Overnight at a homestay in Laptsakha.

Day 4
Sightseeing in Punakha


After breakfast, you will be driven to Sangchen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery which is located about 33 km from central Punakha. The nunnery is located on top of a hill overlooking Punakha valley. The monastery is home to the largest bronze statue of Avalokiteshwara or Chenrizig in Bhutan. At the monastery, you can spend some interacting with the nuns. Along with lessons in Buddhism, the young anis or nuns are also taught tailoring, thankha painting, statue making, embroidery, etc.

Later you can explore Punakha Dzong, the most visited site in Punakha. Situated at the confluence of the 'mother' and 'father' rivers, Mo Chuu and Po Chuu, the dzong can be accessed by crossing a traditional cantilever bridge.  The beautiful castle at the Punakha Dzong was the residence of Bhutanese royalty before the capital was moved to Thimphu. Now it is used as the winter retreat of Je Khenpo (chief abbot of Bhutan).

Near the Punakha Dzong is a metal suspension bridge which is the longest in Bhutan. It connects the rural homesteads and villages with the ancient dzong. You can walk over it and enjoy the beautiful rural scenery.

After lunch, we will take you on a drive to Lobesa. A brisk 20-minute hike across paddy fields will bring you to one of the most unique temples in Bhutan. Known as the Fertility Temple, Chimi Lakhang is dedicated to Drukpa Kuenley or the Divine Madman. According to local belief, the saint blesses childless couples who visit this temple. One can find murals of giant phalluses decorating the walls of the temple and the houses nearby. This is said to ward off bad spirits and the evil eye. After exploring the temple you return to your hotel.

Overnight in Punakha.

Day 5
Drive Punakha to Paro (120 Km/4 Hours Drive)


You bid goodbye to Punakha and head to Paro via the Dochula Pass. Once you arrive in Paro you check into your hotel. After lunch, you can visit Kyichu Lakhang Temple with your guide.

Kyichu Lakhang, which lies on the outskirts of Paro, is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Bhutan. According to local legend, it was built by the Tibetan king Songsten Gampo in the seventh century to subdue a demoness. This sacred site has been blessed by Guru Rinpoche and other Buddhist saints. You need to ascend a small hill to reach the temple. There are two shrines. While the old structure is built on the foundation of the original temple, the new shrine was commissioned by the Queen mother in 1968.   

Later you can visit the local market and shop for souvenirs.

Overnight in Paro.

Day 6
Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery (4.5 Km, 3-4 hours hike)

Paro Taktsang Famous Tiger's Nest or Taktsang Monastery which lies perched on a cliff high above Paro Valley.

Today you will hike to the famous Tiger's Nest or Taktsang Monastery which lies perched on a cliff high above Paro Valley. After an early breakfast, you will be driven out of the city to the trailhead. You begin your hike from the base of a forested hill. It's an amazing walk through a trail shaded by cypress and pine trees. En route, there are signposts with motivational quotations. The trail to the monastery is steep but well-maintained.

If you don't want to exhaust yourself you can take a pony ride up to the halfway point for an extra fee. There's a restaurant where you can have your lunch and rest for a while. The monastery looks stunning from this point.

The final steps to the monastery take you down and up a steep staircase hugging the side of the cliff. Once you reach the monastery you will be asked to leave your belongings (including your phone and camera) in a locker outside the monastery. Photography is not allowed inside.

You can explore the chapel and meditation room. Padmasambhava or Guru Rimpoche is said to have flown on the back of a tigress from Tibet and meditated here.  This is one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites for followers of Vajrayana Buddhism.

Later you make your way down the hill to the car park where you will find our vehicle waiting for you. The driver will drive you back to your hotel.

Overnight in Paro.

Day 7
Depart Paro


After spending a week in the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’ it's finally time to head home. Bid farewell to your guide and locals you have befriended during your trip. Our representative will drive you to the airport on time to catch your flight. If you want to explore the neighboring countries of India and Nepal please feel free to contact us.


Trans Bhutan Trail Day Hike Options:

Haa to Paro

The 17 km hiking route follows the Haa River and climbs to the yak pastures and rhododendron forests of Katsho valley. The trail meanders past the clifftop monastery of Bjungneydra Taktsang and Kungparko, a sky burial site.  The highest point of the trek is Kale La pass (3932 meters) from where one can enjoy breathtaking vistas of Mount Chomolhari, Jitchu Drake, and other Himalayan giants. The hike ends with a descent from the mountain pass to the Paro Valley.

Dochula to Punakha

This is a short six-hour hike that takes you across the wooded hills and valleys of Punakha. Observe rural lifestyle at the villages en route. The trail goes through Sew Drangsa, a place where Buddhist monks walking on the ‘Divine Madman Trail’ stop for lunch.


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Sophie Knight
flagsUnited States of America
May 03, 2023

Bhutan triail hike

This Bhutan hike is a must-do if you love Bhutan and South Asia. ALthough it was our first time with Third Rock and Bhutan, we felt so homely and got best service we could imagine. It was more than we expected and we are 1-week away from our next trip in Nepal with Third Rock; Naba has managed it for us and we can't wait to explore Nepal.
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