Culture Tour with Village Homestay in Bhutan combines the experience of visiting the cultural heritage sites, interacting with the local people in the villages, and being greeted by the panoramic views of mountains and rolling hills. The 11 days tour takes you to the religious heart of Bhutan at Bumthang and introduces you to numerous monasteries and temples of spiritual significance.
The tour progresses through long and short drives combined, to the valleys of Paro, Haa, Phobjikha, and Bumthang. Along the highways and rusty routes, you will make stops at monasteries and temples like Rinpung, Kichu Lhakhang, Dobji/Dokar Dzong, Tashichho Dzong, Chimi Lhakhang, Gangtey Goempa, Trongsa Dzong, Jakar Dzong, Jambay Lhakhang, Tashing Lhakhang, and Tiger’s Nest Monastery. All these monasteries and temples have their own religious and spiritual significance tied with Buddhism. Through most of the tour, particularly on the fourth, fifth, seventh, and eighth day, you will get the opportunity to live among the local village people in their homes. This will bring you closer to understanding the traditions, economic stance, dishes, clothing, and lifestyle of Bhutan Village life. The Bhutan culture and traditions are aptly depicted in this trip.
|Day 1||Arrival in Paro and sightseeing tour|
|Day 2||Paro-Haa Drive from Paro to Haa Valley via Chele La Pass (37 km, 2 hours)|
|Day 3||Drive from Haa to Thimphu (115 km, 3 to 4 hours) and sightseeing tour|
|Day 4||Drive from Thimphu to Punakha (74 km, 3 hours) and Sightseeing tour|
|Day 5||Drive from Punakha to Phobjikha (80km, 3 to 4 hours) and sightseeing tour|
|Day 6||Drive from Gangtey to Bumthang (156 km, 4 to 5 hours)|
|Day 7||Sightseeing at Bumthang|
|Day 8||Drive from Bumthang to Punakha (216 km, 6 to 7 hours)|
|Day 9||Drive from Punakha to Paro (116, 3 to 4 hours)|
|Day 10||Sightseeing tour to Taktsang Monastery/Tiger’s Nest Monastery|
|Day 11||Final Departure at Paro|
Culture tour with Village Homestay in Bhutan takes you from the city life and places you in rural settings where you get introduced to the way of life of the locals in the villages. It is a one-of-a-kind experience where you get entwined in the heritage, culture, and lifestyle of the naturally beautiful Land of Druk. On most of the days, you are offered the opportunity of living with the ethnic people of Bhutan in their homes.
The Culture Tour with Village Homestay in Bhutan begins with a flight to the valley town of Paro with the only International airport in Bhutan. After landing in Paro, you will go on a short sightseeing tour to Rinpung Monastery, one of the largest monasteries, and Kichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan.
The tour will begin on the next day with your drive to Paro on the Bonde-Haa highway. On the way, you will stop at the Chele La pass, the highest motorable pass in Bhutan at the elevation of 3,988m/13,083ft. Mt. Jumolhari can be seen vividly from the pass. After reaching Haa valley, you will visit the nearby Haa Dzong and stay at a homestay where you can interact with the locals and understand their way of life.
On the next day, you will be driving from Haa Valley to the capital city, Thimphu. On the way, you will visit the first known model monastery in Bhutan, Dobji Dzong with its cultural significance dating back to the 15th century. From the confluence of the Pa Chhu and Thimp Chhu river at Chhuzom, you will head to your hotel in Thimphu. The rest of the day can be spent by visiting the Tashichho Dzong and the tall statue of Shakyamuni Buddha at Buddha Dordenma.
From Thimphu, you will take a drive to Punakha, which was once the capital of Bhutan. On the way, you will cross the Dochula Pass with mesmeric views of mountains and hills. You will also pass the Metshina village to cross the rice fields towards Chimi Lhakhang. It is a 14h century temple built by the Ngawang Choegyel/Divine Madman. Also known as ‘The Fertility Temple’, it houses many paintings and objects with phallus symbols depicting fertility. You will also visit the Punakha Dzong, the second oldest and largest Dzong in Bhutan.
The next day's tour takes you to the Phobjikha valley by crossing the Wangduephodrang town. You will cross the Lawala Pass on the way through dwarf bamboo and panoramic views. In the valley, you will visit the Gangtey Goempa and then the nearby village to intermingle with the locals and perform some of their daily chores.
On the next day, you will head from Gangtey to Bumthang, the religious heart of Bhutan. On the way, you will visit Trongsa Dzong, the ancient estate of the Royal family. Upon reaching Bumthang, you can visit the nearby textile weaving/Yathra factory where you will see hard-working women on their looms.
The next day is spent entirely at Bumthang. There are many places that one can visit. Jakar Dzong built in the 15th century is a religious and architectural marvel while the Kurjey Lhakhang is known best for the myth that Guru Rimpoche left his imprints in the caves. After that, you can visit the Jambay Lhakhang also known as the Temple of Maitreya. You will visit the Tamshing Lhakhang built by Pema Lingpa in the 15th century. The last visit for the day will be towards the Dorjibi village where you can interact with the local people and eat traditional food like Emadatshi and Puta in the Homestays.
After the culturally binding trip in Bumthang, you will head back to Punakha on the same route, only this time you will make a stop for lunch at Nepalese style stupa; Chendebji Chorten. It is believed to cover the body of an evil spirit. A day after that will take you to Paro through the Dochula pass, Semtokha, and Paro Thimphu Highway beside the Paro Chhu river.
Taktsang Monastery is your last cultural visit for the trip, on the next day. Taktsang Monastery/ Tiger’s Nest monastery gains its religious significance from the myth that Guru Rimpoche visited the caves on his Tiger’s back and meditated in Pel Phuk for months. After the amazing tour through the valleys of Paro, Haa, Phobjikha, and Bumthang, you will bid farewell to the land of Druk on your next day’s flight back home.
This is the first day of your tour which will take you to the valley town of Bhutan, Paro. It has the only international airport in Bhutan. The flight to the airport is very thrilling as the plane lands in proximity to the hills. From the window of the plane, you can see the views of the mountains. After reaching the airport you will be welcomed by our coordinates from Third Rock Adventures who will drive you to your hotel in Paro for the stay.
You will head out from your hotel for a short sightseeing tour in the landmarks of Rinpung Dzong and Kichu Lhakhang. You will walk past a wooden bridge to reach the vicinity of Rinpung monastery. Rinpung which was built in the 15th century by Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu sect translates to ‘Fortress of the Heaps of Jewels’. The translation is apt as the monastery looks no more than a heap of the jewel itself. You can see that the exterior of the building is decorated with beautiful wood carvings on the doors and windows. It currently serves as the administrative body for the Bhutanese government.
You will then head on to visit one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. Kichu Lhakhang is situated in Lango Gewong and has the 7th-century Jowo Temple built in the area. It is famous for the myth that Guru Rimpoche/Padmasambhava visited this monastery and concealed some spiritual treasures. After the exciting short trip, you will head on to your hotel and on the way to experience the evening life on the streets of Paro.
Overnight at hotel in Paro.
On this day, you will get a chance to first-hand experience the natural beauty of Bhutan. Early in the morning after breakfast, you will head on a long tour to Haa Valley. On the way, you’ll see the Bonde-Haa highway covered with pine forest stretching miles and miles. You will make a quick stop at the Chele La pass sitting at an elevation of 3,988m/13,083ft. You will be bestowed with the views of Mt. Jumolhari. The pass is adorned with vibrant colored prayer flags. The pass is covered with heaps of snow during the winter season making it challenging to cross. However, the driver is accustomed to make the required twists and turns.
You will continue the drive towards the Haa Valley which is also dubbed as ‘Hidden Land of Rice Valley’ as its production of rice is comparatively high. The weather gets a little chilly in this area during the winter season. Along the highway, you will cross many houses and restaurants built in traditional style. You will enter the valley and head on to your homestay. Homestay in Haa valley Bhutan is an experience that brings you closer to the lifestyle of the Bhutanese people. You will be served with the food that they eat and rest in the beds that they have prepared for you in their house. You can interact with the local people in the village, with assistance from our guide. You can also go to visit the nearby Haa Dzong.
Overnight stay at a homestay in Haa.
You will prepare for a long drive to the capital city of Thimphu. Pine forests cover both sides of the route towards Thimphu. You can make a short stop at the Dobji Dzong en route Thimphu. Dobji is popularly revered by Buddhist pilgrims and tourists alike for being the first known model monastery in Bhutan. It was built in the 15th century and is also referred to as Dokar Fortress. You can head inside to see the relic statues of Jetsun Milarepa, Guru Langdarchen, Ngawang Chogyal, and Dungsy Dewa Zangpo.
You will continue your drive and reach the Chhuzom which is the main junction for the rivers of Pa Chhu and Thimp Chhu, the rivers flowing from Paro and Thimphu respectively. Along Chhuzom which is translated to ‘where the rivers meet’, you will find the Bhutanese locals selling their products like vegetables, apples, and cheese. In a while, you will reach Thimphu and be transferred to your hotel.
The day is still young, so you begin with your visit to Tashichho Dzong in Thimphu. You will get some insight into how the Buddhist religion plays a great role in the tradition and culture of Bhutan through this visit. The monastery situated on the northern edge of the city currently houses Druk Desi of the civil government of Bhutan. After the visit, you can tour the Buddha Dordenma which is a 54/177ft tall statue of Shakyamuni buddha. You will head back to your hotel for the stay.
Overnight stay at hotel in Thimphu.
Thimphu to Punakha takes around 3 hours drive and is filled with sceneries of mountains, hills, and the small villages around. You will make a quick stop at Dochula pass at the elevation of 3,150m/10,334ft. From this viewpoint decorated with colorful prayer flags, you can see the views of high standing mountains and rolling hills.
The ride will continue to Metshina Village filled with green rice fields. You will cross the terrace fields to reach Chimi Lhakhang which takes about 20 minutes. Chimi Lhakhang is a monastery built in 1499 by Ngawang Choegyel. Choegyal of the 14th Drukpa hierarchy was dubbed as ‘Divine Madman’ for his distinct ways of spreading Buddhism and spirituality. He is known to have promoted the use of phallus symbols in paintings and objects and wood carvings representing fertility. Hence, the same is seen in Chimi Lhakhang which translates to ‘The Fertility Temple’. After the visit, you head on to Punakha.
In Punakha, you can observe the Bhutanese people wearing their traditional dress and strolling around the streets. In the center of Punakha, you can visit the Punakha Dzong which is the second oldest and the second largest Dzong in Bhutan. It is situated at the confluence of the rivers Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu. The monastery is known for its beautiful architecture. After the cultural tour, you will head for Punakha Bhutan homestay.
Overnight stay at a homestay in Punakha.
It will take about 30 minutes to reach Wangduephodrang after breakfast. Wangduephodrang is the last town before central Bhutan and is renowned for its fine bamboo work and stone carving. In English translation, the word “Wangdue” means the ‘unification of country’ while “phodrang” means ‘Palace’. The name justifies the beauty and heritage of the district.
From Wangduephodrang you will continue your drive through plush oak and rhododendron forests until Lawala pass. You will spot the Lawala pass covered with dwarf bamboos and panoramic views of high standing Himalayas. The drive continues downhill for a short while until you reach the mesmerizing Gangtey Goenpa and Phobjikha Valley.
Upon reaching Phobjikha you can head to your homestay. In the afternoon, you will visit the Gangtey Goempa. It is the only Nyingmapa monastery in Bhutan and was founded in 1613. You will be amazed to hear that when the rare Black Necked Cranes come to Phobjikha in the winter, they circle the Gangtey monastery three times on their way and the same when they return. After you visit the monastery, you can stroll around the streets of Phobjikha and interact with the local people. You can also take part in their daily chores of cooking, feeding livestock, and milking cows which will be an experience unlike any other.
Overnight stay at a homestay in Phobjikha.
This is one of the more exciting days of the tour as you will be heading to Bumthang. The road will take you to Jakar and Trongsa on the way. Trongsa is located in central Bhutan and translated to ‘new village’ in English. Trongsa saw the first two kings of the country rule the kingdom and housed Bhutan’s royal family for generations. You can visit the Trongsa Dzong.
The winding route is best known for the shooting of the Bhutanese movie ‘Travelers and Magicians’. After having lunch in Trongsa you will continue the drive to Bumthang which is the religious heart of Bhutan. Bumthang is best known for housing ancient temples and monasteries. You can begin your sightseeing tour even on this day by visiting the textile weaving factory of Yathra. The Yathra’s which are best for making bags and scarves are designed by the hard-working women here. You can then head on to your hotel for the stay.
Overnight stay at Hotel in Bumthang.
On this day you will stay at Bumthang because there are numerous cultural sites worth visiting. You will begin your day with a visit to Jakar Dzong. The monastery is located on a ridge above the town and was built in the 15th century. It is also known to be one of the largest monasteries in the country spanning more than 1500m. After that, your tour will continue to the spiritually significant Kurjey Lhakhang. It gains its significance from the belief that Guru Rimpoche left his body imprint while meditating in the cave. It is also the final resting place of the first three Kings of Bhutan.
The culturally binding trip gets more and more exciting as you head on to Jambay Lhakhang which comes third on the trip. Known also as the Temple of Maitreya, it is said to be one of the 108 temples built by Songtsen Gampo, a Tibetan King in the 8th century. From there on, you will head to Tamshing Lhakhang built in the 15th century by Pema Lingpa, a Buddhist Saint. You can view the temple there which is currently in bad shape. It also consists of a Vihara for the 95 Buddhist monks. After the visit, you can head to the Dorjibi village. The village comes under the administration of Chhoekhor Gewong. You will stay overnight at a homestay where you can try some delicious local meals like chili and cheese which is called Emadatshi and buckwheat noodles called Puta.
Overnight stay at a homestay in Bumthang.
Today you will be taking a long drive that spans across 216 km. You will cross Jakar on the way and have lunch at Chendebji. You can visit the Chendebji Chorten, a Nepalese style stupa that is believed to cover an evil spirit's body. You can also spot a Mani wall. From there on you will continue your drive and pass Trongsa and then Wangduephodrang. From there the road takes you to Sopsokha, Pajo, Khuruthang until reaching Punakha.
The drive is long and tiring so you can simply move to your hotel and take some rest. In the evening, you can stroll around the streets of Punakha. Overnight stay at hotel in Punakha.
On this day you will have the last view of Punakha Dzong and take a drive to the Paro town which is 116 km away. Punakha to Paro takes you through the Dochula pass yet again then Semtokha which branches out to Thimphu. From there you will take the Paro Thimphu Highway with the Paro Chhu river on the side. Following the river, you will reach Paro.
After reaching Paro, you will be transferred to your hotel where you can take some rest. In the evening you can head out to the streets of Paro to buy some souvenirs that you can take back home.
Overnight stay at hotel in Paro.
This is the final sightseeing tour of the Culture Tour with Village Homestay in Bhutan. You will begin your day by preparing yourself for a hike on a 900m ascend from the Paro valley floor. You will move on a path with pine trees on the high cliff. The steep ascend for about 4 hours is tiring but well worth it as you get to visit the most iconic landmarks in Bhutan.
It is situated on the side of a high cliff. The monastery is believed to have been visited by Guru Rimpoche for meditation. As per the myth Guru Rimpoche landed on his Tiger’s back in the cave of Thulo Phuk and meditated on Pel Phuk cave. It is a must-go place for all tourists visiting Bhutan. You can go about excursing the different buildings that are interconnected by stone stairways. Some noteworthy landmarks in the vicinity are an old prayer wheel and Urgyan Tsemo. The paintings on the walls of the monastery are so meticulous and mindboggling. There are four main temples in the vicinity all of which you can take ample time to excurse.
After the amazing cultural trip, you can head back to your hotel and prepare for the next day’s departure.
Overnight at hotel in Paro.
Today marks the final day of your departure from Bhutan. You will reminisce the moments spent in the high passes of Lawala, Chele La, and Dochu La and the views of the mountains seen from there. Looking at the rolling hills and Paro International Airport's architectural wonder, will take you back to the time when you visited the monasteries like Rinpung Dzong, Kichu Lhakhang, Tashichho Dzong, and Taktsang Monastery.
Our Third Rock Adventures representatives will drop you off at the airport and bid you farewell for your homeward departure. You can contact us for similar tours binding culture, people, and nature comparable in neighboring countries like India and Nepal.