Day hikes in Bhutan and Cultural Discovery is an adventure that gives you an insight into the Buddhist culture and traditions reflected by the ancient landmarks placed in the most serene surroundings. Get a chance to observe the famous dzongs in Bhutan during this 7-days hike.
A relatively easier hiking route, the cultural discovery hike is indeed an encounter of the culturally soaked landscapes in the Land of Thunder Dragon. When you enter the architecturally mesmerizing airport in Paro to the day you visit Tiger’s Nest monastery, you will constantly be in touch with Buddhist religions, legends, and beliefs. Aptly referred to as the Last Shangri-La, the outstanding landmarks, vibrant culture, and spiritual people offer you the privilege of submerging yourself in it. You get to unravel the untouched wonders of the land cradled in the Himalayas and green hills' deep pleats.
You get to experience the connection that the Bhutanese have with their religion in the way they dress to the prayer flags in the Dzongs. Bhutan is immersed into Buddhism in all life settings, which is evident as you pass fortresses at high elevations.
As known best among tourists, visiting Bhutan's rich cultural heritage is an ideal exploration that blesses you with a spiritual serenity.
|Day 1||Arrival in Paro and sightseeing tour|
|Day 2||Drive to Ta Dzong then Hike to Zuri Dzong and drive to Thimphu ( 54 Km/1 Hour)|
|Day 3||Hike to Tango and Cheri Goemba ( 3-4 Km/2-3 hours)|
|Day 4||Drive from Thimphu to Punakha, En route hike to Lungchuzekha Goemba (3.5 Km/2-3 hours)|
|Day 5||Drive from Punakha to Paro ( 120 Km/4 Hours) and En route hike to Chimi Lhakhang|
|Day 6||Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery (4.5 Km/3-4 hours)|
|Day 7||Final Departure from Paro|
The Day hikes in Bhutan and Cultural Discovery are truly an experience rich in Bhutan's culture, architecture, and traditions. You get to unearth the ancient Goempas, Dzong, and temples of the Buddhist religion. The entire hike is easy beyond reason and mesmerizing beyond expectations. You are bound to thoroughly enjoy the sites of some of the most culturally iconic landmarks in Bhutan.
The hidden kingdom of Bhutan welcomes you to understand their peace-promoting Buddhist religion. The views of monasteries and temples like Rinpung Dzong, Kichu Lhakhang Zuri Dzong, Cheri Goemba, Wangdi Tse Goemba, Punakha Dzong, Chimi Lakhang, and the Tiger’s Nest monastery makes an indispensable mark on your memory.
The cultural trip begins with your landing at Paro in the Paro International Airport, where our crew will pick you. The first day itself is exciting as you get to visit the largest monastery in Bhutan, Rinpung Dzong. After viewing the fourteen shrines and chapels inside the monastery, you head to the Buddhist Temple of Kichu Lhakhang. You visit one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, the Jowo temple in Kichu, built in the 7th century.
After the enjoyable first day’s trip, you will drive to the National Museum of Bhutan, Ta Dzong. It was formerly a monastery built in 1649. The unique round exterior of the monastery is what makes it so special. The remaining day’s hike heads to Zuri Dzong, sitting at a hilltop where the surrounding green hills are visible. You can have a look at the amazing chapels in the upper part of the Dzong. After the excursion, you will be driven to the capital city of Thimphu.
The next day’s hike begins from the north of Thimphu at Begana and takes the Tango Goemba. A cultural masterpiece, it was renovated by the Divine Madman, Lama Drukpa Kunley. You will observe the sandalwood statue of Chenresig and then head on another hike to Cheri Goemba and a monastery turned into a teaching center. The myth about Guru Rimpoche visiting this place in the 8th-century marks one reason you cannot miss out on this hike. On the same day, you will be blessed with a hike to Wangdi Tse monastery, best known for its art and interior design.
An early morning drive from Thimphu will take you to Lungchuzekha Goemba on the way to Punakha. On this day, you will go on a loop beginning from Dochula pass at 3100m and ending at the same to reach Punakha. At Dochula Pass, you come across 108 memorial chortens, while the hike to Lungchuzekha will offer views of snowcapped mountains and surrounding hills. Through a rhododendron and fir adorned forest, you will reach Punakha.
At Punakha, you will experience Bhutan's cultural and traditional pinnacle with rice weaving at Ritsha village. The Punakha Dzong is next in line, being the second largest and second oldest monastery in Bhutan. The remains of Ngawang Namgyal and Pema Lingpa are known to be in the relic stupas in the monastery. You will be walking through the rice fields in Metshina village for a more authentic vibe and then towards Chimi Lhakhang. It is known popularly as the fertility temple with phallus paintings and artifacts found.
After the interesting hike on the previous day, you will head on to the most prominent cultural icons of Bhutan, Tiger’s Nest monastery, in the lap of a high cliff. Even the walk to the caves is interesting, with prayer flags fluttering through the trail enveloped by Pine trees. You will also get to hear the legendary myth of the spiritual leader of Bhutan, Guru Rimpoche, of how he meditated in the caves of Tiger’s Nest. You can take ample time to grasp the beauty of the place with four main temples and two main caves; one where Guru Rimpoche landed on the back of a Tigress and the other where he meditated for three months.
After enjoying the myth and the monastery's beauty, you will head back to Paro and hop on a flight homewards on the next day.
This day marks your arrival in the land of the Thunder Dragon, Bhutan. Your plane will land at the only international airport in Bhutan, the Paro International Airport. Paro's landing is quite adventurous as the plane lands nearby amidst the hills at a high altitude. The architectural airport in Paro is contrasting with modern airports in western countries. Upon reaching the airport, not far, you will be greeted by our Bhutanese guide and transferred to your hotel.
After having lunch, you will get ready for the first sightseeing tour in Bhutan. You will head to the Rinpung Dzong by crossing a traditional wooden bridge, the most notable Buddhist monasteries in Paro. It is the largest monastery and was the fortress of the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu sect, built initially in the 15th century and reconstructed in the 16th century by the Zhabdrung Rinpoche. At present, the monastery has fourteen shrines and chapels inside. After observing all the marvels of Rinpung, you will be taken to the Kichu Lhakhang.
Kichu Lhakhang Buddhist Temple is situated in Lango Gewog, Paro. The Jowo temple in Kichu is one of the oldest in Bhutan, known to have been built around the 7th century by Songtsen Gampo, a Tibetan Emperor. As per the myth, Guru Rimpoche/ Padmasambhava, the legendary Buddhist spiritual leader and tantric, visited this landmark and concealed spiritual treasures here. There are two orange trees in the courtyard, which are believed to bear fruit all around the year.
After having a fulfilling exploration at the ancient monastery and temple, you will head back to Paro. As you walk around the streets of Paro, you will come across Bhutanese architectural buildings.
Overnight at in Paro.
Today is an exciting day as you will visit two important monasteries in Bhutan. In the morning, you will take a drive to Ta Dzong, which takes about 5km in the distance from Paro. Ta Dzong, which was built in 1649, serves as the National Museum of Bhutan. Unlike other monasteries, it is round built with seven stories. It symbolizes the gemstone of wealth in Bhutan. From Ta Dzong, the views of Paro Chhu along the settlements of Paro can be seen on the horizon. While it is prohibited to take pictures of the inside, you can click some of the surroundings.
From there on, you will hike further along the hillside to the Zuri Dzong. Views of the Paro valley can be seen from this point. Zuri monastery stands on a hilltop amidst the green forest. The white and orange-colored Dzong is one of the oldest monasteries built in 1352. The peak of Zuri hill is a viewpoint to see other hills can also be seen surrounding it and the Paro valley underneath. You can find some amazing murals dedicated to the local protector, Zaa, in the upper chapels of the dzong. It is also believed that Buddha had visited this dzong in the 8th century to meditate. It offers tranquility amidst the radiant views.
After the amazing sightseeing hike to the two dzongs, you will head on towards Uma resort, from where you will be transferred to the city of Thimpu. In the evening, you reach Thimphu. After some refreshment, you can opt for an evening stroll around the streets.
Overnight in Thimphu.
On this day, you will go on a hike to two ancient monasteries. In the morning, after having breakfast, you will head to the north of Thimphu at Begana. From here on, we will head for a hike on the trail to Tango Goemba. You take a long climb for around an hour through a steep trail and reach Tango after a gradual ascent. On the way, you can take a left towards the meditation cave of Zhabdrung. Tango is a cultural masterpiece renovated on a green hilltop by Lama Drukpa Kunley, also known as the divine madman, in the 12th century. You will instantly spot the curved frontage as you climb up the stairs. It also holds the sandalwood statue of Chenresig installed by the Zhabdrung in the 16th century. At present, Tango serves as the campus for monks to study and practice Buddhism.
Then you will head on a hike to Cheri Goemba, also known locally as Changri Dorjeden. You will cross a wooden bridge and take a steep route towards the monastery. It was built in the 16th century by Ngawang Namgyal. It currently serves as a teaching center to the Southern Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu School. It is believed to be visited by Guru Rimpoche in the 8th century. You might even spot Gorals-goat-like animals on the way. The monastery also has an ancient stupa.
Overnight in Thimphu
Early in the morning, after having breakfast, you will take a long drive to the snow-covered Dochula pass at 3,100m. You will spot the 108 memorial chortens known locally as Druk Wangyal Chortens. The road gradually takes you into a rhododendron cradled forest with steep sections.
You will take on a hike towards Lungchuzekha Goemba, sitting on the slope of a hill. Views of the surrounding green hills can be seen in all directions from the Goemba. On a clear day, you will get to view the amazing snowcapped mountains at a distance. After the long hike and the wonderful views from this cultural monument, you head back to Dochula for lunch. After enjoying lunch, you will drive downhill again through a forest of rhododendron, hemlock, and fir and finally arrive at the formal capital of Bhutan- Punakha.
Overnight in Punakha.
On this day, you will experience the lifestyle and culture of the Bhutanese people through their dzongs and their villages. Punakha is known best for its rice production in the river beds of Pho and Mo Chu in the Ritsha village. The houses in the Ritsha village, the rice bowl of Bhutan, in Punakha are typically made from mud and stone.
You will visit the Punakha Dzong, which is also dubbed as 'the palace of great happiness or bliss. It was built between the male river Pho Chhu and the female river, Mo Chhu, in the 16th century by Ngawang Namgyal. The magnitude of this monastery will baffle you as it is the second-largest ad second oldest in Bhutan. It is a six-storied structure sitting at an elevation of 1200m. Its cultural significance lies in the fact that the relics and remains of Ngawang Namgyal and Pema Lingpa, both ancient leaders and discoverers. When the capital of Bhutan was in Punakha, this monastery served as the government's administrative center. Now it has been listed in Bhutan's Tentative List for UNESCO inclusion.
After enjoying the views of Punakha Dzong, we will head on to the Metshina Village. You can walk through the large rice fields towards Chimi Lhakhang. It is located near Lobesa and was built in the 14th century by Ngawang Choegyel. The site is said to have been blessed by the Divine Madman- Drukpa Kunley, who gave rise to Buddhism's unorthodox ways. He promoted phallus symbols in the paintings on the walls that are now seen in the monastery. It is also traditionally significant for a pilgrimage for women seeking to get blessings in regards to fertility. After visiting Chimi Lhakhang, you will continue your drive towards Paro by taking a loop to Dochula pass again.
Overnight stay in Paro.
Today, you will visit one of the most famous landmarks in Bhutan, the Tiger's Nest monastery, also known as Paro Taktsang. Constructed in 1692, the Tiger's Nest monastery sits on the edge of a high cliff overlooking the green rolling hills in all directions. The hike takes a steep to ascend about four hours to reach the cliff. Along the way, you will walk through the pine forest and view the colorful prayer flags fluttering with the wind.
Tiger's Nest in Paro is regarded as one of those thirteen Tiger's Nest caves in prehistoric Tibet where Guru Rimpoche/Padmasambhava is known to have practices Vajrayana-tantric teaching. The term 'Trigger's Nest’ originates from the strong belief of Buddhists that Guru Rimpoche, their spiritual leader, rode on the back of a Tigress and into the caves of Paro for his meditation. It is not just a cultural icon of Bhutan but a tourist’s go-to place.
The monastery has four main temples and residential areas. The two main caves are Tholu Phuk, where Guru Rimpoche first entered on a Tigress’s back, and Pel Phuk cave, where he did his meditation. Stone stairways interconnect the buildings. You can also visit the Urgyan Tsemo and the old prayer wheel in the precinct of the monastery.
After exploring the artifacts, structure, design, paintings, in and around Tiger’s Nest Monastery, you will hike back to where you started from. Then you will drive back to Paro for the night’s stay. In the evening, you can stroll around the streets of Paro to purchase some artifacts as souvenirs to take back home.
Overnight in Paro.
This day makes your departure from the mystical land of Bhutan to homewards. After having a culturally enticing tour with the Third Rock Adventures team, we will have to bid you a farewell as we drop you off at the Paro International Airport.
As you head towards the aircraft, leaving behind the green hills and the architectural building, you will remember the amazing cultural experience you had in Bhutan. The views of the Rinpung’s architecture, Tiger’s Nest Monastery’s geographical location, Chimi Lahkhang’s interesting artifacts, and many other amazing places you visited will fall before your eyes.
If you wish to extend your stay or have a similar experience in India and Nepal's neighboring countries, you can reach out to us.