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Merak Sakteng trek is a long and adventurous trek across Merak Sakteng Bhutan in the most beautiful terrain. This 18 -days trek is a combination of culture and nature intertwingled to offer an adventure of a lifetime. The tour that starts from the valley of Paro takes you across different Terrains, all lush green, and gives you the chance to view the monasteries while taking a drive to reach the villages of Merak and Sakteng. Passing from central Bhutan to other parts makes you realize the change in nature, flora, and fauna to people's livelihood.

This trek stands out among trekkers because it gives you a chance to get close to the nomadic lifestyle in the eastern. It might also give you an opportunity to view some rare animals like the Red Panda and Himalayan Red Fox in the protected area of Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary. The trek lasts only a couple of days, enveloped by driving days which is easy and comforting. The only challenging part of the trek is crossing the Nachungla pass at 4,153m/13,625ft that is equally rewarding. In essence, the trek is a tour through Bhutan, encircling all its most beautiful landmarks.

Trip Highlights

  • The tour commences from the valley town of Paro and concludes at India’s Guwahati.
  • Visit the most mystical and famous landmark of Bhutan- Tiger’s Nest Monastery, sitting on the edge of a cliff.
  • Get to know about the ancient beliefs and myths about various monasteries throughout the trek.
  • Visit the monasteries and temples like Rimpung Dzong (Paro), Tashichodzong (Thimphu), Chimi Lhakhang (Punakha), Gangtey Goenpa (Phobjikha Valley), Jakar Dzong (Bumthang), Gom Kora temple, and Ranjung Monastery (Trashigang).
  • Observe the lifestyle, culture, and tradition of the ethnic people in Merak and Sakteng.   
  • Experience the surreal views of the high-standing mountains and the green hills from the villages of Merak and Sakteng.
  • Conquer the challenging pass of Nachungla at the elevation of 4,153m/13,625ft.

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights
Day 1 Arrival at Paro
Day 2 Sightseeing hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery then drive to Thimphu
Day 3 Sightseeing tour in Thimphu
Day 4 Drive from Thimphu to Punakha, 76 Km, 2-3 Hours
Day 5 Drive from Punakha to Gangtey/Phobjikha Valley, 85 Km, 3 Hours
Day 6 Drive from Gangtey/Phobjikha to Bumthang, 152 Km, 5 Hours
Day 7 Sightseeing tour to Bumthang
Day 8 Drive from Bumthang to Mongar, 198 Km, 6 Hours
Day 9 Drive from Mongar to Trashigang, 91 Km, 3-4 Hours
Day 10 Drive from Trashigang to Merak, 67 Km, 4 hours
Day 11 Trek from Merak to Miksateng (3079m/10,101ft) – 14km, 6 hours
Day 12 Trek from Miksateng to Sakteng (2,950m/9,678ft) – 14km, 5 hours
Day 13 Explore Sakteng
Day 14 Trek from Sakteng to Joenkhar Teng (1733m/5,685ft) and drive to Trashigang
Day 15 Drive from Trashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar
Day 16 Drive from Samdrup Jongkhar to Guwahati, India, for departure

Trip Overview

The Merak Sakteng Trek begins from the valley town of Paro and concludes in the capital city of Guwahati, Assam, with the main attractions of Merak and Sakteng in between. As you set your foot into Paro valley, you begin to take in Bhutan's natural and cultural beauty.

The tour starts by visiting the most popular landmark, the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, built in 1684. The experience is almost out worldly as you visit the Monastery sitting on the edge of the misty cliff and learn about the myth of Guru Rimpoche. You will be driven to the capital city of Bhutan, Thimphu, on the day.

The next day is segregated for sightseeing in Thimphu, where you will visit places like King’s Memorial Chorten, nunnery temple, School of Arts and Crafts, National Institute of Traditional Medicine, paper factory, Tashichodzong, and Kunselphodrang.

The next day’s drive takes you to Punakha through Metshina village and Chimi Lhakhang monastery situated near Lobesa. After the day, you will head to Gangtey/Phobjikha Valley. The drive will pass through Wangduephodrang amidst lush oak and rhododendron forests and through Lawala pass.

From Phobijikha valley, you will drive to Trongsa and drive past the same route where a famous Bhutanese movie was shot. After taking in the architectural delight of Trongsa Dzong, you can visit the textile weaving factory, Yathra, on the way. You will reach Bumthang where you will stay in a hotel for the night and go sightseeing the other day. In Bumthang, you will visit Jakar Dzong, Kurjey Lakhang, Jambay Lhakhang, Tamshing Lakhang Monastries.

On the next day, you will drive from Bumthang to Mongar through an ascend to Thurmshingla pass at an elevation of 3800m and Kuri Zampa. The Mongar town is situated on the hillside. From Mongar, you will pass through small villages and head to Gom Kora temple, known for its many temples and monasteries. The drive then heads to Trashigang, which is your stop for the day.

From Trashigang, the drive on the next day will take you to Merak through Rangjung, Radhi, and Chaling villages. You will be met by your trekking crew and stay overnight at camp. Evening, explore the Merak Village.

The next day you will start the trek. The first day of the trek will be challenging than the other days as you will cross the Nachungla pass at an altitude of 4153m.

The next day after that is not so tiring as you will reach the second highlight of the trek, Sakteng, and take the next day off to explore the area by meeting the friendly villagers.

From Sakteng, you will trek to reach the Joenkhar Teng village inhabited by the Brokpa and Sharchopa. From there on, you will be driven to Trashighang in the afternoon, where you will visit the Ranjung Monastery en route.

After that, you will be driven to Samdrup Jongkhar with a stop at Khaling in between to visit the shops there. On the last day, you will be driven to Guwahati, India, for your homeward departure through your flight.

Route Map

merak-sakteng trek-and-tour-In bhutan-route-map Merak Sakteng Trek and Tour in Bhutan Map

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival at Paro

On this day, you will fly to the Paro International Airport in Paro, Bhutan. Paro's flight is mesmerizing; as you look down from the aircraft window, you will see the landscape with green hills and snow-capped mountains far on the horizon. You will be welcomed by Our Bhutanese guide from the Third Rock Adventures upon your arrival at the airport. From thereon, you will be escorted to your hotel. Our guides will brief you about the trek for the days to follow.

After some refreshment, you can go for a quick hike to the nearby Rimpung Dzong. It is a beautiful Buddhist Monastery that once was a fortress of the Drukpa Lineage of the 17th century. The monastery currently houses the monastic body and the administrative governance offices of Bhutan. You will pass through a wooden bridge, after visiting Rimpung, towards Kichu Lhakhang. It is an ancient and sacred shrine of the Buddhist. As you walk through the streets of Paro, you will come across ancient architectural buildings.

Overnight stay at a hotel in Paro. 

Day 2: Sightseeing hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery then drive to Thimphu

Tiger Nest Monastery Taktsang Monastery, famously known as Tiger Nest Monastery, is located in Paro, Bhutan.

One of the most popular destinations known in Bhutan is Tiger’s Nest Monastery. No trek in Bhutan is complete without the visit to Tiger’s Nest, also known locally as Paro Taktsang or Taktsang Palpung.

The hike to Tiger’s Nest begins with an easy walk through a forest of pine. After some climb, you will reach an area high above, on most mornings filled with mist. From there on, you will reach the Tiger’s Nest monastery. As per the legend, Guru Rimpoche, also known as Padmasambhava, flew on the back of a tigress and manifested it as a place for his three months of meditation. Guru Rimpoche was a holy tantric who is believed to have brought Buddhism to Bhutan. It was built in 1684 by the Penlop of Paro and has been the main place of worship for the Buddhis pilgrims. After enjoying the majestic views of the valley from the monastery, you will head back to Paro and leave for Thimphu.

Overnight stay at a hotel in Thimphu. 

Day 3: Sightseeing tour in Thimphu

Thimphu is the capital city of Bhutan and is one of the economic hubs of the country. Early morning after having breakfast, you will head on a sightseeing tour in Thimphu. Among the places worth visiting is King’s Memorial Chorten. It is situated in the southern central part of Thimphu in Doeboom. It was built in 1974 to honor Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who was the third Druk Gyalpo. You can then visit a nunnery temple, then to the School of Arts and Crafts, and you can even observe the National Institute of Traditional Medicine. After that, you can visit the nearby paper factory and then head to Tashichodzong. It is a Buddhist monastery sitting on the western bank of the Wang Chhu river.

Then after having lunch, you will drive to Kunselphodrang. You will instantly spot a huge 169 feet bronze statue of Buddha. It overlooks the green hills on all sides. On the weekend spanning from Saturday to Sunday, you can visit the Weekend Market where the villagers sell their local produce. It is located near Kunselophodrang on the bank of the river. In the evening you can enjoy your walk in the streets of Thimphu.

Overnight stay at a hotel in Thimphu. 

Day 4: Drive from Thimphu to Punakha, 76 Km, 2-3 Hours

Punakha Dzong, Bhutan Punakha Dzong - Second oldest and second biggest dzong of Bhutan

On this day, after having breakfast, you are driven to Punakha. There will be a stop at Dochula pass En route, situated at an altitude of 3,150m/10,334ft. On a clear day, you can get amazing views of the high-standing Himalayas.

After a while, you will reach Metshina Village, where you can walk for about 20-minute through the rice fields to Chimi Lhakhang. It is a popular monastery near Lobesa, which in English translates to ‘The Fertility Temple.’ It was built in 1499 AD by Ngawang Choegyel, who was the 14th Drukpa hierarchy. You will begin by taking lunch in the nearby restaurants along the way. As soon as you reach Punakha, you will go to visit Punakha Dzong. It is one of the most beautiful Dzongs in Bhutan and is the administrative center of Punakha. It is also known to be the second oldest and second-largest Dzong in the country. In the evening, you will head back to your hotel for the night.

Overnight stay at a hotel in Punakha. 

Day 5: Drive from Punakha to Gangtey/Phobjikha Valley, 85 Km, 3 Hours

After having breakfast, you will drive from Punakha to Wangduephodrang, which takes about 30 minutes. It is the last town before central Bhutan. The district is situated in central Bhutan and is famous for its fine bamboo work and stone carving. The word “Wangdue” in English is translated to the country's unification, while “phodrang” is translated to Palace, and the name clearly defines the place.  

The drive will continue from Wangduephodrang through lush oak and rhododendron forests until you reach Lawala pass. The Lawala pass is covered with dwarf bamboos and offers scenic views of the high-standing Himalayas. The drive continues downhill for a short while. As you proceed, the views of the mesmeric Gangtey Goenpa and Phobjikha Valley will come into view.

 You will visit Gangtey Goenpa, founded in 1613, the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan. In the afternoon, you can take a hike in Phobjikha valley. There are many monasteries, temples and it is also famous for being the home to the rare Black Necked Cranes during the winter when they migrate from the Tibetan Plateau.

Overnight stay at a hotel in Phobjikha.

Day 6: Drive from Gangtey/Phobjikha to Bumthang, 152 Km, 5 Hours

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

On this day, you will be touring Bumthang from Phobjikha valley. The early morning drive will take you to Trongsa. Trongsa is also located in central Bhutan, and the name translates to “new village” in English. It has housed Bhutan’s royal family for generations. It is the place where the first two kings of the country ruled the kingdom.

The route from here is famous among Bhutanese as one of their movies, “Travellers and Magicians,” was shot on these winding roads. You will get a chance to enjoy a typical Bhutanese lunch at Trongsa. After having lunch, the tour will continue to Trongsa Dzong, and It is an architectural masterpiece and is the largest Dzong in Bhutan. Every tourist’s dream to come across something so beautiful, majestic, and massive.

The ride then takes you to Bumthang. Bhutan's spiritual heart contains a high number of ancient temples and sacred sites. After that, you go to visit the Yathra (textile weaving) factory. The Yathra’s are designed in this factory. The Yathra’s made here are unique to Bumthang, and you can watch the weavers in action.

Overnight stay at hotel in Bumthang.

Day 7: Sightseeing tour to Bumthang

A full-day tour in Bumthang is very exciting, with visits to prehistoric temples and monasteries. You will first begin with a visit to Jakar Dzong, and It is the fortress of Bumthang located on a ridge above the town. You will then head to Kurjey Lhakhang, the final resting place of the country's first three Kings. Jambay Lhakhang comes third on our trip as it is known best for being built-in 659 CE by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo. Then you move on to visiting Tamshing Lhakhang Monastery, which now houses the Sungtrual Rimpoche.

After a long and exciting tour, you will walk around Bumthang town and get introduced to locals.

Overnight stay at hotel in Bumthang.

Day 8: Drive from Bumthang to Mongar, 198 Km, 6 Hours

On this day, the long drive starting from Bumthang to Mongar offers one of the most mesmerizing views throughout the trip. With waterfalls and lush greenery all around your head on to the lovely Ura Village. The road then takes an ascends to Thurmshingla pass (3,800m/12,467ft) with spectacular mountain views. After, there is a sharp descend to Kuri Zampa (570m above sea level) as it passes through ever-changing vegetation.

The route takes a climb again towards Mongar town, which is located on the hillside. As you reach Mongar, you can observe the fascinating lifestyle of the people. You will realize that the way of life in western Bhutan is entirely different from central Bhutan. You will be transferred to your hotel for an overnight stay.

Overnight stay at a hotel in Mongar. 

Day 9: Drive from Mongar to Trashigang, 91 Km, 3-4 Hours

Trashigang Dzong Trashigang Dzong - One of the largest dzong, located Trashigang District of Bhutan.

The drive today takes you to Trashigang while you pass through many small villages. Upon reaching Chazam Bridge, you will move on a path to the turn-off road that heads to Gom Kora temple. Visiting the temple is a must in this eastern part of Bhutan as it is one of the most beautiful temples in Bhutan. Located on the river side, it is a sacred site for Buddhist pilgrims. There is a legend that the tantric Guru Rinpoche meditated here. You will even see the impression of his thumb, his hat, and even his body on the rock near the temple. The drive will then take you to Trashigang, where you will go about strolling on the town's streets.

Overnight stay at a hotel in Trashigang.

Day 10: Drive from Trashigang to Merak, 67 Km, 4 hours

Today you will drive to Merak, the nomadic Brokpa village, on an unpaved road. En route, you will come across Rangjung Town and Radhi Village, renowned for “bura” gho and kira, a textile made from raw silk. After arrival in Merak, you can enjoy conversing with the lovely and welcoming villagers.

Stay overnight at camp in Merak.

Day 11: Trek from Merak to Miksateng (3079m/10,101ft) – 14km, 6 hours

On this day, you will have to stretch your muscles to the fullest as it is a challenging day. You will have to walk for around 6 hours to reach your destination-Miksateng. As you head from the campsite, you will take a gradual climb to the first short pass of the day. From there, you can already see the end of the Merak village- disappearing slowly from sight.

The trek passes through the tree line of juniper and rhododendron forests, leading to the major high pass, Nachungla pass, situated at 4,153m. It is a challenging climb but conquering it makes you filled with pride. The trek will eventually take a descend to Miksateng from thereon. After reaching the campsite, you can drink some hot soup and take a rest.

Overnight stay at camp in Miksateng.

Day 12: Trek from Miksateng to Sakteng (2,950m/9,678ft) – 14km, 5 hours

Sakteng Village Sakteng Village - The Trail from Miksateng to Sakteng. (local lifestyle)

On this day, you will begin the trek by taking a descend to the river. After crossing it, you will take the trail that follows the riverbank for a couple of hours. From thereon, you take a gradual climb uphill adorned by small Chortens overseeing the Sakteng valley. In the case where the Buddhist god's grace is upon you, you can spot the rare Red Panda among the tree lines.

As you see the ridge, you will drop down from it and head towards your camp, which is on the outskirts of the Sakteng village, sitting at an elevation of 2,950m/9,678ft.

Stay overnight at camp in Sakteng.

Day 13: Explore Sakteng

Today is an exploration and rest day to be enjoyed at the second main attraction of the trek, Sakteng. Sakteng village is a lovely place where you get to intermingle with a lot of the villagers there. Take the assistance of your guide to getting introduced to the villagers living in the area. They are friendly and welcoming. These ethnic groups have their unique traditions and cultures worth learning about.

After exploring the nearby village, you can also take a quick hike to the upper area for wonderful natural views. You will head back to your camp in Sakteng and prepare for the next day's trek.

Stay overnight at camp in Sakteng.

Day 14: Trek from Sakteng to Joenkhar Teng (1733m/5,685ft) and drive to Trashigang

Leaving Sakten, start with a short climb to the small hill towards the west end of the village. Then descend to the river and walk alongside it through the broadleaf forests. On the way, you will be met by your car and drive back to Trashigang.

En route, you will come across Joenkhar village, located on the hillside and mostly inhabited by the Brokpa and Sharchopa community. They have a community school and an outreach clinic in the village, which you can observe later. If you wish, you can also visit the Ranjung Monastery, established in 1989 by the HH Garab Dorje Rimpoche. You will be transferred to your hotel on arrival at Trashigang.

Overnight stay at a hotel in Trashigang.

Day 15: Drive from Trashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar

After having a lovely breakfast at the hotel, you will take a ride to Samdrup Jongkhar. You will spot Sherubtse from a few miles from Trashigang. It is prominent for being the first premier college in the country. If you make a stop there, you can view the amazing clock tower and green surrounding. The college feels like it is situated in a hill station. You can also stop briefly at Khaling to visit some of the shops to buy souvenirs. This will also allow you to interact with the locals and understand more about the place and their way of life.

After having your lunch in a local restaurant, you will head back to the road. After passing a few villages and forests on the way, you will arrive at Samdrup Jongkhar. You will be transferred to your hotel there.

Overnight stay at a hotel in Samdrup Jongkhar.

Day 16: Drive from Samdrup Jongkhar to Guwahati, India, for departure

On this day, you will be departing from the naturally mesmerizing country, Bhutan. You will be driven to Guwahati after breakfast. Guwahati is the capital city of Assam. Along the way to Guwahati, you spot tea gardens, clear rivers, and quiet villages.

You will then board a flight from Guwahati to homewards. From here on, our representatives from Third Rock Adventures will bid you a farewell and hope for your return for another trek with us in the land of mystic Bhutan.

Trip Reviews

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

Based on 3 reviews
Very good

Walter Luna
flagsUnited States of America
Oct 09, 2019
Mesmerizing Time in Bhutan
Went to Bhutan to spend 16 days and learn as many as I can. Explored protected area of Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary and loved the most. Visiting Tiger’s Nest Monastery is the main highlight of this trek for me. We walked for hours, and visited monasteries and temples like Rimpung Dzong (Paro), Tashichodzong (Thimpu), Chimi Lhakhang (Punakha), and more. The people were always smiling and seemed people of the happiest land. They treated us well. My Bhutan tour guide was experienced and I could sense that easily from the very first day. 16 days proved to be the best adventure for me... All thanks to Third Rock.
Michael Mills
flagsUnited States of America
Oct 03, 2019
Truly Mesmerizing
Joe and I did this trek. Glad we did it with Third Rock Adventures. They are too good with travel management and operation. This trek is truly mesmerizing. The villages of Merak and Sakteng is amazingly beautiful, needless to say, the people are great. We successfully crossed the challenging pass of Nachungla. Visited many prominent monasteries and temples. Our more than 2 weeks in Bhutan proved to be one of the best adventures, and the credit goes to Third Rock, their quality service, and outstanding team. through this review, we want to recommend them to anyone who wants to explore Bhutan, they have many other trips to Bhutan. Take our words from here, the Merak Sakteng trek is fantastic.
Crystal Johnston
flagsUnited States of America
Sep 29, 2019
Mesmerizing Adventure
We explored Merak Sakteng in Bhutan. Our 16 days adventure seemed like 6 days trip. And all credit goes to the amazing team of Third Rock Adventures. They perfectly handled every operation and legwork. All I did was enjoy my trip. I had ample time to soak up the atmosphere every single day. Tiger’s Nest Monastery atop a cliff is the highlight of this trip. I also visited monasteries and temples like Rimpung Dzong (Paro), Tashichodzong (Thimpu), Chimi Lhakhang (Punakha), Gangtey Goenpa (Phobjikha Valley), and many others. So much more to explore. The itinerary is great. Services are great. Needless to say, they nailed it. I fully enjoyed my trek, and there is no word to describe the professionalism of this company. Highly recommended for trips in Bhutan.

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