Bhutan Cultural Tour with 2-Day Bumdrak Trek
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💎 Why we love it ?
On this trip, visit the capital city of Bhutan and get immersive experiences in modern Bhutan with its ancient culture still vibrant and discover happiness, trek to a sacred mountain meadow and find inner peace, enjoy spectacular views of the valley below and surrounding Himalayan Mountains, hike to an 8th-century sacred site where Bhutan’s iconic landmark, 17th century Paro Taktsang or Tiger’s Nest is located, visit a family farmhouse to learn and experience Bhutanese rural life and delight your taste buds with authentic Bhutanese cuisine.
🏁 Tour Itinerary: Bhutan Cultural Tour with 2-Day Bumdrak Trek
Day 1: Arrive at Paro International Airport & Sightseeing in Paro (2200m)
On arrival at Paro International airport by either Drukair or Bhutan Airlines, our guide and driver will receive escort you to visit the National Museum of Bhutan housed in the 17th-century watchtower/fortress called Ta Dzong. The collection of artifacts at the museum displays a snapshot of the rich cultural traditions of Bhutan. Visit Paro Rinpung Dzong which literally translates to “Fortress of the heap of jewels”. Built-in 1646, this Dzong serves as the office of the governor and head of the monk body of the Paro district. From there walk to the beautiful traditional wooden cantilever bridge that runs over the Paro river.
After lunch, visit one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, the 7th-century Kyichu Lhakhang which is believed to have been built overnight by the Tibetan Kind Songtsen Gampo to subdue the spirit of a giant ogress that was obstructing the propagation of Buddism in the region.
Leisure time to explore Paro town.
🏚️ Accommodation: Overnight at Paro Village View Homestay or Aum Choden Homestay.
Paro Village View Homestay located about 3.5km from the Paro International Airport in close proximity to the Dzongdrakha Temple, this village home is a perfect place to experience the life of an ordinary Bhutanese family. Amidst the apple orchard, this homestay offers a spectacular view of the Paro valley. Apart from comfortable accommodation and delicious home-cooked local cuisine, they also have an in-house traditional hot stone bath believed to have a therapeutic and revitalizing effect. If this homestay is not available, you’ll stay at a similar homestay or at Khangkhu Resort.
Day 2: Paro / Transfer to Thimphu (2334m)
After breakfast at the homestay, we drive to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan and home to approximately 115,000 residents. This bustling little city is the main center of commerce, religion, and government. It is the only capital city in the world without traffic lights and even commercial billboards.
En route, you can visit Tamchog Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to the 15th-century Tibetan Buddhist master Thangtong Gyalpo who was popularly known as the Iron Bridge Builder. Located across the Pa Chhu River along the Paro-Thimphu highway, you’ll have to cross the old iron bridge one among the few remaining of the many built by Thangtong Gyalpo.
On arrival in Thimphu, visit the Weaving Center to learn about the weaving culture and tradition of the Kingdom of Bhutan. You will see women at work weaving some of the most intricate designs and patterns of traditional Bhutanese costumes. From there drive to visit the 169ft Buddha Dordhenma Statue located at Kuensel Phodrang overlooking the Thimphu valley.
Later in the evening after 5 PM, visit Tashichho Dzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion) which houses the Throne Room of the King and the summer residence of the Chief Abbot of Bhutan.
Distance to from Paro – Thimphu 55 km, Driving time 1.5-hours, Thimphu altitude 2,334m/7,655ft, Paro altitude 2,195m/7,200ft.
🏚️ Accommodation: Overnight at Kuenphen Rabten Resort or Hotel Amodhara.
Day 3: Thimphu / Transfer to Punakha (1200m)
After early breakfast, we will drive to Punakha Valley via the beautiful Dochu La Pass. Before we embark on a 74km road journey which takes less than 3 hours under normal road conditions, we will pay a short visit to the National Memorial Chorten and pray for our safe journey ahead.
Visit National Memorial Chorten: The National Memorial Chorten is a Buddhist Stupa built-in 1974 in memory of the Late Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who passed away in 1972. It is one of the important landmarks in Thimphu. People from all walks of life come here to pray and circumambulate and it is a good opportunity for you to observe how Bhutanese people devote themselves to daily prayers and take refuge in the teachings of the Lord Buddha. We then start our journey toward Punakha.
Dochu La Pass – 3,150m/10,335ft above sea level: About a 45 min drive from Thimphu towards Punakha is a mountain pass at an altitude of 3,150 meters above sea level from where you can see, on a clear day, some of the highest peaks of Bhutan. From Dochu La Pass, we continue driving towards Punakha, passing through some villages, the elevation drops gradually, and the road winds through the pine trees. As you reach the lower valley, you will feel the drastic change in altitude from 3,150m just an hour and a half ago to the subtropical valley at 1,200m.
After lunch, visit Chimi Lhakhang “Temple of Fertility” located on a gentle hilltop near the village of Sopsokha. To reach the temple, you have to walk 20 – 30 minutes through beautiful terraced paddy fields and traditional farmhouses. The history of Chimi Lhakhang is associated with 16th century Lama Drukpa Kuenley who was affectionately known as “Divine Madman” for his obscene behavior and outrageous ways of cleansing people from religious dogmatism and egoistic self-possession by exhibiting his strong desire for sex. He would often use phallus as a tool to subdue malevolent spirits. Using the phallus was also intended to free up the social inhibitions enforced by the socially established values. Today, one of the relics of Chimi Lhakhang is a phallus. The blessing of the phallus is considered sacred particularly to women who are unable to conceive a child as it brings fertility to women, giving them the ability to bear offspring. Because of this belief, people like to call Chimi Lhakhang as “Temple of Fertility”.
Married couples who are unable to conceive a child often come to this temple seeking blessings from the Divine Madman. As much as it sounds ‘too good to be true, there are many stories of happy couples who are blessed with children after visiting the temple.
From there, we drive to visit the historic Punakha Dzong originally known as Pungthang Dewa Chenpoi Phodrang, meaning the “Palace of Great Bliss”. It was built in 1637 A.D. by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (Tibetan Buddhist master who came to Bhutan in 1616 and founded the nation-state of Bhutan) on a small stretch of land where the rivers Phochu and Mochu converge. Punakha Dzong is the second oldest and second-largest Dzong in Bhutan. The sacred wall paintings and main artifacts inside the dzong, the intricate woodwork, and the architectural structure of the dzong display fine examples of Bhutanese arts and craftsmanship which continues to influence Bhutanese architecture even today.
Distance to Punakha: 74km, Transport: SUV/Minivan/Bus, Time: 3-hours, Punakha Altitude: 2,200m/3,935ft
🏚️ Accommodation: Overnight in Punakha at Meri Puensum Resort or Hotel Lobesa.
Day 4: Punakha / Transfer to Phobjikha Valley (3000m)
After breakfast, hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten located on a mountain ridge, and visit the historic Punakha Dzong before we drive to Phobjikha valley. The hike to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten takes about 3 hours round trip through the terraced rice fields and a short uphill climb before reaching the serene sacred site on the hilltop overlooking fertile Punakha valley. After the hike, return back to the road head, and drive to visit the masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture, 17th-century Punakha Dzong. You’ll spend some time taking in the exquisite woodworks and sacred wall paintings.
After lunch, transfer to Phobjikha valley. Phobjikha is a vast U-shaped glacial valley at an elevation of about 3,000m/9,840ft and it is a winter home for endangered Black-necked Crane from November to March and migrates back to the Tibetan Plateau.
If time permits, you’ll go on an exciting Gangtey Nature Hike. The trail is about 5km and takes approximately 3-hours through the woods surrounded by splendid nature all around, wonderful meadows, beautiful traditional village houses, farmlands, and crystalline streams. This short nature trail gives you a great feeling of the valley and an understanding of the livelihood of the people living there. Lots of opportunities to take beautiful pictures!
Distance from Punakha – Phobjikha valley 80km, Driving time 3-hours, Phobjikha valley altitude 3000m
🏚️ Accommodation: Overnight at Dewachen Resort or Yue-Loki Guesthouse
Day 5: Phobjikha valley / Transfer back to Paro (2200m)
After breakfast, visit one of the largest monasteries in Bhutan – Gangtey Goenpa and then you will be transferred back to Paro. If you haven’t done the Gangtey Nature Hike yesterday, you’ll do it today after visiting the Gangtey Monastery. The 17th-century Gangtey Monastery popularly known as Gangtey Gonpa is one of the largest monasteries in Bhutan. Gangtey literally means “Hilltop” and Goenpa “remote place” and is usually a place of religious significance. You will meet peace-loving monks who study Buddhist Philosophy. Then drive back to Paro valley. Lunch will be served on the way.
Distance from Phobjikha to Paro 188km, Driving time 5-hours
🏚️ Accommodation: Overnight at Khangkhu Resort or Bhutan Mandala Resort
Day 6: Paro / Trek to Bumdrak Monastery (3860m)
Following an early breakfast at the hotel, drive for about 30 minutes to the starting point of trekking, Paro Sangchoekhor Buddhist College which is located at an elevation of 2,950m/9,680ft above sea level. If you are interested, visit the monastery and receive blessings. We then start the trek and steadily climb uphill through the ridge covered by forests of fir and pine trees. April is the perfect season for trekking with wildflowers in full bloom in their natural habitat. You’ll see several species of Rhododendron flowers along the route. About 2 hours 30 minutes into gradual climbing, you will come to a cleared spot on which colorful prayer flags are hoisted and you can see the beautiful Paro valley.
Picnic lunch will be served on this spot overlooking the Paro valley with stunning views. There is also a temple called Choechongtse on this lunch spot which you can visit and pray after lunch.
After lunch, continue to trek for approximately 2 hours to reach the campsite, Bumdrak at 3,860m/12,665ft above sea level. The camp will be just below the sacred Bumdrak temple, on a peaceful and heavenlike mountain meadow. Those still energetic, can venture further up for about 45 minutes to the summit and enjoy unobstructed panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys below.
Sacred Bumdrak Temple: Bumdrak temple is perched on a cliff so close to the campsite. There is a sacred cave inside the temple which was blessed by 100,000 dakinis in the 8th century AD during the life of Guru Padmasambhava. You can visit the temple and spend some time praying and meditating.
🏚️ Accommodation: Overnight camping at Bumdrak (full service)
Day 7: Bumdrak Monastery / Paro via Taktsang Monastery (3120m)
For early risers, you may want to observe and take pictures of a beautiful sunrise in clear weather. You may also see an endangered species of birds called Himalayan Monal Pheasant wandering freely near the camping tents. After breakfast, you can hang around for a while appreciating the pristine environment or taking pictures before we begin our return journey viaTaktsang monastery. The downhill descent is steep but we will walk at our own pace and explore the flora along the ancient trails used by monks and pilgrims. After descending for less than 2 hours, a view of Yoeselgang Monastery, one of the three monasteries situated above Taktsang monastery, opens up. We’ll walk past Yoeselgang, reach 15th-century Ugyen Tsemo monastery, and hiking further down will bring us to the third temple, Zangdogpelri (zangdogpelri means “copper-colored mountain”) which is referred to as Guru Padmasambhava’s abode. From this temple, you can look down and see the impressive Taktsang monastery perched precariously on a rocky cliff. We will continue our descend and visit the sacred Taktsang monastery, the most recognized site in Bhutan. Lunch will be served at the Taktsang Viewpoint Cafeteria. An only vegetarian meal is served at this cafeteria to show respect to the sacred Taktsang Monastery.
Descending further down, you’ll meet your driver at the base and drive to Paro town for some leisure time or drive directly to the hotel.
Towards the late afternoon, you’ll visit one of the beautiful farmhouses in Paro and experience the traditional Bhutanese way of life. For an additional fee, you may want to take a therapeutic and revitalizing traditional hot stone bath after 2 days of trekking. Specially selected stones are heated in a wood-fired fireplace. The bathtub is made of wood and a medicinal shrub is added to the hot bath. You can enjoy locally brewed warm liquor known as Ara. A delicious dinner of authentic Bhutanese cuisine will be served at the farmhouse.
🏚️ Accommodation: Overnight at Khangkhu Resort or Bhutan Mandala Resort.
Day 8: Transfer to Paro International Airport for Departure
After a hearty breakfast, you will be transferred to Paro International Airport for your onward journey. Your guide will assist you to complete all exit formalities before you check-in and then bid you farewell.
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Terms & Conditions
- Free cancellation for up to 30 days prior to departure date
- 20% will be charged if cancelled 16-29 days prior to departure date
- 30% will be charged if cancelled 08-15 days prior to departure date
- 50% will be charged if cancelled 03-07 days prior to departure date
- No refund will be available if No Show or cancelled 0-02 days prior to departure date
The flight tends to get fully booked months ahead especially during the peak season. We highly recommend you book flights a few months ahead of your departure date. We can help with the arrangement of flights to and from Bhutan. There are only two airlines operating in and out of Bhutan:
- Drukair, the national flag carrier of Bhutan (www.drukair.com.bt) operates from and to these cities/International Airports: Bangkok, Bagdogra, Bodhgaya, Dhaka, Delhi, Guwahati, Kathmandu, Kolkata, Singapore.
- Bhutan Airlines, a private airline introduced in 2011 (www.bhutanairlines.bt) operates from and to these cities/International Airport: Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Kathmandu
Other Important Information
- Airport pick-up and drop-off time will be coordinated depending on your flight timings
- For the purpose of processing a visa, you must send us a clear passport copy of all the participants after you book the tour. A whole biodata page including the machine-readable zone must be seen clearly. It can be either scanned or just a mobile photo shot as long as it is clear and legible. Passports should have a validity of at least SIX MONTHS from the day you depart from Bhutan.
- You’ll receive a copy of your approved e-Visa Clearance letter in PDF format within 3-4 business days from the day the visa application is submitted. You MUST print a copy of this letter and present it at the check-in counter of the airline flying into Bhutan. Without the proof of an e-Visa Clearance letter, you may be denied boarding the flight to Bhutan. The actual visa will be stamped on your passport on arrival at the Paro International Airport.
- Child(ren) below 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult
- All participants between the age of 13 – 18 years old must send us a valid copy of the Student Photo ID Card/document after booking the tour.
- All our tour guides speak very fluent English. Guides speaking other major languages (Chinese, Japanese, French & German) can be arranged at an additional fee of $120 per day.
- You must let us know prior to your arrival if you have any dietary restrictions/preference.
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