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Bumthang Cultural Trek

Duration: 12 days Place: Paro, Thimphu, Bumthang, Punakha

The 11N/12D Bumthang Cultural Trek takes you to the most famous tourist attractions of Bhutan while letting you have a gala time. You are provided a glimpse into its culture and heritage, an intrinsic part of which is its monasteries. The trekking trails covered by this itinerary take you to those places in Bhutan which are famous for sightseeing and exploration. As part of your cultural trek, you visit the famous monasteries and discover the legends behind them. You are also taken to the famous Motithang Takin Preserve, where the shyness of the Takin wins your heart. During the entire course of the trek, it’s the timeless beauty, embellished by the serenity accompanying it, which keeps you captivated. This wonderful trekking tour in Bhutan also gives you a chance to camp in the countryside. If absolute bliss if what you are after, then you will experience plenty of that.

DAY 01: Arrival at Paro

Your trip begins as you arrive in Paro by Druk Air Flight. During the course of your flight, you are treated to gorgeous views of Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga, Tsrim gang, Jichu drake and Chomolhari. No sooner than you land at Bhutan and exit the plane, then you immediately feel the change in surroundings, along with the fresh air. After arriving at the airport, you will be received by our representatives. Then, you will be transferred to Kichu resort.

After spending some time in rest and relaxation, you can set off to visit the National Museum and Rinpung Dzong. The National Museum, established in 1968, displays the finest examples of Bhutanese art, bronze statues and paintings. It is a great place to explore the country’s heritage. Rinpung Dzong is one of the largest and oldest monasteries in Bhutan which has served as the seat of power since the 15th century. Tourists visiting Paro never fail to visit it, particularly when it hosts the Bhutanese traditional festival known as tshechu.

Overnight stay at resort.

Day 02: Hike to Taktsang Monastery

On this day, you will be hiking to the Taktsang Monastery, which will test your endurance and stamina. It will also help you acclimatize to the surroundings which will help you with the other treks in the coming days. Taktsang Monastery, which is known as Tiger Nest Monastery, is situated at an altitude of 3000m approx and takes almost 2-3 hours.

The monastery is one of the most respected pilgrimage sites in the Himalayan kingdoms. There are several fascinating mythological tales surrounding it. According to one of them, the monastery came to be called so when the locals found a tigress residing in one of the caves. They believed that the tigress was actually Yeshi Tshogyal, a companion of Guru Rinpoche. She had taken the form of a tigress to eliminate the evil spirits that lurked everywhere. Inside the monastery, you come across lovely paintings which depict the eight manifestations of the Guru along with his twenty-five chief disciples. Another attraction is the throne of Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye (the fourth secular ruler of Bhutan who ruled from 1680 to 1694 AD. Perched on a cliff, large parts of it were destroyed by a fire in 1998. However, since then, steps have been taken to restore and reconstruct the old structure.

After reaching the monastery, you will be served tea and refreshments. Explore the monastery and enjoy the outstanding views offered by it. After this, make your way back to Kichu resort. You have the rest of the evening to yourself and can spend it anyway you want.

Stay overnight at the resort.

DAY 03: Thimphu

This day is all about driving to Thimphu. The entire duration of the drive is about two hours and promises to be an enjoyable experience. Along the way, you can enjoy the picturesque scenery passing you by. A large part of the extremely enjoyable experience owes itself to the excellent roads. After arriving at Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan, complete your check-in formalities at the hotel. After some time spent in rest and relaxation, head out for some wonderful sightseeing. Some of the places which you will visit are Memorial chorten, Changangkha monastery and Motithang mini zoo. After visiting these places, you will drive down further for enjoying some panoramic views of the Thimphu Valley. You will also visit the Drubthob Nunnery Temple, also known as Thangtong Dewachen Nunnery. Then, you can explore the market and enjoy some exciting shopping.

Of these, the visit to Motithang Takin Preserve is one of the most visited tourist places in Bhutan. This wildlife reserve area is home to the gentle takin, the national animal of Bhutan. However, this place was once a mini zoo. The then king of the country felt that keeping animals in captivity for environmental, religious or any other reason was wrong and violated the tenets of Buddhism. He ordered them to be released.

However, they had become so domesticated to their surroundings that they refused to leave the immediate area and strayed into the nearby streets in search of food. It was then that the king decided to build an enclosed forested habitat for them on the outskirts of Thimphu city. That was how this wildlife reserve came into existence.

One of the other places which also deserves a special mention is the Memorial Chorten. It was built in 1974 and is one of the few stupas which does not contain human remains. With its golden spire, it is one of the most major landmarks in the city and attracts a large number of tourists throughout the year. Also known as Thimphu Chorten, it displays larger than life deities along with their female companions. It is interesting to note that at this monastery, the circumambulation is conducted in a clockwise direction.

Stay overnight at the hotel.

DAY 04: Drive to Wangdue Phodrang

In the morning, you will explore some of the other tourist attractions in Bhutan like the painting school, national library, royal goldsmith and handicraft centers. After this, you will commence your drive to Wangdue Phodrang. The entire drive is expected to take you about three hours. On the way, you will also cross the Dochula Pass, situated at an altitude of 3100m approx. This snow covered mountain pass is famous for 108 memorial chortens, also known as Druk Wangyal Chortens, which were built in the memory of Bhutanese soldiers.

If you are lucky and the weather is clear and sunny, you will be treated to clear views of the eastern Himalayan ranges along with the highest mountain in the country, Mt. Gangkhar Puensum (situated at an altitude of 7520m approx). From the pass, it’s a downward climb to lower altitudes towards the valleys of Lobesa village. After reaching, set off to explore the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong (monastery). This monastery was built in 1638 and is one of the largest monasteries in the country. Apart from the monastery, you can also take a short trip to the market and lay your hands on anything you find interesting.

Stay overnight at the resort.

DAY 05: Trongsa – Bumthang

On this day of your cultural tour to Bhutan, you will enjoying a lovely drive as well as some sightseeing and exploration. The day begins with a drive towards a town by the name of Trongsa, which means “new village” in the local language. The drive will take you almost six to seven hours, taking you across passes that are situated well over 3000m. Along the way, just sit back, relax and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Himalayas as well as the surrounding landscape dotted with mountains, valleys and rivers. You will also pass by rhododendron and pine forests so beautiful they remain etched in your memory.

Make a brief halt along the way for a picnic lunch at the Chendebji Chorten. A famous tourist attraction in this area, it bears a strong resemblance architecturally to thee Boudhanath Stupa in Nepal. It is famous for hosting the Sambha Lhundrup Molam Chenmo festival, also known as the Great Prayer Festival. Enjoy your lunch and revel in the serenity of the surroundings enveloping you. After this, resume your drive. You will arrive at the village of Trongsa after a drive of almost one and a half hours.

This town is mostly inhabited by members of the Tibetan community who arrived here as refugees. The prominent tourist attraction of this place is Trongsa Dzong. According to various historical sources, it was from this fortress that the entire side of eastern Bhutan was controlled during the 17th century. You can admire the building from outside, as the entry of visitors inside is completely forbidden. Resume your drive towards Bumthang, which will take you another two hours. After arriving, visit the Chume weaving center.

Stay overnight at the resort.

DAY 06: Sightseeing in Bumthang

Bumthang holds a special place in the minds and hearts of the Bhutanese people. Located at an altitude of 2600-4500m, it is home to some of the oldest monasteries and temples in the country. Upon visiting this place, you are bound to be regaled with stories of Guru Padmasambhava (which means precious master in the local language). Nature too, has gifted this region generously. Plantations of buckwheat, rice and potatoes clothe its valleys, while the dairy farms and apple orchards are also found at regular intervals.

After arriving here, you will visit the popular attractions in this region.

Some of these are Jakar Dzong, Jambay Lhakhang, Kurjey Monastery, Tamshing and Kunchosum monastery. The visit to Jakar Dzong, among others, promises to be special because it is one of the largest dzong in all of Bhutan. It sprawls across an area of almost 4900 ft. Jambay Lhakang, another famous temple in Bumthang, is one of the 108 temples built by the then Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in 659 AD. Since this sightseeing is a round trip, the best way to enjoy it is on foot.

Overnight stay at the resort.

DAY 07: Bumthang – Ngang – Lhakhang

On this day, the trek to Ngang Lhakhang commences. As part of your trek route, you will have to follow the Chamkhar River which is located upstream. You will enjoy every second of the walk as it takes you through the wonderful pine forest. Look around and soak in the beauty surrounding you. The beauty of the countryside is too mesmeric and creates an almost magical spell. Finally, you arrive at the camp, which is located at an altitude of almost 3000m. The entire time spent trekking should take you not more than four to five hours.

Stay overnight at the camp.

DAY 08: Ngang Lhakhang- Ugyenchholing

On this day, your walking & hiking tour begins with a climb over the Phephe La Pass which is situated at an impressive height of 3100m approx. Along the course of the trek, you can enjoy the beauty of the surroundings and the serenity enveloping you. The entire trek duration for this day is expected to be about six to seven hours. You finally arrive at the camp, located at altitude of 3100m approx.

Stay overnight at the camp.

DAY 09: Mebartsho- Bumthang

On this day, you will be visiting the Ugyenchholing Dzong and then drive or walk your way towards Mebartsho.

Stay overnight at the lodge.

DAY 10: Drive back to Wangdue Phodrang

Drive back to Wangdue Phodra while enjoying the natural beauty all along the way.

Stay overnight at the resort.

DAY 11: Punakha – Paro

Your day begins with a drive towards Punakha. The city of Punakha served as the seat of government and administrative center of Bhutan until 1955 when the capital was transferred to Thimphu. Here, you will visit the Punakha Dzong, one of the most beautiful structures in Bhutan. The dzong, whose name means “the palace of happiness in the local language”, was built in 1637. Its construction is believed to have taken around two years.

This imposing structure has been a witness to various historical events. One of them was in 1907 when Ugyen Wangchuk was crowned as the first king of Bhutan. In the month of February every year, a procession is held all over the city. It is called Punakha Serda and is held to commemorate the victory of the Bhutanese over the Tibetans. After spending some time here, make your way to the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu. Then, drive your way back to Paro.

Stay overnight at the resort.

DAY 12: Departure

Get transferred to the airport to board your flight The trip has finally come to an end. It has been a wonderful journey. Take home happy memories of it.

Highlights of the trip

  • Explore the National Museum at Paro
  • Enjoy a hike to the Taktsang Monastery
  • Spot the Takin at Motithang Takin Preserve
  • Witness the 108 memorial chortens at Dochula Pass
  • Admire the natural landscape of Bumthang
  • Take in the beauty of Phephe La Pass
  • Visit the Punakha Dzong at Punakha

Inclusion of the trip

  • Accommodation
  • Activities
  • Breakfast
  • Guide
  • Transport

Exclusion of the trip

  • Airfare / Railfare
  • Government GST of 5%
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Expenses of personal nature
  • Entrance fees
  • Guide Charges
  • Video and Camera permits
  • Any supplementary services
  • Porterage at hotels and airports, tips, insurance, laundry, liquors, wine
  • Any cost arising due to natural calamities like landslides, roadblocks
  • Early check in & late check out at the hotels
  • Any compulsory supplement during the stay
  • Any other services not specified above

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