Trip facts

Activity General Tour

Embark on your astonishing journey to Bhutan. The drive from Bagdogra takes you through the northern edge of India, covering the splendid tea gardens of the Indian frontier. Dooars is renowned for its magnificent tea gardens and wildlife sanctuaries. The drive from the foothills of Phuentsholing combines natural beauty with great spiritual significance. We pass through lush valleys, rocky mountains, and green forests, with views of Phuentsholing and the Indian plains from Kharbandi Goempa. The distances between attractions may be far, but that doesn’t mean you need to set aside weeks to travel here. This 5-night overland adventure takes in several of Bhutan’s highlight attractions, along with a whole host of lesser-known favorites. Enjoy a hike to the iconic Taktsang (Tiger Monastery), visits to Dzongs (fortresses), and the chance to experience archery, the national game of Bhutan.

Day 01:  Arrival in Phuentsholing

Upon arrival in Bagdogra, meet our representative and drive to the frontier town of Phuentsholing. After clearing immigration formalities, check in at the hotel. Phuentsholing is a flourishing commercial center situated in the foothills. Being a border town, Phuentsholing serves as a convenient entry/exit point for Bhutan and an important link to visit the Indian states of West Bengal, Sikkim, Darjeeling, and Assam. In the latter half of the day, visit Zangtopelri Lhakhang, located in the heart of the town. This site is dedicated to Guru Rinpoche, with eight manifestations of the Guru portrayed on the ground floor. The second floor contains statues of eight Bodhisattvas, Avalokiteshvara, and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, while the top floor houses the main statue of Buddha Amitabha.

Overnight at the hotel in Phuentsholing (Altitude 300m).

Day 02: Phuentsholing – Thimphu (155 km, approx. 4 -hour drive)

In the morning, after breakfast, we drive to Thimphu. On the way, visit Kharbandi Goemba, a 20-minute drive from Phuentsholing town on the Phuentsholing-Thimphu highway. Founded by Royal Grandmother Ashi Phuntsho Choedon in 1967, the monastery features beautiful illustrations of Buddha on its walls, with statues of Guru Rinpoche and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It offers a magnificent view of the Indian plains and Phuentsholing town from its lawn.

In Thimphu, visit Buddha Dordenma, one of the largest statues of Shakyamuni at a height of 51.5 meters. Cast in bronze and gilded with gold, it overlooks the southern gate of the valley. Inside, 125,000 miniature statues are placed. The statue features a large prayer hall with Buddha seated upon it.

The National Memorial Chorten was constructed to dedicate world peace and in loving memory of the third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, “the father of modern Bhutan.” This landmark is an iconic monument where you can see a large crowd of people circumambulating and chanting mantras.

Later in the evening, take a leisurely walk around the clock tower and Thimphu’s main street.

Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu (Altitude 2,320m).

Day 03: Thimphu Sightseeing and drive to Paro (166 km, approx. 4-5 hour drive)

After breakfast, begin your tour with a short drive to visit Tashichho Dzong. This towering fortress, nestled beside the Thimphu Chu, is a magnificent example of Bhutanese architecture and houses the seat of the Chief Abbot, the throne room, and the offices of the King, the Cabinet Secretariat, and the Ministries of Home Affairs and Finance. Originally built in 1216 and reconstructed in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was later renovated in the 1960s in a traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans. The Thimphu festival is held in the courtyard of this fortress.

The National Institute of Zorig Chusum and the Choki Art Institute are training centers for cultural and traditional arts and crafts. Here, students are trained in 13 different techniques for six years in traditional painting, woodcarving, and statue-making. Later, visit the Thangthong Dewachen Nunnery, locally known as Zilukha Nunnery, one of the largest nunneries in Bhutan. It was built by Thangtong Gyelpo, the builder of iron chain bridges across Bhutan and Tibet, and features an enclosed chorten in the main courtyard.

The Takin Sanctuary, home to Bhutan’s national animal, which resembles a goat and yak, can also be visited. According to legend, the Tibetan saint Drukpa Kunley, known as the “Divine Madman,” created this unique animal.

In the afternoon, explore the Textile Museum in Chubachu, which showcases a cultural and heritage collection of antique textile artifacts. Patterns from authentic Bhutanese weavers from various parts of the country are exhibited.

The Centenary Market in Thimphu, beside the Wangchu River, commemorates the coronation of the fifth King and serves as the largest domestic weekend market for vegetables, fruits, meats, and farm products. Farmers from different parts of the country come here to sell their produce. A wooden cantilever bridge leads to stalls selling textiles, handicrafts, and clothing.

The Jungshi Paper Factory is a small establishment that produces traditional Bhutanese handmade paper, known as Deh-sho, from Daphne bark. Witness the entire process from the drying and sorting of pulps, and consider purchasing greeting cards and other products as souvenirs.

Changlimithang Stadium, Bhutan’s national stadium, is where you might catch an archery match or a national football tournament. The National Folk Heritage Museum offers an insight into the traditional Bhutanese way of life, with an impressive collection of artifacts from rural households.

Post Thimphu sightseeing, drive back to Paro, retracing your route along the scenic highway.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2,280m).

Day 04 : In Paro

After breakfast, we drive to the trailhead to hike up to Taktshang Monastery (approximately a 5-hour round-trip walk). It is one of the most important monasteries in Bhutan, perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery, hence it is called ‘Tiger’s Nest’. This site has been recognized as a most sacred place and was visited by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646. It is now a place visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime.

Spend the evening at leisure in the charming town of Paro.

Optional tour: Chelela Pass

After breakfast, embark on an optional tour to Chele La Pass. At an elevation of 3,988 meters, it is considered one of the highest motorable passes in Bhutan, connecting Paro and Haa Valley. The pass is marked by hundreds of prayer flags fluttering in the wind. From here, you can enjoy spectacular views of Mt. Jomolhari and Mt. Jichu Drake. Upon returning from Chele La Pass, take a short drive to visit Dzongdrakha Lhakhang, often renowned as the smaller replica of Taktsang Monastery. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche first landed here upon his arrival in Bhutan. During the annual festival at Dzongdrakha, the chorten of the past Buddha is opened, allowing visitors to receive blessings from the relic kept there. Later, visit the Bonday village with a mild walk, exploring traditional farmhouses and meeting local people. Spend the evening at leisure in the charming town of Paro.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro. (Altitude 2,280m)

Day 05: Paro – Phuentsholing (150 km, approx4-hour drive)

After a leisurely breakfast, visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples constructed by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet in the 7th century. Among the 108 temples built during his reign, Kyichu is one of the 12 main temples. Located 5 km from Paro town, it houses the original 7th-century Jowo Jamba Statue, along with eight standing bodhisattvas and statues of Zhabdrung, Guru Rinpoche, and Chenrizig with 11 heads and 1000 arms. Rimpung Dzong, constructed in 1644, is known as the “fortress of the heap of jewels.” The courtyard is adorned with fine Bhutanese paintings depicting the life of Buddha, a cosmic mandala, and the narrative of Milarepa. The most famous Paro festival is held in the courtyard, featuring the unfurling of a giant thangka on the last day. Ta Dzong, originally built as a watchtower, was converted into a museum in 1968. Its collection includes fine arts, paintings, textiles, jewelry, handicrafts, stamps, and galleries of stuffed animals and butterflies from Bhutan. The top floor of the museum contains a chapel with a “tree” depicting the main figures of the four religious schools of Tibetan Buddhism. After lunch, drive to Phuentsholing.

Overnight at the hotel in Phuentsholing (Altitude 300m).

Day 06: Departure: Exit to India

After breakfast, depart from Phuentsholing for your onward journey to Bagdogra.