Trip facts

Activity General Tour

Bhutan is renowned for its unique approach to measuring development: Gross National Happiness. Moreover, it stands as the only carbon-negative country in the world. Travelers encounter the full glory of this ancient land through its strategic fortresses known as Dzongs, numerous ancient temples, monasteries, and stupas dotting the countryside, prayer flags fluttering along high ridges, foamy white waterfalls which seem like ethereal showers, and the warm smiles of its friendly people. Our journey takes you to the border town of Phuentsholing, passing through lush green tea gardens via the Indian plains. Experience a memorial city tour in Thimphu, Punakha, and Paro, traversing rolling hills and pristine valleys.

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 your hotel. Phuentsholing is a flourishing commercial center situated in the foothills. Being a border town, it serves as a convenient entry and exit point for Bhutan and also as 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, a Buddhist Monastery located in the heart of the town. This monastery is dedicated to Guru Rinpoche. The eight manifestations of the Guru are portrayed on the ground floor. The second floor contains statues of eight Bodhisattvas, Avalokiteshvara, and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, while on the top floor, the main statue is of Buddha Amitabha.

In the evening, enjoy a stroll in Phuentsholing Town.

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

Day 02: Phuentsholing – Thimphu (155 km, approx.4.1/2-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: In Thimphu

After breakfast, we have a full day to visit Thimphu local sights. Begin the day from visit to Thangthong Dewachen Nunnery, locally known as Zilukha Nunnery, is one of the largest nunneries in Bhutan. Built by Thangtong Gyelpo, the builder of iron chain bridges across Bhutan and Tibet, it features an interesting enclosed chorten in the main courtyard.

The Takin Sanctuary is home to the national animal of Bhutan, the Takin, which resembles a goat and a yak and is found in high mountainous terrain. Legend has it that the Tibetan saint, Drukpa Kunley, known as the “Divine Madman,” created this unique animal.

The Textile Museum in Chubachu houses a cultural and heritage collection of antique textile artifacts. Different patterns from authentic Bhutanese weavers from various parts of the country are exhibited.

The National Institute for Zorig Chusum and Choki Art Institute is a training center 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.

In the latter half of the day, visit Simtokha Dzong, built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1629. It literally means “Atop a Demon.” The dzong is a replica of the Gyal Gyad Tshel Institute of Ralung (Tibet) and is perhaps the first dzong built in Bhutan, making it the oldest.

The Centenary Market in Thimphu, located beside the Wangchu River, commemorates the coronation of the fifth King. It is also the largest domestic weekend market for the sale of 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 a collection of textiles, handicraft products, and clothing.

Jungshi Paper Factory is a small establishment manufacturing traditional Bhutanese handmade paper made from Daphne bark, known as Deh-sho. You can observe the entire process from the dyeing and sorting of pulps. Greeting cards and other products are available for purchase as souvenirs.

The Craft Market, built with bamboo to preserve an eco-friendly environment, offers hand-woven textiles, Thangkha paintings, masks, ceramics, slate and wood carvings, jewelry, and interesting items made from local materials.

Changangkha Lhakhang, located on a small hilltop overlooking the Thimphu valley below Motithang, features Chenrigzi with an 11-head and thousand-arms manifestation. Most Bhutanese visit this temple to seek blessings for a new child.

The National Library contains a collection of religious texts on Bhutan’s history, religious scriptures, traditional medical books, arts, and culturally integrated documentation.

Changlimithang Stadium is the national stadium of Bhutan, where you can glimpse an archery match and where national football tournaments are held.

The Folk Heritage Museum offers insight into an impressive collection of artifacts from rural households and the traditional Bhutanese way of life.

Tashichho Dzong is a towering fortress, nestled beside the Thimphu Chu, is a magnificent example of Bhutanese architecture. It houses the seat of the Chief Abbot, the throne room, and offices of the King, the Cabinet Secretariat, and the Ministries of Home Affairs and Finance. Originally built in 1216 and rebuilt in 1641 by the political and religious unifier of Bhutan, Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was reconstructed in the 1960s in the traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans.

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

Day 04: Excursion – Punakha & Wangdue (150 km, approx. 6 hours drive)

After breakfast, we drive to Punakha, crossing Dochu La Pass. Dochula Pass is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. The 108 stupas there were constructed by the eldest Queen Mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk. The pass has three layers: the top layer has twenty-seven stupas, the middle one thirty-six, and the lower one forty-five, known as Druk Wangyal Chortens. On a clear day, you can enjoy a clear view of the northern Himalayas from the pass, including Masagang (7,158m), Tsendagang (6,960m), and finally, Gangkar Puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,570m.

Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (temple), built in honor of His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, is also located here. The temple’s design merges the past and future, telling the story of a supreme warrior figure whose vision extends into the distant future, a fine blend of history and mythology.

Continuing our drive to Punakha, in the latter half of the day, we visit Punakha Dzong, also known as the Palace of Happiness. Located at the confluence of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers, it was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal between 1637 and 1638. It is one of the most revered pieces of Bhutanese architecture and the second-largest dzong in the country. The chief abbot and the monastic body migrate here during the winter season from Thimphu.

The Suspension Bridge, Bhutan’s longest, was built to connect a nearby village. At 25 meters long and adorned with prayer flags, it offers a breathtaking view of Punakha Dzong with the glistening Pho Chu river beneath.

Rinchengang Village, near Wangdue Phodrang and opposite Wangdue Phodrang Dzong, is clustered with traditional Bhutanese houses. Legend has it that it was constructed for the artisans when Wangdue Phodrang Dzong was being built.

Chimi Lhakhang, located in Lobesa on a round hill, was blessed by Lama Drukpa Kinley, also known as the Divine Madman, renowned for his crazy wisdom and unorthodox teaching methods. A short hike from the main highway, about half an hour, leads to the temple, where childless women visit to seek fertility blessings, often involving a wooden phallus symbol.

We then retrace our drive to Thimphu.

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

Day 05: Drive to Paro (50 kms, approx /1-hour drive)

After breakfast, we drive to Paro and further to the trailhead to hike up to Taktshang Monastery, approximately a 5-hour round-trip walk. It is one of the most important monasteries of Bhutan, perched on the side of a cliff 900 meters 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 is recognized as a most sacred place, visited by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 and now visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. Upon return, visit Drukgyel Dzong, located at the north end of the Paro valley. It was in ruins until 2000 but has since been reconstructed to its original form. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal built it in 1646 to commemorate the victory over Tibetan invaders.

Spend the evening at leisure, strolling through the charming town of Paro.

Optional tour: Excursion to Chelela Pass

After breakfast, we drive to Chele La Pass, at an elevation of 3,988 meters, considered one of the highest motorable passes in Bhutan. The pass is adorned with hundreds of prayer flags fluttering in the wind. From here, you can enjoy spectacular views of Mt. Jomolhari and Mt. Jichu Drake. Take a short hike to Kila Nunnery, one of the oldest nunneries in the country. Upon return from Chelela Pass, visit Dzongdrakha, mostly renowned as the replica of Taktsang Monastery. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche first landed here upon his arrival in Bhutan. During the annual festival of Dzongdrakha, the chorten of the past Buddha is opened, allowing visitors to receive blessings from the relic kept there.

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

Day 06 : Paro-Phuentsholing

After a leisurely breakfast, we 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.

Rinpung 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, cosmic mandalas, 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 has a chapel containing a “tree” depicting the main figures of the four religious schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Along the way, visit Tachogang Lhakhang, renowned for its 600-year-old iron bridge. Beside the bridge, the temple, dedicated to the 13th-century saint Thangthong Gyalpo, the iron bridge builder, is a highlight for visitors.

Continue our drive to Phuentsholing. In the evening, explore the Phuentsholing market and city center.

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

Day 07: Departure and exit to India

After breakfast, depart Phuentsholing for your onward journey.