Cultural Heartland Tour

Legend has it that in most parts of the Buddhist Himalayas there exists ‘Be-Yuls’or hidden paradise, where devotees can seek refuge in threatening times, sheltered and protected.  Bumthang valley is one such extraordinary place on earth, with natural beauty matched by its cultural purity, a cultural purity that is rarely found anywhere else in the world.  The tour begins at Paro valley, known for its transparent purity of the air and the absence of noise, home to many of Bhutan’s oldest temples, to the modernizing capital of Thimphu where one can see artisans, continuing to use age-old techniques to produce some of the finest traditional arts and crafts; we continue through the ancestral home of the Wangchuk Dynasty, Trongsa and further to Bumthang, the cultural hub of Bhutan, where the whole landscape is dotted with monasteries, temples and legend about the kings and serpents. We will visits some of the most venerable Bhutanese monasteries, secular architectures, typical village houses where people carry on their ancestral cultures and traditions.

Bhutan Tour Itinerary

The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular in entire Himalayas, the journey offers fascinating views and an exciting descent into the Kingdom. Bhutan’s first gift to you as you disembark from the aircraft will be cool, clean fresh mountain air. After immigration formalities and baggage collection, you will be met by our representatives, and afterwards drive to Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan.

Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang): Located at a short drive from Thimphu city centre, visitors can get a good overview of the Thimphu valley from the Buddha point (Kuensel Phodrang). You can pay your obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha, the largest statue in the country and then walk around and take a glimpse of the valley.

In the evening, visit Tashichoe Dzong, the seat of the government since 1952 and presently houses the throne room and offices of the king, the secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance. Other government departments are housed in buildings nearby.

Overnight in hotel. Alt. 2300m

After breakfast, proceed for the guided tour of city’s main attractions that includes:

Textile Museum: is worth a visit to get to know the living national art of weaving. Exhibitions introduce the major weaving techniques, styles of local dress and textiles made by women and men.

National Library: The history of Bhutan lies imprinted in archaic texts, which are preserved at the National Library. Besides thousands of manuscripts and ancient texts, the library also has modern academic books and printing blocks for prayer flags.

Simply Bhutan Museum: The newly commissioned museum depicts the ancient Bhutanese

architecture which is being lost to modernization. The uniqueness of the structure is in its composition of the materials used. The structure is built reusing old timber, window and door frames and other items from traditional and old demolished houses. The best part is the portrayal of the age-old life styles of the Bhutanese people.

Memorial Chorten: The stupa built in the memory of Bhutan’s third King, His Late Majesty,

King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, who is popularly regarded as Father of modern Bhutan. The

paintings and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy.

Takin Preserve – the Takin is the national animal of Bhutan, and looks like a cross between a cow and a goat. Legend has it that the animal was created by the great Buddhist yogi, Drupa Kunley, and it can be found only in Bhutan and nearby areas.

Overnight in hotel. Alt. 2300m

After breakfast at hotel, drive to Punakha across Dochula pass (3100m). In Bhutan, the passes are marked by a large Bhutanese Chorten and prayer flag. Dochula pass offers the most spectacular view over the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas on a clear day and is marked with 108 Chortens.
After driving down from the pass into the valley have lunch on the way and hike downhill for roughly 30mins to Chimi Lhakhang which is also known as the temple of fertility. It is widely believed that couples who do not have children and wanting one, if they pray at this temple, they are usually blessed with a child very soon. The trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana, meaning ‘field’. A walk through the village near the temple will give you rare glimpses into the daily life and lifestyle of the villagers.

Overnight in hotel. Alt 1300m. Total Drive: 75kms Aprox 3hrs

After breakfast drive to Bumthang crossing Pele-la pass (3300m/10830 ft) via Trongsa,. The Pela La (pass) is marked by a large white chorten prayer flags. There is an abrupt change in vegetation at this point, with mountain forest replaced by high altitude dwarf bamboo. Stop en route to visit :

Chendbji Chorten : patterned on Kathmandu’s Swayambhunath Stupa, with eyes panted at four cardinal points.

Stop at Trongsa for lunch.  After lunch visit the museum at Ta Dzong.

Ta Dzong : recently opened fort in Trongsa. The Ta Dzong, a cylindrical stone structure rising five stories, was built in 1652 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, After more than 350 years, it has been resurrected into a classy museum, that represents a tasteful blend of tradition and modernity.

Further 68 km drive across the Yutong-la pass (3,400m) finally brings you to wide open cultivated Bumthang valley.

Overnight in hotel. Alt 2800m. Total Drive: 140km. Aprox 5hrs

After breakfast proceed for the tour of Bumthang valley. Bumthang is the general name given to combination of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitude varying from 2,600m to 4,000m. It is home to many of prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries. We will make visits to the following temples: 

Kurje Lhakhang : This is where the saint Padmasambhava subdued a local demon and left his body imprint on a rock, the Jambey Lhakhang (7th century temple), Tamshing Lhakhang (housing some of the oldest wall paintings in Bhutan) and Jakar Dzong (administrative center of the region). Stroll in the village, visit the little handicrafts shop at the entrance to the town, and perhaps take refreshments at a local restaurant.

Jambey Lhakhang : It is one of the 108 temples, built by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in 659AD on a single day, to pin down ogress to earth forever. It was divined that supine demoness was causing obstruction to the spread of Buddhism and temples were constructed on her body parts that spread across Tibet, Bhutan and borderlands.  The temple was later visited by Guru Rinpoche and later restored by Sindhu Raja after Guru restored his life force. It has been repaired and rebuilt several times over time.

Tamshing Lhakhang : Tamshing Lhakhang, a major Nyingma monastery located in central Bhutan, was founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and completed in 1505. It is famous for its collections of paintings which exemplify the region’s style. Its mother monastery is Lhalung in central Tibet. It is one of the few institutions continuing the teachings of Pema Lingpa.

Overnight in hotel. Alt 2800m

After breakfast we make a stop at the Jakar Dzong which dominates the Chamkhar valley and overlooks the town. Constructed in 1549, by the Tibetan Lam Nagi Wangchuk, the Dzong played an important role as the fortress of defence of the whole eastern Dzongkhags. It also became the seat of the first king of Bhutan. A special feature of the Dzong is the approximately fifty meters high Utse or the Central tower, which is distinct from most other Dzongs in Bhutan. After the visit we drive for about 30minutes to the sacred lake of Mebar Tsho. This lake is considered as one of the most sacred sites in the region as it is related to the renowned religious treasurer (Terton) Terton Pema Lingpa. Pema Lingpa is considered an incarnated disciple of Padmasambhava who discovered treasure within the lake in late 15th century. Today, this small fresh water lake is a sacred pilgrimage site for the Bhutanese with bright multi colored prayer flags surrounding it and a small altar dedicated to Terton Pema Lingpa has also been set up. On auspicious days people offer butter lamps at the lake. 

Overnight in hotel. Alt 2800m

After a short stroll around the town depart for the lengthy drive to Phobjikha along the scenic mountain highway. Stop in Trongsa to visit Trongsa Dzong.  The Dzong was built in 1647 during the time of Trongsa Penlop Chogyal Minjur Tenpa. It is built on a strategic location overlooking the Mangde chhu.

After lunch on the way proceed further onto Phobjikha, a glacial valley that accommodates the black necked cranes.

Overnight in hotel. Alt 2900m Total Drive: 160km Aprox 5hrs

In the morning drive up to the Gangtey Monastery and visit the festival. The festival is held in the large courtyard of the monastery and one can witness the performance of sacred dances as well as folk singing. After lunch we will hike for roughly 1.5hrs through lush forests and villages into the valley.
Overnight in hotel. Alt 2900m.

In the morning we drive back to the monastery visit the Thongdrol. A large wall hanging that is said to liberate anyone that sees it displayed early in the morning. After breakfast drive back to Paro following the same route back enjoying the different displays of vegetation.

Enroute visit to Tamchog Lhakhang which was built by Drubthob Thangtong Gyapo in the 14th century (7th rabjung ) It was built to protect the lower Paro valley after he had a vision of Tachog Balaha, the Supreme Steed. There’s a rock with rings which the reins of the riding horse of Drubthob Thangtong were fastened. One can also see the footprints of Dewa Zangpo, son of Drubthob Thantong, a sacred rock believed to have been the fireplace, imbued with blessings of Drubthob himself, the sacred place of Rahula, further up and you can see the place where drubthob used to smelt and forge iron and finally the cremation ground which is said to be equivalent to Sitavana (situated in Bodhgaya) (it is in between Chuzom and Paro) before crossing through Paro Town towards the north end of the valley.

Overnight in hotel. Alt 2300m. Total Drive: 170km Aprox 5/6hrs

Today will be a full day of local sightseeing in Paro. We will make visits to the following sites:

Ta Dzong : Originally built as Watchtower, which now houses National Museum. The extensive collection includes antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons & armour, household objects and a rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.

Rinpung Dzong : Also mean (“fortress of the heap of jewels”), which has a long and fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the inner courtyard are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore such as four friends, the old man of long life, the wheel of life, scenes from the life of Milarepa, Mount. Sumeru and other cosmic Mandala.

Also visit Jangsarbu Lakhang, a small temple behind the Rinpung Dzong in Paro that is considered a sacred site connected to Guru Rinpoche’s holy speech.

Kichu Lhakhang: One of the 108 temples built by the dharma king Songsten Gampo within a single day in the year 643CE. Guru Rinpoche came here in the 8th century and hid many treasures of the Dharma. In the 11th century Terton Lama Drumpa visited this place and performed the Wrathful subjugating mantras of the Razor Scriptures.In 1525, Yongzin Ngawang Drakpa, the first Neyphug Tulku went there to discover treasures in accordance with the prophecy of Guru Rinpoche.

Overnight in Hotel. Alt. 2300m.

Today we will visit one of the most sacred places in Bhutan, the Chumbu Goemba with our local guide.

This Dakini monastery is very lonely and there was hardly ever a Western visitor. This place is very holy for the Bhutanese and hochverehrt. We will trek for approximately 6 – 7-hours to the monastery and back again. The first half of the ascent is easy and takes us through a beautiful forest. It’s always slightly upward to a stupa. From here, we can see the monastery, which is situated at a height of 3100 metres. Everywhere, it has foot – and handprints of guru Padmasambhava on the rocks by the side of the road. The large Tantrics has this legend and Mage with his supernatural abilities left here in the 8th century. Many stories, myths and legends are told about this holy place. From the stupa, the trail becomes steeper. The original version in a clockwise direction around bringing us over large boulders and streams to a waterfall. Some are narrow and exposed. Surefootedness and head for heights are a must here. There is also the direct route, which brings us up on a well-developed road to the monastery. This is a very photogenic on a steep mountain slope. The main character of the monastery shows the Dakini Dorje Pham. This statue has many legends where it’s supposed to be  ‘floating’. You are not allowed to touch the base but to push through a sheet of paper under the statue’s foot! Later return back to Paro for overnight.
Overnight in hotel. Alt 2300m

OR if the clients do not wish to hike for so long.

Today after breakfast, we will drive to the highest motor-able road in Bhutan at approximately 3900m called the Chelela Pass. From here if the weather permits you will have a spectacular view of Mt. Jomolhari (7314m) and a panoramic view of the region. After spending some time at the pass we will drive down to Dzongdrakha Gompa which at 2,227m is located in a village called Bondey in Paro district. This Goempa is often called mini Taktshang as it is built on a cliff above the village. Dzongdrakha is translated as ‘Temple on a cliff’ in Bhutanese terminology. It takes 20 minutes by car from the highway to reach the Goempa. From here you can hike downhill for about 45 minutes to the valley below where the vehicle will be waiting or take the same route back. 

After the  visit to Dzongdrakha we will drive towards the opposite end of the valley and visit the sacred site of Drakarpo. This place is considered very holy and sacred. The 8th Century revered saint, Guru Padmasambhava accompanied by his consort Dakini Yeshey Tshogay and Many other Yogis and great masters down the ages have blessed and sanctified this particular place.
If you carefully observe the rocks along the path as you walk along the mountain, you can see foot and hand prints and many other auspicious sings and symbols believed to have manifested by themselves through some supernatural forces. It is also believed that if one circumambulate the mountain 108 times, even sins so great as killing one’s own parents can merit redemption.” It will be a gentle hike of about 30-40 minutes to reach Drakopa.

Overnight in hotel. Alt 2300m.

After breakfast we will proceed to the base of Taktsang Monastery to start our excursion. It is one of the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries, perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor. The hike is quite steep and should take 3-5hrs depending on the fitness of the individual.  It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery and hence it is called ‘Tiger’s Nest’. This site has been recognised as a most sacred place and must be visited in a lifetime. On 19 April, 1998, a fire severely damaged the main structure of building but now this Bhutanese jewel has been restored to its original splendour. Evening free time for clients to proceed on an exploratory walk around main street and market area.

Overnight in Hotel. Alt 2300m

Transfer to the airport and leave with wonderful memories from the land of the thunder dragon.

End of Services


Private guided tour
Visas for Bhutan
Airport transfers
Daily 3 meals (B/L/D) at designated restaurants
Accommodation at 3 star hotel
A licensed English-speaking guide
An experienced driver
A tour vehicle
Entry fees & road permits
Government fee, royalty, taxes & surcharges
Mineral bottled water
Full service & assistance before, during and after your Bhutan trip


Flight into Bhutan via Drukair (can be arranged with us)
Flight on other airline to catch Drukair Flight
Meals at 4-5 stars restaurants
Hotel stay outside of Bhutan
Expenditure of personal nature
Travel Insurance
Tips for the guide and driver
Alcoholic drink

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