Bhutan walking tours
Hiking in the Peaceful Kingdom

Our active adventure through the isolated Kingdom of Bhutan offers glimpses of a sacred heritage and distinctive identity that for centuries has remained shrouded by high peaks.

Bhutan Trip Overview

This tour is a guaranteed departure regardless of group size, and is also available as a private trip year-round.

Along the lofty ridges of the Himalayas lies the Kingdom of Bhutan, a place that has remained blissfully untouched by the rest of the world. With very few visitors entering the country, Bhutan's landscape has remained pristine, its rivers pure, and its mountains magical. Bhutan's people are gracious, the culture is rich, and spirituality is prevalent. On our active tour into this last remaining Shangri-La, we meet welcoming local people, red-robed lamas, and nomadic yak herders as we learn about the Bhutanese way of life. We hike to remote gold-roofed temples and monasteries, and through peaceful villages in emerald valleys surrounded by spectacular Himalayan scenery.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-2: Our adventure begins as we fly from Bangkok to Paro, Bhutan. Visit the national museum and the Paro Dzong  before transferring to Thimpu. Explore the many interesting sights in Thimphu and its surroundings. We hike to a remote hillside temple, and visit a craft school that provides free skills-related education in the traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan to children.

Days 3-4: We make an early departure for our travel to Punakha, viewing 20,000-foot mountains along the way. Visit the Punakha Dzong, Bhutan’s most impressive fortress. Our local guide spins tales of the unorthodox teachings of the legendary Divine Madman. Spend time hiking to remote villages and learn about traditional cultural practices.

Day 5: Travel to the secluded Phobjikha valley and the small village of Gangtey. This expansive valley is excellent for hiking and full of opportunities to meet some of the locals.

Days 6-8: Travel a winding route to Trongsa. Visit the sprawling Trongsa Dzong. Continue to the town of Jakar, our base for the coming days. Discover the sites of the Bumthang Valley while hiking to temples and remote villages. Enjoy local culinary delicacies and take part in an evening of traditional song and dance.

Days 9-11: Retrace our route to Paro and explore the surrounding valley with a hike to Kila Gompa and Tiger’s Nest monastery.  Perhaps watch an archery tournament, Bhutan’s national sport, or stroll the market of downtown Paro. 

Day 12: Our adventure ends with an early morning return flight to Bangkok.


One of the 50 Tours of a Lifetime
With many choices in the world of travel today, we are very happy that National Geographic Traveler recently named our Bhutan: Hiking in The Peaceful Kingdom trip as one of their "50 Tours of a Lifetime." Please join us and you will learn why.



  • A passion for travel. Simply put, we love to travel, and that is woven into every one of our journeys.
  • Unique, award-winning itineraries. Our flexible, hand-crafted journeys have received accolades from the world’s most revered travel publications.
  • Insider connections. There is simply no substitute for traveling with a knowledgeable insider.
  • Small groups. We tread softly, and our average group size is just 6-8 guests.
  • Flexibility to suit your travel style. We offer both small-group departures and Private Collection trips.
  • Customer service that goes the extra mile. There is no request that is too big – or too small.
  • Sustainability. We are committed to traveling responsibly.
Our tours often fill months in advance, and our maximum group size is smaller than most tour operators. It's very quick and easy to reserve a trip. Give us a call at 800-941-8010 or complete the online Reserve a Trip form. We will confirm your reservation with a $500 per person deposit, payable by check or credit card.
If you have any questions about the level of comfort, difficulty, or any activities included in this trip, please call Boundless Journeys at 800-941-8010, or Contact Us by e-mail. Our travel experts look forward to helping you choose the perfect adventure!

Group Size

2-16 guests

Trip Rating (1 Easiest - 5 Most Strenuous)

Description of Trip Ratings

Adventure travel may involve exotic destinations, varying levels of physical exertion, and activities that may be new to you. We want to make sure that you choose the adventure that's right for you from our many one-of-a-kind trips. Each trip is rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the easiest, and 5 being the most strenuous. A few of our trips have had a "+" added to the number, indicating something that falls in between. Our Trip Ratings may be found on the trip schedule and on our website. Our detailed itineraries provide additional information on what to expect on the trip you are considering (detailed itineraries are available by mail or e-mail; or you can find them on our website: We encourage you to call one of our travel experts with any questions or concerns that you may have. We are happy to assist you in selecting the most appropriate adventure for you.
Our easiest trips are generally hotel-based cultural and nature journeys that offer light activity. Walks and hikes (approximately 2 to 4 hours) are through gentle terrain with little elevation gain or loss. Altitude is not a factor on these tours. Other activities, such as snorkeling or sea kayaking, are optional. Examples: Galapagos Islands Cruise, Tanzania, and Vietnam.
Hotel nights and/or deluxe, safari-style camping. Walking, hiking (approximately 3 to 5 hours), kayaking, or other activities on most days. Trails and paths are through rolling countryside, with occasional steep trails with up to 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Many of our hotel-based walking trips are in this category. Examples: Tuscany & Umbria, Turkey, and Bhutan.
Hotel or inn-based hiking trips, that involve full day hikes (approximately 4 to 6 hours), mostly on unpaved trails and paths through hilly terrain with typical elevation gains and losses of 1,000 to 2,000 feet. There may be occasional steep sections of trail. Examples: Slovenia, Amalfi Coast, Spain.
Full day hikes (approximately 5 to 7 hours) through mountainous terrain with significant elevation gains and losses (2,000 to 3,000 feet). Terrain may be rugged with uneven footpaths. The average altitude is generally no more than 12,000 feet. Vehicle support is limited. These trips may involve some full-service camping or simple accommodations in remote locations. Examples: Tour du Mont Blanc, Peru Trek, Haute Route.
Full-day trekking (approximately 6 to 8 hours) through rugged mountainous terrain with steep climbs and descents and the following present: elevation gains and losses of as much as 4,000 feet, altitude that exceeds 12,000 feet, and rugged uneven footpaths with some exposure. These trips typically offer minimal to no vehicle support and include full-service camping in a remote setting.

Activity Details

Easy to moderate walking and hiking, 3-5 hours per day; easy to moderate touring; some long drives on narrow, winding roads.

Meeting Point

Paro, Bhutan

Departure Point

Paro, Bhutan

Traveling to and From

Most Convenient Airport:
Bangkok International Airport, Bangkok, Thailand (airport code BKK)

Meeting Place and Time:
Your Boundless Journeys guide will meet you at the Paro, Bhutan airport upon the arrival of your flight from Bangkok.

Departure Place and Time:
Paro, Bhutan; in time for the departure of your flight to Bangkok. 

What to Expect

Trip Rating
Boundless Journeys’ trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Hiking in the Peaceful Kingdom is rated 2+, easy to moderate, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). The walks and hikes on this trip are easy to moderate day hikes. Hikes generally are from 2-5 hours in length with minimal vehicle support. A few days involve some long drives on narrow, winding roads.

Preparing for this Trip
It is very important that you realistically assess your physical condition with regard to the demands of this trip. The more well prepared you are for the activities on this trip, the more you will enjoy yourself! Please engage in moderate aerobic activities (hiking, jogging, or cycling) for at least 30-45 minutes several times a week for 4-6 weeks before the trip. If you live in a flat area, try to incorporate some stairs into your workout, or use a treadmill with varying incline capability.  Consult your doctor before undertaking any new fitness program.  
The Altitude
Our trip begins in Thimpu, which is situated at 7,500 feet, in the foothills of the Himalayas. After our first three nights, we move to the Punakha Valley which offers a relatively low elevation of approximately 4,300’. Our third hotel, in the Phobjikha valley is located at about 9,500’, fourth hotel in the Bumthang Valley, is located at about 8,500’, and our fifth hotel in Paro is at approximately 7,300’. Our walks and hikes will take place at elevations from 4,300’ to 11,500’. Our drive to Cheli La pass will take us to our highest elevation at 12,467’. There is time to move at a comfortable pace, allowing ourselves to adjust to the mountain air. Keeping well hydrated, avoiding excessive alcohol, eating frequent, light meals, and getting plenty of rest will help with any effects of altitude that you may feel.

The mountainous areas of Bhutan have pronounced rainy and dry seasons. The driest weather and clearest skies are typically in October and November and it is the harvest season. During March through May, beautiful flowers are in bloom and it is the panting and ploughing time of year. The months of December through February are clear and cool (can be below freezing at night) and it is the shoulder season, so you will encounter fewer visitors. June through August is the monsoon season and it is generally not recommended to travel to Bhutan at this time of year.
See the chart below for monthly average temperatures. You may obtain more detailed weather information at

The following are average temperatures in Paro:

                          high    low

March:                 58°F   33°F
April:                   64°F   40°F
May:                   74°F   51°F
September:          74°F   53°F
October:              66°F   45°F
November:           57°F   34°F

When to Go
Bhutan is generally delightful for hiking in the spring and fall. The driest weather and clearest skies are typically in late September, October and November. In the months of March, April and May, beautiful flowers are in bloom, and you will encounter fewer travelers.

When to Reserve
It is important to reserve your trip early, as the Bhutanese national airline will only accept reservations with the full payment of the ticket. Therefore we are unable to hold group seats in advance of reservations. Space can only be confirmed upon receipt of your deposit, as well as the payment of $950 for these flights. Please contact our office with any questions regarding these important policies.

Development in Bhutan
Although visiting Bhutan in many ways is like stepping back in time and has been a longtime favorite of Boundless Journeys’ travelers for this reason, it is important to understand that this evolving society is also eager to keep pace in the modern world. While the government is approaching the development of their country with a sensitivity towards preserving the environment and culture, you can still expect to encounter some of the less positive signs of modernization. Some examples include: road construction projects that may hinder driving or cause noise and dust; litter in developed areas; and begging. We ask you to visit Bhutan with an open mind and leave any rigid expectations about the pristine nature of the country behind. It is important to embrace what you see and experience without judgment and recognize that Bhutan, just as any country, is struggling to be a part of this complex and rapidly changing world. We are confident that with this attitude, the Bhutan you experience will be a fascinating and memorable place.

Traveler’s Responsibility
Trip participants have certain responsibilities to both Boundless Journeys and your fellow travelers. This includes understanding the conditions described in the trip itinerary and making sure it is appropriate for your interests and abilities, based on a review of the trip ratings, consultation with Boundless Journeys’ staff, and perhaps your doctor. In addition, trip participants are responsible for preparing for a trip by undertaking the proper fitness training. At the guide’s discretion, a participant may be asked to leave the trip if the guide feels that the person’s further participation may be detrimental to the individual or to other trip participants. If you have any questions about the difficulty level of the trip you have chosen, please contact Boundless Journeys to speak with one of our Destination Managers. 

Small group travel affords us the opportunity to seek out the most remote and exotic destinations on the planet. Often we are exploring these locales with just 6-12 guests. The nature of active group travel is such that not all participants have the same ability level or interests. Traveling at a pace that is comfortable for the entire group, with a spirit of flexibility and adventure are all part of this shared experience.

Bhutan Accommodations

Overview:  Accommodations in Bhutan are somewhat basic and this itinerary includes the standard hotel options available in Bhutan. We have done our best to select the country’s most comfortable and beautifully situated standard hotels for this journey; all have private baths.

Most hotels in Bhutan are of similar standards. Although the hotels cannot be compared to international standards, they are comfortable and offer all necessary facilities. We believe that any inconveniences due to these modest accommodations are far outweighed by the unforgettable experience of visiting Bhutan.

*If you prefer to stay in luxury hotels, please contact us to discuss a private journey.

Confirming hotels: Due to the unique tourism policy in Bhutan, we are unable to confirm which hotels we will be using until four weeks prior to departure. The accommodations listed will most likely be what we can expect, but may alter due to availability. 

Nights 1 & 2:  Hotel Druk
Thimpu, Bhutan

Hotel Migmar, Thimphu, Bhutan






Nights 3 & 4:  Hotel Punatsangchu
Wangduephodrang, Bhutan

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Night 5: Hotel Dewachen
Gangtey, Bhutan (*alternative hotel for October 21 departure. Please inquire for details)

Hotel Dewachen Bhutan hiking tour with Boundless Journeys




Nights 6, 7 & 8:  Bumthang Mountain Lodge
Jakar, Bhutan

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Nights 9, 10 & 11:  Janka Resort
Paro, Bhutan

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Bhutan Detailed Itinerary

*Our October 10-21, 2016 tour overlaps with a festival in the Bumthang Valley. Therefore the excursions listed below will be different on days 7 & 8 for this departure. Please inquire for details.

DAY 1  
Arrival in Paro, Bhutan; explore Paro Valley sites

Walk – easy, 1-2 hours on local paths and dirt roads (please note that walking options may change depending on flight schedules).

Our flight into Bhutan provides spectacular views of the landscape as we approach the airport in the Paro Valley. The valley is a green bowl surrounded by jagged Himalayan mountains and forested hillsides, crossed by beautiful rivers, and dotted with medieval fortresses. The first thing that we notice as we disembark in Bhutan is the absence of noise and a feeling of peacefulness that is rare in most other Asian cities. The Paro Valley has kept its bucolic nature and is one of the most scenic valleys in Bhutan. The houses are considered to be among the most beautiful in the country, and Paro is believed to be one of the first valleys to have received the imprint of Buddhism in Bhutan.

We are greeted with a warm Bhutanese reception over tea and then set out on a walk that meanders through the countryside by farms and fields of rice, mustard, buckwheat, eggplant, and, of course, chilies (ubiquitous in Bhutan). Eventually our walk brings us to a road that leads to Kyichu Lhakhang. Kyichu Lhakhang, meaning “twin temples,” is believed to have been built in 659 AD by King Songtsen of Tibet, and reflects the introduction of Buddhism to Bhutan. Local legend holds that the temple is one of 108 built throughout the Himalayas in one day in an effort to subdue a mighty ogress; it is still believed to hold her left foot in place.

We then make our way by vehicle to the National Museum (closed on government holidays), housed in the round, multi-storied Ta Dzong, built in 1775. The Ta Dzong was once the watchtower for the massive Paro Dzong, built in the 17th century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The museum’s collection includes ancient artifacts, weapons, a collection of antique thangkha (painted or embroidered religious pictures), textiles, and stamps.

We then head (either by foot or vehicle, depending on timing) to the valley’s magnificent Rinpung Dzong. If we are fortunate we may have the opportunity to explore within the dzong’s mighty walls. However, if the Administrative Body is in session, we must admire from the outside.

In the late afternoon we transfer to the capital city of Thimpu (approximately 1 hour and twenty minutes). Before becoming Bhutan’s official national capital in 1961, Thimphu was simply a rural farming valley. Small and secluded, Thimphu is unlike any other capital in the world. The city is quiet and there are still only a few streets, no traffic lights, and none of the traffic problems that can be common to other Asian cities.

We are greeted with a warm Bhutanese reception this evening as we enjoy a welcome dinner together.
Hotel Druk, Thimphu

Cheri Goemba and the Choki School of Arts

Hike – easy to moderate, about 2 hours (3 miles) on local paths and hiking trails with 1,300’ elevation gain and 1,300’ elevation loss (highest elevation: 9,186’); additional optional hiking available.

This morning a short drive through the countryside surrounding Thimphu brings us to the boundary of Jigme Dorji Wildlife Sanctuary, the largest protected area in the country. The park is home to several endangered species, including: the takin, snow leopard, blue sheep, tiger, red panda, and the Himalayan black bear. More than 300 species of birds have been catalogued within the park.

Our walk begins from the small village of Dodena. The trail starts by crossing a covered bridge over the Wang Chhu (river), and from here we climb steadily to Cheri Goemba, a small monastery perched on the hill with a view of the Thimphu Valley. Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal built this monastery in 1620, and this is where the first community of monks in Bhutan was established. The monastery is considered very sacred, as it contains the ashes of Tempi Nima, the father of the first Shabdrung of Bhutan, and beautiful frescoes of Buddhist saints.

After our visit to the monastery, we descend on the same route, keeping our eyes open for the goral (wild goat) that are often spotted on the cliffs nearby. Back at the village of Dodena, we drive to Cabesa, home of the Choki School of Arts (closed on weekends and holidays). The Choki School is private and provides free, skills-related education in the traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan to Bhutanese children who are unable to complete their formal education. After visiting the school, we return to Thimphu.

If time allows this afternoon, we may visit the National Textile Museum, the Thimphu Dzong (seat of the government and main monk body), the School of Traditional Arts and Crafts, the Heritage Museum, and the Handicrafts Emporium, displaying the rich traditional crafts of the kingdom (museums and schools are closed on weekends and holidays).

This evening before dinner, we will enjoy a Bhutanese cultural teaching delivered by an expert from Thimpu.
Hotel Druk, Thimphu

Transfer to Punakha (approximately 4 hours*); Temple of the Divine Madman

Walk – easy, 1-2 hours on local paths with 131’ elevation gain (highest elevation: 4,921’).
This morning, after an early breakfast, we say goodbye to Thimpu and transfer to the Punakha Valley, our home for the next two nights. The road to Punakha crosses the Dochula Pass (10,230’), offering a great view of the eastern Himalayan mountains. From the pass, our road descends through magnificent pine and rhododendron forests, and wanders through some of Bhutan’s most picturesque countryside.

On the road to Punakha we stop in a small village where a short walk brings us to Chime Lhakang, a temple dedicated to the Lama Drukpa Kunley. Drukpa Kunley is one of Bhutan’s favorite saints, and is more commonly known as the “Divine Madman.” He traveled throughout Bhutan and Tibet using songs, humor, and outrageous behavior to dramatize his teachings, believing that the stiffness of the clergy and social conventions were keeping people from learning true Buddhism. This site is still believed to hold fertility powers for women wanting to conceive. 
Hotel Punatsangchu, Wangduephodrang
*Estimated based on actual driving times. The total transfer time may be longer when taking rest stops, road construction and other unanticipated delays into account.

Khamsung Yuley Namgyel Temple to Punakha Dzong

Hike – easy to moderate, 3-4 hours on local paths with 656’ elevation gain (highest elevation: 4,921’).

Following breakfast and a drive through the Punakha Valley, we begin our walk by first ascending a series of switchbacks to the Khamsung Yuely Namgyel Temple. From this modern temple, we are afforded grand views of the Mo Chu River Valley below. We then descend from the temple and follow a well-worn path down the valley through rice fields and small villages. Along the way we are rewarded with stunning views – the terraced rice paddies providing an exotic backdrop to the river below.

After enjoying a picnic lunch alongside the river, we continue our walk to the Punakha Dzong. Constructed in 1637, the Punakha Dzong was the second of Bhutan’s dzongs and for many years it served as the seat of the government. Today it is the home to Bhutan’s spiritual leader, the Chief Abbot Je Khempo, who resides here with 1,000 monks during the winter months due to Punakha’s relatively low altitude by Himalayan standards (4,000’). From this spectacular dzong we can look back to see the Khamsung Yuely Namgyel Temple perched on the hillside far in the distance. A short walk from the dzong takes us back to the road where we meet our driver. 
Following our hike, we have the special opportunity to visit the Nalanda Buddhist Institute, just outside of Punakha. There we meet the resident monks and learn about their lives. There is the option to take an introductory mediation class for those who wish to do so (please note that this may also take place in the morning, depending on the monastery’s schedule for the day).
Hotel Punatsangchu, Wangduephodrang

Transfer to Gangtey (approximately 3- 4hours*); Gangtey nature trail hike

Hike – easy, around 1.5 hours on local paths and hiking trails with 656’ elevation gain (highest elevation: 9,843’).

After breakfast we depart Punakha, up a winding mountain road through oak and rhododendron forest, and over a high pass down into the Phobjikha Valley, surely one of the loveliest high altitude valleys in Bhutan (approximately 9840’). Phobjikha is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys, and is the chosen winter home of black-necked cranes, migrating from the Tibetan plateau.

We stretch our legs on the Gangtey Nature Trail soon before arriving at our destination. This trail is considered one of the most beautiful nature trails in Bhutan. The hike starts from the mani stone wall to the north of the Gangtey Goemba and ends in Khewa Lhakhang. We meander through pine and bamboo forests, and gain excellent views of the remote Phobjkha valley, where we may catch a glimpse of Black Neck Cranes (during the winter months). Before arriving at our hotel for dinner, we also may visit the Gangtey Goemba, the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan.
Hotel Dewachen, Gangtey

*Estimated based on actual driving times. The total transfer time may be longer when taking rest stops, road construction and other unanticipated delays into account.

Longtey hike in Phobjikha Valley; transfer to Jakar (approximately 5-6 hours*)

Hike– moderate, 3-4 hours on local paths and hiking trails with an 1,312’ elevation gain (highest elevation: 12,139’).

If you are looking for a picturesque hike through some of the most beautiful parts of Phobjikha, this is the one. We begin our hike to Longtey village at the Gangtey gompa, passing through Kumbu village and then ascending steadily from the valley floor. Upon reaching our first pass, we stop for some impressive views of Gangtey Gompa and the Phobjikha valley below. 

On our descent, we hike through old-growth rhododendron forest for a couple of hours, while soaking up the beauty of these majestic trees. Eventually the trail leads into a sweeping valley, where yaks graze during the winter months. We conclude our hike passing through some bush bamboo as we enter Longtey village. From here our driver picks us up to transfer to Jakar.

Our road to the east, and the district of Bumthang, is an incredible feat of engineering following Himalayan ridges and valleys towards the cultural heartland of Bhutan. A winding and twisting route via the Pele La brings us to Trongsa, the ancestral home of Bhutan’s current royal dynasty, the Wangchuks. We pass the sprawling Trongsa Dzong, perhaps the most impressive dzong in the Kingdom, and one of the most magnificent works of traditional Bhutanese architecture. Given its strategic location high above the Mande Chhu, it is often described as being perched so high on a mountain that clouds float below it. After driving over Yotung La, we descend to the Bumthang Dzongkag (district) and the town of Jakar, our base for the coming days.

The Bumthang region encompasses four major valleys: Choskhor, Tang, Ura, and Chhume. The dzongs and the most important temples are in the large Choskhor Valley, commonly referred to as the Bumthang Valley. Different from most other valleys in Bhutan, Bumthang is broad and ideal for walkers and hikers. There are numerous Buddhist monasteries and pilgrimage sites to explore, making it the cultural and historic center of the country. It would be difficult to find as many important temples and monasteries in such a small area anywhere else in Bhutan, and almost every little valley or hill has its own background of interesting myths and legends about kings, Buddhist masters, and serpents.

While in Bumthang, we visit many of the valley’s significant sites. Among them is Kurjey Lakhang, where Guru Rimpoche came in the 8th century to settle issues with feuding local rulers. With a flash of his magic, the guru resolved the conflict and converted everyone to Buddhism, leaving his body imprint on the rock for which Kurjey Lhakhang is named. The Kurjey Lhakhang temple complex is made up of three buildings, and the body imprint of the guru can be seen in the first and oldest of the temples, built in 1652.

In the evenings, we sample local specialties such as buckwheat noodles and pancakes, locally produced Swiss-style cheese, fresh apple juice, and a delicious home-made wheat beer. 
Bumthang Mountain Lodge, Jakar

*Estimated based on actual driving times. The total transfer time may be longer when taking rest stops, road construction and other unanticipated delays into account.

Pasaling Gompa Hike and Kurje to Tamshing hike

Hike – moderate, 3-4 hours on dirt roads and local paths.
Today’s hike begins with a gradual climb through blue pine forest, where along the way, we visit a Pasaling Lhakhang (sacred temple) which overlooks the beautiful valley of Bumthang. Along the route, we are granted breathtaking views of the valley and large species of flora and fauna.
Following a picnic lunch, we embark on a hike from Kurje temple. The trail leads over a suspension bridge and towards Choekhortoe village and the Tamshing area, where we visit the Dorjibi weaving centre. We enjoy passing through the pastoral landscape consisting of farmer’s fields and farmhouses. We are greeted by the villagers working their daily routine in the fields. Eventually, we reach Tamshing Lhakhang from where one can get a perfect view of Kurje lhakhang on the opposite hill where we began.
Bumthang Mountain Lodge, Jakar

Excursion to Tang Valley; Ugyen Choling Hike and Burning Lake

Hike – easy to moderate, 2-3 hours on dirt roads, local paths and trails.

Today we explore further in Bumthang district with an excursion to the stunningly beautiful Tang Valley. This seldom visited valley offers a treat in revealing some off the beaten track monasteries and the amazing museum at Ugyen Chhoeling Palace. A fairly short hike takes us up to this well maintained Palace and its cultural treasures inside. Along the way we stop for a traditional picnic with breathtaking views of the pristine surroundings.

We then make a visit Tang Mebartsho (Burning lake), where a famous reincarnated lama, Terton Pema Lingpa, is supposed to have discovered a religious treasure in the 12th century. This lake is very sacred and is visited by many Bhutanese during auspicious days to offer butter lamps. The importance of the site is indicated by the extensive array of prayer flags and it is considered one of the most holy places for Buddhist pilgrimage in Bhutan.
Bumthang Mountain Lodge, Jakar

Transfer to Paro (approximately 10-12 hrs by road* or 1-hour flight**)

Today we return to western Bhutan by flight (if available) or retrace our route overland to Paro, where our journey began. For those driving, there will be plenty of  time to stretch our legs along the way, including stops for both tea breaks and lunch. We have another chance for some spectacular views of the Himalayas as we drive over the Dochu La and Yotung La passes. Following a Bhutanese tradition, we will have the opportunity to spread our own prayer flags at the top of one of these passes, granting us blessings for a long life.

For those flying to Paro, you will be met by one of our guides upon your arrival at the airport and will have the day at your leisure. Our group reunites this evening, and we may stretch our legs with a stroll through the market before enjoying dinner together.
Janka Resort, Paro

*Estimated based on actual driving times. The total transfer time may be longer when taking rest stops, road construction and other unanticipated delays into account.

**Domestic flight: We will book guests on a domestic flight from Jakar to Paro depending upon availability. The sooner you reserve, the more likely you will be confirmed on this flight. If there is no more availability, then you will return to Paro by road. This means the group may split up for the day and re-unite in the evening in Paro. For those booked on the domestic flight, please note that there is the possibility for delays or cancellations due to weather. In this case, you will also need to return by road.

DAY 10
Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery Hike

Hike – moderate, 4-5 hours (4.5 miles) on hiking trails with 1,650’ elevation gain (highest elevation: 10,171’).

This morning we enjoy a hike to the famous cliffside hermitage called Taktsang - “Tiger’s Nest” - a monastic retreat built into a sheer cliff face high above the Paro Valley.  Our hike begins on the valley floor and is a steady uphill climb on a wide hiking trail that switchbacks through pine forests, with glimpses of Tiger’s Nest along the way. We pass water-powered prayer wheels and mani stones (sacred stone walls with Buddhist prayers etched into them), as well as a shrine where a high lama was supposedly born - all reminders that this is not just a hike, but a spiritual pilgrimage for many.

As we near the monastery, we stop by a small teahouse for snacks and tea and take in our first up-close view of Taktsang. From here our hiking trail levels out for a short while, before we begin climbing down steps and cross a bridge, eventually leading us to this most impressive sacred site.

Legend has it that the Tibetan Buddhist saint, Padmasambhava, flew across the Himalayas on the back of a tiger and landed here, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. Entry into the monastery feels like stepping back in time and we have the chance to visit several shrines that comprise the temple complex. During our exploration, our guide brings Tiger’s Nest to life with the tales of Buddhism that make this one of the most famous pilgrimage sites in all of Bhutan.

After a trail-side picnic lunch, we return to the valley floor, where our vehicle and driver meets us for our drive back to our hotel. If time allows, we will visit the Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress where Bhutanese warriors fought Tibetan invaders centuries ago. This dzong was built in 1649 to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over Tibetan invaders, and sits at the point where the trail from Tibet enters the Paro valley. Bhutan’s dzongs are perhaps the most visibly striking aspect of the kingdom, and these huge citadels dominate the landscape of the major towns and act as the administrative headquarters for their respective regions. If we are lucky and the weather is clear, we may have the opportunity to view the sacred Mt. Chomolhari (23,977’), which lies along the border of Tibet and Bhutan.
Janka Resort, Paro

DAY 11
Cheli La Pass to Kila Gompa 

Hike - moderate, 2-3 hours on hiking trails and dirt roads with 1,300’ elevation loss (highest elevation: 12,500’).

The day’s adventure starts early as we set out on a road that climbs almost 5,000’ above the valley floor to Cheli La (12,500’). Towards the end of our scenic hour and a half journey, we emerge from the blue pine and rhododendron forest into windswept highlands favored by yaks. Here, we’ll enjoy a view of Himalayan wildflowers, with fields of azaleas, edelweiss, and even the famous blue poppy at certain times of the year. If the weather is clear, we’ll enjoy tantalizing glimpses of some of Bhutan’s highest peaks. Upon reaching the pass, western Bhutan appears before us, with its unspoiled Haa valley, the mountains of Sikkim to the west, Mt. Chomolhari and Tibet to the north, and the patchwork fields of the Paro Valley to the east. 
Leaving the prayer flag-swathed col and our vehicle behind, we strike off along the ridge, passing through meadows, before re-entering forests of larch, spruce, hemlock, fir and rhododendron. After a little under two hours, we see the Kila Gompa, seemingly suspended in rock crags. Home to approximately 30 nuns, this place has served as a retreat for meditation since the 9th century. Kila means “spiritual dagger,” and a visit to the temple is often thought to tame the negative emotions of anger, ignorance, and greed. 
Following our visit and picnic lunch, we head downhill on a dirt road that winds through conifers and rhododendrons, catching occasional glimpses back to Cheli La. After about 45 minutes, we arrive at our private vehicle to return to Paro. Along the way, if time allows, we’ll break our journey with a short walking detour to Dzongdrakha Gompa and its fine stupa (a dome-shaped Buddhist monument). This rocky aerie is the site of the annual local Paro dromoche (masked dances), the precursor to the grander Paro Tsechu, or festival. Here, we may also have the opportunity to see some local residents: grey langur monkeys.
This evening, we celebrate our journey through this magical kingdom, and the kind welcome we have received from the generous people of Bhutan.
Janka Resort, Paro

DAY 12
Departure from Paro

We are transferred to the airport for an early morning departure from Paro. From here we say farewell before our journey home, or continue on to other exciting destinations.

Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary to take advantage of weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these should the need arise.

Trip Length

12 Days

Trip Dates

Upcoming Trips:

  • Apr 11–22, 2016
  • May 02–13, 2016
  • Sep 26–Oct 07, 2016
  • Oct 10–21, 2016
  • Oct 24–Nov 04, 2016
  • Nov 09–20, 2016

Prefer a group departure?
Africa | Asia | Europe | Latin America | South Pacific

2016 Land Cost

$4,995 (excludes domestic flight)

Single Supplement

*First two reserved on each departure: $115; Additional singles: $615

View Single Supplement Policy

Single Supplements:

Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.

If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!

*This does not apply to cruises in the Galapagos Islands. Please see these trip pages for more details.

Internal Airfare

$695 (Bangkok-Paro, round-trip; subject to change)

View Internal Airfare Description

Bangkok, Thailand to Paro, Bhutan (RT)

Domestic flights will be booked on Day 9 at the time of reservation, if availabile. The additional cost for this flight is: $200 (subject to change).

What's Included

  • Expert leadership
  • All accommodations
  • All meals
  • All on-tour ground transportation 
  • All activities as noted in the itinerary
  • Bhutan visa

Please complete the following information to request a reservation. A trip deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your reservation (payable by check or major credit card). Once we receive your request we will contact you within one business day to confirm availability and answer any questions you may have.

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About our guides
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work – the mark of a truly great leader – our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own.

Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.

Featured Guides

Dawa Tashi: Dawa has led a variety of Boundless Journeys tours, from treks in the mountains to festival celebrations in the valleys. His local knowledge and amicable personality make him a real treasure to have on the trail. Whether hiking at high altitude or exploring local towns in the lowlands, Dawa ensures that our guests come away with an outstanding experience, providing them with a deep appreciation of his country and culture.

Kinley Tshering: Kinley (or Kelly, as he is known among his Bhutanese coworkers) joined our local staff of guides after completing extensive training in 2006, and has led many tours for Boundless Journeys, becoming a favorite among our guests. Very friendly and down to earth, Kinley is extremely knowledgeable and always determined to make your trip special.


Bhutan Tour Guide - Leki Puntsok - Boundless JourneysLeki Phuntsho: Leki is a well-educated local guide who has lived his whole life in Bhutan and who currently resides just outside of Thimphu. He completed his extensive Guide Training from the Tourism Council of Bhutan in 2006, and enjoys trekking when not leading guests on cultural tours of his homeland. With his infectious love and passion for the country, Leki carries the adventurous spirit of a true Bhutanese guide. Very friendly and down to earth, Leki is always determined to make your trip special.

What other guests have said about our guides in Bhutan:

“It is truly impossible for me to express in words my gratitude and appreciation for the professionalism, dedication, and hard work of your team in Bhutan. Dawa was so accommodating and flexible throughout the entire tour. He certainly went out of his way to make sure the experience in Bhutan was both memorable and enjoyable for everyone in the group.” – S.G., East Rochester, NY

“Dawa was excellent, especially on the walks and hikes; very helpful. He was also extremely knowledgeable about Buddhism. We were very fortunate to have Dawa!” – S. M., Cambridge, MA

“Kinley Tshering was the most amazing guide. I have traveled to many places around the globe and been around a lot of guides. Kinley is truly outstanding. His patience, knowledge and good humor made every day special for us. He never tired to explain details to us or find a cup of tea. He is full of life and his love for his country showed greatly.” – G.M., Baltimore, MA

“Kinley was amazing in his knowledge and command of English in order to pass along information. If someone mentioned one thing or asked a question about something, he incorporated that into the next day’s activity or found it for us. For example, we had read about how incense is made and about momos in the DrukAir magazine on the flight over. We mentioned those things to Kinley and sure enough he found a small incense manufacturer for us to visit and made sure we had plenty of momos!” – G. M., Greenwich, CT

Ask a Question about our Private Collection Trips

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Picture Yourself Here:

Bhutan's dramatic scenery with spectacular river valleys, snowcapped sacred mountains, terraced rice fields, and striking architecture

Warm and welcoming Bhutanese people and a devout Buddhist culture

Temples and monasteries accessible only on foot

Stunning day hikes to remote villages 

Upcoming Trips:

  • Apr 11–22, 2016
  • May 02–13, 2016
  • Sep 26–Oct 07, 2016
  • Oct 10–21, 2016
  • Oct 24–Nov 04, 2016
  • Nov 09–20, 2016

You may also be interested in:

Prefer a private departure?

Bhutan ToursPlease see our Private Collection, Bhutan: Hidden Kingdom in the Himalayas



It is important to reserve your trip early, as the Bhutanese national airline has a new ticketing policy and will only accept reservations with the full payment of the ticket. Therefore we are unable to hold group seats in advance of reservations.

What others have said...

Bhutan can't be described. It must be experienced.
- Lynn Duncan, Bhutan, April

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