Eastern-Central Bhutan Tour, 10 days

Tour highlights

  • Great option for second trip to Bhutan
  • Avoiding crowds in Paro, Thimphu and Punakha
  • Domestic flight with views of all major peaks
  • All major sights of Eastern Bhutan
  • Scenic Mongar to Jakar drive
  • Opposite way from Paro to Guwahati also possible
# Itinerary Program
1 Arrival to Samdrup Jongkhar from Guwahati Morning 3 hours drive from Guwahati (capital of Indian state Assam) to Bhutan's border in Samdrup Jongkhar and immigration formalities.
2 Samdrup Jongkhar – Trashigang All day drive ascending to the Himalayas. After few hours drive we will stop to get blessing from Hindu hermit for safety of our journey. Soon after you will have opportunity to visit first of many charming Bhutanese Buddhist temples, called Zangto Pelri Lhakhang, with detailed mural painting. During afternoon you will stop in Khaling village to visit National Handloom Development Project, which maintains rich tradition of local weaving. Also you will pay a visit to the National Institute for the Visually Impaired. One of the accomplishment of this progressive institution is the development of Bhutanese version of Braille's script. Along the way, you'll also pass by Karma Thegsum Dechenling Goemba, huge monastery school and Sherubtse College, first Bhutanese university campus established in 1978. Also we visit temple in nearby Kanglung village.
3 Trashigang, excursion to Trashi Yangtse Morning visit of Trashigang dzong which was built in 17th century and has commanding view of the valley. Inside are few interesting temples and local government offices. After that you'll take about 2 hours drive time to Trashi Yangtse. On the way, pay a visit to the Gom Kora temple, place where 8th century magician-saint Guru Padmasambhava left his body imprints. Further drive will offer occasional views of snowy mountain in clear weather. Finally you will see impressive building of the old Trashi Yangtse dzong which is home to 300 monks. The dzong used to protect former trade route with Tibet and was established by the saint Pema Lingpa of 15th century. The temples with valuable statues are worth of exploring. Also near the Trashi Yangtse is the famous Chorten Kora, the largest stupa in Bhutan built in Nepali style. This is the site of two colourful local festivals at the beginning of the year. Trashi Yangtse is also home to National Institute for Zorig Chusum, the school where the young people learns the art crafts of their forefathers to keep Bhutan's traditional arts alive. Evening return to Trashigang.
4 Trashigang – Mongar It's just 3.5-hours drive to Mongar but it would be a pity not to make a 2 hours detour to Dramtse Gompa, which is one of the most important monasteries of eastern Bhutan. This is the place from where the famous Naga Chham (Drums of Dramtse), mask dance with drums originated. This dance is ubiquitous feature of many festivals and also it was included to the UNESCO list of of oral and intangible heritage. Monastery itself was founded in 16th century by descendants of the saint Pema Lingpa and it's name means "the peak where there is no enemy". There is number of interesting chapels with a lot of important statues of the saints and protector deities. If you're in mood for short hike, you can also pursue 1.5 hour scenic hike from Dramtse to Baging la via Shergang village (currently might not be possible due to road works). Alternative option would be easy half hour hike going downhill from Drametse to Baging village directly. After reaching Mongar, you will pay a visit to it's dzong (castle). Although built in 1930, the dzong maintains Bhutanese architectural traditions.
5 Mongar, excursion to Lhuntse Morning drive to Lhuntse which is one of the most rural and isolated districts in Bhutan. The landscape is spectacular with stark cliffs and gorges, beautiful conifer and pine forests and remote villages with rice, millet and corn fields. Kurtoe region of Lhuntse is the ancestral home of Bhutan's royal family. On the way, we will make a detour to Takey la, the place where the gigantic statue of Guru Rimpoche was recently built. Inside the statue, you find number of richly decorated chapels, which belongs to best in Bhutan. Further you will continue to Khoma village for most elaborate traditional cloths in Bhutan. Quality of weaving is so fine that even Royal Family places their order for clothes here. Village itself is interesting and beautiful so we will spend some extra time here having a lunch in local house and tasting local delicacies. Then we will continue to Lhuntse to see a dzong which belongs to one of the most spectacular monastery-castles in Bhutan, with total 7 chapels you can explore. Residing monks have welcoming reputation. Drive back to Mongar.
6 Mongar – Jakar The journey continues westwards winding through more rugged terrain. The drive will take minimum 7 hours, but it won't be boring at all. Road offers most spectacular views in the country ascending 3200 meters in the distance of 84 kilometres. After about a hour drive, you'll pass along the ruins of Sengor dzong, which burned to ash in 1899. Chortens on the roadside are built in memory of 300 labourers who died during roadbuilding in 1970's. You'll also come along the stunning Namling waterfall.  After crossing the second highest motorable pass in Bhutan, the Thrumshing-la (3,580 m), you gradually descend to clustered village of Ura. It's good idea to stop at rhododendron garden just after the pass to see the number of species of this beautiful tree. From Ura village we will continue drive to the Shertong-la pass (3580 m). Right after that in sharp turn, the Gangkhar Punesum, the highest mountain in Bhutan might be seen in clear weather. Reaching Jakar in the evening.
7 Jakar, excursion to Tang Drive to Tang valley and hike to Ugyen choling palace which hosts wonderful private museum with carefully selected artifacts used in medieval Bhutan for various activities. If you feel strong, you can climb to Kundzongdrak gomba overlooking valley from sheer cliff. Otherwise, you can visit nunnery, hosting the Buddhist nuns of all ages. You should not miss so called “Burning lake” Membartso where the treasure of scriptures hidden here by magician-saint Guru Rimpoche were discovered by saint Pema Lingpa.
8 Jakar Visit of sleepy castle Jakar dzong and old Jambay lhakhang temple, which pins down the leg of giant demoness. Walk to Kurjey lhakhang temple complex. After exploring the place, enjoy the picnic lunch on beautiful riverside. Finally, continue walk to Tamshing Gompa, built by 15th century blackmisth-saint Pema Lingpa allegedly with the help of angels. Then marvel over the remarkable paintings inside the renovated Kenchosum Lhakhang, the seat of the mind and speech reincarnation of Pema Lingpa. Rest of the day in leisure or other program suggested by guide.
9 Flight to Paro Morning flight to Paro, afternoon in leisure. Optionally drive to Chele-la pass (3,780 m) and visit of Kila gompa nunnery with commanding view of Paro valley or other program as per request.
10 Departure Depart from Paro airport by flight or 6 hours drive to land border in Phuntsholing.
Tour variants, extensions and combinations: 
  • Going opposite way from Paro to Guwahati: If it better fit's you plan, you can also do the tour opposite way! You can start in Paro, take a flight to Bumthang, travel through Mongar, Lhuntse, Trashigang and Trashi Yangtse till Samdrup Jhongkhar and finally to Guwahati. Even you can continue in India with visit of Assam's park Kaziranga famous for it's rhinos or see the diversity of tribes in Arunachal Pradesh. We will be happy to assist you with that part also through our reliable contacts.
  • Tang valley overnight: Instead of reaching to Jakar on day 6, you can drive to Tang valley and spend a night in the old aristocratic palace Ugyen Choling. Palace hosts interesting private museum and the proprietors family belongs to renowned Bhutanese nobility. Accommodation standard is quite simple though, but authentic atmosphere of the place is unbeatable. Staying overnight there will give you more time to explore the valley sights next day.
  • Lhuntse overnight (+1 day): Instead of going back to Mongar on 11 eleven you can spend overnight in Lhuntse. Basic local hotel near Dzong or welcoming farmhouse in Khoma village are available for sleeping. Staying here will enable you to continue further to the north to visit Kurtoe region and Dungkhar Nagtshang, the ancestral home of Bhutan's royal dynasty. You will be able to pursue interesting 1.5 hour hike above Khoma which covers lot of holy places related to Guru Padmasambhava and some interesting views.
  • Merak-Sakteng (+2 to 4 days): Off beaten trail trek in eastern Bhutan is open just few years for tourist. You can experience life of Borkpas, distinctive nomadic tribe famous for their tailed berets and carmine red jackets. You can either just visit Merak village and get back to Trashigang next evening or you can make a hike to Sakteng and extend your stay in the country of yeti for a while. Hike is of easy to moderate difficulty and is accompanied with various cultural programs and interaction with the local people.
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