Hiking Western Bhutan II, 8 days

Tour highlights

  • Hike to Lungchusey gompa with great panoramic views
  • Dodedra shedra hike with great views of Thimphu
  • Essential sights of Paro, Thimphu, Wangdue and Punakha
  • Reaching till beautiful Phobjika valley
  • Accommodation in hotels, optionally in farmhouse
  • Stunning mountain panoramas
# Itinerary Program
1 Arrival, drive to Thimphu Arrival by plane to Paro airport and 1.5-hour drive to Thimphu or in case of arrival by land from India in Phuntsholing/Jaigon and drive to Thimphu. ➜ On the way stop for Tashog Lhakhang to see traditional bridge built using ancient iron chains. ➜ Visit of Tashicho dzong, the castle, which serves as seat of the king and government. If time permits, visit of the other sights.
2 Thimphu Early morning hike to Dodedra shedra. Start at Dechencholing part of Thimphu and gently climb some 500 meters up, with beautiful views of Thimphu town. Dodedra is monastery school set in pristine environment away from the hustle and bustle of the town. Visit main temple with original mural paintings and small museum. ➜ Descend back to Thimphu for lunch. ➜ Then drive to Buddha Dordenma, the gigantic statue of Buddha overlooking the valley and short walk to striking city viewpoint. ➜ See Memorial Chorten, always busy with devotees. ➜ Walk in Norzin lam street and see the traffic police signaling in junctions. Thimphu is only capital in the world without the traffic lights. ➜ Finish walk at handicraft market where many interesting Bhutanese souvenirs can be seen and bought for reasonable price. ➜ Evening in leisure exploring town on your own.
3 Thimphu – Gangtey Morning start drive Hongtsho village. Reach to Tashigang gompa on the top of the ridge. ➜ From here, we will start 4–5 hours hike to the Lungchusey gompa with 360° mountains panorama viewpoint. We have good chance to glimpse some snowy peaks to the north, including Gangkhar Punesum (7570 m), the highest mountain of Bhutan and highest peak never summited by man. ➜ Descend to Dochu-la pass with beautiful 108 stupas. ➜ Visit to royal chapel Druk Wangyel lhakhang with depictions of 4th king. ➜ Continue drive to Wangdue and reach Gangtey in Phobjika valley in the evening. ➜ You might optionally like to spend overnight in welcoming local farmhouse or even try the hot stone bath, traditional Bhutanese treat.
4 Gangtey – Wangdue / Punakha In the morning we will start hike through the beautiful glacial valley with marshland on the bottom. Here the venerated black neck cranes spends winter. Birds usually stays from November to February. ➜ After some 2 hours walk through forest and fields we will reach to Gangtey monastery and visit the main chapel. ➜ After visiting the temple and lunch, we will start beautiful 4 hours hike through meadows and forest and crossing the mountain pass will take us to Longtey village where the car will be waiting. Here we will be turning back westward, crossing the Pele-la pass with interesting curio shops run by the local herders. ➜ Another easier but equally beautiful option is to drive to Amankora lodge and do Blue Pine hike, through the fields and pine forest. This hike finishes near to Black Neck Crane center. ➜ Drive back to subtropical Wangdue valley.
5 Punakha / Wangdue – Paro Early morning drive north of the valley and start hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten. The hike start at the riverbank. Walk through the paddy fields and then start steep ascent to the temple. ➜ After reaching there, climb up to the temple's highest floor to get wonderful views of the valley. Walk back to the bridge where you started. ➜ Optionally you can also like to try rafting either from here, for easier “female river” experience, or drive to “male river” for more exciting white water rapids. ➜ After the hike finish, pay a visit to the Punakha, dzong, one of the most beautiful castles in Bhutan. ➜ Continue with Short walk to Chhimmy lhakhang temple, devoted to 15th century saint Drukpa Kunley, known as “Divine madman”, who taught Buddhism by singing, drinking and scandalous sexual exploits. ➜ Afternoon drive back to Paro over Dochu-la pass.
6 Paro Drive to castle-ruins of Drukyel dzong, from where you can see the summit of holy Jomolhari mountain. ➜ Then proceed for hike to Taktsang gomba (Tiger’s Nest), which is the highlight of the tour. Reaching to the temple requires about two hours of hiking up. After visiting the temple, climb further up to Zangto Pelri lhakhang for bird’s eye views of Tigers Nest. ➜ Continue hiking up even farther to Ugyen Tshemo temple and Yoeseling monastery in 3320 meters. From here, the narrow trail descends through dense forest steeply down. ➜ On the way stop for Shama lhakhang, the temple just adjacent to Tiger’s Nets on the cliff face, but inaccessible from there. ➜ Finally, descend to join main trail near to the parking. Please mind that last stretch of the trail is not regularly used or maintained, hence it might be difficult to follow at some point. Whole loop hike might require about 6 hours. ➜ Take a rest after demanding exercise.
7 Paro Drive to Chele-la pass (3890 m) which is the highest motorable pass in Bhutan. To the north you can see the holy peak of Jomolhari (7326 m) and to the west even Kanchenjunga (8586 m) in clear weather. ➜ Hike to 4000 meters high viewpoint will give you interesting high altitude experience. Before people did bring bodies of the deceased for sky funerals. ➜ Then descend to Kila Gompa, the oldest nunnery in Bhutan, hiking through the ancient forest. ➜ After visiting nunnery continue by car back to Paro and visit captivating Dzongdrakha monastery which is often equated to Tiger's Nest in its beauty. ➜ Enjoy evening in leisure or make another last one stroll up to the Zuri Dzong for nice views of Paro airport and town. ➜ Enjoy the last evening in Bhutan!
8 Departure Departure from Bhutan by flight or by land to Phuntsholing.
Tour variants, extensions and combinations: 
  • Consider the shorter variant (-1 day): If you are in hurry, you make tour shorter by avoiding the day 7.
  • Extend to Haa valley for Saga-la hike (+1 day): In case, you have extra time, you can spend one more day in Bhutan and extend your visit to Haa valley, where you will once again stay in remote village in local people's house and in 6 hours hike we will cross Saga-la pass (3705 m) back to Paro.
  • Undertake Bumdrak Trek in Paro (+1 day): 2 days / 1 night light trekking with luxury camping near Bumdrak monastery and finish at Tiger's Nest might be interesting optional addition. See Bumdrak Trek & Hikes program for details.
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