Photograph Bhutan

Photograph Bhutan

Photograph Bhutan is a 13 Nights Photography Tour in Bhutan. The itinerary covers the Valley of Paro, Thimphu, Punakha/Wangdue, Gangtey/Phobjikha, Trongsa and Bumthang. It also covers the highest motorable road in Bhutan, the chelela pass from where the views are stunning. The itinerary is designed taking into considerations the requirements of a photographer.

This tour can be customized and can be combined with with any other activities or interests as per the convenience, comfort and requirements of the travelers traveling to Bhutan.

Tour Highlights – Photograph Bhutan

  • Opportunity to Photograph Nature and Culture at its best.
  • Opportunity to Photograph unique Art and Architecture of Bhutan.
  • Opportunity to Photograph the High Himalayas.
  • Visit less traveled places and one of the most beautiful places in Gangtey/Phobjikha and one of the most historical and beautiful places in Bumthang.
  • Breathtaking views of the Himalayas and the nature from the Dochula pass, Chelela Pass and Lawala Pass, Pelela Pass and Yotongla Pass.
  • Opportunities to walk around less touristy places and villages.
  • Opportunity to explore Gangtey/Phobjikha valley (one of the most beautiful Glacial valleys in the Himalayas), Paro valley, Thimphu (the capital city of Bhutan without traffic lights) and the Punakha Valley (the old capital of Bhutan)
  • Travel hassle free with your own guide and driver. Travel as per your convenience and visit places as per your interest. We are flexible with the itineraries except for the confirmed overnight destinations. Enjoy a real holiday.
  • Personal attention by the tour operators.
  • A private traditional cultural show and experience of the traditional hotel stone bath.
  • Wonderful day hike to the abode of gods and monks, the world famous, Taktshang Monastery (Tigers’ nest)
  • Visit to the age old Lhakhang (Monasteries/ temples) and dzongs ( Fortress)
  • Opportunity to explore villages, visit to village houses and interact with local people.
  • Opportunity to play archery (the national game of Bhutan) and many more.

Detailed Itinerary – Photograph Bhutan

Day 1. Arrive Paro

On your journey to Paro, the panoramic views of the Himalayas are sensational, including the Everest and other famous Himalayan Peaks. The approach through the Bhutanese foothills and the landing, including a few steep turns to land at the tiny airstrip of Paro becomes more exciting as you enter Bhutan.

On arrival you will be received by your Bhutanese Guide from Neptune Holidays Bhutan and escort you to hotel.

This first day in Bhutan shall be your day to imagine how you would be creating your captures for your Bhutan tour. This shall be a leisure day; you may either take rest or go around the Paro town and valley with your camera. Your guide shall always be around.

Your First Photography Session: After dusk, as soon as the lights are on, we shall prepare for your first photograph. Everything ready, drive to a location near the Paro Rinpung dzong to take its perfect shots. The night view of this dzong (fortress) with the lights around it makes a perfect creation to capture. You may take your shot from different possible location so that you have your perfect shot.

Dinner and over night in Hotel.

Day 2. Paro

Today is the day for a new experience; your morning starts with a 15 minutes drive to the base of the Taktshang Monastery. From here we will hike for about 1.5 hrs up hill. Hiking uphill is difficult but the prize that awaits in reaching the top is just unimaginable.  As I write this I recollect my experiences what travelers told me with excitement on what they found on reaching the top.

Your Second Photography Session: In reaching the top, you shall be preparing yourself for your second photography after a short rest. The views downhill, the fluttering prayer flags, the rocky hill and the Taktshang Monastery everything awaits you here longing to be captured. Take your perfect shots precisely selecting your location and choosing what you want to photograph. After the photography session visit the Taktshang Monastery (Tiger’s nest Monastery).

Taktshang Monastery; The primary lhakhang was built surrounding Guru Rimpoche’s Meditation cave in the 1684 by Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay.  This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava flew here on the back of a tigress.

Walk back to the base. After lunch, drive to the ruins of Drukgyal and then visit

Ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong.  It was here that the Bhutanese finally defeated the invading Tibetans and drove them back. Peak of Jumolhari ‘Mountain of the Goddess’ can be seen on a clear day from here (Alt. 7,329 m /24,029 ft.).

After the sightseeing you shall be capturing the followings:

  1. Mountain Jumolhari
  2. Farm Houses and villages
  3. Village People
  4. Ruins of Drukgyal Dzong
  5. Prayer wheels and Prayer Flags
  6. Scenery

On your way back, visit,

Kyichu Lhakhang: This temple is one of the oldest buddhist temple in Bhutan. The Tibetan King, Songtsen Gompo, to consecrate the entire region of Himalaya, in the 7th century miraculously built 108 temples. Kyichu Lhakhang is considered to be one of them.

This shall also give you opportunities for photography.

The evening ends exploring Paro town and valley.

Dinner and over night in Hotel.

Day 3. Paro – Chelela Pass – Paro

One way- 35 kms, approx 30 minutes drive

After breakfast, sightseeing includes;

Rinpung Dzong:  Meaning “fortress of the heap of jewels”. The dzong now serves as the administrative and judicial seat of Paro district and residence for around 200 monks of Paro and was built at the same time of Drukgyel Dzong. The famous Paro tshechhu (festival) is held here in spring.

Ta Dzong: It overlooks the Rimpung Dzong and was built in 1951 as a watch tower. This dzong is Round, more like parts of the European castle. The Dzong was established as the National Museum of Bhutan since 1967 and holds fascinating collection of arts, relics, religious thangkha,etc.

Dungtse Lhakhang: This is a little three storied chorten-shaped temple. Built in 1421 by Thangtong Gyelpo on the top of head an ogress. The temple restored in 1841 by the 25th Head Abbot of Bhutan, Sherab Gyeltshen. This temple is unique in Bhutan and shows the progressive stages of tantric Buddhism.

You shall have ample opportunities for photography in visiting the above monuments.

After lunch, drive to Chelela pass for your another destination of photography among the diverse flora and fauna.

Chelela Pass is the highest point between the Haa valley and Paro valley at an altitude of 3810 m. This place gives a very good view of the Himalayan Mountains, including the mountain Jumolhari. The place also gives good view down towards the Haa valley. A lots of prayer flags flutter in the place.

Today is the day for photography of the Himalayan Ranges as seen from the Chelela Pass. I remember painting the Himalayan ranges during my school days which I had titled “If sky is the limit what is heaven for” (Our principal had told us the same). I am pretty sure you shall get perfect shots here for the same title.

Another good shot would be the fluttering prayer flags with the Himalayan ranges. Photographers and the valley as seen from the point.

After being satisfied of having enough perfect shots of everything available there top be captured, return to Paro.

Over Night in Hotel.

Day 04. Paro – Thimphu

65 Kms, 1.5 – 2 Hrs Drive

Driving from Paro to Thimphu shall be a different experience and shall give another different experience for photography. Well built winding roads shall be fascinating. Another attraction would be the treeless mountains that you shall come across as you travel. The villages and Buddhist chortens (stupas) shall add to your collection of perfect shots.

Your choice shall be given importance and we shall stop at places for photography.

On the way visit,

Tamchog lhakhang (between Paro and Thimphu); built in the 13th century by Thangthong Gyalpo. He is also known as the Iron bridge builder. Situated on a hill top, we have to cross an ancient style bridge to reach the temple. It is owned by the descendants of Thangthong Gyalpo.

The ancient bridge here shall take at least an hour adding another shot to your collection.

Lunch at Thimphu. After lunch, visit,

Kuenselphodrang: A place for refreshing with a huge statue of Buddha on the top of the Kuenselphodrang. The area also gives a very good view of the Thimphu valley from the west.

We shall have a good time to spend here and everybody shall be busy in capturing the huge statue of Buddha and surrounding view of the Thimphu valley. You shall also have the shots of Simtokha dzong from here.

National Memorial Chorten: This Chorten was built in the honour of the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, also known as “The Father of Modern Bhutan”. This Chorten was built in 1974 in a typical Tibetan style. This chorten is also a center of worship for the people living in Thimphu and contains many religious paintings and tantric statues.

We shall have another photography session after the dusk. We shall be capturing the night view of the following:

Night view of Tashichhodzong: We shall be taking photographs of the night view of the dzong (Fortress). It indeed looks fascinating with the lights surrounding it.

Night view of the National Memorial Chorten: The memorial chorten shall give you another different and beautiful shot due to lights around it in the night.

Over night in hotel.

Day 5. Thimphu

Today shall be sightseeing day along with photography of all the possible shot you can get.

After breakfast, visit,

Changangkha Monastery: This monastery is built on a hill overlooking the Thimphu valley. It was built in 15th Century by Lama Phajo Drugom Zhipo. Many parents of Thimphu take their  new born babies to this monastery to be blessed by a high lama.

Sangaygang view point: (2685 meters) to have view of whole Thimphu valley and walk through hundreds of colorful prayer flags that dot the hill overlooking the Thimphu valley.

Takin Reserve Centre. The takin, the national animal of Bhutan can be seen here. This particular animal is found only in the Himalayan region.

The Folk Heritage Museum: Founded by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck the museum is one of a kind that portrays the lifestyle of a family in the Thimphu valley in the olden days. We shall have a typical Bhutanese lunch at the Folk Heritage Restaurant today.

After lunch, visit,

The Institute of Traditional medicine: Here Medicines are prepared according to the Tradition practices.

The Institute for Zorig Chusum: Students are taught the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan in this institute.

Tashichho Dzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion): A Doom (Blue Stone) Dzong was built on the hill above Thimphu  in 1216 the lama Gyalwa Lhanampa. A few years later Lama Phajo Drugom Shigpo, who brought the Drukpa Kagyu lineage to Bhutan, took over Dohon Dzong. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (The one who unified the country) acquired the Dzong in 1641 from the descendants of lama Phajo and renamed it as Trashi Chhoe Dzong. The Dzong is the seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan) at present.

Dinner and over night in hotel.

Day 6. Thimphu – Punakha

76 kms, approx 2-2.5 hrs drive

After breakfast, drive to Punakha. On the way,stop for a photography session in Dochula pass.

Dochula pass is the most known pass in Bhutan, about 30 km drive from the Capital City Thimphu on the way to Wangduephodrang/Punakha. It is at around 3150 mt  height. On a clear day, spectacular view of the mighty Himalayas mountain ranges can be seen. The pass also has 108 Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chhortens which is believed to bring multi fold merit to all sentient beings and which make the pass a must visit place.

Interests for photography:

The Dochula Pass

The Drukgyal Wangyal Chortens

The Himalayan Ranges

Prayer Flags

Flora and Fauna.

The Dochula Temple

Drive to Punakha. As you near Punakha, you shall have a fascinating view of the Punatshangchhu River and the Wangdue valley for photography. You shall also come across simple villagers, villages and unique farm houses for which you wouldn’t hesitate to stop a while for a shot.

Visit Chhimi Lhakhang: This temple is located on the way to Punakha. This temple is also known as the temple of fertility and was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley in the 15th  century. Lama Drukpa Kuenley is also known as the Devine Madman.

In the evening, leisure time for exploring the Punakha town and valley, however I am pretty sure a photographer shall not be able to be at leisure trying not to miss the moments and interests he/she shall come across. For an artist, everything is beautiful, from the mucus stained faces of innocent children to the uniquely dressed monks.

Dinner and over night in hotel.

Day 7. Punakha/Wangdue – Phobjikha/Gangtey

81 kms, approx 2 – 2.5 hrs drive

After breakfast, photography session of the Punakha Dzong and the surroundings. Then visit the dzong.

This Dzong was built by the Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1637. It is built at the junction the Pho Chu and Mo Chu Rivers. The annual Punakha Tsechhu(Festival) is held here. The monk body resides in this dzong in winter.

Drive to Wangduephodrang;

Another Photography session awaits at Wangduephodrang, the Rinchengang Village: it is small and clustered village located opposite to Wangduephodrang dzong. It is about 20 minutes hike uphill from the near road.

Your photographs from here shall be probably titled “The Unique Bhutanese Lifestyle”.

Drive to Phobjikha. Stop at places for photography and to view scenery.

I recall the year 1998 when I first visited the Phobjikha valley as a student (my parents were living there then), I had to walk from the highway diversion at Dungdungnyelsa as getting vehicle going to Phobjikha at the time was pretty difficult. Walking was becoming difficult till I reached the Lawala pass, the highest point between Nobding and Phobjikha where a small chorten stands. As I reached there, I was like “Wow!”. The slopes covered in dwarf bamboo and rhododendron is just fascinating. Photography is must here. During winter, Yak herders bring their Yaks in this place.

Drive to Phobjikha valley.

Overnight in Hotel.

Day 8. Phobjikha

A real day for photography of the one of the most beautiful glacial valleys in the Himalayas. This is also the winter place for the endangered Black Necked Cranes. No time is enough to have all the shot possible here. I can imagine the faces of photographers due to excitement and the desire to have it all.

You shall also have the opportunity to meet and photograph local villagers and interact with them to get an insight into the Bhutanese way of life. You shall also visit villages.

In the evening visit,

Gangtey Gompa: Gyaltse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa founded the Temple in 1613, and Tenzin Legpai Dhendup, the second re-incarnation, built the temple. The present Abbot, Kunzang Pema Namgyal is the ninth re-incarnation.

Dinner and over night in hotel.

Day 9. Phobjikha – Trongsa – Bumthang

Approx 150 kms, 6  hrs drive

The journey to Bumthang is another day of happiness, of new experiences and of course of new addition to your collections of perfect shots.

The valleys, the winding roads, the simple villages and villagers, the monuments and the fascinating views shall pose for you on the way.

While in Trongsa, visit

Trongsa Dzong; The most impressive Dzong in Bhutan. The Dzong was built by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the official who was sent by Zhabdrung to unify Eastern Bhutan and enlarged at the end of the 17th century by Desi Tenzin Rabgay. Trongsa Dzong is the ancestral home of the present Royal Family. The first two hereditary kings ruled Bhutan from this Dzong.

Please remember, Trongsa dzong is one of the most impressive Dzong. Photography is must.

Ta Dzong; An ancient watch tower. The chapel inside is said to be dedicated to the Trongsa Penlop, Jigme Namgyal.

Drive to Bumthang. Another beautiful valley to fascinate you all, where I have spent 6 years of my student life.

Over Night in Hotel

Day 10. Bumthang

Describing each photography site is almost impossible here. Every sight is a pose. And every try can become a possible good shot.

After breakfast, sightseeing includes;

Jakar Dzong : Literally meaning the Castle of White Bird. The current structure was built in 1667.

Lamey Goemba          : A large palace and monastery built in 18th century by Dasho Phuntsho Wangdi.

Jambay Lhakhang : Built by King Srongsen Gampo of Tibet. In October one of the most spectacular festival, “Jambay Lhakhang Drup” is staged here.

Chakhar Lhakhang:  Literally meaning the Iron Castle, the original palace was made of Iron and hence the name “Chakhar”.

Kurjey Lhakhang: Named after body print of Guru Rimpoche.

After lunch, signtseeing includes:

Tamshing Lhakhang: Literally meaning the Temple of the good message, established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa .

Membarstho : Literally meaning, “The burning Lake”.

The evening ends with a walk around the Bumthang town and valley.

Over Night in Hotel.

Day 11. Bumthang – Wangdue/Punakha

197 Kms, 7 – 8  Hrs drive

After breakfast, drive to Wangdue.

In the evening take a leisure walk around the Wangdue valley.

Overnight in hotel.

Day 12. Wangdue – Thimphu

70 Kms, 2-3 hrs drive

After breakfast, drive to Thimphu.

After lunch is your time to create your moments in your own ways, your guide shall be around you to assist you with anything, however, I feel art is best when it is created with your own imaginations and efforts.

Dinner and over night in hotel.

Day 13. Thimphu – Paro

After breakfast, Excursion to Tango Monastery.

Tango Monastery: The monastery was founded by Lama Gyalwa Lhanampa in the 13th century and was built in its present form in 1688 by Tenzin rabgye, the 4th temporal ruler. After driving for about 20 minutes we have to steep hike about approx 1 – 1.5 hrs to reach the monastery. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal meditated in its cave in the year 1616.

In the evening, drive to Paro.

Over night in hotel

Day 14. Departure

After breakfast, drive to Paro airport and departure with priceless arts and memories.

Important Notes

The comfort, convenience and interest of the travelers is very important to us. We are flexible with the itinerary. Sightseeing can be done as per the convenience and interests of the guests. If it is of interest to the guest, they may choose to visit places that may not be in the itinerary, except for the change of overnight destination.

We reserve the right to change the itinerary or hotels anytime as may be required to, in case of unforeseen contingencies (natural/man made) or unavailability of hotels.

Some of the sites to be visited may be closed on government holidays or during breaks. In such cases we shall do other sightseeing in its place.

This itinerary can be tailor made for any duration or within any destination and can be combined with any kind of activities such as trekking, rafting, walking tour, cycling , etc.

It is advisable to book tours in Bhutan at least 6 months prior to the travel date because of limited Bhutan tourism infrastructures and inventories.