West to East Bhutan Tour

West to East Bhutan Tour

This West to East Bhutan tour starts in Paro and ends in the south eastern border, Samdrupjongkhar. This West to East Bhutan tour is about traveling through the Himalayan slopes for experience and understanding of Bhutan, a country rich in culture, tradition and nature. West to East Bhutan tour is a thirteen nights Bhutan tour covering the Western, Central and the less traveled Eastern Bhutan. The destinations covered by the itinerary are Paro, Thimphu, Punakha/Wangdue, Gangtey/Phobjikha (The untouched Glacial Valley), Trongsa, Bumthang (the most historical place), Mongar, Trashigang, Trashiyangtse and Samdrupjongkhar (The south east Border town). Within these 13 nights of stay in Bhutan, you shall be able to experience and understand all the destinations in the western, central and Eastern Bhutan inclusive of the less traveled places, the most historical place and the most populous pace. The itinerary is named “West to East Bhutan Tour” because This itinerary starts in the western Bhutan and ends in the Eastern Bhutan. This West to East Bhutan tour itinerary lets you experience almost the whole of Bhutan

Tour High Lights – West to East Bhutan Tour

  • Visit less traveled places in the Eastern Bhutan, the most historical place – Bumthang and one of the most beautiful places in Gangtey/Phobjikha.
  • Opportunities to see the nomads of Merak and Sakten in Trashigang called the Brokpas. They had another unique dress, culture and lifestyle. However this shall depend on time and situation.
  • Opportunity to pass through almost all the passes in Bhutan with breathtaking views of the Himalayas and the nature from the Dochula pass, Chelela Pass and Lawala Pass, Pelela Pass and Yotongla Pass, Thrumsingla Pass, Yongkala Pass and Korila Pass
  • Opportunities to walk around less touristy places and villages.
  • Opportunity to explore the Eastern Bhutan (only a few tourists travel to the Eastern Bhutan), Gangtey/Phobjikha valley (one of the most beautiful Glacial valleys in the Himalayas), Paro valley, Thimphu (the capital city of Bhutan without traffic lights) , Punakha Valley (the old capital of Bhutan) and the Bumthang Valley (One of the most historical places in 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 – West to East Bhutan Tour

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 with a warm welcome by your Bhutanese tour guide from Neptune Holidays Bhutan with “Tashi khadar”, then Check in Hotel.

After lunch, you may relax or go around the Paro town and valley – A time for yourself. If you have enough time, you can also choose to sightseeing in discussion with your tour guide from Ideal Travel Creations.

In the evening, witness an Archery Match (if going on) or experience a private Khuru (Traditional Bhutanese sport) or archery. And also, explore the Paro town.

Dinner and overnight in hotel.

Altitude of Paro – 2280 m.  

Day 2. Paro:

After breakfast, start your day with a hike to the abode of gods and monks, the Taktshang Monastery. It shall be taken care of that the time shall be yours for the hike, no hurries and no worries. Reaching the top shall be worth the climb; the touch of the Himalayan breeze, the views of the valley below and temple on the rocky cliff shall be fascinating and shall let you feel the real freedom of mind and happiness.

Taktshang Monastery: The primary lhakhang was built surrounding Guru Rinpoche’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 which gives its name “Taktshang” meaning Tiger’s nest. It is a two to three hours excursion uphill; however, one feels truly blessed reaching the monastery.

Picnic Lunch among the woods shall be another great experience. After lunch, visit the Kyichhu Lhakhang.

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

Then we have a special program for you to feel the pure Bhutanese hospitality.  Drive to a village house. You shall be served with the local Bhutanese alcohol (Arra) and shall have the opportunity to understand and experience the life in a village in Bhutan. Right from the daily household chores to other works in the field. Also relax in traditional hot stone bath.

Hot stone bath: The traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath, known as Dotsho in local language has been practiced in Bhutan for centuries as a medicinal soak. Many Bhutanese believe that the bath helps in curing joint pains, helps in relaxing and other medical problems. River stones are heated and then put in water to heat the water; sometime medicinal herbs are added to the water before it is ready for the soak.

You may choose to have your dinner with the family. You can also have the option to spend overnight in the village house, however this will have to be confirmed during the confirmation of your tour to Bhutan.

Dinner and overnight in village house or hotel.

Altitude of Paro -2280 m.

Day 3. Paro – Thimphu:

After breakfast, drive to Paro. Driving through the well maintained road between Paro to Thimphu shall be a great experience.

On the way visit the Tamchog Lhakhang; 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

Drive further until you reach Chhuzomsa, where the Paro River (Pa Chhu) meets the Thimphu River (Wangchhu). You shall see the three stupas built in Nepalese, Tibetan and Bhutanese styles. They were placed here for good luck and safe passage.

After Lunch, excursion to Cheri Monastery. The monastery was actually Chagri Dorjeden Monastery. This monastery was established in 1620, by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of the unified Bhutan. After driving for about 20 minutes we have to steep hike about approx. 1 to 1.5 hrs. to reach the monastery. The monastery is now a major teaching and retreat center of the Drukpa Kagyu order.

Evening at leisure. You could also choose to any of the following; Visit a local resident and spend some time with the locals, cycling around Thimphu at an extra cost, etc.

Dinner and overnight in hotel.

Driving Distance – 65 Km. | Driving time – 1.5 to 2 Hr. | Altitude of Thimphu – 2350 m.

Day 4. Thimphu Sightseeing:

After a leisure breakfast, your sightseeing for the day includes;

Sangaygang view point (2685 meters): You can have a very good view of whole Thimphu valley from this place. Walking through the hundreds of colorful prayer flags that dot the hill could be another good experience.

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

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.

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. This is a three storied, 19th century traditional house giving an insight to the Bhutanese lifestyle, and artifacts from the rural households. The museum contains typical Bhutanese household objects, tools and equipment.

A typical Bhutanese lunch at Folk Heritage Museum Restaurant. Tasting the local “Arra” (Bhutanese Local alcohol) is a great experience. 

After lunch sightseeing includes;

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

The Institute of Traditional medicine: Medicines are prepared according to the Tradition practices in this institute. People are also treated here in traditional ways.

Kuenselphodrang: A place for refreshing with a huge statue of Buddha. The area also gives a very good view of the Thimphu Valley from the west. The place also consists for biking trail and has a picnic spot.

National Memorial Chhorten: This Chhorten was built in the honor of the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, also known as “The Father of Modern Bhutan”. This Chhorten was built in 1974 in a typical Tibetan style. This Chhorten is also a center of worship for the people living in Thimphu and contains many religious paintings and tantric statues. Lighting Butter lamps and circumambulating the chhorten can be a great experience and a good way to earn merits as per Buddhist beliefs.

In the evening, visit the Tashichhodzong.

Tashichhodzong: 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. A Doom (Blue Stone) Dzong was built on the hill above Thimphu in 1216 the lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa. 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 Tashichhodzong.

Overnight in hotel.

Day 5. Thimphu – Punakha:

After breakfast, drive to Punakha/Wangdue. Travel to Punakha/Wangdue gives you the view of Simtokha Dzong and then the winding roads leads you through blue pine forests and the villages of Hongtsho (2890m) and Yusipang. The local villages sell apples, walnuts, dried cheese in this area. The road climbs through the forest till you reach the Dochula Pass. Stop at Dochula Pass to view higher Himalayas and the visit the Druk Wangyal Chhortens.

Dochula pass (3150 m): The most known pass in Bhutan, about 30 km drive from the Capital City Thimphu on the way to Wangduephodrang/Punakha. 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.

After a good time in Dochula Pass, follow the road downhill, the vegetation now changes from oak, maple and blue pine to a forest of Hemlock, fir, Rhododendron, alder cypress, etc. You shall come across a chorten which was built because of frequent accidents in the area. The road leads you to the Royal Botanical Park and then slowly descends towards Thinleygang. The wind gets warmer here and you shall experience that the vegetation is mostly of cactus, oranges, bamboo, pine and paddy fields. You shall also start to see the views of the Wangdue and Punakha Valley after some time.

Lunch on the way. After driving a short distance from Metshina, take a short and easy hike through paddy fields and villages to visit the 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 15 century. Lama Drukpa Kuenley is also known as the Divine Madman.

Then, visit the impressive Punakha Dzong, which was built by the Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1637. It is built at the junction the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu Rivers. The annual Punakha Tshechu (Festival) is held here. The monk body resides in this Dzong in winter.

In the evening, explore the Punakha and Wangdue town and valley.

Dinner and overnight in hotel.

Day 6. Punakha/Wangduephodrang:

After a leisure breakfast, excursion to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chhorten. Take a short drive to the base and then walk through paddy fields before you climb a moderately inclined trail surrounded by pine trees. You shall be hiking for approximately 1 hr. to reach the temple.

Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chhorten: This Chhorten is built on a ridge above the Punakha valley. It took around nine years to build the Chhorten. It is said that the Bhutanese craftsmen consulted Holy Scriptures to construct this 4 storey temple. The temple was built by Her Majesty, the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck.

You could choose to have a picnic Lunch or at the hotel.

After Lunch, explore the remote villages in upper Punakha. Visit villages and village Houses, interact with people and experience the village life in Bhutan. Walking through the paddy fields from a village to another and re – living with nature shall be another bigger experience.

If you are interested in rafting, you could choose to do the same in Punakha at an extra cost.

Dinner and overnight in hotel.

Altitude – 1310 m. approx.

Day 7. Punakha – Gangtey/Phobjikha:

After breakfast, drive to Gangtey/ Phobjikha. You shall encounter many tiny villages, people, beautiful landscapes and monuments as you travel from Punakha to Phobjikha.

While in Phobjikha, visit the Gangtey Goemba; This Monastery overlooks the large green expanse of the Phobjikha Valley. 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.

Then explore the Phobjikha Valley which is of immense beauty. It is one of the most beautiful glacial valleys in the Himalayas and the winter roosting place of the endangered black necked crane.

You could also opt to take walks through the villages and visit the Black Necked Crane centre.

Dinner and overnight in hotel.

Driving Distance – 78 km approx.| Driving time – 3 hr. approx. |Altitude of Gangtey – 2900 m.

Day 8. Gangtey/Phobjikha – Trongsa – Bumthang:

After breakfast, drive to Trongsa. You shall reach the Pelela Pass at 3420 meters with the customary Chorten (Stupa) and long colorful flags covering the hilltops. You shall also find stalls selling local handicraft items. The road then goes downhill giving you beautiful views of admirable landscape and villages until you reach the Chendebji Chhorten: This Chhorten was constructed by Tshering Wangchuk son of Yon-Say and the Mahasiddha Zhidag in accordance with the prophecy of the Second Gangteng Tulku Tenzin Legpai Dhundrup. It was built to subdue evil spirits and it is built in the style of the great Boudnath Chhorten of Nepal.

After driving for approximately 1 – 2 hours you shall see the view of the impressive Trongsa Dzong.Drive further to Trongsa and visit the Trongsa Dzong and the Ta Dzong.

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.

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

Lunch in Trongsa. After lunch, drive to Bumthang via Yotong La Pass at 3425 m, marked by a Chhorten and prayer flags. Drive down the Pass through Rhodendrons and different types of pine forest until you reach the plains of Chhumey Valley. While in Chhumey Valley visit the Yathra factory.

Yathra: It is the most famous textile product of Bumthang. The Chhumey Valley is known for the beautiful Yathra woven by the locals. Yathra is a hand woven fabric made from the wool of sheep or Yak. The wool is first spun into threads and then dyed before they are woven into Yathra with beautiful flower patterns and colors. The Yathra cloth is made into scarves, jackets, table cloths, bags, etc. Most of the women in this valley, especially in Zungye village earn their lively hood by weaving Yathra which is supplied to various towns in Bhutan.

Drive to Bumthang. Dinner and overnight in hotel.

Driving Distance – 180 km approx.| Driving time – 7 hr. approx. |Altitude of Bumthang – 2650 m.

Day 9. Bumthang:

After breakfast, drive through Bathpalathang and Tamshing Village to visit Tamshing Lhakhang, one of the oldest Monasteries in Bhutan.

Tamshing Lhakhang: Tamshing literally means the Temple of the good message. It was established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan.

After the visit to Lhakhang, take a short hike through villages crossing the Chamkhar Chhu (River) to visit the Kurjey, Jambay and Chakar Lhakhang on the other side of the river.

Kurjey Lhakhang: This temple was named after body print of Guru Rimpoche and is one of the most oldest and important temples in Bhutan.

Jambay Lhakhang: This Lhakhang was built by King Srongsen Gompo of Tibet. In October one of the most spectacular festival, “Jambay Lhakhang Drup” is staged here.

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

Lunch in one of the restaurants in the town or Picnic Lunch. After lunch, visit the Jakar Dzong.

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

Then drive to Membarstho, Literally meaning, The burning Lake”. After the visit to the lake drive back to Bumthang and visit the cheese and fruit processing factory in Bathpalathang, Bumthang. The factory was founded by Swiss and produces a variety of Cheese, butter, apple wine, Red panda beer, honey, etc.

In the evening, free time to explore the Bumthang valley.

Dinner and overnight in hotel.

Altitude of Bumthang: 2650 m

Day 10. Bumthang – Mongar:

After breakfast, drive to Mongar.

Stop at places to view scenery and for photography. Drive from Bumthang to Mongar shall take you across the highest point in Bhutan’s motorable road. The point is known as the Thrumsingla Pass at an altitude of 4000 mts.

Picnic lunch on the way.

The evening ends exploring the Mongar town.

Dinner and overnight in hotel

Driving Distance – 190 km approx.| Driving time – 7 to 8 hr. approx. |Altitude of Mongar – 1600 m.

Day 10. Mongar – Trashigang:

After breakfast, visit the Mongar Dzong, This dzong was rebuilt in 1953 and it is unique as it has two entrances. There are about 60 young monks residing in this dzong. You will see the images of the Buddha of long life, as well as Guru Rinpoche and the Zhabdrung.

Then drive to Trashigang. Lunch at Trashigang.

While in Trashigang, visit the Trashigang Dzong, which lies on the headland of the dzongkhag that gives us the confluence of the Drangme Chhu and the Gamri Chhu. It was built by Minjur Tempa, Bhutan’s third Desi in the year 1667. It was once destroyed by fire and was rebuilt in only three years. On the Gorikha (Veranda) are the paintings of the kings and guardians of the four directions.

In the evening, explore the Trashigang Town.

Dinner and overnight in hotel.

Day 11. Trashigang – Trashiyangtse – Trashigang

After breakfast, a day excursion to Trashiyangtse.

Trashiyangtse was established as a district in 1992 and lies at an elevation of dzongkhags is 1750-1880 m. This place is also the winter homes to endangered black-necked cranes. It is also the home to Ludlow’s Bhutan Glory, the national butterfly of Bhutan. The places has a lot of important religious sites such as Pemaling in the alpine area; Rigsum Gonpa, Dechenphodrang ney and Omba ney (the Taktshang of East Bhutan) between 2000 and 3000m, and Gongza ney and Gom Kora along the Drangme Chu (800-900m).

The place is also famous for “dapa and phop” (hand crafted traditional wooden plate and mugs).

On the way visit the Gomkora Lhakhang, situated 24 km from the Trashigang dzong in Trashigang in the eastern Bhutan. The name Gomphu Kora (Gomphu – “Meditation Cave”, Kora – “Circumambulation”) is derived from a cave in the place.

Drive further to Trashiyangtse and visit the Chorten Kora. It is one of the most important stupa in Trashiyangtse built in the year 1740 by Lama Ngawang Loday, the nephew of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The stupa was built to subdue a demon believed to have been living at the site where the chorten is now located. Modeled after the famous Boudhanath stupa in Nepal and was consecrated by the 13th chief Abbot of Bhutan Je Sherub Wangchuk. It was built in order to enable pilgrims to visit the temple in Trashiyangtse instead of making a trip to Nepal.

Then explore the Trashiyangtse Valley.

In the evening, drive back to Trashigang.

Dinner and overnight in hotel.

Distance from Trashigang to Trashiyangtse: 52 Km | Driving time: 2 Hrs. (one way)

Day 12. Trashigang – Samdrupjongkhar;

After breakfast, drive to Samdrupjongkhar. On the way you shall come across many monuments, villages and people. Stop at places for sightseeing and for photography.

Drive leisurely to reach Samdrupjongkhar. In the evening, explore the Samdrupjongkhar town.

Dinner and overnight in hotel.

Driving Distance: 180 km approx. | Driving time: 7 Hrs. | Altitude of Samdrupjongkhar: 220 m

Day 13. Departure:

After breakfast, meet your Indian Contact and farewell. We can also make arrangements to reach you to Guwahati.

Important Notes – West to East Bhutan Tour

Neptune Holidays Bhutan believes in the comfort and convenience of the travelers and the idea of travel differs among every individual. In this regards we are flexible with the itineraries and are happy to do sightseeing as per the convenience and interests of the travelers. It is not necessary the itinerary has to be followed, except for the change of overnight destination, as this might invite cancellation charges by the hotels. The guests may choose to visit places that may not be in the itinerary, if it is of interest to them. No extra cost shall be applicable for the same except for the entry fees or cost for activities, if not included in the cost.

In case of unforeseen contingencies (natural/man made) or unavailability of hotels, Neptune Holidays Bhutan reserves the right to change the itinerary anytime as may be required to.

Some of the sightseeing places may be closed on government holidays or during breaks. In this regards we shall do other sightseeing in its place.