H ome to some 40 million people, Bhutan is no alpine wilderness, but rather a vibrant mosaic of peoples, cultures and communities, criss-crossed by ancient living and pilgrimage routes that offer their own unique inspiration.
WTH Bhutan’s range of Bhutan cultural tours are designed to bring clients into close contact with an unspoiled land that is home to a vibrant Buddhist way of life, and as close in spirit to Shambala – or paradise – as an earth bound kingdom can be. Visit ancient monasteries, temples and museums to understand how Buddhism informs the everyday life of the Bhutanese.
Our popular Bhutan tours cover the valleys of Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangduephodrang, Gangtey Phobjikha, Trongsa, Bumthang and Trashigang. In these townships you can really discover the spirit of the Bhutanese, as well as visit numerous sacred sites, Dzongs, temples, landmarks, monasteries,markets, farmhouses, schools and museums. Wall painting, house arts, wood painting by using traditional natural pigments is very common.
His expert tour guides connect you to Bhutan behind the scenes, opening the doors to some of the world’s most zealously guarded secrets.
To enhance your Bhutan cultural tour why not consider a specialised activity including cycling,photography, camping and walking, or a unique Bhutan festival tour to provide a deep experience of Bhutanese culture.
Use this to enrich yourself, to get immersed in the culture and heritage that is so authentic. Step out of your comfort zone, retreats and resorts. Take the plunge of spending a night at a farm stay with locals making the best meal for you in a sincere attempt of sharing their culture.
Eastern Bhutan Cultural Tour
Most tourists who take the time to experience the real Bhutan usually have a rather clear idea of what they would like to do once they arrive in the Land of Happiness. Some like to trek while others select one of our photo tours which takes them to several exceptional places in the country that have emerged as photography havens for tourists. Then there are others who wish to experience the culture of Bhutan through real time cultural immersion.
Name of package : Eastern Bhutan Cultural Tour. Duration : 15 nights16 days.
Arrival at Paro International Airport for your travel Bhutan plans
Once you arrive at Paro International Airport, you will be greeted by an English-speaking representative from Walk to Himalayas followed by a drive you to your hotel in Paro located approximately fifteen minutes away from the airport. Visit to the center of town or relax at the hotel depending on the time of the day you have arrived and your personal convenience.
Your tour host will first take you to Bhutan's capital Thimphu. You will be driven in a chauffeur-driven car throughout your Bhutan tour and your first day is certainly no exception. Thimphu is located about thirty minutes from Paro.
Visit National Memorial Chorten The Memorial was built in a unique Tibetan style and has scores of religious paintings and occult statues that represent both the pacifist and wrathful aspects of Buddhist spirituality. The Memorial is also a center of worship for the residents of the capital. Then Dupthop Lhakhang and Changkha Monastery a place of spirituality and worship for Bhutanese nuns.
The Changkha Monastery was built in the fifteenth century AD by Lama Phajo Drugom Zhipo. All the new-born babies of Thimphu and other parts of the country are taken here to receive holy blessings from the chief High Lama. Visit the Thimphu Mini Zoo, where you will be greeted by Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. Sangay gang. Drive down to Sangay Gang View Point. The entire Thimphu Valley is visible from here.
Another day at Thimphu
National Library of Bhutan : The library is not simply a repository for Bhutanese learning, it houses some of the world's most rare and ancient religious manuscripts. Many of the precious manuscripts called Thangkas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls) are several centuries old and have been archived with great care at the library.
Bhutan School of Arts & Crafts :
For art lovers visiting the country, the visit to the Painting School is a treat and you are welcome to meet with the students and faculty since you share a common canvas. Let us know in advance and we will formally schedule a short guided tour for you. National Institute of Traditional Medicine After lunch at a nice local restaurant in Thimphu, your tour guide will take you and the other members of your group to the National Institute of Traditional Medicine. Your tour guide will gladly schedule a consultation for you if you wish. Bhutan also has several modern state-of-the-art allopathic hospitals many of which provide world-class services.
Handicrafts Emporium : You can purchase rare postage stamps in any one of several shops in this area around the Emporium. Bhutan also happens to be a picture postcard collector's paradise.
Tango Monastery : Founded by the Lama Gyalwa Lhanampa in 12th century AD, the monastery's present building was built in 15th century AD by the "Divine Madman." Early evening will bring you to Trashicho Dzong also known as the Fortress of the Glorious Religion.
More points of Interest in Thimphu and Punakha
Your Bhutan package featuring the most striking attractions of Eastern Bhutan continues as you depart from your hotel for Punakha after breakfast. You will go through the Dochula Pass which is an incredible experience in itself. Situated high among the mountains, the pass is the primary conduit that connects the two points of Thimphu and Punakha.
Your first destination of the day, the 108 Bhutanese Stupas, is revered by the people of the land as an emblem of religious sanctity. Notice their architectural beauty and the manner in which they have weathered the four seasons over the years. If the weather decides to cooperate, you can admire the glory of the snow-capped Himalayan Ranges from this vantage point.
Punakha Dzong : Drive to Punakha to visit the Punakha Dzong. It is situated near two rivers-- the Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River.) Punakha continues to remain the winter residence of Je-Khenpo, the country's spiritual leader. King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk convened the National Assembly here in 1952.
Chimi Lhakhang : It was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley in 15th century AD. It is dedicated to Drukpa Kinley who is also known as the Divine Madman. The spiritual leader inherited the accolade since he revolted against the principles of orthodox Buddhism. The monastery is also revered as a sanctum of fertility. Couples looking to have a baby from across Bhutan and occasionally from other parts of the world visit the temple to seek blessings. Legend has it that once the religious ceremonies are performed, the couples are blessed with a child.
Punakha - Wangduephodrang - Trongsa
Drive to the Gangtey Valley. The places that you could visit on the route include the Wangdiphodrang Dzong which was built in 1638 AD. According to folk lore, when people searched for the site of the Dzong, four ravens were seen flying in four different directions. The citing was considered a good omen, representing the reach of the religion in the four corners of the world. The Dzong is located at the confluence of Mo Chu and Tang Chu rivers.
The Gangtey Valley and the Gangtey Monastery :
The Gangtey Monastery is the largest and the only Nyingmapa monastery on the western side of the Black Mountain.. The monastery was built in 1913 by Pema Trinley, the grandson of Pema Lingpa, the popular Nyingmapa saint of Bhutan. The ancient beliefs & traditions of Pema Lingpa have been preserved here to this day.
Phobjikha Valley :
This place is the winter home of black necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains to spend the winter months in a relatively less harsh climate in this region. It is situated at an altitude of 2900 meters above sea level and is in the district of Wangduephodrang. The valley has two rivers named Nakay Chhu (Chhu Naap-black water) and Gay Chhu (Chhu Karp-white water).
Trongsa - Bumthang Chendbji Chorten
Drive to Bumthang via Trongsa after breakfast. Your first stop for the day is Chendbji Chorten.It was constructed in 18th century AD by Lama Shida and covers the remains of an evil spirit that was taken down at this location.
Trongsa Dzong : It was built by Chogyal Minjur Tempa who was the emissary sent by Shabdrung to appease the rulers of eastern Bhutan. Noteworthy is the fact that this dzong is the ancestral home of the present Royal Family. The first two kings ruled Bhutan from this location and from this Dzong. You will drive to Bumthang via Yongtala & Kilakha passes.
Visit to a Bhutanese Carpet Factory :
where they use yak and sheep wool and even pure silk to create carpets and ethnic Bhutanese Textiles. If you are interested in buying a carpet for hundreds of dollars less than what it would normally cost, place an order and it will be shipped directly to your home as a prepaid and insured order. Also visit Jakar Dzong and Lamey Goemba where they use yak and sheep wool and even pure silk to create carpets and ethnic Bhutanese Textiles. If you are interested in buying a carpet for hundreds of dollars less than what it would normally cost, place an order and it will be shipped directly to your home as a prepaid and insured order.
After lunch, visit the Jakar Dzong. When translated, it means "The Castle of White Bird". Its current structure was built in 1667 AD. You will next visit Lamey Goemba. This is a grand monument built like a palace and monastery. It was built in the 18th century AD by Dasho Phuntsho Wangdi, the great warrior. Visit Jambay Lhakhang ,built by King Srongsen Gampo of Tibet in 659 AD. The temple was blessed by Guru Rimpoche during his visit to Bumthang. It is said that Guru Rimpoche was the one who brought Buddhism to Bhutan. It was renovated by Sindhu Raja after Guru Rimpoche restored his life with his magical powers. Jambay Lhakhang.
Bumthang sightseeing Chakhar Lhakhang
Visit Chakhar Lhakhang. When translated, in means "Iron Castle". This is where the palace of the Indian King, the Sindhu Raja who invited Guru Rimpoche to Bumthang, is located. The palace was constructed with Iron and hence the name Chakhar.
Kurjey Lhakhang and Tamshing Lhakhang : Kurjey Lhakhang is our next stop. It is named after the body print of Guru Rimpoche. It was built in 1652 by Minjur Tempa. Next visit TamshingLhakhang which, when translated, means "Temple of the Good Message." A quick evening drive will take you to visit Membarstho which literally means "The Burning Lake."
Drive to Mongar to visit Ura Lhakhang. This is your first tour stop of the day. You will drive to Mongar through Thrumshingla Pass which is the highest pass in Bhutan.
Visit to a Bhutanese Farm : Observe the Bhutanese rural lifestyle at close quarters first hand. It goes without saying that a Bhutan cultural tour isn't complete without meeting the people. The village is a short walk from the Temple. Sengor is a small village inhabited by sheep and Yak farmers. Passengers traveling by road like to stop here for a quick meal and some rest.
Lingmethang : Drive over to Lingmethang. The terrain here is very different from what you have experienced before. The vegetation is sub-tropical and the lowland area is very green. Much of the region is forested with chirpine trees.
Mongar - Trashigang
Drive through yet another stretch of similar terrain since you are driving in the opposite direction.
Trashigang City :
Trashigang Dzongkhag has the largest number of residents in all of Bhutan.You will have dinner and spend the night at the hotel in Trashigang.
Day excursion to Trashiyangstse
The town is of fairly recent origin a foundation stone that dates back only to the nineties when the new district was carved out of existing districts to improve the quality of governance and infrastructure. You will visit the market, go on a long walk escorted by your tour guide and also visit the art school which is quite famous. Trashiyangtse is also famous for its wooden containers, wooden serving bowls and spoons.
The Dzong in Trashiyangtse :
The dzong is inspired by the stupa of Bodhnath in Nepal. During the second month of the lunar calendar, the local residents of the area celebrate the festival or Kora here. The temple of Gom Kora is located on a small alluvial plateau which overlooks the river. It is surrounded by rice fields and banana trees.
Once you check out of your hotel after breakfast, you will begin your return drive. You will check into a hotel once you reach Mongar. There are a number of small stops on the way for refreshments, short walks and photo opp possibilities.
Your drive to Bumthang from Mongar will commence today after breakfast. The journey is hardly tiring and so you can stop on the way to take pictures and capture the scenic views. You will check into a hotel as soon as you arrive in Bumthang. Spend a quiet evening and enjoy dinner as you get ready to proceed to Wang due.
Drive to Wangdiphodrang. The drive is very scenic and there are plenty of spots from where to take pictures. Your drive will last most of the day and when you arrive in Wangdiphodrang in the evening, you will check into a hotel and enjoy a quiet dinner to be followed by a dose of unwind.
Wangdue - Paro Simthokha Dzong
You will leave for Thimphu on your way to Paro from Wangdue after breakfast. While in Thimphu, you will visit Simthokha Dzong. This is the oldest and the most secure fortress in Bhutan. It offers you an amazing backdrop to take pictures.
Bhutan National Museum : Enjoy a rare collection of Bhutanese art, crafts, paintings and sculptures from a by-gone era carefully preserved for posterity. The museum is especially famous for the amazing range of colors and shades used in the fabrics on display many of which probably don't even have names.
Paro Dzong : Drive you to Paro from Thimphu and your next stop is the Paro Dzong. It is also known as Rinpung Dzong and means "fortress of the heap of jewels." The monastery, by the way, is fully functional and is a classic example of a traditional abode in which "the church and the state" co-exist in harmony. From here, you can take a leisurely walk to the Pachu river and cross over a traditional cantilever or wooden covered bridge to the other side.
Drukgyel Dzong : The dzong resembles a quaint pictorial village nestled below its ramparts. Although most unfortunately destroyed by a ravaging fire in 1951, the towering outer walls and central keep remain in tact and present an imposing sight.
Kyichu Lhakhang : Kyichu Lhakhang was built in the 7th century AD and happens to be one of the two oldest and most revered shrines in Bhutan. The other shrine is the Jambey Lhakhang in Bumthang. Kyichu Lhakhang comprises twin temples. The first temple was built by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century AD. In 1968, on orders of H.M. Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother of Bhutan, a second temple was erected right next to the first one. It followed the fashion and pattern of the first temple monument.
Hike to Taktshang monastery tiger's nest
The short trek to the monastery passes through a dense pine forest This abode of devout traditional Buddhist religious prayer and worship was built in the 17th century AD. It is now visited by Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. It literally hangs from the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below.
According to a legend, Guru Padmasambhava, the Tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, came to Bhutan from India flying on a tiger.The hike up to Taktshang monastery along a smooth path takes approximately 2-3 hours at a leisurely pace on a bright, sunny day. We recommend that you carry sunglasses, sunscreen, adequate water, a walking stick and a hat to protect yourself.
Like all good things, your eastern Bhutan travel package finally comes to an end. Bid farewell to Walk to Himalayas guide who will facilitate your departure. Take a pledge to return very soon