Imagine exploring the happiest country on Earth while walking along the same path used by royals, monks, and traders for thousands of years. That’s the Trans Bhutan Trail. Until the 1960s, it was the only way to get around the mountain kingdom of Bhutan. And now, for the first time in 60 years, you can hike it yourself.
12 Days from $5,949 CAD per person
On this 12-day tour, you’ll travel and trek along the best portions of this historic trail, using your own two feet to experience rural and spiritual life in the most beautiful parts of the country. Venturing from west to east, you’ll hike along high mountain passes, across lush river valleys, and through villages from a different era, stopping to soak in local history, culture, and customs along the way. There really is magic on the Trans Bhutan Trail, and it’s ready to be rediscovered.
**HIGH ALTITUDE- This is medically defined as anything over 8,000 feet (2,440 meters). Most people can travel to 8,000 feet with minimal effects. However, everyone reacts to altitude differently and altitude sickness can on set with some people irrespective of fitness and age. For details on how to best prepare and what to do in the unlikely event you are effected on your adventure, please consult your physician.
Physical Grading: 4 – Demanding
Some high-altitude hikes or more strenuous activities, but accessible to most healthy travellers.
Upon arrival enjoy a private transfer from Paro International Airport to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital city. The rest of the day is yours before a brief welcome meeting in the evening with the rest of the group in the hotel. Afterwards head out to enjoy dinner together at a local restaurant where you’ll have your first opportunity to sample Bhutanese cuisine. If you still have energy left after dinner, consider bar hopping through some of Thimphu’s best spots to get a taste of local nightlife.
Thimphu is a city with elevations ranging between 2,248 meters (7,375 feet) and 2,648 meters (8,688 feet) above sea level. It is also the fifth highest capital city in the world by altitude; and it is also the only capital city in the world without any traffic lights. You’ll be captivated by the unique blend of the modern world alongside the striking Bhutanese tradition.
Spend the day seeing the best of Thimphu’s many highlights. In the morning transfer to the scenic Kabesa valley, just north of Thimphu, to visit the Choki Traditional Art School, an institution offering free education to underprivileged youth who have an interest in learning traditional art and craft. On the way back stop in at the Pangri Zampa Monastery to enjoy a private reading with a monk astrologer. The rest of the day includes a visit to Thimphu Dzong (fortress), lunch at a local restaurant, followed by a trip to Buddha Point, and a final stop for the day at the Memorial Chorten, a Tibetan-style stupa built in 1974. In the evening indulge in dinner as a group at a local restaurant.
Today after breakfast at your hotel, the group will be transferred towards the Dochula Pass, where you will join the Trans Bhutan Trail. Upon reaching the top of the pass at 3,100 meters (10,200 feet) enjoy panoramic views of the Himalayan range to the north and if you wish, join in with the locals in hanging colourful prayer flags as a sign of respect to the Gods. While at Dochula you may choose to visit the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang (temple), the Druk Wangyal Chorten (stupa), also known as the ‘108 Chortens’, and its nearby meditation caves.
Afterwards, head down into the adjacent valley and join a section of the Trail known as the ‘Divine Madman Trail’. Stop and enjoy a picnic lunch at Thinleygang Lhakhang (temple) before continuing down towards Toebchandhana. On arrival, visit the Toebchandhana Lhakhang (temple), also known as the Chandana Lhakhang, meaning ‘where the arrow landed’. After taking a look around you’ll be transferred back to your hotel in Punakha for the evening.
Enjoy some breakfast before heading out for a day of exploring around the charming town of Punakha. Visit the Bazam (bridge) just across the river from Punakha Dzong (fortress). In order to cross the bridge on foot you must be wearing formal Bhutanese dress, including a gho for men and a kora for women. On the other side head out on a tour of the Dzong (fortress). Afterwards, drive north to Zomlingthang, and whet your appetite with a local cookery demonstration and a traditional Bhutanese outdoor lunch.
In the afternoon you can choose to go on a gentle rafting expedition down the Mo Chhu River before going out to dinner at a local restaurant as a group in the evening.
Fill up on breakfast before transferring to Pelela, where the group will rejoin the Trans Bhutan Trail. Descend through meadows below Pelela and stop at a traditional farmhouse in the village of Rukubji to enjoy a hot lunch before visiting the temple known as Kuenzang Choling. Rukubji is also famous for its unique local language, called Ngyen-Kye and you will have the chance to learn about it from the villagers over tea.
Then rejoin the trail for a gentle climb out of the valley, through the forest, and to the village of Chendebi where you will camp for the night. Head for a visit to the Chorten (stupa) in the village and then indulge in an organic, locally sourced dinner at the campsite.
Wake with the sun and eat breakfast at camp before transferring towards the town of Trongsa to rejoin the Trans Bhutan Trail at the viewpoint high above the town. Recreate the experience of past royals as you descend as a group into the steep valley below. See spectacular views of the Dzong (fortress) and cross the old cantilever bridge over the Mangde River before climbing the other side of the valley to reach Trongsa Dzong via the Western gate. After arriving here the rest of the day is yours to relax and explore before joining back together for dinner at a local restaurant in the early evening.
Devour a quick breakfast this morning before heading out for a tour of Trongsa Dzong (fortress), first built as a small meditation room in 1541. Visit a selection of the Dzong’s 23 lhakhangs (temples), before heading to the Trongsa Ta Dzong (watchtower), which now houses the fascinating Royal Heritage Museum. The remainder of the day will be at leisure to explore Trongsa at your own pace.
Bid farewell to Trongsa after breakfast at your hotel and transfer towards the city of Bumthang. Once you arrive, visit the majestic Jakar Dzong (fortress), also known as the ‘Castle of the White Bird’. Observe unique features like its fifty-meter utse (tower) and a sheltered passage with two parallel walls, interconnected by fortified towers, which guaranteed the fortress’s inhabitants access to water during a siege. The rest of the day is yours to explore the town on your own before meeting back up with the group in the evening for a special experience as you settle into your local homestay accommodation.
Spend the night with a few of your fellow travellers in the home of a local Bhutanese family who will be your hosts for the evening. Share a meal and exchange stories while learning about what life is like for your local hosts.
Have some breakfast before beginning your next trek on the Trans Bhutan trail. Along the way stop at the Pema Choeling Nunnery to learn about this institution and how it was created to increase opportunities for Bhutanese girls,coming from rural or vulnerable backgrounds. Then, continue south along the Trail towards the sacred Mebartsho (The Burning Lake) where you’ll enjoy a typical Bhutanese lunch at a local farmhouse in the nearby village of Phom Drong.
After lunch, return to Bumthang, where you will visit the Bumthang Brewery, producers of Bhutan’s celebrated Red Panda Beer. In the evening, enjoy another homestay experience with local Bhutanese families. Tuck into a delicious homemade meal and rest up for another incredible day ahead
Catch a flight this morning from the Bumthang Airport to Paro after having breakfast at your homestay. Upon arriving in Paro, take some time to rest at your hotel before visiting Paro’s Ta Dzong or ‘watchtower’ which is now Bhutan’s National Museum, later in the afternoon. Continue to the stunning Paro Rinpung Dzong (fortress), meaning ‘Fortress on a Heap of Jewels’ to explore with your CEO. The evening is yours to continue discovering Paro.
Tuck in to breakfast at your hotel before heading northwest out of Paro for a visit to the iconic Taktshang Goemba, more commonly known as the ‘Tiger’s Nest Monastery’. Precariously perched on a sheer cliff face 900 metres (2,950 feet) above the Paro Valley floor, the Tiger’s Nest is undoubtedly Bhutan’s most famous religious building. The trek offers spectacular views from the ridge and passes a small chorten, a basic monastery, and a waterfall on its way. Once you have reached the Tiger’s Nest, you will have a chance to visit the cave where Guru Rinpoche meditated, as well as the extensive network of Lhakhangs (chapels) which house images, murals, chortens, and a holy spring.
If time allows, make a quick trip to the fascinating Machig-phu Lhakhang (temple) on the way back down to the access road. The rest of the afternoon will be at leisure to relax at your hotel or to explore Paro on your own, before enjoying a last dinner with your group at a local restaurant to celebrate the trip!
Enjoy one last breakfast before being transferred from your hotel to the airport for your flight home.