Classic Western Bhutan Tour

This adventure takes in the very best of Western Bhutan, its culture, and tradition, towering fortresses, temples, and monasteries. Lush green valleys and hills dotted with prayer wheels and flags, this cultural tour includes short hikes, visits to historical places and meeting the local people. End your adventure with a spectacular hike to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery.

Best time for this itinerary: Mar / Apr / Sep / Oct / Nov

Touring style: with private guide and driver

Prices are seasonal, include hotels, full board, professional touring and transfers. Starts from:

GBP 1889 per person sharing a twin room, Standard Class Hotels

Airfares are extra.

  • Experience Bhutan's unique culture and traditions
  • Take in spectacular Himalayan scenery
  • Visit Punakha's Dzong
  • Trek in pristine valleys
  • Climb up to Tiger's Nest Monastery in Paro
Classic Western Bhutan Tour at a glance
  • Day 1: Arrival into Paro and drive to Thimphu
  • Day 2: Thimphu touring
  • Day 3: Drive from Thimphu to Punakha
  • Day 4: Punakha Festival
  • Day 5: Drive from Punakha to Gangtey Monastery
  • Day 6: Drive from Gangtey to Paro
  • Day 7: Trek up Tiger's Nest Monastery
  • Day 8: Departure or extension to India or Thailand
Classic Western Bhutan Tour Image 1

Day 1: Arrival

After a dramatic landing at Paro Airport, meet up with your guide and driver and drive to Thimphu.

Thimphu is a bustling town on the banks of the Thimphu Chhu and set gloriously in the hills of the Thimphu valley. It is home to the Bhutanese Royal Family, the Royal Government, and several foreign missions. Thimphu is the only capital city in the world that has no MacDonald, Starbucks, billboards and traffic lights. 

Afternoon sightseeing in Thimphu.

Memorial Chorten - Chortens are memorial structures designed to evoke the same perfect symmetry and elegance of the Buddha himself, and it is traditionally good luck to pass them on the left. This particular Chorten was constructed in 1974 as a memorial for the third King of the country, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is widely regarded as the father of modern Bhutan. 

Kuenschholing View Point (Largest sitting Buddha) - where you can get a good overview of the Thimphu valley.

Tashichho Dzong (Fortress) - It houses the secretariat building, the throne room and the office of the king, and the central monk body. You can be part of the ceremonial national flag recess parade, performed every evening at 5 pm by the Royal Bhutan Police guards in its traditional finest grandeur.

Overnight in Thimphu.

Distance and journey time: 47 km, 1.30 hrs

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Day 2: Thimphu touring

After an early breakfast,  take a drive to the base of the Tango Monastery. The walk uphill takes about 40 minutes to reach the monastery. The word Tango literally means ‘horse head’ and is derived from the deity Tandin (Hayagriva) that features the head of a horse. The revered place of Hayagriva was first recognised by Guru Rinpoche in the eighth century. 

Return to Thimphu for a sightseeing tour.

Traditional Hand Made Paper Factory - stemmed from the age-old tradition that originated in the 8th century of Bhutanese history. Afterwards, visit the Craft Bazaar featuring traditional bamboo huts promoting products sourced from rural areas. Visit the mini zoo just above the town, containing the Takin, the very rare animal found exclusively in Bhutan and parts of China and possibly one of the most quirky and strangest looking animals you will ever see.

Overnight in Thimphu.

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Day 3: Thimphu to Punakha

After breakfast drive to Punakha, the former capital of the country, over the Dochu La pass offering stunning views of all the Eastern Himalayas. This pass at 3,048m/10,000ft is marked by 108 Chortens and offers a stunning 360-degree panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range. 

Punakha served as the capital of the country from 1637 to 1907. It has the second oldest and largest dzong in Bhutan and one of the most majestic structures in the country. 

Take a walk through the rice paddies to visit the Chimi Lhakhang, a delightful small temple built by Drukpa Kunley. Known as The Divine Madman', Drukpa Kunley was a 15th-century Bhutanese lama and is Bhutan's most popular saint and one of the most important figures in Bhutanese folklore. His style of teaching was thought shocking, insulting and including obscene behaviour. His outrageous actions and sexual antics were a deliberate method of provoking people to discard preconceptions. In the temple, you will receive a blessing from his wooden phallus. Wooden phalluses are often found hanging in the four corners of the houses and also phalluses are painted on the walls of houses. It is the common belief that this helps in driving away evil spirits.

Visit the fabulous Punakha Dzong, one of the most spectacular and important Fortress in the kingdom. It is the winter capital of the central monk body. Every year in the month of February or March the Punakha Festival is held in this fortress.

Longest Suspension Bridge - Located close to the fortress, the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan connects a village to the paved road. The walk through the bridge will provide a scenic view of the river and the valley.

Overnight in Punakha.

Distance and journey time: 86 km, 4 hrs

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Day 4: Punakha Festival

Punakha Tsechu, as all Tshechu festivals, honours Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rimpoche, the precious yogi and saint who is credited with having introduced Tantric Buddhism throughout the Himalayas. The festival’s masked dances are performed by monks clad in colourful brocade attire and permeated by chants and reading of Buddhist scripts. The culmination of the festival constitutes the unfolding of a huge cloth thangka, a sacred scroll, depicting Padmasmabhawa and imagery from the Buddhist pantheon.

Overnight in Punakha.

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Day 5: Drive from Punakha to Gangtey

After breakfast, drive to Gangtey to visit the Gangtey Monastery and take a hike through the Gangtey Nature Trail & Crane information centre.
The valley of Gangtey/Phobjikha is well known as the winter home of the black-necked cranes. Bhutan is home to around six hundred black-necked cranes with Phobjikha being one of the popular places that the birds migrate to in the winter months from the Tibetan plateau. These elegant and shy birds can be observed from early November to the end of March. Overlooking the Phobjikha valley is the Gangtey Goenpa, an old monastery that dates back to the 17th century.

Overnight at Gangtey.

Distance and journey time: 74 km, 3 hrs

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Day 6: Drive from Gangtey to Paro

Depart for Paro. This beautiful valley is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries and temples. The valley is also home to Mount Jumolhari (7,300m/24090ft) situated at the northern end of the valley whose glacier water forms the Pachu flowing through the valley.

Sightseeing in Paro. Visit the National Museum to see some of Bhutan’s cultural treasures, Rimpung Dzong, Kichu Lhakhang, Drukgyal Dzong and in the evening take a stroll in Paro town.

Overnight in Paro.

Distance and journey time: 169 km, 6 hrs

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Day 7: The spectacular trek to Tiger's Nest Monastery

Taktsang Goemba or the Tiger’s Nest Monastery Trek.

This is Bhutan’s most recognisable cultural icon perched 800m/2640ft up a seemingly sheer cliff. Although it was tragically and mysteriously consumed by fire in April 1998 it has now been restored to its former glory. It is believed that in the 8th century, the great tantric master Guru Rimpoche/ Padmasambhava (2nd Buddha) flew on the back of a tigress to the site where the monastery now stands. The hike takes approximately one hour to reach the cafeteria and another hour to reach the heart of the monastery. Most of the route is through wonderfully cool and sheltered oak forests. There is a tea house halfway for a break. After the tea-house, the path is slightly steeper and open with one area of exposed steps. It is a route that anybody of reasonable fitness can make but those who suffer from vertigo might prefer to wait at the tea house.

Start early to avoid the hot sun and remember to bring a hat. 

Farm House: Picturesque farm houses dot the valley amongst fields and hillsides. We welcome you to enjoy the hospitality of the Paro farmers. The two to three-storied Bhutanese farm houses are handsome in appearance, with colourfully decorated outer walls and lintels, and are traditionally built. 

Overnight in Paro.

Day 8: Departure

Depart by flight or extend your trip to include the beaches of Thailand or a Golden Triangle tour of India.

Distance and journey time: 10 km, 30 mins


Not quite right? This itinerary is just to give you an idea of what is possible. Need some more inspiration? Please get in touch at 01473 214305 or email We welcome your questions. We're here to help!


Gangtey and Phobjikha Valley: Home of the Black Necked Crane

Set upon a hill rising from the valley floor, almost 10000ft above sea level, the monastery of Gangtey, much modified and rebuilt through 400 years of history stands today in the form of a magnificent 17th Century dzong, or fortress.

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Paro: base to trek the Taktsang, or Tiger’s Nest monastery.

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Meri Puensum Resort

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Drubchhu Resort

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