Eastern Bhutan Trip
Embark on a photography tour in Bhutan, the enchanting Himalayan kingdom. Explore stunning landscapes, ancient monasteries, and vibrant culture. With expert guidance, capture the essence of this unique destination, creating memorable images to cherish forever.
The flight to Paro crosses the Himalaya Mountains, affording spectacular views of the awesome peaks, including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks in Bhutan. If you arrive via Kathmandu, which offers the most breathtaking view of the range, it’s possible to see Mount Everest and Mount Kanchenjunga as well. On arrival you will be greeted by Gateway Travel and transferred to your hotel.
In the afternoon you can visit the Paro Dzong. It was built in 1646 and now houses government offices and religious institutions, as do all the dzongs (forts) currently. You’ll cross a traditional wooden bridge on the way to the dzong. Afterward you will visit Kyichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country. From there you will be taken to the Drugyel Dzong (Bhutan Victory Fort), which was built in 1646 to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over Tibetan invaders during the 1600s. On a clear day you can see Mount Jumolhari, Bhutan’s second-highest mountain at 7,329 meters, from the village below the dzong. In the evening you can explore town.
Overnight in Paro.
After breakfast hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan’s most famous monastery. Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown on the back of a tigress from Singye Dzong in Lhuntse to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. It is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900 meters above Paro Valley. The hike to reach the viewpoint to the monastery makes for a nice half-day excursion. In the afternoon you will drive to Thimphu. In the evening you can explore Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, and absorb the lifestyle of the people. You can also visit some interesting handicraft shops.
Overnight in Thimphu.
After breakfast you will visit the King’s Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972), Changgangkha Monastery, the radio tower (for a great view of Thimphu Valley and the Thimphu Dzong), and the zoo, which contains the national animal of Bhutan: the takin. From there you will visit the nunnery temple, the National Library (which houses ancient manuscripts), and the School of Arts and Crafts (also known as the painting school). After a relaxing lunch, you will visit the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, a traditional paper factory, the majestic Tashichodzong, and Simtokha Dzong (the oldest fortress in the kingdom).
Overnight in Thimphu.
After breakfast you will drive 12km north of Thimphu to hike to Tango monastery. It will take about 45 minutes to hike to the monastery. Tango Monastery is a Buddhist college, and it’s the residence of the Desi Tenzin Rabgye, a young boy who is the reincarnation of the 16th-century monk who built Tango. Afterward, if you wish, you can wander through Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Park.
Overnight in Thimphu.
After breakfast you will drive to Wangduephodrang, with a stop en route for tea at Dochu La (3,100 meters), where on a clear day you can get spectacular views of the Himalayas. After lunch you will drive to Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan, and visit Punakha Dzong, which is noteworthy both for being one of the most beautiful dzongs in Bhutan and also for having been built by the first Shabdrung in 1637. On the way back from Punakha, you will stop at Metshina Village and take a 20-minute walk through the rice fields to Chimi Lakhang, which is a fertility temple, where you may receive a special fertility blessing if you wish. Overnight in Wangduephodrang.g and you can explore the small town of Wangdue.
Overnight in Punakha.
You will begin the day by driving to Gantey. You’ll pass through dense forests of oak trees and rhododendrons and arrive at Gantey village, where you’ll visit Gantey Gompa, the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan. From Gantey, you can see the picturesque Black Mountain range as well as Phobjika Valley, the winter habitat of the black-necked cranes. In the evening you can explore Phobjikha valley.
Overnight in Phobjikha.
After breakfast you’ll head to Bumthang via Trongsa, the ancestral home of the royal family. The route is along a spectacular winding road, crossing 3,300-meter-high Pele La, and at certain times of year it’s possible to see yaks. You’ll visit Trongsa Dzong, the masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture, and you’ll also see Ta Dzong, the watchtower built to defend this dzong. In the afternoon, you’ll proceed to Bumthang, the religious heartland of the nation, with lush valleys and hilly forests. Along the way you will stop at a yethra (textile weaving) factory, where the yethras are designed with patterns unique to Bumthang, and you can even watch some of the weavers at their looms. You can spend the evening strolling through Bumthang town.
Overnight in Bumthang.
After breakfast, drive towards Bumthang via Trongsa. On the way, you’ll visit Trongsa Dzong, the masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture, and you’ll also visit Ta Dzong museum, there are many rare things in the museum such as the first kings Gho, a sliver stupa, the original raven crown the king wore, a zenith radio the third king used to keep up with the affairs outside world, a Gau (small prayer box) the king wore around his neck, scrolls written in gold, etc.
In the afternoon, you’ll drive to Bumthang. Along the way you will stop at a Yathra (textile weaving) factory, where the Yathra’s are designed with patterns unique to Bumthang, and you can even watch some of the weavers at their looms.
After reaching Bumthang, later in the evening if time permits, visit the following nearby places:
Jambay Lhakhang: This monastery was built in the 7th century by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. It is one of the 108 monasteries built by him to subdue evil spirits at the Himalayan region. Its present architectural appearance dates from the early 20th century.
Kurje Lhakhang:Situated before Jambay Lhakhang, Kurje Lhakhang consists of three temples. The one on the right was built in 1652 on the rack face where Guru meditated in the 8th century. Second temple is built on the site of a cave containing a rock with the imprint of Guru’s body and is therefore considered the most holy. The third temple was built in 1990s by Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother. These three temples are surrounded by a 108 chorten wall.
Overnight in Bumthang .
Bumthang consists of four valleys–Chumey, Choekhar, Tang, and Ura–with altitudes varying from 2,600 to 4,000 meters. It is home to many prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries. Today you will hike to Petsheling Monastery, which is located about three hours hiking distance from Jakar. It offers panoramic views of the central Bumthang valley. You can also hike beyond the monastery across the ridge and grasp the spirit of the mountains and enjoy the scenery. In the evening you can relax in the town.
Overnight in Bumthang.
You will begin your journey to eastern Bhutan, which is different from western and central Bhutan in terms of development and lifestyle. The steepness of the region lends itself to some spectacular views, with rushing waterfalls and sheer drops. The drive on this day is an exhilarating 8 hours, particularly the Thrumshing La (pass), which peaks at 3,750 meters. You can wander around Mongar town in the evening and sit down to a relaxing dinner.
Overnight in Mongar.
The town of Lhuntse is about 75km north of Mongar. It is drier with more sparse vegetation compared to the green lushness of Mongar. On the way you’ll notice the beautiful, rushing Kuru River, with red flame trees and pink and white hibiscus blooming alongside it. The town of Lhuntse is very small with more basic, less-ornamented buildings and few services, and tourists are still an unusual sight for the people, since this town is not on the typical touring route. The impressive Lhuntse dzong sits on the precipice of a hill, overlooking the town. Weaving is a central enterprise in Lhuntse, and many of the highest-quality and most-expensive textiles are hand-made in this region. You can walk around the town and enjoy lunch in this traditional town.
You will head to Trashigang. The drive over Kori La (pass) leads to a 1,630-meter descent through a pretty valley with several charming homes and an old monastery. As you approach Trashigang, the dzong comes into view high atop the hills along the Kulong and Gamri rivers. Trashigang is a mellow town situated amid beautiful scenery, with many attractively painted buildings, small shops, and cafes.
Overnight in Trashigang.
Today you will visit Tashiyangtse, which is a small, pretty, quiet town. The people are known for making wooden bowls and containers, which are said to be the best in Bhutan. Just below the town is the Chorten Kora. Along the way to Tashiyangtse you will stop at the Gom Kora temple, behind which is a large black rock. It is said that Guru Rinpoche meditated in a cave in the rock and that you can see the impression of his thumb, his hat, and his body on the rock. You will also visit the abandoned iron chain-link bridge behind the village of Duksum. It is said that this is the last remaining bridge of those built by a Tibetan bridge builder by the name of Thangtong Gyalpo in the 15th century. Later in the day you can relax in Trashigang and enjoy a nice dinner.
Overnight in Trashigang.
There is not much to see between Trashigang and the border town of Samdrup Jongkhar. The terrain has rolling ups and downs and passes over Yangphu La (pass). Samdrup Jongkar is a major market town for the surrounding mountain districts.
Overnight in Samdrup Jongkhar.
You will be driven to Guwahati and dropped off wherever you have made arrangements. If you will be flying out of Guwahati, you can check with Jet Airways for flight information: www.jetairways.com
FAQ related to visa
Your visa will be taken care by Bhutan Gateway Travel. You are requested to email us a clear valid passport with validity of six months or more prior to your visit to Bhutan.
Once approved, Bhutan Gateway Travel will email you the electronic visa (e-visa) approved by the Department of Immigration. You will print and hand carry a copy of the approved e-visa.
In case of emergency, based on the merit of the case, we will pursue with the relevant authority and get it extended. However, under normal circumstances, it is not possible to get the visa extended.
Three to five government working days.
FAQ related to SDF
The new SDF of US$100 per person per day will become effective from 1 September 2023.
The new SDF shall remain effective for four years until 31 August 2027.
Any guest who already paid the SDF for their upcoming visit to Bhutan is eligible for a refund of the excess SDF amounts paid.
When applying for a visa to enter Bhutan, you will need to pay the SDF. Visas can be applied for at the Department of Tourism’s website.
No, the incentives introduced in June 2023 have been revoked and are no longer applicable. However, the 24-hour SDF waiver for border towns in Bhutan remains valid.