Western Bhutan Itinerary

9 Days 8 Nights

Itinerary Overview

This 8 – night Bhutan itinerary explores western Bhutan and includes the beautiful and less visited Haa Valley. The wooded hills of Haa provide an ideal location for hiking and mountain biking.

Day 1 Thimphu

Arrive Paro, Bhutan on Druk Air or Bhutan Airlines. After formalities at the airport are completed, a representative will meet you. Transfer to Thimphu, the capital city, with a population of about 120,000. The drive is 60 kilometers and takes about 1 hour.

After checking into the hotel and depending on the time, you can take a walk on the streets of Thimphu to familiarize yourself with Thimphu or begin sightseeing of Thimphu.

Hotel: Druk Hotel Thimphu
Day 2 Thimphu

After breakfast, enjoy sightseeing of Thimphu that offers a wide choice of sightseeing. Places of interest are listed below.

Visit Dupthop Lhakhang, better known as Zilukha Nunnery. This place is located on the face of a hill. From here you have a panoramic view of the Royal Secretariat, Royal Thimphu Golf Course, Parliamentary building, and the northern part of Thimphu Valley. This is a good place to take photographs.

Visit Memorial Chorten (stupa) built by Her Majesty the Royal Grandmother in 1972 in memory of His Majesty the Third King who passed away in 1972.

Drive to the statue of the seated Buddha at Kuenselphodrang. This statue, perhaps the largest seated Buddha in the world, sits on a face of a gentle hill overlooking the valley of Thimphu.

Visit the Royal Textile Academy. Bhutan is well known for its finest hand-woven textiles with intricate designs. This academy was established under the Royal patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck.

Visit the School of Fine Arts: This is the school where artisans are trained in different skills.

Visit the Folk Heritage Museum, a typical farmhouse setting, that shows how Bhutanese people live in remote villages.

Visit the Institute of Traditional Medicine. Bhutan is known as the land of medicinal herbs. Traditional medicine is practiced in close collaboration with allopathic medicine.

Visit the Zoo to see the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. Takin is a strange animal that has a head of a goat and a body of a cow.

Visit a traditional handmade paper factory.

Visit Tashichho Dzong.

Hotel: Druk Hotel Thimphu
Day 3 Gangtey, Phobjikha

After an early breakfast, leave for Gangtey, Phobjikha. The drive is 135 km and takes 4 to 5 hours.

The drive for Phobjikha will take you through Dochu La Pass, which is 3,050 meters above sea level. At the pass, you will see 108 beautiful chortens (stupas), called Druk Wangyel Chortens, typically surrounded by colorful prayer flags. These were built to honor His Majesty the 4th Druk Gyalpo (King) and the people of Bhutan for the victory of the war fought in the southeastern region of Bhutan in the year 2003. On a clear day, you can see the stunning views of the eastern Himalayan ranges. It offers a rare opportunity to take photographs of the snow-capped mountains.

From here, descend into Lobesa, Wangdue Valley and then climb up until you reach Gangtey Valley through interesting Himalayan landscapes and flora.

After checking in, take a nature walk to explore the valley. On the way back, visit the Khewang Lhakhang (temple) and see the incense manufactured by the monks.

Hotel: Dewachen Hotel and Spa
Day 4 Punakha

Phobjikha is one of the most beautiful open glacial valleys in Bhutan. The rare and endangered black- necked cranes (grusnigricllis) migrate from Tibet, Central and Eastern Sikang, Yunnan, and Tonkin in China to this valley during the winter months to escape the harsh winters.

After breakfast, visit the black necked crane center. Afterwards, walk around Gangtey. Visit Gantey Monastery, the one and the only Nyingmapa monastery in the western part of Bhutan.

After lunch, drive to Punakha. The drive is 80 km and takes about 3 hours. After checking into the hotel, visit Punakha Dzong, which is situated at the confluence of two rivers known as Pho-Chu (Male River) and Mo-Chu (Female River). Punakha was the old capital of Bhutan until it was moved to Thimphu. It is still the winter residence of Je Khenpo, Chief Abbot of the Kingdom, and the Central Monk Body.

Hotel: Hotel Lobesa
Day 5 Punakha

After breakfast, visit Chime Lhakhang that sits on a round hillock, a walking distance from the road. This Lhakhang (temple) was blessed, particularly for fertility, by the famous divine madman, Drukpa Kunlay. It is a very popular pilgrimage site, particularly for women, who are unable to bear children. There are many testimonials of couples, who could not conceive earlier, but did conceive after visiting and praying at this temple.

After the visit, if you are interested, you can go white river rafting for two hours covering around 14 km.

Late afternoon, visit Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery, perched on a hilltop overlooking Punakha and Wangdiphodrang Valley. This nunnery was built by the Late Yab Dasho Ugyen Dorji, father of the Royal Grandmothers as a Buddhist College for nuns. If you like, you can buy some offerings for the temple and for the nuns and attend their evening prayers. The view of the valley from the temple is worth a visit.

Hotel: Lobesa Hotel
Day 6 Haa

Rise early and after breakfast, drive to Haa. The drive is 170 km and takes 5.5 to 6 hours. The drive takes you through the Dochu La pass where you can stop to take photographs.

After checking in depending on the time, you can take a short walk around the valley.

Hotel: Lhayul Hotel
Day 7 Paro

After breakfast, explore the valley. Located in the south west of Paro and covering an area of roughly 1706 sq. km, Haa is the smallest Dzongkhag in the country. This tiny region is one of the most beautiful and isolated areas in the kingdom, adorned with pristine alpine forests and tranquil mountain peaks.

Haa is the ancestral home of the Queen Grandmother and the illustrious Dorji family. This valley remains one of the least visited areas in the country and retains the air of an unspoiled, primeval forest. The wooded hills of Haa provides an ideal location for hiking and mountain biking. Biking around the valley to visit the dozen or so local temples is an enjoyable way to spend the day when visiting.

Haa is home to a number of nomadic herders. The town has been developed along the Haa Chu River and can be divided into two distinct sectors: the northern part of town has the central bazaar, main shops and restaurants while the southern part of town is occupied by an IMTRAT (Indian Military Training Team) camp and a Bhutanese army training camp.

After lunch, drive to Paro. The drive is 65km and takes about 2 hours. After arrival in Paro, depending on the time, you can start your sightseeing of the valley. The places of interest at Paro are as follows.

Visit Rinpung Dzong, popularly known as Paro Dzong, which is the seat of the local government and the monk body of Paro.

Visit the National Museum. The museum is originally set in Paro Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower but due to the earthquake, the watch tower has suffered much damage. The museum has been moved to another building just above the old watchtower. The view of the valley below is great and a good place to take photographs.

Visit Kyichu Lhakhang (temple) built by the Tibetan Buddhist King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. Under the Royal patronage of Her Majesty the Royal Grandmother Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck, this temple has been restored to its former glory just like many other similar monasteries and temples.

Hotel: Zhiwa Ling Hotel
Day 8 Paro

After an early breakfast, hike to Taktshang (Tiger’s Lair/Nest). It takes about 3 hours up and 2 hours down. Taktshang Temple clings on a sheer cliff of 3,000 feet above the valley. Guru Padmasambhava, popularly known as Guru Rinpoche, the great Indian Saint, who brought Buddhism to Tibet and Bhutan, meditated in a cave that is now concealed behind a carved wooden grill in the inner sanctum of the temple that is opened only once a year.

Lunch will be served at the cafeteria before descending back to the valley. If you feel up to it, you can finish up your sightseeing of the valley or stroll through the streets of Paro to pick up some souvenirs.

Hotel: Zhiwa Ling Hotel
Day 9 Departure

After breakfast, depart for the airport to catch your flight. Our tour representative will see you off at the airport. You will be assisted with departure formalities in case any help is needed. Our Representative will bid you “Lok Jeygay – See You Again”.