Western Bhutan with Bumdra Trek
This cultural tour through the mystical Western valleys of Bhutan is an ideal introduction to the Dragon Kingdom. Experience Bhutanese hospitality, admire the ever-changing landscapes, and immerse yourself in Bhutan's rich buddhist culture.
The Bumdra Trek is the shortest trek in Bhutan. The trek starts from the north of the valley and finishes in north west of the valley ending with Tiger’s nest, one of the holiest place in Bhutan. The first day requires lot of climbing offering great view of the valley and the mountain peaks. The second day will be much easier with mostly descending.
Western Bhutan plus Bumdra Trek
7-day, 6-night trips can depart Bangkok for Paro daily, or from Singapore for Paro every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday (returning the following Monday, Wednesday and Saturday).
The flight to Paro must be one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth. On this flight, the views of the Everest, Kanchen Junga and other Himalayan peaks, including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drakey in Bhutan are simply awesome. After immigration and customs formalities you will be greeted by your guide and driver and transferred to Paro.
First, a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum housing many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical, cultural, and religious past. Next, visit the Rimpong (Paro) Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa, considered as the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime. Dzongs are large monasteries and district administrative centres, which were once strategic forts.
In the afternoon we drive to Thimphu, the country's capital, (1½ hours) following the Po Chu River.
Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Once a rustic village sitting in a broad, fertile river valley, Thimphu is today the nation's bustling capital.
Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to the National Memorial Chorten. This temple was first initiated by the Third King as a protection from the negative elements of modernisation, and as a monument to world peace. The Royal Queen Mother completed it as a memorial stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972. Continue on to 12th century Changangkha Temple and Drubthob monastery housing the Zilukha Nunnery.
Other sites to visit include - the School for Arts and Crafts where students are taught the 13 types of Bhutanese art, the National Library housing the collection of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century, the Traditional Paper Factory displaying the Bhutanese paper making process, and a fascinating replica of a medieval farmhouse at the Folk Heritage Museum.
Time permitting, you may visit the nursing pen for the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan, and Tashichhodzong, ‘the fortress of the glorious religion’. Initially erected in 1641 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, it was rebuilt in the 1960s during the reign of Bhutan’s third king in the traditional style, without plans or nails. Tashichhodzong houses some of the ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body.
If your visit to Thimphu coincides with the weekend, you can walk through the Thimphu Market to see the varieties of Bhutanese food including baskets of fiery chillies, cheese and a variety of greens. (This market is open only from Friday-Sunday).
Overnight in Thimphu.
Drive over the Dochu-La Pass (3,050m) which, on a clear day, offers an incredible view of Himalayan peaks before descending into balmy Punakha valley. The (55km; approx. 3 hour) drive through the countryside affords a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdoms. In the Dochu-La area there are vast Rhododendron forests that grow to tree size and bloom in late April/early May covering the mountains in a riot of glorious spring colour.
Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. On arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, the "Palace of Great Happiness" built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’. It is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Po Chu (Mother and Father Rivers) and is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. It was here in 1907 that Bhutan's first king was crowned.
After lunch, take a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman. He inherited the Divine Madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism in his time. He taught the people that religion is an inner feeling and it’s not necessary that one should be an ordained monk. He is also considered a symbol of fertility and most childless couples go to his temple for blessing.
Overnight in Punakha/Wangdue.
Drive back to Thimphu where we will have an opportunity to visit handicraft and souvenir stores. After lunch we proceed to Paro, visiting Semtokha Dzong en route. The Dzong, built in 1627, is the oldest in Bhutan. It now houses the Institute for Language and Culture studies. On arrival in Paro, check into the hotel.
In the afternoon drive to the ruins of the 17th Century Drukgyel Dzong, a historic monument built by the Shabdrung to commemorate his victory against invading Tibetans in 1644. In fine weather the towering peak of the sacred Mount Jomolhari (7,314m) appears as a stunning backdrop. On the return drive to Paro, visit 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo.
Overnight in Paro.
The adventure begins with an early morning drive up to the Sang Choekor to meet our ponies; while they are being loaded we may pay our respects at the Sang Choekor which serves as a Buddhist University.
About 1-2 hours walk away is the Chhoe Chhoe Tse Lhakhang (temple); which nestles at the side of the mountain. The trail continues and when we reach the last steep elevation we will see a temple overlooking the views of Paro airport and the snow-capped Himalaya.
After another 20 minutes of climbing through ruins and fluttering prayer flags, we hike into the ancient forest for about 40 minutes before we reach a wide meadow dotted with sacred chortens and prayer flags.
After lunch you can visit the monastery and can also climb the peak to the north (about 4,000m) for even better views, returning in time for a well deserved dinner.
Your home for the night is tucked away just under Bumdra Monastery (Cave of a Thousand Prayers) and offers mesmerizing views of the snowy Himalayan range.
Overnight camping in Bumdra.
After a hearty breakfast, it is time to either head straight back into the valley or linger a while soaking up the views and perhaps hang some prayer flags of our own. Eventually we have to descend into the ancient pine and rhododendron forest on the monks’ zig zagging trail. After 1-2 hours of descent we catch glimpses of the golden roofs of temples below and soon come upon the first of many on our way back from the wilds.
The path snakes across the mountainside between the monasteries and temples before reaching the gardens of Sangtopelri (Heaven on Earth). From there you can bravely peer over the edge and straight down onto the ornate roofs of Taktsang Monastery lodged against the cliffs far below.
An hour later and we are at the gates of Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery looking across the gorge a steep descent to a waterfall.
The final descent takes 60 minutes to the valley floor.
In the afternoon, if time permits, visit Drulyel Dzong and other places of interest.
Overnight in Paro.
Early morning transfer to the airport for your departure flight.
- Bhutan Visa & application fee
- All royalties, government taxes, and small group surcharges, if any is payable
- All transfers and ground transportation in a private vehicle with an experienced driver
- 05 nights in twin-share room in selected hotels/lodges
- 2-day, 1-night Bumdra Monastery trek with full camping arrangements
- All meals, excluding beverages
- Breakfasts in hotels
- Other meals in local restaurants
- Drinking water for the duration of the tour (not during meal times in resaturants)
- Services of licensed English-speaking Bhutanese guide
- Guided touring with entrance fees to sights & monuments
- Air passage to/from Paro, Bhutan; kindly check with us for our attractive Drukair airfares
- Travel insurance covering trip curtailment, emergency rescue and medical evacuation, etc. (please check with us for our travel insurance plans)
- Personal expenditure such as phone calls, internet access, all soft/hard beverages, laundry services, etc.
- Other options or expenses not mentioned in the Inclusions above
- Tips & gratuities for guide and driver
Drukair flight schedules
Singapore (SIN) to Paro (PBH)
TUE KB501 SIN/PBH 06:00/10:15 (Sep to May)
THU KB501 SIN/PBH 06:00/10:15
SUN KB501 SIN/PBH 06:30/10:45
Paro (PBH) to Singapore (SIN)
MON KB500 PBH/SIN 07:20 15:35 (Sep to May)
WED/SAT KB500 PBH/SIN 07:20 15:35