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Bhutan Expedition: Hike the Trans Bhutan Trail

The magical kingdom of Bhutan in the Himalayas is nestled between two spiritual hubs, Tibet and India, and is one of Asia’s best-kept secrets. On this active adventure, you’ll discover there is no better way to explore it than on foot as you hike through a country with so much protected forest, it absorbs more carbon than it uses. Feel closer to enlightenment as you hike along the newly restored Trans Bhutan Trail which will immerse you in the past, present and future of this mystical destination. Uncover Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage on a journey that explores its forested valleys, fortified monasteries and sacred mountains on two feet and discover the beauty of its people, landscape and culture with a local leader who will help you unlock its secrets.

11 days, from


per person


16 people max


Trip code: HJXB
Style: Original
Theme: Expedition


Countries Visited:  Bhutan
Accommodation: Hotel (10 nights)
Transportation: Private vehicle , walking
Included Meals:

  • 10 breakfasts
  • 10 lunches
  • 10 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 16

  • Take in panoramic views of Himalayas from the Dochula Pass which sits more than 3000 metres above sea level and is home to many fluttering prayer flags.

  • Hike along the Divine Madman Trail which is believed to be a trail followed by Drukpa Kuenley, a famous Buddhist monk, missionary and poet who came to Bhutan from Tibet.

  • Explore the remote, lush and beautiful Tang Valley and Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake) which is famous for being one of the most serene places in Bhutan to meditate.

  • Journey to Taktsang, commonly known as the Tiger's Nest, a small monastery clinging to a rocky cliff 900 metres above the valley floor, and soak in its magnificence.

  • The country’s biggest Dzong, a complex of fortified buildings which served as a Buddhist school, is in Trongsa. Explore this magnificent site at the end of your hike from Chendebji.


Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Paro - Thimphu

Welcome to Paro International Airport! You will be greeted by your guide at the arrival gate and transferred by private vehicle to Thimphu, Bhutan’s Capital city. Along the way, stop at the Tachogang Lhakhang temple which was founded by Thankthong Gyelpo, a man who is revered in Tibetan and Bhutanese culture, and see some of his belongings inside this sacred place. After visiting the temple, continue to Thimphu and check into your hotel where you’ll have time to freshen up before joining your leader for an orientation walk to get acquainted with Thimphu’s highlights. Tonight, head off with your leader and group for an included welcome dinner at a local restaurant and learn about the rich history of Bhutanese cuisine as you tuck into a traditional feast, including seasonal vegetables and the country’s signature dish – red rice with a tasty chili cheese.

Today’s driving time is approximately 1.5 hours.

Day 2: Thimphu

After breakfast, join your leader for a walk around town and explore Thimphu’s attractions. Visit the Institute for Zorig Chusum, more commonly known as the Arts & Crafts School or Painting School, where you can watch students learning traditional artistic skills. At the National Library, you’ll see printing blocks for prayer flags and many beautiful archaic texts. Admire the artistic treasures and impressive murals at the Zangthopelri Lhakhang temple and view the city from Kuensel Phodrang (Buddha Point) which is home to the country’s largest statue. At Memorial Chorten, the stupa built in the memory of Bhutan's third King, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of Buddhist philosophies as you learn the stories behind the paintings and statues inside the monument.

Day 3: Lobesa

After breakfast, travel along the Dochula Pass which sits more than 3000 metres above sea level and is marked by a large Bhutanese Chorten and fluttering prayer flags. If the weather is clear, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the Himalayas as you hike along this scenic trail. This afternoon, you’ll visit Druk Wangyal Lhakhang a temple that was built in honour of the fourth King Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuk and celebrates the 100th anniversary of the monarchy in Bhutan. After visiting the temple, you’ll travel down to the valley and hike a section of the trail known as the Divine Madman Trail. It is believed that Drukpa Kuenley, who is also known as the Divine Madman, came here from Tibet to overpower evil spirits. After a stop for lunch in the beautiful village of Thinleygang, you’ll visit the Thinleygang Lhakhang temple before driving to your hotel in Lobesa.

Day 4: Trongsa

After a leisurely breakfast, you’ll drive to Pelela Pass and re-join the Trans Bhutan Trail at the boundary between western and central Bhutan and begin your hike. Along the way, visit the Rukubji Lhakhang temple and rest a while with your group as you share a delicious hot lunch prepared by the locals. Afterwards, re-join the trail climbing through the forest until you reach the beautiful village of Chendebji which is home to the Chendebji Chorten. If you’ve been to Kathmandu in Nepal, this large white structure might look familiar as it was built to resemble the famous Bouddhanath Stupa of Kathmandu. From Chendebji, you’ll continue to Trongsa and visit the Trongsa Dzong which is the largest and most impressive Dzong in Bhutan. Located on a cliff overlooking the Mangde Chu river gorge, this Dzong is a magnificent sight. After you’ve enjoyed the view, check into your hotel where you may like to enjoy a relaxing evening after a full day of exploring.

Day 5: Bumthang

If your group didn’t have time to visit Trongsa Dzong yesterday, there’s time for a visit this morning before the drive to Yotongla Pass where you’ll re-join the Trans Bhutan Trail and immerse yourself in the peaceful beauty of Bhutan. After hiking over the pass, you’ll descend through green meadows and open forest until you reach the serene Gyaltsa River. After you’ve had a rest, follow this pristine river until you reach Gyaltsa Village where your private transfer to Bumthang will be waiting. You won’t go hungry on this full day of walking as the group will stop to enjoy a delicious picnic lunch along the trail. On arrival in Bumthang, check into your hotel for the next three nights.

Day 6: Bumthang

After breakfast, start your day with an excursion to the lush but remote Tang Valley. Home to sacred shrines, herds of yaks and lush slopes filled with grazing sheep, you’ll have time to soak up the beauty of this serene place. After a visit to the century old Ugyencholing Heritage Museum, which once belonged to the Royal Family of Tang Valley, enjoy a tasty lunch at a local farmhouse. After lunch, you’ll drive back to Bumthang, but not without a stop at Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake), where some of Guru Rimpoche’s treasures were discovered in the 15th century by the famous treasure hunter, Pema Lingpa. Immerse yourself in the beauty of your surroundings and perhaps take time to meditate like the many locals who come here. This evening, stroll around Bumthang town with your leader and enjoy dinner at a popular local restaurant with your group.

Day 7: Punakha

Today you will head back to Punakha via Trongsa to walk along one of the most iconic sections of the Trans Bhutan Trail and recreate what it was like for those arriving in the city of Trongsa on foot many years ago. After crossing the old cantilever bridge over the Mangde River, you’ll descend into a steep valley and take in the sweeping views of the Dzong before bracing your legs for the steep but rewarding walk to the fortress. After you enjoy had time to see the fortress and enjoy the view, sit back and relax on the drive to Punakha where you will check into your hotel.

Day 8: Paro

After breakfast, drive back to Paro where you will hike along the dramatic Wang Chhu and Paro Chhu River valleys before crossing through Paro Town. Along the way, visit Simtokha Dzong which houses a school for the study of the Dzongkha language. After reaching Paro, you’ll visit Ta Dzong which was originally built as a watchtower but now houses a National Museum. Join your leader for a tour of the extensive collection of antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons, armour, household objects and historic artifacts. After you have visited the museum, stretch your legs with a walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, meaning ‘fortress of the heap of jewels’, which has wooden galleries filled with delicate wall paintings illustrating traditional Buddhist lore.

Day 9: Paro

After breakfast, you’ll re-join the Trans Bhutan Trail and head east up a steady incline then pass through the rice paddies of the Paro Valley before reaching the traditional village of Dop-Shari. Enjoy a delicious hot lunch in the village where you might have the opportunity to try Ema Datshi, a traditional Bhutanese dish made with chili peppers, onions and yak cheese. You’ll also have the opportunity to wear Bhutan’s traditional dress for a souvenir photo or perhaps try the national sport of archery. After spending time in the village, you’ll hike to the upper reaches of Dop-Shari and enjoy spectacular views over the Paro Valley. Take time to enjoy the scenery before the transfer back to your hotel in Paro.

Day 10: Paro

After breakfast, lace up your hiking boots and set off on a 5 hour hike to the Taktshang Monastery, one of Bhutan’s most famous monasteries. Perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor, it’s also known as the ‘Tiger’s Nest’. This site is considered to be a deeply sacred place and is visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. On 19 April 1998, a fire severely damaged the main structure of the building but now this Bhutanese jewel has been restored to its original splendour. Along the way, you’ll also visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of 108 temples built in the Himalayas by the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. This is one of the country’s most famous temples as it marks the introduction of Buddhism to Bhutan. After you’ve returned to your hotel and had time to freshen up, join your leader for a stroll around the streets and market area of Paro.

Day 11: Paro

After a leisurely breakfast at your hotel, your adventure will come to an end and your driver will transfer you to Paro International Airport for your flight out of Bhutan.