From East to West Bhutan

East to West Bhutan 12-day itinerary

Prices from £2,735 pp

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Duration12 days / 11 nights (flexible)

DepartureDaily

ItineraryDarjeeling - Paro - Bumthang - Phobjikha - Punakha - Thimphu

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Overview

This itinerary combines the best of what Bhutan has to offer, including a short experience in mighty India. You’ll amble through Indian tea fields before travelling overland to peaceful Bhutan. After a few days exploring the famous Tigers Nest, you’ll fly to Bumthang and travel back west, visiting numerous valleys and temples, getting a glimpse of Bhutanese village life before ending in the capital, Thimphu.

What's included

  • Accommodation – based on 2 people sharing
  • All meals and local drinks (e.g. tea and coffee)
  • Transport with private driver
  • English-speaking guide at your disposal
  • Entrance fees as applicable

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Location map

Your day-by-day itinerary

Tea Time in Darjeeling

Take the legendary toy train in Darjeeling, nestled in the shadow of Kanchenjunga, one of the highest mountains in the Himalayas. A mostly Tibetan tangle of steep, ramshackle streets and market stalls, it has an atmosphere all of its own. You’ll amble through the emerald tea fields, watch a scenic sunrise from the tip of Tiger Hill and visit beautiful, remote Buddhist monasteries.

Tea Time in Darjeeling

Winding Trails to Tiger’s Nest

On arrival in the charming town of Paro you’ll be taken to your typical Bhutanese hotel. You’ll have plenty of time to explore the town with your guide, visit the famous (and most impressive) Paro Dzong and try your hand at a spot of archery, Bhutanese national sport. After your first night, you’ll hike up to the spectacular Tiger’s Nest Monastery perched on the side of a 3000m cliff overlooking Paro Valley. In the afternoon, treat yourself to a hot stone bath made with fresh herbs, an authentic Bhutanese spa experience you won’t try anywhere else on earth!

three people in bhutan smiling with tigers nest in the background

Uncover the Legends of Bumthang

Bumthang is the cultural and spiritual heartland of Bhutan. The journey takes around seven hours, but you’ll travel along some of Bhutan’s most scenic passes, covered in prayer flags fluttering in the wind and make quite a few stops along the way. During your stay in Bumthang, you’ll visit the impressive Jakar Dzong, see young monks practice their debating skills, and if you’re lucky, you might witness one of the colourful festivals the region’s famous for.

 

Dancer wearing traditional dress

There are many interesting monasteries and festivals in the region that are well worth a visit, so have a chat with your guide to see what’s going on during your stay. You can also take a trip to Burning Lake, a sacred part of the mountain river and a beautiful spot to relax. This region is also ideal for day hikes during which you can visit numerous remote temples. On the last day of your stay you’ll drive to the Ura Valley, one of the most unusual villages in Bhutan.

Swooping Cranes in Sweeping Valleys

Visit one of the most beautiful valleys in the whole of the Himalayas, home to the black-necked crane. These celestial birds settle here between November to February. You’ll stay in a charming mid-range hotel on the edge of the valley. As the morning mist slowly rolls away and the rising sun sparkles off the morning droplets of dew, you’ll get the feeling of being somewhere truly special.

Black-necked cranes in colourful Phobjika Valley in Central Bhutan

Warm Welcomes & the Mighty Dzong

It’s time for a glimpse of life in the countryside. After crossing the prayer-flag laden pass of Dochula you’ll arrive amongst the lush greenery of the Punakha Valley where you’ll stay in a small hotel just outside the town. The next day you’ll walk through rice fields and visit one of the most beautiful monasteries in Bhutan, the Punakha Dzong, before spending the night at a local homestay.

Dzong by the river

The colourful towers and white walls of this characteristic building form a striking contrast to the emerald green scenery and turquoise rivers. Next you’ll travel by car into Bhutan’s countryside, arriving at a local bed & breakfast late in the afternoon. This is where you’ll spend the night. The accommodation is simple and functional and you’ll have your own private room. This is a real opportunity to get a glimpse of Bhutanese village life.

A Taste of Thimphu

Today you’ll travel to your comfortable hotel in Thimphu, reputedly the only capital city without traffic lights. Home to an impressive Trashi Chhoe Dzong which hosts one of the most memorable festivals (tsechus) in the country, Thimphu is a wonderful introduction to the country. With numerous temples, unusual museums and a busy weekend market this town will win you over and keep you busy. Don’t forget to check out the world’s largest sitting Buddha perched atop a hill overlooking the capital – you wouldn’t want to miss the views!

Thimphu Dzong courtyard, Bhutan
David on a rickshaw

Speak to our Bhutan specialist, David

“Bhutan felt like a fairy-tale to me; a land where the locals wear traditional dress and archery is practiced against a backdrop of green valleys and blue skies. Visit this country, and you’ll soon believe in legends.”


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