The enchanting Kingdom of Bhutan is an earthly nirvana filled with natural beauty and Buddhist tradition. This MT Sobek-exclusive itinerary highlights the best of Bhutan through three days of ridgeline trekking and camping, with the remaining time allocated for easy touring and scenic day hikes. Visit Bhutan's most famous monasteries, learn about Bhutanese folk art, discover the Paro Valley, explore the remote and magical Haa Valley, and lose yourself amid some of the world's most exciting peaks. This short visit will stay with you for a lifetime!
Explore the gems of Bhutan on this exclusive adventure designed for the short-on-time traveler
Immerse yourself in Bhutan's rich Buddhist traditions, visiting the famous Taktsang and Lhakhang Karpo monasteries
Discover the less visited Haa Valley while trekking and camping amidst great Himalayan views
Welcome to Bangkok! Transfer to the hotel via a free 24-hour shuttle bus. Note that most airlines arrive late at night into Bangkok, and your flight from Bangkok to Paro departs very early the next morning.
Board an early-morning flight to Paro, Bhutan. Vie for a seat on the left side of the plane: Weather permitting, you'll have spectacular views of the eastern Himalaya, including Cho Oyu, Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and Kanchenjunga - five of the highest peaks in the world! - and peaks in Bhutan such as Chomolhari, Jichu Drake, and Tsering Kang. After clearing customs, drive into Paro for lunch, then on to Thimphu (7,725'), the capital of Bhutan, set in the Wang Chu Valley. The remainder of the day is free to rest and relax.
After breakfast, drive to the Kuensel Phodrang trailhead. The path leads through sparsely populated blue pines, with excellent views of the Thimphu Valley, then the forest gets denser with oaks and bamboo shrubs. The trail then heads along gentle slopes as well as steep, rugged mountain paths. After 2.5 hours, catch your first glimpse of the giant Buddha Dordenma - at 169 feet, the biggest sitting Buddha in the world! Time permitting, visit Tashichho Dzong - the seat of the royal government and central monastic body in Bhutan - upon return to Thimphu.
Begin the day at the School of Arts and Crafts (or "painting school"), where Bhutanese children follow a six-year program in traditional arts, such as drawing, painting, woodcarving, and sculpture. Also visit the Textile Museum, National Institute of Traditional Medicine, and Folk Heritage Museum. In the afternoon, drive back to Paro and visit the National Museum, housed in an old watchtower above the Paro Dzong. The museum's collections include spectacular thangkas (religious scroll paintings), bronze statues, and Bhutan's beautiful stamps. Time permitting, also visit the Paro Dzong itself, built in 1644.
Today it's a steep hike to a traditional teahouse for a great view of Taktsang Monastery, perched on a cliff 2,700 feet above the Paro Valley floor. Taktsang, meaning "tiger's nest," is Bhutan's most spiritual place and a major pilgrimage spot. Partly destroyed by fire in 1998, Taktsang has been completely rebuilt. After a tea break, you can sit outside and admire the monastery and its beautiful surroundings or, if you feel energetic, continue another hour to a closer viewpoint. Enjoy free afternoon time to explore Paro on your own.
Take a morning drive to the wooded Haa Valley, lying along the western border of Bhutan. Haa was closed to visitors until 2001, so to behold it is still a rare gift. Tonight's lodge is in a beautiful setting at the edge of a blue pine forest overlooking Haa La, and you may even be able to visit a local family today. Enjoy an afternoon visit to Lhakhang Karpo (Temple of the White Dove), a famous monastery believed to have been built in the 8th century by a Tibetan king.
Lace up your boots! Begin your trek on a gradual uphill through a blue pine forest and farmland. The terrain steepens as you climb, and you'll walk along streams past rhododendron, juniper, spruce, and birch trees. Lunch in a grassy meadow at about 11,200 feet, then continue to camp at 11,800 feet, about 45 minutes below Saga La (pass). Weather permitting, take an afternoon hike up to Saga La for views of sacred Chomolhari (24,035'), several other peaks, and panoramic views of the Haa Valley.
In the morning, hike up to Saga La (again) and follow the ridge up and down to 13,200 feet, from where you may be able to catch a glimpse of Taktsang Monastery. Continue steeply up through dwarf rhododendron to 13,700 feet and down through narrow grazing paths. Camp is set up for you at Ningula, in a rhododendron forest from where you have a beautiful view of the peaks of Chomolhari and Jichu Drake (21,857').
This morning climb steeply back up to the ridge and cross Kale La (12,900'), with views of Paro and the Haa Valley. Weather permitting, you'll also have a terrific view of the Paro Dzong and surrounding peaks including Kanchenjunga (28,208'), the third-highest peak in the world! Ascend up to Kung Karpo (13,500') for more stellar views, then descend and traverse toward Chele La (13,080'). All day, enjoy clear views of the mountains, and the Paro and Haa Valleys (again, weather permitting). Once at Chele La, meet your bus and drive to Paro where you'll be treated to a festive farewell dinner.
Bid a fond farewell to the "happiest country in the world" as you take an early morning transfer to the Paro airport for departure to Bangkok. Upon arrival, take the shuttle to the hotel. The remainder of the day is free to shop, sightsee, and enjoy lunch and dinner on your own.
Take the hotel shuttle to the international terminal and depart on your homeward-bound flight.
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MT Sobek is a legendary outfitter in the Himalayas, offering pioneering cultural and hiking adventures since 1969.
Our team of local guides are true experts, with over 20 years' experience in Bhutan.
This top-selling Bhutan itinerary expertly combines rewarding hikes in nature with the wonders of cultural touring.
Our expert guides and trip leaders are truly the key to our trips' success. Many are locals who live in-country year-round; others have made it their second home—all are passionate, enthusiastic and endlessly knowledgeable. Meet a few of the guides that might be on your trip.
Three days of moderate-to-strenuous ridgeline trekking on scenic paths, plus easy cultural touring and scenic day hikes.
Warm Bhutanese guesthouses and inns combined with two nights of camping in the beautiful Haa Valley.
Daytime temperatures: 50°-70°F. Nighttime temperatures: 30°-45°F. Rain or snow possible.
Your trip leader will meet you on arrival at Paro Airport.
Yes, we handle the group visa for you.
Yes. We recommend a rating of 10°F to 20°F for the springtime and -10°F to -5°F for the mid October and November trips.
No, we provide that service and book those flights for you, as they are not easy to book on your own.
No. We provide a 3" sleeping pad. If you prefer to bring your own, that is fine, too.
This trip begins and ends in Bangkok, so make your roundtrip air to Bangkok.
Make any of our trips a custom adventure or start from scratch. Take two itineraries and match them up to create a unique third. Add extras and extensions and more...if you can imagine it, we can make it happen!
"This Bhutan trip was the perfect mix of cultural activities and trekking. I will definitely be coming back."
MT Sobek Guest, Bhutan Trek & Cultural Discovery
"Incredibly inspiring and beautiful experience. The trip of a lifetime."
MT Sobek Guest, Bhutan Trek & Cultural Discovery