Bhutan Path to Punakha7 Days

Observe the splendid serenity where two great rivers of Bhutan meet.

Ideal for those who prefer a more relaxed and unhurried schedule, the Path to Punakha uncovers three of Bhutan's western districts—namely Thimphu, the capital city of the kingdom; Punakha, one of Bhutan's low-lying and warmest valleys, and home to one of the kingdom's most beautiful fortresses, Punakha Dzong; and Paro, where you can marvel at the magnificent Taktsang Goemba, more famously known as Tiger's Nest, a monastery perched quite precariously on the side of a cliff at an altitude of 3,120 metres (10,240 feet). Apart from the sacred sites, you are most welcome to visit the villages and farmhouses to truly experience and connect with the Bhutanese way of life.

Length:
7 days
Destinations:
Thimphu, Punakha & Paro
Price:

from USD 2,600 / person

We will be visiting

  • Tachog Lhakhang
  • Thimphu
  • Centenary Farmers Market
  • Motithang Takin Preserve
  • Tashichho Dzong
  • Dochula Pass
  • Punakha
  • Chimi Lhakhang
  • Punakha Dzong
  • Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery
  • Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten
  • Paro
  • Kyichu Lhakhang
  • Taktsang Goemba (Tiger's Nest)
  • Chele La
  • Kila Nunnery

Itinerary / Total 7 Days

Day 1

Thimphu – Tachog Lhakhang, Post Office, Motithang Takin Preserve, Tashichho Dzong

Upon arrival in Paro, we take a 1 hour drive to the capital, Thimphu. En route, we stop at Tachog Lhakhang and cross a traditional iron chain bridge, over the Paro Chhu (Paro River).

After lunch, see the world's most beautiful stamps at the Post Office Museum and personalise some with your portrait. If it is a weekend, we visit the Centenary Farmers Market.

Drive past the huge sitting Buddha Dordenma statue, take a short walk to see Bhutan's national animal—the Takin, and see if you catch the King walking back to his palace after work at Tashichho Dzong.

Day 2

Punakha – Dochula, Punakha Dzong

With an early start, we leave the city of Thimphu and travel eastwards. We move on to the high mountain pass of Dochula and as we ascend the mountain of pine forests, we will reach 3,001m above sea level. Dochula Pass is recognizable by 108 stupas, which sit at its highest point. On a clear day, the entire eastern Himalayan range is laid before us. 

We approach Punakha Valley as we descend from Dochula after 2 hours.

Lunch is in the town of Kuruthang.

After lunch, we visit the 17th Century Punakha Dzong, where the king was married in October 2011. It lies at the confluence of two rivers and is the most beautiful Dzong in Bhutan.

Dinner will be in your hotel.

Day 3

Punakha – Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery

Today, we climb up to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten and take in a very beautiful view of the surrounding paddy fields, river and valley.

We then have a picnic lunch on a mountainside.

After lunch, we visit a nunnery, Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery, built by the Queen Mothers’ parents.

Dinner will be in your hotel.

Day 4

Paro – Paro Town, Kyichu Lhakhang

This morning, we make our way back to the valley of Paro, the prettiest in our opinion, with its willow-lined river and apple orchards. It also boasts the most charming town which is adjacent to the famous Paro Dzong (also known as Rinpung Dzong), where some scenes of the film, Little Buddha, were shot.

On the way, we will have lunch in Thimphu.

If time permits, we visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan.

Dinner will be in your hotel.

Day 5

Paro – Taktsang Goemba (Tiger's Nest)

With an early start, we climb to Bhutan's most famous monastery—Taktsang Goemba, also known as Tiger's Nest, where we visit a few of its many temples.

After your hike, we will have a picnic lunch by the river.

Day 6

Paro – Chele La Pass, Kila Nunnery

We drive up to Chele La Pass, which has the highest motorised road in Bhutan. We hike down to Kila Nunnery, built on the side of a rock face, similar to Taktsang Goemba (Tiger's Nest). There is an option to cycle down from here into the valley, or return to the car and drive down.

Lunch will be in Paro Town, at one of our favourite local restaurants that serve the best momos (Himalayan dumplings).

Dinner will be in your hotel.

 

Day 7

Leaving Bhutan

After breakfast this morning, we depart for the airport for your return flight to Bangkok or Singapore.

Tashi Delek - May all good things happen to you!

Accommodation

Prefer to both relish your rugged side and spoil yourself? You can experience a mix of both worlds by beginning your journey at a local lodge and capping it off at one of the best hotels! Simply pick "Combo" in the itinerary planner and we will arrange the perfect combination for you to truly experience what Bhutan has to offer.

Learn more about Accommodation >

Private Journeys from

LOCAL LODGE EXPERIENCE USD 2,600 / person
DELUXE EXPERIENCE USD 3,700 / person
LUXURY EXPERIENCE USD 4,400 / person
Make an enquiry

What's included:

  • Return flights to Paro on Drukair / Bhutan Airlines in Economy Class
  • Accommodation (Twin Sharing, based on 4 people travelling together)
  • All meals
  • Mineral water provided throughout your journey
  • All tours with a licensed Bhutanese guide proficient in your preferred language
  • White water rafting adventure in Punakha in a private raft with a rafting guide
  • Private transport with driver
  • Airport transfers
  • Royalties and Bhutan Visa & Route Permit
  • Personalised itineraries
  • Wooden walking poles for hikes
  • Provision of additional amenities for stays in local lodges

Going to Bhutan

Licensed Operator

All trips to Bhutan, including applications for visas and route permits, have to be prearranged through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator registered with the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) or one of their international partners. Amala Destinations is licensed under and registered with the TCB as "Amala Travel in Bhutan".

Visa & Route Permit

All visitors to Bhutan, except those of Indian, Bangladeshi and Maldivian citizenship, are required a visa (with a processing fee of USD 40) before entry. With a scan of your passport, Amala Destinations will be delighted to process your application. Please note that a visa clearance letter has to be presented at the airport check-in counter before your flight to Bhutan and at the point of entry.

Minimum Daily Package

The Royal Government of Bhutan requires its visitors to spend a minimum of USD 200 per person per night throughout the low seasons and USD 250 per person per night during the high seasons. The respective amounts may include your expenses for accomodation, meals, transportation, guides, tours, etc. It also includes the Sustainable Tourism Royalty (USD 65 per person per night).

Free Independent Traveller (FIT) Surcharge

Groups of less than 3 adults will be required to pay an additional surcharge levied by the Bhutanese government. The Free Independent Traveller (FIT) surcharge is USD 30 per person per night for a pair of adults and USD 40 per night for single travellers.

Mahayana Buddhism

Vajrayana Buddhism, the kingdom's state religion, influences every aspect of Bhutanese life, its teachings form the very essence of a distinct identity that belongs to its population of 750,000, who incidentally are the surviving believers of this ancient school of Mahayana Buddhism. The heart of Mahayana is a deep compassion for all sentient beings; as a mark of respect, visitors are encouraged to practice the same mindfulness and resist every urge to swat flies or stamp on ants.

Bhutanese Cuisine

The Bhutanese love their food spicy. Chillies feature quite prominently in the local dishes and most diners are properly satisfied only if their meals pack a lot of heat. A typical meal features rice, vegetable dishes and chicken, beef or pork for protein. A favourite among the Bhutanese is Ema Datshi, a simple comforting dish involving a savoury mix of chilli and cheese.

Bhutanese Dress

The kingdom's traditional dress has evolved over thousands of years to establish itself as a distinguishing element of Bhutan's cultural heritage. The Gho, worn by men, is a knee-length robe similar to the Japanese kimono, and tied at the waist by traditional belt called a Kera. The women wear the Kira, an ankle-length skirt, and an inner layer called a Wonju, with a light outer jacket called a Tego.

Festivals

Tsechus, or festivals, feature masked dances and musical performances and offer the perfect oppurtunity to glimpse at and discover Bhutanese traditions. Tsechus are held all over the country but the more notable ones are the Paro and the Thimphu Tsechus. Flights and hotels get filled up very quickly during these occasions, we recommend making reservations 9 months ahead to witness these events.

Spring (March to May)

Spring is clearly the season for rebirth and reawakening as apple, pear, cherry and peach trees blossom from March to April while forests of rhododendrons flower right through to May. Only the lucky ones get to witness the jacarandas bloom at Punakha Dzong because they appear only for a month. It stays rather cold in March with temperatures ranging from 0-16°C and gets warmer in April and May with temperatures as low as 6°C and as high as 26°C.

Summer (June to August)

The summer months of Bhutan see more rain than usual, though it is a common misconception that summer in Bhutan is also its "monsoon season"—it only drizzles lightly with showers not lasting longer than an hour; the rain does get slightly heavier when autumn looms. While it is easier to access the sought-after sights and spots, the summer climate allows for seasonal produce like the rare Matsutake and Chanterelle mushrooms to flourish. With bushier trees and thicker grass lushly regrown over the hills and mountains of red clay soil, green is very much the colour of the season. Temperatures range from a low of 12°C to a high of 29°C.

Autumn (September to November)

With paddy fields all golden, autumn is the time to harvest. Markets are filled with the freshest produce and the festivals are a spectacle to behold even for the Bhutanese. Temperatures stay relatively warm till October, when it gets as cold as 6°C and as warm as 20°C.

Winter (December to February)

The eastern Himalayas become outstandingly visible during the winter months of clear blue skies. While the air is crisp, dry and cold, the winter conditions invite black-necked cranes to make their seasonal pilgrimage to Phobjikha Valley. Temperatures range from below freezing to 14°C.


All trips to Bhutan, visas and route permits have to be pre-arranged and booked through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator registered with the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) or one of their international partners. We are licensed and registered in Bhutan under "Amala Travel in Bhutan".

With most other agencies, that usually entails selecting an existing package that does not allow for much flexibility.

At Amala Destinations, we believe in creating your ideal trip with you. After speaking with one of our knowledgeable destination planners, we take your requirements into consideration before coming up with a specially designed itinerary and handling all the necessary travel logistics.

All you need to do is pack your bags and set off on your journey.

For travel during the high seasons from March to May and September to November, we advise that you approach us at least 6 - 9 months in advance.

  • Step 1 / Fill up online form

    Please fill up our online planner form and our destination planner will be in touch within 24 hours to plan your journey.

  • Step 2 / Planning your journey

    You may prefer to speak to one of our destination planners in person, please call us directly at our office number or via Skype.

  • Step 3 / Approve custom itinerary

    Once you have discussed with our destination planner your journey preferences, we will be able to get back to you within 3 working days or less with your journey options. After confirming your final itinerary, we will need another 2 - 3 working days to confirm all your flight bookings and hotel reservations. When all bookings are confirmed we will then require from you a 50% deposit payment, with the balance payment due 50 days prior to your departure date. For bookings made within 50 days, full payment is required.

  • Step 4 / Visa application and trip coordination

    As visa applications take approximately 4 weeks to process, we highly recommend all enquiries to be made at least 2 months in advance. We will then arrange a date for us to meet you in person to hand over all your travel documents once your visa is approved. During low season months, it may be possible to process your booking within 3 - 4 weeks.

  • Step 5 / Ready to go

    After receiving all your travel documents about 2 - 3 weeks before your departure date, you are now ready for your journey to Bhutan! Do remember to follow our recommended packing list for the different seasons in Bhutan.

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Your wish, your journey

Amala Destinations takes the chore of planning off the traveller. With bespoke and customisable packages, we endeavour to fulfil almost every desire.

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