The Bumthang Cultural Trek is well known as one of the main cultural centers of Bhutan and there are many opportunities to visit temples and small Bhutanese villages along the trek route. Although the trek is on the easy side, it involves a few major climbs like the one up to Pehpe La with an ascent of about 500m.
This 3-days trek is named because the opportunities to visit villages and Lhakhangs are greater than on most other treks in Bhutan. Though it is a short trek, the Bumthang trek is strenuous because it involves a climb to Phephe La (3360m). This is a popular Trek.
Day 01: ARRIVE AT PARO (BY DRUK AIR FLIGHT) – THIMPHU
Your journey into the Thunder Dragon kingdom will truly begin with the flight into Paro on our national carrier, Druk Air, is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of our country. In clear weather, magnificent views of the world’s highest peaks, give way to the lush green Paro valley as you land. Your Bhutanese escort from Ammanya Travels will greet you on arrival, and then drive you the short distance for the lunch. After lunch drive for the capital city of the country. Overnight in the hotel.
Day 02: THIMPHU
The day begins with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten (1974) built in honor of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and then Changangkha Lhakhang, Dupthop Lhakhang one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan. We then visit the National Library, stocked with ancient Buddhist manuscripts, and the Painting School where traditional art is still kept alive through instructions in the art of painting Thangkas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls). After lunch vVisit Bhutanese paper factory at work. Other highlights include a visit to the Tashichhoe Dzong, seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body, including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan). Finally visit the Handicrafts Emporium followed by shopping for souvenirs in the shops of Thimphu. Over night in Hotel.
Day 03: THIMPHU– PUNAKHA
After breakfast, Drive to Punakha via Dochula pass. If the weather is clear, we stop for a while at Dochula pass to view Higher Himalayas. On the way, visit Chime Lhakhang also known as fertility temple, which was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley. He subdued the demons with his ‘Magical Thunder bolt’. Visit Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal . And thereafter the Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dewachen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the Government. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk convened the new National Assembly here in 1952. Overnight in Hotel.
Day 04: PUNAKHA-TRONGSA – BUMTHANG
We start early today. After breakfast drive to Bumthang. En-route visit Wangdiphodrang Dzong built in 1638. Legend relates that as the people were searching for the site of the Dzong four ravens were seen flying away in four directions. This was considered auspicious sign, representing the spread of religion to the four points of the compass. The Dzong is situated at the confluence of Mo Chu and Tang Chu rivers. After lunch, visit Trongsa Dzong, the most impressive dzong in Bhutan, built in its present form in 1644 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the official who was sent by Zhabdrung to unify eastern Bhutan and enlarged at the end of the 17th century by Desi Tenzin Rabgay. Trongsa Dzong is the ancestral home of the present Royal Family and first two hereditary kings ruled Bhutan from this Dzong. Resume your drive to Bumthang. Overnight in Hotel.
Day 05: BUMTHANG
After breakfast, visit Jakar Dzong, which literally means ‘The Castle of White Bird’. The current structure was built in 1667. Visit Jambay Lhakhang said to have been built by King Tsongsen Gampo of Tibet in the year 659 on the same day as Kichu Lhakhang in Paro. The temple was visited by Guru Rimpoche during his visit to Bumthang and was renovated by Sindhu Raja after Guru Rimpoche restored his life force. Under the temple is said to be a lake in which Guru Rimpoche hid several Terma. In October one of the most spectacular festival, ‘Jambay Lhakhang Drup’ is staged here. We then visit Kurjey Lhakhang that is named after body print of Guru Rimpoche. Visit Tamshing Lhakhang (Temple of the good message), established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and is the most important Nyingmapa temple in the kingdom. Overnight in the hotel.
Day 06: BUMTHANG- NGANG LHAKHANG (CULTURAL TREK BEGINS)
Hike time: 2-3 hours Estimated distance: 10km Elevation: 170m ascent. Camp at 2900m
The trek route follows the Chamkhar Chu River, coming across many villages and temples. This is a very easy and relaxing day. Arrive at the village.
Day 07: NGANG LHAKHANG-UGYENCHOLING
Hike time: 6-7 hours Estimated distance: 18km Elevation: 750m ascent, 670m descent. Camp at 2850m
The trail ascends gradually towards the Phephe la pass, going through the forest of junipers, until you arrive at the pass at an altitude 3340m. After the pass descend to Tang Valley, finally arriving at Ugyenchholing village. Camp by the side of the river.
Day 08: UGYENCHOLING-BUMTHANG
Morning walk up to the Ugyenchholing dzong and the surrounding village, then drive to Jakar following the Tang chu river until you arrive at the main road junction. On the way visit the Membertsho (literally means ‘Burning Lake’), where Terton Pema lingpa, the treasure revealer of Guru Padmasambhava is supposed to have discovered religious treasure in the 12th century. This lake is very sacred and is visited by many Bhutanese during auspicious days to offer butter lamps. Overnight at the lodge.
Day 09: BUMTHANG-URA DAY EXCURSION
After breakfast, drive to Ura valley. Packed Lunch will be served. In the evening, drive back to Bumthang. Over night in Bumthang.
Day 10: BUMTHANG-PHOBJIKHA
After breakfast, drive to the beautiful glacier valley of Phobjikha. On the way, visit Trongsa Museum an ancient watch tower. The chapel inside the Ta Dzong is said to be dedicated to the Trongsa Penlop Jigme Namgyal. Resume your drive to Phobjikha. Visit Gangtey Monastery which was founded by Gyaltse Pema Thinley, the grandson and mind reincarnation of Pema Lingpa founded the Temple in 1613. It is a Nyingmapa monastery and is affiliated to other Nyingmapa monasteries including Tamshing in Bumthang. Explore Phobjikha valley, famous for the Black Necked Cranes during winter. Dinner and overnight at the Guest House.
Day 11: PHOBJIKHA-PARO
After breakfast, drive to Thimphu. Your journey will be reverse. After lunch visit Mini Zoo and drive to paro. Overnight in Paro.
Day 12: PARO-EXCURSION TO TAKTSANG
A very special day, with an excursion to view the spectacular Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery – After breakfast a short drive take us to Satsam Chorten, from there a 2 hour hike till the viewpoint point of the monastery. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. We stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until we see, clearly and seemingly within reach, Taktsang monastery. The primary Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in the 1684 by the Penlop of Paro Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, flew here riding on the back of a flying tigress,in the form of Guru Dorji Drolo. After that drive to Drukgyal Dzong built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, a unifier of the medieval Bhutan. The dzong was destroyed by accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories that was built to commemorate. Explore the ramparts and on a clear day experience an unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m). On the way back, visit Kyichu Lhakhang, built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan king Tsongsen Gampo. Overnight in Hotel.
Day 13: DEPARTURE FROM PARO
Early morning, drive to the airport and farewell.