Truly Bhutan

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11 Days

Bumthang Cultural Trail

The lovely Bumthang valley is the religious heartland of the nation and home to some of its oldest Buddhist temples and monasteries. This eleven days trek passes through several villages on its meandering route through Bumthang countryside and provides an exceptional opportunity for contact with Bhutanese rural life.

Season: The trek is recommended from March to May and then again from September to November.

Why Choose the Bumthang Cultural Trek?

The Bumthang Cultural Trek, renowned as one of Bhutan’s best short treks, offers a mesmerizing journey through Bhutan’s cultural heartland. It’s a top choice for those seeking a blend of natural beauty and cultural immersion over a long weekend. This trek showcases Bhutan’s rich traditions through ancient lhakhangs (temples), quaint villages, and a way of life preserved for centuries.

Trek Length and Experience
Spanning three days, the trek covers approximately 44 kilometers, averaging an easy 15 kilometers daily. This trek, shorter compared to Bhutan’s extensive 2-3 week treks, delivers an enriching experience of landscapes and culture in a compact timeframe.

Bumthang Cultural Trail Difficulty Level

Rated as ‘easy’ by the Department of Tourism, Bhutan, the trek is accessible for those with good physical fitness. Novice trekkers may find it moderately challenging, with daily distances not exceeding 16 kilometers. The most strenuous part is ascending the Pephe La Pass, climbing around 500 meters to 3,353 meters above sea level. However, the risk of altitude sickness is low, as most of the trek occurs between 1,200 and 2,500 meters.

Ideal Time for Trekking

Bumthang is a year-round trekking destination, with the best conditions in spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November), featuring clear skies and pleasant weather. Summer (June-August) and winter (December-February) are possible but less predictable, with potential monsoon rains or cold, snowy conditions.

Packing Essentials

For spring and autumn treks, pack standard hiking gear: sturdy boots, warm socks, hiking pants, and layered sweaters. Include a hiking jacket, trekking poles (useful for beginners), gloves, a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Carry a day pack for essentials, as your main pack will be portered to each campsite.

Accommodations and Meals

The trek includes food and accommodation as part of the Minimum Daily Package, provided by Truly Bhutan. Camping equipment, meals prepared by a cook, and packed lunches for trekking days are included.

Trekker Reviews

The Bumthang Cultural Trek is highly rated among global trekkers. It’s considered easier than the alternative Owl Trek in Bumthang, offering a lower altitude and a more novice-friendly experience while showcasing the splendid Choekhor Valley.

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Detailed Program

On arrival at Paro airport, you will be met by our representative and transferred to the hotel on completion of arrival formalities.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Places and attractions:

Accommodation options:

In the morning, visit Ta Dzong, built in 1651 as a watchtower for Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong) and in 1968 inaugurated as the National Museum. The museum collection includes ancient Bhutanese art and artifacts, weapons, coins, stamps, and a small natural history collection. Also visit Rinpung Dzong, built in 1646 to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. It now houses the district administration offices and Paro’s monastic community.

After lunch, drives up the valley to Drukgyel Dzong, built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over Tibetan invaders. We may also have time to visit the 7th-century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in the kingdom.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Places and attractions:

Accommodation options:

Drive to Thimphu, the modern capital of Bhutan. About 7 km. before Thimphu, pause briefly to admire Bhutan’s most ancient fortress Simtokha Dzong (built in 1627), rising from a small hilltop on the right side of the road.

After lunch, visit as time permits: the National Memorial Chorten (built as a memorial to Bhutan’s third king and as a monument to world peace); the National Institute of Traditional Medicine (outside only) where herbal medicines are made up and dispensed and traditional medicine practitioners are trained; the Institute for Zorig Chusum, where students learn the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan; the National Library, which houses an extensive collection of Buddhist literature including many ancient Buddhist texts in block-printed format; Tashichhodzong, (the fortress of the glorious religion), which houses some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body.
Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.

Places and attractions:

Accommodation options:

Drive to Trongsa via Dochu-la pass (3,088m). On a clear day, there is a superb view from here of Bhutan’s highest peaks. On a clear day, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7,158m), Tsendagang (6,960m), Terigang (7, 060m), Jejegangphugang (7,158m), Kangphugang (7,170m), Zongphugang (7,060m) a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana, and finally, Gangkar Puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.Continue on to Wangduephodrang town, which is also our lunch stop. Then proceed to Trongsa over Pele-la pass (3,300m), the traditional boundary between east and west.

Overnight at the lodge in Trongsa.

Morning visit to striking Trongsa Dzong, the ancestral abode of Bhutan’s royal family. Then visit the Ta Dzong, built as a watchtower to guard Trongsa Dzong. Proceed to Bumthang and in the afternoon visit the 17th-century Jakar Dzong and then Kurjey monastery, built in the 17th century to mark the place where Guru Padmasambhava had meditated in the 8th century, leaving his body imprint on the rock.

Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.

Places and attractions:

Accommodation options:

14km, 6 hours
The trek begins today. The trek route follows the Chamkhar Chu (river), taking us through meadows, forests of blue pine, and scrub bamboo. We will pass by many villages and temples, on this very relaxing and easy day.

Camp overnight at the village (2,900m).

Places and attractions:

The trail ascends gradually through the juniper forest towards Phephe-la pass (3,340m). From there, the path descends to Tang valley, finally arriving at Ugyenchholing village (2,850m).

Camp overnight by the side of the river near the village.

11km, 4 hours
In the morning, walk up to Ugyenchholing Palace, a beautiful private mansion that also houses a small eco-museum, then drive to Jakar (Bumthang) following the Tang Chu until arriving at the main road.

On the way visit Mebar Tso Lake, where Terton Pema Lingpa is said to have discovered religious treasures in the 15th century. This lake is very sacred, and on auspicious days many Bhutanese people go there to offer butter lamps.

Overnight at the lodge in Bumthang.

Places and attractions:

Accommodation options:

Morning visit to Jambay Lhakhang, built in the 7th century by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo, who is believed to be the incarnation of Jambay (Avalokiteshvara), the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

Tamshing Lhakhang, across the river, is also an important place to visit, as it houses old and interesting religious paintings. Drive to Punakha with lunch en route.

Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.

Places and attractions:

Accommodation options:

Today we drive to Paro. It will be a relaxing day, as we reach Paro by lunchtime. Free time for leisure or last-minute shopping in the afternoon. Take a stroll around Paro market in the evening.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Places and attractions:

Accommodation options:

Early breakfast in the hotel and drive to the airport for flight to onward destination.

  • Inclusion
  • Exclusion
  • Insurance
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off by private vehicle.
  • 3-star accommodation (4 & 5 stars may require an additional premium update).
  • Bhutan visa fee – including all necessary processing
  • Route Permit
  • Three meals per day during your stay in Bhutan
  • A licensed Bhutanese tour guide
  • All land transportation by private vehicle
  • Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours
  • Sightseeing as per itinerary
  • Monuments entrance fees where applicable
  • Drinking water
  • All internal taxes and charges
  • A sustainable development fee of $200. (This sustainable development fee goes towards free education, free healthcare, and poverty alleviation, along with the building of infrastructure.)
  • Airfare & Travel Insurance
  • Expenses of personal nature, Tips to guides and drivers
  • Expenses occurred due to unavoidable events i.e. road wrecks, flight delays etc.

Package does not include insurance of any kinds, and that you are required to obtain separate coverage from your home country before your trip begins.

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