Bhutan Cultural & Textile Tour

In Bhutan, textiles are considered to be one of the highest forms of art and expression. The knowledge and skills required to create these textiles have been passed down through generations. This tour provides opportunity to explore and experience various kind of textile weaving and dying. You will also have chance to see magnificent Dzongs, temples, monasteries and stupas, real Buddhist culture and philosophy, villages to experience rural life, and know more about Bhutan’s friendly and ever smiling people, their traditions and way of life.

Day 1

Arrive Paro

The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular in entire Himalayas. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills from Kolkatta, the journey offers fascinating views and an exciting descent into the Kingdom. Bhutan’s first gift to you as you disembark from the aircraft will be cool, clean fresh mountain air. After immigration formalities and baggage collection, you will be met by our representative, and drive to the hotel.

Later visit Kyichu temple to receive blessing for the tour ahead. Built in 7th century, it is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines in Bhutan (the other being Jambay Lhakhang in Bumthang).

Overnight at the hotel in Paro (Altitude 2,280m).

Day 2


Morning excursion to Taktsang Lhakhang also known as Tiger’s Nest (approx. 5-hour round trip walk). It is one of the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries, perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery and hence it is called ‘Tiger’s Nest’. This site has been recognized as a most sacred place and visited by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 and now visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime.

Later in the afternoon visit a traditional farmhouse which gives an interesting insight into the lifestyle of village folks.

Afterwards time to experience Archery. This national sport of Bhutan is integral part of all festivities and in fact national past time.

Overnight at the hotel in Paro (Altitude 2,280m).

Day 3

Paro – Thimphu (55 km, approx. 1.1/2-hour drive)

After breakfast visit Ta Dzong, built to defend Rinpung Dzong during inter-valley wars of the 17th century. Since 1967 Ta Dzong is serving as the National Museum of the country and holds fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangkha paintings and Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps.

Then walk down the trail to Rinpung Dzong or Paro Dzong built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan, the Dzong houses the monastic body of Paro, the office of the Dzongda (district administrative head) and Thrimpon (judge) of Paro district. It is also the venue of Paro Tshechu held once a year in spring.

Afterwards drive to Thimphu, the capital town of Bhutan with en-route at Chuzom, the confluence of Thimphu and Paro rivers. Three different style of stupas; Tibetan, Nepalese

and Bhutanese adorn the confluence. Shortly before reaching Chuzom, you will see on your left Tschogang Lhakhang, “the temple of the excellent horse”. It is a private temple, built in 15th century, as the result of visitation from Balaha, the excellent horse, a manifestation of Chenrezig, the compassionate Buddha.

En-route stop for a visit of Simtokha Dzong (oldest dzong) built in 1627 which also houses Institute for young beginner monks. The most noteworthy artistic feature of this dzong is the series of over 300 finely worked slate carvings behind the prayer wheels in the courtyard.

Evening drive to Kuenselphodrang, a place for refreshing with a huge statue of Buddha on the top of the Kuenselphodrang. The area also gives a very good view of the Thimphu valley from the west.

Later an exploratory walk around Thimphu city centre.

Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2,320m)

Day 4


Morning visit Institute of Zorig Chusum or Arts & Crafts School, where 13 traditional crafts are taught including weaving, embroidery, painting, carpentry, carving, sculpture, casting, blacksmithing, bamboo work, gold & silversmithing, masonry, leather work and paperwork. This institute not only helps preserving beautiful heritage but also equips future generations with skill and knowledge to keep heritage alive. Also visit Handmade paper factory, the National Library which holds vast collection of ancient Buddhist texts and manuscripts; Simply Bhutan, a living museum and studio encapsulating rich cultural heritage of Bhutanese people.

Afternoon a special visit to Textile Museum. The textile museum has opened its exhibition on six major themes – warp pattern weaves, weft pattern weaves, role of textiles in religion, achievements in textile arts, textiles from indigenous fibers and the royal collection. The crowns of Bhutan’s Kings, namzas (dresses), the first version of Royal Crown and other accessories used by members of Royal family can be found in the museum. A brief and simple talk on Bhutanese textiles weaving.

Later drive to National Memorial Chorten built in honor of His Late Majesty, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Known as ‘Fortress of Glorious Relgion’, visit of Trashichhoedzong is other interesting visit of the day.

Overnight at the hotel in Thimphu. (Altitude 2,320m)

Day 5

Thimphu – Punakha (75 km, approx 3-hour drive)

Early morning drive to Punakha across Dochula pass (3080m) with breakfast at Dochula cafeteria, enjoying fascinating mountain views, chorten, mani wall and prayer flags. If skies are clear, the following peaks can be seen from this pass (left to right): Masagang (7,158m), Tsendagang (6,960m), Terigang (7,060m ), Jejegangphugang (7,158 m ), Kangphugang (7,170 m ), Zongphugang (7, 060 m ), a table mountain that dominates the isolated region of Lunana – finally Gangkar puensum, the highest peak in Bhutan at 7,497m.

At Dochula Pass, 108 chortens or stupas known as Druk Wangyal Chortens have been built by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, the eldest Queen Mother. These chortens are built in three layers, the first lowest level layer has forty-five chortens, the second has thirty-six and the top layer has twenty-seven, built around the main chorten.

Then explore some part of Royal Botanical Park. It is the first botanical park in Bhutan and forms the backdrop of the Dochula Pass.

On arrival in Punakha, check into the hotel.

In the afternoon, drive a sort distance to Punakha Dzong, the winter seat of Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and the ancient capital of Bhutan (until 1955). Located between the rivers of Pho (male) Chhu (river) and Mo (female) Chhu, Dzong is surrounded by myths and legends.

Later a short walking excursion though paddy fields to visit Chimi Lhakhang, the fertility temple of Lama Drukpa Kuenley popularly known as Divine Madman. Along the walking trail to the temple, there are several arts & craft shops and often you come across live traditional paintings by local artists.

Overnight at the hotel in Punakha (Altitude 1,300m).

Day 6

Punakha – Wangduephodrang – Gangtey (Phobjikha) (85km, approx 3-hour drive)

Morning after breakfast, proceed to Gangtey driving pass newly developed Wangduephodrang town.

The valley of Gangtey is one of the most beautiful spots in Bhutan. The surprise of finding such a wide, flat valley without any trees is augmented by an impression of vast space, and extremely rare experience in Bhutan where most of the valleys are tightly enclosed.

On arrival in Gangtey, check into the hotel. 

After lunch, visit Gangtey Goempa (monastery), perched on a ridge overlooking the valley.  It is directed by Gangtey Tulku, the ninth reincarnation (a “Tulku” is a reincarnate) of Pema Lingpa—a famous Buddhist saint and teacher. Nearby explore beautiful Gangtey village.

Then a walking excursion to Gangtey Nature Trail. This pleasurable walk will give you a nice feel of Phobjikha valley. From the small hilltop overlooking Gangtey Goemba, you head downhill through flower meadows to Semchubara village and from here through beautiful forests and into the open valley. The trail ends at local community school after passing a chorten and Khewa Lhakhang. (approx. 5.5km, 2 hours walk).

Overnight at Gangtey (Altitude 3,000m).

Day 7

Gangtey – Trongsa (84 km, approx 3.1/2-hour drive)

In the morning explore Phobjikha valley. This place is the winter home of black necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains in the north to pass winter in milder and lower climate. The valley boasts two beautiful meandering rivers, Nakay Chhu (Chhu Naap-black water) and Gay Chhu (Chhu Karp-white water). During right season (Nov to first week of March) sighting Black Necked cranes is quite common here.

Later, drive to Trongsa across Pele-la pass (3,300m/10,830 ft). This pass is traditionally considered the boundary between western and central Bhutan. Further down the road, stop to visit Chendbji Chorten erected in the 18th century by a Tibetan lama to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was subdued at this spot. It is built in the Nepalese style, with painted eyes at the four cardinal points.

The landscape around Trongsa is spectacular and its impressive dzong, stretched along a ridge above a ravine, first comes into view about an hour before the winding road suddenly leads you into the town.

Overnight at Trongsa (Altitude 2,310m).

Day 8

Trongsa – Bumthang (68km, approx 2.1/2-hour drive)

Morning visit to Trongsa Dzong. Built in 1647 by the Shabdrung, it is one the most impressive Dzong in Bhutan. Then visit Ta Dzong on the hillside above the town, built as a watchtower to guard Trongsa. It has been resurrected into a classy museum, that represents a tasteful blend of tradition and modernity.

After lunch, proceed to Bumthang, one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the holy heartland of Buddhism. The 68 km, journey takes less than 3 hours. The road winds steeply up to Yutong-la pass (3,400m/11,155 ft), then runs down through dense coniferous forest to enter a wide, open, cultivated valley, known as Chumey valley.

In Chumey valley, visit Yathra Weaving Centre. ‘Yathra’ is a hand-woven fabric made from wool of yak and sheep. It is made in vibrant colours giving it a special and attractive look. Bumthang being a cold place is famous for its Yathra weaving and produces woolen clothes, bags, scarfs etc. in unique pattern.

Proceed onward, a most pleasant run in the soft, late afternoon light.

Evening at leisure in Bumthang valley.

Overnight at the hotel in Bumthang (Altitude 2,600m).

Day 9


Bumthang is the general name given to group of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitude varying from 2,600m to 4,000m / 8,520 to 13,125 ft.

In the morning, we will visit Kurje Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom as Bhutan’s “patron saint”, Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) meditated here. Then a walk of half an hour north of Kurje Lhahang leads to Tangbi monastery, founded in 1470 by Shamar Rinpoche of the Kagyupa religious school. The temple has two sanctuaries and a temple of terrifying deities. Later from Kurje monastery, a tarmac road heads south along the right bank of the river to Jambey Lhakhang. This temple, erected by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century, is one of the two oldest in Bhutan (the other being Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro).

Afternoon visit Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Pema Lingpa. It contains interesting and ancient Buddhist wall paintings. Later on we will visit Jakar Dzong, “the dzong of the white bird”.

In the evening visit local handloom weaving house and meet a Weavers family.

Overnight at the hotel in Bumthang (Altitude 2,600m).

Day 10

Bumthang – Mongar (187km, approx 7-hour drive)

The journey continues eastwards, winding through more rugged terrain. The drive to Mongar takes about 7 hours with spectacular views en route. We will drive up into the hills above the valley and visit on the way, Membartsho a wide spot on the Tang Chhu (chhu – water / river) and considered to be one of the greatest pilgrimage sites of Bhutan. Proceed further passing Ura village, before climbing sharply to the highest point on Bhutan’s motorable road network, Thrumshing-la pass (4,000m/13,125 ft).

From here, the road gradually descends to the alpine valley of Sengor, with wonderful views of cascading waterfalls and the hills of eastern Bhutan along the way. Vegetation changes from alpine to subtropical with the loss of height, and bamboos and luxuriant ferns overhanging the road as we drop down to the valley floor. The descent stops at 700m/2,300ft, where we cross the Kurichu river. We ascend again through pine forests, maize fields and eastern hamlets to reach Mongar town, high on a gentle slope above the valley.

Picnic lunch at a scenic spot en route to Mongar.

Afternoon, we visit Mongar Dzong, built in the 1930s and one of Bhutan’s newest dzongs, but constructed in the same way as all previous dzongs, without either plans or the use of nails.

Evening exploratory walk around Mongar. On the main street of Mongar town there are many interesting local shops and a vegetable market. Being one of the sizeable trading centres in the region, there is so much of activity.

Overnight at the hotel in Mongar (Altitude 1600m).

Day 11

Mongar – Lhuntse (74 km, approx. 3-hour drive)

Morning drive to Lhuntse which is one of the most rural and isolated districts in Bhutan. The landscape is spectacular with stark cliffs and gorges, beautiful conifer and pine forests, and remote villages with rice, millet and corn fields. Lhuntse Dzong built in 1654 on a rocky outcrop is one of the most picturesque in Bhutan.

Kurtoe region of Lhuntse is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s Royal family. You can wander around Lhuntse town in the evening and sit down to a relaxing dinner.

Overnight at hotel in Lhuntse. (Altitude 1,700m)

Day 12

Lhuntse – Khoma – Lhuntse

Enjoy a walk from Khurbazam to Khoma Village (around 2 hours each way over clear flat paths), where some of the most famous and expensive textiles are woven in silk and cotton. Khoma village is famous for distinctive ‘Kishuthara’ weaving and it is the main income source of the villagers. Kishuthara is a silk weaving technique with intricate hand laced patterns. It is the most expensive textile in Bhutan and highly sought after by collectors. It is a full day excursion where you can see the technique of weaving from local villagers and as well as a good opportunity to interview and try your hand at weaving. The other famous weaving area is Gonpa Karpo (four hours walk from the bridge), a remote village clustered around a sacred monastery. The weavers of this village feel that their weaving is superior because of the special blessing from the deities of this sacred site.

Overnight at hotel in Lhuntse. (Altitude 1,700m)

Day 13

Lhuntse – Trashigang (165 km, approx. 6-hour drive)

After early breakfast, drive to Trashigang. In the far east of Bhutan, on the bank of Gamri Chhu river lies Trashigang, the country’s largest district. Trashigang, once the centre of a busy trade route with Tibet, is today the junction of east-west highway with road connecting to Samdrup Jongkhar and then to the Indian States of Assam. This town is also used as the market place for the semi nomadic people from Merak and Sakteng whose costumes are unique in Bhutan.

Afternoon visit Trashigang Dzong. Built in 1659, the Dzong serves as the administrative seat for the district as well as the home of the monk body. The Dzong commands a remarkable view over the surrounding countryside.

Later explore Trashigang local market and town.

Overnight at the hotel in Trashigang. (Altitude 1,100m)

Day 14


After breakfast drive to Rangjung (16km one way). Later visit Radhi village. Radhi is famous for raw silk, which is known as ‘bura’. You can also witness women weaving raw silk.

Later in the afternoon a short driving excursion to visit Gom Kora temple. 24 km from Trashigang, the temple of Gom Kora is set on a small alluvial plateau overlooking the river. Surrounded by rice fields and clumps of banana trees, it looks like an oasis in an arid landscape. It is one of the famous places where Guru Rinpoche meditated in order to subdue a demon who dwelt in a huge black rock.

Overnight at the hotel in Trashigang. (Altitude 1,100m)

Day 15

Trashigang – Samdrup Jongkhar (175km, approx. 6-hour drive)

After breakfast drive to Khaling (2 hours’ drive from Trashigang). Visit here Weaving Center which is operated by the National Women’s Association of Bhutan.  Here you can see the girls weaving different types of textiles out of back strap loom. If possible, we can also visit to the house a private weaver to see the techniques of Bhutanese dye.

Later proceed onward to Bhutanese border town of Samdrup Jongkhar. Trashigang — Samdrup Jongkhar road completed in 1965 and the journey takes about 6 hours. Along the way, You’ll also pass by Sherubtse College; the first college in country founded in 1978, Deothang ; the centre of Technical training college and road maintenance headquarters for the east.

Overnight at the lodge in Samdrup Jongkhar. (Altitude 240m)

Day 16

Depart Samdrup Jongkhar

After breakfast picked up by Indian representative from Samdrup Jongkhar border and drive to Guwahati (110km, approx 2.1/2 hours’ drive).

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