My recent trip to Bhutan has been one of the most memorable journeys I have ever done. The country has so much within its mountainous territory that a single trip won’t be enough to explore it all. The beautiful mountains, breathtakingly beautiful valleys, the monasteries, the customs and rituals make Bhutan a unique land and exploring it will be the most wonderful experience.
There is so much to see and do in Bhutan it is difficult to know from where to start. Most of my friends who have visited Bhutan have explored all of it with ten to fifteen days in hand. But let’s face it we are all busy and we are definitely not in a position to spare so much time. So we planned the Bhutan travel itinerary in such a way that we could cover the most of it even if there is a shortage of time. This post will be really helpful for those planning a trip to Bhutan with 4-5 days in hand. I am going to cover the most important places to visit and the most interesting things to do when in Bhutan.
Bhutan Travel Itinerary for 7 days
Day 1- Arrival at Phuentsholing – Get the permits done- Hire a cab and drive off to Thimpu.
Day 2- Thimpu Sightseeing
Day 3- Thimpu to Dochula Pass and Punakha
Day 4- Punakha to Paro
Day 5- Hiking to Tiger’s Nest Monastery
Day 6- Haa Valley and Chele la pass
Day 7- Paro to Phuentsholing
This will be your one week complete Bhutan Travel itinerary and with this, I had covered the majority part of Bhutan. If you can manage another 3-4 days thn you can also cover Bumthang Valley and Phobjhika valley which are considered to be the most beautiful parts of Bhutan.
How to reach Bhutan
There are many ways to enter Bhutan- either from Phuentsholing or landing at Paro International Airport. But being the neighbour you need not worry about that. You can reach Bhutan by air or by a hired taxi from Phuntsholing. If you reach by air than you must start your journey from Paro. If you are planning to board a train than the nearest entry point is Phuentsholing because the permit office is situated there.
You can also take a flight to reach Bagdogra and from there take a taxi and reach Phuentsholing. All details on how to enter Bhutan, making your permits, all the required documents and every detail about the country are included in this blog post- READ IT HERE- 20 Things to know as an Indian before planning your Bhutan itinerary.
Let’s begin with my Bhutan travel itinerary for 7 days curated exclusively for my readers. Each place has something different to offer in Bhutan, the monasteries may look same but trust me you need to visit each of them as they are beautiful and each one is located in such a lovely location that you cannot skip.
This will be your first destination in Bhutan where you will have to make your permits. This is also the bordering town of Bhutan with India. This town gives you a quick glimpse of what lays beyond. Clean roads, organized car parking people obeying traffic rules, clean markets, men and women also children roaming wearing their traditional dresses which would instantly make yo u wear one.
There is a small monastery just near the permit office, also the main monastery frequented by tourists is the Karbandi Monastery and also you can visit the Crocodile Breeding centre called Amo Chhu. If you are planning to halt one night in Bhutan and start your journey to Thimpu the next morning then you may visit the places of tourist attraction. Else skip it, grab your lunch, get your permits and book a cab to reach Thimpu. It will be almost night around 9 pm when you reach Thimpu if you start at 3 pm. Check in to your hotel and relax.
Day 2 is going to be hectic, make sure you sleep well the previous night. Have your breakfast and if possible pack some for the road as well and start as early as possible. The day’s itinerary includes the following popular tourist spots- Offer your prayers at The National Memorial Chorten. Please visit this only if you are ready to pay 500 Nu per person for entry tickets. We saw it from outside and clicked pictures from the entrance.
Ask your cab driver to take you to the Buddha Dordenma Statue. A massive 51 metre tall Buddha statue awaits you for a marvellous experience. After spending quality time here you can visit The Royal Takin Preserve Motithang Thimpu, Bhutan. Next visit the Changangkha Lhakhang Dzong which looks like a fortress. Also, ask your guide/ cab driver to take you to the view points from where you can have a nice view of the parliament and the Tashi Chho Dzong and The Dechencholing Palace.
Take a break, have your lunch and visit the Folk Heritage Museum which I highly recommend. The Thimpu Handicraft Market is something you must visit. Know in details about the market, what to shop and what not here – End your day with a trip to The Taschi Chho Dzong. Opening time is from 5.00pm onwards but try to reach early and get your tickets done 500 Nu per person. This is one of the largest Dzong in Bhutan and it’s incredible.
Day 3 start your journey from Thimpu and reach Punakha. On way, you can visit the Dochula Pass, located at a distance of 20Km from Thimpu which is one of the tourists’ favourite places. It is the highest motorable road in Bhutan and if you want to get a 360-degree view of The Himalayan Mountain Range Dochula Pass is your place.
It was constructed in memory of the 108 valiant soldiers who lost their lives in a military operations in the year 2003. There are in total 108 memorial stupas built by her Majesty Azhi Dorji Wangmo. The best thing is that the Pass comes on your way to reach Punakha so you need not spend a whole day for it. It is also a great spot to click some marvellous photographs for your Instagram.
Day 4 explore Punakha which won’t take much time and in the evening reach Paro. Punakha is another spellbinding place in Bhutan with two rivers Po Chhu and Mo Chhu flowing through the valley. The main attraction is the Punakha Dzong which lies at the confluence of the two rivers and serves as the administrative and religious centre of the region. It is one of those perfect Instagrammable locations you are searching for. Then next you can visit the Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten which was constructed with a view to promoting harmony and peace. Rest I suggest to explore the valley, it shall surprise you at every step.
Most of the thrilling part of the adventure lies here in Paro. Begin your Day 5 by Hiking to the Tigers Nest Monastery Keep a whole day for it as it will be quite hectic and make sure you enjoy some relaxing Thai spa later in the evening. I have published a full detailed blog post on Hiking to The Tigers Nest Monastery. Read it here- My Experience of Hiking to The Tigers Nest Monastery in Bhutan. From Paro, you have to visit two more places- The Haa Valley and the Chele La Pass.
Both these two places lie on the same route. The next morning, Day 6 have your breakfast and drive off to the Chele La Pass and The Haa Valley, on the way you can see the Paro International View. It will take 4-5 hours and on the way back to Paro you can explore the local sights. Visit the Paro Dzong, the National Museum of Bhutan which lies above the Dzong and the whole area is lighted up in the evening and presents a spectacular view at night. In that way, you can cover maximum places in a single day and your time won’t be wasted.
I have seen tourists visit the Chele La Pass and return from there but I recommend to visit the Haa valley- it’s basically an Army Base Camp area, the local population is very low compared to other parts of Bhutan. Apple orchards, the river flowing by, the pure and fresh air, the Haa Dzong, beautiful wildflowers blooming here and there are sure to give you goosebumps. I have given my reasons on why you must visit the Haa Valley and Chele La Pass in Bhutan in this post here- My Reasons on why you should visit the Haa Valley and Chele La Pass in Bhutan.
The next day early morning after having your breakfast you can start your journey from Paro to Phuentsholing or if you are taking the flight than the airport is your place. If you have some more time in your hand before your flight you can explore around the Paro local markets and buy some Bhutanese cheese or other stuff that are available in Bhutan. Hope this Bhutan travel guide will help you to a great extent to plan your trip. If you are planning to visit Bumthang Valley and Phobjikha Valley than I would suggest another 6-7 days in hand as the journey to this valley takes time and is quite strenuous.