Map of Hike the Trans Bhutan Trail including Bhutan

Immerse yourself in the past, present and future of Bhutan

The magical kingdom of Bhutan in the Himalayas is nestled between two spiritual hubs, Tibet and India, and is one of Asia’s best-kept secrets. On this active adventure, you’ll discover there is no better way to explore it than on foot as you hike through a country with so much protected forest, it absorbs more carbon than it uses. Feel closer to enlightenment as you hike along the newly restored Trans Bhutan Trail which will immerse you in the past, present and future of this mystical destination. Uncover Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage on a journey that explores its forested valleys, fortified monasteries and sacred mountains on two feet and discover the beauty of its people, landscape and culture with a local leader who will help you unlock its secrets.


Start
Thimphu, Bhutan
Finish
Paro, Bhutan
Destination
Bhutan
Style
Original
Theme
Walking & Trekking
Code
HJXB
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Take in panoramic views of Himalayas from the Dochula Pass which sits more than 3000 metres above sea level and is home to many fluttering prayer flags.

  • Hike along the Divine Madman Trail which is believed to be a trail followed by Drukpa Kuenley, a famous Buddhist monk, missionary and poet who came to Bhutan from Tibet.

  • The country’s biggest Dzong, a complex of fortified buildings which served as a Buddhist school, is in Trongsa. Explore this magnificent site at the end of your hike from Chendebji.

  • Explore the remote, lush and beautiful Tang Valley and Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake) which is famous for being one of the most serene places in Bhutan to meditate.

  • Journey to Taktsang, commonly known as the Tiger's Nest, a small monastery clinging to a rocky cliff 900 metres above the valley floor, and soak in its magnificence.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Bhutan is a high-altitude destination, so taking it easy for a day or two makes for a much more comfortable trip. Drinking tea and water and avoiding strenuous exercise will help you acclimatise after arriving.

  • Hiking on this trip can be strenuous and will take place on high altitude, up to 3500 metres above sea level. Please make sure you are adequately prepared physically.

  • Please read packing list available on Essential Trip document carefully and make sure you bring all necessary items.

  • Despite Bhutan being a small country, you'll experience long travel days as most roads are single lane. It’s all part of the adventure and a great way to get to know your fellow travellers. Please read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates.

  • While it’s legal to consume imported meat, the slaughtering of animals for consumption within Bhutan is banned, therefore delicious veggie dishes are varied and bountiful at every meal.

  • Please be aware that hot water is limited in some places. Speaking of all things heated, the Bhutanese love chilli and the food can be a touch spicy.

  • All meals are included due to the nature of travelling in Bhutan. This means there may be limited choices on some days.

Itinerary

Welcome to Paro International Airport! You will be greeted by your guide at the arrival gate and transferred by private vehicle to Thimphu, Bhutan’s Capital city. Along the way, stop at the Tachogang Lhakhang temple which was founded by Thankthong Gyelpo, a man who is revered in Tibetan and Bhutanese culture, and see some of his belongings inside this sacred place. After visiting the temple, continue to Thimphu and check into your hotel where you’ll have time to freshen up before joining your leader for an orientation walk to get acquainted with Thimphu’s highlights. Tonight, head off with your leader and group for an included welcome dinner at a local restaurant and learn about the rich history of Bhutanese cuisine as you tuck into a traditional feast, including seasonal vegetables and the country’s signature dish – red rice with a tasty chili cheese.

Today’s driving time is approximately 1.5 hours.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tachogang Lhakhang temple visit
  • Thimphu exploratory evening walk
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
In order to confirm your Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer, please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 14 days prior to travel, as we may not be able to confirm a request made within 14 days of travel.

Travel in Bhutan is strictly controlled and to do any independent travel outside of a group tour is extremely difficult and expensive to arrange. We provide a group visa for travellers on our tours in Bhutan, which stipulates that all travellers must arrive and depart on the same days that our tour program starts and finishes. Travel outside the tour dates on independent visas is not permitted, and additional nights of accommodation cannot be booked.
Today’s driving time is approximately 1 hours.
After breakfast, join your leader for a walk around town and explore Thimphu’s attractions. Visit the Institute for Zorig Chusum, more commonly known as the Arts & Crafts School or Painting School, where you can watch students learning traditional artistic skills. At the National Library, you’ll see printing blocks for prayer flags and many beautiful archaic texts. Admire the artistic treasures and impressive murals at the Zangthopelri Lhakhang temple and view the city from Kuensel Phodrang (Buddha Point) which is home to the country’s largest statue. At Memorial Chorten, the stupa built in the memory of Bhutan's third King, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of Buddhist philosophies as you learn the stories behind the paintings and statues inside the monument.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Thimphu - Choki Traditional Art School
  • Thimpu - National Library
  • Thimphu - National Memorial Chorten
  • Zangthopelri Lhakhang temple visit
  • Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang) walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
After breakfast, travel along the Dochula Pass which sits more than 3000 metres above sea level and is marked by a large Bhutanese Chorten and fluttering prayer flags. If the weather is clear, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the Himalayas as you hike along this scenic trail. This afternoon, you’ll visit Druk Wangyal Lhakhang a temple that was built in honour of the fourth King Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuk and celebrates the 100th anniversary of the monarchy in Bhutan. After visiting the temple, you’ll travel down to the valley and hike a section of the trail known as the Divine Madman Trail. It is believed that Drukpa Kuenley, who is also known as the Divine Madman, came here from Tibet to overpower evil spirits. After a stop for lunch in the beautiful village of Thinleygang, you’ll visit the Thinleygang Lhakhang temple before driving to your hotel in Lobesa.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Dochula Pass hike
  • Druk Wangyal Lhakhang temple visit
  • Divine Madman Trail hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s walking distance is 10.5km and may take up to hours.
After a leisurely breakfast, you’ll drive to Pelela Pass and re-join the Trans Bhutan Trail at the boundary between western and central Bhutan and begin your hike. Along the way, visit the Rukubji Lhakhang temple and rest a while with your group as you share a delicious hot lunch prepared by the locals. Afterwards, re-join the trail climbing through the forest until you reach the beautiful village of Chendebji which is home to the Chendebji Chorten. If you’ve been to Kathmandu in Nepal, this large white structure might look familiar as it was built to resemble the famous Bouddhanath Stupa of Kathmandu. From Chendebji, you’ll continue to Trongsa and visit the Trongsa Dzong which is the largest and most impressive Dzong in Bhutan. Located on a cliff overlooking the Mangde Chu river gorge, this Dzong is a magnificent sight. After you’ve enjoyed the view, check into your hotel where you may like to enjoy a relaxing evening after a full day of exploring.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Trans Bhutan trail hike - Pelela pass/Chendebji
  • Chendebji Chorten monument visit
  • Trongsa Dzong (Buddhist school) visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s driving time is approximately 3.5 hours. Today’s walking distance is 12km and may take up to 6 hours.
If your group didn’t have time to visit Trongsa Dzong yesterday, there’s time for a visit this morning before the drive to Yotongla Pass where you’ll re-join the Trans Bhutan Trail and immerse yourself in the peaceful beauty of Bhutan. After hiking over the pass, you’ll descend through green meadows and open forest until you reach the serene Gyaltsa River. After you’ve had a rest, follow this pristine river until you reach Gyaltsa Village where your private transfer to Bumthang will be waiting. You won’t go hungry on this full day of walking as the group will stop to enjoy a delicious picnic lunch along the trail. On arrival in Bumthang, check into your hotel for the next three nights.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Trans Bhutan Trail hike - Yotongla Pass/Gyaltsa village
  • Gyaltsa River picnic lunch
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s driving time is approximately 2.5 hours. Today’s walking distance is 15km and may take 6-7 hours.
After breakfast, start your day with an excursion to the lush but remote Tang Valley. Home to sacred shrines, herds of yaks and lush slopes filled with grazing sheep, you’ll have time to soak up the beauty of this serene place. After a visit to the century old Ugyencholing Heritage Museum, which once belonged to the Royal Family of Tang Valley, enjoy a tasty lunch at a local farmhouse. After lunch, you’ll drive back to Bumthang, but not without a stop at Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake), where some of Guru Rimpoche’s treasures were discovered in the 15th century by the famous treasure hunter, Pema Lingpa. Immerse yourself in the beauty of your surroundings and perhaps take time to meditate like the many locals who come here. This evening, stroll around Bumthang town with your leader and enjoy dinner at a popular local restaurant with your group.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tang Valley walk
  • Ugyencholing Heritage Museum visit
  • Tang Valley - Farmhouse lunch
  • Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake) hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today you will head back to Punakha via Trongsa to walk along one of the most iconic sections of the Trans Bhutan Trail and recreate what it was like for those arriving in the city of Trongsa on foot many years ago. After crossing the old cantilever bridge over the Mangde River, you’ll descend into a steep valley and take in the sweeping views of the Dzong before bracing your legs for the steep but rewarding walk to the fortress. After you enjoy had time to see the fortress and enjoy the view, sit back and relax on the drive to Punakha where you will check into your hotel.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Trans Bhutan Trail hike - Mangde River/Trongsa
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s driving time is approximately 6 hours total. Today’s walking distance is up to 5km.
After breakfast, drive back to Paro where you will hike along the dramatic Wang Chhu and Paro Chhu River valleys before crossing through Paro Town. Along the way, visit Simtokha Dzong which houses a school for the study of the Dzongkha language. After reaching Paro, you’ll visit Ta Dzong which was originally built as a watchtower but now houses a National Museum. Join your leader for a tour of the extensive collection of antique thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons, armour, household objects and historic artifacts. After you have visited the museum, stretch your legs with a walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, meaning ‘fortress of the heap of jewels’, which has wooden galleries filled with delicate wall paintings illustrating traditional Buddhist lore.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Paro - Tadzong Museum
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s driving time is approximately 4-5 hours.
After breakfast, you’ll re-join the Trans Bhutan Trail and head east up a steady incline then pass through the rice paddies of the Paro Valley before reaching the traditional village of Dop-Shari. Enjoy a delicious hot lunch in the village where you might have the opportunity to try Ema Datshi, a traditional Bhutanese dish made with chili peppers, onions and yak cheese. You’ll also have the opportunity to wear Bhutan’s traditional dress for a souvenir photo or perhaps try the national sport of archery. After spending time in the village, you’ll hike to the upper reaches of Dop-Shari and enjoy spectacular views over the Paro Valley. Take time to enjoy the scenery before the transfer back to your hotel in Paro.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Trans Bhutan Trail hike - Paro Valley/Dop-Shari
  • Ema Datshi - traditional Bhutanese lunch
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s walking distance is 16km and may take up to 7-8 hours.
After breakfast, lace up your hiking boots and set off on a 5 hour hike to the Taktshang Monastery, one of Bhutan’s most famous monasteries. Perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor, it’s also known as the ‘Tiger’s Nest’. This site is considered to be a deeply sacred place and is visited by all Bhutanese at least once in their lifetime. On 19 April 1998, a fire severely damaged the main structure of the building but now this Bhutanese jewel has been restored to its original splendour. Along the way, you’ll also visit the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of 108 temples built in the Himalayas by the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo. This is one of the country’s most famous temples as it marks the introduction of Buddhism to Bhutan. After you’ve returned to your hotel and had time to freshen up, join your leader for a stroll around the streets and market area of Paro.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Paro - Taktshang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s walking distance is 6km.
After a leisurely breakfast at your hotel, your adventure will come to an end and your driver will transfer you to Paro International Airport for your flight out of Bhutan.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
In order to confirm your Complimentary Airport Departure Transfer, please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 14 days prior to travel, as we may not be able to confirm a request made within 14 days of travel.

Due to group visa requirements, all travellers are required to leave Bhutan on the same day.

Meals

10 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 10 dinners

Transport

Private vehicle, walking

Accommodation

Hotel (10 nights)

Included activities

  • Tachogang Lhakhang temple visit
  • Thimphu exploratory evening walk
  • Thimphu - Choki Traditional Art School
  • Thimpu - National Library
  • Thimphu - National Memorial Chorten
  • Zangthopelri Lhakhang temple visit
  • Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang) walk
  • Dochula Pass hike
  • Druk Wangyal Lhakhang temple visit
  • Divine Madman Trail hike
  • Trans Bhutan trail hike - Pelela pass/Chendebji
  • Chendebji Chorten monument visit
  • Trongsa Dzong (Buddhist school) visit
  • Trans Bhutan Trail hike - Yotongla Pass/Gyaltsa village
  • Gyaltsa River picnic lunch
  • Tang Valley walk
  • Ugyencholing Heritage Museum visit
  • Tang Valley - Farmhouse lunch
  • Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake) hike
  • Trans Bhutan Trail hike - Mangde River/Trongsa
  • Paro - Tadzong Museum
  • Trans Bhutan Trail hike - Paro Valley/Dop-Shari
  • Ema Datshi - traditional Bhutanese lunch
  • Paro - Taktshang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery hike

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Hike the Trans Bhutan Trail trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

Travellers on Intrepid trips that start on or before 31 December 2022 are required to produce proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. Learn more about Intrepid’s COVID-19 policy.

1.In June 2020, the Government of Bhutan increased its Sustainable Development Fee from $65 USD per traveller per day to $200 USD per traveller per day. The full fee is included in the price of this trip, and you will not be asked to cover any additional costs.
2. Complimentary airport arrival and departure transfers are included. You must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.
3. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights of your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
4. Entry to Bhutan is very strict and travellers can only enter Bhutan on a group visa as part of a tour. All travellers must arrive on Day 1 and depart on Day 10 to be eligible for a group visa. At time of booking, please provide your booking agent with a clear uncut scanned colour copy of the two pages of the personal details section of your passport.
5. Bhutan's airlines are renowned for last minute changes to flight timetables into and out of Bhutan. Please allow a minimum of 24 hours transit time before and after your flights into and out of Bhutan. Timetables are available on the Druk Airlines and Air Bhutan websites.
6. If you have booked additional accommodation and transfers in Kathmandu, please see the ‘Passports, visas and entry requirements’ section of the Essential Trip Information for details regarding visas and arrival in Nepal.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View Essential Trip Information

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