7-Day Bhutan Adventure: Unexplored Paths and Local Shopping with Friends

Bhutan

7 days

Buddha Dordenma statue in Thimphu
An old woman spinning prayer wheels in Thimphu
Yak in the Himalayas
View of a river and surrounding fields
A monk dressed in a red robe walking around Punakha Dzong

About Bhutan

Bhutan, the "Land of the Thunder Dragon," is a mesmerizing Himalayan kingdom known for its stunning landscapes, rich culture, and spiritual serenity. This untouched paradise offers a unique blend of ancient and modern, where centuries-old fortresses and monasteries coexist with vibrant festivals and a sustainable approach to tourism. Experience the awe-inspiring Tiger's Nest Monastery, perched on a cliff, or the bustling markets of Thimphu, Bhutan's capital. Explore the verdant valleys of Punakha, hike through the pristine forests of Phobjikha, or immerse yourself in the spiritual tranquility of Bumthang. Bhutan's commitment to preserving its traditions and environment makes it a must-visit destination for those seeking a unique, off-the-beaten-path experience.

7-Day Itinerary

Day 1

Exploring Thimphu

Morning

Start your journey in Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. Visit the National Memorial Chorten, a prominent religious monument in the city that serves as a focus of daily worship for many Bhutanese.

Lunch

Enjoy a traditional Bhutanese meal. The cuisine here is known for its spiciness, with dishes often featuring red and green chillies.

Afternoon

Explore the Folk Heritage Museum to get an insight into the traditional Bhutanese lifestyle. Then, visit the bustling Centenary Farmers Market.

Dinner

Savor a hearty dinner featuring local delicacies.

Evening

Take a leisurely stroll around the city, soaking in the serene atmosphere.

Morning

Embark on a hike to the Tango Monastery, a beautiful Buddhist university located in the north of Thimphu.

Lunch

Relish a packed lunch amidst the tranquil surroundings of the monastery.

Afternoon

Return to Thimphu and visit the National Textile Museum to learn about Bhutan's weaving heritage.

Dinner

Enjoy a relaxing dinner.

Evening

Experience the vibrant nightlife of Thimphu.

Morning

Travel to Punakha, stopping at Dochula Pass for panoramic views of the Himalayas.

Lunch

Have lunch at a local eatery in Punakha.

Afternoon

Visit the majestic Punakha Dzong, a stunning fortress situated at the confluence of two rivers.

Dinner

Dine at a local restaurant, trying out Punakha's regional cuisine.

Evening

Take a peaceful evening walk along the riverside.

Morning

Start your day with a thrilling white-water rafting adventure on the Mo Chhu River.

Lunch

Enjoy a riverside picnic lunch.

Afternoon

Visit the Chimi Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to the Divine Madman.

Dinner

Relax with a quiet dinner.

Evening

Spend the evening at leisure, reflecting on your experiences.

Morning

Travel to Paro and visit the National Museum housed in an ancient watchtower.

Lunch

Have lunch at a local restaurant in Paro.

Afternoon

Explore the Paro Rinpung Dzong, a fortress-monastery that dominates the Paro valley.

Dinner

Enjoy a traditional Bhutanese meal.

Evening

Stroll around the town of Paro, taking in the peaceful ambiance.

Morning

Embark on the challenging hike to the iconic Tiger's Nest Monastery.

Lunch

Have a packed lunch while enjoying the stunning views from the Tiger's Nest.

Afternoon

Descend from the Tiger's Nest and relax in the serene surroundings.

Dinner

Savor a well-deserved dinner after your day of adventure.

Evening

Spend the evening at leisure, reminiscing about your journey.

Morning

Spend your last day shopping for souvenirs in the local markets of Paro.

Lunch

Enjoy your last meal in Bhutan at a local restaurant.

Afternoon

Take a final stroll around the town, soaking in the sights and sounds.

Dinner

Have a farewell dinner, celebrating the end of your Bhutan adventure.

Evening

Prepare for your departure the next day.

Attractions in Itinerary (12)

National Memorial Chorten

1
National Memorial Chorten

A prominent landmark in Thimphu, this stupa was built in 1974 to honor the third King of Bhutan, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.

Attractions
Religious Sites
Architecture
Folk Heritage Museum

2
Folk Heritage Museum

Dedicated to connecting people to the Bhutanese rural past through exhibits, demonstrations, educational programmes and documentation of rural life.

Museums
Cultural Experiences
Centenary Farmers Market

3
Centenary Farmers Market

The Centenary Farmers Market is a bustling market in Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. It is the largest domestic market for the farmers in Bhutan. You can find a wide variety of local produce, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and spices. It is also a great place to experience the local culture and lifestyle.

Shopping
Food and Drink
Tango Monastery

4
Tango Monastery

Tango Monastery is a Buddhist monastery located 14 kilometres to the north of the capital city of Thimphu. The monastery, built in the 15th century, is one of the most important religious sites in Bhutan and is associated with the Drukpa Kagyu School of Buddhism.

Attractions
Religious Sites
Cultural Experiences
National Textile Museum

5
National Textile Museum

The National Textile Museum is located in the capital city of Thimphu and is dedicated to preserving and promoting the rich textile traditions of Bhutan. The museum showcases a wide range of beautiful Bhutanese textiles including the royal collection, which features garments worn by Bhutan's Kings and Queens.

Museums
Cultural Experiences
Dochula Pass

6
Dochula Pass

A mountain pass in the snow covered Himalayas within Bhutan on the road from Thimphu to Punakha offering panoramic views of the Himalayan ranges.

Landmarks
Cultural Experiences
Punakha Dzong

7
Punakha Dzong

Built in 1637, it's one of the most picturesque and oldest dzongs in Bhutan, located at the confluence of the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers.

Attractions
Religious Sites
Architecture
Mo Chhu River

8
Mo Chhu River

The Mo Chhu River is a major river in Bhutan. It is popular for river rafting and kayaking. The river offers stunning views of the Punakha Dzong, one of the most beautiful dzongs in the country, and the surrounding lush green landscapes.

Attractions
Nature
Tours
Chimi Lhakhang

9
Chimi Lhakhang

A Buddhist monastery in Punakha, known as the 'Temple of Fertility', visited by childless couples seeking a special blessing to beget children.

Religious Sites
Cultural Experiences
Architecture
National Museum

10
National Museum

Located in Paro, it houses a rich variety of artifacts representing the history and culture of Bhutan.

Museums
Cultural Experiences
Paro Rinpung Dzong

11
Paro Rinpung Dzong

A fortress-monastery that holds great historical significance and is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture. It houses the district Monastic Body and government administrative offices of Paro Dzongkhag.

Attractions
Monuments
Religious Sites
Cultural Experiences
Architecture
Tiger's Nest Monastery

12
Tiger's Nest Monastery

Also known as Paro Taktsang, it's a prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and temple complex, located in the cliffside of the upper Paro valley, Bhutan.

Attractions
Religious Sites
Architecture

Local Food and Drinks (12)

Ema Datshi

Ema Datshi

Ema Datshi is Bhutan's national dish. It's a spicy mix of chillies and the delicious local cheese known as Datshi. The dish is a staple of nearly every meal and can be found throughout the country.

Jasha Maru

Jasha Maru

Jasha Maru is a spicy chicken dish, usually served with rice. It is made with diced chicken, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and chillies. This dish is a common part of Bhutanese cuisine.

Phaksha Paa

Phaksha Paa is a pork dish made with spicy red chillies. This dish also includes Radishes or Spinach, and sometimes dried pork is used instead of fresh pork.

Red Rice

Red Rice

Red Rice is a staple of Bhutanese cuisine, grown in the Eastern part of the country. It's a medium-grain rice, similar to brown rice in texture, with a slightly nutty taste.

Momos

Momos

Momos are South Asian dumplings native to Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Indian region of Sikkim. They are usually filled with meat or cheese and served with a spicy sauce.

Shakam Paa

Shakam Paa

Shakam Paa is a dried beef dish cooked with chillies and radishes. It's a popular dish in Bhutan and is often served with red rice.

Suja

Suja

Suja is a Bhutanese butter tea. It's made from tea leaves, water, salt, and yak butter. It's a common drink in Bhutan, especially during the cold winter months.

Ara

Ara is a traditional alcoholic beverage in Bhutan. It's made from fermented rice, maize, millet, or wheat, and is often served warm.

Jaju Soup

Jaju soup is a traditional Bhutanese soup made with vegetables and cheese. It's a common part of meals in Bhutan.

Kewa Datshi

Kewa Datshi is a popular Bhutanese dish made from potatoes, cheese, and chillies. It's similar to Ema Datshi, but with potatoes instead of chillies.

Zow Shungo

Zow Shungo is a Bhutanese dish made from leftover vegetables and red rice. It's a common dish in Bhutan, especially among the rural population.

Khur-le

Khur-le

Khur-le is a traditional Bhutanese breakfast food. It's a type of pancake made from buckwheat, and is often served with Ema Datshi.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Bhutan as a tourist is during the spring months of March to May when the valleys come alive with flowers in bloom. The autumn months from September to November are also ideal as the weather is clear and sunny with some of the most popular festivals taking place during this time. These seasons offer the most vibrant experiences and the most comfortable weather for exploring Bhutan's stunning landscapes and rich culture.

National holidays

Here you can find the national calendar of all public holidays for the year. These dates are subject to change as official changes are announced, so check back regularly for updates.

DateDayHoliday Name

January 3

Wed

Winter Solstice (Nyilo)

January 12

Fri

Traditional Day of Offerings

February 10

Sat

Losar (New Year)

February 11

Sun

Losar Holiday

February 21

Wed

King's Birthday

February 22

Thu

King's Birthday Holiday

February 23

Fri

King's Birthday Holiday

April 18

Thu

Death Anniversary of Zhabdrung (Zhabdrung Kuchoe)

May 2

Thu

Birth Anniversary of Third Druk Gyalpo

May 23

Thu

Buddha's Parinirvana

June 16

Sun

Birth Anniversary of Guru Rinpoche

July 10

Wed

Buddha's First Sermon

September 22

Sun

Blessed Rainy Day

October 12

Sat

Dashain

November 1

Fri

King Jigme Khesar Namgyel's Coronation

November 11

Mon

Birth Anniversary of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo

November 22

Fri

Descending Day of Lord Buddha

December 17

Tue

National Day

Please note that during national and public holidays, opening hours for establishments, museums, etc. may vary. Don't forget to check in advance!

How to get around

Bhutan's only international airport is in Paro. Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines are the only airlines that operate flights in and out of Bhutan. Flights are available from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Thailand.

Private cars are the most common way for tourists to get around Bhutan. You can hire a car with a driver who also often acts as a guide. This is usually arranged by your tour operator.

Taxis are available in major towns like Thimphu and Paro. They do not have meters, so you will need to negotiate the fare before your journey.

Bhutan has a network of public buses that connect major towns. However, these buses can be crowded and are not always reliable.

Ridesharing services are not common in Bhutan. Most people prefer to use taxis or hire private cars.

Bhutan is a great place for cycling with its beautiful landscapes. You can rent a bicycle in towns like Thimphu and Paro.

Trekking is a popular activity in Bhutan. There are numerous trekking routes that allow you to explore the country's stunning natural beauty.

In some remote areas of Bhutan, you can travel by horseback. This is a unique way to see the country's rural landscapes and is often included in trekking tours.

While we strive for accuracy in our "How to get around" section, the information may not always be up-to-date or 100% accurate; we highly recommend cross-checking with local resources before your travel.

Important information

Currency BTN

Time zoneUTC+6

Driving sideLeft

Emergency phoneAmbulance: 110; Fire: 112; Police: 113

Drinking waterOpt for bottled water

Power sockets

Power socket type CPower socket type DPower socket type G

Voltage230 V

Things to know about Bhutan as a first time visitor

1

Bhutan is the only country in the world that is carbon negative, which means it absorbs more CO2 than it produces.

2

Bhutan's currency is the Ngultrum (BTN). The Indian Rupee is also accepted in most places.

3

Bhutan is a Buddhist country and the locals are very respectful of their traditions. As a visitor, you should also respect their customs.

4

Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites. Shoulders and knees should be covered.

5

Bhutanese people speak Dzongkha, but English is widely spoken and understood.

6

Bhutan has a strict 'High Value, Low Impact' tourism policy. This means you must book your trip through a Bhutanese tour operator or one of their international partners.

7

The Bhutanese government has implemented a mandatory daily tariff for tourists. This covers accommodation, food, transport and an official guide.

8

Bhutan is not a budget destination. The minimum daily package for tourists is $200 during low season and $250 during high season.

9

Tipping is not a common practice in Bhutan, but it is appreciated.

10

The food in Bhutan is spicy. The national dish, Ema Datshi, is a spicy mix of chilies and local cheese.

11

Bhutan is a safe country to visit with a low crime rate. However, it's always important to take standard travel precautions.

12

The country has a strict no smoking policy. Selling and buying of tobacco is banned.

13

Bhutan uses the type D, F, and G plug. The standard voltage is 230 V, and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.

14

The weather in Bhutan varies greatly depending on the season. The summer months (June - August) can be quite hot with temperatures reaching up to 86°F (30°C), while winter months (December - February) can be very cold with temperatures dropping to 23°F (-5°C).

15

Bhutan is in the Bhutan Time zone, which is 6 hours ahead of GMT.

16

Internet access is available in most parts of Bhutan, but the speed may not be as fast as you're used to.

17

Bhutan has a rich culture and you'll often see festivals (Tshechus) taking place. However, it's important to behave respectfully during these events.

18

Bhutan has a lot of stray dogs. They are generally harmless, but it's best to avoid them.

19

Bhutan is a mountainous country, so be prepared for lots of hiking and climbing. Make sure to bring appropriate footwear.

20

Altitude sickness can be a problem for some visitors. It's recommended to acclimatize yourself to the high altitude before undertaking any strenuous activities.

Basic Dzongkha to know as a first time visitor

English phrase

Native phrase

Pronunciation

When to use it

Hello

Kuzuzangpo

Koo-zoo-zang-po

Greeting

Goodbye

Legshembe

Leg-shem-be

Leaving

Thank you

Kadrin chhe

Ka-drin chhe

Expressing gratitude

Yes

Inga

In-ga

Affirmative response

No

Men

Men

Negative response

Please

Gachui

Ga-chui

Making a request

Sorry

Thuji che

Thu-ji che

Apologizing

I don't understand

Nga mi sonam

Nga mi so-nam

When you don't understand something

Where is the toilet?

Chhabsang ga chi mo?

Chhab-sang ga chi mo

Asking for directions

Help

Thu encho gi

Thu en-cho gi

In emergencies

Food

Zow

Zow

When you're hungry

Water

Chhu

Chhu

When you're thirsty

Good

Legshom

Leg-shom

Complimenting

Beautiful

Zangpo

Zang-po

Complimenting

How much?

Ga dem chi mo?

Ga dem chi mo

Asking for price

I am lost

Nga thar song

Nga thar song

When you're lost

Where is...?

...ga chi mo?

...ga chi mo

Asking for directions

What is your name?

Chhoe gi ming ga chi mo?

Chhoe gi ming ga chi mo

Starting a conversation

My name is...

Nga gi ming ... in

Nga gi ming ... in

Introducing yourself

I need a doctor

Nga la menpa ngado

Nga la men-pa nga-do

In case of health issues

Packing List

  • Clothing

  • Thermal underwear

  • Warm clothing (sweaters, jackets, etc.)

  • Waterproof jacket

  • Comfortable walking shoes

  • Socks and underwear

  • Gloves and scarves

  • Sleepwear

  • Swimwear (if you plan to use a hotel pool)

  • Sunglasses

  • Hat for sun protection

  • Toiletries

  • Travel-size shampoo, conditioner, and body wash

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste

  • Deodorant

  • Razor and shaving cream

  • Makeup and makeup remover

  • Sunscreen

  • Hand sanitizer

  • First aid kit with band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and tweezers

  • Prescription medications

  • Insect repellent

  • Travel documents and essentials

  • Passport

  • Visa (if required)

  • Airline tickets

  • Hotel reservation confirmations

  • Travel insurance documents

  • Emergency contact information

  • Local currency

  • Credit and debit cards

  • Driver's license (if you plan to rent a car)

  • Electronics and gadgets

  • Smartphone

  • Charger for smartphone

  • International power adapter

  • Digital camera

  • Charger for digital camera

  • Portable power bank

  • Headphones

  • Laptop or tablet (optional)

  • Charger for laptop or tablet (if bringing)

  • Miscellaneous items

  • Travel pillow and blanket

  • Earplugs and eye mask

  • Snacks for the journey

  • Books or e-books for leisure reading

  • Travel guidebook for Bhutan

  • Reusable water bottle

  • Umbrella or rain poncho

  • Daypack for daily excursions

  • Travel-size laundry detergent

  • Ziplock bags for organizing and storing items

Weather Conditions

Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon, experiences a wide range of weather conditions due to its diverse topography. The country is known for its dramatic landscapes, from subtropical plains to steep mountains and valleys. The best time to visit Bhutan is during the spring months of March to May when the weather is generally clear and dry, and the highlands are awash with blooming wildflowers. The average temperature during this time ranges from 50°F to 70°F (10°C to 21°C). This is also the time when the famous Paro Tshechu festival takes place, offering a great cultural experience. The monsoon season, from June to September, brings heavy rainfall, especially in the southern region. While the landscapes are lush and green, the downpours can make trekking and sightseeing difficult. The temperatures during this season range from 60°F to 80°F (15°C to 27°C). Autumn, from October to November, is another ideal time to visit Bhutan. The weather is mild and the skies are clear, providing excellent conditions for trekking and for viewing the Himalayan peaks. The temperatures during this season range from 50°F to 70°F (10°C to 21°C). Winter, from December to February, can be quite cold, especially in the mountains where temperatures can drop below freezing. However, the lower areas remain pleasant with temperatures ranging from 45°F to 60°F (7°C to 15°C). This is a great time to visit for bird watching as many migratory birds visit Bhutan during this period. Regardless of when you visit, it's advisable to pack layers as temperatures can vary greatly between day and night. Also, carry rain gear if you're visiting during the monsoon season. Always check the local weather forecast before planning your day's activities, especially if they involve trekking or other outdoor adventures.

MonthHi / Lo (°C)Weather Overview

January

10° / -5°

January is the coldest month in Bhutan, with temperatures often dropping below freezing. It's a great time for tourists who enjoy winter sports and serene, snowy landscapes.

February

12° / -2°

In February, the weather begins to warm up slightly, but it's still quite chilly. This month is perfect for those who want to avoid crowds and enjoy peaceful sightseeing.

March

15° / 2°

March sees the start of spring in Bhutan, with temperatures rising and flowers beginning to bloom. It's an ideal time for hiking and exploring the natural beauty of the country.

April

20° / 7°

April is a pleasant month with moderate temperatures, making it perfect for outdoor activities. The valleys are lush and the mountains are covered in rhododendrons.

May

22° / 10°

May is warm and the countryside is vibrant with greenery. It's a great time for bird watching and trekking, but be prepared for occasional showers.

June

25° / 15°

June marks the beginning of the monsoon season in Bhutan. While there might be some rain, the landscapes are incredibly lush and vibrant.

July

25° / 15°

July is in the middle of the monsoon season, so expect heavy rains. However, the rain brings out the beauty of the flora and fauna, making it a unique time to visit.

August

25° / 15°

August continues to be rainy, but the temperatures are warm. It's a good time to visit if you don't mind the rain and enjoy lush, green landscapes.

September

22° / 10°

September sees the end of the monsoon season. The weather is pleasant and the landscapes are still lush, making it a great time for trekking and sightseeing.

October

20° / 7°

October is one of the best months to visit Bhutan. The weather is cool and dry, and it's a great time to witness the vibrant festivals of the country.

November

15° / 2°

November is cool and dry, with clear skies offering great views of the mountains. It's a good time for trekking and exploring the cultural sites of Bhutan.

December

12° / -2°

December is a chilly month, but it's also a festive time in Bhutan. It's a great time to experience the local culture and traditions, but pack warm clothes.

Did you know?

Did you know that Bhutan is the only country in the world to measure its success in Gross National Happiness rather than Gross Domestic Product?

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