Bhutan Itinerary for 7 days and FAQ's
Bhutan is a picturesque valley nestled between the towering Himalayas. The country has it all: beautiful landscapes, vibrant culture, preserved traditions, friendly people, and delectable cuisine. However, it remains one of the world’s least visited countries. Bhutan is not very popular among international travelers due to its inaccessibility, limited infrastructure, travel restrictions, and exorbitant Sustainable Development fees. Bhutan adheres to the ‘High-Value Low Impact Tourism’ principle and strives to keep mass tourism at bay. It is limiting the number of visitors in order to protect its environment, resources, and culture. Isn’t that reason enough to visit this pristine country?
However, if you are in the region and have 6-7 days to spare, Bhutan is a country you should visit; especially if you are willing to take the road less traveled. The little kingdom, known as the “Happiest Country in the World,” will enchant you, fascinate you, and, most importantly, touch your soul. Not many countries can make that claim. Seven days may not be enough time to fully explore this enthralling country, but if that is all you have, here is the best itinerary for you.
I haven’t packed in too many towns because Bhutan is a place to unwind and soak in the mystical surroundings. Furthermore, the roads are winding, narrow, one-way, and have sharp hairpin bends. So the best option is to drive slowly, take frequent breaks, and enjoy the breathtaking scenery along the way.
What are Sustainable Development Fees (SDF)?
Tourists from India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives will be charged a sustainable development fee (SDF) beginning September 23, 2022. It will cost $15 (Rs 1,200) per day. Visitors from other counties will have to pay $200 per day. This is in addition to the costs of travel, hotel reservations, food, and so on. Prior to the pandemic, entering Bhutan required paying a daily entry fee of $200–250 USD per person. This sum could be used for food, lodging, transportation, and anything else. However, the SDF is now only a one-time fee for entering Bhutan. To encourage tourism in the less visited Eastern Bhutan, the SDF will not be levied on visitors visiting 11 districts in the region.
Suggested Seven-Day Bhutan Itinerary:-
Day 1: Arrive in Paro, transfer to Thimphu, and spend the night in Thimphu.
Day 2: Explore Thimphu; Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 3: Drive to Punakha, stopping at Dochu La Pass. Stay overnight in Punakha.
Day 4: Explore Punakha and the surrounding areas. Stay another night in Punakha.
Day 5: Drive to Paro and explore the town. Overnight stay in Paro.
Day 6: Hike Tiger Nest Monastery. Another night in Paro
Day 7: Return flight
Detailed Bhutan Itinerary - 7 Days
Bhutan Itinerary: Day 1 – Landing in Paro is an experience in itself. Paro International Airport is located in a deep valley and you can admire the spectacular views of the snow-capped Himalayas as you descend into the lush green valley. Make your way to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital city. The scenic drive through the woods will take well over an hour. Check into your hotel and spent the rest of the day resting and acclimatizing. Stay in Thimphu for the night.
Bhutan Itinerary: Day 2 – Spend the day exploring Thimphu and its surrounding areas. Thimphu is a modern city with high-rise buildings, but its sacred culture and heritage have been preserved. The city is ideal for sampling Bhutanese cuisine and shopping for local handicrafts. Another night in Thimphu.
Places to visit in and around Thimpu.Bhutan:
- Buddha Dordenma statue – 50 m tall statue
- National Memorial Chorten
- Thimphu Dzong – the seat of Bhutan’s Government
- Centenary Market
- Tashichho Dzong
- Takin Reserve
- National Textile Museum
- Junghi Handmade Paper Factory
- Folk Heritage Museum.
Bhutan Itinerary: Day 3 – Leave early in the morning for Punakha; the drive will take approximately three hours. You can halt at Dochula Pass, which displays 108 Chortens built to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over Indian militants. Punakha is a riverside town known for its charming rivers, majestic fortress/Dzong, picturesque rice fields, and breathtaking vistas. Explore the iconic city at your leisure. Stay the night in Punakha.
Places to visit in and around Punakha, Bhutan:
- Chimi Lhakhang (Fertility) Temple
- Punakha Dzong
- Punakha Suspension bridge
- Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten
Bhutan Itinerary: Day 4 – Spend the day exploring Punakha’s other attractions. River rafting is available on the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers. Getting up early to go on a short hike to Chin Lhakang Temple is another option. Another night in Punakha.
Bhutan Itinerary: Day 5 – Return to Paro. The drive will take approximately four hours. The scenery is breathtaking, with mountains on one side and a river on the other. The quaint little town has an old-world charm with traditional houses, paddy fields, and untouched beauty. In Paro, you can go mountain biking, rafting, or hiking. Stay the night in Paro.
PS – If you want to take a day trip from Paro to the idyllic Haa Valley, you should arrive on the fourth night so that you can leave for Haa Valley early. It takes about two hours to drive from Paro to Haa Valley.
Top Places to visit in and around Paro, Bhutan:
- Paro Dzong
- National Museum of Bhutan
- Druk Choeding Temple
- Ugyen Pelri palace
- Chele la
- Rinpung Dzong
- Dumste Lhakhang
Bhutan Itinerary: Day 6 – Get up early to hike up around 1000 meters to Tiger’s Nest Monastery, one of Bhutan’s most iconic sights. Tiger’s Nest, perched perilously at over 3000 meters on the edge of a narrow cliff, is the highlight of this itinerary. To reach this 17th-century temple complex, you must climb for 2-3 hours. It’s a steep uphill climb at higher altitudes, so take it slow and easy. As you climb the steep trail, you will be rewarded with spellbinding beauty, clean air, and mystical serenity. According to legend, Guru Rinpoche was transported to this particular spot by a flying tigress, thus the name. You will be exhausted after such a perilous trek. Check into your hotel in Paro for the night.
Bhutan Itinerary: Day 7 – Your Bhutan vacation has come to an end. It is time to depart from Paro International Airport and return home.
PS – If you have less than 7 days, this itinerary can still be easily managed. According to your preferences, shorten your stay in any one of the three cities. If you are in the area, consider staying longer to visit India.
PC – Flickr.com
Frequently asked questions
The peak months are from March-May (when flowers are in full bloom) and September–November (best time for trekking). June-August is monsoon season. Although you may be caught in a few showers, the prices will be lower and Bhutan will be lush green. If you want to see snow, go between November and February. However, you may encounter roadblocks and detours.
Bhutan has only one international airport, which is located in Paro, and only two airlines are permitted to operate: Druk Air and Bhutan Air. They only fly from selected places like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangkok, Kathmandu Singapore, and Dhaka. As a result, international connectivity is a major concern. You can also travel by road from neighbouring countries.
Dzongkha is the national language of Bhutan. However, English is widely spoken and understood all over Bhutan.
The Bhutanese currency is the Ngultrum, which is equivalent to 0.013 USD. ATMs are scarce, and international debit and credit cards are rarely accepted. You are also charged an additional fee. So always keep enough cash on hand.
Citizens of most countries need a visa to enter Bhutan which can be obtained through licensed tour operators. The visa costs $40. Citizens of India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives require an entry permit which can be obtained at the port of entry on producing a passport with minimum 6 months validity. This permit is free.
Because there is little public transportation in Bhutan, booking a taxi for the duration of your stay is the best option. Long-distance trips are usually charged a flat rate. Ask your driver to make all the necessary arrangements.
Bhutan’s internet service is undoubtedly subpar. Large hotels provide free Wi-Fi, but don’t expect lightning-fast speeds. To stay connected, purchase a local SIM card in Paro or Thimphu.
- Bhutanese respect their royal family a lot, so be respectful of them.
- Pictures inside temples are not allowed.
- You cannot smoke in public places.
- You are supposed to cover your arms and legs while entering temples.
- Avoid public display of affection.