Cultural Heartland Tour - 10 Days
Our Cultural Heartland tour provides one of the best opportunities to experience most if not all of the Bhutanese life style in all its glory.
- Sightseeing in and around Paro and Thimphu
- Panoramic views of the Himalayan mountains
- Chimi Lhakhang Temple
- Shopping in Bumthang village
- Visit Trongsa Dzong fortress
- Visit the Swiss farm
- Taktsang Monastery (The Tiger’s Nest)
Our Cultural Heartland tour provides one of the best opportunities to experience most if not all of the Bhutanese life style in all its glory.
The Kingdom of Bhutan, nestled high in the tranquil Himalayas is a haven to rich bio-diversity, vibrant religion, unique arts, rich history, cultural splendor, heritage and scenic grandeur. It is a fascinating land where time had stood still and preserved the exquisite beauty of this mystical country.
Throughout this cultural heartland tour, you will explore natural biodiversity, flora and fauna of this beautiful country. The vegetation varies over very short distances ranging from tropical broadleaf forests to alpine shrubs and lush meadows. Bhutan is home to such exotic mammals as Takin (a large, musk-ox-like animal), Black necked Crane, Golden Langur, Royal Bengal tiger, clouded leopards and red pandas. Bird species range from the Himalayan black Eagle, and boreal owl to the Tiny black-throated parrot bill.
Arrival at Paro Airport. Overnight at a hotel.
Sightseeing around Paro then evening drive to Thimphu. Overnight at a hotel.
Sightseeing in and around Thimphu. Overnight at a hotel.
Drive from Thimphu to Gangtey/Phobjikha. Overnight at a hotel.
Drive from Gangtey to Bumthang. Overnight at a hotel.
Sightseeing in and around Bumthang. Overnight at a hotel.
Drive through Trongsa to Punakha. Overnight at a hotel.
Sightseeing in Punkha with overnight accommodation in Paro. Overnight at a hotel.
Sightseeing in and around Paro. Overnight at a hotel.
Transfer to international airport for your final departure.
Departures & Availability
We do not have fixed departure date for this trip. This trip can only be organized upon your request. There is an option of private and tailor-made journey best suited for you, your family and friends. We have price discounts according to the group size, the bigger your group, the bigger your group discounts. We allow complete flexibility on your departure date, please choose your preferable date.
- All (international and domestic) airport transfers on a tourist vehicle
Standard government-approved accommodation (in twin sharing rooms) for the duration of the tour.
Full-board meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner and tea & snacks – for the duration of your stay.
Drinking water for the duration of the tour.
Country presentation and tour Briefing on the evening of Day1 with welcome drinks.
Licensed English-speaking Bhutanese tour guides.
Private transportation and a designated driver within Bhutan. Toyota 4WD luggage vans and light trucks for group travel. Luggage will be hauled by horses, mules or yaks at higher elevations.
Monument and museums entrance fees for all sightseeing locations detailed in the itinerary.
Cultural afternoon/evening sessions with traditional mask and folk dances (with beverages). Only for group tours.
Bhutan visa fees and processing assistance.
Government royalty (35% of $200), which goes to the country’s health and education projects.
All route access and monument entry permits and fees.
All government taxes, official expenses and tourist service charges.
International airfare and airport departure tax.
- Travel insurance along with high-altitude emergency evacuation coverage
Tips for tour guides, porters, driver, hotel lobby and in restaurants. (Tipping is expected)
Expenses of personal nature, such as laundry.
Alcoholic and cold drinks.
- Any expenses other than the Price Include section
Detailed ItineraryExpand All
Day 01: Arrival at Paro Airport
You can take flight to Paro from Bangkok, New Delhi, Kathmandu, Dhaka etc. We recommend you to fly from Bangkok because Druk air offer everyday flight from Bangkok – Paro – Bangkok whereas Druk air do not operate everyday flights from other sectors.
The flight to Bhutan offers scenic views of some of the highest peaks in the world.
Paro is at an altitude of 2280m above sea level and this valley serves as an ideal area for rice, apple, wheat, potatoes and vegetable growing.
Our Bhutanese tour guide will meet you at Paro airport, traditionally welcomed with silk scarves and after completion of arrival formalities we then transfer to hotel.
Day 02: Sightseeing around Paro then evening drive to Thimphu
We visit the Ta Dzong which houses the National Museum and visit Paro’s Rimpung Dzong, on the way down we cross the 16th century cantilever bridge.
Also visiting the Drugyel Dzong victory fortress, built in 1647 which is 18 kilometres from the Paro town. Explore the magnificent ramparts of the erstwhile fortress which defended the country against several incursions. On a clear day one can also view the sacred Mount Jomolhari, from the northern battlements. We take a visit to a farm house and observe the traditional Bhutanese way of life and living. Overnight at a hotel.
Day 03: Sightseeing in and around Thimphu
Early morning we take a scenic drive to Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, approx 90 mins drive from Paro. Sightseeing in and around Thimphu valley we visit the National Library, which holds a collection of ancient Buddhist texts and manuscripts, as well as the institute for Zorig Chusum commonly known as Painting School, textile and Folk Heritage Museum which provides an insight into Bhutanese material culture and everyday way of life. Also visiting the National Memorial Chorten, Trashichho dzong an impressive monastery, Bhutanese Handicrafts displaying a wide range of beautifully hand-woven textiles and craft products. In the evening we explore the vibrant Thimphu Bazaar.
Day 04: Drive from Thimphu to Gangtey/Phobjikha
Drive to the glacial valley of Phobjikha via Dochula, this pass offers the panoramic view of Bhutan’s Himalayan Ranges. Along the slopes is the great monastery of Gangtey, established in the 17th century. This quiet and remote valley is the winter home of the black necked cranes. Explore Gangtey village and Phobjikha valley. The unique black necked crane festival is held on the valley floor every November.
Day 05: Drive from Gangtey to Bumthang
After an early breakfast, drive to Tongsa across Pele-la pass (3,300m). The pass is marked by a white chorten and many prayer flags. There is an abrupt change in vegetation with mountain forest replaced by high altitude dwarf bamboo.
Stop at Chendebji Chorten. You can see the chorten with eyes painted at the four cardinal points. It was built in the 18th century by Lama Shida from Tibet, to cover the remains of evil spirit that was subdued at this spot. Finally reaching towards Trongsa you can view the stunning Trongsa Dzong from a distance.
Bumthang, 68 kms away from Trongsa, a journey of about 3 hours, over the Yutong-la pass (3,400m). The road winds steeply up to the pass, then runs down through coniferous forest into a wide, open cultivated valley known as the Chumey valley. Stopping in Chumey village there are many shops selling yathra, a woolen textile. Bumthang is famous for yathra a distinctive strip of woven woolen fabric in numerous colours and patterns mostly made using ancient dyeing techniques. The Road follows the valley down and it climbs through blue pine forests to Kiki La (2,860m). We then descent down to the Choekor Valley or central of Bumthang.
Day 06: Sightseeing in and around Bumthang
The Bumthang valley comprises of a combination of four valleys – Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura with altitudes varying from 2,600m to 4,000m. Home to many of prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries. Visiting the Jakar Dzong built in 1667 and it`s seat of district administration and regional monastic body of Bumthang. Jambay Lhakhang founded in 7th century by the Tibetan king Songsen Gampo it is one of the oldest monasteries in the country. Kurje Lhakhang, where the patron saint of Buddhism in Bhutan subdued a local demon and left his body imprint. Tamshing founded in 1501 by Terton (Treasure Revealer) Pema Lingpa the incarnation of Guru Rinpoche. The monastery has very ancient religious paintings like 1000 Buddhas and 21 Taras (female form of Buddhisattvas) in Bhutan. Visit a farmer’s house for refreshments and observe the traditional way of living. We also visit a Swiss farm which produces cottage, swiss cheese, honey, a large variety of fruit juice and spirits. The Brewery that manufactures the famous Red Panda Beer (weiss beer) also located here. Take a leisurely walk in Chamkhar town.
Day 07: Drive through Trongsa to Punakha
Leaving Bumthang, we head for Trongsa where we will visit the Trongsa Dzong which was built in 1648 it is the biggest of all the fortresses in the country. Drive to Punakha via Wangdiphodrang after which we take a stroll through the Wangdi market.
Day 08: Sightseeing in Punkha with overnight accommodation in Paro
Drive north to visit the majestic Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 which strategically occupies the land between the two rivers Phochu and Mochu. At Present the Dzong serve as the district administration and judiciary office as well as the winter home for Bhutan’s spiritual leader Je Khenpo and the monks of Thimphu and Punakha. We then drive onto Lobesa where you take a short hike to Chimi Lhakhang Temple. This temple is on a hill top and it is dedicated to the great Yogi known as Drukpa Kuenley or popularly known as “Divine madman” of the 14th century. It is believed that this temple blesses women who seek fertility.
Excursion to the Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest). The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful Pine and rhododendron forests. We stop at the tea house for rest and refreshments, the tea house offers magnificent up close view of the tigers nest and continue the hike for short while until you see, clearly and seemingly within reach, the imposing Taktsang monastery. Built in 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900m into the valley below. History states that Guru Padmasambhava, the Tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, landed here on the back of a flying tiger and meditated here for three months. It is regarded to be one of the most venerated cultural heritage sites in Bhutan. People from all over the Himalayan Diaspora frequent this place on the pilgrimage trail to Bhutan.
Day 10: Transfer to international airport for your final departure.
After breakfast our airport representative will drop you to the Paro International Airport for your flight departure from Bhutan.
Gears and Equipment
All you need to bring for this Tour is simply some comfortable clothes; there is no any requirement of special equipment on the tour. However for your ease, the following gives you the general idea about the personal items you need to manage for the trip. The personal items referred here are optional and depends upon your choice. The most important factor to be considered while choosing the equipments and your Bag-pack, is the time of the year you are travelling.
In a tour, the vehicle transfers all the heavy items and equipments. But the Personal belongings of the clients which is required at any moment like money, water bottle, camera, suns cream and toilet paper etc. should be carried by yourself. It is therefore advisable that you pack the personal belongings into your daypack.
If you are going bhutan from kathmandu, we will supply complimentary water and wind proof duffel bag, which you can use on the tour for your shopping purpose. The duffel bag is yours to keep.
List of Recommended Equipment
- Duffel or Rucksack bag or suitcase (We will provide one complimentary ACE duffel bag for you to keep.)
- Warm wool or synthetic hat that cover your ears (only if you are travelling in the cold season i.e January, February and December)
- Goggles or sunglasses for sunbeam, dust and wind.
- A neck warmer is another piece of gear for extra warmth if you feel you will need it and is for cold season i.e January, February and December.(optional)
- 1 pair warm gloves (This is required if your are travelling in cold season i.e January, February and December).
- T-shirts (2).
- Waterproof (preferably breathable fabric) shell jacket (preferable if you are travelling in rainy season from June to September.)
- 1 pair cotton pants (loose jeans/khakis), 1 pair shorts.
- 2 pairs lightweight long underwear/thermals (if you are traveling in winter January, February and December).
- 2 pairs of liner socks, synthetic or capilene.
- 1 pair light camping shoes or sneakers..
- 1 pair sandals (Optional).
Medicines and First Aid Kits
(Please note our guide will also carry the first aid kit bag during the trek. However we still recommend you to bring your personal first aid kit as well)
- Extra Strength Excedrin for altitude related headaches.
- Ibuprofen for general aches and pains.
- Immodium or Pepto bismol capsules for upset stomach or diarrhea.
- Diamox (commonly prescribed as Acetazolamide) 125 or 250mg tablets for altitude sickness. Please discuss with us before starting to take this medicine.
- 1 small personal sized first-aid kit with blister treatments such as mole skin, band-aids, some waterproof tape, anti-infection ointments, etc. Your guides will have more extensive medical gear, but you should have the basics for general use.
- Passport and extra passport photos (4 copies).
- Airline ticket (Please make a copy and leave on at our office in KTM just in case if you need to change the date of your).
- Durable wallet / pouch for travel documents, money & passport.
- Lip balm. At least SPF 20, 2 sticks. A string taped to the stick is helpful, to hang around your neck and some are now being sold with a cord already attached. Handy as it avoids you from having to stop and look for it.
- Sunscreen. SPF 40 is recommended and should be relatively new since it loses its’ effectiveness over time.
- Pocket knife or small Swiss Army type.
- Water purification Iodine tablets or Polar-pure crystals.
- Toiletry kit. Be sure to include toilet paper stored in a plastic bag, hand wipes, and liquid hand sanitizer, towel, soap, etc.
- 2 bandanas.
- 1 pair adjustable trekking poles. Although these are listed as optional, these can be of great assistance to people who may think of themselves and generally clumsy or with bad knees, ankles, etc, especially when going downhill (Optional).
- Favorite snack foods, no more than 2 pounds (Optional).
- Paperback books, cards, mp3 player (there are a couple of stops where you could recharge. Avoid players with moving hardware as it may not function. Remember, keep these items light weight (Optional).
- Binoculars (Optional).
- 1 light weight point & shoot camera or 1 large SLR. Digital cameras are ok, but you must keep the batteries warm when not in use (Optional).
- Hydration bladder with drinking tube and tube insulator (Optional).
- A pee bottle for men and pee funnel for woman, some swear by them to avoid that chilly late night trip (Optional).
- 1 small stainless steel thermos (Optional).
This list is only a guide. While you are required to bring everything on this list, there are numerous options, brands, and versions of each piece of equipment. Use your experience and the listed features to find the best gear for you.
Trip Map / ElevationDownload
FAQs for Cultural Heartland Tour
Why trek with Ace the Himalaya?
Ace has a reputation for successfully leading treks with knowledgeable leaders and staff taking care of all your travel needs. We are a certified sustainable travel company that also endorses the idea of giving back to the community by participating in various philanthropic activities. Here are 17 reasons why you should choose Ace the Himalaya for your next adventure!
What essential documents do I need to bring with me on tours?
Here are some documents that you will need to carry with you:
- Valid Passport – must be valid for up to 6 months after you return from your tour (Keep a separate photocopy)
- Travel insurance (Keep a separate photocopy)
- Cash and Traveller’s Cheques (Keep numbers and proof of purchase separately)
- Flight tickets
- Emergency contact numbers for T/C’s, banks, insurance, family contacts
Weather and Temperature
What is the best season for this tour?
The best time for Bhutan tours is between February to June and September and December.
What is the weather and temperature like on the tour?
It depends on the season you’re travelling. During winter (December to February), it is colder at night and relatively warmer during the day, with the temperature ranging from 4°C at night to 22°C. Between March and May, the weather stays prefect as the temperature averages 25°C during the day. From September to December, following the monsoon, the temperature gets cooler and allows for a great time to travel. The average temperature during this season is 20°C. The vehicles and the hotels during the trip will be air-conditioned making your travel very comfortable.
Arrival and Visas
Do I need to obtain VISA for Bhutan?
We will handle the visa procedures for you. The Govt. will sanction the VISA only after the receipt of full payment in advance. The visa fee is included with our tour price. Actual Bhutan VISA will be stamped in your passport on arrival on Paro airport. Without visa clearance number, tourists cannot board the flight or enter the country.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs forwards a copy of this visa clearance to the concerned Druk Air stations and other entry points; we also fax a copy of the visa clearance document to our clients for their reference. While the actual visa is stamped on arrival, the initial visa clearance is also required at the time of issuing Druk Air Tickets.
All you need is to carry 2 copies of original passport-sized photographs, which are required on arrival in the country. Please e-mail us the clear color copy of the passport for the visa procedures.
Will somebody come to pick me up at the airport upon my arrival?
Yes, our airport representative will be there to greet you at the airport. S/he will be displaying a sign board with your name on it at outside the airport terminal. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel by our tourist vehicle.
Payments and extra costs
How much additional money do I need per day?
It depends on your spending habits. Generally, all the foods, accommodation and hot drinks are included in the price. You can allocate USD 10 to USD 15 for chocolates and a few drinks during the trip.
Can I use credit cards in the places visited in tour?
There are just a few ATM’s in Bhutan for credit card (Master card / Maestro) & only few establishments in Bhutan accept credit card payments hence US Dollars (cash or Amex travelers cheques) or Euros Cash is suggested and convenient to cover any personal expenses (eg. beverages , laundry ,phone bills , tipping , shopping etc) that the Pax may make in the Kingdom. 1US$ is equivalent to Nu. 55 & 1 Euro is equivalent to Nu.69 as of today (the day we writing this text). NU= Ngultrum, the Bhutanese currency.
Who Can Participate?
How fit do I have to be and is this tour for me?
This culture tour is suitable for any kind of person, no previous experience is required.
What sort of accommodation can I expect in tour?
Hotels vary in style and quality. All Government approved hotels are clean and well maintained with hot and cool water, telephones with international dialing and fax facilities. We use three to four star hotels for this trip. All the meals and hot drinks are included in the trip price.
What sort of food can I expect in tour?
Most of the restaurants serve Bhutanese, Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisine always plenty to choose from. Local Bhutanese food are spicy like the Indian food.
Is the water available drinkable? Do I need to bring purifying tablets/filter?
The trip price included the drinking water for the all Bhutan trip. You don’t need to bring any bring purifying tablets/filter or pay for the water.
Will it be possible to get any clothes washed/Laundry ?
Laundry service is easily available at your hotel. Please note that laundry service is not included in the package price.
Can I charge my digital camera or other equipments on my trip?
These facilities will be available in most of the places in your hotel. Remember to bring travel adapters!
Health and Safety
Is Ace the Himalaya's staff insured?
Our company insures all our trekking staff members, including guides, cooks, Sherpa, and porters. Please browse through our legal docment page to view insurance details.
What immunizations will I need?
No vaccinations are compulsory for traveling in Nepal, but we do recommend you are covered for diphtheria & TB, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, *malaria, typhoid, polio and tetanus.
We also recommend:
- A dental check-up prior to traveling
- That you know your blood group in case of emergency
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions which might affect you on tour, you make these known to your tour leader and Ace the Himalaya at the time of your booking.
What is your cancellation policy?
Notice should be provided 20 days before the trip start date in case of cancellation. The trip can be canceled for justifiable reasons. Once the trip is canceled, a fee of 30% of the trip cost is retained for administrative costs.
However, the trip amount is entirely non-refundable if the cancellation is not made before the 20 days as per our terms and conditions. For submitting a claim to your insurance company after the cancellation, we can assist with documentation such as a receipt of monies paid. Refund will not be provided for unused accommodation in case of trip cancellation caused by personal reasons/sickness/weather.
More information about our cancellation policy can be found here in Terms and Conditions page.
Do I need to tip my guide and porters? How much would that be?
This is a difficult thing to gauge. We have seen everything from USD 20 to USD 1000 per person for guides and porters. Tipping is not required, but a small gesture of thanks to your guides and local porters thanks for their help. The level of the tip should reflect the level of satisfaction from and personal involvement with your guide.
Are there any communication facilities during the trip?
Telephones and Internet and international calls are readily available in most of the town for this trip.
Are there any photography restrictions?
You will have many photo opportunities during the trip. Please ask for permission before taking a person’s photo. Photography in, monasteries, shrine rooms of Dzongs and religious institutions is generally not permitted, but outdoor photography is. To be sure when visiting such places, you may consult with your guide just to make sure. Carry plenty of films and batteries. Photo shops in Bhutan do not sell equipment or accessories.
Can I add extra days to my trip?
No, because we can’t change your Druk air flight once it is booked.
Is there a minimum and a maximum number for your groups?
We cater to all group sizes, while maintaining the field staff ratio to give you the best quality and experience.
Transportation and flights
Do we book our international flights and Druk air flights?
Yes, you need to book your own International flights. We are a local agent and it would cost you significantly higher to book through us. Please find more information in the International Flight page.
Druk air is the only airline to and from Bhutan. We can ebook the Druk air flight to and from Bhutan and e-mail you the e-ticket.
Druk air flight cost is not included in the trip price. Druk air flights cost are different as per the flights sectors that you are taking. Druk air offer flights from following location. We recommend you to book your flight to Bangkok as they have every day flight to Paro and from Paro as well.
Please let us know which route is more convenient to you, the cost of the flights are as below. Please contact us for the up-to-date Druk air flight rate.
- Bangkok – Paro – Bangkok = US$890
- New Delhi – Paro- New Delhi = US$875
- Calcutta – Paro- Calcutta = US$510
- Kathmandu – Paro- Kathmandu = US$520
- Bangkok – Paro – Kathmandu = US$ 860
- Bangkok – Paro – New Delhi = US$ 875
What mode of transportation do you use?
Ace the Himalaya is all about providing you with local insights, lifestyle as well as adventure. Using a variety of private transport is an integral part of our Himalayan tours, enhancing the experience!
We use private tourist vehicles for sightseeing, city tours and pickups; whereas we use the best 4WD SUVs as our support vehicle. These vehicles are extremely sturdy, spacious and reliable and they make the journey as comfortable as possible. For larger groups, we also use supported trucks to carry your luggage.
Are there any weight restrictions on Druk air flights?
Druk Air allows only up to 20 kgs of luggage per person, after which the excess baggage charge is USD 5 per kg.
I want to extend my holiday, any recommendations?
Yes, you can extend your holiday. Ace the Himalaya offers many options and alternatives for your holiday extension. For more information, you can visit our Day trips pages.
These full and frank reviews are from travelers who have traveled with Ace the Himalaya previously. The reviews and experiences shown here are from reputable travel websites like TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook, and Trust Pilot, etc.
What makes this trip different ?
Our CSR with Sambhav Nepal
- Ace the Himalaya believes in giving back to the communities that surround and support tourism in Nepal. Ace provides logistical support and, if needed, cash donations to the projects of Sambhav Nepal (a local NGO).
- Sambhav Nepal and Ace work together to plan volunteer programs that will bring in foreign volunteers and make use of their enthusiasm, time, and talents in a variety of projects.
Sustainability and Responsible Tourism
- Of the few Travelife Partners in Nepal, Ace the Himalaya is one. We respect the procedures for sustainable tourism. Our excursions are socially and environmentally conscious, leaving the lowest possible impact in the Himalayas.
- About 80% of Ace the Himalaya’s staff members are natives of the regions where our trips are organized. It is one of our sustainable and responsible efforts to help local communities, support small businesses, and promote regional culture and way of life.