Phobjikha Valley

Phobjikha valley is a small town in the central part of Bhutan surrounded by mountains and lush greenery. The place is known for its beautiful landscapes and passes and a day’s hike will take you through the town woods, and valleys. The Phobjikha valley also goes by the name “Valley of black-necked cranes” as this endangered species migrates to this valley every year during winters. The vast U-shaped glacial valley also known as Gangteng valley, offers beautiful landscapes ideal for walking and hiking. 

With semi-nomadic way of life of the locals who enjoy archery and dart throwing as their favourite pastime in Phobjikha valley the place can be reached by bus and car. There are many interesting places to visit near Phobjikha valley and the Gangtey Monastery about 4 hrs away and the Kumbhu Lhakhang about 2 hrs away are also some of them. The Gangtey Monastery is also the largest monasteries in western Bhutan. Visiting Kumbhu Lhakang is considered to be spiritually refreshing and is said to have been built by Tibetan sculptors.

Jomolhari a popular trekking spot in Bhutan starting at Paro is about 98 km away from Phobjikha valley and is famous for trekking. Apart from these places to visit in Bhutan and in and around Phobjikha valley, the Nyelung Drachaling, a 14th century Buddhist temple is also a popular place in the country, Khewang Lhakhang is another beautiful spot that is the oldest lhakhang in the valley worth visiting. Damcho Lhakhang, Black- Necked Crane Information Centre, Wangmo Hand – Woven Carpet Factory, Gangtey Nature Trails and Hikes, Kuezang Chholing Shedra are also some of the popular attractions in the country not very far away from Phobjikha valley. The Wangmo Hand –Woven Carpet Factory was started by local women who make beautifully weaved carpets with intricate designs and patterns at reasonable prices. The Phobjikha valley offers some wonderful trails for hikers and birdwatchers. Visit this valley and places nearby and be stunned by the natural beauty of these places. 

The best time to visit this mesmerising valley in Bhutan is between October and March and you do not have to worry about accommodations here. There are several types of accommodation in and around Phobjikha valley from hotels and resorts to camps and lodges and you can also opt for a homestay for an intimate experience in this beautiful valley.

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Tour of the Dragon

If you are planning for a trip to Bhutan for your holidays do not miss out the tour of the dragon and the famous Bhutan Tiger’s Nest. Here is a list of awesome places you will visit and explore during this tour with TourGenie.

The first day is the day of your arrival in Bhutan at Paro International Airport where you will be received by TourGenie’s Bhutan representative who will escort you to Thimphu.

For the second day of the tour you will visit Punakha Dzong in Punakha – the ancient winter capital of Bhutan; the second oldest and largest Dzong in Bhutan. En-route, you will stop at Dochu-La pass and also visit Lobesa.

Third day of your tour will lead you towards Phobjikha valley over Lawala Pass at 3200m and Gangtey Monastery sitting on the small ridge in the center of the valley. You will also visit villages and get insight into rural life of Bhutan.

On Day 4 you will travel to Bumthang by climbing Lawala Pass at 3200m and then Pele La Pass at 3300m through Trongsa. Later head to Yotong La Pass at 3400m and then again wind down to Kiki La Pass at 2860m through pine forests and farming valleys.

On the fifth day of your tour you will attend pre-race briefing, walk around the town and visit few cultural landmarks in Bumthang.

On sixth day you will participate in mountain bike race held annually in Bhutan. Tour of the Dragon is an international event considered as one of the toughest 1-Day mountain races in the world.

On the seventh day of your tour you will be able to enjoy sightseeing in Thimphu including King’s Memorial Chorten, School of Arts and Crafts, National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Buddha Point and more and drive to Paro.

Day 8 you will conclude your stay in Bhutan with a hike to Taktsang monastery aka Tiger’s Nest in Upper Paro valley in Bhutan. It takes around 2-3 hours through beautiful shady pine forests. What is spectacular about the location of Tiger’s Nest is that it literally clings to the rock at 900m above Paro Valley.

On ninth day you will be drove to Paro Airport for your departure from Bhutan in the hope that you will take back happy memories of Bhutan. And we will wait for your return for another exciting trip in Bhutan with us. 

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Trek In Bhutan: Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek

One of the most scenic of treks in Bhutan is unmistakably the Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek which is a 217 km trek, spanning over 14 days beginning at  Drukgyel in Paro valley. The trek is named after the highest peak of Bhutan Mt. Jomolhari which is also believed to be the abode of the Goddess of protection (Jomo). The trek will take you through gorgeous alpine meadows, high mountain passes, and dense subtropical jungles before ending at Damji in Tashithang. Along the trail of the Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, you will be able to spot indigenous animals of Bhutan such as blue sheep and takins and pass through most pristine and unspoiled landscapes in Bhutan. The trek also offers a day of relaxation at the famous Gasa hot springs en-route. The best months to visit Bhutan to complete this trek are between April-June and mid-September-mid-November, when Bhutan experiences clear skies and a pleasant climate.

Day 1 starts at the Gunitsawa Village in northern Paro and ends at Sharna Zampa (2850m). The following day you trek for almost 22km to reach the campsite at Thangthangkha (3610m). You get the first view of Mt. Jomolhari from here. On Day 3, the trail ends at Jangothang (4080m) while passing through alpine meadows and sightings of yaks. This part of the trek is especially scenic. Day 4 is a rest day for acclimatization and a chance to spot blue sheep and enjoy short hikes around the campsite. The next day, the trail begins at a rapid climb towards Nyilila Pass (4870m) after which there is a descent towards the Lingshi Basin (a U shaped valley). The day ends near the Lingshi Dzong (4010m). The half-day mark takes you to the village of Chebsia (3880m) where the day ends. From here you can also visit the stone houses in the Goyul village nearby.

The 7th Day will lead you towards Gobu La Pass (4410m) and will end above the tributary of Mo Chhu river at Shomuthang (4220m). The eighth day will take you to Jhari La (4750m) from where you can glimpse Sinche La (the pass which comes on the 9th Day), the Great Tiger Mountain, Tserim kang and the Jomolhari. The day ends at Robluthang (4160m), which is in a rocky meadow. The 9th day takes you to Sinche La (5005m), the final and the highest pass on this trek. You will then cross the Kango Chhu and then reach the Limithang campsite (4140m). The 10th day is a downhill trail along the winding river valley to the Laya village (3840m) with glorious views of Mt. Gangchhenta and Mt. Masagang. This is where you will end the day. On the 11th day, the trail takes you to the river valley of Mo Chhu, the major river in Bhutan, up to Kohi Lapcha and then down to Koina (3050) where you will camp for the night. On the 12th day, you will climb to cross the Bari la (3740m) pass to reach the campsite at the Gasa village (2240m), close to the Gasa Dzong. If you descend for another hour, you can relax in the rejuvenating mineral waters of the Gasa Tsachu, one of the most popular hot springs in Bhutan. The trek ends here and offers you a chance to explore this remote village in the northwest of Bhutan. Gasa is home to a distinctive and architecturally unique Dzong and is also an environmentally protected area of Bhutan

Every trek in Bhutan is accompanied by a guide, cook, camping assistant, and a few horsemen and horses to carry gear and the Owl Trek is no different. The maximum elevation that is reached during the trek is 5005m (16420 feet above sea level). Make sure to wear hiking boots, all-terrain clothing and carry a sleeping bag, water-bottle, first-aid kit, and a de-hydration kit as essentials.

To know more about this trek in details, read here:

Bumthang Owl Trek: Best Time to visit Bhutan

The Bumthang Owl Trek is one of the most sought after treks in Bhutan. It is a 3-day trek around Bumthang (north-central Bhutan) and is great for amateur trekkers t take in the unspoiled landscapes of blue pine, birch, maple, spruce, juniper, bamboo, and rhododendrons,  with opportunities to visit age-old Buddhist temples and monasteries as well as get a glimpse into local village life. All of this and the glorious views of Mt. Gangkar Puensum, which is the highest unclimbed peak in the world. The best time to visit is in the months of April and May when rhododendrons are in full bloom. Trekking through this area in autumn is a different experience altogether as there is a possibility of encountering Himalayan black bears.  For culture lovers, the best time to visit Bhutan is during the local festivals.

The trek begins at the Manchugang village and passes through the Dhur Village of the nomadic Kheps and Brokpas. The trek continues with an uphill climb through a forest of blue pine, juniper and hemlock towards the campsite at Schonath (3450m). The otherwise silent nights here are punctuated by the hooting of owls, hence, the name ‘The Owl Trek’. The following day, the trek traverses lush forests to arrive at the Drangela Pass. The day ends at a campsite at the Kitiphu Ridge (3870m), from where Mt. Gangkar Puensum (7541m), the highest unclimbed peak in the world, is clearly visible. On the final day, the trek takes you on a descending path towards the monasteries of Zambhalha, Chuedak, and Tharpaling of which Chuedak monastery is the most unusual in Bhutan, having 100 Avoloketeshvaras in the form of Chukchizhey (eleven heads) that is seen nowhere else in Bhutan. By afternoon, the trek moves along the ridge of Kikila and follows the traditional trek route between Trongsa and Bumthang (the Royal Heritage Trail) to arrive at the Jakar Dzong, which marks the end of the Bumthang Owl trek.

The trek is perfect for amateurs and graded as easy, so first-timers can definitely try this. Every trek in Bhutan is accompanied by a guide, cook, camping assistant, and a few horsemen and horses to carry gear and the Owl Trek is no different. The maximum elevation that is reached during the trek is 4000m (13123 feet above sea level). Make sure to wear hiking boots, all-terrain clothing and carry a sleeping bag, water-bottle, first-aid kit, and a de-hydration kit as essentials.

To know more about this trek in details, read here:

Bhutan Tigers Nest

Traveling to Bhutan and not visiting the iconic Tiger’s Nest in Paro is a cardinal sin. For those who do not know, let this be your introduction to the fascinating Paro Taktsang perched precariously at a height of , 10,000 feet above sea level  in the cliffs in upper Paro Valley, Bhutan. This iconic tourist attraction was once engulfed by a mysterious fire but has been completely restored to its former glory and is by far, the most visited in Bhutan. This place is sacred to the Buddhists housing a monastery, and is so particularly to the Vajrayana sect.

There is an interesting tale revolving around its origins. It is believed that Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, who was an 8th-century Buddhist master from India and also believed to be a re-incarnation of Buddha himself, landed at Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan, on a flying tigress. He then began meditating in a cave for 4 months. It is believed that he subdued the local ‘demons’ and began the conversion of the people of Bhutan to Buddhism.

To reach the main complex, one has to undertake an arduous trek of about 2-3 hours, from the valley floor to reach the entrance of the monastery. That is why it is referred to as a ‘nest’. Mid way up, one reaches the iconic spot from where people take the customary picture with the monastery in the background. There is also a canteen there where one can have lunch. Till here, a horse can be hired, but here onwards, the journey has to be completed on foot. From the entrance, there are 700 stone steps carved into the cliff face that lead up to the monastery. Inside the monastic complex are several caves, lhakhangs, sacred objects, drubchus (holy water), and Tshogyal Pangchung (the lawn of Khandro Yeshe Tshogyal). There is also a cold cave where Padmasambabva is said to have meditated. Besides the captivating monastery, the view of the valley from up there is surreal.

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5 Things To Do In Thimphu Bhutan: Places To Visit

Bhutan, the land of the “Thunder Dragon”, offers subtropical plains to steep mountainous regions and deep valleys, all in a serene atmosphere. No wonder throngs of foreign tourists flock this Himalayan kingdom.  An ideal time to visit Bhutan is during its spring-summer months (Mar-May) when the weather is pleasant and the skies are clear whereas October is ideal for trekking. Some of the hot tourist destinations here are Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Haa Valley, and Pheuntsholing.

Among all of these, Thimphu is perhaps the most interesting. It is the capital of Bhutan, located on the western part and is a wonderful juxtaposition of ancient tradition and modernity seen through its monasteries and traditional houses that stand alongside modern shopping complexes and night clubs. Thimphu has a number of exciting tourist worthy spots to offer that give a traveler an insight into the uniqueness of the arts and culture of Bhutan. Here is our list of 5 such places:

  • Motithang Takin Preserve – See the unusual-looking Takin, the national animal of Bhutan, which is a cross between a goat and an antelope in this enclosed forested habitat located at the edge of Thimphu.
  • Simply Bhutan – A unique project with the aim to conserve the culture and traditions of Bhutan while generating employment opportunities for young job seekers.
  • Buddha Dordenma statue – The most iconic location of Thimphu is the gigantic Shakyamuni Buddha statue seated amidst the ruins of Kuensel Phodrang, the palace of Sherab Wangchuck, overlooking the southern approach to Thimphu
  • Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory – Make some Deh-sho (local paper) here which is made from daphne and dhekap trees, indigenous to Bhutan and make a unique souvenir too.
  • Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan – It is dedicated to the conservation of Bhutanese textiles and showcases the traditional art of weaving in Bhutan and serves as a training center for local individuals.

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