Search the Site

Written by Savi, 6 Comments

With the expansive information available online, it is becoming increasingly rare to chance upon a place that is unexpectedly charming! But every once in a while we travel to a country that leaves us smitten – our trip in Bhutan was one such adventure! From the moment we landed till the moment we left, I was left marvelling at the sheer stature of the landscapes, the peace of the surrounding, and the happiness on the faces of Bhutanese people! After having travelled extensively in India, we were thrilled at the prospect of visiting its beautiful neighbouring country.

Punakha Dzong view point in Bhutan
Oh the beautiful sights that await you 🙂

Here is everything you need to know about planning the ideal trip to Bhutan :-


Druk Air flies directly from Delhi to Paro a couple of times every week. We suggest planning your trip in a way that allows you to opt for these direct flights as they are very convenient. It was our first time flying with Druk Air and the service and aircraft both were above expectation! The best part about this flight are the scenic vistas as you land at Paro Airport – so don’t forget to reserve a window seat for yourself! (left side when travelling from Delhi to Paro and right side on return :-)). We suggest comparing prices and booking here.

flight views delhi paro delhi druk air
The views from the plane are gorgeous

Best time to visit Bhutan

Bhutan is an ideal destination to visit year round, except for the months of June-August due to monsoons. Try to coordinate your visit with a local festival – most festivals happen during September but others are spread throught the year. We travelled in the month of December and had a great time.

paro airport in bhutan
That’s the baggage belt at Paro airport – how cute!!

Must Dos & Highlights of a trip to Bhutan

There are countless things to do in Bhutan and we’ve tried to include as many as possible in our guide, but here are a few that you MUST not miss:

  • Tiger’s Nest Hike
  • Trying your hand at archery
  • Sampling Bhutanese cuisine and local spirits
  • Dochula Pass
  • Breakfast with monks
  • Visiting iconic 52-meter-tall Buddha Dordenma
  • An evening at a local Karaoke bar
  • Healing Dotsho bath with hot stones
  • Exploring Punakha Dzong
dochula pass covered in snow
LOVE! – it snowed the day we were crossing Dochula pass on our way to Punakha

Visas and booking your trip to Bhutan

Bhutan prides itself on being one of the few carbon negative places in the world. The emphasis on sustainability and the happiness index means that there are rather strict guidelines that discourage mass tourism in the country! For eg it is compulsory for all tourists to have a 24X7 local guide in the country. For this reason, it is best to book the entire trip with 1 hotel chain that can offer a package that includes visas (for nationalities that need it), guide, hotel rooms, experiences, transportation, and all meals. We booked our entire trip with Six Senses Bhutan and cannot recommend the experience enough. You’ll be pampered from the pickup at the airport to the drop off, that is for sure 🙂

Indian nationals do not need a visa to enter Bhutan, however they are required to have travel insurance for the duration of the trip, a booking at a government enlisted property, a tour guide, and have to pay a Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) of INR 1200 per person per night. All details can be found on this link.

The local currency of Bhutan is Ngultrums, but Indian rupees are widely accepted. 1 BTN = 1 INR (as of Jan 24).

Now that the logistics are out of the way, let’s go over a day-by-day itinerary, including places and experiences that you definitely need to plan the perfect trip in Bhutan.

You’ll be amazed at all the experiences Bhutan has to offer

Day-by-day itinerary for your trip in Bhutan

Day 1: Fly from Delhi to Paro

Paro Airport is a gorgeous building and offers the perfect introduction to Bhutan. Meet your guide as you exit the airport after passing through immigration and luggage collection and drive to your hotel.

We stayed at Six Senses Thimphu, also known as the Palace In The Clouds. Of all the hotels we stayed in Bhutan, this is one of the most beautiful! Situated high above the valley floor, overlooking apple orchards and young pine forests, with gorgeous views of the Buddha Dordemna, Six Senses Thimphu is the perfect base for exploring Thimpu and kickstarting your trip in Bhutan.

If you can tear yourself away from the incredible views at this hotel, spend the evening enjoying a Jet Lag or Deep Tissue Massage followed by a healing Dotsho bath – this treatment is something you must not miss in Bhutan as it is a wellness ritual that uses hot stones and is known to cure joint pains and aches. One thing is for sure – it will leave you truly relaxed and rejuvinated for all your adventures in Bhutan

On day 1, we suggest dining at Namhkha, the hotel’s signature restaurant that offers an array of Bhutanese and continental dishes.

Beautiful rooms with panoramic views at Six Senses Thimphu
Beautiful rooms with panoramic views at Six Senses Thimphu
six senses bhutan lodge thimphu balcony view
Morning coffee views like these – YES Please 🙂
A Dotsho bath is a MUST


Day 2 : Explore Thimphu

Set aside Day 2 for exploring Thimphu Valley including Buddha Point, Memorial Chorten & its local markets

After breakfast, depart for Changangkha Temple, a sacred pilgrimage site overlooking Thimphu Valley. From here drive towards the iconic 52-meter-tall Buddha Dordenma. This is one of the highlights of the perfect trip to Bhutan. Once you have taken in the sheer size of the Buddha, step inside and discover the 125,000 smaller Buddhas inside (photography is not permitted inside).

Afterwards join Thimphu residents as they pray at the Memorial Chorten. Take in the hustle bustle of Thimphu and if you’re not tired, try visiting the Folk Heritage Museum, Zorig Chusom, (The National Institute for 13 Arts & Crafts) and the National Textile Museum. You can also visit a local paper making or incense making workshop.

Alternatively you’re in the mood for a hike, request your hotel to arrange one to Talakha Goemba situated on a ridge at 3,050 m. Rarely visited, this monastery boasts some of the best views of Thimphu Valley. This hike takes approximately 2 hours but is well worth it. On the way down stop at Lungsigang, a charming picnic spot for late afternoon tea and some energy boosting Bhutanese sweets and snacks.

Buddhe Dordenma Statue – it’s massive!!
Spend a leisurely afternoon at Memorial Chorten talking to the friendly locals
Time for an afternoon dip in the hotel’s heated pool overlooking the buddha statue
And if you’re lucky, you’ll wake up to snow covered forests 🙂

Day 3: Drive to Punakha via Dochula Pass

After breakfast in Thimphu, begin your 2.5 hour journey towards Punakha. But make sure you stop en-route at Dochula Pass. On clear days, this pass offers stunning views of the Himalayan range. Take your time admiring the 108 chortens and walk around.

We planned our visit in a way that would allow us to experience one of Bhutan’s most iconic festivals at Dochula Pass – Druk Wangyul gave us the perfect opportunity to experience the rich colors and traditions of Bhutan. This festival, is held in honor of Bhutan’s fourth king. Apart from the traditional singing and dancing which takes place here, one of the most outstanding features of this special occasion is the scenic beauty of the panoramic Himalayan range which acts as a backdrop for the colourful costumes displayed at the festival.

Gradually the landscape changes to a lush and subtropical valley with charming farmhouses and terraced rice fields. Stop as you enter the valley for a stroll across the rice paddies to Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple, to learn about Drukpa Kinley, the revered ‘Divine Madman’. The adjacent village has some surprisingly graphic phallic paintings to honor the saint on its homes and shops – a truly unique pitstop!

Check in at Six Senses Punakha’s also known as ‘Flying Farmhouse’, as it is home to a unique floating wooden structure that serves as the lodge lounge and reception and offers gorgeous views over the pool and surrounded rice fields. Each of the spacious rooms offer incredible views of the valley and an open-plan living situation with floor to ceiling windows that makes one feel at one with nature.

Enjoy the views and if you’re in the mood for a bit of exercise in the evening we suggest a hike alongside the river climbing up to Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten, a temple built by the Queen Mother to bring peace to the world. Just a short drive from Punakha Dzong, it takes about 50 minutes to climb from the road through beautiful, terraced rice paddies to reach the chorten which was completed in 1999 after eight years of construction. The visitor is rewarded with stunning views of the valley below just as the sun begins to set.

Soak in the colour and culture of Bhutan at one of the local festivals
108 chortens at Dochula pass in Bhutan
Gorgeous panoramas at Dochula Pass – a must visit from Thimphu
Spacious suites at Six Senses Punakha
Can you see why it’s called the Flying Farmhouse 🙂


Day 4: Visiting Monasteries and Pomegranate Martinis by the river

Wake up early for yet another highlight of this amazing trip to Bhutan! Visit a local monastery, that has been adopted by Six Senses, to join the cutest young monks for a traditional monastic breakfast. Afterwards, spend some time learning more about their lifestyle and sharing a simple breakfast with them.

In the afternoon, cross the country’s longest suspension bridge on foot before visiting the gorgeous Punakha Dzong, one of Bhutan’s most impressive landmarks. Located at the confluence of two rivers, Punakha Dzong is six stories high. Take your time to explore this architectural wonder with gorgeous courtyards, murals, and its prayer rooms. Make sure you take lots of photographs as this is a place you’ll want to remember.

Afterwards, experience something truly luxurious if you are staying at Six Senses Punakha! You can catch the sun set over Punakha Dzong as you sip on pomegranate martinis,experience and enjoy light snacks in a rice field with a rushing river as your backdrop. We would highly recommend booking the Pomegranate Martini experience if you are celebrating a special ocassion or planning to propose. It provides the perfect backdrop!

Breakfast spot for today 🙂
So much fun was had spending the morning with these munchkins
Punakha Dzong in Bhutan
Look at that!! One of our favourite experiences in Bhutan

Day 5: Drive from Punakha to Paro

Finally it’s time to leave Punakha. Paro is a 4 hour drive away. Enroute, you can stop at Rinpung Dzong and The Paro National Museum which displays a fascinating collection of Bhutanese relics. Make sure you walk along the busy streets of the town to explore the local handicraft scene or visit the colorful fresh market. You can also visit one of the colourful karaoke bars for a spot of fun!

From the town it’s a 20-minute drive up a high mountain road past stunning views of the valley below to the lodge. Six Senses Paro is situated at an elevation of 9,415 ft (2,870 m.) and offers amazing views of the surrounding area! We suggest spending a relaxing evening at the hotel trying local Bhutanese costumes (a kira and a gho) and trying your hand at archery, Bhutan’s national sport. This is great fun

Have a relaxed dinner at the hotel’s cosy and scenic restaurant Jangkho. The food here in absolutely scrumptious – don’t forget to try local specialities like momos and Ema Datshi, a hearty Bhutanese curry with chillies. You can also take a momo making class here at the restaurant if you’re interested!

🙂 We HAD to do this – a ton of fun
View from our room at Six Senses Paro
Dinner is served!! with a side of the most gorgeous views of Paro valley 🙂

Day 6: The iconic Tiger’s Nest Hike

Set out early this morning on a challenging full day hike to Taktsang Goemba, more famously knowns as Tiger’s Nest. The hike begins at the base camp in a forested ridge and you will have to climb to an elevation of 2,950 meters. One of the most significant cultural icons of the Kingdom, the highly revered monastery was built on a sheer cliff face above Paro and is visible from the valley floor. During cooler weather clouds can shroud the monastery, highlighting its sanctity and remoteness.

Your guide will share stories of the monastery’s history along the way. Pine forests decorated with moss and prayer flags surround you as you make your way along the paths of this sacred trail. Hang prayer flags and wish upon the wind. The hike is fairly challenging and takes approximately 4-5 hours. But it is well worth the effort

If you’re not tired, visit Kyichu Lhakang, a 7th century sanctuary located nearby and one of the oldest religious structures in the Kingdom. An absolute gem for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts alike, it is said to have two magical orange trees that bear fruit throughout the year.

As you return to the hotel after the hike, make sure you relax by heading to the sauna or booking yourself another hot-stone massage to make the aches and pains go away.

You’ll be greeted to these panoramas on your hiike to Tiger’s Nest
Finally made it – it’s quite a strenuous hike, but TOTALLY worth it


Day 7: Cultural activities and blessings

Spend your last day in Bhutan learning how to make the Prayer Flags that you’ve seen everywhere in the country! You can book this experience directly at your hotel. Drive to the home of a local family that has been making prayer flags by hand for generations. Learn the secrets of their craft and make your own prayer flags before a hearty lunch of local favorites.

Wrap up your trip with a Butter Lamp Blessing. We visited the tiny 16th century Samtenling Monastery, just a ten-minute walk from our hotel. Here there are no tourists – we lit 108 butter lamps, believed to dispel darkness in the Universe, and this was followed by a blessing led by the resident monks. It was a uniquely spiritual end to our trip in Bhutan

SO peaceful 🙂

This is the perfect itinerary for a week-long trip in Bhutan. However if you have a few more days, we also suggest adding Gangtey and Bumthang to your itinerary of Bhutan as well. If you have any questions regarding Bhutan, leave them below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible 🙂

So long Bhutan! we’ll definitely be back 🙂


6 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide To Planning a trip to Bhutan

  1. Thanks for sharing. Your post was really helpful. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog post. Speaking of bhutan trip planning, I recently had a fantastic 5 days itinerary trip to bhutan with Starline Travels. I’m looking forward to more insightful travel content from your blog!

  2. Hi…I am visiting bhutan from arpil11 ton17th…

    I would like to follow similar itinary and the stay..

    Can someone at 98337 85128 for further bookings…

  3. Hi Savi, Vid, Bhutan looks stunning from your pics! Can you please reshare the link for travel permit and insurance? The link doesn’t open up correctly. Just to confirm Indian passport holders don’t need visa just the permit? Which insurance did you buy ?

    1. Hey Shilpa,

      That link is actually a printable doc from Government of India website, so it must have been downloading a pdf doc on your device upon clicking. Nonetheless, have replaced that link with the official travel page of Bhutan. Yes, you are right – Indian citizens don’t need a visa, just a permit and they need to pay SDF (as mentioned in the article). We have a year long multi-trip travel insurance – we have used HDFC Ergo and Bajaj Allianz in the past, both are credible.

  4. Hi, Is December a good time to visit? We are planning to go after mid-december. Will it be snowing, cloudy, overcast or raining?

    1. We went in December too, the weather was nice. It snowed one morning (which we were told is a miracle for December). Didn’t encounter rain. Rest, you can’t really predict the weather 🙂 Overall, December is a good time to go as there are some beautiful local festivals as well

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *