After breakfast this morning, head out for your first walk on the Trans Bhutan Trail. This ancient route, which runs 403 kilometres from Haa in the West of Bhutan to Trashigang in the East, dates back at least as far as the 16th century, when it would have been the only means of communication between the strategically-located dzongs (fortresses) along the route. The Trail’s Garps (messengers) were quite legendary, travelling with vital messages between Dzongs at great speeds with little food or rest. Over time, the Trail came to play a major role in uniting the region’s many kingdoms, culminating in the birth of Bhutan as a nation in 1907. With the advent of Bhutan’s National Highway in the 1960s, the Trail fell into disrepair but was restored in 2019 thanks to a partnership between the Royal Bhutanese Government, the Tourism Council of Bhutan, and the Bhutan Canada Foundation. The Trail now receives visitors from across Bhutan and the world.
Today’s short walk starts at Thimphu’s most recognized landmark, the Buddha Dordenma. Guarding the entry to the Thimphu valley, this 51-metre (167 feet) gilded bronze statue is filled with 125,000 miniature statues and sits atop a three-storey base housing a chapel and thousands of donated statuettes. The statue was commissioned to mark His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck’s 60th birthday and was originally made in China before being transported to Thimphu in pieces. After visiting the Buddha, head down the Trail towards the community of Debsi, just outside the main city. You will enjoy panoramic views of the Thimphu valley as you go.
On arrival in Debsi, visit the nearby Tsumalaphy Nunnery where you will meet some of the nuns that live here. The nunnery is one of Her Majesty the Queen Mother’s projects. 150 volunteers from the Royal Institute of Management and the Bhutan Scout Association participated in the voluntary work to construct the nunnery walls.
After lunch at the Simply Bhutan Museum Restaurant, visit the BAOWE (Bhutanese Association of Women Entrepreneur), an NGO It came into existence on 15th April 2010 under CSO Act of Bhutan with a mission to promote sustainable and equitable opportunities for women entrepreneurs across Bhutan. You will meet BAOWE’s CEO and some of the other women members of the organization.
You will also make a stop at the Bhutan Nuns’ Foundation, a charitable organization providing support and resources for girls and women living in nunneries and communities surrounding nunneries. The BNF focuses on empowering and educating Bhutanese girls and women, improving the living conditions and economic vitality of rural villages, and preserving Bhutan’s culture in the face of rapid economic development.
Optionally and time permitting, you may also choose to visit:
CDK, an established Bhutanese fashion brand founded by Ms. Chandrika Tamang, who quit a corporate job to become a pioneer in fashion design. After countless hours researching fashion design and tailoring clothes at home, she created a business to inject much-needed innovation and modernity into the Bhutanese fashion industry. You will be able to browse the unique designs and purchase clothing if you wish.
Tsé Organics, founded by Ms. Choitsho Eudel Dorji. Dorji was raised in Geneva, Switzerland, New York City, USA and New Delhi, India, before returning to Bhutan after completing her studies to work as a civil servant, consultant and now also an entrepreneur. Tsé Organics is founded on the belief that creating a balance with the elements of nature is essential for wellness, and their unique luxury oils and skin products are sourced and hand-blended using traditional Bhutanese wisdom alongside contemporary technology.
Trek Distance: 4.8 kilometres (2.98 miles)
Estimated Trek Duration: 1.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 5 metres (16 feet)
Starting Elevation: 2,650 metres (8,694 feet)
Ending Elevation: 2,263 metres (7,425 feet)
Maximum Elevation: 2,650 metres (8,694 feet)