Top 5 Bhutan Treks For Beginners | Druk Asia

Top 5 Bhutan Treks For Beginners

BY Joni Herison
Posted on 08/July/2024

Trekking in Bhutan is one of the best ways to explore the breathtaking pristine environment of the Kingdom. Whether it’s an arduous hike or just a leisure stroll on flat lands, you’ll traverse through spectacular Himalayan mountains. There are many different trekking routes in Bhutan suitable for different levels of trekkers.

Check out the different Bhutan Hiking routes.

All Bhutan trekking tours will be accompanied by a trained guide, a cook, an assistant, and at least one horseman. You’ll be sleeping in tents at the different campsites throughout the journey.

Below are the top 5 Bhutan treks for beginners

1) Bumdra Trek

Summary of the trek:

Duration : 2 days
Max Elevation : 3800m
Min Elevation : 2800m
Best Time to Visit : Late March to May, September to November
Start : Sangchen Choekor Shedra
Finish : Ramthangkha

Bumdra trek is known to be one of the most beautiful short duration Bhutan treks with only one night camping in the wilderness. Bumdra means “Rock of One Hundred and Thousand Foot Prints”. Legend has it that a hundred thousand Dakinis (angels) descended here and left their footprints on the rock some 800 years ago. Bumdra is situated about 3800m above sea level.

Bumdra trek requires a moderate degree of fitness. But not to worry as your luggages will be carried by the yaks or horses. You’ll only be required to carry your personal backpack, so pack light!

Bumdra Trek is a highly scenic trek with beautiful scenery throughout the hike. Along the way, you’ll also see stacks of tsa-tsas, or small stupas. These tsa-tsas are made of clay, blessed medicinal ingredients and filled or stamped with mantras and relics. Tsa-tsas are also used to honour the deceased by mixing their ashes and are usually placed in areas sheltered by the elements such as caves or other sacred places.

Bumdra Trek starts from Sang Choekor in Paro, where a Buddhist college, Sang Choekor Lhakhang is situated. You can visit the Buddhist college prior to starting your trek and ask for blessings for a good and smooth trek from the monks. The first landmark of Bumdra Trek is Chhoe Tse Lhakhang temple about 2 hours from the starting point. The initial 1 - 2 hours accent of a ridge can be steep but it will be trekking under cool shades for most parts. You’ll continue until you reach a clearing with colourful fluttering prayer flags. From there, you'll enjoy the spectacular view of both Paro and Do Chhu valleys.

Another 1-2 hours hike away is the Chhoe Tse Lhakhang. The temple is nestled at the side of the mountain. Upon reaching Chhoe Tse Lhakhang, you’ll have a beautiful view of Paro valley and the snow-capped mountains. From there, the trail continues until you reach the last steep of elevation where you’ll see a temple overlooking the views of Paro Airport. After 20 mins of climbing through the ruins and more prayer flags, you’ll hike through an ancient forest for about 40 minutes before you reach a wide meadow with sacred chortens.

Check out the full itinerary for Bumdra Trek.

The Bumdra monastery is located at the wide meadow and that’s also the campsite for the trek. Explore the monastery and take in the gorgeous views of the untouched landscape.

After spending the night in the wild and waking up to awe-inspiring sunrise, you’ll trek your way back to Paro. The trail for the second day is relatively easier than the first day. After 1-2 hours descent, you’ll catch glimpses of the golden roofs of temples below. The path snakes across the mountainside between monasteries and temples before reaching gardens of Sangtopelri (Heaven on Earth). From there, you can bravely peer over the edge and see the ornate roofs of the iconic Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) in the cliff far below. An hour later, you’ll be at the gates of Taktsang looking across the gorge, going through a steep descent and then ascent on steps to Tiger’s Nest. From Tiger’s Nest, you’ll descend all the way down to Ramthangka base, thus marking the end of the Bumdra Trek.

2) Bumthang Owl Trek

Duration : 3 days
Max Elevation : 4000m
Min Elevation : 2250m
Best Time to Visit : Mar to May, Sep to Nov
Start : Menchugang
Finish : Tharpaling Monastery

Bumthang Owl Trek is another easy short trek in the central region. You’ll traverse through charming villages, gentle flowing lakes, beautiful rivers and lush forests. You’ll also come across exotic flora and fauna such as the rare blue pine, bamboo, firs and maple trees. And of course the majestic owls. This unique trek provides a glimpse of the rich culture and biodiversity of the Kingdom. The trek is aptly known as Bumthang Owl Trek as the silent nights will be punctuated with sounds of the hooting owls.

Your journey will begin from Menchugang where you’ll hike to the ancient villages of Dhur, the biggest village in Bumthang. At Dhur village, you’ll be able to witness the lifestyle of nomadic Kheps and Brokpas inhabitants. You’ll also be able to have a beautiful aerial view of the villages from the top. Descend down to the river and visit the traditional water-driven flour mill. This traditional flour mill used to be a source of livelihood for the Dhur villagers. However, it was abandoned after the intake channel was washed away by a flash flood. The mill process has since been rehabilitated as it symbolises an authentic Bhutanese tradition.

You’ll continue to hike uphill through lush forests of fir, juniper, rhododendrons, and maple trees and be mesmerised by the wildflowers along the way. The trail takes you across the gorgeous Drangela Pass (3600m), offering stunning vistas of the snow-capped peaks including Mt. Gangkar Phuensum, the highest unclimbed mountain in the world. Ascending the Kitiphu ridge brings you to an altitude of 3870m where you’ll camp for the night. If you are lucky, you will have a panoramic view of the snow-capped peaks of Eastern Himalayas or spot the Big Monal Pheasants in the area.

For the last day of your trek, you’ll get to explore various sacred monasteries of Zambhalha, Chuedak and Tharpaling. Visiting these historical Buddhist learning centres enable you to better understand the religious life of monkhood. Chuedak Monastery has 1000 Avalokiteshvaras in the form of Chukchizhey (eleven heads) that you will not find anywhere else in the country.

Thereafter, you’ll trek along the ridge of Kiki La and finally make your way back via the Royal Heritage Trail, a traditional trek route between Trongsa and Bumthang. Your trek ends once you reach Jakar Dzong in Bumthang.

3) Druk Path Trek

Duration : 6 days
Max Elevation : 4235m
Min Elevation : 2400m
Best Time to Visit : Mar to Jun, Sep to Nov
Start : Damchoena
Finish : Phajoding Monastery

The Druk Path Trek is one of Bhutan’s most accessible trails. It’s a classic trek that follows an ancient, high-level trade route from Paro to Thimphu. It’s not too strenuous for beginners yet it boasts some of the most beautiful views of the Himalayas. The popularity of Druk Path Trek is unsurprising as Bhutan trekkers will be treated with the views of gorgeous natural landscapes, and pass through blue pines, firs and rhododendron trees without going through a demanding hike. With campsites located close to stunning high altitude lakes, you get a chance to relax in a truly pristine environment. Aside from the picturesque landscapes, the Druk Path Trek also offers you a cultural expedition and allows you to visit ancient temples, dzongs and villages.

Along the way, you’ll be able to enjoy the spectacular views of the Himalayan peaks including Mt Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Mt Gangar Phuensum. One of the highlights of the trek is visiting the abandoned Jele Dzong and trekking through Jimilang Tsho Lake, whose crystal clear water is home to gigantic trouts.

Throughout the trek, you’ll also come across the yak herders. It’s a great opportunity to interact with them and to understand their nomadic lifestyle.

Your final destination is Phajoding Monastery that offers you a beautiful bird’s eye view of Thimphu valleys. From there, you’ll descend through pine and juniper forests, leading you to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan.

Druk Path Trek also allows you to visit some of the top attractions in Paro and Thimphu including the sacred Taktsang Monastery, Memorial Chorten and Tashichho Dzong.

Check out the full itinerary of Druk Path Trek.

4) Nub Tshona Pata Trek

Duration : 5 days
Max Elevation : 435m
Min Elevation : 2200m
Best Time to Visit : Mar to Jun, Sep to Nov
Start : Haa valley
Finish : Tsojo

The Nub Tsho Napata Trek provides you an opportunity to explore the untouched, remote Haa valleys and savour its glorious landscapes. It’s considered one of the off-beat and less explored regions of Bhutan. Nub Tshona Pata, or the Great Lake of the West, is considered sacred by the Bhutanese. Legend has it that a revered Terton (religious treasure revealer) Sherab Mebar discovered sacred relics from the lake. According to folklore, Terton Sherab Mebar is said to have gulped the entire lake dry and asked the masons to remove the golden pillars lying at the bottom of the lake. The Terton wanted to bring those pillars to Paro Dzong. However, overcome with greed, the masons went on cutting big chunks of the golden pillars. Infuriated by their act, the Terton shouted at them and lost the power to hold the water. The lake is then believed to have chased the masons away. This is the reason, locals believe, the Terton could not discover all the treasures hidden at the lake.

Today, a few of the relics discovered by the Terton are preserved in Paro Rinpung Dzong and Ugyen Guru Lhakhang in Pangbisa, Paro.

Nub Tshona Pata Trek takes you closer to a part of Bhutan that remains isolated and hidden. You’ll trek along the Tibet borders and encounter several high altitude glacier virgin lakes and rich biodiversity of the Himalayas, all above an altitude of 4,000m.

Breathtaking landscapes, beautiful alpine lakes and the beautiful golden rays at sunset are some of things that Nub Tshona Pata Trek offers. Throughout the trek, you’ll cross two high mountain passes, Gochhi La at 4350m and Gochu La at 4200m.

Apart from exploring sacred lakes, you’ll be able to visit yak herders’ camps, see golden trouts, and explore the hillsides. This is also where you can hunt for the elusive blue poppy, the national flower of Bhutan. Your trek will end in Tshojo located in Haa valley.

5) Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek

Duration : 6 days
Max Elevation : 4720m
Min Elevation : 2250m
Best Time to Visit : Apr to Jun, Sep to Oct
Start : Genekha Village
Finish : Chamgang Village

Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek in Bhutan is a 5-day high elevation trek in Thimphu. The trek is relatively easy and most trekking days are short but there are some long steep climbs. Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek will take you through yak herders’ camps, quaint villages, monasteries and of course, multiple lakes! The trek also traverses the largest grazing land for the yaks in Bhutan.

During the end of spring, the entire valley comes to life with flaming red, pink and white rhododendron blossoms. During the monsoon, a variety of mushrooms can be found including the Sangay (Mashtakhay) mushroom. Your trek begins from Genekha Village, which is 45 mins drive from Thimphu. The village is famous for producing Matsukate and Chanterelle Mushrooms. You’ll hike through a mule path, terraced fields and coniferous forests rich with alpine flora.

One of the days, you’ll also climb gently through scattered birches and rhododendrons to arrive at Pag Labtsa pass (4,250m) marked by huge cairns. From the pass, you will have spectacular views of Kanchenjunga (Sikkim) and most of the Himalayan peaks.

One of the highlights of Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek are the pristine crystal-clear lakes of Reli Tsho, Hen Tsho and Jama Tsho. These are also the sites for trout fishing. However, a permit is required for fishing in Bhutan. Do let your tour operator know in advance.

Aside from picturesque lakes, you’ll be treated to stunning views of Mt Everest, Mt Jomolhari, Masanggang, Jichu Drake and Tiger Mountain.

Check out the full itinerary of Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek.

Conclusion About Treks In Bhutan for Beginners

Embark on amazing treks with our Bhutan travel packages. Plan your trekking adventure by knowing the best time to travel to Bhutan and managing your budget with insights on the Bhutan travel cost. For a premium trekking experience, explore our luxury travel in Bhutan options. If you're travelling from Malaysia, our guide on travel to Bhutan from Malaysia provides valuable information. Druk Asia, the best Bhutan travel company, is here to ensure your trekking experience is unforgettable.

Frequently Asked Questions About Trekking In Bhutan

Are There Any Specific Cultural Customs I Should Be Aware Of While Trekking In Bhutan?

Yes, Bhutan has rich cultural traditions. It's important to respect local customs.Bhutan places high importance on environmental conservation. Avoid littering and follow trekking guidelines. Stick to designated trails to prevent damage to the natural environment.

What Kind Of Food Will Be Available During The Bhutan Trekking?

Meals are typically prepared by your trekking crew and consist of local Bhutanese cuisine, which includes rice, vegetables, meat, and a variety of spices. Special dietary requirements can usually be accommodated with advance notice.

What Kind Of Accommodations Can I Expect During The Bhutan Trek?

Accommodations vary from camping in tents on more remote treks to staying in guesthouses or local farmhouses on less strenuous routes.

Will I Need A Guide For Trekking In Bhutan?

Yes, all treks in Bhutan must be accompanied by a licensed guide provided by your tour operator. This ensures your safety and enhances your experience with local knowledge.

How Difficult Are The Trekking Trails In Bhutan?

Trekking in Bhutan ranges from moderate to very challenging. It's important to choose a Bhutan trek that matches your fitness level and experience.

What Should I Pack For A Bhutan Trek?

Essential items include sturdy hiking boots, layered clothing, a good quality sleeping bag, a first aid kit, sunscreen, and a hat. A detailed packing list will be provided by your tour operator.

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