Bhutan

Hiking In Bhutan

Country in Asia

Are you looking to trek paths less-travelled and explore one of the most vibrant cultures in the world? Throw your hiking boots in your backpack, grab your passport, and fly to Bhutan. This country, sandwiched between India and Tibet, is decorated with dramatic mountain ranges, hillside Buddhist monasteries, and verdant landscapes. With snowy, high altitude escapades cloaking the Himalayas, a temperate climate blanketing the southern and central valleys, and subtropical weather warming up the eastern region, it's easy to see that Bhutan has walks tailor-made for any level of trekker.

Bhutan's hiking scale can accommodate avid adventurers craving a bold, multi-day experience or chilled-out travellers who enjoy pleasant routes sprinkled with magnificent views and culture. The 27-day Snowman Trek—some dub this expedition as the "hardest trek in the world"—takes you away from society and places you in the thick of the Himalayas. At the same time, most of the day hikes traverse lush landscapes to monasteries perched precariously on mountain faces.

Do keep in mind that travelling to Bhutan takes some planning. While the country is slowly opening up and allowing independent visitors, you may have to pay for a fully packaged, pre-planned guided tour or create your own prepaid, planned travel program. Just think of it as an all-inclusive resort, but swap the lazy beach days for unique hiking adventures.

The government believes in protecting the environment, hence the strict rules and costly regulations!

Types Of Hiking In Bhutan

Bhutan encompasses a delightful mixture of easy, family-friendly treks and crazy, adventurous, multi-day explorations. And somewhere in the middle, you'll find short, but challenging day treks or hikes stretching over a couple of days, but with a low elevation gain. Bhutan is the ultimate hiking paradise with the eastern Himalayas towering over Bhutan and the sloped valleys collecting villages below.

Visitors looking for easy day hikes can flock to Thimphu, where several trails paint the area surrounding Bhutan's capital city. Paro, Phobjikha Valley, Tang also offers hikes stacked with mind-blowing views and remote sacred monuments. Up in the Himalayas, you'll find beyond challenging trails traversed by fit and experienced hikers.

Easy Hikes In Bhutan

Cheri Monastery: Get acquainted with the verdant scenery painting Bhutan's backyard on this short 2.4 km trek. This lighthearted trail may be easy, but that doesn't mean the views aren't spectacular. The path will guide you to the Cheri Monastery perched on the hillside and to sprawling vistas of the land below. This hike makes for an ideal afternoon or morning expedition!

Family Hikes In Bhutan

Tango: A meander along this well-marked trail allows you to catch glimpses of the unspoiled scenery spanning Bhutan without overexerting yourself. The monkeys perched in the trees and deer littered across the land work to provide free entertainment for hikers strolling this 4.0 km path.

Dodeydrak Monastery Hike: Interact with locals and catch a glimpse of Bhutan's rural life as you hike towards the Dodeydrak Monastery. Admire its great peculiarity before winding along this less-travelled-by, steep path until you reach the road. The top of the track even has a rest spot with bathrooms!

Day Hikes In Bhutan

Chele La Pass: Exploding with scenery shimmering in green hues, the Chele La Pass boasts of magnificent views of both the Haa and Paro valleys. Amid admiring the stunning vistas, the path sprinkles trekkers with doses of spirituality. Expect to encounter a chorten, nunnery, and if you want to hike farther, two sky burials. The Chele La Pass gives you the option to choose your trail back, evoking a choose-your-own-adventure experience.

Pomola: This 13.0 km route beautifully marries Bhutan's lush scenery with glimpses of rural life. Notice the horses and yaks scattered across the land as you meander this path, which will also carry you through a blue pine forest. Eventually, you'll reach Pomola Pass, and the myriad of trails give you the chance to pick which route you want to take back!

Challenging Hikes In Bhutan

Talakha Hike: The 13.5 km distance tacked onto this route may propel you to brush it off as a moderate trek, but we can assure you that it'll get your blood pumping and breath panting. The sign scarcity also adds a slight challenge to this already strenuous hike, but it's all a part of the fun, right? But once you reach the peak, the vistas from above will wipe your memory of any pain you felt just moments ago.

Best Hikes In Bhutan

Phajoding Monastery: This trek seamlessly blends Bhutan's vibrant culture with vistas of unmatched scenery. Hikers will likely cross paths with locals and horse teams as they make their way to the recently declared "endangered monument," the Phajoding Monastery.

Thari Goempa: The Thari Goempa hike, which spans 11.0 km and has an elevation of 3,261 m, earns the slot as one of the most satisfying day treks within the Thimphu Valley—the region surrounding Bhutan's capital city. En route, hikers will come across spectacular views of Doedaydra, Buddha Point, and Phudjoding. A goempa and more fantastic views await trekkers at the top.

Buddha Point: This 11.0 km, out-and-back route boasts of one notable highlight: the statue of Buddha eyeing the valley and people peppering the area below. Crossing rainforest and logging roads, on a path marked with limited undulations, this route makes for a pleasant morning or afternoon adventure.

Lungchutse: The Lungchutse hike twists through junipers, hemlock, and rhododendrons. Eventually, the lush forested scenery will fade into a ridge, granting—if it's a clear day—a vista of the Himalayas towering over the horizon. This route is a well-marked, 6.1 km out-and-back path.

When Is The Best Time To Hike In Bhutan?

While most trekkers can snake along Bhutan's path all-year-round, certain pockets of time grant clearer views and increased pleasure. The monsoon season typically goes from June until August, so hikers craving crisp vistas and a vibrant shade of green coating the land will want to travel to Bhutan between September and November.

However, from March to May, flowers, such as rhododendrons, magnolias, and a concoction of other wild blossoms, add colour variation to the valleys and slopes. The views may not be as unobstructed as in autumn.

Best Regions For Hiking in Bhutan

Bhutan contains an array of regions tailor-made for hiking enthusiasts. Avid trekkers can find a collection of lush hikes, exploding with cultural colour and unmatched scenery in western Bhutan. Several of the trails spanning these areas suit all hiking and fitness levels. Travellers seeking a more off-the-grid experience, heightened lush views, and a step back in time, will enjoy the central region. Eastern Bhutan boasts of warmer temperatures and fields of necessary crops: corn, wheat, rice, potatoes. Most people tend to flock to the Western region for hiking!

Other Outdoor Activities in Bhutan

While several people flock to Bhutan for its numerous trails twisting through the mountain slopes and its eastern Himalayan location, the country also encompasses a selection of other outdoor activities, such as rafting, climbing, kayaking, and biking. Those interested in cycling may want to try biking the Thimphu to Dochula Pass. Kayakers will have a heyday paddling through the rivers flowing with water streaming from the Himalayas. Climbers can climb The Nose via one of 13 routes. Rafters can try navigating the Po Chu River and the Mo Chu River. Activity enthusiasts can also try archery, fishing, or opt to go camping! It's safe to say that Bhutan is a natural playground for lovers of the outdoors.

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Hiking regions in Bhutan

    Best Hikes in Bhutan

    Open details for Lungchutse

    Lungchutse

    Moderate
    6.1 km
    661 m
    3-4h

    The Lungchutse day-hike will take you through woodland groves peppered with hemlock trees, junipers, and rhododendrons. Once you reach the ridge, the lush forest scenery will dissolve into a ridge, which, on a sunny day, unveils a panoramic view of the Himalayas. The picturesque scenery blanketing this track tends to attract more hikers than other spots, but compared to other tourist destinations, this trail is pretty remote.

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    10.0
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Open details for Chele La Pass

    Chele La Pass

    Hard
    13.5 km
    1,100 m
    5.5-7.5h

    Exploding with an unspoiled, hushed ambience, the scenery blanketing Chele La Pass envelops any trekker. Depending on what time of year you hike, you’ll notice the enchanting blue poppies dotting the valley. The end of the hike will take you to the nunnery, which is set along the mountain face.

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    10.0
    Technical Difficulty
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Advanced (Diamond)
    Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
    Open details for Buddha Point

    Buddha Point

    Moderate
    11.4 km
    660 m
    4-5.5h

    The hike to Buddha points traverses the lush mountainside blanketing the landscape, allowing you to admire the sprawling Thimphu valley from various points on this pleasant hike. The minor undulations carved into this valley will have you meandering logging tracks, and through rainforests and brush with the highlight being the statue of Buddha towering over the valley.

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    10.0
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Open details for Cheri Monastery

    Cheri Monastery

    Very Easy
    2.4 km
    220 m
    1-1.5h

    Slightly rugged, but tailor-made for families and those seeking a relaxed adventure, the short hike to Cheri Monastery doesn’t disappoint. After trekking for an hour to two hours, you’ll encounter the Cheri Monastery perched on the hillside, overlooking the land below. Let your body immerse in nature, while also experiencing a dose of spiritual history on this lovely hike.

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    10.0
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Open details for Pomola

    Pomola

    Moderate
    10.5 km
    945 m
    4.5-6.5h

    Embroidered with quintessential Bhutan vistas, a blue pine forest, and animals and plants dotting the land, the Pomola Hike doesn’t disappoint. As you wander, it’s likely that you’ll come across horses and yaks. When you reach Pomola Pass, the number of trails grant you the chance to choose your end point.

    User Ratings
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    10.0
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Open details for Dodeydrak Monastery Hike

    Dodeydrak Monastery Hike

    Hard
    6.5 km
    820 m
    3.5-5h

    The Dodeydrak Monastery Hike embodies a more rural, off-the-beaten-path vibe. Mingle with the locals as you make your way to the mountain-tucked Dodeydrak Monastery, resting on a slope. The friendly atmosphere and peculiar monastery architecture will undoubtedly please you.

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    10.0
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Open details for Phajoding Monastery

    Phajoding Monastery

    Hard
    6.9 km
    822 m
    3.5-5h

    The Phajoding Monastery Hike will take you along a well-worn track, peppered with locals, horse teams, and a few other tourists, to the monastery. In 2010, the once-prosperous, adorned monastery was declared an “endangered monument.” If you have energy after reaching the monastery, you can opt to trek higher into the mountains for more vistas.

    User Ratings
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    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
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    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Open details for Thari Goempa

    Thari Goempa

    Very Hard
    11.1 km
    1,205 m
    5.5-7.5h

    Immerse yourself in nature on this pleasant walk traversing Thimphu’s backyard. This trek not only comes with a myriad of spectacular views of Phudjoding, Doedaydra, and Buddha Point, but you can expect numerous friendly dogs to join you on your walk. The top of the trek will take you to the goempa, where the valley glistens below.

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    10.0
    Technical Difficulty
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Advanced (Diamond)
    Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
    Open details for Talakha

    Talakha

    Very Hard
    13.5 km
    1,100 m
    5.5-7.5h

    The Talakha Hike is one of the most difficult hikes in the area, but it offers rewarding views of the vast landscape sprawling below. En route, you’ll meander through bamboo, logging sites, collecting dog friends as you trek, who will bark at any yaks or animals crossing the path. The lack of signage may heighten your chances of getting lost, but it’s all a part of the adventure, right?

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    10.0
    Technical Difficulty
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Advanced (Diamond)
    Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
    Open details for Tango

    Tango

    Easy
    2.4 km
    400 m
    1.5-2h

    Looking to ease your way into the trails scattered around Thimphu, Bhutan? The Tango Hike is tailor-made for newcomers wanting to warm-up their legs and tap into the trekking mindset. Just 2.4 km, this out-and-back trek will introduce you to wildlife like monkey and deer, as well as the Tango Monastery, which stands tall on a grassy slope.

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    10.0
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.

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