Remote Eastern Bhutan - 12 days/11 nights

Eastern Merak lady in tradtional dress that you will see when visiting Radi on this tour.
Lady of Merak Sakteng

Page updated: 19 June 2024

Remote Eastern Bhutan Private Tour - Tour Introduction:

 Perfect for those who have visited Bhutan before and those seeking an ‘off the beaten track’ Bhutan experience.

  • This private tour focuses on the rarely visited Eastern Bhutan regions of Autsho/Lhuentse, Mongar & Trashigang/Radi, all with their unique cultures. 
  • Eastern Bhutan is a haven for Bhutan’s best weavings.
  • Finally a special pilgrimage hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tigers Nest) in Paro. 
  • This tour optimises valuable time to see the best sites in each region.
  • The itinerary detailed below is designed for private travellers and can be tailored to suit your activity preferences.
  • Our inclusion of two short domestic flights ensures travellers maximum opportunity to explore this remote and diverse region.
  • Parts of Eastern Bhutan offer some of the best birdwatching in Asia.

STOP PRESS! Your arrival and departure days to/from Bhutan will therefore be subject to the domestic air schedules at the time.

From early 2024 we suggest prospective travellers reverse this itinerary to start in Trashigang and end the eastern Bhutan component in Bumthang. This fits in better with the latest domestic flight schedules

OR CALL THE BHUTAN TRAVEL EXPERTS ON
AUS toll free, James – 0412 416 111Nicola – 0413 598 669

Take the road less travelled. You won’t regret it!

PRICE FROM US$3786.00 pp half board twin/dbl (mix of hotels & homestays)

Remote Eastern Bhutan Tour Map

Tour Itinerary Overview.

  • 1 night Paro valley sightseeing.
  • Domestic flight Paro/Bumthang.
  • 2 nights Bumthang, Dzong visits, hiking.
  • 1 night Yongko la, sightseeing.
  • 2 night Autsho, exploring, hiking & sightseeing.
  • 1 night Mongar, sightseeing & exploring.
  • 2 nights Trashigang with sightseeing, hiking & exploring
  • Domestic flight Trashigang/Paro.
  • 1 nt Paro valley with Taktsang Monastery hike, shopping & sightseeing.

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 Why Book with Bhutan & Beyond?

  • Bhutan & Beyond are Bhutan experts with 21 years experience, service & knowledge.
  • Bhutan & Beyond has access to Bhutan’s very best Bhutanese guides.
  • This private tour affords you time to immerse yourself in the vibrant Buddhist culture of Bhutan.
  • Exceptionally well constructed & flexible itineraries ensuring less driving & more exploring.
  • We offer the option to choose between  HALF BOARD or FULL BOARD land package.
  • Competitive pricing and luxury hotel upgrade options in some valleys.
  • Option to substitute 3* hotels for farm home stays in some valleys.
  • We provide a comprehensive pre-departure planning kit. (regularly updated)
  • Full support from Bhutan & Beyond throughout.
  • Experts at combining Bhutan with India & Nepal.
  • ATAS Accredited via our parent company MTA Travel.
  • Access to our exclusive travel app COMPANION.

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Your Bhutan FULL BOARD Land Tour Inclusions:

  • Professional guide & driver with private SUV/minibus.
  • All touring & transfers throughout your journey.
  • Domestic flights Paro-Bumthang & Yonphula (Trashigang)-Paro.
  • Bhutanese style 3* hotel accom with private bathrooms.
  • Farm-stay accom option has shared western toilets and no shower facilities.
  • All meals (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner) & two 500 ml bottles of water daily.
  • All monument & entrance fees.
  • Exploring & hiking as per your itinerary.
  • Bhutan visa fees & processing.
  • Sustainable development fee (SDF) & local taxes.
  • Vehicle & driver repositioning fee at end of tour.
  • Domestic airfares for your guide to fly with you.
  • Comprehensive pre-departure planning guide.
  • Access to our exclusive travel app COMPANION.
  • Bhutan & Beyond bank transfers for payments to Bhutan suppliers.
  • Professionally operated by Bhutan Tourism Corp Ltd. (BTCL)
  • ATAS accredited via our parent company MTA Travel

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Your Bhutan FULL BOARD Land Tour Excludes:

  • International airfares to/from Bhutan
  • Personal bank charges incurred making payments to Bhutan & Beyond.
  • Personal items – laundry, drinks, tel calls, tips etc.
  • Designer coffees at any time
  • Snacks between main meals. 
  • Any luxury hotel upgrades are additional costs.
  • Travel Insurance – is mandatory to be granted a visa to enter Bhutan. 
  • Any COVID-19 PCR or RAT tests required.

The additional exclusions when travelling on a HALF BOARD basis is lunch is at your own expense (please budget @US$ 10-12 pp per day) along with all monument and entrance fees.

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Available On Request:

  • Upgrade to Business Class on your flights.
  • Ex-Australia airfares.
  • Stopovers & additional Asian arrangements.
  • Experts at combining Bhutan with India & Nepal.

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Cancellation Conditions Land Tour:

  • Deposit date until 45 days prior arrival in Bhutan – Land tour deposit is refundable less B&B service fees.
  • 45 days or less prior to arrival in Bhutan – No land tour refund permitted.

Please note: – These conditions cover land travel arrangements only not airfares which are subject to their own cancellation conditions.

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Tour Itinerary – Day 1: Arrive Paro​

Paro Airport to Paro Town (20-30 mins)

Fly to Paro from your chosen point. After clearing immigration and customs you will be greeted by your BTCL guide and driver and transferred to your nearby Paro hotel. As you may have already visited western Bhutan choose to spend your afternoon hiking, exploring, relaxing or shopping in Paro. 

The major features in Paro town include the Rinpung Dzong with its cantilever bridge, the National Museum to view the fine collection of ancient Thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons and other artefacts, before a visit to the CSI daily market which offers locally produced goods from cottage and small industries in Bhutan. 

Overnight Paro Valley – Bhutanese 3* Hotel TBA.

You will visit Rinpung Dzong in Paro on this tour.
Rinpung Dzong - Paro

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Day 2: Paro To Bumthang

Early this morning fly Drukair from Paro to Jakar in the central Bumthang region.

  • Final check-in at Paro Airport is 90 mins prior flight departure
  • Aircraft type ATR 42 Turboprop
  • Free checked baggage allowance is 20 kgs per person.
  • Flight time is 35 mins.
  • Your guide flies with you.

Sightseeing in Choekhor & Chhume valleys.

The central Bumthang region comprises the 4 valleys of Choekhor, Tang, Ura and Chhume. On arrival you will notice the large fields of buckwheat that cover the valleys…..buckwheat noodles and pancakes are a Bumthang specialty. This morning visit the Tamshing Monastery, home to young monks under 15 who’s families cannot afford to send them to school, followed by a wander through nearby Chamkhar town. The bars here are also worth a visit in the evening for a mix of karaoke, soccer, pool and music.

This afternoon head west to the Chhume Valley. This region is renowned for its exceptionally high quality weavings. You can take the opportunity to shop for excellent local handicrafts and textiles plus chat with the weavers.

Overnight Choekhor Valley – Bhutanese 3* Hotel TBA.

You will visit membartsho in the Bumthang valleys on this tour.
Membartsho Bumthang Valley

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Day 3 – Bumthang

Sightseeing in the Bumthang region.

This morning we suggest visits to one or both of the Jambay & Kurjey Lhakhangs. These are the oldest two monasteries in the kingdom and all the former Kings of Bhutan are cremated at Kurjey Lhakhang. You can take the option to hike back from the Lhakhangs to your hotel or local restaurant for lunch.

This afternoon other options include a drive by of the Wangdicholing Palace; a stop at the Swiss Farm for a range of local produce including wheat beer, arra and cheese. The Jakar Dzong or Membartsho (burning lake), a revered holy site not far from Chamkhar town, are close by and also worth a visit.

Overnight Choekhor Valley – Bhutanese 3* Hotel.

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Day 4: Yongko La​

Choekhor Valley to Yongko La (pass) area. (up to 6+ hours drive time)

This morning drive eastwards to the Ura valley to wander the ancient stony paths of the village that give the area an almost medieval feel. The older women of this region still wear sheepskin shawls on their backs which double as a blanket and cushion. Ura is recognized as the cradle of Buddhism in Bhutan and believed by some to have been the home of Bhutan’s earliest inhabitants. It is also the highest valley at 3100 m on the eastern side.

Continue to drive south-eastwards on what is one of the most scenic stretches of road in the Kingdom. When crossing the Thrumshing La (eastern Bhutan’s highest pass at 3780 m) you are now officially departing western Bhutan & entering eastern Bhutan, albeit in the central region of the country. The region from the pass to the next major town of Mongar is celebrated as being one of the best bird-watching areas in all the Asia-Pacific region.

Tonight you will overnight at the only hotel in this scenic, bird-watching area.  

Overnight Yongko La area – Trogon Villa. Bhutanese 3* Hotel

The ruddy kingfisher which is endemic to the Thrumshing la region of Bhutan which you will visit on this tour.
Ruddy Kingfisher - courtesy Mark Stoop

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Day 5: Autsho​

Yongko La to Autsho (3+ hours drive)

This morning take a short scenic bird-watching hike to the ruins of the Shongar Dzong a few kms from your hotel. Then drive eastwards and visit the Jarung Khashor chorten, modelled on the Nepali chorten of the same name in Kathmandu, followed by the Lemongrass Oil Unit at Kuri Zampa. Take lunch at a local restaurant and, just before the town of Mongar, leave the main east-west road that traverses Bhutan and head north to Autsho. Here will be your base for the next 2 nights and facilitate your excursion further north to the remote Lhuentse region.

Travelling through the valley of the Kuri Chhu you pass extensive cornfields and, at the valley floor, rice terraces and tropical fruits such as mango and pineapples flourish. Take a wander through Autsho village and relax in your Autsho hotel on the banks of the Kuri Chhu (river) where macaques, languars & bird-life can be found. 

 Overnight Autsho – Phayul Resort – Bhutanese 3* Hotel

 Note: This is a more basic hotel and you will need to take your own shampoo/flannel.

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Day 6: Lhuentse​

Lhuentse Day Excursion (4+ hours driving)

Lhuentse is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s royal family and also home of Bhutan’s kushutara weaving tradition. The road north to Lhuentse is undergoing widening for the next year or so. It could be slow going on some stretches albeit spectacular.

Reach the peaceful valley of Khoma to immerse yourself in village life and allow time to explore the heartland of Bhutan’s most treasured textiles. Take a gentle stroll between the traditional farmhouses and discover cobbled courtyards and weavers working on veranda’s. Wander over to the Lhakhang (temple) perched in the bend of the river. Take a picnic lunch or take lunch at a local farm house. There is an option to hike to the Khoma village for approx 1 hour.

Later return to Autsho which is the nearest tourist class hotel.

Overnight Autsho – Phayul Resort 

Back strap loom weavers of Lheuntse that you will see on this tour.
Backstrap Loom Weaver Khoma - Courtesy of DOT Bhutan

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Day 7: Mongar​

Autsho to Mongar. (up to 3+ hours)

This morning drive back south & then eastwards to Mongar on the main West-East highway. En-route visit the Yakgang Lhakhang (temple). This is rarely visited and the lay monk caretaker can sometimes open up the private lhakang in his house next door which features valuable relics, used in the annual festival, and handmade texts from Tibet.

Take lunch at a local restaurant and this afternoon visit the Mongar Dzong and take a wander through the old part of town to the park with it’s clocktower and prayer wheel. 

When travelling though eastern Bhutan the dominant language is Sharchop which is different enough from Dzongkha (the national language of Bhutan) that eastern and western Bhutanese usually have to use English or Nepali to communicate. The towns between west and east Bhutan also differ as in western Bhutan most towns are situated in valleys whereas in eastern Bhutan most towns, including Mongar, are situated at the tops of hills or ridges.

Overnight Mongar – Bhutanese 3* Hotel TBA.

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Day 8: Trashigang​

Mongar to Trashigang. (3-4 hrs)

Enjoy a leisurely departure from Mongar en-route further east to Trashigang. On arrival take lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon spend time exploring Trashigang town an/or to take a hike. The Dzong is worth visiting and offers excellent views from a high promontory overlooking the confluence of the Drangme Chhu (river) and Gamri Chhu. Up until the beginning of the 20th century all of eastern Bhutan was governed from this Dzong.

A good hiking option today is from Trashigang to the village of Sangkhar ( 3+ hrs). Take a rocky trail which leads up above the town and then continues through forest with lots of birds and wildlife. After an hour you reach the top of the ascent from the courthouse at a big pile of rocks (some 800ft of height gain). From here you can see Sangkhar village opposite with a prominent stupa. To the left on top of a hill, is the village Mukthang Khar looking a little like a fort on a hilltop. The path now contours around eventually passing some scattered houses and terraced fields to reach Sangkhar Chorten, 1,430m. Your vehicle meets you at the Sanghar Chorten and take the new feeder road to the village.

Trashigang is a lively and interesting town and the bars are worth a visit this evening although they do close early at 8.00 pm.

Overnight Trashigang – Bhutanese 3* Hotel TBA

Monk at Trashigang Dzong which you will visit on this tour.
Monk Trashigang Dzong - Courtesy DOT

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Day 9: Trashigang Excursions

Sightseeing in the Trashigang region.

Eastern Bhutan is the heartland of weaving in the Kingdom and Bhutanese weavings and textiles are generally acknowledged as amongst the finest in the world. You will have an excellent opportunity to both shop and interact with the weavers themselves on today’s excursion to the weaving village of Radi, approx 2.5 hours (each way) eastwards from Trashigang. The Druk Deothjung Eastern Rural Handicraft Centre in Trashigang is the last opportunity for quality weavings & handicrafts if you don’t take the Radi option today.

Alternatively take a scenic excursion north up to the small town of Trashiyangtse and visit the Chorten Kora. Constructed in 1740 this chorten is modelled on the Bodnath stupa in Kathmandu although is not as large. This drive is approx 3 hours round trip.

Overnight Trashigang – Bhutanese 3* Hotel.

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Day 10: Fly Trashigang/ Paro

Trashigang (Yonphula airport) to Paro – flight time 45 mins

  • Final check-in at Yonphula Airport is 60 mins prior flight departure
  • Aircraft type ATR 42 Turboprop
  • Free checked baggage allowance is 20 kgs per person.
  • Flight time is 45 mins.
  • Your guide flies with you.

This morning return to Paro by Drukair domestic flight. Take lunch at a local restaurant in Paro. This afternoon consider an excursion to the capital Thimphu or to Chele La pass to visit the remote Kila Nunnery.

Overnight Paro – Bhutanese 3* Hotel.

Prayer Flags at Chele La pass which you will visit on this tour.
Prayer Flags Chele La Pass - courtesy Marcus Westberg

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Day 11: Paro Excursions

Options to visit Thimphu, Haa Valley or hike to Taktsang Monastery

Exercise your preference today and consider the following:

  •  Haa Valley:
    Take a day excursion to the remote Haa valley, traversing Chele La pass (3988 m). Here you can hike or drive to the Kila Nunnery, Bhutan’s oldest, where up to 45 nuns live in very primitive conditions. Descend into Haa for exploring and hiking before returning to Paro late afternoon.
  • Taktsang Monastery Pilgrimage Hike:

    Taktsang Monastery (aka as Tigers Nest) is one of the most sacred and revered monasteries in the Kingdom and all Bhutanese Buddhists desire to make a pilgrimage visit to Taktsang at least once in their lives. Each step taken towards the monastery gains merit points towards their future.

    Choose between a 1.5 to 2 hour round trip hike to the monastery viewpoint or a longer 5 hour and more strenuous hike into the Monastery itself. Tigers Nest clings impossibly to a cliff of rock at over 800 metres above the valley floor and where Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress to subdue the local demons followed by 3 months meditation in a cave still visible in the monastery. In 1998 the monastery was seriously damaged by fire and has since been painstakingly reconstructed to its original condition and consecrated by the 4th King in 2005.

    Take a Bhutanese vegetarian lunch at the Taktsang Viewpoint and, returning from the hiking trail, continue down the valley to view the recently restored Drugyel Dzong (14km from Paro). This is the historical site of the Fort of Drukpa Victory, from which the Bhutanese used to repel the Tibetan invaders again and again. Followed by a visit to Kyichu Lhakhang – one of Bhutan’s oldest and most beautiful temples boasting an orange tree that perpetually bears fruit.

  • Thimphu Day Excursion:
    Bhutan’s capital Thimphu is ever-changing. Have a day there people-watching, shopping and exploring. The drive time is just a little over an hour each way.

Overnight Paro – Bhutanese 3* Hotel.

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Day 12: Depart Bhutan

Farewell beautiful Bhutan today.

Morning transfer to Paro airport this morning for your onwards flight.

Tashi Delek – may all good things come to you.