Bhutan’s stunning natural beauty and the relatively isolated nature of its hiking trail make the country a veritable paradise for hikers. There are many alluring and tempting day hikes in Bhutan that allow you to go into nature’s lap and visit many hill-top villages, monasteries, and valleys. The path which leads to these destinations is magical and passes through ancient walking trails. There are hiking trails available in almost all the places in Bhutan; be it Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, or any other Dzongkhag in Bhutan. Each hike has its own beauty and charm. Some of the most popular Bhutan Day Hikes are:
I. Bhutan Day Hikes At Paro
Tiger Nest Hike Bhutan
The Tiger’s Nest Hike is the most popular hike in Bhutan. Tiger’s Nest is also known as the Paro Taktsang which means Tiger’s lair. Situated on a rocky cliff at 3,100 meters above sea level, the Tiger’s Nest gained in popularity as the signature spot of Bhutan among visitors. The hike to the Tiger’s Nest takes about 4-6 hours depending on your pace. The view is as rewarding as the hike.
2. Kila Nunnery Hike
The hike to Kila Nunnery starts from Chelela Pass (3988 meters) which is one of the highest motorable passes of Bhutan. The hike takes about 2-3 hours and takes you through a deep and dense forest of rhododendrons. During the month of April and May, the trail will be blooming bright with colorful rhododendron flowers which feel out of this world. The trail is mostly gently declining until you reach close to the Kila Nunnery on a peaceful mountain. From the nunnery, you can get in your car and drive to Paro town which is about 30 km away.
Panoramic view of Paro Valley
3. Zuri Dzong Hike
The hike to Zuri Dzong or Zuri Hike is a short and leisurely walk offering an enchanting view in Paro valley. The hiking trail offers a wide view of the lush paddies fields of Paro valley and Paro Dzong. It is a great opportunity for exceptional photography and takes only half an hour one way. The Zuri Hike starts from a trail above the Paro Ta Dzong, the National Museum which is located on the same hill above Paro Rinpung Dzong. The sunset from Zuri Dzong is a splendid spectacle that you should not miss
4. Dzongdrakha Hike
Located on a rocky cliff not far from the motorable road, Dzongdrakha is also known as the second Tiger’s Nest owing to its setting on a rocky cliff edge. There are four Lhakhangs in series with mysterious legends and stories to tell. It is a gentle hike of about 30 minutes.
II. Bhutan Day Hikes At Thimphu
The Wangditse hike is a short one-hour hike that starts from Sangaygang, a hill festooned with bright and colorful prayer flags. The hiking trail takes you through the thick pine vegetation occasionally opening to a commanding view of the Thimphu Tashichho Dzong (Thimphu Fortress) and the Thimphu city. The Hike to Wangditse is of gentle gradient which even 5 years old can cover comfortably.
2. Buddha Point Hiking Trail
The hike from Changangkha Lhakhang to Kuenselphodrang is also known as the Buddha Point Hiking trail. You have the option to start the hike from either point, Changangkha Lhakhang to Buddha point or vice versa.
Hike from Changangkha Lhakhang to Kuenselphodrang.
After a visit to the ancient Changangkha Lhakhang located on a ridge, make your way through the trail that passes above the main Thimphu city through the thick vegetation of pine forest. It is a family-friendly hiking trail offering a good view of Thimphu city and one can also see bikers enjoying off-road mountain biking. Upon reaching Buddha point (Buddha Dordenma statue) enjoy the panoramic view of the entire Northern and Southern Thimphu city surrounded by high mountains.
3. Chokhortse Hike
This is a short and beautiful hike to the top of a mountain in Thimphu. The Chokhortse hike starts from the same point as the Wangditse hike at Sangaygang which is adorned with bright and colorful prayer flags. The trail ascends for about 30 minutes till you reach the secluded Chokhortse Lhakhang on top of the mountains. You can get a good overview of the Thimphu valley from the trail and here.
If you are adventurous and want to cover more you can combine both Chokhortse and Wanditse hikes.
4. Chagri Monastery Hike
The hike to Chagri Monastery is a serene experience of wilderness and tranquility. Chagri is located at the Northern end of Thimphu valley and takes about 30 minutes by car, it is 17kms away from Thimphu city. The drive to Chagri passes through the village of Begana before the road ends at Dodena. The Hike starts from a traditional wooden cantilever bridge from Dodena and takes you through the shades of coniferous wilderness. You can hear the singing of different species of birds and if you’re lucky spot the rare and majestic Himalayan Monal. Often you will see mountain goats mingling freely with monks.
III. Bhutan Day Hikes At Other Places
- Khamsum Yulley hike at Punakha
Discover the natural beauty and rural life of Punakha valley on your hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten. The hike passes through the lush rice fields adorned with aesthetic traditional Bhutanese houses. This trip gives you a good glimpse into the traditional Bhutanese way of life. After hiking for about 40 minutes from the suspension bridge you will reach the highly decorated temple built by the Queen Mother for the peace and prosperity of the country and the world. The view of the Golden Punakha valley is amazing from the temple.
2. Lungchutse Hike at Dochula Pass
If you drive up to Dochula you can make the 4 hour round trip to Lungchutse Goenpa and descend to 18th century Trashigang Goenpa. It is a peaceful hike through giant hemlock and rhododendron trees. You will come across beautiful hermitage homes, wild mushrooms and subalpine vegetation.
The highlight of the Lungchutse hike is the panoramic view of the Himalayas from Lungchutse Temple. This hike is for those who love peace and mountains.
3. Gangtey Nature trail hike at Gangtey Valley
Gangtey Nature Trail HikeGangtey Nature Trail hike is one of the most beautiful hikes of Bhutan. The hike starts from a long wall stupa in front of the Gangtey Goenpa sitting atop a hill. In addition to the scenic charm, the valley is the winter home to the endangered Black Necked Crane. One can experience the remote village life of Bhutan through this hike.
4.Longtey hike at Gangtey Valley
The scenically beautiful Longtey hike starts from Longtey village which is about 30 minutes drive from Gangtey valley on the East-West highway. This ancient trail takes you through remote villages and high mountain passes of Kheychey La situated at 3,700 meters above sea level. During late spring and early summer, the trail is brilliant with blossoms of crimson rhododendrons, hence it is also called the Rhododendron hike. Continuing the hike, the path leads through the tall trees before opening up to a wide view of the Phobjikha valley adorned with Gangtey Goenpa and the Gangtey Shedra.
Hike name: Longtey/ Rhododendron Hike
Distance: 6 Kms
Duration of Hike: 3-4 hours
Highest Mountain Pass: Khechay La Pass 3,700 masl.
Starting point: Longtey
Ending point: Gangtey Shedra
5. Ura Valley Hike at Bumthang
This is one of the most scenic hikes in Bhutan. From Bumthang valley, it takes about 50 Km to reach Ura Valley. On the way you will come across Shell Thang La Pass (3600 meters). Your Ura hike begins from here.
As you descend from here , the hiking trails meander down through meadows providing you with a panoramic view of the village. You will be passing by the quiet forest of spruce, pine , larch , fir, juniper and bamboo along the way. And once at Ura , you can hike through the farm house and explore the way of life of Bhutan village.