The Road Less Travelled Eastern Bhutan - 12 Days

8 Link Image of Road

Bhutan’s eastern region comprises of Samdrupjongkhar, Pemagatshel, Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, Mongar and Lhuentse. On this scenic journey, you will explore some of the stunning sights of beautiful countryside, unspoilt cultural treasures and famous landmarks. You will be rewarded as this captivating region has much to offer as we travel along the flat plains and famous Assam tea garden, crossing the mighty Brahmaputra River to the rugged east of Bhutan. This region is relatively untouched by modern developments and the traditional way of life is well preserved, offering you an opportunity to experience the real Bhutan and a true wilderness. Tourism facilities can be modest and simple, attesting to the region’s remoteness.

Day 1: Arrive Samdrup Jongkhar via Guwahati, India
Day 2: Samdrup Jongkhar – Trashigang
Day 3: Trashigang – Mongar
Day 4: Mongar – Lhuentse
Day 5: Back to Mongar
Day 6: Mongar – Trashiyangtse
Day 7: Bartsham Countryside Excursion
Day 8: Bartsham – Merak
Day 9: The Land of Nomads
Day 10: Trashigang – Pemagatshel
Day 11: Back to Samdrup Jongkhar
Day 12: End of Tour

Day 1
Arrive Samdrup Jongkhar via Guwahati, India

On arrival your Bhutanese guide and our Indian ground operator (local representative) will meet you at Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati in India after clearing your immigration and customs formalities. We drive (100-km) for 3 hours to India–Bhutan border town of Samdrup Jongkhar (250m) through the famous Assam tea garden and crossing the mighty Brahmaputra River. Samdrup Jongkhar is the port of entry and exit for tourists entering eastern Bhutan overland, which is situated in the southeastern region of the country and shares borders with the Indian state of Assam. It is by far the largest urban centre in eastern Bhutan. The rest of the day is at leisure where you will have some time to explore the business hub for the eastern region. Tonight enjoy a welcome drink and dinner. Overnight in Samdrup Jongkhar.

Day 2
Samdrup Jongkhar – Trashigang

This morning, we start the day early driving (180-km) about 7 hours to Trashigang (1,500m), the largest district of Bhutan. Enjoy a scenic journey and often see Langur monkeys, kingfishers, eagles and other birds by the roadside. Stop off at Dewathang (18-km) after crossing Pinchina checkpoint. Dewathang was the site where the father of Bhutan’s First King led the Bhutanese troops in a final battle against the British in 1884. Admire the Mithun (Bos fontalis), the best breed of cattle in Bhutan at the Regional Mithun Breeding Farm, Orong. Continuing our scenic journey we arrive in Narphung (41-km), a popular stopover where shops sell a variety of local produce such as fresh vegetables, fruits, cereals, dairy products, bamboo crafts, etc. before passing Melong Bra (the highway cut through sheer cliffs). Stop for lunch in Wamrong (29), located midway between Samdrup Jongkhar–Trahigang and continue to Khaling (27-km) via Kharungla Pass (2,350m). Visit the National Handloom Development Centre in Khaling en route, where young women from remote rural areas get trained in weaving with supports from the National Women’s Association of Bhutan. The country’s only school for the visually impaired, Muenselling Institute in Khaling, established in 1973 is nearby. Afterwards, we pass by Bhutan’s first university, Sherubtse College in Kanglung (28-km), which was established in 1978. Arriving in Trashigang town, you may encounter the semi-nomadic people from Merak and Sakteng if you’re lucky, who come for shopping trips. Overnight in Trashigang.

Day 3
Trashigang – Mongar

Morning highlights include the Trashigang Dzong, built in 1659 by Trongsa Penlop Chhogyal Minjur Tempa. The fortress is located on a steep hill overlooking the Dangmechhu (Gamri) River and has been the political stronghold of eastern Bhutan for over 300 years. From here, we travel (91-km) about 3-4 hours to Mongar (1,600m). Two roads diverge from Chazam (10-km) downhill; take left turn for Mongar. Stop in places to view scenery, meet local people, villages, and farm for photography. Afterwards, take a detour (18-km) to the 16th century Drametse Lhakhang en route, perched atop a steep ridge. This is the place of origin of the famous and sacred Drametse Nga Chham (the Mask Dance of the Drums) was born. The dance is ubiquitous feature of many festivals and is inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2005. Arrive in Sherichhu (35-km), a stretch of the East–West highway called the Yadi bends (17-km) zigzag uphill a series of hairpin turns before reaching Korila Pass (2,289m), which is 22-km from Yadi and (17-km) to Mongar town. Mongar town is small and traditional in its outlook, traditionally painted and decorated shops lining the main streets. You’ll see rows of large eucalyptus trees in the town. Overnight in Mongar.

Day 4
Mongar – Lhuentse

We set out for a scenic drive (75-km) about 3 hours to Lhuentse (1,400m), the ancestral home of our Kings. Stop off at the Gangola junction (12-km) where local farmers sell packets of cornflakes, fruits, peanuts, vegetables, etc. Enjoy a scenic journey via Autsho (920m), a small town located by the Kurichhu River and then navigate through Tangmachhu (63-km) paddy fields and traditional houses. Sightseeing includes the 154ft tall Guru Padma Sambhava statue (Guru Nangsa Zelnen), built in 2008-2015, sits atop a hill in Takila. After lunch, visit the Lhuentse Dzong (also known as Lhundup Rinchentse Dzong), located on a hilltop overlooking the Kurichhu River. It was built in 1654 by Chogyal Minjur Tempa and houses many sacred artefacts installed by 4th Desi Tenzin Rabgay. Perhaps why not also see the Gangzur village known for its earthen pottery farm (2-km away from Lhuentse town)? End you day exploring the Khoma village (about 11-km) from Lhuentse town, notably famous for its signature hand woven, intricately patterned textiles and fabrics called “Kishuthara.” The kishuthara is highly regarded and most expensive textiles of Bhutan, worn by women in every special occasion, even the Royal Family places their order for clothes here. In the evening, it is free for you to go around some homes, mingle with locals and experience their culture. Overnight in Khoma village.

Tonight you’ll spend your night in local homes. A farmhouse in Bhutan is very colourful, decorative and traditionally built having a 2-storey with decent toilets, shower, hot stone bath, etc. Such service providers are trained in basic housekeeping, cleanliness and hygiene for tourist purposes. It gives you a total new experience living in a village house where food and drinks are served by the housemother like she does for her family members, intermingle with the locals and participate in the local daily activities (including how to prepare a Bhutanese meal) if you so wish, etc. You won’t regret for adventuring into this bit of lifetime fun!

Day 5
Back to Mongar

Our return journey takes us to Mongar, one the fastest developing districts in eastern Bhutan with many economic activities. The second biggest hospital is built here. Mongar is known for its lemon grass, a plant that can be used to produce an essential oil. Visit the Mongar Dzong, built in 1930 (which not located is strategically unlike the other dzongs of Bhutan). The original 17th century dzong (fortress-like) was in Zhongar, located on a hilltop overlooking the Themnangbi village and is visible on descending to Lingmenthang from the East–West highway. You have plenty of time today – perhaps why not drive to see Kilikhar Shedra (Buddhist College), which is about 4-km (10-15 minutes) drive from the Mongar town? The Buddhist College is also known as Kedeykhar Lungtok Choeki Gatshel Shedra, founded in 2000. There are over 84 monks learning Budhhism here. The evening is at leisure to relax, enjoy and explore the delightful surroundings of Mongar town. Overnight in Mongar.

Day 6
Mongar – Trashiyangtse

Today we make our way (124-km) about 6 hours to Trashiyangtse (1,750m), an ethnically and culturally diverse new district bifurcated from Trashigang in 1992. Follow the same road travelling back via a stretch of the East–West highway called the “Yadi bends” (17-km), which zigzag downhill a series of hairpin after crossing over Korila Pass (2,289m). Two roads diverge from Chazam (81-km) downhill; take left turn for Trashiyangtse straight. Explore the Gomkora Lhakhang (temple), which is 22-km from Trashigang town. It is a sacred site in eastern Bhutan where Guru Rinpoche meditated in a rock adjoining the temple to subdue a demon. Over the next 2 hours (32-km) takes us to Trashiyangtse via Duksum, and en route explore the old Trashiyangtse Dzong, rebuilt in the 15th century by Terton Pema Linpa, which now houses the monastic body. Later, visit the College of Zorig Chusum, established in 1997, where students learn the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. Final stop is at the dazzling white Chorten Kora (a stupa modelled like that of the famous Boudhanath Stupa in Nepal), located on the Kholongchhu riverbank. This stupa was built over a period of 12 years around 1740, and locals believe that an 8 year dakini girl was buried alive on her own free will in the stupa as an offering from the Dakpa tribe from Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh in India. In the evening, enjoy some leisure time exploring a small Trashiyangtse town. Overnight in Trashiyangtse.

Day 7
Bartsham Countryside Excursion

Leaving Trashiyangtse behind, this morning we travel (approximately 54-km) about 2 to 3 hours to the untouched Bartsham villages via Duksum (30-km) through Ramjar (17-km). Bartsham geographically shares its boundaries with Ramjar, Jamkhar, Yalang and Bidung villages. Today enjoy the countryside excursion walking through idyllic villages surrounded by forest hills. Visit the Chador Lhakhang Monastery (also known as Gonpa Ringbu), built in the 12th century. It is located atop a ridge with commanding views of the surrounding villages and mountains in north Trashigang. The main relic, statue Chana Dorji (also fondly called Memmay Chador), a precious treasure is the protecting deity in the locality. The monastery is a revered place of worship for the Bartsham community and devotees across Bhutan. Later, spend time to mingle with young monks in the Shedra (Buddhist College) adjoining the monastery. The Shedra offers 12-year courses in Buddhist philosophy, astrology, rituals, liturgical studies, rigney (grammar) and other Buddhist practices including 3 years of retreat. Spend rest of the day on an optional visit to a farmhouse for authentic Bhutan experiences. Get to know the farmers and engage in village activities such as milk cows, brew ara (local wine), weaving, learn to cook and eat together, etc. Overnight in Bartsham.

Day 8
Bartsham – Merak (Tribal Village)

Today we enjoy a sightseeing tour northwest of Trashigang, which has picturesque villages including the semi-nomadic of Merak village (a remote place you’ll visit on this trip). You’ll at first travel via Bidung villages (10-km) to the east of Bartsham. A scenic countryside journey (13-km) further takes us to Rangjung, a small commercial hub. Visit the Rangjung Woesel Choeling Monastery, located on a small hillock overlooking Rangjung town and the surrounding villages. The monastery, built in 1989 in the Tibetan-style architectural, has a monastic school to study Buddha dharma for the benefit of the Buddhist community around the world. Here you may spot the nomadic people from Merak and Sakteng again, who come to the lower valleys on a shopping trip. Enjoy a leisurely stroll in the delightful countryside of Radhi villages, known as the “Rice Bowl of the East” and famous for skilled-weaving of the raw silk textiles and dyeing. Break for authentic traditional Bhutanese lunch at a local farmhouse. In the afternoon, continue to Merak (3,500m) via Khardung village (38-km) about 4 hours. Stop in places to view scenery, meet local people, villages, and farm for photography. The remotest and least known Brokpa tribes of Merak and Sakten valleys in eastern Bhutan offer a unique insight of the semi-nomadic lifestyle. Spend rest of the evening by visiting around some tribal homes, mingle with locals and experience their culture. Overnight in Merak.

Tonight you’ll spend a night in local home stay. A farmhouse in Bhutan is very colourful, decorative and traditionally built having a 2-storey with decent toilets, shower, hot stone bath, etc. Such service providers are trained in basic housekeeping, cleanliness and hygiene for tourist purposes. It gives you a total new experience living in a village house where food and drinks are served by the housemother like she does for her family members, intermingle with the locals and participate in the local daily activities (including how to prepare a Bhutanese meal) if you so wish, etc. You won’t regret for adventuring into this bit of lifetime fun!

Day 9
The Land of Nomads

A truly unforgettable day in the land of nomads today! Merak and Sakteng were not opened for tourists until 2010. The semi-nomadic Merak village was connected with a motorable road in 2014. Bropka (yak herders) speak a unique dialect, wear unique clothing and migrate through the seasons with their yaks, moving between the highlands in summer and the lowlands in winter. They still practice the barter system, trading cheese, butter and dried meat for grains and other goods for livelihood. This morning, enjoy a few hours of tour around Merak with a visit to the Merak Lhakhang and Merak Primary School. Enjoy stunning views of the village, surrounding mountains and Aum Jomo peak, a female protective deity of the nomads. After lunch, we bid farewell to our host in the village and head back to Trashigang town (approximately 61-km). Overnight in Trashigang.

Day 10
Trashigang – Pemagatshel

After breakfast, our return journey takes us to Pemagatshel (144-km) for about 5 hours. It is a rural and small district in the country and can be reached from Tshelingkhor gate, the diversion point (23-km) on the Trashigang–Samdrup Jongkhar highway. Pemagatshel shares border with Trashigang in the north and northeast, Mongar in the north and northwest, Zhemgang in the west, Samdrup Jongkhar in the east and the Indian state of Assam in the south. Its geography is marked by dissected mountain ranges, steep slopes, narrow valleys with little flat land and scattered settlements at an elevation ranges from 100m–3,500m. Gypsum mining is its major economic activities and Pemagatshel is famous for two kinds of religious instruments: Jalings (resemblance of Oboe) and Dhungs (long trumpets). One of the holiest shrines in eastern Bhutan is the Youngla Gonpa, which is about 3-km above Pemagastshel town. Other places of interest include the newly built Pemagatshel Dzong (fortress-like), more than 25 Lhakhangs (local temples), birding, and a variety of flora and fauna. Overnight in Pemagatshel.

Tonight you’ll spend your night in local homes. A farmhouse in Bhutan is very colourful, decorative and traditionally built having a 2-storey with decent toilets, shower, hot stone bath, etc. Such service providers are trained in basic housekeeping, cleanliness and hygiene for tourist purposes. It gives you a total new experience living in a village house where food and drinks are served by the housemother like she does for her family members, intermingle with the locals and participate in the local daily activities (including how to prepare a Bhutanese meal) if you so wish, etc. You won’t regret for adventuring into this bit of lifetime fun!

Day 11
Back to Samdrup Jongkhar

We travel back to Samdrup Jongkhar (97-km) for about 4 hours via the same Trashigang–Samdrup Jongkhar highway. As you wind downhill to Samdrup Jongkhar, you’ll see again Dewathang (79-km) before reaching Pinchina checkpoint. Dewathang was the site where the father of Bhutan’s First King led the Bhutanese troops in a final battle against the British in 1884. In the past, many British Political Officers stationed in Sikkim took the route from Samdrup Jongkhar to enter into Bhutan. Arrive back in Samdrup Jongkhar, the evening is at leisure to explore the border town and all of the fun attractions and shopping. Overnight in Samdrup Jongkhar.

Day 12
End of Tour

Your tour ends today. Our Indian ground operator (local representative) will transfer you to Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati, Assam in the northeastern state of India for your onward journey. Goodbye and Good luck!

Peak Season – Land Only (Prices in USD Per Person)

Start Date Mondays1 person 2 people3-10 people11-15 people16-20 people
07 Sep 2020$2650 $2430 $2065 $1925 $1870
14 Sep 2020$2650 $2430 $2065 $1925 $1870
05 Oct 2020$2650 $2430 $2065 $1925 $1870
19 Oct 2020$2650 $2430 $2065 $1925 $1870
02 Nov 2020$2650 $2430 $2065 $1925 $1870
16 Nov 2020$2650 $2430 $2065 $1925 $1870
01 Mar 2021$2650 $2430 $2065 $1925 $1870
15 Mar 2021$2650 $2430 $2065 $1925 $1870
05 Apr 2021$2650 $2430 $2065 $1925 $1870
19 Apr 2021$2650 $2430 $2065 $1925 $1870
03 May 2021$2650 $2430 $2065 $1925 $1870
17 May 2021$2650 $2430 $2065 $1925 $1870

Regular Season – Land Only (Prices in USD Per Person)

Start Date Mondays1 person 2 people3-10 people11-15 people16-20 people
07 Dec 2020$2090 $1880 $1510 $1390 $1345
14 Dec 2020$2090 $1880 $1510 $1390 $1345
11 Jan 2021$2090 $1880 $1510 $1390 $1345
18 Jan 2021$2090 $1880 $1510 $1390 $1345
01 Feb 2021$2090 $1880 $1510 $1390 $1345
15 Feb 2021$2090 $1880 $1510 $1390 $1345
07 Jun 2021$2090 $1880 $1510 $1390 $1345
14 Jun 2021$2090 $1880 $1510 $1390 $1345
05 Jul 2021$2090 $1880 $1510 $1390 $1345
19 Jul 2021$2090 $1880 $1510 $1390 $1345
02 Aug 2021$2090 $1880 $1510 $1390 $1345
16 Aug 2021$2090 $1880 $1510 $1390 $1345

Our Pricing Policy

Prices are quoted and payable only in (US dollars). All prices published on our websites, brochures and marketing materials are set as low as possible. The guide prices may vary at any time subject to government actions, changes in exchange rates, increase in transportation costs or fuel prices before we have accepted your booking. However, we guarantee our prices who have already signed up for your tour.

Price includes

  • Pickups and drops from airports and hotels
  • Comfortable transport (private vehicle) throughout your trip
  • Licensed English-speaking guide & driver
  • Best accommodation in 3 star hotels with private bathrooms based on 2 adults sharing a twin/double bed (single supplements apply)
  • Comfortable farmhouse/home stay/heritage house can also be arranged
  • Camping facilities and haulage for trekking tours
  • All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and bottled water daily
  • All sightseeing & hiking (entrance fees to museums and other attractions)
  • Baggage handling at all hotels and camps
  • All applicable internal taxes and service fees
  • Bhutan visa fees

Price Excludes

  • International and domestic flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Other personal expenses such as alcoholic drinks & beverages, laundry, telephone calls, etc.
  • Discretionary tips for guides and drivers (see FAQs)
  • Upgrade to luxury properties (4 star and 5 star hotels)
  • Single room supplement from $50 per night
  • Optional activities & additional services
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