A Guide to Backpacking Through Bhutan

Nestled in the heart of the Eastern Himalayas, Bhutan is a land of unparalleled beauty, steeped in rich culture and mystique. This small Himalayan kingdom, often referred to as the “Land of the Thunder Dragon,” is a backpacker’s dream come true. Bhutan offers adventure enthusiasts the chance to explore pristine landscapes, and ancient monasteries, and immerse themselves in the unique way of life that exists in this remote corner of the world. If you’re looking to embark on a memorable backpacking journey, this guide will provide you with the essential information you need to navigate the stunning terrain of Bhutan.

Getting There

Before you even start your journey through Bhutan, you’ll need to figure out how to get there. The only international airport in Bhutan is in Paro, and the country’s national airline, Druk Air, is the primary carrier. You can also enter Bhutan by road through India, with the nearest Indian cities being Siliguri, Bagdogra, and Phuentsholing. However, it’s important to note that Bhutan has strict visa regulations, and you will need to plan your visit through an authorized tour operator.

The Best Time to Go

Bhutan’s climate varies considerably depending on the region, with the lower southern areas experiencing a subtropical climate and the northern parts facing alpine conditions. The ideal time for backpacking in Bhutan is during the spring and autumn seasons, between March to May and September to November, respectively. During these periods, the weather is relatively mild, and the landscapes are resplendent with blooming flowers or colorful autumn foliage.

Budgeting and Costs

Backpacking in Bhutan can be a bit more expensive compared to other destinations in South Asia due to its regulated tourism policy. The Bhutanese government imposes a daily tariff per tourist, which covers accommodations, meals, transportation, and a licensed guide. On average, this tariff can range from $200 to $250 per person per day. Keep in mind that if you’re traveling solo, the cost might be higher. It’s also important to have some extra funds for personal expenses and unexpected costs.


Accommodation options in Bhutan range from luxurious resorts to more budget-friendly guesthouses and homestays. To experience the local culture, consider staying in traditional Bhutanese houses where you can interact with the locals and learn about their way of life. Paro, Thimphu, and Punakha are some of the major towns with various lodging options to suit different budgets.

Trekking Routes

One of the main attractions for backpackers in Bhutan is the vast network of trekking trails. Some of the most popular trekking routes include:

  1. Druk Path Trek: A moderate trek that takes you through forests, lakes, and traditional villages. It typically takes around six days to complete.
  2. Jomolhari Trek: This challenging trek offers incredible views of Mount Jomolhari and Mount Jichu Drake. It takes around eight to nine days to complete.
  3. Bumthang Owl Trek: A shorter trek that allows you to explore the cultural and natural treasures of the Bumthang region.
  4. Snowman Trek: For the seasoned backpacker, this is one of the most challenging treks in Bhutan, spanning over several weeks and taking you through remote and breathtaking landscapes.

Cultural Experiences

Bhutan is not just about natural beauty; it’s also a country rich in culture and tradition. Make sure to visit the numerous dzongs (fortresses), monasteries, and temples scattered across the country. Don’t miss out on the famous Paro Taktsang, or Tiger’s Nest Monastery, perched on a cliffside.

Respecting Local Customs

Bhutan is deeply rooted in Buddhist culture, and it’s important to respect the local customs and traditions. Dress modestly, ask for permission before taking photos of people or religious sites, and always remove your shoes before entering temples or homes.

Backpacking through Bhutan is a journey like no other. The pristine landscapes, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality of the Bhutanese people make it a unique and unforgettable experience. To truly appreciate the magic of Bhutan, plan your trip well in advance, and be prepared to immerse yourself in a world that is a world apart from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Enjoy your adventure in the “Land of the Thunder Dragon”!

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