Walking the Bumthang Valley
Lonely Planet review for Walking the Bumthang Valley
There are plenty of opportunities for day hikes in the Bumthang region, many involving visits to remote goembas. If you are on a tourist visa, take advantage of the vehicle at your disposal and arrange for the driver to pick you up at the end of a walk.
From Swiss Guest House to Pelseling Goemba is a favourite half-day walk, descending a different route to Thamshing Goemba in a total of about four hours' walking. The first half is all uphill (2½ hours) but is more varied than the hike to Tharpaling, through a mix of forest, meadows and villages, and you are rewarded with great views. The monastery is a great place for a packed lunch or flask of tea.
You can also walk from Lamey Goemba over the ridge to Tharpaling Goemba, at 3500m in the Chhume valley, and meet your vehicle there. The trail branches off a logging road 1km past the goemba. The first two hours are a hard uphill slog through rhododendron and bamboo, before you finally cross a pass and descend across the bare hillsides of the Chhume Valley to the Zhambhala Lhakhang, Choedrak Hermitage and finally Tharpaling. The hike offers less in the way of views but more the feel of a pilgrimage, taking in several sacred sites. Check for ticks along this route.
A good full-day excursion is to hike up the valley from Thangbi Goemba to Ngang Lhakhang. This is the first day of the Bumthang Cultural trek.
A longer day hike leads from the Swiss Guest House over the ridge to Kunzangdrak Goemba.
The best short walk is between Kurjey and Tamshing goembas via the Dozam and rock paintings of Lha Kharpo. You can also walk down the east valley road from Konchogsum Lhakhang to the Swiss Farm (5km) for fine views of Jakar and the Chokhor Valley.