Exotic Bhutan Tours and Treks

Bhutan Textile/ Master Weaver’s Workshop Tour


Bhutanese weaver at loom

Featuring hands–on workshop in the art of weaving


Weaving is an ancient art in Bhutan. Taking root in a rural and rustic setting, a uniquely rich tradition of weaving has evolved and flowered over time. With skills handed down from generation to generation, mother to daughter, from family to family, weaving in Bhutan is today an art form that is representative of the very heart and souls of the country. Fabrics fashioned in the looms, a veritable feast of magical colors and intricate designs and patterns, are symbolic of the Bhutanese society and the Dragon Kingdom.

The art of weaving although widespread is particularly impressive in Central and Eastern regions of Bhutan. In the villages of these regions, the “thump thump” of the handloom is a common sound and it will be an exceptional household where a woman does not weave clothes for the family and for earning extra income. But essential as these tasks are to the family, they do not convey the actual significance of weaving in society. So deeply is weaving ingrained in the psyche of the Bhutanese people that the woven cloth and dress is closely associated with status, etiquette, as well as social, cultural and religious events as well as occasion of import of textile.Weaving

Cotton, silk, wool and yak hair are used to weave fabrics on back strap looms for different types of uses such as men’s dress (Gho), women’s dress (Kera), shoulder cloth, ceremonial cloths, bags, etc., of a great variety of intricate patterns.

You will experience at first hand skills of dyeing and spinning of yarn, sheep wool and Yak hair. The loom and weaving kit, warps and wefts, weaving techniques and fruits of the loom. On the Master Weaver’s Trail Tour you will visit the heartland of the weaving country.

Areas you will visit are:

Bumthang – the home of the famous fabrics, Matha and Setha.

Pema Gatshel - which is an area that holds several insights into traditional weaving at its very best.

Radi – where you will see households with expert weavers producing the finest fabrics. These are the same fabrics that are in such great demand in the markets of Thimphu.

Khaling - not very far from Trashigang, produces fabrics you will see again at the Handicraft Emporium in Thimphu.

Bhutan Textile/ Master Weaver’s Workshop Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Paro Airport. Process visa and received by your tour representative. Proceed to your hotel in Paro for lunch and hotel check-in. Today we enjoy sightseeing in Paro. A visit to the National Museum (Ta-Dzong) is a must in Bhutan. Once, the watchtower for the Rinpung Dzong, in 1968 converted into the National Museum. The museum stands on a promontory overlooking the Paro valley in all its glory. On the way back visit the Paro Rinpung Dzong. A flagstone path rises gradually from a beautiful wooden bridge with shingle roofing and abutted by two guardhouses, to the Dzong. Today the Dzong is the seat of the district administration as well as the home for the monastic school. The central tower (Utse) of the Dzong, with its superb woodwork. We as well enjoy a stroll through Paro village where you will find wonderful Textile and Bhutanese handicrafts displayed. Tonight enjoy a wholesome and hearty dinner at a cozy restaurant in quaint Paro village. Go over your itinerary with your guide and return to your hotel.

Day 2: Leaving Paro after breakfast and check out, we drive for two (2) hours to Thimphu, capitol of Bhutan. Along our scenic drive we make a spectacular excursion hike (or pony ride up) to the famous “Tigers Nest Monastery. The monastery is perched on a rocky ledge with a sheer drop of nearly 4,000 feet. It is said that in the second half of the 8th century, Guru Padma Sambhava, the saint who converted Bhutan to Buddhism, alighted here upon the back of a tigress. Here we enjoy snacks and tea at the cafeteria viewpoint. Just before we reach Thimphu we stop at Simtokha Dzong, built in 1627, the first dzong built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgayel. Arriving in Thimphu, we check into our hotel for rest and relaxation and enjoy dinner at our quaint Bhutanese style hotel.

The Weaver's Trail Tour

Day 3: After breakfast, we visit the Bank of Bhutan and Bhutan’s post office. Here you will have an opportunity to exchange your money and to purchase Bhutanese stamps. Rare and exotic stamps valued and treasured by stamp collectors and the like. We as well will visit the “Textile Museum”; Bhutan’s textiles are unique for their diversity and sophistication; the Textile Museum explores this dynamic craft. Embroidered and appliqué splendid fabric for sacred and ceremonial use is displayed, as well as several exquisite thangkas and altar coverings. Upstairs gallery highlights the diversity of Bhutan’s textile arts and skills featuring masterpieces from the Royal Family of Bhutan.
Return to our hotel for lunch and prepare for our afternoon delight; the local Weaving Cottage Industry run by one of the few male weavers in Bhutan; Mr. Kesang Lhendup. Hands on weaving technique, including spinning and dyeing will be included in your day. Tonight meet with your host in Bhutan, Sonam, for a memorable reception dinner at her home.
Amazing patterns!

Day 4: This morning following our enjoyable breakfast we attend Thimphu Weekend Market; Load your camera and get ready to mingle with Bhutanese locals; this is a favorite Bhutanese open shopping market; the marketplace bustles with excitement as local Bhutanese farmers sell their produce and family’s get together to shop and socialize. This is a colorful market and a wonderful opportunity to experience a true Bhutanese experience. Fun and lively; guaranteed to please!

Drive to Wangduephodrang (3 – hour drive) across Dochula Pass (10,500 ft). Prayer flags send prayers on the wind. Enjoy spectacular views of the Eastern Himalayan Mountains. Stop at Lobesa for lunch. Early afternoon visit the Punakha Dzong, “Palace of Great Happiness”. Punakha Dzong is the former winter Capital and at present day hosts the administrative seat of the district; also the winter residence of the central monastic body and its Chief Abbot. The Dzong lies between two rivers, the Pochu and Mochu, male and female rivers…the location is strategic. It was built in 1637 AD It was here on 17th December 1907, Bhutan’s first king was crowned. We will visit the Fertility Temple Chimi Lhakhang and in the evening tour the Wangdu Dzong courtyard. Overnight at Hotel.
*(Wandgi Tshechu, in place of Gom Kora Festival Day 10; see below)

*Day 5: Attend a full day in Wangduephodrang for Wangdi Tshechu.

*Today you will mingle with enchanting Bhutanese all attired in their finest hand woven textile. Bhutanese folk arrive from remote and distance far away locations to attend this religious and social gathering. Elaborate brocade, colorful costume and masked dancers whirl and perform ancient dance rituals of purification and blessing for all who witness. Tradition of medieval ancient Bhutan lives on today at festival. Cymbals clamp, horns blow, drums beat, dancers twirl and today you are privileged and in awe. Return to your hotel to rest for an early next morning departure toward central Bhutan.

Weaver at her loom


Day 6: Following an early breakfast, we depart for Bumthang in Central Bhutan. A long drive on a scenic and breathtaking highway rewarded by a stop at the Trongsa Dzong, the ancestral home of the royal family. An architectural wonder built by Chogyel Minjur Tempa, the Third Desi, in 1648 it is presently the administrative seat of the district and home of the monastic school. Built at split-levels on a narrow spur, the Dzong is an architectural wonder. Views from here are extensive creating strategic location of this Dzong. Lunch in Tronsga town. Cross Yutongla pass to the valleys of Bumthang and Chummey, the heart of the famous Bumthang yatha-weaving region.
Here we will visit the Center of Yathra Weaving. Yathra is the name for the locally produced hand-woven woolen cloth. Distinctive patterns and bright, earthy colors enliven the fabric, which is used for a wide variety of purposes and sought after throughout Bhutan. You will also see the vegetable dye techniques on wool. After we depart the Yathra Weaving Center, drive on to Jakar which is about 20 km from Chhume Valley. Overnight: Lodge

Day 7: Today after a hearty breakfast we depart our lodge to continue eastward towards Mongar. We enjoy a full day drive to Mongar; with ample photo viewpoints and scenic stops along the way. Overnight in Mongar.


Creating beautiful, colorful textiles

Day 8: Drive 65 km unto Khurbazam (Khurba Bridge) and from the bridge hike one hour to Khoma along the Khoma River. Khoma village is famous for Kishuthara weaving and it is the main income source of Khoma villagers. Kishuthara is a silk on silk weaving with intricate patterns. It is the most expensive textile in Bhutan. Women in Bhutan wear kishu-thara only on special occasions such as wedding and festivals. Designing and weaving cloth is the exclusive domain of women and the most important way in which a Bhutanese woman leaves an impression of her individuality and creativity. Spend full day in Khoma to see weaving and do hands on with weavers and learn how the local people make vegetable dyes. Evening: Hike back to Khurbazam and drive back to Mongar. Overnight: Hotel

Day 9: Mongar to Trashigang: First drive 3 hours to Trashigang and check into Doethjung Guest House. After lunch take an excursion to Rangjung to see Raw Silk Textile Weaving, known as ‘ Bura ‘in private village homes. The round trip excursion to Ranjung is about 2 hours. Evening: return to Trashigang; Overnight: Guest House

*Day 10: GOMKORA Festival.
Enjoy a full day attendance at this remote and unique festival. Today you will join Bhutanese folk arriving from remote and distance far away location to attend religious purification and social gathering. Elaborate brocade colorful costume and masked dancers whirl and perform ancient dance rituals of purification and blessing for all who witness. Tradition of medieval ancient Bhutan lives on today at festival. Cymbals clamp, horns blow, drums beat, dancers twirl and today you are privileged and in awe. Guest House.

Day 11: Drive to Khaling. On arrival in Khaling, visit the Khaling Textile Weaving Centre. This is a government run Textile Weaving School where young women from all over eastern Bhutan come to learn how to weave. Vibrant fabrics and intricate weaves are an inseparable part of Bhutan’s rich culture. The colors, weaves and designs have evolved over centuries together. A specific design cannot be attributed to a particular village alone but also to a home and a family. Textiles are an evolving art, changing their role as Bhutanese life evolved. They represent prestige, commodity, wealth, capital as well as expressions of religious devotion. Textiles, Bhutan’s premier art is the product of centuries of individual creativity and transmitted in fiber preparation, dying, weaving, cutting, stitching and embroidery. Wild silk, cotton, nettle, wool and yak hair are basic to the country. Bhutanese textiles are a national treasure and the government policy along with people’s appreciation will ensure the preservation of this creative art and its tradition. Evening: drive back to Trashigang for overnight at Guest House

Day 12: Retrace back your journey to Bumthang. This is a long day (11 - 12 hours drive). En route take a number of breaks for refreshment and picnic lunch and enjoy the scenic beautify of Thrumshingla National Park. Overnight: Lodge

Day 13: Bumthang: Today we enjoy a leisure day in central Bhutan. You can rest and relax and enjoy Bhutanese hospitality at our friends at the River Lodge. Your guide will assist you in any special request for your day of leisure.

Day 14: Today visit local textile weaving centers where you will watch the women weave, dye and spin. Visit Jakar Dzong, Jambay Khakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang, and Flaming Lake, (Membar Tsho). Explore Jakar and overnight lodge.

Day 15: Bumthang To Wangdue: Departing central Bhutan we
begin our drive toward the west as we drive from Bumthang to Wangdue. We enjoy photo stops and lunch along our way; perhaps an archery match at the Trongsa archery field, a favorite pastime in Bhutan; they hold the Gold! Overnight Hotel.

Day 16: Wangdue To Paro
We visit the impressive courtyard this morning of the Wangdi Dzong, situated high on the flatiron hilltop overseeing its domain below. We then continue our journey onward to Paro; our final hotel and rest. Farewell dinner at hotel.

Day 17: Paro To Bangkok
Prepare for your departure to your next destination.

Tashi Delek!