The ancient trail “reborn” after 60 years in the happy kingdom

05:00:49 - August 09, 2022

After six decades, the Trans Bhutan Trail is finally open to visitors. This is a very ideal route to explore, exercise as well as admire the overwhelming beauty of nature.

As one of the happiest nations in the world, Bhutan has breathtaking natural scenery, and is the only country that does not emit greenhouse gasses, or negative emissions with at least 72% of the area being virgin forest. Nature and peace lovers should visit Bhutan once, especially to leave their footprints on the ancient trail that was first opened to visitors in the past 60 years.

The past touches the present and future

CNN has just reported that the Trans Bhutan Trail will open to visitors around the end of September this year. It was King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan who pushed for the restoration of this trail, with support from Bhutan Canada Foundation and the Tourism Council of Bhutan.

The origin of the trail dates back at least more than 5 hundred years. In the past, it served as a pilgrimage route for Buddhists to sacred sites in northern Bhutan and Tibet. It was used by pilgrims, messengers, troops and traders for hundreds of years.

The trail also played a major role in uniting numerous Himalayan kingdoms which ultimately led to the birth of Bhutan as a nation in 1907. However, it was destroyed in the 1960s as Bhutan began to build a road system.

In 2018, the King of Bhutan together with 2 big foundations decided to reopen the trail to serve the locals, pilgrims and tourists. More than 900 local workers restored the 250-mile ancient route, which includes 18 major bridges and 10,000 stairs.

According to Bhutan Canada Foundation, the principal donor to the restoration project, the route connects 9 dzongkhags (districts), 28 gewogs (local governments), 2 municipalities, 1 national park and 400 historic and cultural sites. The westernmost point of the trail is the town of Haa, near the border with Tibet. The easternmost point is Trashigang, near the border with the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

Brad John-Davis, the Trail’s Director of Development, said: “The Trans Bhutan Trail is a not-for-profit sustainable tourism initiative, restoring a unique piece of Bhutan’s cultural heritage for the benefit of its people. For the first time in over half a century, The Trail has reconnected Bhutan’s traditional communities, and will contribute to sustainable livelihoods, preserving and celebrating the local people’s traditional culture, as well as protecting the delicate ecosystems which the Trail crosses.”

According to Sam Blyth, Chair of the Bhutan Canada Foundation, they see the trail as much more than a path. Spanning the world’s sole carbon-negative country, the Trail allows the Bhutanese to rediscover generations’ worth of ancient stories.

How to explore and enjoy the Trans Bhutan Trail

In order to avoid overtourism, Bhutan has a policy of welcoming “high-value, low-volume” tourism. Accordingly, Bhutan gives a US$250 minimum daily package charge for international travelers. This price includes 3-star accommodation, meals, a personal tour guide, a private vehicle, as well as most other activities planned throughout the trip, including transfers between cities or gewogs.

One can spend around 1 month walking the entire Trans Bhutan Trail if they are healthy and strong enough. Most tourists here tend to prefer shorter routes with excursions lasting 3-4 days or 7 days. You can choose from customized itineraries to suit your needs and health conditions. In addition to walking, you can also go by mountain bike.

There are a range of lodging options along the trail, from rustic campsites to three-star hotels, meeting your taste and budget. Porterage and erection of tents as well as locally-sourced organic meals will be prepared by the Trans Bhutan Trail crew.

Another interesting option is homestay in traditional farmhouses, which enables guests to immerse themselves in Bhutan’s traditional culture and locals’ daily life. Accommodation is basic but clean, and meals will be prepared by your hosts and eaten seated on the floor, as is customary in Bhutanese homes.

Photo: Trans Bhutan Trail.

Not only has the Trail allowed the Bhutanese to again walk in the footsteps of their ancestors to rediscover generations’ worth of stories and history, it also highlights the Kingdom’s core principles concerning the environment and sustainable development. That is why, when visiting Bhutan in general and the ancient trail in particular, please pay attention to environmental protection! Going to the Bhutan Trail, you will say no to single-use plastic. It will provide all visitors with reusable water bottles, serve organic and locally sourced food, or plant a tree for each guest,…

According to the latest update, Bhutan is set to reopen on September 23, 2022. Five days later, the Trans Bhutan Trail will also welcome international visitors for the first time in 60 years. Ancient land, great history, majestic nature, gentle people, happy country and many other beautiful things, so it’s worth experiencing once in a lifetime, right?!

The ancient trail “reborn” after 60 years in the happy kingdom


The requirement was accepted, please check your email for the document.