About Samtengang Winter Trek
Charting its way across some of Bhutan’s most scenic routes, the Samtengang Winter Trek is a fairly easy trekking experience carried out in lower altitudes. Traversing between Punakha and Wangduephodrang Dzongkhag, this 54-kilometer-long trail passes through scenic ridges, oak and rhododendron forests, and through the quaint little villages of Sha and Chungsakha.
Tailor-made for beginner trekkers, the Samtengang Winter Treks makes a number of different stops at some of the most popular attractions in Bhutan. From the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, to Paro’s National Museum, to the longest foot-bridge of Bhutan- the trek covers it all.
Participants of the Samtengang Winter Trek are provided with 3-star accommodations in the major Bhutanese towns such as Paro or Thimphu. While in the smaller villages, accommodations are arranged in campsites with tents. The participants are transported in private vehicles whenever necessary, and are provided with an English-speaking tour guide for assistance.
The Samtengang Winter Trek begins at Punakha, and travels to Chungsakha via Limukha from where the trek on foot actually begins. From Chungsakha, the trekkers hike to Samtengang. A quaint little town in the WangDue district of Bhutan, the picturesque Samtengang boasts of the traditional beauty characteristic to Bhutan. After touring the little village and camping overnight, the trekkers then hike to Chuzomsa, from where they return back to Paro.
As the name of the trek suggests, the Samtengang Winter Trek is available throughout the winter months. However, the best time to take the trek is between March-April and October-November, when the weather remains warm, clear and cloudless.
How to Reach Samtengang Winter TrekThe nearest airport to Samtengang is the Paro International Airport. However, to arrive at Samtengang from Paro, one would need to reach Punakha first. Once at Paro, one would need to take a taxi or a shared cab to Punakha. It takes around three hours to reach Punakha from Paro.
From Punakha, you can either take a car or taxi to Samtengang, or you might choose to trek between the two places. A car ride from Punakha to Samtengang would take around an hour via the Trashigang-Simtokha Highway and the Wangdue Phodrang - Nobding Highway. Trekking to Samtengang would take longer, around 6 hours via the same route.
Best Time to Visit Samtengang Winter Trek
Although the trek can be availed throughout the winter months, the best time to embark on it is between March-April and October-November. During these months, the temperature remains comparatively warm and pleasant. Precipitation during this time is less, if not rare.
During the extreme winter months, the temperature in Bhutan falls to extremes, which might make the trek an uncomfortable venture for some. The monsoon months, between June to September, witness heavy rainfall and high humidity, making it difficult to trek through the hilly terrains.
What Not to Miss at Samtengang Winter Trek
1. Visit the National Museum at Paro: Established in 1649, Bhutan’s National Museum is one of the oldest museums in the world. Housed on top of the Paro ‘dzong’, the structure was initially built to protect the Paro watchtower, and was later converted into a museum to house some of the finest Bhutanese art. Spreading across 6 levels, the National Museum at Paro houses over 15,000 specimens of Bhutanese paintings, sculptures, masks and other works, shedding light on the rich cultural heritage of the country.
Location: Paro, Bhutan.
-Summer timings: 09.00AM-05.00PM on all days of the week.
-Winter timings: 09.00AM-04.00PM on all days of the week.
-Bhutanese: BTN 10,
-SAARC Nationals: BTN 25,
-Non-SAARC Nationals: BTN 150,
-Monks, Nuns, Children (under 10): No Entry Fee
2. Take a trip to Bhutan’s oldest temple: Only a short drive away from Paro, Kyichu Lhakhang is one of Bhutan’s oldest and most beautiful temples. The historic chapel of the temple dates back to the 7th century, while the other buildings in the temple premises were built later. The temple campus houses a fine display of ancient Bhutanese architecture, including the mural for the renown Tibetan warrior-king, King Gesar of Ling, and 5-meter tall statue of Guru Rinpoche.
Location: Lango Gewog, Paro, Bhutan
Timings: 09.00AM-04.00PM on all days of the week.
-SAARC National Students: BTN 150
-SAARC National Adults: BTN 300
-Entry is free for foreigners.
3. Visit the ruined fortress of Drukgyel: Housed on the upper ridges of the Paro Valley, the Drukgyel Dzong is the most beautiful and popular archaeological site in Bhutan. Constructed in 1649, the Dzong served as an important defense base until it was destroyed by a fire in 1651. Now an imposing ruin, the site of Drukgyel Dzong offers a telescopic insight into the ancient Tibetan style of architecture. The Fort consisted of a central tower building, which housed the shrines of the guardian deities, surrounded by rectangular buildings and courtyards.
Location: Paro, Bhutan
Timings: 07.00AM-06.00PM on all days of the week.
Entry Fee: No entry fee.
4. Take a trip to the Trashi Chho Dzong: Looking out on a series of cascading terraced fields, the Tashichho Dzong is the seat of Bhutan’s government. One of the grandest buildings of Bhutan, this splendidly constructed fortress is probably the most prominent landmark in Thimphu. Surrounded by beautifully manicured rose gardens, the Dzong is divided into three sections – The King’s Office, the administration block, and the spiritual section. At night, the entire building is lit up beautifully, adding to the rustic charm of the place.
Location: Chhagchhen Lam, Thimphu, Bhutan
-Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays: 09.00AM-05.00PM; 05.30PM-06.00PM
-Wednesdays: 09.00AM-04.00PM; 05.30PM-06.00PM
-Sunday: 09.00AM-01.00PM; 02.00PM-04.30PM
Entry fee: BTN 300 per person.
5. Trek through the oak and rhododendron forests: The Samtengang Winter Trek trail takes the hikers through the magnificent rhododendron and oak forests of Bhutan. Cascading down the hilly sides, the rich green forests blooming with a deep pink floral wealth is a sight to behold. These rhododendrons are in bloom during the spring season between the months of March and April.
Other Essential Information About Samtengang Winter TrekLocation: Punakha, Bhutan
Timings: Although the Samtengang Winter Trek is available throughout winter, the best time to embark on it would be between the months of March and April, or between October to November.
Difficulty Level: Easy
Height: Although the altitude varies throughout the trek, it does not rise above 1900 meters above sea level
Average Temperature: Owing to low altitudes, the weather here remains warm and cool, with the average temperature being between 18 degrees to 22 degrees.
Trek Duration: 4-10 days, depending on the tour opted for.
Cost of Trekking: Rs. 17,000 Per adult.
Traveler's Tips for visiting Samtengang Winter Trek
1. Make sure you carry plenty of water along with you.
2. Wear comfortable clothing and footwear.
3. The trek route passes through some of the most gorgeous places in Bhutan. Make sure you carry a camera to the Samtengang Trek.
4. Do not miss out on the local cuisine of the place offered by the roadside stalls here.
5. Carry hiking sticks if necessary, to aid in walking.