The four valleys of Chumey, Choekhor, Tang, and Ura are located in Bumthang, which is just to the east of central Bhutan on the opposite side of the Black Mountains. The sole means of transportation through this region up until the 1970s were mules and footpaths.
With elevations ranging from 2,600 to 4,000 metres, the region is known for its beauty. Rich and verdant highlands largely covered in pine forests are renowned for their prolific buckwheat and apple production, robust stone homes, and profusion of monasteries. Along with their stunning natural surroundings, the four valleys are home to some of the most ancient Buddhist monasteries in the entire kingdom. The renowned saint Pema Lingpa, from whom the Bhutanese royal family descended, was born in the Bumthang area, this is also the same place where Buddhism was originally introduced to Bhutan. Pema Lingpa is said to have credited with discovering the treasures that Guru Rinpoche buried in the Mebartsho gorge, also referred to as “the blazing lake.”
The Choekhor valley is truly mind-boggling. It is covered in sloping pine forests and has excellent agriculture and a mosaic of apple orchards. The cottage industries in this region are renowned for producing the highly desirable Bumthang butter, Gouda and Emmenthal cheeses, honey, and a variety of fruit whiskeys and spirits. You can also visit the Wangdicholing Palace, which served as the residence of First and Second Kings of Bhutan, while also seeing Tamshing Monastery, the renowned Red Panda Brewery, the stately Kurjey Lhakhang, and other significant sites around the valley.
Temples, monasteries, and the Ogyen Choling Palace, which houses a vast collection of culturally significant Bhutanese objects, may all be found in the little-traveled Tang valley. You can also watch the traditional Yatra fabrics’ rich coloration being created in the Chumey valley, which is home to one of Bhutan’s oldest weaving groups. Beyond the Shelthang Pass, which rises to a height of 3,600 metres, to the east, is the Ura valley, where tiny farming communities spread out in a setting that feels almost mediaeval and where densely packed homes encircle sheep pastures and potato crops.
Because of its vast U-shaped valleys and gently sloping peaks, Bumthang is one of the best destinations in Bhutan for walking and is suited for all fitness levels. Due to its isolation, Bumthang is a destination that not many tourists visit, which makes it all the more unique. If you have the time, we advise going from Gangtey to Bumthang through the stunning scenery, stopping along the way to tour Trongsa Dzong, the monarch of Bhutan’s ancestral residence. Bumthang can be easily added on a Luxury tour of Bhutan.