Villages,monasteries and ancient buddhist culture
The Land of the Thunder Dragon. The Hidden Kingdom. The Roof of the World. No travel destination on earth is more remote—or more beautiful—than Bhutan. Nestled in the high Himalayas, this tiny kingdom fiercely protects its traditional ways of life, and guards its isolation like no other country (Bhutan had no roads until 1962, and no television until 1999). This unique tour offers the rare chance to discover a secret world, explore ancient monasteries, and experience pristine Buddhist culture as it has existed since time immemorial. Unadulterated by modernity, the Bhutanese landscape consists of dense forests, shimmering glaciers, and crystalline rivers flowing through lush green meadows. If you've always wanted to journey to the ends of the earth, there can be no doubt that Bhutan is that place.
Book Early for Bhutan Trips!
Flights between Bangkok and Paro on Druk Air, Bhutan's national airline, sell out four to six months in advance. We recommend you reserve your Bhutan trip as early as possible, so we can secure these flights for you.
Cultural touring, some long drives, optional day hikes (max. elev. 10,178')
- Be one of the lucky few to visit this uniquely isolated kingdom!
- Visit timeless traditional villages tucked away in pristine mountain landscapes
- Explore ancient monasteries and experience Buddhist culture in its most ancient, unadulterated form
Duration: 9 days Start Location: Bangkok End Location: BangkokDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Bangkok
Arrive in Bangkok and take the 24-hour, complimentary shuttle to the Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel, a 10-minute ride from the airport. The shuttle runs every 10-15 minutes. Most airlines arrive late at night into Bangkok, and our flight from Bangkok to Paro departs very early the next morning. If your flight into Bangkok is delayed by even just a few hours, it would be easy to miss the flight to Paro. We therefore encourage you to arrive a day or two early in Bangkok to explore this fascinating city, or to help overcome jet lag before the tour actually starts. There are many sightseeing possibilities. We'd be happy to make additional hotel reservations if requested. Additional costs will be reflected on your invoice.
Day 2 : Paro - Thimphu
Fly to Paro, Bhutan, on Druk Air, the national airline of Bhutan. If you get a seat on the left side of the plane and the weather cooperates, you may have spectacular views of the high peaks of the eastern Himalaya, including Cho Oyu, Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and Kanchenjunga—five of the highest peaks in the world—as well as peaks in Bhutan such as Chomolhari, Jichu Drakye, and Tsering Kang. After visa formalities at the Paro airport, your guide will meet you and drive you into town for lunch. Afterward, you'll transfer to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, set at 7,725 feet in the Wang Chu Valley. The remainder of the day is free to rest and relax.
Day 3 : Thimphu
After breakfast you'll drive to the north end of the road to Dodina (8,600') and hike an hour up a steep hill to visit Cheri Monastery, or Goemba, built in 1620 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and established with an original staff of 30 monks. Today the monastery serves as the main meditation center of the country and has more than 70 monks undergoing their three-year, three-month retreat. Inside is a silver chorten holding the ashes of the Shabdrung's father. On your return you'll visit Tango Goemba (another steep one-hour climb), founded in the 12th century (the present building was constructed in the 15th century). It is now a Buddhist institute for higher learning. Time permitting, you'll visit Tashichho Dzong, seat of the royal government and central monastic body, upon your return from the hike. (1 hour driving; 4 hours hiking)
Day 4 : Thimphu - Punakha
This morning's tour will include a visit to the School of Arts and Crafts (or "painting school"), where Bhutanese children follow a six-year program in traditional arts, such as drawing, painting, woodcarving, and sculpture. You'll also visit the Textile Museum, National Institute of Traditional Medicine, and Folk Heritage Museum. Afternoon drive across the Dochu La ("la" means "pass") at 10,000 feet, where you might view the snow-covered peaks of the eastern Himalaya (weather permitting). The pass is marked by hundreds of colorful fluttering prayer flags and is an awesome sight. Continue to Punakha, winter seat of the highest lama in Bhutan until the 1950s. Overnight at Damchen Resort or similar.
Day 5 : Punakha
In the morning, you will visit the ancient Punakha Dzong (a dzong is a fortress-monastery) which dates back to the 17th century, spectacularly situated at the confluence of the Mo and Phu Rivers. You will also have an optional short hike across the rice paddies to visit nearby Chimi Lhakhang, a lovely temple built by Lama Drukpa Kunley. Legend has it he subdued the demoness of the Dochu La with his "Magic Thunderbolt of Wisdom." A wood effigy of the lama's thunderbolt is preserved in the lhakhang, and childless women go to the temple to receive a wang (blessing) from the saint. Overnight at Damchen Resort or similar.
Day 6 : Paro
Morning drive to Paro. In the afternoon, you'll visit the National Museum, housed in an old watchtower above the Paro Dzong. The museum's collections include displays of spectacular thangkas (religious scroll paintings), bronze statues, Bhutan's beautiful stamps, and the Tshogshing Lhakhang ("Temple of the Tree of Wisdom"), with its carvings depicting the history of Buddhism. Time permitting, you will also visit the Paro Dzong itself, built in 1644 by the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.
Day 7 : Hike to Taktsang Monastery or Dzongdrakha Monastery
Today you have the option of taking a steep, 1½-hour hike to a teahouse, where you can enjoy a great view of Taktsang Monastery (its name means "tiger's nest"), perched on a cliff 2,700 feet above the floor of the Paro Valley. The hike follows a steep switchback trail through the forest, and after a break with tea and cookies, you have the option to sit outside the cafe and admire the monastery and its beautiful surroundings or, if you feel energetic, to continue another thirty minutes to a closer viewpoint. Much of Taktsang was destroyed by a fire in April 1998, but it is now completely rebuilt.
If you don't wish to hike up to Taktsang Monastery, we will drive above the town of Bondey to a trailhead where you can walk about 40 minutes to Dzongdrakha, a small monastery and retreat center overlooking the Paro Valley. Built in the 16th century by the first local king, Chogay Dragpa, this monastery is one of five in the area. There is also a large stupa (shrine) similar to Bodhnath in Kathmandu, Nepal. Return to the hotel for lunch. The rest of the day is free to rest or enjoy some shopping.
Day 8 : Bangkok
Today we'll have a very early morning transfer to the Paro airport for departure on your Druk Air flight to Bangkok. Once in Bangkok, take the 24-hour complimentary shuttle to the Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel. The remainder of the day is free. Lunch and dinner on your own.
Day 9 : Fly home
Take the hotel's complimentary shuttle to the international terminal to connect with your homeward-bound flight, arriving in the U.S. the same morning or afternoon depending on your particluar flight schedules.
DATES: Best time to go: March - April, October - November Departures: Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availability. Call us for details.
Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport HotelBangkok
The Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport is a 4 star hotel located 10 min walk from Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok. Boasting 612 comfortable and contemporary rooms, the hotel also offers 2 bars and 4 restaurants. With a 24 hr airport shuttle every 10 min from Gate 4 Level 2 and parking available, there is no better place to stay.
Druk HotelThimphu, Bhutan
Experience the unique and legendary hospitality of the Bhutanese people at this fine accommodation in the midst of the Himalayas. Located in the heart of the capital city, the hotel is close to shopping, culture, and the bubbling Thimphu River.Thim
Damchen Resort HotelPunakha, Bhutan
This charming hotel on the banks of the Punakha River offers a pleasant stay in a serene atmosphere. Spacious rooms combine modern design with traditional Bhutanese architecture. Surrounded by pine forests but a mere 5-minute walk from town, the Damchen Resort is a convenient oasis.
Zhiwa Ling HotelParo, Bhutan
The Zhiwa Ling combines the sensibilities of a fine Bhutanese guesthouse with the best of modern comforts. Guests can enjoy a traditional outdoor hot-stone bath, a Tea House, a Meditation House, and two restaurants specializing in both contemporary international and classic Bhutanese cuisine.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
Tandin is a graduate of Bangkok University, Thailand, majoring in Tourism and Hospitality Management. He has been leading treks and cultural tours in Bhutan since 2000. Tandin also worked for a few months as the Human Resource Manager at The Zhiwaling Hotel in Paro. Last year, he had the opportunity to work as an Interpreter for the EU Election Observers for a period of one month in Eastern Bhutan and got a very positive evaluation from them. He is very knowledgeable of the cultures, religions, and traditions of his country and enjoys sharing his experiences with you. Tandin speaks English, Nepali, Hindi and passable Thai in addition to his native Bhutanese.
Namgay Dorji, the senior manager of our Bhutan office, has been leading treks and tours for the past nine years. He is very knowledge about the history, culture, and religion of Bhutan, has many relatives in the monk body, and looks forward to sharing his experience with you. Namgay speaks seven languages: English, Japanese, German, Spanish, Hindi, Nepalese, and Urdu; is a graduate of Bissau College, Meghalaya, India; and received his diploma in Tourism and Travel Management from the Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management in Salzburg, Austria. His many personal interests include bird watching, rock climbing, trekking, and archery.