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Essential Bhutan

From $3,395

  • 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

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.
 

Day 1: Paro (7,500') – Thimphu (7,600'), Bhutan

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.

  • Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Druk Hotel

Day 2: Thimphu (7,600')

After breakfast, drive to the trailhead where we set out on our hike: a steep, hour-long climb to Tango Goemba, a Buddhist institute originally founded in the 12th century (the present building was constructed in the 15th century). It is now a Buddhist institute for higher learning. We have lunch, then drive back to Thimphu and up to Wangdi Tse for a peaceful one hour loop hike where we can enjoy wonderful views of Thimphu, but see few others on the trail.  Return to Thimphu for dinner and overnight. (3-4 hours moderate hiking)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Druk Hotel

Day 3: Thimphu (7,600') - Punakha (4,100')

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Damchen Resort Hotel

Day 4: Punakha (4,100')

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Damchen Resort Hotel

Day 5: Punakha (4,100') - Paro (7,600')

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Zhiwa Ling Hotel

Day 6: 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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Zhiwa Ling Hotel

Day 7: Departure

Today we'll have a very early morning transfer to the Paro Airport for departure on your Druk Air flight.  Trip ends with your transfer to the airport.

  • Breakfast

Sep 15 - 21, 2015

Oct 12 - 18, 2015

Dec 11 - 17, 2015

Mar 02 - 08, 2016

Apr 02 - 08, 2016

Oct 03 - 09, 2016

Nov 02 - 08, 2016

pricing

2015 Prices

$3,395 per person (2 or more members)
$600 single supplement

$940 internal airfare – Bangkok/Paro/Bangkok - subject to change (we can help you book your air from Bangkok or elsewhere to Paro on Druk Air)

2016 Prices

$3,595 per person (2 or more members)
$600 single supplement

$940 internal airfare – Bangkok/Paro/Bangkok - subject to change (we can help you book your air from Bangkok or elsewhere to Paro on Druk Air)

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Damchen Resort Hotel — Punakha, 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.

Druk Hotel — Thimphu, 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

Zhiwa Ling Hotel — Paro, 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.

  • 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

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.
 

DAILY itinerary

Day 1: Paro (7,500') – Thimphu (7,600'), Bhutan

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.

  • Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Druk Hotel

Day 2: Thimphu (7,600')

After breakfast, drive to the trailhead where we set out on our hike: a steep, hour-long climb to Tango Goemba, a Buddhist institute originally founded in the 12th century (the present building was constructed in the 15th century). It is now a Buddhist institute for higher learning. We have lunch, then drive back to Thimphu and up to Wangdi Tse for a peaceful one hour loop hike where we can enjoy wonderful views of Thimphu, but see few others on the trail.  Return to Thimphu for dinner and overnight. (3-4 hours moderate hiking)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Druk Hotel

Day 3: Thimphu (7,600') - Punakha (4,100')

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Damchen Resort Hotel

Day 4: Punakha (4,100')

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Damchen Resort Hotel

Day 5: Punakha (4,100') - Paro (7,600')

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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Zhiwa Ling Hotel

Day 6: 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.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Zhiwa Ling Hotel

Day 7: Departure

Today we'll have a very early morning transfer to the Paro Airport for departure on your Druk Air flight.  Trip ends with your transfer to the airport.

  • Breakfast

Damchen Resort Hotel — Punakha, 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.

Druk Hotel — Thimphu, 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

Zhiwa Ling Hotel — Paro, 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.

Dates and Pricing

Sep 15 - 21, 2015

Oct 12 - 18, 2015

Dec 11 - 17, 2015

Mar 02 - 08, 2016

Apr 02 - 08, 2016

Oct 03 - 09, 2016

Nov 02 - 08, 2016

pricing

2015 Prices

$3,395 per person (2 or more members)
$600 single supplement

$940 internal airfare – Bangkok/Paro/Bangkok - subject to change (we can help you book your air from Bangkok or elsewhere to Paro on Druk Air)

2016 Prices

$3,595 per person (2 or more members)
$600 single supplement

$940 internal airfare – Bangkok/Paro/Bangkok - subject to change (we can help you book your air from Bangkok or elsewhere to Paro on Druk Air)

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