Discover Bhutan Tour – a 13 day Private Tour
Discover the land of the thunder dragon, Bhutan, where gross national happiness is considered more important than gross national product. The country stretches from subtropical valleys and plains to snowcapped mountain ranges.
This landscape makes it the perfect place to trek through the majestic valleys or steep mountains to visit ancient architecture and Buddhist temples.
Our 13 day private tour takes in the highlights of this rarely visited country including Bumthang Valley, with its apple orchards, dairy farms, potato patches, and rice and buckwheat fields and the world famous Tiger’s Nest – also known as Taktsang, it is said to be the most spiritual place in Bhutan.
Tucked away in a remote corner of the Himalayas, Bhutan is a nation unlike any other, a tranquil idyll where people still wear national dress and gross national happiness is more important that gross national product.
Once closed to the outside world, Bhutan now allows a limited number of travellers to experience its charms.
Our tour to this beautiful nation allows a glimpse of some of its most spectacular sights, from the amazing Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery in its dramatic cliff face location to the imposing Punakha Dzong, an incredible fortress with a turbulent past. We travel through spectacular Himalayan scenery and have the opportunity to visit traditional Buddhist temples. As this is a tailor-made tour to Bhutan, we can adjust the exact holiday to your liking.
This trip offers you a marvellous insight into the scenery and way of life of this remote mountain kingdom.
Day 1 – Paro- Thimphu
Arrive at Paro International Airport which is situated in a beautiful valley at 2280 metres and is a fitting introduction to this charming kingdom. Your guide will meet you and take you on a short one-hour drive along the Paro and Thimphu river valleys to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital. Overnight at Galingkha Hotel or similar. (D)
Day 2 – Thimphu
Today we will visit the weekly market, the revered Memorial Chorten and the School of Traditional Arts. Then we visit Changangkha temple, perched on the hilltop overlooking the town. Devotees flock throughout the day to turn the prayer wheels. The temple also contains beautiful wall paintings and hundreds of religious scriptures written in gold. In the afternoon we will drive up to the Radio Tower (offering splendid views of the city from a hilltop festooned with prayer flags), visit the Takin Reserve showcasing the unique national animal, the Takin, browse the striking collection of intricate textiles at the National Textile Museum or visit the Folk Heritage Museum. Overnight at Galingkha Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Day 3 - Punakha
In the morning we drive approximately 3 hours to the old capital, Punakha, via Dochu La pass at 3050 metres, where we will stop for a hot drink and enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the Eastern Himalaya ranges. In the afternoon, we visit the imposing Punakha Dzong, “Palace of Great Happiness”. We then take a pleasant walk for an hour or so across terraced fields to Chimi Lhakhang built in the 15th century by the ‘Divine Madman’ (Lama Drukpa Kuenley). Overnight at Meri Puensum Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Day 4 –Trongsa
We drive to Trongsa, the gateway to central Bhutan. Set amidst spectacular scenery, Trongsa Dzong commands the eye from miles away. Take a stroll down the town’s main street where you can take lunch, then visit the Dzong. You can also visit Ta Dzong, the museum in the watchtower dedicated to the Wangchuk dynasty, which tells the stories of the Dzong and the valley it has watched over for centuries and features personal belongings of the Kings and Queens of Bhutan. Overnight at Yangkhil Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Day 5- Bumthang
From Trongsa we continue a further 3 hours through some of Bhutan’s most beautiful landscapes to Bumthang, an area of high valleys. Sightseeing in Bumthang, the spiritual heartland of Bhutan, with its many legendary monasteries, temples and palaces. Bumthang is the collective name for an area of 4 valleys – Chokhor, Tang, Ura and Chumey. Your guide will take you on a fascinating walking and/or driving tour of a variety of sacred sites including Jamba Lhakhang, Kurjey Lhakhang and Tamshing Lhakhang, followed by a visit to Membar Tsho ‘the Flaming Lake’, one of Bhutan’s most important pilgrimage sites. You can also visit Bhutan’s largest Dzong (Jakar), with its picturesque location overlooking the Chokhor valley. You may be interested to see Bumthang’s famous Swiss cheese factory and dairy farm. Overnight at Ugyenling Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Day 6 – Bumthang
Take a hike to Babzur via Petseling monastery. We will hike for around 1.5 hours to a tiny village called Changbi where you will be welcomed with hot tea and snacks arranged by your guide. Continue on to Petseling monastery, home to around 70 monks. From here you will have a panoramic view over the Bumthang valley and you can also see the finishing line of Bhutan’s most challenging trek, the Snowman trek, in the distance. Continue on to Babzur. The village is located by a beautiful meadow lined with a few prayer flags and views of Kunzangdrak Gompa. After a packed lunch here we walk for another 1.5 hours until we reach the feeder road where the hike ends. Overnight at Ugyenling Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Day 7 – Gangtey Gompa
We drive for approximately 7 hours to Gangtey to enjoy the views of the immense and remote Phobjikha valley and the Black Mountain ranges. Our guide takes us to visit Gangtey Gompa (one of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries and recently extensively renovated) and we will explore the valley where the villagers continue to live a traditional Bhutanese rural lifestyle. In this area, black-necked cranes visit in their hundreds in November each year after spending the summer in Tibet. Overnight at Dewachen Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Day 8 – Nature Trail and local villages
We drive for approximately 7 hours to Gangtey to enjoy the views of the immense and remote Phobjikha valley and the Black Mountain ranges. Our guide takes us to visit Gangtey Gompa (one of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries and recently extensively renovated) and we will explore the valley where the villagers continue
to live a traditional Bhutanese rural lifestyle. In this area, black-necked cranes visit in their hundreds in November each year, after spending the summer in Tibet. Overnight at Kichu Resort or similar. (BLD)
Day 9 – Wangdi and Paro
Today we return to Paro, a drive of approximately 7 hours via Wangdi. Wangdi (also known as Wangdue Phodrang) was originally considered Bhutan’s secondary capital and it commands an important central position. After a brief stop for lunch we will continue on our way. This afternoon we will visit a local farmhouse for tea or dinner (depending on group size) and you can also try the restorative properties of a traditional hot stone bath. Overnight at Tenzinling Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Day 10 – Paro
This morning you can visit the National Museum. This was previously housed in the Ta Dzong (watch tower) built on top of the hill above Rinpung Dzong. Unfortunately, an earthquake in September 2011 damaged the Ta Dzong and the contents of the museum were moved to a neighbouring building. You can still see a magnificent collection of Bhutanese artefacts – costumes, religious paintings, arms, textiles and a fascinating collection of Bhutan stamps. The National Museum is due to reopen in the Ta Dzong in 2017. From the National Museum, take a leisurely 1-hour hike along the forested hillside to Zuri Dzong and then down to the Uma resort, where your driver will pick you up. The walk passes Gonsaka Lhakhang and then Zuri Dzong and provides wonderful views down over the valley and Dzong. Zuri Dzong dates from 1352 and is home to the valley’s local protector gods. On the way visit the impressive Paro Rinpung Dzong, one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. Overnight at Tenzinling Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Day 11 – Haa
Today we will take a day excursion to Haa at 2670 metres – the drive is around 3 hours each way. We will cross the Chele La pass at 3800m from where you will have a view of Mount Jomolhari to the north as well as down to the Haa valley, and then continue down to Haa town. Haa has only recently opened to tourists and the town is still very small – as yet there are only one or two basic restaurants and local lodges and no tourist hotels, so the area remains quite remote. A great opportunity to view this beautiful rural scene. From Haa you can walk or drive to Katso village and from there you can visit Lhakhang Karpo and Lhakhang Nagpo. In the afternoon return to Paro. Then you can visit a local farmhouse for tea or dinner allowing you to experience traditional Bhutanese village life. Take the opportunity to try the restorative properties of a hot stone bath! Overnight at Tenzinling Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Day 12 –The Tiger’s Nest Monastery
Take a day walk to the ‘Tiger’s Nest’, the sacred Taktshang monastery which clings to the rock face 900 metres above the valley floor. Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown to the site riding on a tigress. He subsequently meditated here for three months. It is one of Bhutan’s most holy sites and draws pilgrims not only from Bhutan but also from neighbouring Buddhist countries. You can have lunch at the Taktshang cafeteria from where you get a spectacular view of the monastery. On the way back you may be interested to visit a manor house turned museum in a local village. The house dates from the 17th Century and the museum is designed to showcase the culture of medieval rural Bhutan. Afterwards you may also have time to visit Dumtse Lhakhang, a temple built by Thangtong Gyalpo, the iron bridge builder. Overnight at Tenzinling Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Day 13 – Depart Bhutan
Early in the morning your guide will accompany you to the airport and wish you Tashi Delek (Goodbye and Good Luck). (B)
Dates & Price.
We offer this tour for private departures only. Prices start from £5695 per person, based on two people travelling. Please contact us for further details.
Flights to Paro in Bhutan are accessed through a number of Asia hub cities such as Delhi, Calcutta, Kathmandu or Bangkok. The flights are usually on Druk Air and prices range from £350 return to £800 return from these cities. We highly recommend booking your tour places early for Bhutan as during the festivals the flights to Paro can be in short supply.
Flights to Kathmandu , Delhi, Calcutta and Bangkok start from around £500 per person subject to availability.
Airport transfers are included if you are booking pre and/or post tour accommodation at the hotel mentioned in our tour dossier.
Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?
Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.
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+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA
- Arrival and departure transfers
- Transport throughout
- All accommodation
- Daily breakfast (B), plus lunch (L) and dinner (D) as shown in the itinerary
- Services of English speaking guide
- Mineral water in the vehicles
- Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
- Bhutan Entry Visa
- International flights including those to and from Paro
- Any airport taxes
- Travel Insurance
- Drinks – alcoholic and soft drinks
- Items of a personal nature
- Tips (discretionary)