Bhutan
Discover Bhutan Tour

Discover Bhutan Tour – a 13 day Private Tour from £3095 per person.


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.

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track 
  • Culture
  • History
  • Wildlife

Tour pace

Busy

Tour style

Traveller

Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.

Itinerary.

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

Early in the morning your guide will accompany you to the airport and wish you Tashi Delek (Goodbye and Good Luck). (B)

Mapped itinerary.

Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?

Download PDF.

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Dates & Price.

We offer this tour for private departures only. Prices start from £3095 per person, based on two people travelling. Please contact us for further details.

Tour Notes

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.

Tour inclusions.

  • 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

Tour exclusions.

  • 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)

Highlights were the Black-necked crane festival and the Tiger’s Nest walk. Having culture and history explained was fascinating. I would like to emphasise the added-value that the tour guide gave by her knowledge and helpfulness.

 

Keith Hiscock, UK