Distinctive and remote, Bhutan offers beauty, history and adventure by the bucketload.

Bhutan is the little secret of Asia. Overshadowed and nestled between China and India, it is a relatively new travel spot, with many undiscovered secrets in its natural scenery and quiet townships. The land is dotted with red-clothed monks, ancient Buddhist temples and friendly smiles. It is one calm country, where gross national happiness is more important than money, where chillies are used as a vegetable rather than for spice, and the thunder dragon, Druk, is emblazoned on the national flag, symbolising the people of Bhutan: loyal, patriotic and living with a total sense of belonging within the kingdom.


Start
Thimphu, Bhutan
Finish
Paro, Bhutan
Country
Bhutan
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
HNSB
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • The happiest land on earth, Bhutan is a hidden paradise with no traffic lights, laws governing minimum forest coverage and some amazing feats of archery.

  • Only a small number of visitors are allowed into Bhutan each year. Its pretty special.

  • The climb to Tigers nest while tough, is a richly rewarding and sobering experience

Is this trip right for you?

  • Whilst only a small country, there are long travel days in Bhutan, most roads are single lane and travel by vehicle is slow and tiring

  • The trek to Tigers nest is quite vigorous, but its well worth the climb.

  • Bhutan is at altitude, a day or two taking it easy makes for a much more comfortable trip. Drink tea and lots of water on arrival and don't do strenuous exercice.

Itinerary

After arrival at Paro airport and sailing through immigration and custom formalities, you will be greeted by your guide and driver and warmly welcomed to the enchanting Land of the Thunder Dragon. Drive for two hours alongside mountains, rivers, and fields of red rice to Thimphu, Bhutan's capital city. After lunchl visit Nado, Bhutan’s famous traditional incense maker and the colorful Gagyel Lhendup weaving center. Later in the evening, you may wander and explore the fascinating streets of Thimphu, the world’s only capital city without a traffic light!

Bhutan Visas & Additional Accommodation
Travel in Bhutan is strictly controlled and to do any independent travel outside of a group tour is extremely difficult and expensive to arrange. We provide a group visa for travellers on our tours in Bhutan, which stipulates that all travellers must arrive and depart on the same days that our tour program starts and finishes. For this reason we are generally not able to provide additional accommodation outside of our tour dates and advise all travellers to book flights in and out of Bhutan that correspond with the start and finish day of the tour. In the rare case that no flights are available and you need to arrive earlier or depart later we are only able to book additional accommodation for you in conjunction with a special individual visa which can add around AUD1000 to the cost of your tour, to be paid at the time of booking.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Thimpu - National Library
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today begins with a pleasant rural walk that meanders gently up the valley through paddy fields, pristine woodlands and a Tibetan village. We’ll walk along a trail to Pangri Zampa Gompa. Spot Bhutanese chortens on the riverside route and pass through the villages of Choku and Begana.
Cross a cantilevered bridge, and climb uphill for around an hour uphill to the monastery. Cheri Dorji Dhen was built in 1620 by Shabdrung, the first ruler of Bhutan, who also established the first order of monks here. At the bottom of the hill, a picnic lunch will be waiting for us along the riverside.
Drive back to Thimphu for an afternoon of sightseeing. There is much to see! We will visit the Memorial Chorten, a shrine built in the memory of the 3rd King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. Many Thimphu residents consider this to be the heart and soul of Thimphu and gather here every day to pray and walk clockwise around the chorten. Afterwards, visit Dubthob nunnery, and then the School of Arts and Crafts where students follow an eight-year program in traditional arts, such as drawing, painting, woodcarving, and sculpture. No tour of Thimphu is complete without a visit to the incredible Textile Museum. Some shopping time if you wish is available at the Thimphu Handicraft Emporium which offers high quality traditional goods, and a small family-run enterprise which manufactures paper and paper products using traditional methods.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Folk and Heritage Museum
  • National Chorten
  • Takin Reserve
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Leave Thimpu this morning and drive to Punakha (approx. 4 hours) the ancient winter capital of Bhutan. En-route stop at Dochu-La pass (10,000ft/3,048m) for a breathtaking view the eastern Himalayas, including Bhutan's highest mountain, the majestic Gangkar Punsum (24,770ft/7,550m.) The road descends through varied and ever-changing forest, emerging into the highly cultivated Punakha valley. Take a short walk to visit Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple built in 1499 by lama Drukpa Kunley (charmingly known as “The Divine Madman.”) On this site, The Divine Madman subdued the Demoness of the Dochu-La using his “magic thunderbolt of wisdom,” (also known as “his phallus.”) A wooden effigy of the Lama’s “thunderbolt” is preserved in the Lhakhang. Traditionally, childless women have visited this temple to receive a wang (blessing) from the saint. Our trail leads across rice fields to the tiny settlement of Pana. There are few young monks at the temple, which is surrounded by a row of prayer wheels and some very beautiful slate carvings.
In Punakha, we’ll visit the impressive Punakha Dzong. With its three towers, and wonderful location at the confluence of two rivers, it is considered by many to be the most beautiful of Bhutan’s 21 Dzongs.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Punakha - Chimmi Lhakhang
  • Punakha - Dzong tour
  • Punakha - Punakha Dzong
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
After breakfast, Explore this small town with your leader on an orientation walk. Head down to the convergence of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu Rivers, two of the main rivers of Bhutan. There are lovely views of the majestic Punakha Dzong. This fine Dzong was constructed around 1639 and due to its location the Dzong has flooded several times in its history and also partially destroyed by fire in the 1980's. Be sure to keep an eye out for the cantilever brdige spanning the river.
After lunch undertake an optional hike (approx. 1 hour) to visit the Khamsum Yulley Monastery. Its an uphill climb but the views from the top make it worthwhile. As with many monasteries in Bhutan, our leader will need to hunt around for the caretaker with the keys to have a look inside.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
This morning head back over the Dochu-La and continue to Thimphu. (approx. 4 hrs) This is a good chance to relax and refresh. The roads in Bhutan are narrow and whilst the distances are not great, due to the nature of the roads and the many valleys they pass through travelling can take some time. After lunch in Thimpu, continue by vehicle into the Paro Valley. Its a long day of driving. This evening experience a local homestay in Paro with home cooked meals and a friendly local atmosphere.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Paro - Tadzong Museum & Trongsa Dzong
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
After an early breakfast we drive up to the starting point and prepare for our hike to the legendary Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) - a magnificent monastery, clinging on a rock cliff 900 meters above the valley floor.

The legend dating back to 747 AD has it that the Great Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhawa) flew here from northeast Bhutan on the back of a tigress to subdue the demons of Paro Valley. The guru then meditated in the holy cave that is the site of the Pelphug Lhakhang today. According to Tantric Buddhist mythology, the vanquished local deities became the protectors of the dharma and one of them, Singey Samdrup, is recognised today as the guardian deity of Taktsang. Guru Rinpoche is also believed to have concealed among the rocks of Taktsang various forms of Dharma treasures known as Ters, which were destined to be discovered later by Tertons (treasure discoverers) for the propagation of Dharma.

Taktsang was severely damaged by fire on Sunday 19th April 1998. The king commanded its immediate restoration soon after the fire. The royal command dictated that the original aura, authenticity and architectural splendor must be preserved at all costs. This project has been widely seen as an act of devotion involving all sections of Bhutanese society and as homage to the nation's cultural heritage. It also proved to be an opportunity for Bhutan's traditional artists and craftsmen to hone the skills inherited from their forefathers down the ages. In order to facilitate the restoration work, a road was built to the base of the mountain facing the temple.

We drive to the end of this road and begin our hike up the mountain for a closer view of the temple. After approximately an hour walking uphill, we reach a small teahouse that has a wonderful panoramic view of the temple. Its the ideal place to enjoy lunch. For those interested, it is possible to get a closer view by hiking another 45 minutes to an hour (each direction) to reach the small chorten directly across from the temple. Anyone not interested in hiking any further can relax at the teahouse and enjoy the view. It total it will about 5 to 6 hours to get back to the car including all stops if you choose to walk the full way. Its quite a challenging hike and good quality, comfortable shoes/sneakers are required. Please remember to drink lots of water and wear layers as it gets quite cold. Also remember that you are at 3120 metres above sea level so take your time.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Paro - Tiger's Nest Monastery
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your hotel before a departure transfer to Paro airport for your flight out of Bhutan.
Due to group visa requirements, all travellers are required to leave Bhutan on the same day.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

6 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 6 dinners

Transport

Minibus

Accommodation

Hotel (6 nights)

Included Activities

  • Thimpu - National Library
  • Folk and Heritage Museum
  • National Chorten
  • Takin Reserve
  • Punakha - Chimmi Lhakhang
  • Punakha - Dzong tour
  • Punakha - Punakha Dzong
  • Paro - Tadzong Museum & Trongsa Dzong
  • Paro - Tiger's Nest Monastery

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. An airport arrival and departure transfer is included in Bhutan
2. Please provide Intrepid or your booking agent with a scanned colour copy of the personal details page from your passport at time of booking. Failure to do this delays group visa.
3. Please advise all international flight details at least 60 days prior to departure.
4. Please be aware that Bhutan's airlines are renowned for last minute changes to flight timetables into and out of Bhutan. Please allow a min of 24 hours transit time between your international flight and flight into Bhutan. Timetables are available on the Druk Airlines and Air Bhutan websites.
5. All travellers must arrive on Day 1 and depart on Day 7 to be eligible for a group visa. See Trip Notes for more details.
6. A single supplement is available on this trip. See under the Single Traveller section of your Trip Notes for more information..

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Reviews

Our Bhutan Discovered trips score an average of 5 out of 5 based on 1 review in the last year.

Bhutan Discovered, May 2016

Mandy Morrissey