Map of Premium Bhutan including Bhutan

Uncover the mysterious mountain kingdom of Bhutan

Discover a land of mysticism, proud tradition and pure happiness on a 9-day Premium adventure through the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. This country has a story tell, and a local leader will help you uncover Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage as you wind through forested valleys, fortified monasteries and sacred mountains. Discover the compelling history of Thimphu, hike the valleys of Punakha, learn about black-necked cranes in Phobjikha and climb to the legendary Tiger’s Nest in Paro. A journey through the astonishing beauty of the people, landscape and culture of Bhutan will leave your happiness levels off the scale.

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Offer applies to trips departing in 2022.

Terms & Conditions

Start
Thimphu, Bhutan
Finish
Paro, Bhutan
Destination
Bhutan
Style
Premium
Theme
Explorer
Code
HNPB
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

premium accommodation

Our best accommodation and highest level of service.

premium experiences

Unusual, exceptional and authentic on-trip experiences.

premium knowledge

Led by our most experienced and highest rated local leaders.

  • See Bhutan through the eyes of a local as you travel with a leader who will bring the country’s unique history, legends and traditions to life.

  • Get acquainted with rare and fascinating wildlife in the breathtaking Phobjika valley, including a visit to a protection and information centre for black-necked cranes.

  • Visit the important monastery of Gangte Goemba where you’ll speak to a senior resident monk about two subjects at heart of Bhutanese culture – Buddhism and happiness.

  • Climb to the teetering monastery of Taktsang (the Tiger's Nest) 900 metres above Paro’s valley floor and take in once-in-a-lifetime views.

  • Unwind in your feature stay accommodation, a traditionally beautiful and eco-conscious resort tucked away in the glorious mountains of Paro.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Due to the high altitude of the places we visit some people can suffer altitude sickness, regardless of age, gender or fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary! Please see the ‘Medical and Health Information’ section of the Essential Trip Information for more details.

  • The hike to Tiger’s Nest can be strenuous. The trek can take up to 5 hours and reach an altitude of 3120 metres.

  • In Bhutan short distances can take much longer due to small, narrow roads and mountain passes. Motion sickness can be an issue on longer driving days on windy roads.

  • All meals are included due to the nature of travelling in Bhutan. This means there may be limited choices on some days.

Itinerary

Welcome to Bhutan, a land where mystery and legend go hand in hand. On arrival, you will be met at Paro airport and transferred to Thimphu (2736 m), Bhutan’s capital city. After settling in, meet your small group and tour leader for a welcome meeting. If time permits, join your leader for an orientation walk to get acquainted with Thimphu’s main street, and visit the National Memorial Chorten, a stupa built in honour of Bhutan’s third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. This evening, join your group and leader for an included welcome dinner at a wonderful restaurant that’s a favourite with the locals. Learn about the rich history of Bhutanese cuisine as you tuck into a traditional feast, including seasonal vegetables and the country’s signature dish – red rice with a tasty chili cheese. You may like to try some Bhutanese peach wine or perhaps some Ara, the national spirit, served neat and hot.
Accommodation
  • Norkhil Boutique Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Thimphu - Welcome dinner
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
The arrival transfer is only valid if arriving on Day 1. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 14 days prior to travel, as we may not be able to confirm a request made within 14 days of travel.

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. Travel outside the tour dates on independent visas is not permitted, and additional nights of accommodation cannot be booked.

Today’s total driving time is approximately 1.5 hours. If there is no time for the orientation walk on day one, this will take place on day two.
After breakfast you will venture out to explore Thimphu. Stop off at Buddha point, named after its giant gilded Buddha statue, and take in panoramic views of the city. Take a short hike through pine trees where your leader will help you spot takin, the national animal of Bhutan, a unique goat-antelope creature. Carry on to the Zilukha Nunnery then pass by the fortress and monastery of Tashichho Dzong, sitting on the banks of the Thimphu Chhu river. After lunch, your leader will weave together the fascinating cultural heritage of Bhutan during visits to the National Textile Museum, Folk Heritage Museum, and the Voluntary Artists School in Thimphu, an institution where young people receive formal education in the art of traditional painting, sculpture, and woodcarving. Thimphu has an excellent range of handicrafts, most notably woven cloth, wooden masks, thangkas, silverware, jewellery, and bamboo crafts that come from all over Bhutan.
Accommodation
  • Norkhil Boutique Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Thimpu - Folk & Heritage Museum
  • Thimpu - National Library
  • Thimphu - National Textile Museum
  • Thimphu - National Memorial Chorten
  • Thimphu - Takin Conservation Park
  • Thimphu - Zilukha Nunnery
  • Thimphu - Voluntary Artists School
  • Thimphu - Buddha Dordenma
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
This morning, travel out to the castle-monastery of Simtokha Dzong, built to guard against a demon that is said to have escaped into the nearby rock. Next, drive the winding Dochula pass (3100 m), marked by more than a hundred chortens built in memory of Bhutanese soldiers killed fighting Indian insurgents in 2003. Then continue to Punakha and before arrival, stop at a local village and take a short walk to the Chimi Lhakhang – The Temple of Fertility. Your leader will explain how people from all corners of the country visit the Lhakhang to seek a blessing from Drukpa Kuenley, also known as the ‘Divine Madman’. A revered womaniser and drinker, this wandering preacher taught that sexual freedom was at the centre of Truth. On the walk through the village of Sopsokha to the temple you will notice the phallic symbols painted on walls, a symbol of fertility and protection from evil. Arrive at your resort in Punakha and enjoy fabulous views of the valley.
Accommodation
  • Zhingkham Resort or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Punakha Valley - Chimi Lhakhang
  • Dochula Pass - Druk Wangyal Chortens
  • Thimphu - Simtokha Dzong
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s total driving time is approximately 3 hours.
Begin the day with a short drive to the base of a hill where a ridge-top monastery sits. In this almost sub-tropical valley, begin a hike at a suspension bridge that crosses the Mo Chu river and pass through paddy fields before starting to climb a moderately inclined trail to the Kahmsum Yulley temple. Built by the Queen Mother, the temple is a classic example of Bhutan’s fine architectural and artistic traditions. From the top you can take in sweeping views across the valley. After a lunch by the side of the Mo Chu River, you’ll visit the white-walled, red-roofed Punakha Dzong, the administrative and religious centre and winter retreat of His Holiness, Je Khenpo – the chief abbot of Bhutan. The Dzong boasts intricately carved woodwork, prayer halls and beautiful religious paintings on walls and doorways. End the day at the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Temple and nunnery, where you’ll arrive in time for evening prayers.
Accommodation
  • Zhingkham Resort or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Punakha - Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten
  • Punakha - Punakha Dzong
  • Punakha - Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup nunnery
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
This morning, pass through lush forests and luxuriant vegetation as you make the scenic drive to Phobjikha. Here you’ll find a spectacular valley rich with wildlife – keep an eye out for serows, a mystical goat-like animal, and muntjacs, also known as barking deer. Make an afternoon visit to Gangte Goemba, an expansive monastery with magnificent views of the valley. This hilltop complex is one of Bhutan’s two main centres of the Nyingmapa school of Buddhism. Meet with a senior resident monk who will speak with your and provide local perspective on the subjects of Buddhism and happiness – the two most important pillars of Bhutanese culture. With happiness at front-of-mind, the Bhutanese government employ a Gross National Happiness index to measure the wellbeing of its people and to convey the importance of non-economic factors such as sustainability, culture and community vitality.
Accommodation
  • RKPO Green Resort or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Phobjikha - Conversation with a senior monk
  • Phobjikha - Gangtoe Goemba
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s total driving time is approximately 3 hours.
Start the day with a visit to the centre of the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) where you will learn about the vulnerable black-necked cranes who fly to Bhutan each winter. The Phobjika valley receives more of these lovely visitors than any other part of the country, and the RSPN have taken special measures to protect them, as well as 13 other vulnerable species. Read informative displays on the cranes’ habitat and behaviour, and use the centre’s spotting-scopes to search for cranes in the valley. Wild cranes will only be visible during the winter months, but if you visit outside of this period you may still have the chance to see black-necked cranes that are being rehabilitated in the centre. In the afternoon, join your leader on a gentle two hour hike around the valley and learn about the flora and fauna that call this majestic preserve home. Start off from a hilltop overlooking Gangte Goemba, wander down through flower meadows and beautiful forests, passing by a chorten, the village of Semchubara and the Khewa Lhakhang temple.
Accommodation
  • RKPO Green Resort or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Phobjikha - Black Necked Crane Information Center
  • Phobjikha - Valley hiking
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
This morning, begin the journey to Paro. Stop off along the way at the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong, an ancient fortress and monastery. Build in the 17th century by the great Ngawang Namgyal, the Dzong burned down in an accidental fire in the 1950s, and today stands as a reminder of the victories it was built to commemorate. On arrival to Paro, visit the impressive Ta Dzong, a 17th century watchtower that now houses the National Museum. Enjoy some free time to wander in the Paro town before making your way to your feature stay accommodation, a resort in the heart of the Paro valley that beautifully blends into its mountainous backdrop. An eco-friendly property, the resort features solar lighting, mud-brick walls, wooden roofs and rooms built in a traditionally Bhutanese style with modern comforts in mind. This evening, immerse yourself in traditional Bhutanese culture as you visit a farmhouse for a home-cooked dinner. Perhaps try your hand at Bhutan’s national sport with an archery lesson.
Accommodation
  • Tashi Namgay Resort (Feature Stay) or Similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Paro - Tadzong Museum
  • Paro - Drukgyal Dzong
  • Paro - Home cooked dinner & family visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today’s total driving time is approximately 5 hours.
Miraculously balanced 900 metres above the valley floor sits Taktsang, or the Tiger’s Nest, a beautiful monastery and Bhutan’s most recognised building. After breakfast, begin a hike through plentiful pine forests, passing beneath thousands of brightly coloured prayer flags. Your leader will guide you up into the mountains for a closer view of the temple, sharing the legend of its history along the way. Reach a small teahouse and stop for lunch and refreshments while taking in truly unforgettable views. For those interested, it’s possible to get a closer look at the Tiger’s Nest by hiking another hour each way to reach the temple. Anyone not interested in hiking further can relax at the teahouse and soak it all in. Back in Paro, join your group and leader for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant – perhaps raise a final glass of Ara as a toast to the end of an adventure.
Accommodation
  • Tashi Namgay Resort (Feature Stay) or Similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Paro - Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Todays hike is quite challenging and good quality, comfortable shoes/sneakers are required. Please remember to drink lots of water and wear layers as it gets quite cold. Don't forget a sunhat. Remember you are at 3120 metres above sea level so take your time.

In total it will take approximately 5–6 hours to return to the car park, including all stops, if you choose to walk the full way.
After breakfast your driver will transfer you to the airport for your onward flight. Please check with your tour leader about the exact departure time from the hotel. Please note that your tour leader may not be with you as the group may leave on different flights.
Included Activities
  • Paro - Complimentary Departure Transfer
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
In order to confirm your Complimentary Airport Departure Transfer, please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 14 days prior to travel, as we may not be able to confirm a request made within 14 days of travel.

Meals

8 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 8 dinners

Transport

Private vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (6 nights), Paro Feature Stay (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Thimphu - Welcome dinner
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Thimpu - Folk & Heritage Museum
  • Thimpu - National Library
  • Thimphu - National Textile Museum
  • Thimphu - National Memorial Chorten
  • Thimphu - Takin Conservation Park
  • Thimphu - Zilukha Nunnery
  • Thimphu - Voluntary Artists School
  • Thimphu - Buddha Dordenma
  • Punakha Valley - Chimi Lhakhang
  • Dochula Pass - Druk Wangyal Chortens
  • Thimphu - Simtokha Dzong
  • Punakha - Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten
  • Punakha - Punakha Dzong
  • Punakha - Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup nunnery
  • Phobjikha - Conversation with a senior monk
  • Phobjikha - Gangtoe Goemba
  • Phobjikha - Black Necked Crane Information Center
  • Phobjikha - Valley hiking
  • Paro - Tadzong Museum
  • Paro - Drukgyal Dzong
  • Paro - Home cooked dinner & family visit
  • Paro - Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery hike
  • Paro - Complimentary Departure Transfer

Premium Inclusions

  • Arrival airport transfer
  • Tipping for accommodation, activities and transport
  • Luggage transfer
  • Daily breakfast and signature local meal experiences
  • 24/7 on-ground support

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Premium Bhutan trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

All travellers on Intrepid trips (outside Australia, New Zealand and the Cook Islands) are required to produce proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. From 1 December 2021, all travellers on Intrepid trips, including in Australia, New Zealand and the Cook Islands, are required to produce proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. Read details here.

1. Complimentary airport arrival and departure transfers are included, valid only on Day1 and Day 9. You must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.
2. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights of your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
3. Entry to Bhutan is very strict and travellers can only enter Bhutan on a group visa as part of a tour. All travellers must arrive on Day 1 and depart on Day 9 to be eligible for a group visa. At time of booking, please provide your booking agent with a clear uncut scanned colour copy of the two pages of the personal details section of your passport. Bhutan Immigration is extremely strict. If one passport scan fails to meet their requirements the whole group’s visa will be rejected, thus delaying the process significantly.
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 minimum of 24 hours transit time before and after your flights into and out of Bhutan. Timetables are available on the Druk Airlines and Air Bhutan websites.

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.

View Essential Trip Information

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