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

Bhutan is the best 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
Destination
Bhutan
Style
Comfort
Theme
Explorer
Code
HJKB
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll 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. It's pretty special.

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

  • Here's just some of what our past travellers have learned from their travels to Bhutan: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/bhutan-tour-learnings/

Is this trip right for you?

  • Despite Bhutan being a small country, you'll experience long travel days as most roads are single lane.

  • The trek to Tiger's Nest is quite vigorous but well worth the climb.

  • Bhutan is a high-altitude destination, so taking it easy for a day or two makes for a much more comfortable trip. Drinking tea and water and avoiding strenuous exercise will help you acclimatise after arriving.

  • Please be aware that hot water is limited in some places. Speaking of all things heated, the Bhutanese love chilli and the food can be a touch spicy.

  • 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.

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

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019.
View the 2018 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 lunch we may visit Nado Poizokhang Incense Factory, Bhutan’s famous traditional incense maker and the colorful Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre. Once everyone has arrived, we'll have a joining meeting and dinner before we wander and explore the fascinating streets of Thimphu, the world’s only capital city without a traffic light!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Thimphu - Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre
  • Thimphu - Nado Poizokhang Incense Factory
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
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.
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 National 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 Drubthob Nunnery, and then the Choki Traditional Art School 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 National Textile Museum. Some shopping time if you wish is available at the National Handicrafts 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
  • Thimphu - National Memorial Chorten
  • Thimphu - Village walk & picnic lunch
  • Thimphu - Choki Traditional Art School
  • Thimphu - Drubthob Nunnery
  • Thimphu - National Textile Museum
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 Valley - Chimi Lhakhang
  • 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 bridge spanning the river. After lunch undertake a hike (approx. 1 hour) to visit the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten. 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 home-cooked meals and a friendly atmosphere in a local home before staying overnight in our hotel.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Paro - Home cooked dinner & family visit
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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (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.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your hotel before a departure transfer to Paro airport for your flight out of Bhutan.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Due to group visa requirements, all travellers are required to leave Bhutan on the same day.

Meals

6 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 6 dinners

Transport

Private vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (6 nights)

Included activities

  • Thimphu - Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre
  • Thimphu - Nado Poizokhang Incense Factory
  • Thimphu - National Memorial Chorten
  • Thimphu - Village walk & picnic lunch
  • Thimphu - Choki Traditional Art School
  • Thimphu - Drubthob Nunnery
  • Thimphu - National Textile Museum
  • Punakha Valley - Chimi Lhakhang
  • Punakha - Punakha Dzong
  • Paro - Home cooked dinner & family visit
  • Paro - Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery hike

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 6-8 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.
6. A single supplement is available on this trip and is applicable for all nights on tour.
7. All meals are included during your time in Bhutan.

Essential trip information

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