Bhutan is a mountainous and thickly forested Himalayan kingdom (a constitutional monarchy) sandwiched between China and India that has been referred to by National Geographic as "The Last Shangri La". Bhutan has a population under one million, a low population density (~20 people per square km), and a sustainable tourism policy that is "low-volume / high-end." Although the national language is Bhutanese (Dzongkha), English is the language of instruction in schools, and many people are delighted to engage visitors in English conversation about popular topics including their country's "Gross National Happiness," spectacular architecture, Buddhist traditions, cuisine, textiles, flora, and fauna.
We have designed this 12 night/13 day experience both with comfort and authentic experiences in mind. Most nights will be in three-stay hotels, two nights will be in authentic family farm house home stays. Our last night will be in a five-star hotel.
Dorji, our Bhutan tour operator partner, is originally from a small town in Eastern Bhutan, Phongmey, and has a background in environmental conservation. From 2000-2004 while Dorji worked as project coordinator for the Guinness-recognized Bhutan photo-documentary "Largest Book in the World" with Mark's MIT Media Lab colleague Michael Hawley, he became a proficient project manager and digital photographer as he coordinated five expeditions across the breadth and width of Bhutan. He later worked for the Bhutanese royal family and helped to coordinate a 140+ Bhutanese delegation to the 2008 Smithsonian Folk-life Festival in Washington D.C. Aside from being our licensed Bhutan guide, Dorji works as a program officer for the Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation (the world's first environmental trust fund), and as CEO / co-founder of Thunder Dragon Chilis.
The trip begins and ends at the international airport in Paro (PBH); we can assist with bookings on Druk Airlines, the royal Bhutan airlines and with obtaining tourist visas. Opportunities also exist for trip extensions and/or stopovers in various global hubs (advice provided upon request, with costs according to the customized plan).
Unforgettable historic architecture (e.g. Fortresses, Monasteries, Monuments, Bridges, etc.)
Trashigang Festival in the remote far east
Spectacular Landscapes including Mountain Views
Authentic Cultural Encounters
Culinary Adventures (featuring locally sourced organic ingredients)
Optional mountain river rafting and hiking experiences (with exquisite views)
Visit the most famous monastery – Taktsang – “The Tiger’s Nest”
One night in a 5-star hotel
Total price per person $3,800 double occupancy. $700 single supplement charge*
*(for single travelers requiring their own private room).
* itinerary subject to change according to unforeseen circumstances / opportunities
Day 1: Arrival - Paro
Your experience commences the moment your flight lands in Paro International Airport, the only International Airport in Bhutan. Once you clear the custom and immigration procedure, you will be warmly received by our guide and taken you to the hotel for refreshment.
You will start your journey visiting the National Museum (Ta-Dzong). Once the watchtower for the Rinpung Dzong (Fortress), it was converted into the national Museum in 1968 (one of the best museums of Asia). The museum stands on a promontory overlooking the Paro valley in all its glory.
In the evening, Gangtey Palace Hotel, Paro
Day 02: Fly to Yongphula .
Morning: Fly to Yongphula (Eastern Bhutan)
Afternoon: Trashigang Tshechu( festival). Overnight in Lingkhar Lodge.
Day 03: Trashigang Tsechu (festival)
Morning: Attend the festival
Afternoon: Local hike, Overnight in Lingkhar Lodge.
Day 04: Trashigange - Phongmey
Morning: Drive to Phongmey
Afternoon visit to Phongmey school and overnight in local village home.
Day: 05: Phongmey - Merak - Trashigang
After early breakfast, drive to Merak. Merak-Sakteng stands out because of its scenic beautiy and the unique semi-nomadic lifestyle and culture of its inhabitants. It is within the protected Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in Trashigang Dzongkhag (District), in Eastern Bhutan.
After picnic lunch, drive back to Trashigang. Overnight in Lingkhar Lodge.
Day: 06: Trashigang - Lingmethang
After breakfast, drive to Mongar. Evening in a farm house in Lingmethang.
Note: Visit Hazelnut project in Lingmethang
Day: 07: Lingmethang - Bumthang
After breakfast, drive to Bumthang. Overnight in Swiss Guest House, Bumthang.
Day: 08: Bumthang Sightseeing
Day: 09: Bumthang to Phobjikha Valley
After breakfast, drive to Phobjikha valley. Overnight in Gakiling Guesthouse.
Day: 10: Phobjikha Valley to Punkaka
After breakfast, visit black necked crane center and drive to Punakha to visit Punakha Dzong, “Palace of Great Happiness”. Punakha Dzong is the former winter capital and at present day hosts the administrative seat of the district. The Dzong lies between two rivers, the Pochu and Mochu, Male and Female River and the Fertility Temple and evening a gentle hike to Khamsum Yuelling Chorten. Overnight at Drupchu Resort Hotel, Punakha.
Note: optional possibility of river rafting
Day: 11: Punaka to Paro
Start early and head off to the beautiful Dochula pass at 10,000 feet, around 1 hour away from Punakha. The pass is a popular location among tourists as it offers a stunning 360 degree panoramic view of Himalayan mountain range. The view is especially scenic on clear, winter days with snowcapped mountains forming a majestic backdrop to the tranquility of the 108 chortens gracing the mountain pass.
En-route stop in Thimphu to visit the Largest Buddha and Textile museum in Thimphu.
Overnight at the Gangtey Palace Hotel, Paro
Day 12: Excursion to Tiger’s Nest
Start early and spend the morning hiking up the forested path to Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan’s most famous and scenic icon. The climb is steep and takes about 4-5 hours round trip. An important place of pilgrimage and refuge for more than 1200 years, Taktsang Monastery clings to sheer cliffs two-thousand feet above Paro valley, and from your closest vantage point on a rocky ledge directly across from it, you will still need 200-300 mm lenses and a steady tripod to get right photographs.
This sacred place got its name when Guru Rinpoche rode there on the back of a flying tigress and meditated in a cave behind the present-day monastery. Special permit will be arranged for you to enter the Tiger’s Nest monastery but you will not be allowed to take pictures of the inside shrines. The shrines carries the beautiful auras left by the great saints whom meditated in the past, hence, it has been said one can easily get into a meditational state by just sitting silently.
Over night at Le Meridien Paro Riverfront
Day 13: Depart
End of tour & our services
video caption (above): Bhutanese Dancers performing at the spring Bhutan Rhododendron Festival in the Royal Botanical Park at Lampelri, Bhutan.