Bhutan, the Himalayan kingdom, is a hidden treasure in the eastern Himalayas. It is located between China (Tibet) to the north, the Indian territories of Assam and West Bengal to the south, Arunachal Pradesh to the east and Sikkim to the west. Bhutan is famous for its Gross National Happiness.
The Bhutan government embraces a sustainable approach to tourism. By law, at least 60% of the country is protected for future generations and must remain forested. Traveling to Bhutan is quite expensive as you have to pay a minimum of 250$ a day. But for this fee everything else, like transportation, accommodation, food and an English speaking guide is provided for.
A Bhutan trip feels like traveling back in time. You won’t find many western influences here, but in exchange you get to admire beautiful landscapes, many monasteries, picturesque streets and an authentic culture. Bhutan should be on everyone’s bucket list!
Day 1: Paro – Thimphu
- At the airport, you meet our representative and drive to Thimphu. You visit the Tamchog Monastery along the way. This monastery was built in the 15th century by Thangthong Gyalpo, also known as Lama Chazampa, which literally means “the iron bridge builder”.
- After lunch, you go to the Chorten Memorial, a monument dedicated to Bhutan’s 3rd king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The inside paintings and statues provide a very rare insight into the Buddhist philosophy.
- You continue your journey and visit the Changangkha Monastery, the Takin Preserve center, the Sangay Gang viewpoint, the world’s largest Buddha statue and the Tashichho Dzong Monastery.
- Dinner and overnight stay in Hotel Migmar or similar.
Day 2: Thimphu sightseeing
- Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, is also home to the royal family. After breakfast, you visit Tashichho Dzong, the main secretariat that houses the king’s throne room. The view over Thimphu valley from the BBS Tower is amazing and is a perfect introduction to Thimphu.
- You continue towards the National Memorial Chorten and the Chang Gangkha Monastery.
- From the monastery, you go to the National Library and in the evening you visit Buddha Point.
- Overnight stay in Thimphu.
Day 3: Thimphu – Punakha
- After breakfast, you drive to Punakha via the Dochula pass. If the weather is clear, you stop at the Dochula pass to admire the higher Himalayas. Upon arrival in Punakha, you visit the Punakha Dzong, situated between Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River) and built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1637. For many years, it served as the seat of the Government. The construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche, who predicted, “a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant”. There is a smaller building here, called Dzong Chu (small Dzong) that houses a statue of Buddha. It is said that Shabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue. While Palep was sleeping, the Shabdrung took him into his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From this vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which in according to the tradition, was never designed on paper. The Dzong is named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (the palace of great happiness). The war materials captured during the battle with Tibetans are preserved in this Dzong. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo (the chief abbot of the central monastic body of Bhutan). The third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, convened the first national assembly here in 1952.
- After lunch, you go on an excursion to the Khamsung Yulley Namgyal Choling Monastery. This temple is the only one of its kind and is a perfect example of Bhutan’s fine architectural and artistic traditions. The monastery, built by her majesty the Queen Mother, is dedicated to the well-being of the kingdom and to the benefit of all sentient beings.
- Dinner and overnight stay in Punatsangchhu Cottages or similar.
Day 4: Gangtey excursion
- After breakfast, you drive to Gangtey (3,000 m ASL), home of the black necked crane. Gangtey is one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan. If you are interested, you can also visit the Gangtey Gompha Monastery, an important monastery for the Nyingmapa school of Buddhism.
- In the evening, you return to Punakha for overnight stay.
Day 5: Punakha – Paro
- Today you visit the Ta Dzong, once a fortified lookout tower and now the National Museum. You walk down the trail to visit the Rinpung Dzong, “the fortress of the heap of jewels”.
- Next stop is Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in Bhutan. From here, you go to the Drugyal Dzong (the Bhutan victory fort), built in 1646 to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over Tibetan invaders in the 16th century. When the sky is clear you can see Mount Jumolhari, Bhutan’s second-highest mountain with a peak of 7,314 m ASL.
- Overnight stay at Paro, the evening is free for leisure.
Day 6: Paro sightseeing
- After an early breakfast, you go on an excursion to the Taktsang Monastery. A short drive takes you to Satsam Chorten, from where the trail climbs through beautiful pine forest. Many trees are festooned with Spanish moss and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. You stop for a rest and some light refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria). After this break, you walk a short distance to the Taktsang monastery. The primary Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in 1684 by the Penlop of Paro, Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend says that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD, flew here on the back of a flying tiger.
- After lunch, you visit the Ta Dzong, an ancient watch tower, which has been the National Museum since 1967. You continue towards Rimpung Dzong (Paro Dzong), built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The Dzong presently houses administrative offices.
- In the evening, you go to the Drukgyel Dzong, now in ruins but originally built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan invaders in 1644. The Dzong was used as an administrative center until a fire destroyed it in 1951. Afterwards you visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of Bhutan’s oldest and most sacred monasteries dating back to the introduction of Buddhism in the 8th century.
- Dinner and overnight stay in the Tashi Namgay Resort or similar.
Day 7: departure
- After breakfast, you check out from the hotel and drive to the airport for your onward journey.
- Accommodation based on twin share (the supplement for a single room is 40$/day per room)
- All meals
- All transportation within the country
- All sightseeing and excursions, as mentioned in the itinerary
- A licensed Bhutanese tour guide during your stay
- Visa fee (40$/person)
- A sustainable tourism Royalty of $65. This Royalty goes towards free education, free healthcare, poverty alleviation and infrastructure.
- Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours
- Insurance: we strongly advise taking a travel insurance as nature can be unpredictable in this mountainous area
- Airport tax and porter
- Flight tickets Druk Air (Royal Bhutan Airlines)
- Personal expenses such as laundry, telephone calls, incidentals, portage, bellboy tips or any other services
- Mineral water and soft drinks
- Camera charges
- Any cost arising due to natural calamities such as landslides, road blockage, political disturbances (strikes), etcetera (extra costs will be charged to the client and have to be paid on the spot).
- Anything not specified in the inclusive list
What to bring
- Mundooz voucher
- Things to bring
- 12 passport pictures (many permits are necessary, depending on the regions you visit)
Visa and entry formalities
Under the policy of “High Value, Low Tourism impact”, traveling to Bhutan is highly regulated.
All foreigners must obtain a visa before visiting Bhutan, with the exception of visitors from Bangladesh, India and the Maldives. Our licensed tour operator will pre-arrange all the visa. Upon arrival, the visa is stamped in your passport. Independent traveling of citizens of non-visa exempt countries is prohibited.
FIT (Free Independent Traveler) is a surcharge by the Bhutanese government of US$30 per person per day for two people and US$40 per day for single travelers.
If you travel with a minimum of 3 people, you don’t have to pay these FIT surcharges anymore. However, in order to take advantage of the FIT surcharge waiver, guests must arrive and depart together on the same scheduled Druk Air flights.
Best time to visit
Bhutan has two main seasons:
- From the end of February until the end of May
- From the end of September until the end of December
The rainy season is from June halfway through September. It is better to avoid these months.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about this tour.