This trip is a wonderful mix of fascinating cultures, ancient history lessons, impressive landscapes and exhilarating activities. Exploring Bhutan, from the moment you descend towards Paro airport, expect breathtaking views on the Himalayas and the highest mountain on planet earth, Mt Everest.
Bhutan is definitely no ordinary place. The country is aware of the downsides of rapid modernisation and has decided to move cautiously without losing its soul. Sustainable socio-economic development, preservation of culture, tradition and nature are at the forefront of government policy. The government’s ‘high value, low volume’ tourism policy is, therefore, a good example of its efforts to keep foreign influences at bay while nurturing Bhutanese values at home. This gives Bhutan an astonishingly different look and feel altogether, a visual and spiritual feast for all visitors!
Did you know that “Gross National Happiness” is Bhutan’s development philosophy based on Buddhist values that measure the quality of life based on the spiritual and mental well-being of its people? Come join us and explore this fascinating gem nestled in the Himalayan mountain range.
Trip mix: 40% History & Culture | 40% Activity & Sport | 20% Wildlife & Nature
Focus themes: Hiking, Buddhism, Spa
Physical rating: Moderate
Accommodation: Authentic, boutique-style hotels and lodges
Today we take a flight to Paro. The journey offers fascinating views of the eastern Himalayan range, including Mt Everest. We arrive in Paro and enjoy the Bhutanese local lunch. We drive after lunch to Thimphu where we get a good overview of the breathtaking Thimphu valley from the Buddha Point (or Kuensel Phodrang). Feel free to pay your obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha.
Later, we visit the National Memorial Chorten, a stupa conceptualised by the Third King to ward off negative influences.
In the evening we visit Tashicho Dzong, the centre of government and Bhutan’s monastic order.
Before we transfer further East to Punakha, we visit further cultural highlights Bhutan has to offer, such as the Motithang Mini Zoo. Here you can watch takins (gnu goats) graze peacefully in a small protected park.
Later we visit the National Institute of Zorig Chusum, where we learn about the traditional art and crafts of Bhutan.
In the afternoon, we transfer to Punakha, with a short stop on the way at Dochula Pass (3,050 m), where we enjoy spectacular views of the mountains!
We visit the Punakha Dzong, a massive structure built at the junction of two rivers. It was the capital of Bhutan until 1955, and still serves as the winter residence of the local monks.
In the afternoon, we go rafting on the Mo Chu River, following a 10 km course comprising around 10 rapids, some of which are graded 2+. If you prefer to skip the rafting, it’s possible to do a hike instead. Afterwards, we check into our hotel in Punakha.
We transfer back to Thimphu and take a great bike ride to Paro. Considered moderate in terms of difficulty and traffic, it takes about three hours one way over smooth, paved roads with slight undulations here and there, and a perfect opportunity to experience Bhutan intimately. Traverse through lush paddy fields, virgin forests, and sleepy traditional houses and villages. Stop over at the confluence of the Thimphu and Paro Rivers and see the three different stupas built close by.
We then head to another boutique resort, and it has a spa facility should you feel like a relaxing treatment after the bike ride.
After breakfast, drive to the foot of the Taktshang Monastery or Tiger’s Nest cliff before walking uphill for two hours to reach this monastery, giddily perched on a sheer 800 m rock face. Taktshang means ‘Tiger’s Nest’, as legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava flew to this spot on the back of a tigress in the eighth century. He meditated here, making the temple a sacred pilgrimage destination for Buddhists. The trip there and back lasts four hours, and ponies can be arranged.
After lunch we visit one of the oldest landmarks in Bhutan. The seventh-century Kyichu Lhakhang was one of the 108 temples built in the Himalayas by Tibetan King Songtsen Gembo.
Later we take you to visit a traditional Bhutanese working farm house. Agriculture is still one of the major sources of livelihood amongst the Bhutanese people, and a farm stay gives you an excellent glimpse into the day-to-day life of a typical Bhutanese family. You’re able to observe age-old Bhutanese farming traditions as the family goes about its daily tasks. You also enjoy a delicious, home-cooked meal, which is accompanied by local tea and wine.
All officially sanctioned and listed farm stays are located in the gorgeous Bhutanese countryside amidst lush farmland far from the noise and crowds of population centres. In order to experience a traditional life, electricity and running water are not available at farm stays. Hot water can be provided by the family but will be served in a washbasin or bowl.
In the evening, we transfer back to the hotel and you have the chance to take part in a Bhutanese Cultural Programme, which includes donning a traditional Bhutanese outfit!
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Learn more about Bhutan.
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