Buddhist Valleys of Bhutan

See the Kingdom's greatest treasures and sites on this special itinerary
Overview

overview

Experienced world travelers are unanimously enthusiastic about Bhutan. Everything here is different, intriguing, serene, and peaceful.  From the moment you emerge from your thrilling flight into the high Paro Valley, you will find validation for the King's claim that his traditional Buddhist nation values GNH - Gross National Happiness - above material wealth.

In six days, focus on the beauty, culture, and charm of the two most famous towns in Bhutan -- Paro and Thimphu, the capital.   A few steps off the road, find yourself in a 12th century monastery or a never-logged hemlock forest. Visit markets, artisans, archery tournaments, schools, farms, and whatever else piques your interest. Your Bhutanese JOURNEYS  guide will help you define your experience.  We are ready to make these six days count among the most unique and inspiring days of your traveling life.  We're also ready to make your trip longer; ask about our array of fascinating extensions.

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Paro/Thimphu
    Bhutanese architecture

    Fly into Paro, enjoying extraordinary views of the Himalayas (arrival dates into Paro may vary according to city of origin). The landing in Paro is dramatic, on the single runway at the bottom of a long valley with snowy peaks on either side. Drive about an hour to Thimphu and savor the serenity of Bhutan and the opportunity to converse with your guide. The afternoon and evening are free to rest or walk around Thimphu (7,656’). This is the world’s only capital city without traffic lights. In sports fields, men and women love to practice archery, the national sport. Note the traditional dress: kiras, long wrap-around dresses, for women, and ghos, knee-length robes, for men. Here, the modern meets the medieval. There are automobiles and storefronts, but a few blocks from the main street, farmers are still plowing with oxen, and bright red chili peppers are drying on rooftops. Roads quickly become footpaths as they lead up steep mountainsides.

    Lodging: Bhutanese style lodge. Expect modern Western style bath and toilet, hot water, electricity, and colorful tantric Buddhist-themed decor. Possible internet access in lobby. Upgrades to luxury accommodations in Bhutan are available for about $300-$1000 more per room/per night.

    Meals
    Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Bhutanese style lodge
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: Thimpu/Cultural Institutions
    Thimphu's School of Arts

    There are many choices of activities today. Thimphu is the site of many national institutions which preserve history and perpetuate the pursuit of Gross National Happiness as a national goal. You may want to visit the Folk Heritage Museum, National Library of Ancient Texts, National Textile Museum, National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Royal Academy of Performing Arts, or one of several traditional artist-training programs.

    Visit Tashichho Dzong, built in 1216 and completely renovated between 1962 and 1969 without the use of nails or written plans. Also visit Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Bliss), an active monastery with 500 monks. Earn a fantastic view at Changangkha Lhakhang, an old fortress temple and monastic school perched on a ridge above Thimphu.

    Not far from Thimphu, there are numerous Buddhist temples and monasteries. Depending on your fitness and ambition, you can choose some combination of auto and hiking to visit one or more of them and possibly observe some ceremonial activity.

     

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Traditional Bhutanese style hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: Thimpu - Markets, Dzongs & Hikes (Sat)
    You'll see an archery competition, the national sport of Bhutan

    On your second day in Thimphu, you may want to see more of the city sites or venture a bit farther out on foot or by car. Bhutan’s most striking buildings are the dzongs huge, traditionally-designed structures that serve as municipal administrative headquarters and as religious centers.

    On Saturdays, the Weekend Market is a great way to experience local life. Throngs of Bhutanese from Thimipu and from great distances gather to sell their vegetables, traditional masks and textiles, incense, and jewelry.

    If you would like to get a taste of trekking and nature observation, consider day hikes of two to four hours to visit Drolay Gomba, Lungchuzekha Gomba, Phajoding Gomba, or Trashigang Gomba. Your guide will help you decide which is the best choice based upon weather, season, and wildlife or temple ceremonies you might witness.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Traditional Bhutanese style hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: Thimphu/Paro
    Visit a Buddhist artists' school

    From Thimpu to Paro (7382'), travel even further back in time to a simpler, quieter place. Paro, located on the banks of the Paro Chhu (river), is in the center of an open valley. Entering via the road from Thimpu, you pass the archery ground. Today and tomorrow, there are various options for your visit. If you want to learn more about Buddhism, archaeology, and history consider touring Paro Rinpung Dzong, one of the most impressive dzongs in all Bhutan, a large Drukpa Kagyu Buddhist Monastery and fortress housing the monastic body and government offices. From here, there are famous views of the wooden covered bridge known as Nyamai Zam. Enjoy the fantastic architecture of Ugyen Pelri Thang Palace (the residence of the Queen Mother) from the outside and fine temples including Druk Choeding, built in 1525, and Dumtse Lhakhang, built in 1433. Ta Dzong, in the shape of a conch shell, contains a superb collection of ancient and modern religious Thangka paintings.

    JOURNEYS travelers love to accept the invitations of local farmers to visit inside their colorful farmhouses. Traditionally built with mud walls and wooden frames without nails, these houses are normally three stories high, with the ground floor used for the animals, the second floor used as the family living quarters, and the third floor generally used to store food and hay.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Traditional Bhutanese style hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: Paro/Tiger’s Nest (Tatksang Monastery)
    Tatksang Monastery near Paro

    Visit more of Paro or go farther afield. The most classic half-day hike in Bhutan is the climb to famous Tiger’s Nest (Tatksang) Monastery on the side of a cliff almost 2,500 feet above the Paro valley. You can make the estimated two to three hour hike up to the monastery, ride a pony most of the way up, or view the site from the road. From Tiger’s Nest, drive to the ruins of Drugyel Dzong for spectacular views of Mount Chomolhari. You might also stop at Kyichu Lhakang, one of the oldest and most beautiful temples in Bhutan, thought to have been built in 659 by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet.

    If your schedule allows you to spend another day in Bhutan, we recommend visiting the ancient Haa Valley. Occupied since before the sixth century, but first opened to foreigners in 2002, this area remains largely undeveloped and infrequently visited by tourists. Visit the Haa Dzong and the surrounding monasteries. This is an especially good option if the weather is clear; the ridge you cross between Paro and Haahas offers some of the best mountain views in this part of Bhutan.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Traditional Bhutanese style hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: Paro/Onward

    Transfer to the airport for your onward flight. Or consider extending your trip with a few additional days to see more of Bhutan or other neighboring countries such as Nepal, India, or Thailand.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    None
    Show on a map
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$2,050
- $2,250
Group size 2-3 cost: $2250 Group size 4+ cost: $2050 Druk Air fares to/from Paro add $550-1,000 (estimate)
Single Supplement:
$300
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

Duration:
6 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
2
Bhutanese-style hotels
Group Size:
2-12
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
2
JOURNEYS grading system from I to IV will help you choose an experience with physical demands which match your motivation. 1. Active Active exploration with optional day hikes, easy walking, leisurely bicycling or light canoeing. Comfortable travel by vehicle. 2. Vigorous Experience may include regular hiking or physical exercise in varied environments. Travel by vehicle may be long or over rough terrain. 3. Challenging Parts of trip will involve physical challenge. Daily hiking in rough terrain, high altitude, rough road travel and remoteness from modern medical care may be unavoidable circumstances. 4. Demanding Extended foot travel in very remote areas. Previous wilderness travel experience advisable. Doctor's certification may be requested.

Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Included in costs: Meals as noted, each night in double occupancy accommodations, land transfers between components, English speaking guides, park or site entry fees, surface transport, equipment other than personal gear, government tax, airport transfer assistance, in-country ticket reconfirmation and check-in assistance (where permitted), complete pre-departure packet, toll-free pre-departure phone assistance.

Not included in costs: Meals not noted as included, gratuities, beverages (except tea or coffee at meals), international or domestic airfare unless specified, airport departure taxes not included with air tickets, visas, itinerary changes after confirmation, any services not included in itinerary, any costs incurred due to canceled or delayed flights, acts of nature or other happenings beyond our control, or other costs as are more fully described in JOURNEYS Terms & Conditions.

Deposit and payment schedule: $500 per person per trip or the applicable amount based on the trip and the proximity of the departure date. A second deposit of $800 per person is due four months prior to departure, and final payment for land arrangements is due 60 days prior to departure.  Any applicable permit fees required in advance are non-refundable as well.  Airlines require full payment when tickets are issued. The deposit may be made by Visa, Master Card, American Express, or check, and the Reservation Form may be submitted by fax, mail, or via our website. Full payment schedule and cancellation penalties are described in our Terms and Conditions as noted in our Global Expedition Catalog, on our website, and elsewhere. Please request these if you do not have them before advancing a deposit.

Air fares: JOURNEYS can make complete air arrangements applicable to your trip as noted in this itinerary. If you wish to redeem frequent flyer mileage or arrange flights directly with the airline, you may do so on your own at no penalty. If you do, please consult with us on exact arrival and departure dates and times before having your tickets issued to avoid errors.

Insurance: When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee: There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

Everest View Mountain Flight

Duration: 1 days

Enjoy the magnificent Himalayas close up. You'll have a bird's-eye view as you fly along the full length of the Nepal Himalayas. This is the best way to see Everest. *This trip is available from Kathmandu, Nepal when booked with conjunction with a Ne... read more

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