Essential Bhutan

Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey, Bumthang & Paro

From $6000 per person in low season
From $7900 per person in high season

based on 10 nights & daily experiences

Price Guide:

  1. Jan
    Low
  2. Feb
    Low
  3. Mar
    High
  4. Apr
    High
  5. May
    High
  6. Jun
    Low
  7. Jul
    Low
  8. Aug
    Low
  9. Sep
    High
  10. Oct
    High
  11. Nov
    High
  12. Dec
    High

* Pricing is a guideline only and excludes special offers. Travel over peak periods (e.g. Christmas, New Year and other public vacations) can affect prices considerably, as can exchange rates, flight class and room type.

per person on a full board basis in Bhutan, private transfers and guiding. Price is based on 2 people sharing 1 room.

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At a Glance

  • In-depth itinerary that takes you from the more-touristed Western circuit into the pristine Central valley of Bumthang

  • Discover the best of Bhutan, from jaw-dropping Tiger's Nest Monastery to Punakha's scenic rice field

  • Authentic seasonal experiences including farmhouse cooked dinner, tea with local family, apple plucking and matsutake mushroom-picking

  • Spring and Fall are the best times to visit to Bhutan and we can do our best coincide your trip with one of the many festivals taking place through the year, making the journey even more special

  • Have a private expert guide and driver throughout your journey in Bhutan allows complete flexibility allowing a trip totally tailored to you

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Best time to Visit

Good time to visit

Average time to visit

In the western, central and eastern Bhutan you will mostly experience cold European-like weather. Winter lasts here from November to March. The Monsoon occurs between June and August when the temperature is normally between 8° and 21°C. October and November are arguably the best months, when the monsoon has passed and the skies are clear. The spring months of March, April and May are best for the flora, but it can be stormy as the monsoon builds up for July-September.

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We design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something completely bespoke to you. Call us on 858 523 9000 to start planning your vacation.

Itinerary

This itinerary provides a more in-depth introduction to Bhutan allowing you to explore the highlights, gaining an understanding of what makes this country so special. Through this trip you’ll get to experience spell-binding rural scenery, with lush green terraced rice-paddies rolling up to high mountain passes with Buddhist prayers fluttering in the wind, and snow-capped mountains beyond.

  1. Days 1-2: Thimphu

    Starting the journey in Thimphu, you’ll have one night on arrival in this capital city. Thimphu offers a fantastic mix of ancient and traditional culture combined with an ever-growing café and restaurant scene. We have included a private guide for you, and throughout your time in Bhutan, to make sure that you get the most out of your adventure. Spend your days exploring the highlights including the Takin Preserve, Centenary Farmers Market, National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Folk Heritage and BBS Tower Viewpoint.

    Accommodation: Taj Tashi (1 night)

  2. Days 2-4: Punakha

    From Thimphu you’ll then drive through the magnificent mountain pass of Dochu La with 108 memorial stupas into Punakha, where you will be spending the following two nights. This region of Bhutan is known for its outdoor activities and fantastic trekking routes due to its lower elevation and tropical surrounds. Upon arrival, enjoy a hike through lush rice fields into the temple of Chimmi Lhakhang, dedicated to Bhutan's favorite saint.

    As the new day beckons, you will enjoy another short hike up to the Khansam Yulley, a relatively new temple which comes with a fantastic view of the Mo Chhu Valley down below. Afterwards, we head into a one-hour Butterfly Trail through the farmland, stopping off for tea in the local home. Of course, it is also home to the beautiful Punakha Dzong, a highlight of any visit to Punakha, and we have included a visit here with your guide.

    On your final day in Punakha, we visit the stunning hilltop nunnery for a unique chance to interact with the local nuns, before setting off into Gangtey.

    Accommodation: COMO Uma Punakha (2 nights)

  3. Days 4-6: Gangtey

    You'll then head further east to Gangtey, which is one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan. During the months of November to February, Gangtey becomes home to the sacred and revered Black Neck Cranes making it a beautiful time to visit, especially for keen ornithologists. We have included visits to Gangtey Goempa overlooking the beautiful Phobjikha Valley, alongside a 1.5-hour nature trail through the jungle before coming out on the valley floor. We can also include a hike through Longtey Village with colorful rhododendron forest towards the idyllic Kumbu village.

    Accommodation: Gangtey Lodge (2 nights)

  4. Days 6-8: Bumthang

    A 5-hour scenic drive carries you through Pele-La and Yotong-La pass as you make a brief stop at Trongsa Dzong, an ancestral home of Bhutan's royal family. Finally, you will arrive in the remote Bumthang, relatively untouched from classic trail and where you will find some of the most charming sights in Bhutan.

    Bumthang is the religious heartland and home of the largest temples in Bhutan. This day tour will bring you to visit Jakar Dzong, one of the largest in the country, hike through Kurjey Lhakhang's beautiful landscape to Tamshing Monastery, and finally experience first-hand the unique local cottage, brewery and cheese industries.

    From around mid-July to the second week of August, we also arrange a matsutake mushroom-picking activities in the forest of Ura village.

    Accommodation: Yozerling Lodge (2 nights)

  5. Fly from Bumthang to Paro

  6. Days 8-11: Paro

    To finish your trip, you will fly back to Paro for your final three nights. With Paro having the only international airport in Bhutan this is a natural place to end your trip. On your arrival, we can organize a moderate half-day biking into the tranquil village surrounding Paro and learn about their farming traditions. Between July to August, we can also organize apple plucking activities.

    As another day beckons, enjoy an off-the-beaten hike to Zurig Lhakhang for a spectacular view of the Paro Valley.

    However, on top of that we like to save the best to last and have included a hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery for you which is spectacular and justifiably world renowned, concluding with a home-cooked dinner on a local farmhouse before you bid farewell to the Dragon Kingdom of Bhutan.

    Accommodation: COMO Uma Paro (3 nights)

Experiences

  • A visit to Chimmi Lhakhang

    The Chimmi Lhakhang Temple is a temple of fertility dedicated to the Buddhist saint known as the Divine Madman. A short walk through paddy fields takes you to the temple and is popular with Bhutanese families wanting to start a family.

  • Cycling up the Pho Chhu River

    Take a morning cycling up the beautiful Pho Chhu River, famous for the White-Bellied Heron and dramatic scenery. Take a walk into the local village for a spot of tea before having a lovely picnic lunch overlooking the river before returning to Punakha.

  • Day in Thimphu

    You can easily fill an afternoon or day exploring Thimphu. It is worth visiting the Tashiccho Dzong, where essentially Bhutan is governed from. Also of interest is the Simtokha Dzong, Memorial Chorten, Changagkka Temple & Folk Museum.

  • Dressing up in traditional Bhutanese dress

    Anyone who works in Bhutan must wear traditional national dress, and you can have the chance to dress up for a few hours to see how it feels. The Bhutanese absolute love visitors doing it!

  • Drukgyel Dzong

    The Drukgyal Dzong is located further up the Paro Valley from the Tiger's Nest Monastery and was built in 1649 by Tenzin Drukdra to celebrate victory over an invading army from Tibet.

  • Giligang Trail

    Giligang has a 300-year old temple and a wonderful way to escape other tourists and see an authentic side to Bhutan, and can be added on to a visit to the Khansum Yulley Namgyal Chorten and Butterfly Trail.

  • Khansum Yulley & the Butterfly Trail

    Take the short hike up to the Khansam Yulley Temple where you can sit back in awe at the wonderful views down the Mo Chhu Valley before heading off on the one-hour Butterfly Trail, stopping off for tea in the local home.

  • Kyichu Lhakhang

    The Kyichu Lhakhang is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, dating from the 7th century and constructed by the Tibetan Emperor Songtsan Gampo.

  • Meet a Monk Your Own Age

    Your children can have the opportunity to meet a monk their own age. 10% of Bhutan's population are monks and they can hear stories of getting up each day before first-light for prayers and their daily routines.

  • Nalanda Buddhist College and Nobgang Walk

    This fantastic experience combines the Sangchen Nunnery, the Nalanda Buddhist College and the Nobgang Village walk which takes you from the high hills above Punakha and winds gently down to the Punakha Dzong - you approach it almost vertically!

  • Paro Dzong & National Museum

    The Paro Dzong, or Rinpung Dzong as it is otherwise called, looms above the town of Paro. On the hill above the Dzong in the former watchtower you can visit the National Museum.

  • Paro Sunday Market

    If you are in Paro on a Sunday then absolutely visit the local market. See a variety of vegetables on offer from 0630 until about 1000, and you can then see the archery ground following your visit.

  • Punakha Dzong

    Punakha Dzong, otherwise known as the Pungtang Dechen Photrang literally means the palace of great happiness or bliss, and is the finest of its kind in Bhutan, dating from the 17th century and located on the confluence of the Mo Chhu and Po Chhu Rivers.

  • Punakha Weekend Markets

    Khuruthang Saturday Vegetable Market is located in the small town next to the Punakha Dzong. On Sundays, you can visit the Wangdue Market, about a 30-minute drive away. Wander around the stalls, selling local fruit and vegetables.

  • The Butterfly Trail & Rafting in Punakha

    Take the Butterfly Trail which is a one hour trek through local villages and paddy fields, stopping for tea in a local home before hiking to the Khamsum Yulley Chorten and then rafting back to the main Dzong of Punakha.

  • The Haa Valley

    The unspoiled Haa Valley is located close to Paro and offers a fantastic day out. Drive over the Chele Pass, Bhutan's highest road, and choose to free-wheel on bikes into the Haa Valley. Explore the local monastery, have a picnic and return to Paro.

  • Thimphu Weekend Market

    You shouldn’t miss the weekend market in Thimphu. People from nearby valleys arrive on Thursday afternoon and stay to sell their goods – vegetables, other foodstuffs and handicrafts – until Sunday evening.

  • Tiger's Nest Monastery

    The Tiger's Nest Monastery is spectacular; legend has it that this cliffside was where Guru Rinpoche landed on the back of a flying tigress, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. Set off for the 2-hour walk to the viewpoint before continuing onto the Monastery.

  • Try your hand at Archery

    Archery is the national sport of Bhutan and can be seen played throughout the Kingdom. Traditional bows are made from bamboo and witnessing an archery competition is an absolute highlight. We can easily arrange for you to have a go should you wish.

Location

Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey, Bumthang & Paro

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We design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something completely bespoke to you. Call us on 858 523 9000 to start planning your vacation.

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