This private tour of the Kingdom of Bhutan combines exploring important villages of western Bhutan on foot, meeting welcoming local people, with immersion into a fascinating culture.
Bhutan Trip Overview
Along the lofty ridges of the Himalayas lies the Kingdom of Bhutan - a remarkable land where the well-preserved countryside, architecture, and rich culture appear lost in time. The capital city, Thimphu, is said to be the only capital in the world without traffic lights. Our walks in Punakha reveal impressive dzongs, while the town of Paro's location along ancient trade routes has created a rich culture, encapsulated by its unique monasteries, such as the striking and iconic Tiger's Nest.
Itinerary at a Glance
THE HIDDEN KINGDOM IN THE HIMALAYAS
We’d like to let you in on a little secret – Bhutan. Typically people we tell about Bhutan ask “Where is Bhutan?” and that’s just the way we like it. It is this anonymity that Bhutan has preserved so well, for so many years, that makes it special. The Kingdom of Bhutan is a hidden gem that is often compared to Tibet before the Chinese invasion, and Nepal without the budget backpackers. Let us introduce you to Bhutan, a true Shangri-la!
THE PRIVATE COLLECTION ADVANTAGE
- Independent travel at its best. With your own exclusive party of family or friends, you'll enjoy itineraries developed from our years of experience.
- Your dates, your friends. You chose your dates and traveling companions, and let us do the rest!
- Reconnect in remarkable places. What better way to celebrate important milestones than with family and friends in amazing places, with all of the details handled for you so you can simply relax and enjoy each other’s company?
- Do your own thing. Customize your journey to indulge your most amazing travel fantasies.
- Travel with Trusted Leaders in Adventure Travel. Recognized by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine as a Top 10 "World's Best Tour Operator and Safari Outfitter".
Our tours often fill months in advance, and our maximum group size is smaller than most tour operators. It's very quick and easy to reserve a trip. Give us a call at 800-941-8010 or complete the online Reserve a Trip form. We will confirm your reservation with a $500 per person deposit, payable by check or credit card.
Trip Rating (1 Easiest - 5 Most Strenuous)
Traveling to and From
Most Convenient Airport:
Bangkok International Airport, Bangkok, Thailand (airport code BKK)
Meeting Place and Time:
Your Boundless Journeys guide will meet you at the Paro, Bhutan airport upon the arrival of your flight from Bangkok. Please be sure to be at the Druk Air (national airline of Bhutan) check-in counter at the Bankgok International Airport two hours before your scheduled flight on Day 1 of our trip. The airline tickets from Bangkok to Paro, Bhutan will be purchased in advance for you by Boundless Journeys.
Departure Place and Time:
Paro, Bhutan; in time for the departure of your flight to Bangkok.
When to Reserve
It is important to reserve your trip early as the Bhutanese national airline has a ticketing policy and will only accept reservations with full payment for the ticket. Seats can only be confirmed upon receipt of your deposit, as well as the payment of $950 for these flights. Please contact our office with any questions regarding these important policies.
Optional deluxe hotel upgrade available. Please call for details.
Overview: Accommodations in Bhutan are somewhat rustic but charming, and we’ve chosen some of the country’s most comfortable and beautifully situated hotels for this journey. All with private bath.
Nights 1, 2 & 3: Hotel Druk
Nights 4 & 5: Hotel Punatsangchu
Nights 6, 7 & 8: Janka Resort
Bhutan Detailed Itinerary
SAMPLE ITINERARY: Other private customized options are available.
Arrival in Bhutan; transfer to Thimphu and city exploration by foot
Walk – easy to moderate, 1-2 hours.
We are greeted with a warm Bhutanese reception and transferred to Thimphu, home of the royal family. Before becoming Bhutan’s official national capital in 1961, Thimphu was a simple rural farming valley. Small and secluded, it is unlike any other world capital, with few streets and no traffic lights.
Dinner this evening will highlight Asian-Bhutanese cuisine, either at our hotel or one of Thimpu’s fine restaurants.
During the afternoon there is time for walking, relaxing, or visiting a Thimphu handicraft shop. Beautiful weavings in wool, silk and cotton; basketwork; silver jewelry; thangkas (Buddhist silk paintings); and other traditional crafts of the Kingdom are available.
We conclude our day with a dinner at a favorite restaurant in Thimpu.
*Please note that museums and schools are closed on weekends and holidays.
Cheri Goemba and the Choki School of Arts
Hiking – easy to moderate, 3-4 hours.
Our walk begins from the small village of Dodena, where we’ll cross a covered bridge over the Wang Chhu River, and from here we climb steadily to Cheri Goemba, a small monastery perched on a hillside overlooking the Thimphu Valley. Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal built this structure in 1620, and it is where the first community of monks in Bhutan was established. The monastery is considered to be very sacred, containing the ashes of Tempi Nima - the father of the first Shabdrung of Bhutan - and beautiful frescoes of Buddhist saints.
After our visit to the monastery, we descend back the way we came, keeping our eyes open for goral (wild goat) which are often spotted on the cliffs nearby. Back at the village of Dodena, we follow a riverside trail to the towns of Begana to Cabesa, home to the Choki School of Arts (closed on weekends and holidays). The Choki School provides free, skills-related training in the traditional arts and crafts to Bhutanese children who are unable to complete their formal education. After visiting the school, we continue along the riverside trail, passing through small rural villages before returning to Thimphu.
Transfer to Punakha (approximately 4 hours*); Temple of the Divine Madman
Walk – easy, 1-2 hours.
On route to Punakha, we stop in a small village where a short walk brings us to Chime Lhakang, a temple dedicated to the Lama Drukpa Kunley, one of Bhutan’s favorite saints. Commonly known as the “Divine Madman,” Drukpa Kunley traveled throughout Bhutan and Tibet, using songs, humor, and outrageous behavior to dramatize his teachings. The Divine Madman believed that stiffness in the clergy and social conventions of the time were keeping people from learning true Buddhism. Today, the site is still believed to hold fertility powers for women hoping to conceive.
*A note about driving times: these are estimated times based on actual driving. The total transfer time is longer when taking rest stops into account.
Khamsung Yuely Namgyel temple to Punakha Dzong
Hiking – easy to moderate, 3-4 hours.
A short walk from the dzong brings us to our waiting transportation and then back to our hotel for the evening.
Transfer to Paro (approximately five hours*); visit to Bhutan's National Museum, the Paro Dzong, and Drukgyel Dzong
Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery
Hike – moderate, 4-5 hours on hiking trails; approximate elevation gain of 1,650 feet.
This evening, we’ll visit a local farmhouse to relax our muscles while enjoying a traditional hot-stone bath therapy. Mineral-laden stones are fired and then immersed in a tub of water. As it cools, another heated stone is added to maintain a comfortable temperature. (Please note that the facilities are basic, and the therapy is done the customary Bhutanese style. If you prefer a spa version of this therapy, you may do so at an additional expense).
Cheli La Pass to Kila Gompa
Hike - moderate, 2-3 hours on hiking trails and dirt roads; approximate elevation loss of 1,300 feet.
Leaving the prayer-flag-swathed col and our vehicle behind, we strike off along the ridge, passing through meadows, before re-entering forests of larch, spruce, hemlock, fir and rhododendron. After a little under two hours, we see the Kila Gompa, seemingly suspended in rock crags. Home to approximately 30 nuns, this place has served as a retreat for mediation since the 9th century. Kila means “spiritual dagger,” anda visit to the temple is often thought to tame the negative emotions of anger, ignorance and greed.
Departure from Paro
An early morning departure from Paro returns us to Bangkok where we say farewell and journey home or on to other exciting destinations.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary to take advantage of weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these should the need arise.
2014 Private Collection Land Cost
From $4,495 per person
2014 Land Cost Details
1-2 Guests: $4,795 per person
3+ Guests: $4,495 per person
Other customized private options are available.
Single Supplements: (Free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.)
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement may be charged to participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. We have made every effort to eliminate or greatly reduce this cost for most of our scheduled small-group departures; however, these savings are limited to two single supplements per departure. Therefore, the first two single participants to reserve will receive the savings. This is not applicable to our Private Collection journeys.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 90 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary).* Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This does not apply to cruises in the Galapagos Islands. Please see these trip pages for more details.
Bangkok, Thailand to Paro, Bhutan (RT)
- All meals included
- Private guide throughout
- All accommodations
- All transportation during the tour
- All activities as noted in the itinerary
- Bhutanese visa fees and departure taxes
Please complete the following information to request a reservation. A trip deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your reservation (payable by check or major credit card). Once we receive your request we will contact you within one business day to confirm availability and answer any questions you may have.
About our guides
Sangay Wangchuk: Sangay spent almost two decades in the tourism business and has trekked many of Bhutan’s trails and climbed some Himalayan mountains. He completed practical mountain management courses in Chamonix, France, forming a basis for his guiding background. His pride and passion for Bhutan’s culture and ecology is evident, and he always willing to share is knowledge with others. He is a published author of: Seeing with the Third Eye: Growing up with Grandma in Rural Bhutan, depicting his interest in preserving local beliefs and traditions.
Dawa Tashi (right): Dawa has led a variety of Boundless Journeys tours, from treks in the mountains to festival celebrations in the valleys. His local knowledge and amicable personality make him a real treasure to have on the trail. Whether hiking at high altitude or exploring local towns in the lowlands, Dawa ensures that our guests come away with an outstanding experience, providing them with a a deep appreciation of his country and culture.
Kinley Tshering ( left): Kinley (or Kelly, as he is known among his Bhutanese coworkers) joined our local staff of guides after completing extensive training in 2006, and has led many tours for Boundless Journeys, becoming a favorite among our guests. Very friendly and down to earth, Kinley is extremely knowledgeable and always determined to make your trip special.
Leki Phuntsho: Leki is a well-educated local guide who has lived his whole life in Bhutan and who currently resides just outside of Thimphu. He completed his extensive Guide Training from the Tourism Council of Bhutan in 2006, and enjoys trekking when not leading guests on cultural tours of his homeland. With his infectious love and passion for the country, Leki carries the adventurous spirit of a true Bhutanese guide. Very friendly and down to earth, Leki is always determined to make your trip special.
What other guests have said about our guides in Bhutan:
“It is truly impossible for me to express in words my gratitude and appreciation for the professionalism, dedication, and hard work of your team in Bhutan. Dawa was so accommodating and flexible throughout the entire tour. He certainly went out of his way to make sure the experience in Bhutan was both memorable and enjoyable for everyone in the group.” – S.G., East Rochester, NY
“Dawa was excellent, especially on the walks and hikes; very helpful. He was also extremely knowledgeable about Buddhism. We were very fortunate to have Dawa!” – S. M., Cambridge, MA
“It was an honor to be guided by someone I would consider to be Bhutan’s first-class ambassador, Sangay Wangchuk. Sangay was always imparting great knowledge, wit and wisdom with all members of our group. He became our Buddha.” – V. A., Playa del Rey, CA
“Sangay was such a pleasure to have on the trek – friendly, knowledgeable, open, and upbeat! He was amazing, sharing stories of his culture and the promise of things to come.” – K. L., Englewood, NJ
“Kinley Tshering was the most amazing guide. I have traveled to many places around the globe and been around a lot of guides. Kinley is truly outstanding. His patience, knowledge and good humor made every day special for us. He never tired to explain details to us or find a cup of tea. He is full of life and his love for his country showed greatly.” – G.M., Baltimore, MA
“Kinley was amazing in his knowledge and command of English in order to pass along information. If someone mentioned one thing or asked a question about something, he incorporated that into the next day’s activity or found it for us. For example, we had read about how incense is made and about momos in the DrukAir magazine on the flight over. We mentioned those things to Kinley and sure enough he found a small incense manufacturer for us to visit and made sure we had plenty of momos!” – G. M., Greenwich, CT
Picture Yourself Here:
Marveling in Bhutan's dramatic scenery with spectacular river valleys, snowcapped sacred mountains, terraced rice fields, and striking architecture
Engaging with warm and welcoming Bhutanese people and a devout Buddhist culture
Hiking to temples and monasteries accessible only on foot
Exploring remote villages in picturesque countryside
You may also be interested in:
Prefer a group departure:
What others have said...
Bhutan can't be described. It must be experienced.
- Lynn Duncan, Bhutan
Latest Blog Posts About Bhutan
"This was an exceptional journey. Turkey has such an ancient history that is there to observe. The trip made the most of our time, was very efficiently planned, led by an exceptional guide. We visited so many ancient sites, observing layers of history going back to 12,000 BC, at the same time engaging the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea."
- Suzanne Scheer, Turkey: Istanbul to the Turquoise Coast