Tshechu Mask dance Bhutan, Bhutan Private Tour

Bhutanese Delights

Bhutan

  • Autumn Tours
11 Days
1 Flights
Not Child Friendly

Bhutan is a secluded and mysterious kingdom hidden up amidst the Himalayas’ towering peaks. This exciting Bhutan private tour takes through some of the kingdom’s most intriguing sites for an in-depth exploration of the country’s history, traditions, and unique natural features. The trip is perfectly scheduled to attend the annual Gangtey Festival and experience the purest form of traditional Buddhist ceremonies taking place through a buzzing country-fair.

The people of Bhutan are considered to be the happiest people on earth. This is partially achieved by the country’s medieval air through a simple way of life, the majestic landscapes, and ancient fortresses highlighting the glorious past of this tiny yet formidable mountain kingdom.

You could either choose to join this scheduled departure, or you could have us arrange for you your own Bhutan private tour on dates that best fits you.

The recommended dates for Bhutan private tour are the spring (March to May) and autumn (September-November). The winter is less popular with travelers, but temperatures are surprisingly agreeable. The chances of seeing the Himalayas, the forests, and the massive historic structures in snow make it all worthwhile. The summer is the monsoon season and should be avoided.

Gallery


Itinerary

DAY 1, 13 SEP 2021. ARRIVE IN PARO

  • Lunch
  • Dinner

A trip to Bhutan begins as the plane descends towards the country's only international airport, flying over the Himalayas and offering a rare glimpse at the peak of Mt. Everest (on a clear day). The plane then navigates through the Himalaya's narrow valleys until it lands at the airport of Paro. After dealing with immigration formalities, meet the local guide and embark on your Bhutan private tour. Spend the afternoon exploring the sites of Paro. Begin with the National Museum, located just by the ancient watchtower of Paro Dzong. The museum features a unique collection of traditional and religious artifacts commonly used in Bhutan, highlighting their history and how they are being used by the locals throughout the generations. Another exhibition gives an impressive sight into the country's flora, fauna, and unique geographical features. From here, take to Paro Dzong, which was constructed by the founder of modern-day Bhutan back in the mid-17th century. The dzong is considered a fine example of traditional dzong architecture, with its thick and towering walls surrounding the complex's 14 shrines and chapels. In the evening, enjoy a traditional Bhutanese meal served in a local farmhouse. This is a chance to meet the people of the country up-close and hear their thoughts on Bhutan's current affairs. Late in the evening, take to the hotel for a first night in Bhutan.

DAY 2, 14 SEP 2021. FLY TO BUMTHANG

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

This morning drive back to Paro Airport for the 25 minutes' scenic flight to Bumthang Valley. On a clear day, enjoy the stunning view of the Himalayas just over the plane's wings (note: for good views of the Himalayas, choose a seat on the plane's left side). Bumthang valley, which its villages retain to date a rather medieval atmosphere, is often dubbed as the 'pantry of Bhutan'. The fertile lands are covered with potatoes, rice, buckwheat, dairy farms, and apple orchards, lying alongside old and rustic farmhouses. This is where Buddhism was first introduced to Bhutan. Thus, it is the location of some of the country's oldest and most revered religious monuments, temples, and monasteries. Many myths that form the founding ethos of the Bhutanese people refer to sites located within the valley. In the afternoon, visit Jakar Dzong, walk downhill into the town area, pass through local villages, and pause by hidden shrines and temples. In the evening, visit Kharchu Drastang monastery, possibly during the monks' evening theological debates and prayers. Then revert to the hotel for a good night's sleep.

DAY 3, 15 SEP 2021. IN BUMTHANG

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Drive out of the hotel for a walking tour to the surroundings of Jakar- the main town of Bumthang Valley. Begin with a short ride to Jambay Lhakhang. It is said that Padmasambhava, the propagator of Buddhism in Bhutan has first settled here. Later on, King Songtsen Gampo built the Jambay Lakhang temple back in 659 AD to subdue a demon laid over the Himalayas. From here, follow a beautiful trail to the 17th century Kurjey Lakhang, overlooking the Chamkhar Chu River. Cross the river over the suspension bridge to Dorjibi village. Then walk along the river's bank to Tamshing monastery, the most revered site for the Nyingma School, the oldest of the four primary Tibetan Buddhist schools. Then board the vehicle and drive back to the hotel for a second night in Jakar.

DAY 4, 16 SEP 2021. FROM BUMTHANG TO TRONGSA

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Leave the valley of Bhumtang and head to Trongsa. Drive past Youtung La Pass, rising some 3425 meters (11,237 feet) above sea level. En route, pause by the Yathra Weaving ladies. These artisans preserve generations' old tradition of hand-weaving decorative rugs that are then being hanged on the walls of local dwellings. From here, proceed to Trongsa Dzong, one of the most impressive of Bhutan's dzongs. A dzong is a monastery-fortress complex and vivid evidence of the turbulent history of Bhutan. Though Bhutan today is widely perceived as a peaceful country, often referred to as 'the happiest place in the world', it has been for centuries the ground of ongoing bloody battles amidst warring lords, all of them serving as high ranking religious clerks. Those local lords fought over royalty rights, territory, and subjects. With slavery being abolished in Bhutan only in the late 1950s, a more extensive domain meant more working hands and crop-yielding plots for the local ruler's benefit. Trongsa Dzong forms a rambling collection of buildings trailing down the ridge with a succession of beautiful courtyards overlooking the Mangde Chu River. Though the history of the dzong goes back to the mid-16th century, it is remarkably preserved by its structure and its significant role in keeping the ancient Buddhist traditions. From here, it's a short ride to the hotel, overlooking the beautiful dzong.

DAY 5, 17 SEP 2021. DRIVE FROM TRONGSA TO POBJIKA

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

The day begins with a beautiful drive along a winding road offering great views over terraced rice paddies. Drive past Pele La Pass of "only" 3353 meters (11,000 feet) above sea level before descending into Gangtey Valley. In the afternoon, arrive at the small temple of Gangtey. If time permits, embark on a leisurely hike on a trail that runs by farmhouses and through a thick pine forest. Enjoy the view of the beautiful valley where locals work their vegetable plots, and of traditional Bhutanese villages dotting the ridge on the other side of the valley. From the trail's end, it's a short drive to the hotel for the night, at the village of Pobjika.

DAY 6, 18 SEP 2021. FESTIVAL IN POBJIKA AND ON TO PUNAKHA

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Today is a big day for the residents of Pobjika and the nearby villages. This is also one of the highlights of any Bhutan private tour. Join the locals as they gather at Gangtey Monastery, which sits atop a hillock overlooking the Pobjika valley. It is headed by the ninth Gangtey Tulku and is the largest Nyingma monastery in western Bhutan. The monastery was founded in 1613 by Gyalse Pema Thinlay, a grandson and reincarnation of the influential treasure finder- Pema Lingpa. This is where a local festival (Tshechu) takes place today. Bhutanese Festivals always revolve around a religious ceremony of elaborate dances performed by monks wearing massive colorful masks, representing universal forces, and a plethora of the rich and diverse figures comprising the pantheon of gods of Bhutanese Buddhism and mythology. The dances serve as a supposed reenactment of the constant struggle between good and evil. The good eventually prevails but not diminishing the evil, so there would be a good reason for the ceremony to occur again the following year. Alongside the engaging dances, the grounds surrounding the ancient monastery turn into a huge fair. Here, locals sell their fresh produce, engage in fortune-telling, or just meet old friends from across the valley. After lunch, board the vehicle, and embark on the drive to Punakha, arriving there relatively late in the evening to check-in the hotel.

DAY 7, 19 SEP 2021. IN PUNAKHA

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Begin the day with a hike up to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten. The chorten (stupa) was built back in 1994 by the Queen Mother, one of the four wives of the fourth king of Bhutan, the reigning king's father. Her Majesty built the stupa to bring world peace and drive away hostile spirits. The exterior of the chorten is a magnificent testimony to traditional Bhutanese architecture. The interior offers an elaborate display of the rich pantheon of Bhutanese Buddhist deities. At the fourth story of the stupa, there is a porch offering unparalleled vista over Punakha valley and the mighty Mo River. On clear days, the ever-snowed peaks of the Himalayas to the north can be seen. After lunch, visit Punakha Dzong, probably the most revered dzong throughout the country. Initially built by Ngawang Namgyal, the nation's forefather in the mid-17th century, it is the place at which in 1907 the coronation of the first king of Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck, has taken place. Later, the treaty between the British empire and the Bhutanese king was signed here. The British stated their recognition of the sovereignty of Bhutan as an independent State. Late in the afternoon, revert to the hotel for a second night in Punakha.

DAY 8, 20 SEP 2021. FROM PUNAKHA TO THIMPHU VIA DUCHO LA

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Leave Punakha, and head towards Ducho-La, the 3,100 meters (10,171 feet) mountain pass, offering (on clear days) magnificent views of the Himalaya Mountain Range. The roots of Bhutanese Buddhism are derived from the fusion between Indian Buddhism and shamanic beliefs. The latter consist of worshiping the spirits of nature, and above them all, the spirit of the sky, the founding father of the entire cosmos and of all spirits. Thus, mountain passes, which are the closest places at which travelers get to the "father", are highly revered. From the mountain pass, embark on a three hours' hike. The trail takes through thick forest to Lungchuzekha Lhakhang, a small but impressive temple nestled on a mountain top, offering marvelous views over the entire range. At the trek's end, revert to the vehicle. Continue driving to Thimphu, the national capital and the seat of the King of Bhutan. Thimphu is nestled in the heart of a fertile valley, where nearly half of the country's revenues are being produced. This signifies the importance of the city which was established when several villages have been unified by the end of the country's last major war, back in 1885. Upon arrival in Thimphu, check-in the hotel at the city's center.

DAY 9, 21 SEP 2021. THIMPHU

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

The day would be dedicated to exploring the sites throughout Thimphu. First, visit the local market, where city dwellers purchase anything from fresh produce and household appliances to religious artifacts. Then proceed to a vocational school where traditional crafts are being taught to the younger generation in an effort to preserve these unique art forms. Next, pay a visit to the newly constructed Buddha Dordenma statue, a gigantic 52 meters tall statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, built at the cost of US$ 47 million between 2006 and 2015. The shrine located under the Buddha statue houses over 100,000 gilded Buddha statues. From here, drive to a vantage point over Thimphu Dzong, the seat of the local parliament. Late in the afternoon, visit the national stadium, where locals often engage in friendly archery competitions- being the national sport. Overnight in Thimphu.

DAY 10, 22 SEP 2021. REVERT TO PARO AND HIKE TO THE TIGRESS LAIR

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Leave the Bhutanese capital city for the one-and-a-half hours' drive back to Paro. Continue out of town to the trail-head for the Taktsang hike, another monumental part of any Bhutan private tour. Taktsang literally translates into 'tigress lair'. It is derived from a legend describing Padmasambhava flying on a tigress back from Singye Dzong in eastern Bhutan to this exact location. He then meditated here for three months and left his body imprint on the rock. Today this iconic monastery is probably the best-known image of Bhutan.

The hike is divided into two segments- from the trail-head to the cafeteria located about halfway to the monastery. Then, from the cafeteria to the monastery itself. Each of these segments takes about one hour's walk uphill. For the first segment, one might choose to ride a mule, while the second segment can be done only on foot.

It is also possible to do only the first segment and enjoy the monastery's view from the cafeteria without ascending all the way to the monastery itself. After this somewhat strenuous hike ride to Paro's center, where a variety of cafes located amidst shops selling all sorts of traditional Bhutanese souvenirs- a great chance to grab some material memories of Bhutan and take these back home. In the evening, head back to the hotel for the last night of this Bhutan private tour.

DAY 11, 23 SEP 2021. DEPARTURE FROM PARO

  • Breakfast

This morning transfer to Paro Airport to end this fantastic Bhutan private tour, say farewell to the local team, and board the departure flight from Paro.

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Dates & Pricing


13th September, 2021–23rd September, 2021

  • $3,419 Per Person (From 2 people)
  • $397 Single Room Supplement

Variations

Bhutan private tour rates are quoted in US Dollars and are valid for two confirmed travelers and above.

[email protected] reserves the right to change Bhutan private tour rates and programs due to changes in flight schedule, changes in airfares, and other local circumstances.

Prices based on twin share occupancy.

Discounted rates for groups of 4 travelers and above: US$3058/ person

  • Applicable only for travel groups of 4 people or more booking their trip together.

Additional Information


Inclusions
  • Domestic flight Paro - Jakar
  • Accommodation at hotels selected including breakfast
  • Full board (3 meals a day)
  • Private transfer with A/C vehicle
  • Entrance fees to all sites and monuments as per program
  • Bottled drinking water
  • English Speaking guide
  • Bhutan tourist visa
  • Tourists fees and royalties
  • Travel permits

Exclusions
  • International flights to/from Paro
  • Travel/health insurance
  • Excess luggage (limited to 20 kg on domestic flight)
  • Gratuities
  • Expenses of personal nature (food and drinks beyond those provided, laundry, etc.)
  • Anything not clearly mentioned in the program

Testimonials

Ines

Thank you, Ron for the amazing Bhutan trip last October. You and your local team did an outstanding job in putting together an exciting tour through Bhutan!

Ines-Maria Frodl, Germany

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