Central Bhutan

Bhutan is the only country in the world that supports a policy of “Gross National Happiness”. Experience the dramatic, high-altitude landscapes, the kingdom's historic monasteries, hidden villages and welcoming people.

Country Information

Bhutan, Nepal & Tibet

Central Bhutan Enrichment Series

(Countries Visited)

Bhutan, Nepal & Tibet

(Interest Type(s))

Adventure Travel

(Tour Length)

12 Days

Tour Highlights

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  • Experience Bhutan’s dramatic and stunning Himalayan landscapes
  • Discover how this once-isolated Buddhist kingdom is gently moving into the 21th century
  • Explore its historic monasteries, fortresses and dzongs dotting the mountains
  • Visit one of Bhutan’s most important wildlife reserves for the endangered black-neck cranes
  • Hike to one of Bhutan’s most revered monuments, the Taktshang Goemba, “Tiger’s Nest”

Day 1: Bangkok, Thailand / Paro, Bhutan / Thimphu
Early this morning, you fly from Bangkok Paro through the Himalayas, perhaps one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights.  You may spot Mt. Everest, depending on weather and season. The Kingdom of Bhutan lies in the pristine heart of the eastern Himalayas. Your arrival in Bhutan is an unparalleled experience as your plane circles over the dramatic valley below. You are welcomed and driven to the capital city of Thimphu, about an hour and a half drive. Upon arrival, enjoy lunch before setting out to explore your choice of one of the museums –  National Memorial Chorten, National Textile Museum, Folk Heritage Museum or National Library. Depending on your interests, each museum offers a unique look at life in this Buddhist kingdom. Then, you stroll the main street browsing for interesting Himalayan artifacts and textiles.  Taj Tashi Thimphu (L,D)

Day 2: Thimphu
In the morning, visit the northern end of the valley to see Trashi Chhoe Dzong (watchtower), the seat of Bhutan’s government, its royal offices, and Pangri Zampa, two 16th-century buildings that now house a monastic training school for astrologers.  At the head of the valley, you can enjoy a short hike to Cheri Goemba, the monastery where the first monastic body was established in the country.  Return to the city and explore a few of the capital’s cottage industries ranging from traditional paper making to hand-rolled incense. Taj Tashi Thimphu (B,L,D)

Day 3: Thimphu / Gangtey
Depart early this morning on a dramatic drive over the 3,050-meter/10,000-foot mountain pass of Dochu La, and travel on to the little-visited Phobjika Valley.  During the drive, you will see Bhutan’s amazing first fortress monasteries, the 17th-century Simtokha Dzong, and ancient wall paintings at the Hongtsho Goemba Monastery. The descent through Punakha Valley along the only east-west highway in Bhutan.  Pass the scenic village of Wangdi, then climbs through rich forests of bamboo and oak. Just before crossing Pele La Pass, a small side road splinters off to the hidden Phobjika Valley. On arrival, you arrive at the striking 17-century Gangtey Goemba Monastary  sitting at the head of the valley.  Investigate the village of Gangtey. Check into your hotel with just 12 beautifully crafted rooms with all the modern comforts. Its off beat location allows you to take a step back in time. Gangtey Goempa Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 4: Phobjika Valley
The valley of Phobjikha is a part of one of Bhutan's most important wildlife reserves. The valley is home to a flock of 300 rare and endangered black-neck cranes.  Spend the morning visiting the Black Neck Crane Centre, where, depending on the season, you may have the chance to view breeding cranes. You can elect to hike or ride mountain bike through this magnificent landscape. Or, you can opt to simply relax and soak up the beauty of the valley from the lodge.  One of the unique opportunities here is the opportunity to return to the monastery for a possible audience with the Trulku, if he is in residence. This is an honorary title given to a recognized reincarnate Lama either on the grounds of his/her resembling an enlightened being or through that person’s connection to certain qualities of an enlightened being. Gangtey Goempa Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 5: Phobjika / Bumthang
Today’s memorable journey to Bumthang (Jakar) is filled with dramatic landscapes taking in terraced fields, deep river valleys and precariously perched farmhouses viewed from a highway ingeniously carved into the mountain face. Following a brief stop at Chendebji Chorten, believed to cover the remains of a demon spirit, you arrive at Trongsa, the original home of the royal family. Visit Trongsa Dzong, the ancestral home to Bhutan’s monarch where novice monks recite mantras or practice on sacred horns, flutes and drums. The drive to Bumthang takes you over the picturesque Yotong La Pass and down into Chhume Valley, home to Bhutan’s famous Yatra weaving.  Watch the weavers, usually women and girls, create their intricate handiwork. You have time to browse the finished textiles. Amankora Bumthang (B,L,D)

Day 6: Bumthang Valley
Begin the day by exploring the palace of Wangdichhoeling, home to the second King and neighbor of Amankora’s Bumthang lodge. Note the auspicious prayer wheels before heading up the valley. Take in the grand Kurjey Lhakhang monastery, considered one of Bhutan’s most auspicious monuments. This is the final resting place of the remains of three kings of Bhutan.  Kurjey Lhakhang is where the early winter festivals are held, drawing thousands of Bhutanese to receive blessings. Head back into town to visit Tamshing Monastery before exploring the valley’s unique cottage industries: Red Panda Brewery, Bumthang Cheese/Dairy Facility and Bumthang Distillery, brewers of numerous distinctive spirits. Amankora Bumthang (B,L,D)

Day 7: Tang Valley – Bumthang District
Explore further afield to the beautiful Tang Valley. This seldom-visited valley offers several off-the-beaten path lhakhangs (temples)and monasteries, along with the museum at Ogen Chhoeling Palace. A short hike leads to a well-maintained palace, which houses various valuable artifacts. Enjoy a picnic with spectacular views along the way.  Amankora Bumthang (B,L,D) 

Day 8: Bumthang / Punakha
Depart early for Punakha. Upon entering Punakha Valley, stop to stretch your legs and stroll to Chimi Lhakhang, an auspicious fertility monastery built in 1499.  Uma Resort Punakha (B,L,D) 

Day 9: Punakha Valley
This morning, hike through fields of chillies, cabbages and rice lining the banks of the Mo Chhu, a major river in the country.  You reach the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, a stunning monument built by the reigning queen, and consecrated in 1999. Returning through the valley, you encounter the impressive Punakha Dzong, which houses the remains of Bhutan’s first ruler, Shabdrung Nawang Namgyal. It is also the winter residence of the monastic order’s leader and his entourage of monks. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the banks of the Punak Chhu River then drive to the quaint village of Talo. You can adjust your time there to enjoy additional, optional  hikes or valley excursions. Uma Resort Punakha (B,L,D)

Day 10: Punakha / Paro
After descending from Dochu La Pass, the road leads s main street.  Evenings at Amankora Paro may include lectures on the history, religion, flora and fauna of the region, or a film on the Himalayas.  Uma Resort Paro (B,L,D)

Day 11: Paro Valley
The day starts with a visit to the National Museum, housed in the Ta Dzong. The collection of artifacts provides a wonderful insight into the rich culture and heritage of the kingdom. Just a short walk downhill lies the dominating Paro Dzong, a fine example of Bhutanese architecture. From the dzong, cross Nyamai Zampa, a traditional cantilevered bridge, to reach the town temple built in 1525. Enjoy a picturesque picnic or a visit a farmhouse for lunch with a local  family. In the afternoon, hike to one of Bhutan’s most revered monuments, the Taktshang Goemba, more commonly known as the “Tiger’s Nest”.  The four-to-five-hour return trek offers spectacular views of this sacred monastery perched on a cliff face almost 1,000 meters/3,281 feet above the valley floor.  Uma Resort Paro (B,L,D)

Day 12: Paro / Bangkok  / Depart
Early morning transfer to the Paro airport for your flight to Bangkok, where you connect to your flight to your next destination.

Land price, per person, double occupancy:  From US$900 per person per day. Druk Air flights (Bangkok / Paro / Bangkok) are additional. 

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