Bangkok, Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Trongsa, Bumthang, Unique Festivals plus Bangkok optional extensionBook this package
based on Oct. 3, 2016 departure*
|Style||Small Group TourTravel with a small, intimate group of 15-24 likeminded travelers escorted by an English speaking guide and/or tour manager for some or all of your journey. More of these packages
24 travelers max, dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
|Departures||Scheduled Dates; select from 2 open departures, October – December 2016|
|Highlights||Thimphu, Trongsa, Bumthang, Festival & Taktsang Monastery and an optional 2 night Bangkok extension!|
|Departs||Los Angeles (LAX); other gateways on request (flight schedule)|
|Themes||Active, Festivals, History & Culture|
|What to Expect||This fast-paced, partially escorted tour involves a significant amount of walking or hiking, often on uneven terrain, and reaches high altitudes requiring a high level of physical fitness to fully enjoy the trip. This tour also includes long scenic drives between destinations and may have limited rest stops.|
|Already Booked?||Find everything you need to know before you go, including how to pay your balance due, passport & visa requirements, flight information, weather, and more.|
Come with us to experience a once-in-a-lifetime guided tour of Bhutan. This is one destination that even the most seasoned travelers consider a privilege to visit. Perched high atop the mighty Himalayan range, the Kingdom of Bhutan has defied globalization and chosen to remain a hidden paradise. Although it consistently ranks as one of the world's top destinations, its remote location and strong preservation efforts make it accessible to only a fortunate few. Now, Friendly Planet's Beautiful Bhutan tour package makes it possible for you to not only visit this exotic land, but also immerse yourself in its rich cultural traditions.
Your Himalayan adventure will let you experience the enchantment of Bhutan's ancient fortresses, monasteries, and temples, the richness of its artisan traditions, and the beauty of its pristine natural landscape as you traverse the country's mountainous terrain. This unique program also provides ample time to interact with the friendly people of Bhutan, including a very special opportunity to join hundreds of Bhutanese in their celebrations of the spiritual festivals. You're sure to leave with an enlightened understanding of the country's national philosophy of "Gross National Happiness." But, be sure to reserve your space quickly, as this once-in-a-lifetime trip is sure to sell out quickly!
Dates, Prices & Options
Departure Dates & Prices
Departures & Prices
per person, double occupancy*
|Tue||Sep 6||2016||Mon||Sep 19||2016||$6899||$6299||Closed|
|Mon||Oct 3||2016||Sun||Oct 16||2016||$6499||$5899||Available|
|Mon||Dec 5||2016||Sun||Dec 18||2016||$6499||$5899||Available|
Want to stay longer? We may be able to arrange for you to stay later than the scheduled dates. Contact us about prices and availability.
Options & Extensions
|Single room supplement||+$899|
|Single room supplement||+$149|
Flights & Departure Cities
|Los Angeles (LAX)||included|
This package includes round-trip flights from the cities listed above. Please review the flight schedule, especially if you're booking connecting flights.
Coming from somewhere else? Ask us about availability and prices for flights from other cities.
Transfers: Transfers for this package are provided on a group basis only. For passengers deviating in any way from the group program, transfers are not provided. Individual, private transfers can be arranged at a supplement in price. Taxis and other forms of transportation are also available and may cost less than private transfers. If you wish to arrange private transfers, please request this service at the time of reservation.
How to Make a Reservation
To make a reservation, simply select an available departure date and reserve online using our secure booking system. Or call one of our travel specialists at 800-555-5765, Mon–Fri 9:30–6:00 Eastern time. But first, check out our Things to Know section.
We only require a per-person deposit payment, which you can pay with your credit card or PayPal account. This deposit will be applied towards the cost of your package, and is generally non-refundable (details). The balance is due 75 days prior to departure (or within 72 hours, if you're booking less than 75 days prior to departure), and can be paid by credit card, PayPal, check or money order.
The itinerary below is a sample. Your actual itinerary may vary based on the specific Bhutanese festival or mock festival scheduled for your departure, listed below. For more information about a specific departure, please contact us.
- Feb 15, 2016: Tangsibi Mani Festival (Feb 23, 2016)
- Mar 12, 2016: Talo Festival (Mar 18, 2016)
- Apr 11, 2016: Domkhar Festival (Apr 18, 2016)
- May 10, 2016: Mock Festival Celebration
- Sep 6, 2016: Mock Festival Celebration
- Oct 3, 2016: Tamshing Festival (Oct 11, 2016)
- Dec 5, 2016: Choejam Festival (Dec 13, 2016)
Day 1: Depart USA
- Your exotic journey to Bhutan begins this evening as you check in for your flight to Bangkok, via Taipei.
Day 2: En route
- Cross the International Dateline and lose a day en route to Thailand. You will recover this day on the return portion of your trip
Day 3: Bangkok
Accommodations: 1 night Royal Orchid Sheraton, Bangkok.
- Late morning arrival in Bangkok, the bustling, captivating and fascinating capital of Thailand, situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River
- Our representatives will meet you upon arrival, assist with passport and customs formalities, and transfer you to your hotel
Day 4: Paro & Thimphu
Accommodations: 2 nights Khang Residency, Thimphu, Bhutan. Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.
- Transfer to the airport to continue your journey to Paro, Bhutan via Druk Air
- After customs formalities, board your motor coach for the scenic drive to Thimphu
Full Day Itinerary: Transfer to the airport to continue your journey to Paro, Bhutan via Druk Air. On a clear day, experience breathtaking aerial views of the Himalayas. A representative will greet you upon arrival at Paro International Airport.
After customs formalities, board your motor coach for the scenic drive to Thimphu, Bhutan's capital city, passing through a bucolic landscape dotted with rice paddy fields, apple orchards, and quaint villages. Time permitting; enjoy a panoramic tour of Thimphu Valley upon arrival. Thimphu is situation at an elevation of 8,200 feet.
Day 5: Thimphu
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.
- Visit to the National Memorial Chorten and Dupthop Lhakhang Monastery
- Learn about ancient Bhutanese healing practices at the traditional Medicine Institute
- Observe the traditional royal silversmiths and papermakers at work with a visit Lungtenzampa
- Visit to a local handicraft emporium
Full Day Itinerary: Your first full day in Bhutan begins with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, built in honor of King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, and the Dupthop Lhakhang Monastery. Continue to the National Library, a fascinating repository of numerous ancient Buddhist manuscripts, and the city painting school where students are trained in the traditional art of painting Thangkhas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls). Then, proceed to the traditional Medicine Institute to learn about ancient Bhutanese healing practices.
After lunch, visit Lungtenzampa, where you'll have the opportunity to observe the traditional royal silversmiths and papermakers at work. Your tour of Thimphu concludes with a visit to the local handicraft emporium, where you can shop for unique Bhutanese gifts and souvenirs.
Day 6: Thimphu & Punakha
Accommodations: 1 night Dhensa Resort, Punakha. Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.
- Scenic journey to the town on Punakha
- Hike up a small hill to the Chimi Lhakjang
- Visit to the Punakha Dzong fortress
Full Day Itinerary: Today, travel by bus to the town of Punakha, making scenic stops along the way. Take in sweeping, panoramic views of the snowcapped Himalayan mountain ranges at the Dochula Pass. Continue driving to Lobesa, where you'll hike up a small hill to the Chimi Lhakjang, a temple dedicated to Drukpa Kunley, the great 14th century Yogi. Locals believe that this temple blesses women seeking fertility. Check-in at the hotel for lunch and then proceed to the majestic Punakha Dzong. Situated between the Phochu and Mochu Rivers ("Male" and "Female" Rivers, respectively), this fortress is the most magnificent in all of Bhutan. In the 17th and 18th centuries, it served as the country's capital. Today, it houses the district administrative and judiciary offices as well as the winter home for Bhutan's spiritual leader, Je Khenpo, and the 600 monks of Thimphu and Punakha.
Day 7: Punakha & Trongsa
Accommodations: 1 night Yangkhil Resort. Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.
- Scenic drive to Trongsa
- Climb through the semi-tropical vegetation to Pele Pass
- View the Chendebji Chorten monument
Full Day Itinerary: After a hearty breakfast early this morning, set out on the fabulous drive to Trongsa. Take in the breathtaking beauty and serenity of Bhutan's diverse, untouched flora and fauna along the way.
Thanks to its isolation, small population, mountainous terrain, and the national religion of Buddhism, which stresses the sanctity of all life, Bhutan has protected virtually all of its forests and wildlife. As a result, this tiny kingdom, in contrast to all of its neighbors, possesses the last truly intact, large-scale ecosystem in the Himalayas.
Climb through the semi-tropical vegetation to Pele Pass (elevation 10,989 feet), traditionally considered the boundary between West and East Bhutan. From here, proceed through an alpine forest of rhododendrons and dwarf bamboo to the Chendebji Chorten, a large 18th century Buddhist monument constructed by a Lama to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was believed to terrorize inhabitants of the valley. As you approach Trongsa, gaze in wonder at its huge fortress, or Dzong, that sits on a narrow promontory that juts out over the gorge of the Mangde River. The view from this Dzong extends for many miles, and in former times nothing could escape the vigilance of its watchmen. Check in at your resort hotel, offering superb views of the soaring mountains and majestic Dzong.
Day 8: Trongsa & Bumthang
Accommodations: 3 nights Yugharling Resort & Spa,Trongsa. Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.
- Visit to Taa Dzong
- Witness Yathra weavings in the Tsungney village
- Jambay lhakhang Temple
- Cross the suspension bridge to Padmasambhava Lhakhang
- Hike to Tamshing Lhakhang and to the Konchogsum Lhakhang
Full Day Itinerary: After breakfast, drive to Taa Dzong, an ancient watchtower that is now a museum dedicated to the Kings of Bhutan. Continue the drive to Bumthang, crossing the Yotongla Pass into the first or four valleys of Bumthang known as Chumey. Stop at Tsungney village to witness Yathra weavings and continue to your hotel in Jakar for check-in and lunch. After lunch visit Jambay lhakhang Temple. Then in Bhutanese tradition, continue clockwise to Kurjey Lhakhang and cross the suspension bridge to Padmasambhava Lhakhang, a 15th century meditation site that was restored by the Grand Queen Mother of the present King. Continue your hike to Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in the 16th century by Saint Pema Lingpa, followed by a visit to the Konchogsum Lhakhang built in the 8th century and famous for its inscribed bell.
Day 9: Bumthang & Festival
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.
- Bhutanese Festival
Full Day Itinerary: The festivities begin today as you head to the ongoing Bhutanese Festival. Celebrated annually, these ancient religious festivals serve as a spiritual revival and reminder of the connection between past, present, and future. Accompanied by blowing horns, booming drums, and clashing cymbals, monks and laypersons alike dress in brilliant costumes to perform spiritual dances and re-enact legendary events and moral vignettes in the courtyard of the Dzong. Crowds of people gather in their finest hand-woven dress, made of the brightly patterned cloth for which Bhutan is renowned, creating an intensely colorful and exciting atmosphere that has remained unchanged for centuries. Locals believe that dressing in their finest clothing is another form of offering to the deities that will bring them merit, luck and prosperity.
Day 10: Bumthang
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.
- Scenic drive to Ura village
- Visit the Ura Temple and then continue to the village of Ura
- Lunch at a local village house followed by a visit to a local school
Full Day Itinerary: After breakfast set off for a scenic drive to Ura village, situated at 10,000 feet high above sea level. About 40-50 closely packed houses alongside cobblestone streets give the village a medieval atmosphere. En route, stop at Serthangla Pass for a view of the Ura Valley below. From here, hike downhill to visit the Ura Temple and then continue to the village of Ura making frequent stops to converse with the villagers and children. Enjoy lunch at a village house followed by a visit to a local school. Afterwards, say goodbye to this beautiful village as you return to Bumthang.
Day 11: Bumthang & Paro
Accommodations: 2 nights Zhiwa Ling Hotel, Paro. Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.
- This morning, transfer to the Bumthang airport for your short flight back to Paro
- Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel, and if time permits, enjoy some afternoon sightseeing or shopping
Day 12: Paro
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.
- Taktsang Monastery
- Remainder of the day at leisure
Full Day Itinerary: After an early breakfast, depart for the spectacular Taktsang Monastery, a site believed to be the birthplace of Buddhism in Bhutan. The Monastery's moniker, which translates as "Tiger's Lair", refers to the tale of Guru Padmasambhava, the Tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan and supposedly landed at this site on the back of a flying tiger. Completed in 1692, the monastery is perched on a cliff 2,300 feet above the Paro Valley. To view the monastery, you'll hike along a trail that climbs through a dense pine forest, where you'll see trees festooned with Spanish moss and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. After light refreshments at a rest stop along the way, continue hiking until you clearly see the remains of this magnificent 17th century monastery that sits high atop a sheer rock cliff. Descend the trail for lunch at the cafeteria. After lunch, continue your hike back to the Paro Valley to enjoy the balance of the day at leisure to explore the town.
Day 13: Paro & Bangkok
Accommodations: 1 night Royal Orchid Sheraton, Bangkok. Included meals: Breakfast.
- This morning your amazing Bhutanese journey comes to a close as you transfer to Paro International Airport for your flight to Bangkok, Thailand
- Upon arrival, meet our representatives and transfer to your centrally located hotel for overnight
Day 14: Bangkok/USA
Included meals: Breakfast.
- Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and transfer to the airport to board your return flight to the USA via Taipei, arriving later this evening
- Or take advantage of your already included airfare and extend your stay in Bangkok
Bangkok Post-Tour Optional Extension
Why not take advantage of your already-included international airfare to extend your stay in Bangkok, Thailand's exotic bustling capital city. You'll return to the U.S. 2 days after the return dates shown above.
Day 14: Bangkok
Accommodations: 2 nights Royal Orchid Sheraton, Bangkok. Included meals: Breakfast.
- Day at leisure
Day 15: Bangkok
Included meals: Breakfast.
- Enjoy another day at leisure to discover Bangkok
Day 16: Bangkok/USA
Included meals: Breakfast.
- Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before transferring to the airport to board your return flight to the USA via Taipei, arriving later this evening
- The high altitudes reached on this trip and the amount of walking involved, often on uneven terrain, requires that you be in good physical condition to fully enjoy the trip. We strongly suggest that you consult your physician regarding any concerns prior to making a reservation.
- Bhutan is among the most unique destinations on earth, and the staggering beauty and rich culture of this remote land make it truly worth visiting. However, while we have reserved the finest possible accommodations and modes of transportation on your behalf, the tourism infrastructure of Bhutan may not always match standards to which you are accustomed. Hotels are comfortable with basic amenities. Flights and ground transportation can be rather limited, occasionally causing delays or changes in the itinerary. We want you to have the best vacation ever, so when planning a trip to Bhutan, please consider and understand the difference in standards and cultures, which, if not expected, may cause some disappointment.
- Other factors, such as weather, tour conditions, and even your own physical ability, may also dictate itinerary changes either prior to departure or sometimes during the tour itself. We will do our utmost to make sure you visit all the necessary sights despite these possible changes. Your patience and understanding will be greatly appreciated by us and your Bhutanese hosts.
Just returned from Thailand, full to the brim! This was an exceptional tour—pace, activities, options, hotels, all exceeded expectations. Our guide, Lek, was outstanding—sensitive to our wants and needs, knowledgeable and instructive, generous in providing "tastes" of Thailand on our excursion and arranging optional visits to places close to her heart that we otherwise would have missed. Our days were full; hers seemed to never stop. Cambodia too was an amazing experience, again with our guide Long catering to the special travel needs of our group. This trip changed my bias against directed tours...Thank you, Friendly Planet!
Kristi McKenzie, Bingham Farms, MI
Before You Book
- Do I need a visa or any other documents? Travel visas are required for this package. Please review the requirements.
- Should I get travel insurance? Protect your travel investment with our comprehensive policies.
- What's the fine print? Read the terms & conditions for this package.
- I'm traveling solo. Can you help me find a roommate? Yes, you can connect with other travelers to share a room and avoid single occupancy rates.
- Can I bring my kids? Are there any age restrictions? To book this package, you must be 18 or older. Your traveling companions must be 12 or older at the time of travel.
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