Explore Bhutan tour is what the best Bhutan has to offer for outsiders who wish to witness it’s the natural beauty and see it’s unique culture and traditions. You will immediately found yourself into another world upon landing at the Paro International Airport with the clean and fresh air of Bhutan. Colorful Paro welcomes with its natural sights and rich cultural heritage. Hike to Taktsang Monastery ‘Tiger’s Nest’ located 3,120 meters is the most popular tourist activity in Bhutan. Likewise, Paro Ringpung Dzong, Kyichu Lhakhang, Ta Dzong are the important monasteries and temples in Paro. Thimphu the tiny capital is blessed with legendary monasteries and many cultural sites. Strolling around the streets of Thimphu will give you a glimpse of Bhutanese daily life and also the craftsmanship of Bhutan. Further up to Punakha cross along the Dochula pass (3140m) which commands spectacular Himalayan views of the eastern mountains. En-route go for the short hike to Chimi Lhakhang ‘fertility temple’ dedicated to Drukpa Kunley. Punakha, the old capital, has its natural beauty including the Punakha Dzong, arguably the most beautiful dzong Bhutan. Another attraction of the tour is the Phobijikha Valley, the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan, is located at Gangtey. One can go for natural Gangtey trail hike at the Phobijikha Valley. During winter, black necked cranes flew from Tibetan plateau to settle at the Phobijikha Valley from late October to mid-February and after winter, return back. Haa Valley was one of the main commercial gateways through Phuentsholing until roads opened in the earlier 1960s. Overall, Explore Bhutan tour visits the prime locations in Bhutan and offers great insight into the cultural, natural and traditional aspects of the land of the thunder dragon.
• Witness spectacular bird’s eye view of the Himalayas while flying in/out from Paro.
• Explore Paro exploding with colors and tradition.
• Guided city tour of the tiny capital Thimphu.
• Hike to Taktsang Monastery ‘Tiger’s Nest’ (3120 meters).
• Punakha Dzong – the most beautiful monastery in Bhutan.
• Explore the Phobjikha Valley in Gangtey, the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan.
• Kyichu Lhakhang – the oldest & most sacred shrine in Paro.
• Witness unique culture, tradition, and lifestyles of Bhutan.
What to expect:
The typical itinerary for this tour basically visits the following locations/landmarks.
Day 01: Arrival Paro & transfer to Thimphu – Meet at the airport & transfer to Paro town for lunch/check-in hotel. Visit Paro Ringpung Dzong then drive to Thimphu. Sightseeing at Thimphu visiting Buddha Terrance, Takin Preserve to see Takin- Bhutan’s national animal, Tashichoe Dzong, Memorial Chorten, Centenary Farmers Market, the new authentic craft bazaar, National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Folk Heritage Museum.
Day 02: Thimphu to Punakha – Drive Thimphu to Punakha. En-route pass along Dochula pass (3050m) from where the great Himalayan view can be seen in a clear day. Take a short hike to Chimi Lhakhang ‘the temple of fertility’ dedicated to Drukpa Kunley. Visit Punakha Dzong arguably the most beautiful dzong in Bhutan located at the confluence of Po Chu and Mo Chu Rivers.
Day 03: Punakha to Gangtey – Drive to Gangtey via Wangdu. Take a Gangtey nature trail hike at the most beautiful Phobijikha Valley. Visit the Gangtey Monastery.
Day 04: Gangtey to Thimphu – Drive Gangtey to Thimphu retracing the same route crossing over Dochula pass and one more chance to witness the spectacular Himalayas.
Day 05: Thimphu to Haa to Paro: Drive to Paro over the Chelela pass to Haa Valley. In Haa, visit Wangchuck Dzong, Lhakhang Nakpo (Black temple) and Lhakhang Karpo (white temple). Afterward, drive back to Paro.
Day 06: In Paro ‘Taktsang Monastery aka Tiger’s Nest Hike – Early in the morning, hike to Taktsang Monastery ‘Tiger’s Nest’ (3120m). Then visit Kyichu Lhakhang.
Day 07: Paro Depart- Transfer the airport for the onward flight.
Day 01: Arrival Paro (2250m) – Thimphu (2350m)
Arrive Paro by the Bhutanese National Carrier flying over the world’s highest mountains including Mt. Everest. As you step down from the plane, a cool and clean fresh air greets the visitor, the first gift of Bhutan. After clearing customs and visa formalities, meet the representatives and the Bhutanese guide, head out to Paro town for lunch. Visit the Paro Rignpung Dzong in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan.
Afterwards, drive to Thimphu (1 hour) and sightseeing around Thimphu visiting many landmarks like Buddha Terrance, Takin Preserve to see Takin – Bhutan’s national animal, Tashichoe Dzong, Memorial Chorten – a monument erected in memory of Bhutan’s third king H.M. Jigme Dorji Wangchu, Centenary Farmers Market, the new authentic craft bazaar, National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Folk Heritage Museum – a 300 year old traditional house converted into a museum. Then back to the hotel.
Overnight at Hotel in Paro (Lunch/Dinner included)
Day 02: Paro – Punakha (1310m)
After breakfast, drive to Punakha from Paro for about 3-4 hours. After steeply climbing through the pine & cedar forests come Dochula pass (3,050 m). The pass commands panoramic Himalayan views of the eastern mountains in a clear day. After stopping here for tea and witnessing spectacular Himalayan panorama, the road descends along a series of hairpin bends to the fertile valley of Punakha. En-route Punakha, take a short hike to Chimi Lhakhang ‘the fertility temple’ built in 1499 dedicated to Drukpa Kunley. Today mostly visited by the women who couldn’t bear Children, thus also known as the temple of fertility. In Punakha, visit Punakha Dzong crossing the bridge. It’s the ancient capital of Bhutan connecting the Mo Chu & Pho Chu Rivers. It is also the winter capital for the monks and the Je Khenpo (chief abbot) Overnight at Hotel in Punakha (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included)
Day 03: Punakha – Gangtey (2320m)
Today drive to Gangtey via Wangdue. The drive is through winding mountain road passing along oak and rhododendron forests, over the high pass and down to the Phobijikha Valley considered one of the most beautiful glacial valleys in Bhutan. Phobijikha Valley is also the chosen home for the black necked cranes that migrate from Tibetan plateau during winter. Gangtey nature trail hike for about 1 & half hour can be enjoyed starting from the Gangtey monastery through the jungle before emerging to the valley floor. Overnight at Hotel in Gangtey (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included)
Day 04: Gangtey – Thimphu (2350m)
Drive back to Thimphu retracing the same route for about 5 hours’ overland drive. Ascend back to the pass from Phobijikha Valley rejoin the main east-west highway just beneath the Pele La pass. Then descend to Wangdu town with changing vegetation and continue west again climbing up to Dochula pass with another opportunity to witness the spectacular eastern Himalayas and finally descend to the Thimphu Valley. Overnight at Hotel in Thimphu (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included)
Day 05: Thimphu – Haa – Paro (2250m)
From Thimphu drive towards Haa over the Chelela pass (3899m). One can witness spectacular Himalayan view including the valley beyond from the pass. Haa Valley was opened upon only from 2002 and consists of five counties. There is a military camp by the Indian Army. Visit Wangchucklo Dzong dating back to 1915 and Lhakhang Nakpo (Black temple) is said to have been built by pigeon emanation of King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and Lhakhang Karpo (white temple). Afterwards, drive back to Paro. Overnight at Hotel in Paro (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included)
Day 06: In Paro – Hike to Taktsang Monastery ‘Tiger’s Nest’ (3120m)
Early in the morning, drive to the base of Taktsang for the hike up to the monastery. Start the hike up until reaching the cafeteria which takes about 2 hours. From here enjoy spectacular view of the Taktsang Monastery. Further hike from the cafeteria (the half-way point) will reach the monastery where it’s believed that Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigress in 8th century.
After breakfast drive towards the base camp of Taktsang for the hike up to the Taktsang Monastery-Tiger’s Nest. It’s about two hours hike up the cafeteria. From this point, enjoy the spectacular view of the monastery, where Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigress in 8th century. Then visit the Taktsang Monastery and hike back to the road point then drive to Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines in Bhutan. Afterwards, back to hotel. Overnight at Hotel in Paro (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner included)
Day 07: Paro depart
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your onward flight. Bid farewell to the remote and legendary Dragon Kingdom disappearing again behind its guardian mountains. (Breakfast only)
Includes the following service during Bhutan tour:
• Airport pick-up and drop-off by private vehicle.
• 3-star accommodation (4 & 5 stars may require an additional premium).
• Bhutan visa fee – including all necessary processing
• Route Permit
• Three meals per day during your stay in Bhutan
• A licensed Bhutanese tour guide
• All land transportation by private vehicle
• Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours
• Sightseeing as per itinerary
• Monuments entrance fees where applicable
• Drinking water
• All internal taxes and charges
• A sustainable development fee of $65. (This sustainable development fee goes towards free education, free healthcare, poverty alleviation, along with the building of infrastructure.)
Excludes in the package cost:
• Airfare & Travel Insurance
• Expenses of personal nature, Tips to guides and drivers
• Expenses occurred due to unavoidable events i.e. road wrecks, flight delays etc.
Visas to Bhutan
All citizens except India, Bangladesh and Maldives require visa to enter Bhutan. It requires a readable color copy of your passport and the passport should have at least six months of validity from your Bhutan exit date. Visa fee is US$40 per person. Tour’s full payment must be made before your arrival in Bhutan as per the tourism council of Bhutan – TCB.
To apply for the visa, you need to send a clear copies of your passports to your travel agent in JPEG or PDF formats via mail. Upon full tour payment receipt, the tourism council of Bhutan then issues the visa clearance letter to your travel agent which in turn will send it to you. Please bring this letter and show at the Paro International Airport in order to get your passport stamped with the actual Bhutan visa. Please note that the VISA service is not offered in Bhutan, travelers have to buy full service package from the local tour operator. Printed copy of visa letter also needs to be shown during the check-in at the Druk Air counter. Entering Bhutan overland via Phuentsholing or Samdrup Jokhar, one needs to produce the visa letter at the immigration office.
There’s a wide selection of hotels in Bhutan from 3 star to world-class 5 star hotels at the prominent places like Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey etc. 3-5 star hotel are officially government approved hotels. Besides, there’s hundreds of standard and budget hotel scattered throughout Bhutan including homestays, farm house stays. Travelers daily cost includes stays at the 3 star hotels and using 4 star or 5 star will require additional premium. Top 5 star hotels in Bhutan include Le-meridian, Taj Tashi, Como Uma etc.
During Bhutan stay all meals are included from breakfast to lunch and dinner. Breakfast and dinners will be at the hotels where travelers are staying and lunch might be at the restaurant during the sightseeing tour. However, on the last day of the tour the travel agent are oblige to provide breakfast only and any lunch/dinner will be traveler’s on own. Meals in Bhutan include mix of Indian, continental including Bhutan special cuisines such as Ema Datshi, Momos etc.
Traveling in Bhutan is easy nowadays with Bhutan rapidly developing it’s infrastructures on it’s road-system. Until 1961 traveling in Bhutan was quite difficult with no proper means of transportation in the country. One has to travel either on foot or on mule/horse back. After 1961 modern road construction began with most of the districts and towns getting interconnected via roadways. Nowadays comfortable ground transports and public vehicles are accessible in major cities. Different luxurious cars, SUVs, buses and coaster buses are available for tourists.
Every guide in Bhutan must complete a training course so that visitors get high quality professional service. Over 1000 licensed active tours guides are working in the country. Guides specialize either in cultural or adventure tours. All Bhutanese guides are helpful and friendly and proficient in English. Many guides have also learnt other languages like German, Japanes, Thai or others for better communication with travelers from these countries. All tour operators must employ only registered and certified guides.
How to get Bhutan
There are two options to get into Bhutan by air or by land. One can fly to Bhutan and land at the only international airport of Bhutan – the Paro International Airport. Alternatively, by land one can enter Bhutan via Phuentsholing from west connecting with Bagdogra Airport, Siliguri-West Bengal or Kakarbhitta-Nepal. Gelephu is the entry point if you are travelling from the central region and Samdrup Jongkhar from the east. Exiting through Samdrup Jongkhar in southeast Bhutan is to connect with Guwahati of India. From Guwahati, you may fly into other Indian cities like Delhi, Bombay or Kolkata. Even though Bhutan shares its border with Tibet, there are not treaties established yet to open the border crossing between these two countries.
Flights to Bhutan
Only two airlines connect Bhutan with the rest of the world, Druk Air (the national flag carrier) & Bhutan Airlines (Privately owned air). These airlines fly into the Paro International Airport in Paro – the only international airport in Bhutan. They too flies from certain cities only like Kathmandu, Delhi, Singapore, Bangkok, Kolkata, Bagdogra. Airlines flight schedules changes by season but there are several flights per week from Kathmandu, New Delhi, Singapore and Bangkok, either direct or via Dhaka, Kolkata or Bagdogra. Flights into Paro are dependent upon the weather conditions due to geographical location of Paro airport, so flight timings are subject to change. Therefore, all passengers are advised to maintain a minimum of 24 hours connection time to avoid disconnection.
Best time to visit Bhutan
Best time to visit Bhutan is spring (March-May) and Autumn/fall (September-November). Weather mostly remains clear during spring during when mystifying beauty of nature can be witnessed and varieties of flowers and plants bloom. June-August is the summer season and monsoon starts from June. Fall (Sep-Nov) is the another high season after spring during when tourist arrives Bhutan for festivals like Thimphu tshechu, Gangtey tshechu, Jambay Lhakhang drup. Winter season (Dec-Feb) isn’t crowded during when temperature level goes down (even below freezing point) and Bhutan may see snow fall. Trekking won’t be possible at high elevations in winter due to snow.