Find out what lights up the faces of the residents of Bhutan, the only country in the world that measures its well-being in GNH — Gross National Happiness. On a 10-day adventure across this bastion of Buddhist culture, explore remote mountain villages and shrines and climb magnificent heights to the cliff-side Taktsang Monastery, 900 metres (2,953 feet) above the valley floor. Amid the soaring peaks and cultural delights of this ancient place, discover your own capacity for happiness.

Trip highlights

Family Farm Meal, Visit a family farmhouse in Gangtey Valley for a cooking demonstration and traditional meal. Learn how to make the very spicy ema datshi (chili cheese) and sit down to eat with these welcoming people.

Meet a Buddhist Monk, Meet with a Buddhist monk and scholar in the scenic capital city of Thimphu. Hear him talk about his daily life and Buddhism in general, and gain insight into this tiny kingdom where happiness is the common goal.

Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery Hike, Hike up to the Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s Nest); containing 13 holy relics, it's considered one of the most venerated pilgrim sites of the Himalayan world. It is also where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have landed on the back of a tigress in the 8th century. Take in the stunning views en route and the incredible vista from this monastery, which clings to the rock towering 2,953m above the valley.

Itinerary - 10 Days

Day 1 Paro/Thimphu (1D)

In clear weather, the flight over the Himalayas offers magnificent views of the world’s highest peaks as they give way to the lush green Paro valley. The first gift from Bhutan will be the cool, clean fresh air as you step off the plane. After clearing customs and visa control, an arrival transfer will take you to Thimphu, where we'll be met by our local CEO who will conduct a welcome meeting and orientation.

Additional Notes:
Approx. Altitude: Paro 2,300m

Included Activities:
Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting

Transport:
Private Vehicle
Board a private vehicle and transfer from Paro to Thimphu.
Private Vehicle (1.50-2.00 hours)

Day 2 Thimphu/Punākha (1B, 1L, 1D)

After breakfast, drive through dense forests of blue pine, oak, and rhododendrons and enjoy views of the Himalayan range and the valley beyond. After a lunch stop, the road climbs steeply through a forest of pine and cedar, festooned with hanging lichen high up near Dochula pass at 3,050m (10,007 ft). After stopping here for tea and panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain range, we descend along a series of hairpin bends to the fertile valley of Punakha.



Additional Notes:
Approx. Altitude: Punakha Valley 1,300m

Included Activities:
Meet a Buddhist Monk
Chime Lhakhang Visit

Transport:
Private Vehicle (6.00-7.00 hours)

Day 3 Punākha (1B, 1L, 1D)

Visit Punakha Dzong, winter seat of the Je Khenpo and the Monk Body, located between the rivers of the Mo (female) Chu and Pho (male) Chu. Hike to Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery and observe this complex of mediation and traditional arts training center for nuns.

Walk back to the road and then drive a short distance to Wangdue for a visit to the Wangdue Phodrang. We'll continue on to the suspension bridge and hike through rice terraces, fields, and deep pine forest to Khamsum Yueley Chorten, where the view is superb. Descend until we reach the suspension bridge and the return to the hotel.

Additional Notes:
Wangdue Phodrang is currently under reconstruction, depending on the status, we may or may not be able to visit.

Included Activities:
Punakha Dzong Visit
Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery
Wangdue Phodrang Visit
Hike and Visit Khamsum Yueley Chorten

Transport:
Private Vehicle (6.00 hour(s))

Day 4 Punākha/Gangtey Gonpa (1B, 1L, 1D)

Visit the Crane Information Center and learn about the Gangtey/Phobjikha valley which is one of the most ecologically sensitive areas in Bhutan and is known as the winter habitat for the endangered black necked cranes. Explore the Crane information Center which is managed by the RSPN (Royal Society for the Protection of Nature), an NGO striving to protect Bhutan’s environment, flora, and fauna. These magnificent cranes migrate from Tibet in early November and return at the end of February.

Additional Notes:
Approx. Altitude: Gangtey Valley 2,900m

Included Activities:
Black-Necked Crane Centre Visit

Transport:
Private Vehicle (3.00-4.00 hours, 78km)

Day 5 Gangtey Gonpa (1B, 1L, 1D)

The valley is also a centre for crane observation run by the RSPN (Royal Society for the Protection of Nature), an NGO striving to protect Bhutan’s environment, flora, and fauna. At certain times of the year, it is possible to spot these magnificent birds.


Included Activities:
Gangtey Goempa Monastery Visit
Phobjikha and Khewa Valley Hike
Khewa Village Visit
Family Farm Meal

Transport:
Private Vehicle

Day 6 Gangtey Gonpa/Thimphu (1B, 1L, 1D)

Please note that on occasion the Institute for Zorig Chusum art school is closed due to school breaks and holidays. If it is not open on the day of your visit, another activity will be arranged.

Additional Notes:
Approx. Altitude: Thimpu 2,300m

Included Activities:
Buddha Point Visit
Institute for Zorig Chusum Visit
Lecture on Gross National Happiness

Transport:
Private Vehicle (3.00-4.00 hours)

Day 7 Thimphu/Haa Dzongkhag (1B, 1L, 1D)

In the morning, visit Memorial Chorten. Drive to the valley and visit Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple). In the afternoon, spend time exploring Haa town.

Additional Notes:
Approx. Altitude: Haa Valley 2,600m

Included Activities:
Haa Valley Temples and shrines
Memorial Chorten Visit

Transport:
Private Vehicle (6.00-8.00 hours)

Day 8 Haa Dzongkhag/Paro (1B, 1L, 1D)

Drive to the Haa Valley, one of the most remote and sacred valleys in Bhutan via the Cheela Mountain Pass, at 3,810m (12,500 ft). Hike to Kila Goempa Nunnery which clings to a rocky cliff. Later, visit Kyichu Lhakhang Temple and the local archery grounds.

Additional Notes:
Approx. Altitude: Paro 701m (2,300 ft)

Included Activities:
Kila Goempa Nunnery Hike
Kyichu Lhakhang Temple Visit
Local Archery Grounds Visit

Transport:
Private Vehicle (2.00-3.00 hours, 65km)

Day 9 Paro (1B, 1L, 1D)

Embark on a vigorous hike up to the Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s Nest), the most venerated pilgrim site of the Himalayan world. The view is absolutely stunning, with the monastery clinging to a cliff face towering 2,953m (9,688 ft) above the valley. Return to Paro and visit the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong fortress.

Additional Notes:
Due to the altitude this climb can be tough. Be prepared to spend about 5 1/2 hours to get up and down with stops, including lunch. Remember to stay hydrated and take your time.

The hike is gradual and uphill and takes about 2 hrs to reach the first stop at the cafeteria where you can enjoy views of the monastery. If you choose, you can stop here and wait for the group who choose to continue up to the Monastery.

Included Activities:
Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery Hike
Drukgyal Dzong Visit

Transport:
Private Vehicle

Day 10 Paro (1B)

Depart at any time. Airport transfer included.

Transport:
Private Vehicle (0.50 hour(s))

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