As part of our first foray into the Himalayas, YPT
brings you to the Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan. Tourism to Bhutan is tightly
regulated and you won’t encounter hordes of tourists here for sure, but it’s
certainly a one of a kind place: one of the last absolute monarchies in the
world, it has managed to maintain its unique culture in the face of
Through our extensive contacts, YPT managed to design
a tour bringing you to the highlights of Bhutan at a very reasonable price. We
will fly from the capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka, into Bhutan airport, using the
national air carrier of Bhutan, Druk Air.
Throughout this tour, we will visit the capital city of Thimphu and take in all of its museums and monasteries. We’ll then head to Punakha to visit the Temple of Fertility, built by the Divine Madman as well as other masterpieces of Buddhist architecture. It wouldn’t be a tour of Bhutan without visiting its most impressive building, the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, built on the flank of a mountain near Paro.
Coming right after our Bangladesh tour, this tour can then be followed by a quick extension in Nepal and for those who would like to see more of the Himalaya, we run a tour to Tibet only a few days later!
If you were not with us for our tour of Bangladesh, meet the group at Dhaka airport at 12:30pm. After getting introduced to each other, we will proceed onwards to board our Druk Air flight to Bhutan`s only airport, Paro, leaving at 14:50.
Arrival in Paro at 16:55. The airport in itself is a sight on its own. Nicknamed the world’s trickiest airport, Paro’s airport was built on Bhutan’s only flat land long enough to accommodate a runway, still, it is surrounded by mountains and requires pilots to be extremely skillful to land and take off here. Only a handful of pilots around the world are qualified to operate in this airport!
Once at the airport, we’ll meet our local guides for the tour before driving to Thimphu, across multiple river valleys.
On the way, we`ll stop by Tamchhog Lhakhang, the place of worship for the legendary iron bridge builder, whose story will be explained to us by our local guide.
Arrival in Thimphu an hour later, where we will check into our hotel.
We will then head out for a wander through the streets of the capital, with its busy markets, surrounded by the locals, all wearing the compulsory national outfit.
Greeting dinner and overnight in Thimphu at Hotel Galingkha, or similar
Saturday 4th July – Thimphu
Today is our city tour of Thimphu. As it turns out, today is also market day in Thimphu, so we`ll make sure to head out for some people watching at the market after our breakfast
We then head to the Memorial Chorten
Visit the National Library, with its collection of Buddhist scriptures dating from several hundred years back, and the School of Traditional Arts where the impoverished youth of Bhutan can go and pick up a traditional trade to get out of their situation while promoting the local culture.
We’ll finish our morning trip with a visit of Changangkha a temple perched on a hill overlooking the capital and offering some of the best views.
Lunch of traditional Bhutanese food
After lunch, we’ll visit the huge statue of Buddha Dordenma. It is so big it is possible to enter it to visit three stories filled with chapels and 125000 smaller statues of the Buddha. From the top of the statue, you’ll get a tremendous view of the whole of the Thimpu Valley.
According to the group’s interest, we’ll choose museums to visit, with the options being the National Textile Museum, the Post Museum or the Folk Heritage Museum, each showcasing different aspects of Bhutanese life.
We’ll stop by the Fertility Park, where an interesting collection of… lucky phalluses stand to greet us.
Then, we’ll head to Simtokha Dzong, once of the oldest fortresses of Bhutan, dating from 1629 AD. Built to guard a demon, it was also the site of a bloody battle between different Buddhist sects.
Dinner back in Thimphu. You can try Bhutanese butter tea or Ara, the national liquor!
In the evening, you’ll get the opportunity to wander across the handicraft markets to get some souvenirs. Once everyone is shopped out, we’ll visit the different bars and clubs of Bhutan (yes, they exist!)
Overnight in Thimphu at Hotel Galingkha, or similar
Sunday 5th July – Thimpu/Punakha
Today, after breakfast, we’ll be leaving the current capital to head to the ancient capital of Bhutan, Punakha.
The drive to Punakha should take 3 hours, but we’ll break it by stopping at Dochu La Pass. Dochula is at 3050 metres above sea level and offers panoramic views of the Eastern Himalaya ranges. It is also renowned for its meditation caves, where practitioners isolate themselves, trying to achieve enlightenment.
On the way to Punakha, you’ll notice how climate and vegetation changes as we are progressively getting to lower altitudes.
We’ll stop by Sopsokha village to visit Chimi Lhakhang the Temple of Fertility built in the 15th century by the ‘Divine Madman’ Lama Drukpa Kuenley.
Then we will visit the imposing Punakha Dzong, “Palace of Great Happiness”. Built in 1637, it is strategically placed at the confluence of two rivers, the Po Chu and the Mo Chu.
Dinner and check-in into our hotel in Punakha, with some nightly exploration of the city
Overnight in Punakha at hotel Zhingkham, or similar
Monday 6thJuly – Punakha/Paro
Today, we’ll drive to Paro, a four hour drive.
Lunch in Paro
After lunch, we’ll start our tour of the Paro valley with our first stop the Rinpung Dzong. Rinpung Dzong is one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture.
We will then head not so far from there to explore the watch tower which was built to protect the Rinpung Dzong as well as the whole of the valley from invaders. The tower, devastated in 2011, has now been renovated and turned into a museum which showcases a magnificent collection of Bhutanese artifacts.
Just outside the museum, we’ll meet local artisans who will show us how to make wooden bowls in the traditional Bhutanese way. You are welcome to try your hand at it afterwards!
Head back to Paro for dinner
Overnight in Paro at hotel Olathang
Tuesday 7th July – Paro/Tiger’s Nest Monastery
We’ve kept the most physical part for the end! After breakfast, we’ll take a trek up to walk to Bhutan’s most famous site, the ‘Tiger’s Nest’.
By its local name, Taktshang monastery, the building clings to the cliff, 900 metres above the valley’s bottom. Guru Rinpoche, revered all throughout Bhutan, is said to have flown to the site riding on a tigress and subsequently meditated here for three months. It is one of Bhutan’s most holy sites and draws pilgrims not only from Bhutan but also from neighbouring Buddhist countries.
We’ll have lunch at the Taktshang cafeteria from where we’ll get a spectacular view of the monastery.
Hike down the monastery and back to Paro
Depending on how well we’ve done on time, we’ll use the rest of the afternoon to see some extra spots in Paro.
Dinner in Paro, where we will celebrate our tour coming to completion.
Overnight in Paro at hotel Olathang
Wednesday 8th July
End of tour with YPT able to assist with onward travel (on Wednesdays Drukair has flights to Bangkok, Kathmandu and Dhaka as well as non-direct flights to Delhi and Singapore)
For those carrying on to our Nepal extension, we catch the early 07:40 flight to Kathmandu!
-Visa fee (€45 YPT will apply for your visa)
-Flights to and from Bhutan (generally around €220 per flight)
-Single supplement (€180)
-Tips for the local guides and drivers
We have expert guides ready to help answer any questions you may have.