1 866 838 5818 Toll Free from USA and Canada

FAM Trips

We have exciting Travel Agents Only FAM trips to the destinations we go.

Bhutan Travel Agents Summer FAM Tour


9 days 8 nights

Code FAM-BT20

Category Fam Tours

  • Group Size 1-16 persons
  • Difficulty Level 2
  • Trip Starts From Paro, Bhutan
  • Trip Ends At Paro, Bhutan
  • Type Tours
  • Destination Thimphu Phobjikha Punakha Paro
Dates & Prices

Overview

16-24 June 2020

This trip is a small group travel agents FAM tour to the land of fresh air, rich religious and cultural traditions, breathtaking mountains, and pristine nature. It is also a land of people who, by official proclamation that is unique in the world, measure their lives not by GNP (Gross National Product), but by GNH (Gross National Happiness)! Bhutan, a country of the size of Switzerland, tucked between Tibet and India, is truly a jewel of the Himalayas – perhaps, some would say, Shangri-La.

This trip is a motor vehicle-based tour with some optional day hikes. While the highest altitude attained on this trip is 3810 m (12,496 ft), we sleep in lower elevations and so height is not a concern. This trip covers the main highlights of western Bhutan-Paro, Thimphu, Phobjikha, and Punakha. Each travel agent is allowed to bring one companion who could be your family, friend or client. 

The trip cost does not include the airfare to Bhutan. If you need any help with the airfare booking, we will be happy to do that for you and bill you as it costs.

Trip Date

16-24 June 2020

Trip Price ( Land only)

US$ 1550 Travel agent
US$ 1650 Companion
US$ 280 Private room supplement

Estimated return airfare from Kathmandu US$ 450 and US$ 900 from Bangkok.

Attractions

~Explore the fortresses, monasteries, and temples of Bhutan.

~Visit a typical farmhouse to learn the lifestyle of the local farmers.

~Meet the textile weavers, time-honored thangka painters, and the traditional paper makers.

~Experience the traditional hot stone bath to heal common ailments

~Hike Takstang Monastery, Tango Monastery, Khamsum Yuelley Temple, and the Chimi Lhakhang Temple (you can skip the hikes and stay behind with the driver if you wish)

Is This Trip For You?

  • June marks the beginning of rainy monsoon season in Bhutan. We do not expect heavy rains in early June yet, but it will be hot and humid. Most rainfall occurs towards the end of the day or at night, while day time is generally dry. 
  • There are at least two long day drive, about five or six hours (Thimphu to Phobjikha and again Punakha to Paro). Roads are well paved, but the rain cause potholes on the highway and mudslide may occur that can temporarily block the traffic.
  • The visits to the Dzongs, temples, and monasteries involve climbing stairs.
  • There is at least one strenuous hiking-5 or 6 hours round trip, but you can skip it and stay back.
  • Bhutan is not a destination for fine dining. There are limited choices, and the chefs don't have skills in western style cooking.
  • Hotels are three-star by local standard and usually small properties with 15 to 30 rooms. All the rooms provide en suite bathroom with running hot and cold water, space heaters, tea coffee makers, necessary toiletry supplies. Wi-Fi is intermittent.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01~Arrive in Paro, Bhutan

Flight to Bhutan arrive from Bangkok, Kathmandu, Delhi or Kolkatta. You can book your international flight to one of these cities, and we will schedule your onward flight to Bhutan. Bangkok is the most preferred gateway city unless you are traveling to India or Nepal before this trip.

We pre-arrange Bhutan visa and will email you a copy of this about three to four weeks before the trip date. After completing immigration and customs formalities, meet your guide and driver and transfer to the hotel.

After lunch, we take the scenic one-hour drive to Thimphu, the capital, with a stop for a short walk at the 13th-century temple of Tamchog Lhakhang-built by the famous Tibetan iron-bridge builder Thangthong Gyalpo – who was also a physician, teacher, and a saint! Until today, his descendants own and maintain the temple.

In Thimphu, we’ll have time to settle in before a walking tour of the small city. Thimphu is probably the only capital in the world without any traffic lights! We will take a stroll and visit the Memorial Chorten(shrine) of the 3rd King of Bhutan Jigme Dorje Wangchuk, and whatever else time and our interest allow.

Overnight: Khang Residency
Meals : Lunch, Dinner
Day 02~Sightseeing and hiking in Thimphu

It will be a busy day in Thimphu. Depending on availability, we will visit some of the attractions listed below.

Thimphu's weekend market: We begin the day from Thimphu's weekend market where local farmers come to sell their fresh produces. We may also get the chance to watch an archery tournament if any are in progress at the Changlimithang stadium ground during the weekend; Archery is the national sport of Bhutan.

The giant statue of Buddha Dordenma (180 ft tall) is popularly known as Buddha point at Kuensel Phodrang.  The figure is made of Bronze and gilded in gold, and will now be one of the revered sacred landmarks of Thimphu. This location is also a popular viewpoint over Thimphu valley.

Takin Reserve in Motithang: The Takin-the national animal of Bhutan has a cow like head, but a goat-like body and are found only in the Himalaya, particularly in Bhutan.

Zilukha Nunnery: It's a residence of 40-65 nuns. The main shrine at the Nunnery belongs to the famous saint, Drubthob Thang Thong Gyalpo, popularly known as the Leonardo da Vinci of the Great Himalayas and the man who first introduced and built the chain of iron bridges in Bhutan.

Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Centre: This center produces colorful hand-woven Bhutanese textiles, which is a century old tradition. You can see the women at work as they weave the textiles. The center also creates textiles for the royalties.

Tango Goemba Monastery Hiking. The trail to the monastery is a climb of about (280 m/ 918 ft) and takes about 60-90 minutes. On the way, you will meet the commoners, monks, and possibly a caravan of donkeys carrying goods. Once you reach the top, you will be delighted to see this impressive Monastery. Founded in the 12th Century by Lama Drukpa Kuenley, the present structures here are from the 15th and 18th centuries. You will get time to meet with the resident monks here and learn about their monastic life. You can sip tea with monks, perhaps teach them some English and learn some Bhutanese phrases from them in return. The trek down will take less time.

On the way back, stop to visit the majestic Trasichhoe Dzong that houses the King's office, parliament, and the central monk body!

Overnight: Khang Residency
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 03~Dhochula Pass and Phobjikha

Buckle up for a long day drive today (84 miles, 7 or 8 hours including stops)! 

Following breakfast, we leave for the isolated Phobjikha Valley. The road soon starts climbing, and we will arrive at the famous Dhochula pass (Alt. 3010m/9,872 ft), where you will stop briefly for panoramic views of the snow-capped mountains. Another striking feature of this pass is a group of chortens (pagoda or stupas). Now, the road zigzags down through the changing vegetation from alpine to sub-tropical and arrive in Punakha in about two and a half hour. Punakha is in lower altitude (1400m/4, 592 ft) and we will experience warmer weather here. After lunch, stop we will proceed for another two and a half hour drive to Phobjikha.

As we arrive in Phobikha, we stop to visit the prominent Gangtey Gompa of the early 17th century. It is the only Nyingmapa monastery in the region. The broad valley with its best-known marshland in Bhutan is famous for its scenic splendor and cultural uniqueness and is the winter home of black-necked cranes (Grus nigricollis) who migrate from the Tibetan Plateau and Central Asia in the winter season to roost. We will see flocks of the beautiful birds along the way!

Time permitting, also stop in Royal So­ciety for Protection of Nature’s (RSPN), which has informative displays about the black-necked cranes and the valley environment. You can use the center’s powerful spotting scopes and check what you see against its pamphlet Field Guide to Crane Behaviour.

Overnight: Dewachen Hotel
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 04~Hike the Gangtey Nature Trail and then transfer to Punakha

After breakfast, check out hotel. Your luggage will be transported by the van while you hike to the Gangtey Gompa monastery. It's going to be an easy two hours hiking with a gradual climb. First, we walk to the Black-Necked Crane Information Center, which has a lot of information on the Black Necked Crane. Then we continue hiking, first through the lush valley and then the pine trees and finally arrive in Gangtey Gompa in about two hours. Gangtey Gompa Monastery is the only Nyingmpa Monastery in the region and it's one of the significant place of worship for local Bhutanese. We spend some time exploring the monastery. 

Now, we retrace our drive back and arrive in Punakha in about three hours. We check into our accommodation and the balance of the day is at leisure.

Overnight: Drubchu Resort
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 05~Explore Punakha

After breakfast, we set off for the exploration of Punakha's attraction. We first visit the stunning Punakha Dzong, probably the most impressive of all the Dzong (fortress) architectures of Bhutan. The fort sits at the confluence of two rivers-Pho Chu and Mo Chu. Formerly the winter capital of Bhutan, Punakha Dzong is still the winter residence of the chief abbot of Bhutan.

Next is a short and pleasant hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten-built by the queen mother of Bhutan for the peace and prosperity in the country. The temple is an example of Bhutan's most beautiful traditional architecture. The trailhead is a short drive up north from the Punakha Dzong (6 miles, 30 minutes) brings us to Yebisa village where we park the car and cross Mochu River by a suspension bridge. The trail initially leads us through the paddy fields and later winds up through the grove. The location offers beautiful views over the valley.

Optional: Mo Chu River also offer rafting experience! If you are interested, you can experience 30 minutes raft down the white waters of Mo Chu River. The put in point is just below the Samdingkha Bridge, and it's taken out at the confluence of Mo Chu and Pho Chu near the Punakha Dzong. It's a scenic ride with II to III+ rapids. Costs $150 for a private boat, guide, safety jacket and helmet (up to 6 people)

After lunch, visit the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery-a center for higher learning and meditation for nuns where, apart from religious training, it provides life skill training such as tailoring, embroidery, statue making, and thangka painting. The nunnery complex has a temple that houses a 14-foot central bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara (Chenrigzig chagtong chentong), among other deities. It's location also offers a grand view over the valley. 

Back down to the road, we leave the car in the parking and take a gentle 25-minutes walk (if you wish) to Chimi Lhakhang Temple. The trail goes through the paddy fields and quaint villages. The temple is famous as the fertility temple, and childless people visit the temple for fertility blessing!

Depending on available time and your interest, you can visit other attractions.

Overnight: Drubchu Resort
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 06~Travel back to Paro

After leisurely morning breakfast, we leave for Paro. We drive across Dhochula Pass and arrive in Thimphu in about three hours. We stop here for lunch and later visit the weekend market of Thimphu where local farmers have stalls to sell the fresh produces, dried fish, cheese and some handicrafts. Nearby is a stadium, where Thimphu men practice archery. Archery is the national sports of Bhutan, and with luck, there may also be tournaments.

Late afternoon, we transfer to our hotel in Paro.

Overnight: Khangkhu Resort
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 07~Sightseeing of Paro

We begin from the legendary Dungtse Temple. People believe that the hill that Dungtse Temple sits on resembles the head of a tortoise-shaped demon and so the temple was built there to subdue it.

Next, we visit the National Museum housed at Ta Dzong-that served as watchtower for the Rinpung Dzong in the past. The museum has a beautiful collection of books, murals, Bhutanese textiles, crafts, weapons, olden utensils, stuffed animals and a rich gallery of philatelic collection. From here, we descend to Rinpung Dzong which is the district headquarter and also the seat of District's religious body.

Next destination is the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong- a 16th Century monastery built to mark the Bhutanese victory over Tibetan invaders, and also the ancient Kyichu Lhakhang Temple – another of the 108 temples that King Songsten Gampo of Tibet constructed in a single night in the 7th century!

Today, we will also visit a typical farmhouse and meet the farm family. Bhutanese farmhouses are colorful and built without the use of a single nail!

Overnight: Khangkhu Resort
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 08~Hike the Taktsang Monastery aka Tiger's Nest

Today, we will go on a hike to the legendary Taktsang Monastery, also known as the Tiger’s Nest. The Monastery stands at an altitude of (10,080ft/3150m) up on a vertical rock face overlooking the valley. The location is a legendary site where Guru Padmasambhava, flew from Tibet on a tiger’s back and fought the five demons that were creating an obstacle to the path of Buddhism. After a 1-2 hour arduous climb, you will arrive at the cafeteria, which serves as a beautiful viewpoint for the Takstang Monastery. A pony ride may be taken up to this point but for the rest of the trek up to the Monastery and the return trek down; you will be on your own. You will spend some time in the cafeteria, gazing at the Monastery, and will have great photo opportunities. There will be refreshment drinks, and then you will continue on the hike a further 45 minutes to get a closer look of the Monastery and the surrounding temples. The return trip is all downhill and takes about half the time it took the way up.

Rest of the day is open for your interests. If anybody is interested in visiting the town for last minute shopping or take a stroll through, your driver will be happy to take you to the city.

Optional Hot Stone Bath:
Tonight you may experience a traditional Hot Stone Bath inside a farmhouse. Hot stone baths are an ancient Bhutanese method of curing skin ailments, joint pains, hypertension, stomach disorders, arthritis, and many other minor diseases. Even you don’t have any of these issues; this will help you feel very relaxed after a busy day’s schedule. It costs around US$ 30-35 per person, and advance notice is required. 

Overnight: Khangkhu Resort
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 09~Depart Paro

After breafast, you are transferred to the airport in time for flight to your next destination. You can fly out to Bangkok, Delhi or Kolkatta. Flight arrangement will be made by us on additional cost.

Meals : Breakfast

Trip Map

Trip Info

Trip includes

  • Eight nights of hotel accommodation on a double occupancy basis.
  • Three meals a day. 
  • English speaking local expert tour leader
  • All transfers and sightseeing by a private vehicle
  • Bhutan visa and government royalty
  • Sightseeing admission tickets.
  • Daily bottled water (2 each)
  • Service of airfare booking

The trip does not include

  • Services in the gateway cities.
  • Airfare
  • Drinks, tipping, laundry, phone and other expenses of personal nature.
  • Travel insurance
  • Extra expenses caused due to nature and unforeseen events
  • Optional items as indicated in the itinerary

The trip difficulty, road, and transport

Anyone with a reasonable health condition can sign up for this trip, as this is mostly a motor vehicle-based tour with some optional hikes. You attain the highest altitude at Cheli La pass (3810m/12,497 ft) where you have a brief stop only, and so we will generally experience no altitude issues as we sleep in much lower elevation. 

There are a few hiking excursions on this trip. If you are not into hiking, you can stay back with the driver. Traveling from one city to another requires 3-7 hours driving, and some parts of the road may be under paved or damaged due to monsoon erosion. Roads are often carved into hills and follow rivers. If you are traveling during monsoon, there can be temporary blockade due to monsoon rain. Currently, the repair works are underway and so; we can expect some travel delays.

The transport will be a mini-van or a Japanese coaster bus, depending on the final group size. Our driver will be a skillful person with years of experience in driving in Bhutan roadways. The driver may speak little or no English. The guide and driver are not the same people.

Accommodations

In Bhutan, the majority of the hotels are small properties, rated as three-stars by local standard and are adequately comfortable. They are built and decorated traditionally. You will have an en suite bathroom with running hot and cold water. Most of the hotels provide free Wi-Fi, and some may charge a nominal fee. The lobbies and receptions are cozy. During the winter, they provide space heaters to keep the rooms warm. Some hotels use traditional style Bukhari firewood stove. We do not expect our hotel to have a gift shop for "sundry" items.

Meals

Our tour features three meals a day, and we expect to eat most meals at our hotel. They serve meals in a buffet or set menu and include rice dishes, curried or stir-fried vegetables, noodles, bread, one or two meat dishes, etc. All meats are imported, and so they tend to be chewy. Local style meat sauces can contain bones. While in Paro or Thimphu, we will arrange some meals outside the hotel. During a long road trip or a hiking excursion, your guide will bring prepared meals. Note: There are limited choices for food, and the chefs lack skill in cooking western style dishes. Bhutan is not a destination for fine dining.

Guide

Our guides are college educated locals, proficient in English and trained and licensed by local tourism authorities. Most importantly they are friendly and committed to delivering the best services.

International and internal airfares

The trip cost does not include the airfares. You need to buy your return airfare from your home country to a gateway city, such as Bangkok (or Kathmandu or Delhi or Kolkatta). Unless you are traveling to India or Nepal first, the most popular gateway to Bhutan is Bangkok as there are at least two flights a day from here. The flights from Kathmandu or Delhi operate only a few days of the week. We will book your return airfare from Bangkok to Bhutan and bill you separately. Please, allow minimum night stay in the gateway city before and after your trip for a safe connection with your international flight.

Passport and Visa

Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the last day of your trip, and there must be a minimum of two blank visa pages for the visa sticker, entry and exit seals. We apply for the Bhutan visa in advance for you, and we will email you the approval 3 to 4 weeks before the trip. Your passport gets actual visa seal upon arrival at the Paro airport. If you are traveling via Indian cities, you need to obtain an Indian visa before your travel begins. If you are going via Kathmandu, Nepal, you can get a Nepal visa upon arrival. 

Travel agent eligibility

You must be an active and full-time travel agent with IATA/CLIA/TRUE Code certified. You are allowed to bring one companion with you who could be your friend or family or a client.

Group Size

We guarantee a departure with a minimum of four participants. The maximum group size will not exceed sixteen people.

Booking/Deposit

We request an initial deposit of US$ 300 along with a completed booking form and a passport scan. The second payment will be for the internal airfare when it's due. The balance payment is due 90 days before departure. Credit card payment attracts an additional fee which ranges from 3 to 4%. We accept the payment from the traveler's account only. We reserve the right to refuse credit card payment in some cases.

Cancellation and Refund

If you need to withdraw from a trip, you need to notify us in writing by email or fax. The cancellation fee structure will be as follows.
One hundred eighty days before departure: No penalty.
Ninety days before departure: US$ 150 (Administrative Fee)
60-89 day's prior departure: US$ 300 or 25% of the land cost whichever is higher.
Forty-five days to 59 days prior departure: US$ 450 or 50% of the land cost whichever is higher.
Thirty days to 44 days before departure: US$ 600 or 75% of the land cost whichever is higher.
Less than 30 days: 100%

An airfare cancellation fee will be as per respective airlines policy. Some hotels may ask a nonrefundable deposit which will be communicated to you accordingly.

Travel Protection Plan

We do our best to ensure that your trip goes as smoothly as planned. However, there may be a chance of unforeseen events and conditions such as illness, accident, inclement weather, flight cancellation, missed-connection, or loss of baggage, etc. that may cause interruption, delay or total cancellation of your trip putting your hard earned travel investment in jeopardy. It’s also possible that you may need medical assistance, emergency evacuation or medical transportation when you get ill or involve in an accident when you are traveling in remote areas. Far & High's trip cost does not cover any of these expenses or losses, and so we strongly recommend you that you should protect yourself and your travel investment against those unfavorable conditions.

Accomodation

Khang Residency Thimphu
Khang Residency Thimphu
Khangkhu Resort Paro
Khangkhu Resort Paro
Drubchu Resort Punakha
Drubchu Resort Punakha
dewachen250
Dewachen Hotel Phobjikha

Note: The hotels listed are our preferred properites but they are subject to change.

Review

  • There is no any review on this trip.
Write Review

Quick Inquiry Form

If you have any quick questions about this trip, please submit this form and you will get our response within 24 business hours.

Please type your full name.
Invalid email address.
Invalid Input
Invalid Input

Any Question? Feel free to call our travel experts.

1 866 838 5818
(Toll Free from USA & Canada)

612 605 4428 (t)

Quick Inquiry

If you have any quick questions about this trip, please submit this form and you will get our response within 24 business hours.

Please type your full name.
Invalid email address.
Invalid Input
Invalid Input
Invalid Input
Bottom Logo

United States

6603 Queen Ave S, Suite 2
Minneapolis, MN 55423
Tel: 1 612 605 4428
Fax: 612 807 1137

Nepal

Kapoordhara, Samakhusi, Kathmandu
Tel (977 1) 4351780, 4381823
Fax +977-1-4381369

Bhutan

KMT Building, Nordzin Lam, Thimphu
Tel (975-2) -329098 / +975-77204087
Fax (+975) 2 337004

Tibet

B5-1-2, B3 dong, Renchen garden,
No 13 Jiangsu road Lhasa Tibet China.
Tel: +86-(891)-6836609,
Fax: +86-(891)-6836619


Far & High is member of

ASTA TOP NTA Midwest Bbb ccra True
1 866 838 5818
(Toll free from USA & Canada)

Connect with us @

Facebook Twitter Google Plus

We Accept

Card