1 866 838 5818 Toll Free from USA and Canada

Bhutan Sampler


7 days 6 nights

Code BCT04

Category Bhutan Classic Tours

  • Group Size 1-16 persons
  • Difficulty Level 2
  • Highest Altitude 3100m (10,168ft) at Dhochula Pass
  • Trip Starts From Paro, Bhutan
  • Trip Ends At Paro, Bhutan
  • Type Tours
  • Destination Thimpu Punakha Paro
Dates & Prices

Overview

Bhutan Sampler is a cultural tour with hiking opportunities in Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang-the prominent towns in western Bhutan. We spend two nights in each place. The trip features  Dzongs (forts), temples and monasteries, short and brisk day hikes to quaint villages, ridge top monasteries, traditional arts, and craft workshops, and the colorful local markets. Hiking is optional, and you will have quite a few options to choose from- easy to moderate to strenuous!

We will have opportunities to connect with the locals and learn their ancient culture and traditions. Meet the monks and learn about the monastic lifestyles. We will also have the chance to visit the farm families. You can add on some experiences such as traditional hot stone bath, white water rafting, participate in blessing ceremony and pray flag hosting, etc. on additional cost.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01~Arrive in Paro and Transfer to Thimphu

Your flight to Paro includes the breathtaking views of the majestic peaks of the Himalaya as the plane navigates through Bhutanese sky!

On arrival at Paro, Bhutan, airport, meet your guide and driver after clearing immigration and customs. You’ll need to present your Bhutan eVisa document, which we will email to you about three to four weeks before the trip date. In Paro, you are required to produce the visa document again, and there you will get the visa sticker on your passport.

After introductions, your guide and driver will transfer you to a local restaurant for lunch. After lunch, visit the National Museum of Paro which gives an excellent introduction to Bhutan's history, culture and religion. The museum exhibits a good collection of Bhutanese textiles, manuscripts, books, murals, armors, crafts, traditional utensils, philatelic collections, and more. Then we can either descend or visit the impressive Rinpung Dzong Fortress that houses the office of the district administration and religious body.

Now, we take 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 a multi-talent person: a saint,  physician, and teacher! Until today, his descendants own and maintain the temple.

In Thimphu, we’ll have time to settle in before a walking tour of the tiny 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 or similar
Meals : Lunch, Dinner
Day 02~Thimpu: Sightseeing and optional hiking

After breakfast, with our guide and driver, the adventures begin as we get a feel for the city. On the weekend, it's worth visiting the weekend market. Archery is the Bhutanese national sport, and we’ll hope for matches while we’re there. We’ll visit a small handmade paper factory across the river to see the traditional Bhutanese paper making method that uses “Daphne” or mulberry plants.

We return to the town and visit the National Institute Zorig Chusum that offers a six-year course on Bhutan's traditional arts and crafts that include painting, wood carving, embroidery, and statue making. Then we head to the Folk Heritage Museum, a three-story mud and timber building that replicates a century-old traditional farmhouse that gives us a glimpse of not only the lives of ancient Bhutanese people, but also many rural people even today.

The afternoon will bring us to a grand panoramic view of the valley, followed by a short 10-minute hike through the forest to visit the Takin Sanctuary. Takin – a kind of sheep by way of antelope, are the National animals of Bhutan and believe to exist only in Bhutan Himalaya. On the way back to our hotel, we’ll stop at the Zilukha Nunnery in Drubthob Goemba, home to 40-60 Buddhist nuns.

Next stop – the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, dispensary of traditional Bhutanese herbal and other medicines; then finally the Trasichoe Dzong that houses the Royal Throne, National Assembly, and the seat of Chief Abbot of the central monastic body.

An option: hiking enthusiasts keen to experience a monastic lifestyle away from the crowds of town can take a half-day hike to Tango Goemba monastery. You’ll miss some sights listed above; and if anyone is not hiking, can stay behind with the driver. Tango Goema Monastery is Bhutan's highest learning center for Buddhist studies. All Je Khenpo, the religious head of Bhutan, must complete a nine-year program here and a three-year, three-month, three-day in mediation at the nearby Cheri Goemba Monastery! With luck, the monks will be in recess, and we can join them for tea. Cheri Goemba Monastery sits atop an adjacent hill, and if you wish, you can attempt this hike as well. Allow another two hours for this trip.

Are you interested in Buddhist astrology? On our way back, we can stop at Pangri Zampa Temple-an astrology school for the state clergy. More than a hundred monks study astrology in this center and public are welcome for astrology consultation with advance notice. There is no fixed structure of fee, but they expect some donation.

Overnight: Khang Residency or similar
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 03~Drive across Dhochula pass to Punakha

(77 km/ 48 miles, 3 hrs.)

Following breakfast, we begin a scenic drive to Punakha, the former winter capital of Bhutan. As we leave Thimphu behind, the road gradually winds up through villages and pine forests to Dochula Pass (3100m/10168 ft.), marked by 108 Buddhist shrines, flickering with sacred prayers flags offered by the Buddhist devotees. We’ll hang our prayer flags. On a clear day, the pass offers a superb panorama of the snow-capped mountains and the valleys.

The road drops slowly through the changing vegetation to the sub-tropical lowlands, and two hours later, we will be in Punakha. After -lunch at our resort, we start with a pleasant hike to the Chime Lhakhang. It's less than 25-minutes from the main road, and the trail goes through paddy fields and villages. It may look bizarre, but you will see the houses with the phallic symbol painted on their walls and doors! You might even see the door handles or knobs carved out in the shape of a phallus! Ask your guide why. The temple-also called 'Fertility Temple' is associated with the Lama Drukpa Kuenley who is famously by the nick-name "the Divine Madman"!

Next, visit Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery-perched on a ridge overlooking the valley and the views from here are superb. The resident nuns here are friendly, study Buddhism and also learn some skills such as embroidery, tailoring, etc.

Depending on available time and your interests, your guide may suggest other sites or activities.

Overnight: Drubchu Resort or similar
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 04~Sightseeing and hiking in Punakha

We spend one more day in Punakha, exploring its attractions. You can choose to visit the attractions by car or go on hiking.

You can visit Ritsha Village-made up of mud and stone foundations. It's a model rice-growing village in western Bhutan. Each house has its vegetable garden and also fruit bearing plants-oranges, lemon, squash, papaya, etc. As you stroll through the village, you will experience villagers are shifting from traditional farming method to use of modern equipment such as mechanized power-tillers, etc. We will stop to chat with friendly locals and check out their dwellings.

Short and moderate hiking takes you to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten situated atop a beautiful hillock overlooking the valley. From the parking, it takes about 45-60 minutes up, but return trip down should take less than 30 minutes! We cross the Mo Chu river by a suspension bridge and then follow the trail amidst the paddy fields first, and then the path twirls up around the hill. Built by the Queen Mother, the temple is an example of Bhutan's most beautiful traditional architecture.

Are you looking for a longer hike? From the Khamsum Chorten, you can continue further up to Giligang Temple that can take two or three hours, depending on your pace. It's a 300-year-old, privately owned temple and taken care of by the same family for generations. There are numerous places along the way to stop and enjoy the inspiring views of the surrounding temples, rice paddies, rolling hills, and green forests. We enjoy our picnic lunch here and perhaps invite the owner couple of the temple to join the meal. From Giligang, the trail continues pleasurably downhill along the mountainside until you reach Changyul Bridge (1 hour) just before Punakha Dzong where we meet our driver and transfer back to the hotel. It's a strenuous hike but enjoyable!

Back down, visit the stunning Punakha Dzong, probably the most impressive of all the Dzong (fortress) architectures of Bhutan. It has served as the winter capital of Bhutan, and even today the chief abbot makes it his winter residence.

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)

There are quite a few other shorter hikes, 1-2 hours, such as Mendegang, Nobgang, etc. Consult with your guide and choose the destination that fits your interest and pace. 

If you are not into hiking, you can visit the quaint villages of Rinchengang and Talo and spend time with the monks of Daly Gomba. If you are in Punakha during the weekend, the Saturday market of Kuruthang and Sunday Market in Wangdue Phodrang are worth visiting.

Overnight: Drubchu Resort or similar
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 05~Retrace our drive to Paro

(142 km/89 miles, 5 hrs.)

After breakfast, we retrace our drive across Dhochula Pass to Paro. Shortly before the pass, we can stop at Lamperi Botanical Garden that preserves the rich fauna including Rhododendron flowers (Highly recommended during Spring-March, April and May). We will have another photo opportunity in Dhochula pass where we will stop for lunch. 

Check into your accommodations and balance of the day is for rest.

Overnight: Khangkhu Resort or similar
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 06~ Paro: Hike Taktsang Monastery, a.k.a Tiger's Nest

A special day, with an early start. After breakfast, we’ll hike to the famous Taktsang Monastery, also known as the Tiger's Nest, a highlight of any trip to Bhutan. The monastery dramatically sits on the edge of a 4000-foot cliff above the valley floor; it is an unbelievable sight. The hike up is less than three hours. With a prior arrangement, ponies can take us two-thirds of the way up, but no further. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, known as Guru Rinpoche by Tibetans and Bhutanese, flew on a tigress from Tibet and landed at the monastery’s site. Guru meditated in a cave here, it is said, and subdued the local demons and established the supremacy of Buddhism in Bhutan.

On the way back to the town, we will the ancient Kyichu Lakhang Temple, notable as one 108 temples that King Songsten Gampo of Tibet built miraculously over a single night in the 7th century to subdue a demon!

This afternoon, visit a typical Bhutanese farm family and their colorful farmhouse, made up of wood without the use of a single nail! With prior arrangement, we can share a traditional meal with the family.

Experience Traditional Hot Stone Bath (Optional)
After such an active day, we recommend a traditional Bhutanese Hot stone bath, an ancient Bhutanese method of curing skin ailments, joint pains, hypertension, stomach disorders, arthritis, and many other diseases. Your guide needs one-day advance notice to arrange the hot stone bath for you. The estimated cost is approximately $ 30 per person.

Overnight: Khangkhu Resort or similar
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 07~ Depart Paro

After breakfast, your guide and driver will transfer you to the airport in time for your flight to the next destination.

Overnight: Khangkhu Resort or similar
Meals : Breakfast

Trip Map

Trip Info

Trip Includes

  • Six nights first class (3-star) hotel accommodation, based on double occupancy.
  • Meals: Full board (3 meals a day).
  • All transfers and sightseeing as on itinerary.
  • English-speaking local guides.
  • Bhutan visa fee and government royalty.
  • Sightseeing admission fees.
  • Service of in-tour airfare booking.

Trip Does Not Include

  • Drinks, tips and other personal expenses such as phone, laundry, etc.
  • Extra expenses or loss due to nature and unforeseen events beyond the control of our management.
  • Travel Insurance.
  • International airfares and airport taxes.
  • Hotels in the gateway cities before and after the trip.

Note on Itinerary

We do our best to adhere to the itinerary but it should be taken as a general guideline in terms of what you expect to do or see during the tour and may differ in the ground from exact sequence or order of the sights to the overnight places depending on the local conditions. As we continuously work to improve the tour, the final tour itinerary may be different which we will send to you about two months before the trip date.

Trip Activity Level.

This trip is motor vehicle-based cultural sightseeing with some short hikes and village visits; it is suitable for all travelers in general good health. Hiking to Takstang Monastery in Paro can be strenuous, but you can rent ponies that can take you about two-thirds of the trail up but not further and not on the return trip down. Some sights require climbing of stairs.

The longest drive in this trip will be five hours, from Punakha to Paro and other days, we have a shorter ride. We will undoubtedly have occasional stops for photography and refreshments. Roads in the Himalaya are narrow, and some portions may be rough and damaged. The trip doesn't need you to be athletic; nonetheless, you are expected to participate in sightseeing and hiking, and so it's advisable that you keep yourself fit. If you are not leading an active life, please, start some exercises like jogging, swimming, cycling or practice some aerobics in the months before the trip. It’s your responsibility to determine your fitness for this trip. If you have any health conditions, please consult your physician before you sign up for this trip.

Accommodations and facilities

The hotels are comfortable 3-star properties by local standard. Most hotels are locally managed small properties with traditional decor and friendly services and ensure adequate comfort. You will have en suite bathroom with 24-hour running hot and cold water. There may be the disparity in the rooms and travelers of the same group may end up in different types. 

Tour Guides

Our Tour Guides are local people with college degrees, government certifications, and experience with and knowledge of the destinations and their history, culture, and religion. Our guides are, just as importantly, easy-going, detailed oriented, patient, and committed to a high level of customer service. They will uncover the wonders of the destinations that you would never find on your own, and make sure your tour is without a hitch. Your guide will also deal with the bureaucracy and passport or permit control, carry all necessary documents and vouchers, and stay alert to road and weather conditions. Note: Guides will change in each country, due to local licensing requirements.

Vehicle

We use clean, reliable, comfortable cars for all transfers and tours, often the Toyota Hiace microbus (capacity 8-9 persons) and Toyota Coaster Bus (capacity up to 20 persons); depending on group size, we might also use Japanese-made sedans, SUVs or minivans. We provide separate drivers and guides. Our drivers might speak little or no English, but they know the roads and are, in a pinch, mechanically skillful.

Altitude sickness and Health Concerns

The chances of altitude sickness in this trip are very slim. There are two occasions when you are at high elevations; Dhochula Pass(10,171 ft.) and Taktshang Monastery (10,240 ft.) but you should acclimate before that, and we do not spend a long time there. All the towns where we overnight are 8,000 ft and below where there is no risk altitude.

There are no mandatory vaccinations required for traveling to Bhutan. However, you may consider vaccination against rabies and Hep A. We recommend that travelers with cardiac-pulmonary issues or any other medical conditions consult their physician before departure.

You’ll be glad if you start some physical exercises in the months before leaving; jogging, swimming, cycling, hiking, and aerobics are all helpful. Fitness makes for a better journey and helps you accommodate the altitudes. 

International and Internal Flights

The trip starts and completes in Paro, Bhutan. Flights to Paro arrives from Bangkok, Kathmandu (Nepal) or Kolkata and New Delhi, India. Most travelers prefer to fly from Bangkok as there are more flights than from elsewhere. We will book the airfare from Bangkok to Paro and return for you and bill you separately. We are also able to help you with international airfare booking and stop over hotels or sightseeing in the gateway cities.

Visa and Permits

Your passport must be valid for at least for six more months when you return from the trip. Bhutan visa is a part of the tour package, and we obtain it for you. We will email a copy of the document to you about three or four weeks before your trip date. You will get an actual visa seal on your passport upon arrival at Paro Airport immigration. Make sure you have two blank visa pages for each country you stop in during this trip.

Booking and payment schedule

When you are sure you are traveling, please don't delay in booking so that we can confirm you in preferred hotels and flights. We request an initial deposit of US$300 with completed booking form and passport scan. We advise you of the second payment which will be for the internal air tickets. Balance payment is due 90 days before your departure. Reservation booked within 90 days prior departure requires making full payment at the time of booking. We request balance payment by personal check or wire transfer, and if it's to be made by credit card, it costs an additional 3.5% to cover the merchant's fee. We reserve the right to refuse some form of payment.

Cancellation and refund

We must receive a cancellation request in written form (by email or fax). The cancellation fee structure will be as following: 

  • Ninety days prior departure: Administrative fee US$ 150 per person.
  • 60-89 day's before departure: US$ 250 or 25% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Forty-five days to 59 days before 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%
  • Visa fee is non-refundable.

Cancellation and refund of air tickets will be as per airline policy, and the consolidator levies $25 in fee. For details, please view booking and cancellation terms and conditions

Accomodation

  • Hotel Khang Residency, Thimphu

    Hotel Khang Residency, Thimphu
  • Drubchu Resort, Punakha

    Drubchu Resort Punakha
  • Khangkhu Resort, Paro

    Khangkhu Resort, Paro

Add Ons

Traditional Hot stone Bath

US$ 30

hotstone bathOn your trip to Bhutan, you can experience a traditional hot stone bath in a farmhouse or at your hotel.

The hot stone bath is a traditional method to cure skin ailments, joint pain, arthritis, muscle ache etc. and provides relaxation to your body and mind after a busy day's activities. The tub is usually carved out of a tree trunk. 

They first heat the natural spring rocks to red hot and immerse in the tub. The water is usually fresh water from the spring. They continue adding stone until the water reaches to the right temperature. They also add some herbal leaves.

After the water reaches to right temperature, you enter the tub and relax for about an hour. Your host also will serve you homemade liquor.

 

Rafting in Mo Chu River Punakha

US$ 150

Mo Chu rives originates in the mountainous hills of Northern Bhutan and offers excellent rafting opportunity to the beginners and those who just want to experience white water adventures. No skills or previous experience is required.The trip can be done any time of the year.

rafting mo chu river

The put-in point is just below the suspension bridge at the trail head leading to the Khamsum Yuelley temple.There are 10 rapids of class 2 - 2+ in the stretch of 6 miles.As you raft down the river, you will experience the incredibly blue water, breath-taking alpine scenery, sighting world’s rarest birds and amazing rapids on the backdrop of striking 17th century Punakha Dzong (Fortress). The trip will be led by one or two experience rafting guides and also accompanied by a kayak. Total rafting duration: 30 minutes.

Rafting gears, including safety jacket and helmet are included.

Review

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

Trip Map

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

Similar Trips

Bottom Logo

(Formerly Highland Asia Travel)

United States

8030 Old Cedar Ave S, Suite 123
Minneapolis, MN 55425
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

Toll Free

1 866 838 5818

(USA & Canada Only)

Connect with us @

Facebook Twitter Google Plus

We Accept

Card