Journeys: Wonders of Bhutan 29 March to 7 April 2025

10 Days

Set out on an adventure through the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, the only country in the world that measures its progress in terms of happiness. Explore timeless mountain villages, spectacular fortresses, and ornate shrines as you travel across this bastion of Buddhist culture, and meet local people from different walks of life to gain insights into the secrets of Bhutan’s wellbeing.

  • Bhutan
  • 10
  • 29 March to 7 April 2025
  • Private Journey(PJ)

Overview

Travel Dates 29 March to 7 April 2025

Price from $7529 pp Twin Share

Limited Solo places from $8828

Conditions

  • Private Travel with Me tour operated by G Adventures/National Geographic
  • Based on departure 29 March 2025
  • Minimum of 8 and Maximum of 15 guests
  • A non refundable deposit of $500 is required within 7 days of booking
  • Finals are due 15 January 2025
  • Prices and Itinerary are subject to availability and subject to change without notice
  • Amendment and cancellation fees will apply both from the Supplier and Travel with Me
  • Cancellations prior to final payment will incur loss of deposit and after final payment, all monies are non refundable.
  • Please ask your Travel with Me, Consultant, for a competitive Travel Insurance quote as insurance is compulsory on all Travel with Me Exclusive and Private Journeys
  • Please ensure you have a current passport with a minimum of 6 months validity beyond the return date of your journey.
  • Visas may be required and are at an additional cost

Highlights from Journeys: Wonders of Bhutan

  • 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.

Highlights

  • Family Farm Meal
  • Meet a Buddhist Monk
  • Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery Hike

Itinerary

Arrive at any time and transfer to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital. Time permitting, take a guided walk around town.

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.

Approximate Altitude: Paro 2,300m

Private VehicleParo – Thimphu 1h 30m-2h

Board a private vehicle and transfer from Paro to Thimphu.

Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting  1h

The adventure begins tonight. Feel free to explore before your welcome meeting, but make sure you’re back in time to meet the group. Check for the meeting time on the welcome note at the hotel. After introductions, your CEO will review the details of your tour. Please note that normal check-in times apply at our start hotels, but you can usually store your luggage for the day if you arrive early.

Accommodation

The Capital Hotel (or similar)

Dinner

This morning, meet a Buddhist monk and scholar to discuss Buddhist beliefs and ways of life in Bhutan. Then drive to scenic Punakha, crossing the lofty Dochu La pass and enjoying stunning views of the Himalaya through flickering prayer flags. Settle into your hotel and drive to Lobesa after lunch. From here, hike up to Chimi Lhakhang, a 15th-century monastery dedicated to the Buddhist saint Drukpa Kunley, known as the “Divine Madman.” Learn about his colourful, eccentric life, and witness women devotees who visit the monastery to receive blessings of fertility.

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.

Approx. Altitude: Punakha Valley 1,300m

Private Vehicle Thimphu – Punākha 6h-7h

Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.

Chime Lhakhang Visit Punākha 30m-1h

Take a short hike to Chime Lhakhang, temple of the “Divine Madman.” Built in 1499, it is mainly visited today by women as it is known as the temple of fertility.

Your Journeys Highlight Moment: 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.

Accommodation

Hotel Lobesa (or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Enjoy a full day of exploration in Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan. Visit the magnificent Punakha Dzong, or fortress, situated at the confluence of two important rivers. Drive to the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup nunnery, a meditation and training center for Buddhist nuns. Then drive to Wangdue Phodrang to discover the town’s dzong. In the afternoon, weave your way through rice terraces and pine forests to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, a cheerful temple perched on a picturesque mountain ridge overlooking the Punakha Valley.

Private Vehicle Punākha – Chendebi

Enjoy the scenery of you private vehicle towards Pelela, where you will rejoin the Trans Bhutan Trail to hike the rest of the way to Chendebi.

Punakha Dzong Visit Punākha

Visit Punakha Dzong, the winter seat of the Je Khenpo and the Monk Body, remarkably located between the rivers of the Mo (female) Chu and Pho (male) Chu. It is the second oldest and second largest dzong (fortress) in Bhutan and one of its most majestic structures, housing many sacred relics. It is also the winter capital of the Je Khenpo (chief abbot). Built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in around 1637. Arguably, it is the most beautiful Dzong in the country. The Dzong guards Bhutan’s most treasured relic, the Rangjung Kharsapani, an image of Chenresig kept away from the public in the utse (tower). It has survived Tibetan invasions, numerous fires, floods and a glacial lake burst. The Dzong served as the capital and seat of the Bhutanese Government until the early 1950s; and the coronation of the His Majesty the First Druk, Gyalpo Ugyen Wangchuck, took place here.

Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery Punākha

Enjoy a drive and visit to the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery and Temple complex. Perched on a ridge amid pine trees and overlooking the 3 Valleys of Toebesa, Punakha and Wangdi Phodrang, the complex is a meditation and traditional arts training center for nuns. Enjoy the peace and quiet and learn about the nunnery which was established by the Royal Grandfather.

Wangdue Phodrang Visit Wangdue Phodrang

Visit Wangdue, one of the major towns and district headquarters of Western Bhutan. We make a short stop here and visit the Wangdue Phodrang dzong.

Hike and Visit Khamsum Yueley ChortenPunākha 2h-3h

Cross the suspension bridge and then hike to Khamsum Yueley Chorten. Enjoy hike through rice terraces, farms, and deep pine forest until we reach the stupa, which was consecrated in December 1999. Take a moment to breathe and admire the view, it’s superb.

Accommodation

Hotel Lobesa (or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Travel to the Gangtey Valley—also called Phobjikha Valley—the winter habitat of rare black-necked cranes. If your trip falls between October and February, you’ll have a chance to visit the information center of the Royal So­ciety for Protection of Nature (RSPN) to learn about these graceful, vulnerable birds, which migrate from Tibet to Bhutan every year.

Approx. Altitude: Gangtey Valley 2,900m

Private VehiclePunākha – Gangtey Gonpa 3h-4h 78km

Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.

Black-Necked Crane Centre VisitGangtey Gonpa

Visit the Royal So­ciety for Protection of Nature’s (RSPN) Black-Necked Crane Centre. Learn more about these birds and their environment. Please note that birds are in abundance only during the migration season, between October and February.

Accommodation

ABC Eco Lodge (or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Set out to discover the stunning Gangtey Goempa, one of the oldest Nyingma monasteries in Bhutan. This 17th-century temple recently underwent an elaborate renovation. Afterward, we’ll walk across Phobjikha Valley to Khewa Valley, stopping at an old temple on the way to make an offering. This evening, explore Khewa village and enjoy a cooking demonstration and delicious home-cooked dinner at a family farmhouse.

Private VehicleGangtey Gonpa

Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.

Gangtey Goempa Monastery Visit Gangtey Gonpa

Enjoy a visit to the monastery of Gangtey Goempa, built in the 16th century and renovated and consecrated in 2008. Be sure to check out the amazing relics inside — they’re said to be the most sacred in all of Bhutan. The architectural design is impressive, too.

Phobjikha and Khewa Valley Hike Gangtey Gonpa 2h-3h

Enjoy a walk across Phobjikha Valley and into the Khewa Valley, where we visit an old temple and offer a (compulsory) donation – a necessity to keep the monastery running.

Khewa Village Visit Gangtey Gonpa

Enjoy a short visit to the rural village of Khewa, where their main production is potato farming and dairy products. Get a taste of Bhutanese village life.

Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Family Farm Meal

Visit a family farmhouse in Gangtey Valley for a cooking demonstration and traditional meal. As Bhutanese food is usually hot and spicy, we learn how to make ama datshi (chili cheese), one of the most popular dishes in Bhutanese cooking. Enjoy this simple but tasty meal and conversation with local people, who are always happy to welcome visitors.

Accommodation

ABC Eco Lodge (or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Return to Thimpu and take in the golden splendour of the Buddha Dordenma, a massive Buddha statue that graces a hill overlooking the city. Visit the National Institute for Zorig Chusum, an arts and crafts school where we can watch students practicing traditional arts such as woodworking, painting, and ceramics. Later, enjoy a talk on Gross National Happiness, an index used by the Bhutanese to measure the nation’s progress.

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.

Approx. Altitude: Thimpu 2,300m

Private Vehicle Gangtey Gonpa – Thimphu 3h-4h

Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.

Buddha Point Visit – Thimphu

Buddha Point is home to Thimphu’s most recognized landmark, the Buddha Dordenma. Guarding the entry to the Thimphu valley, this 51-meter (167ft) gilded bronze statue is filled with 125,000 miniature statues and sits atop a three-storey base housing a chapel and thousands of donated statuettes. The statue was commissioned to mark His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck’s 60th birthday and was originally made in China before being transported to Thimphu in pieces.

The massive Buddha statue in Thimphu made of bronze and gold. Take lots of pictures – it’s beautiful!

Institute for Zorig Chusum Visit – Thimphu

Enjoy a visit to the Institute for Zorig Chusum, an arts and craft school that’s a highlight for those interested in Asian art. The institute was established in 1971 to ensure the continuity of Bhutanese traditional arts. Students study here for 4-6 yrs in various mediums. Explore the institute opt to purchase arts and crafts from the shop.

Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Lecture on Gross National Happiness

Listen to one of the division heads or senior researchers at the government organization, Center for Bhutan Studies and GNH Research, give a lecture about the measurement that seeks a balanced approach to development, harmonizing material and non-material values.

Accommodation

The Capital Hotel (or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning, visit the National Memorial Chorten, one of Thimpu’s most recognizable landmarks and a focal point of daily spiritual life. Then venture off the beaten path towards the remote Haa Valley, stopping for a night in charming Haa town. Explore Lhakhang Nagpo, the “black temple,” and Lhakhang Karpo, the “white temple”—two ancient Buddhist shrines which are said to be among the 108 temples built in one day by the seventh century Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo.

Approx. Altitude: Haa Valley 2,600m

 

Private Vehicle Thimphu – Haa Dzongkhag 6h-8h

Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.

Haa Valley Temples and ShrinesHaa Dzongkhag

Explore beautiful Bhutanese temples and shrines in Haa town including, the Lhakhang Nakpo (Black temple) and Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple).

Memorial Chorten Visit Thimphu

The chorten is one of the most prominent religious structures in Thimphu, and for local Bhutanese it is a popular part of their daily prayers. Watch locals walk around the Chorten, spinning the prayer wheels and meditating in this lovely and peaceful spot.

Accommodation

Haa Heritage Hotel (or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Drive into picturesque Haa Valley by way of the dramatic Chele La pass, one of the highest mountain roads in Bhutan. Hike through thick pine forests to the Kila nunnery, which clings to a rocky cliff. Later, return to Paro and visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the country’s oldest and most beautiful temples. Then head to a local archery ground to watch locals practice Bhutan’s national sport.

 

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

 

Private VehicleHaa Dzongkhag – Paro 2h-3h 65km

Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.

 

Kila Goempa Nunnery HikeHaa Dzongkhag 2h-3h

Hike through the deep forest of pine trees and rhododendrons to Kila Goempa nunnery (approx 2.5 hrs). It seems to cling to a rocky cliff and houses around 60-70 nuns. This is a moderate level hike through stunningly beautiful scenery.

 

Kyichu Lhakhang Temple Visit Paro

Enjoy a visit to one of Bhutan’s oldest and most beautiful temples. Built in the 7th century, Kyichu Lhakhang Temple boasts stunning artwork inside and throughout the courtyards.

 

Local Archery Grounds Visit Paro

As Bhutan’s national sport, a visit to a local archery ground is a must. Watch locals practice or compete with unbelievable accuracy and precision as they hit distant targets.

 

Accommodation

Resort Thim Dorji (or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today, we embark on a vigorous hike to Bhutan’s most iconic and revered site: the Taktsang Lhakhang or Tiger’s Nest Monastery, perched high above the Paro Valley. Visible from afar, this architectural masterpiece straddles a vertical granite cliff 2,000 feet above the valley floor. Later, drive the winding road to Drukgyal Dzong, a ruined fortress that once defended Paro Valley from Tibetan invasions.

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 gradually 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.

 

Private Vehicle Paro

Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.

 

Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery Hike Paro 6h 7km

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.

The group will hike from 2400m elevation and reach 3100m at the Taktsang Monastery before returning back to 2400m in the same day. The climb should take around 6 hours for a total distance of 7 km.

 

Drukgyal Dzong VisitParo

Drive the winding road to Drukgyal Dzong, a ruined fortress that once defended this valley from Tibetan invasions. In the early 1950s, Drukgyal Dzong was almost completely destroyed by fire.

 

Accommodation

Resort Thim Dorji (or similar)

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Depart at any time. Airport transfer is included.

Private Vehicle Paro – Paro Airport 30m

Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.

Breakfast

Tour Inclusions and Exclusions

Inclusions

  • Meet a Buddhist Monk, Thimphu
  • Family Farm Meal, Gangtey Gonpa
  • Lecture on Gross National Happiness, Thimphu
  • Arrival and departure transfer
  • Sustainable Development Fees
  • Visit the Rimpung Dzong
  • Hike to Punakha Dzong monastery and fertility shrine.
  • Visit the town of Wangdue and walk to Khamsum Yueley Chorten shrine.
  • Visit the village of Khewa.
  • Black-Necked Crane Centre visit.
  • Hike to the monastery of Gangtey Goempa.
  • Walk across Phobjikha and Khewa valleys.
  • Visit the National Library, the Institute for Zorig Chusum (arts and crafts) and the Thimphu Chorten.
  • Hike to Kila Goempa nunnery.
  • Explore shrines and temples of the Haa Valley.
  • Visit the fortress of Drukgyal Dzong and hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest).
  • Visit Kyichu Lhakhang Temple
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.

You can send your enquiry via the form below.

Journeys: Wonders of Bhutan 29 March to 7 April 2025