The fragrant perfumed Kingdom of Bhutan is considered The Last Shangri La on Earth. It’s an ancient empire secluded high in the Himalayas with mesmerizing natural beauty, no traffic, no pollution, 71% covered by forest with a rich, unique heritage centered around the Tibetan style of Buddhism. Bhutan is a true spiritual haven where one can discover a slice of inner peace. It is actually a very difficult country to get into, which is why we are working with the royal family to set up the best possible trip just for you. An experience you’ll never forget
Here's a day-by-day itinerary of the trip
Upon landing in Paro, Bhutan, known as the World’s Kingdom of Happiness, you will be met at the airport and whisked to our hotel, The Zhiwa Ling Ascent, located in the foothills of the Himalayas and overlooking the capital and largest city of Bhutan, Thimphu. After a refreshing lunch at the hotel, we will wander into town where we will enjoy shopping for custom “kira”, the national dress for women in Bhutan, at one of our favorite local design shops, Kelzang Textiles. Historically, kira are woven by hand in intricate patterns and folded and pinned with silver brooches. Ms. Kelzang creates these exquisite one-of-a-kind pieces herself with the help of her two daughters and the family will warmly assist you in finding a special kira that will be a unique trip keepsake (kira purchase included in your trip cost).
After a short rest in the afternoon, the group will gather for a traditional dinner served at 7:00PM at the hotel.
After breakfast at our hotel, we will drive by private transport to the Vast Art Gallery to visit with four up and coming Bhutanese artists. The Vast Art Gallery was created in 1998 by a group of professional artists as a not-for-profit organization with the primary aim to provide opportunity to the Bhutanese youth to participate and develop their potential artistic talents.
Afterwards, we will proceed to the Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Center. This humble cottage industry maintains three to four weavers at all times producing the finest traditional Bhutanese textiles. Watching these skilled artisans in their intricate work is fascinating and, it should be noted that the Center is known for creating ceremonial fabrics for Bhutanese royals, such as the traditional gho and kushturara for the king and queen.
In the early afternoon, we will join retired Lt. Colonel Kesang Choden as our instructor for a traditional cooking class at her personal home and outside on a traditional Bhutanese stove using all local and organic ingredients. Lt. Colonel Choden is a self-taught chef with decades of experience and her mission is to preserve and promote the Bhutanese cuisine and food culture. After our class, we will enjoy dining on the delicious meal created with the culinary assistance of our joyful hostess.
After a short afternoon rest, the group will muster to enjoy panoramic views from the hotel courtyard while imbibing in a Bhutanese whiskey tasting in front of a roaring bonfire. We will enjoy dinner at the hotel with two our hosts from the My Bhutan team.
After enjoying breakfast, we will venture via private transport to Asia’s tallest Buddha Dordenma Statue, which sits atop a gilded meditation hall overlooking the Southern approach to Thimphu and providing beautiful views of the city. The massive, golden Buddha is dedicated to bestowing blessings, peace, and happiness to the entire world.
After the opportunity to meditate or simply just stand in awe of the gigantic statue, we will savor lunch with members of BAOWE (Bhutan Association of Women Entrepreneurs), an association that works towards developing a socially conscious driven private sector by promoting women entrepreneurs at the grassroots level. Their work contributes to poverty reduction by enabling women to be self-reliant by operating businesses from a GNH (Gross National Happiness) perspective.
After lunch, we will hike a portion of the Debsi Trail, a part of the recently opened sacred Trans Bhutan Trial, the origins of which can be traced back to when it was a part of the ancient Silk Road. The trail originally connected Dzongs (fortresses) of the nine Dzongkhags (districts) and served as a pilgrimage route for Buddhist monks. We will enjoy not only a journey through Bhutan’s rich culture and history on this trail, but with picture-perfect panoramic views of lush valleys and highest mountain peaks.
After exploring cultural heritage sites and pristine vistas on this incredible hike, we will enjoy free time and perhaps some relaxation via a spa treatment* or two at the hotel. Since we will be traveling to a new hotel tomorrow, we will be feted this evening with a large farewell feast at the hotel. (not included)
After breakfast at our hotel, we will carve our way over mountain passes to the majestic town of Punakha, situated at the juncture of two beautiful rivers (the Pho and Mo Chhu rivers). Along the way, we will stop to experience the Meditation caves at Dochula Pass (3100m) and to enjoy the 360-degree panoramic view of the snow-laden giant Himalayas.
The Lobesa Hotel, perched on the slopes of plantations, overlooking the Punakha Valley, will host our group for a lunch featuring traditional Bhutanese cuisine.
We will then proceed to the Chimi Lhakhang-Fertility Temple, which is a sacred Buddhist temple idyllically nestled atop a rotund hill in the Punakha District. Even today, many newly married and childless couples from all over the world visit Chimi Lhakhang to receive fertility blessings and to witness the unusual cultural ceremonies performed here.
After exploring the exquisitely built monastery, we will end our travel for the day at the recently built Dhensa Boutique Resort, for some optional spa treatments and an afternoon of relaxation ending in a home-style Bhutanese dinner. This luxurious enclave is flanked by thick pine forests and overlooks the Punakha river and hundreds of paddy fields that stair-step down to the valley floor.
After a tranquil breakfast, we will depart via private transport to the rural home of Ms. Aum Karma Yangchen. Ms. Yangchen is one of the few female hand textile producers in Bhutan and possesses great passion and mastery over Bhutanese textiles. Indeed, Ms. Yangchen was privileged to design the 5th King’s Coronation Gho (traditional Bhutanese attire for men). We will spend the afternoon in the presence of this master craftsman, witnessing a traditional dyeing demonstration while enjoying a wonderful meal also prepared by her skilled hands. Ms. Yangchen is known to make some of the best and most hearty cuisine in the whole nation of Bhutan!
After lunch, we will traverse Bhutan’s longest Suspension Bridge, measuring 180 m in length. This bridge provides commanding views of the Po Chhu River and the surrounding valley and is an ideal place for a one-of-a-kind photoshoot.
Afterwards, we will visit the historic Punakha Dzong, considered the most beautiful dzong (a complex of fortified buildings) in Bhutan. Punakha Dzong is known as “The Palace of Great Happiness or Bliss.” It is the second oldest (built in 1637-38) and second-largest dzong in Bhutan and one of its most majestic structures. The dzong also houses the sacred remains of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of Bhutan.
The remainder of the day is reserved for rest or optional time at the hotel spa with the group rejoining for dinner at the hotel.
After a re-charging breakfast, we will make our way back to Paro. Today, we will trek to the famous Taktsang Palphug, the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, which clings to a cliff at 3120m above sea level (over 10,250 feet). This is the penultimate experience in Bhutan and is a rigorous physical and spiritual journey. We will start our journey by joining the High Lama at the base of the monastery for a transformative meditation session. We will then begin a glorious hike, stopping for lunch and some cold refreshments at a spectacular viewpoint. For those in the group who do not wish to complete the full hike, there is an option to return back to the base camp at this point.
For those who wish to venture on, the second half of the hike ends with a visit to the sacred cave where the Tigress slept and practiced meditation. We will also be privileged to visit with the resident monks at one of the four main temples, to which the general public does not have access.
After our Tiger’s Nest experience, we will check into our next hotel, The Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary. There, we will find balance between body, mind, and spirit, and experience the essence of Bhutan. Dinner tonight will be at the fabulous restaurant at the Sanctuary, which has its own greenhouse, and vegetable-herb garden, and uses as many local products as possible.
After a healthy breakfast at the Sanctuary, we will join in the annual Paro Tsechu Festival. This is one of the biggest festivals of Bhutan and is widely considered to be the best festival to observe the traditions of the Bhutanese. The Paro Tshechu is held at Rinpung Dzong to celebrate the birth anniversary of Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche. At the festival, you will witness a unique Bhutanese dance form known as the mask dance.
Time will be available to wander, explore, shop, and just enjoy this festive atmosphere. We will rejoin for lunch at a charming local café.
After the festival, the group will reconvene at the Sanctuary where we will meet with a traditional Bhutanese medicinal herb expert. Bhutan is well known for harnessing the power of natural herbs and is often referenced as the ‘Land of Herbal Medicine’. This expert is one of the most respected in Bhutan and each member of the group will receive an individual health consultation, including subsequent recommendations in diet/herbal supplements, and will experience a related rejuvenating herbal treatment (included).
Tonight, the group will enjoy a celebratory farewell meal held outside at the Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary overlooking the glorious Neyphu Valley. After dinner, we will continue to enjoy Bhutanese hospitality with a bonfire and beverages under the stars.
After a final breakfast together, you will be privately transported back to Paro International airport to catch your flight home and to dream of the cherished friendships and memories created during this adventure of a lifetime.
For those who are doing the extension trip, we will hop an hour-long flight to Bumthang. Upon arrival, we will stop for a traditional Bhutanese lunch at the Dorjibi Farm Home, which is nestled amidst an idyllic apple orchard.
After lunch, we will enjoy a hands-on textile weaving lesson. Bumthang is famous for its locally produced hand-woven woolen cloth, known as Yathra.
The afternoon includes a visit to a local honey, apple wine, and beer factory, called “The Red Panda”. We will enjoy a spirit to cap off a very peaceful, beautiful day in rural, authentic Bhutan.
That evening, we will check in to The Mountain Lodge, located in Bumthang’s highlands. We will settle in and relax before we meet for dinner at the hotel restaurant where everything on the menu is locally farmed and produced. For those with adventurous palates, the mushroom infused twist on the fiery national dish, Ema Datsi, accompanied with red rice and jambuley gnocchi is a must try.
After a wonderful breakfast at the Lodge, we will head out for a Spiritual Pilgrimage with a High Lama*. The Bumthang district in Bhutan is sometimes referred to as the spiritual heartland of Bhutan due to its many holy sites and temples, some dating back to the 8th century.
We will stop at a holy site, the Mebar Tsho, which translates to “the burning lake”. The Mebar Tsho is a sacred site for Buddhist devotees, revered as the place where Pema Lingpa, Bhutan's greatest tertön (“treasure discoverer”), discovered several of Guru Rinpoche's terma in the 15th century. Terma are various forms of hidden teachings that are key to certain spiritual traditions, including Buddhism.
After experiencing the burning lake, we will tour the Ogyen Chholing Museum with special host Ashi (Princess) Kunzang. The museum holds great significance to both Bhutanese and Tibetans. It is a wonderful place that preserves and shows the rich history and values of Bhutan.
In the late afternoon or early evening, we will engage in a spiritual meditation session with the High Lama. After the meditation session, we will freshen up and meet for another fabulous dinner at the lodge.
* A High Lama in the Buddhist tradition is an important Spiritual Leader from the community. This person will be our "spiritual guide" for the day which will give you much greater insight into the type and style of Buddhism practiced in Bhutan.
After breakfast, we will check out of the lodge and transfer to the airport to fly back to Paro. Upon arrival in Paro, we will check into the Tashi Namgay Resort.
After checking in, we will head out to explore the local handcrafted markets in Paro. The Sunday market is a delightful little place to shop in Paro. Haggle your way through the market shopping for keepsakes. If you come across any interesting Bhutanese stamps, make sure you buy them! Bhutanese stamps are known to be collector’s items. Other interesting souvenirs include authentic Bhutanese handicrafts, prayer wheels, handmade Bhutanese boots, dried yak cheese, and woven goods.
We will enjoy lunch at a local Bhutanese restaurant after our shopping.
After a busy day we will head to a Traditional Bhutanese home for a hot stone bath. Bhutanese hot stone baths are a form of traditional Bhutanese medicine where water is heated by depositing red hot fire-roasted river stones into a chamber of a large wooden tub. The bath is normally sprinkled with pink Himalayan salt flakes and a variety of colorful wildflowers in addition to green Artemisia leaves. The tub itself is commonly made of oak as it is said to hold the water’s heat better than pine.
We will meet up later for dinner at the multi cuisine restaurant at the resort.
Sadly, our trip must come to an end. We will savor our time in Bhutan and celebrate our new friendships. After one final breakfast together at the Resort, you will be privately transferred to the airport to catch your flight home where you will undoubtedly dream of your rich Bhutanese experiences taking lessons from the culture that will hopefully remain with you for a lifetime.
Zhiwa Ling Ascent is located on the hills overlooking Thimphu. A truly beautiful and peaceful location
Dhensa Boutique Resort is in the heart of the tranquil and lush Punakha Valley. Flanked by thick pine forests, it overlooks the Punakha river and hundreds of paddy fields that stair-step down to the valley floor.
The Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary is the first and only 5-star traditional spa-inclusive resort in Bhutan.
The Bhutan Mountain Resort located in the mountains is a place that is gracious, spacious, and rooted in the genuine traditions of Bhutanese hospitality.
The Tashi Namgay Resort Located conveniently in the heart of Paro valley but away from the distractions of the main town,
Everyone gets their own fabulous room!
Share a room with a friend or family member
Explore the Beautiful Fields and Valleys of Bumthang
"Land of Gross National Happiness"
A small, landlocked country nestled deep in the Himalayas between India and China, Bhutan is characterized by steep mountains and deep valleys, which led to scattered population settlement patterns. The country is known for its unique philosophy – Gross National Happiness (GNH) – which guides its development strategy.
Everything stated in itinerary above including all meals + wine with dinner
All guides and tastings
A traditional hot stone bath
Museums and all entry fees
All in-country transport including transfers to and from the airport in Paro
All luxury accommodations (including glamping)
A kira hand picked out by you! (classic bhutanese attire)
Sacred song and dance ceremony at camp
Private cooking lesson, traditional dyeing lesson and dinner with Bhtuanee host
Entry and experience the Paro festival
Roundtrip airfare to Bhutan
Any additional Spa Treatments as desired
Any personal souvenirs or purchases
Personal laundry service
Gratuities for the guide
Additional wine, beer or spirits beyond what is offered
Travel and Medical Insurance (required)
Doni, Girls’ Guide to Paris & Beyond’s founder will be your host. Our licensed guide in Bhutan will be Ms. Deki Wagmo who works closely with our ground partners. She explains: “I chose to work in this field because I have always had an interest in adventure, travel, art, history and culture. I decided to make my interests my work by choosing tour guiding as my career. I also love meeting people from different walks of life and learning new things with each experience.”
You should fly into Bhutan's only international airport Paro International Airport.
The weather in Bhutan this itme of year is generally perfect.
You can expect pleasant maximum average daytime temperatures around 20°C (68°F) and nighttime temperatures around 7°C (45°F) in Thimphu.
It is a moderate rainy time with an average rainfall around 59mm (2.3inch) in Thimphu.
We will have a zoom call about 6 weeks before the trip starts to discuss all that information and give you a packing list Here is a great website that we love that will help you with packing and travel trips.
In order to enter the country a tourist VISA is required. The government also charges daily tourist fees. At checkout when you book the trip these fee are added to your total price. We will take care of obtaining the VISA and paying your fees in advance.