Bhutan Tours & Holidays
Small Group Tours & Tailor-Made Holidays
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With our passage through the bridge, behold a curious transformation. For just as Alice, when she walked through the looking-glass, found herself in a new and whimsical world, so we, when we crossed the Pa-chhu, found ourselves as though caught up on some magic time machine fitted fantastically with reverse, flung back across the centuries into the feudalism of a medieval age. So wrote the Earl of Ronaldshay upon entering Bhutan in 1923. Nearly a century later and those words still hold true, ...
With our passage through the bridge, behold a curious transformation. For just as Alice, when she walked through the looking-glass, found herself in a new and whimsical world, so we, when we crossed the Pa-chhu, found ourselves as though caught up on some magic time machine fitted fantastically with reverse, flung back across the centuries into the feudalism of a medieval age. So wrote the Earl of Ronaldshay upon entering Bhutan in 1923. Nearly a century later and those words still hold true, as you find yourself crossing into the Land of the Thunder Dragon and leaving your own world behind. Squashed amongst the high mountain landscapes that lie between Nepal, Tibet and Northeastern India, Bhutan was cut off from the outside world for centuries, cocooning its people and traditions in a bubble of time that has changed little in the past 500 years. Perched spectacularly atop high cliffs, its magnificent 17th century dzongs (monasteries) stand sentinel over a land filled with colourful festivals and story-telling, forested hills and demons. Home to a gentle and charming people and a rich diversity of wild plants and animals that includes more than 600 species of orchid alone, the sheer scale of its beauty and spirit will leave you breathless.
Start your journey
Travel to Bhntan with like-minded people on one of our small group tours (usually max size 12), featuring knowledgeable local guides and an expert tour leader.
Whether you want to travel on one of our award-winning itineraries or build your own journey from scratch, our expert consultants will help create the perfect tour for your tastes and budget. Below are a few suggestions of the kind of trips we can offer, all of which can be tailored to you.
HIGHLIGHTS OF BHUTAN
OUR FAVOURITE PLACES TO STAY
Hike to the Tiger's Nest MonasteryThe Tiger’s Nest Monastery is one of the most famous and sacred of Bhutan’s monasteries, built on a rock ledge a thousand metres above the valley floor. Hike to the monastery, soak up the views and partake in a prayer ceremony
Learn to cook Bhutan's national dishTake a cooking class at a local restaurant hosted by a team of chefs who will demonstrate some local delicacies. You'll learn to make the national dish of Bhutan - the fiery ‘Emma Datshi’ made with chilies and local Bhutanese cheese, which you can then devour
Make sand mandalas with a monkVisit a local monastery to be shown the ancient art of sand mandala, designed to cleanse the soul and liberate it towards enlightenment. The monks create an intricate pattern from sand which symbolises the unity of life, and then will help you make your own
Visit Gangtey MonasteryA complex of five temples surrounding a central tower, the Gangtey Monastery, founded in 1613, is situated above the picturesque Phobjikha Valley. The village here is inhabited mainly by the families of the 140-strong priest community who look after it
Peruse the weekend marketExplore the fascinating and famous weekend market of Thimphu, one of the largest farmers markets in Bhutan, with produce brought here from all over the country. You'll find everything from dried fish and wild honey to textiles and local handicrafts
Enjoy a farmhouse lunch with localsGet a glimpse into village life by enjoying a locally-sourced meal with a family in Punakha. Make friends in a traditionally decorated, colourful Bhutanese farmhouse, made entirely out of stone and mud, and trade stories with your hosts!
Marvel at black-necked cranesEvery October, one of the most beautiful spots in Bhutan, the Phobjikha Valley plays host to the Black-necked Cranes flying in from Tibet to escape winter. They circle the Gangtey Monastery three times before landing amongst the protected marshlands
Explore the Tang ValleyPema Lingpa, the famous saint, was born in the Tang Valley of Bumthang. Past the Dechenpelrithang sheep farm, you can find a path lined with prayer flags which leads you to a gorge where the river forms a pool and you can discover his image carved on the rock
Hike to Cheri GoembaTrek to Cheri Goemba, a monastery built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1620 and where he spent many years in meditation. Cheri today has numerous hermitages and small temples located on its slopes, commanding spectacular views
TOP PLACES TO VISIT
WHEN TO GO
As far as the climate is concerned Bhutan has everything from tropical jungle with heat and humidity pushing into over-drive and High Mountain passes where it regularly snows. From November – March it will likely be cold at night but you should have clear weather and great views of the Himalayas. Average temperature from Paro - Bumthang: Day time is 11c and Night minimum -5c in Jan. East Bhutan will be max 16c and minimum 10c at the same time. You can expect snow fall at any time between Paro and Bumthang in the higher areas.
Health and Vaccinations
There are no mandatory immunisations for travellers to Bhutan though you should be up-to-date with Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio and Hepatitis A. Malaria is present in some parts of Bhutan. Please note we are not medical professionals and so we highly recommend you seek advice from your local GP or travel centre as to the correct immunisations and preventative treatments.
In Bhutan the official unit of currency is the Bhutanese Nu. This is a closed currency and can only be exchanged in country.
To check out the latest exchange rate for the places that you are visiting you can go to www.oanda.com.
Bhutan is the only country on the planet where Buddhism is the state religion, and as a result the people are outstandingly laid-back and friendly.
Whilst visiting the Dzongs men will need to wear a collared shirt (either full or half sleeved), and both sexes must wear full-length trousers/skirt and shoes. You will not be allowed to enter if you are wearing hats, shorts or short skirts, flip-flops or regular t-shirts.
On our tours we frequently interact with local people, each with their own distinct customs and traditions. We therefore ask you to be considerate and to treat them with respect. Your guides will be able to advise you accordingly.
Language & Religion
In Bhutan, the official language is Dzongkha with many regional dialects so that, as in India, English is often used to overcome regional language problems.
The Drukpa Kagyupa sect of Buddhism is the official ‘state’ religion, with some monasteries still following the Nyingmapa School, both of which are disciplines of Mahayana Buddhism. The law provides for freedom of religion and thus the many ethnic Nepalese who live in the south of Bhutan practice Hinduism.
Bhutan is 5 hours ahead of GMT.
A useful website to check the time zone differences is www.worldtimezone.com.
Food and drink
In Bhutan spicy chillies (ema) and cheese (datshi) blended with a wide variety of vegetables, meats, poultry and fish are found on many Bhutanese menus. Red rice is the staple food (like brown rice in texture, but with a nutty taste – the only variety of rice that grows at high altitudes), but Bhutanese are very fond of meat, especially dried meat.
Favourite beverages include butter tea, locally brewed rice wine and beer; the local beer is called Chang. Bhutanese also drink Arra, home-brewed alcohol distilled from rice, maize, wheat, or barley.