Bhutan Private Expedition
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9 days

from ₹4,09,300 trip_detail hint icon

Prices are indicative. Based on twin share. The rate of exchange calculated is approximate and the final tour cost will be as on the final date of payment. Taxes are additional.

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Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include walking tours, visits to sites, safari drives, and easy hikes; and some days will have more physical activities such as longer hikes, kayaking, snorkeling, or biking.

Premium trip_detail hint icon

Premium expeditions are led by a National Geographic expert, an expedition team, or top guides, and tap into National Geographic's worldwide resources to allow for in-depth exploration and special access to sites and experts in the field. Itineraries are fully planned, with some free time. Accommodations are high-end or best available. Ground transportation and most meals and activities are included in the trip price.

EXPEDITION OVERVIEW
  • Get a glimpse into rural Bhutanese life on a private tour of Thimphu's Folk Heritage Museum and during a visit to a local farmstead in the Paro valley.
  • Stay at Zhiwa Ling Hotel, and admire the exquisite Bhutanese architecture and artistry of this National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World.
  • Visit the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup temple in Punakha and receive a blessing from the resident nuns.
  • Decorate ritual cakes to offer to deities, and participate in a butter-lamp offering with monks.
EXPERTS ON THIS TRIP

National Geographic Private Expeditions are specially crafted itineraries designed for independent travelers that combine guided excursions, fascinating insights into culture and wildlife, and top accommodations. These trips are designed to fit into your schedule. You choose your desired departure date, and we'll make all the arrangements.

Itinerary

Ringed by the staggering peaks of the Himalaya, Bhutan is a remote Buddhist kingdom where age-old traditions hold strong. Amid verdant valleys dotted with historic fortresses and shrines, delve into Bhutan’s rich culture with a private guide, discovering how everyday life is intertwined with Mahayana Buddhism. Meet with monks, nuns, farmers, and artisans; take part in ancient rituals; and witness firsthand the cautious evolution of this tiny kingdom.

Day 1: Arrive Bangkok, Thailand

Arrive in Bangkok for an overnight stop on your journey to Bhutan. Transfer independently to your airport hotel, connected to the terminals by covered walkways.

Day 2: Bangkok/Paro, Bhutan/Thimphu

The adventure begins on your way to the kingdom in the clouds, before your feet even touch the ground: On a clear day, the flight from Thailand over the eastern Himalaya offers extraordinary views of the range’s highest peaks, including Mount Everest. Upon landing in Paro, travel to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital and the best place to witness the country’s newly embraced modernity. Meet your Bhutanese guide, who will travel with you throughout your stay. Then visit a wildlife sanctuary for the takin, Bhutan's national animal, described as having the body of a cow and the head of a goat.

Day 3: Thimphu

Delve deeper into Thimphu on a private tour of the city. Gain insight into rural Bhutanese life at the Folk Heritage Museum, a replica of a traditional mud-and-timber farmhouse. Observe the delicate artistry involved in creating deh-sho, or locally handmade paper, at the Jungshi Paper Factory. End your excursion with a walk alongside local parents to Changangkha Lhakhang, a 12th-century monastery popular for providing blessings to newborns.

Day 4: Thimphu/Punakha

This morning, visit Thimphu's Royal Textile Academy and admire the displays of intricate and diverse Bhutanese weavings, which are considered spiritual expressions. Journey to Punakha by way of the Dochu La pass. With its circular formation of 108 chortens set against a panoramic backdrop of majestic mountains, the pass is an awe-inspiring and spiritual place. Upon arrival in Punakha, set out on a hike through the surrounding rice paddies to Chimi Lhakhang—a temple blessed by Drukpa Kunley, known as the "Mad Saint."

Day 5: Punakha

Spend the day discovering Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan that still retains its regal feel. Hike to the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, a colorful temple poised on a scenic mountain ridge overlooking the Punakha valley. After lunch, explore the elaborately designed fortress of Punakha Dzong; its positioning at the confluence of the Mo (mother) and Pho (father) Rivers helps make this dzong one of the most beautiful in the country. End the day with a blessing from the nuns at the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup temple and nunnery.

Day 6: Punakha/Paro

Travel through the emerald rice paddies and quaint farming villages of the Paro valley, and visit Jangtsa Dumtseg Lhakhang, a unique temple designed in the architectural style of a chorten. Settle into the stunning Zhiwa Ling Hotel, a National Geographic Unique Lodge that celebrates the artistry of Bhutanese architecture and embodies the principles of the country’s Gross National Happiness initiative. Immerse yourself in the peaceful customs of the Bhutanese as you linger in the lodge’s intricate temple, meditation house, and tearoom.

Day 7: Paro

Spend the day discovering Paro. Visit the National Museum of Bhutan, and admire the impressive architecture of the Paro Dzong, a stronghold that once defended the country from Tibetan invasions. Lunch at a local farmstead, and then return to the lodge for an afternoon devoted to Bhutanese traditions—an experience exclusively offered to National Geographic travelers. Learn how ritual cakes are baked and decorated to offer the deities, and participate in a butter-lamp offering with monks.

Day 8: Taktsang Lhakhang/Paro

Your journey through Bhutan culminates at the kingdom’s most iconic site: Taktsang Lhakhang, famously called the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. This majestic structure is poised high above the Paro valley, built dramatically on the ledge of a granite cliff face. Make the steep, strenuous trek to the temple or hike to a nearby viewpoint, taking in a landscape dotted with pine trees, prayer flags, and ancient shrines. Enjoy lunch at the home of a local farmer before returning to Paro for the evening.

Day 9: Bangkok, Thailand/Depart

Depart for Bangkok, where you can connect with your international flight home.

what to expect

This expedition is rated as light; travelers should be in good health and comfortable sitting for extended periods of time. Excursions include safari drives in open vehicles on dusty, bumpy roads; nature walks on uneven terrain; and sometimes climbing stairs without handrails.

Throughout the expedition, we stay in ideally located hotels, lodges, and luxury tented camps.

A National Geographic expert and an expedition leader will accompany this trip, and local guides join us along the way.

ACCOMMODATIONS
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Zhiwa Ling Hotel - Paro, Bhutan

Nestled in the hills outside Paro, Zhiwa Ling Hotel, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, is an architectural gem that unites Bhutanese culture and heritage with 21st-century comforts. In the spirit of Bhutan’s Buddhist tradition, guests can join monks at the Meditation House, experience the tranquility of the Tea House, and enjoy a yoga session looking out at the legendary Tiger’s Nest Temple.

tripDetail_slider_img1 MOBILE
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Zhiwa Ling Hotel - Paro, Bhutan

Nestled in the hills outside Paro, Zhiwa Ling Hotel, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, is an architectural gem that unites Bhutanese culture and heritage with 21st-century comforts. In the spirit of Bhutan’s Buddhist tradition, guests can join monks at the Meditation House, experience the tranquility of the Tea House, and enjoy a yoga session looking out at the legendary Tiger’s Nest Temple.

tripDetail_slider_img1 MOBILE
1/14

Zhiwa Ling Hotel - Paro, Bhutan

Nestled in the hills outside Paro, Zhiwa Ling Hotel, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, is an architectural gem that unites Bhutanese culture and heritage with 21st-century comforts. In the spirit of Bhutan’s Buddhist tradition, guests can join monks at the Meditation House, experience the tranquility of the Tea House, and enjoy a yoga session looking out at the legendary Tiger’s Nest Temple.

PRICES & DATES

  • date Jan 1-May 31, 2019
  • 2People ₹4,09,300
  • 4People ₹0

  • date Sep 1-Dec 31, 2019
  • 2People ₹3,95,400
  • 4People ₹3,81,500

  • date Jan 1-May 31, 2020
  • 2People ₹3,95,400
  • 4People ₹3,81,500

  • date Sep 1-Dec 31, 2020
  • 2People ₹3,95,400
  • 4People ₹3,81,500

Prices are per person based on double or single occupancy (unless otherwise noted) and do not include international airfare to/from your destination or internal flights during the expedition. Internal flights are $450 per person between the months of December and March, and $775 per person between the months of June and October. Internal flights for the optional extension to Rwanda are $1100 per person, and $1500 for the Ruaha extension. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars and subject to change. See the terms and conditions for this trip for more information.

  • Transfers upon arrival and departure
  • Accommodation as indicated in the itinerary
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Daily activities and excursions as indicated in the itinerary
  • Airfare to and from destination, as well as internal airfare where applicable
  • Trip cancellation insurance or any other travel insurance
  • Visas
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Gratuities