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history • 11 days, 10 nights

Festivals and Mountaintop Temples of Bhutan

Bhutan
history • 11 days, 10 nights

Festivals and Mountaintop Temples of Bhutan

Bhutan
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  • Group Size 12 People Maximum
  • Activity Level
    Moderate
  • Travel Style
    Overland Adventure
from $4,235 USD per person
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Trip Overview
Overview

Nestled in the heart of the Himalayas, the Kingdom of Bhutan is a tiny country home to pristine forests, extraordinary architecture, and rich cultural traditions. Join us as we journey from bustling Thimphu to the Phobjikha Valley, lush with greenery and wildlife, and finally through the small village of Haa. We’ll witness an annual festival and visit ancient dzongs, art studios, incense factories, and nature preserves—meeting artisans, monks, and farmers along the way. Our adventure will culminate with an ascent to the Taktsang Lhakhang, also known as the “Tiger’s Nest”—the striking cliffside Buddhist temple where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated for four months.

Note on trip dates and festivals: Each trip is centered around a different Bhutanese festival: the Paro Tsechu in April, the Thimphu Tsechu in October, the Black-Necked Crane Festival in November, and the Druk Wangyel Tsechu in December. The order of certain days and locations will slightly vary across trips; however, you can anticipate the same key activities and inclusions regardless of which date you choose. If you have specific questions, please contact us.

Highlights
  • Centuries-old temples and monasteries
  • Conversations with artists, farmers, and spiritual leaders
  • Experience a traditional tsechu (festival)
  • Dramatic mountaintop views and natural wonders

Itinerary

Itineraries and daily schedules are subject to change. We expect to do everything listed in the itinerary, though the order may be rearranged based on weather or other local conditions.
Bhutan

Additional Info

Pricing

The listed price of the trip is per person based on double occupancy.

Druk Air flights in and out of Paro are charged at a supplemental cost of $920 per person (Pricing subject to change based on airline pricing. Contact us for exact pricing at time of booking.) 

On June 24, 2022, the National Assembly in Bhutan passed a new Tourism Levy Bill which has resulted in an increase to the mandatory Sustainable Development Fee required to enter Bhutan. Due to this increase, all new bookings are now subject to an additional $1350USD per person in addition to the listed trip cost. 

Traveling Solo?

You’re in good company. Solo travelers typically make up about half of our small groups. With curiosity at the center of our experiences, there’s a natural camaraderie that develops over the course of a trip. We have two options for you: 

Shared Room (subject to the latest Covid-19 guidelines): You'll be matched with another solo traveler of the same gender.

Private Room: Have your own room, subject to availability, for a supplemental cost of $425. After booking your trip, please request a single room when you fill out your traveler information form and we’ll send a separate invoice for the cost.

Activity Level

Travelers should be comfortable walking between three and five miles per day without difficulty, and spending extended periods of time on their feet. Travelers prone to vertigo are discouraged to do the Suspension bridge walk in Punakha on Day 6. The Tiger's Nest Hike on Day 11 is a challenging hike that requires uphill trekking and stairs. For those concerned with the difficulty level, there is the option to hike half way at a slower pace and enjoy the view from the cafe at the halfway point. Some of the places visited on this trip are extremely remote. It can take days to reach the nearest modern medical facility. If you're uncertain about whether this trip is a good fit, please contact us and we'd be happy to discuss with you further. 

Arrival & Departure

Once you've signed up for the trip, we'll get in touch to help you book your Druk Air flights in and out of Bhutan. While our group itinerary begins in Paro, Bhutan, on Day 1, you should plan to arrive and overnight in Bangkok the prior night in order to connect with your onward flight to Bhutan the following morning. Flights in and out of Bhutan are prone to schedule changes and tend to sell out, so we don't recommend a tight connection in Bangkok. 

The trip ends in Paro, Bhutan on Day 11. Again, we will be in touch to assist in booking your flight out of Bhutan. You should plan to depart Bangkok any time after 9 p.m. that evening, leaving plenty of time for schedule changes or delays on the flight out of Bhutan. 

Elevation, Health, and Safety

The elevations reached on this trip range from approximately 4,000 feet in Punakha to approximately 11,000 feet when crossing the journey's highest pass by road. Travelers should speak with their doctors about appropriate precautions to take, and consider spending an extra night en route to rest and recover from jet lag before continuing on to Bhutan. It's important to bear in mind that high-quality emergency medical care may be a day or more away due to the remoteness of some of the areas we'll visit. 

Accommodations

On this trip, we will be staying mostly in local 3* and 4* Bhutanese-style hotels and guesthouses. For the one night in Haa we will be hosted in a local farmstay. Our accommodations here will be comfortable, but rustic, with bedding consisting of mattresses placed on the floor, shared western toilet facilities, and a homecooked meal. While there is running water for washing, separate drinking water, tea, and coffee will be provided. There will be no shower or bathing facilities at the farmstay for this one night.

Included
  • Accommodation throughout the trip at comfortable local hotels, including one local farm stay
  • All meals as described in the itinerary
  • Transportation throughout the trip, including arrival and departure airport transfers
  • An experienced Trip Leader to accompany you for the duration of the trip as well as special guests throughout
  • Admission to all proposed activities, locations, and events
  • Your Bhutan entry visa
  • 24/7 emergency assistance during your trip, provided by Global Rescue (terms apply)
  • Special access to unique places and extraordinary experiences
  • A curious group of fellow Atlas Obscura travelers!
Excluded
  • International airfare. We'll assist with booking your Druk Air flights in and out of Paro (to be paid separately).
  • Pre- and post-trip accommodations 
  • Additional meals and drinks outside of Atlas Obscura offerings, including most alcoholic beverages
  • Passport and visa fees, if applicable (outside of your Bhutan visa, as this will be arranged through Atlas Obscura)
  • COVID-19 testing requirements
  • Customary gratuities for drivers, restaurants, hotels, and your Trip Leader. 
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Trip FAQ

Yes, a visa is required for travel to Bhutan, but we will secure it on your behalf. We will require color copies of your passport at time of booking to begin the process. Your passport must be valid for at least six months following the date of your arrival to Bhutan.

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Upcoming Departures

Choose your own private trip dates
Inquire now about a private departure for friends and family. Trip cost may vary based on group size and travel dates.

Choose your own private trip dates

Inquire now about a private departure for friends and family.

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