Itinerary Inspiration - Highlights of Bhutan
Breathtaking Bhutan in one classic journey
The remote Kingdom of Bhutan, with its fascinating cultural heritage and beautiful mountain scenery, is one of the world’s last Shangri-Las. Off limits to tourists until 1974, it is largely untouched and remains a mystical land of snow-capped mountains, emerald green landscapes, sturdy fortresses and gentle people. In a world dominated by globalisation, it stands proudly alone, self-sufficient and true to its heritage. Here, visitors can experience authentic culture and age-old tradition first hand.
This example itinerary offers a staggering overview of Bhutan’s unique culture, taking you on a journey through a series of remote valleys and lofty mountain tops, visiting temples, monasteries, dzongs (fortresses) and spending time in isolated villages enjoying the warm hospitality of the local people.
Beginning in Thimpu, the country’s capital, enjoy a privately guided tour of the city’s highlights including fortresses, craft industries and bazaars before heading 15km north to visit to Pangri Zampa, a 16th century monastery where Buddhist students still learn Lamaism and astrology based on Buddhist philosophy. A fascinating talk on Gross National Happiness, the measure by which holistic sustainable development is measured, will broaden your perspective of Bhutan's culture, which is based on Buddhist spiritual values and principles instead of material development (as gauged by GDP).
Driving across Dochula pass (3,080m) you’ll enjoy spectacular views over the high peaks of the eastern Himalayas, before arriving in Punakha, where you will visit the impressive Punakha Dzong or (Palace of Great Happiness) and embark on invigorating (optional) hikes through rice paddies and chilli fields to small villages of artisans and farmers. Transferring by road to the fascinating Gangtey village you’ll explore the remote and Phobjikha valley which is the winter home of black necked cranes and visit the Gangtey Monastery, perched on a hill above the valley floor. Stopping in Bumthang you’ll discover the high altitude valleys of Chumey, Choekhor, Tang and Ura, home to many of prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries, before continuing to Paro. Here you will spend time at the 16th-century Neyphug monastery where some sixty orphans are homed, and visit the world famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery, teetering on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery and (hence ‘Tiger’s Nest’) and the site holds the highest sacred significance.
This example itinerary takes in Bhutan’s most iconic sites alongside lesser known villages, remote outposts and wilderness areas. It is an ideal starting point for a spectacular journey through this last enigmatic land.
Why we like it
Teetering mountain top monasteries & forts
Stunningly beautiful scenery
Remote valley village communities
Artisans, bazaars & craft markets
Virtually untouched by globalisation