Bhutan
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Bhutan

Journey through a mystical Himalayan kingdom; a land of ancient customs and cultures, of faraway temples and red-robed monks, of virgin forests, pristine rivers and a warm, hospitable people.

Bhutan
Best Months 
Paro/Thimphu/Punakha: February - April and September - early December
Gangtey: February - March and October - early December
Bumthang: February - April and October - November
Epic Suggests 10 Days
  • Paro

    At an elevation of 2,250 m (7,382 ft) Paro Valley is the entry point for most journeys through the Kingdom. The valley of Paro is fertile and green with a number of ancient monasteries and monuments but none as dramatic as the 8th century Taktsang, or 'Tiger's Nest'.

    bhutan-paroHike to Takstang Monastery and hang prayer flags along the way as a blessing for the journey ahead. Enjoy a traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath under the stars or visit local archers at play and try your hand at this ancient sport. Attend the Paro Tsechu and witness the sacred unveiling of a giant silk Thangkha (March or April).
  • Thimphu

    Thimphu lies in a steep valley surrounded by richly forested mountains dotted with ancient monasteries and temples. As Bhutan's capital city, Thimphu is home to many attractions and activities; wander the colourful local markets and visit the Textile Museum to view royal Thangkhas, stunning silks and embroideries.

    bhutan-thimphuSpend time at the working Dechenphodrang Monastery and meet novice monks as young as four years old. Observe the indigenous national animal, the takin, that appears to be a half cow-half goat, in its rural habitat. On the outskirts of Thimphu enjoy a rigorous day hike to Tango Monastery and receive a Bhutanese name as part of a Buddhist naming ceremony conducted by the resident lama.
  • Punakha

    With its temperate climate, Punakha Valley is the market garden of the country, where produce grows throughout the year. Opportunities abound for the active traveller with hikes, bike trails and white-water rafting all available in the country's most picturesque valley.

    bhutan-punakhaVisit the breathtaking Punakha Dzong located on the confluence between the Mochu (female) and Pochu (male) rivers fed by the glacial lakes of Tibet. Try white-water rafting (May to September) along these crystal blue waters, through some of the most pristine forest in the Himalaya or take an adventurous mountain bike ride down some of the rarely used forest tracks. Visit the ancient Chimi Lhakang temple famous for healing infertility problems, or the village of Pana where colourful and exotic looking phalluses are painted on the houses.

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  • Gangtey

    The Phobjikha Valley is part of the Black Mountains National Park, one of Bhutan’s most important wildlife sanctuaries. Numerous nature walks and treks are offered throughout the valley’s varied terrain.
    bhutan-gangtey
    Utilising Epic’s exclusive contacts, pay a visit to the local primary school and savour the opportunity to assist in teaching a class. See the talented local weavers at work at the Gangtey village carpet factory or observe the rare black neck cranes on migration to Tibet (November to February).  For the active set, a short yet spectacular nature trek takes you along Sashi La, an old migration route taken by monks and local farmers when leaving the valley for the winter.

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  • Bumthang

    Lying deep in central Bhutan, Bumthang is the host region for many colourful religious festivals, as well as cottage industries producing a variety of intriguing fruit spirits and brandies. Bumthang is often reserved for those with a little more time to venture into the spiritual heartland of the country.

    bhutan-bumthangIf your schedule permits, Epic highly recommends joining in the celebrations of the Jambay Lhakang village festival, an annual celebration held in the courtyard of the sacred Jambay Lhakang temple. Or visit Ura village, considered one of the most picturesque villages in Bhutan and often referred to as the nation's Switzerland. Take a drive, or one of the many hikes, and go yak spotting in the Longte Valley. Wherever your mystical journey takes you, be sure to sample the food and wines unique to this region and enjoy the local hospitality.  Festivals are generally held in November.

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  • Sample Itinerary

    Day 1: Bangkok, Thailand

    Upon arrival into Bangkok International Airport you are met and transferred to your accommodation.

    What remains of your day is at leisure.  An early night is usually called for as the flights to Bhutan depart early in the morning.

    bhutan-day1
  • Sample Itinerary

    Day 2: Bangkok / Paro, Bhutan / Thimphu

    Very early this morning you fly to Paro, Bhutan. Upon arrival you are transferred to Thimphu, the capital city.  Wander through bookshops, handicraft boutiques and visit the Textile Museum. In the afternoon, visit Thimphu Dzong (a working monastery where young monks are trained and schooled) and the Takin animal sanctuary - one of the only places in the world to see these unique creatures.

    In the early evening you have the opportunity to circle the Memorial Chorten in prayer with other locals.
    bhutan-day2
  • Sample Itinerary

    Day 3: Thimphu / Punakha

    In the morning you depart Thimphu and head west over Dochu-la Pass at 3,200 m (10,500 ft). On a clear day enjoy spectacular views over the Eastern Himalayan mountain range.

    On descending into the picturesque valley of Punakha, visit the breathtaking Punakha Dzong. The Dzong lies between two rushing rivers, the Mochu and Pochu, or 'male' and 'female' rivers and was built in 1637 AD. It is one of the most dramatic and photogenic buildings in Bhutan.

    bhutan-day3
  • Sample Itinerary

    Day 4: Punakha / Gangtey

    Depart for Gangtey in the Phobjikha Valley, a glacial valley on the western slopes of Black Mountain National Park. Enjoy a winding two hour scenic drive through pristine forests, oak trees and beautiful rhododendrons.  En route, look for nocturnal red pandas that sleep in the trees during the day.

    In the afternoon, wander down to visit the school children of the local primary school and take the opportunity for cultural exchange; play games or teach the children about your home country.

    bhutan Punakha / Gangtey
  • Sample Itinerary

    Day 5: Gangtey / Bumthang

    Continue your journey to central Bhutan. The route to Bumthang crosses Pele La Pass at 3,400 m (11,155 ft), marked by a chorten and an array of prayer flags. View the dramatic Jhomolhari Mountain and other peaks, which form the boundary between western and central Bhutan.

    Arrive Bumthang early evening and enjoy the first night of festivities as the Jambay Lhakang Festival commences; an ancient fire dance is held every year to bless women with infertility. The dances were composed mostly in the 15th century and celebrate the discovery of sacred Buddhist texts in the area.
    Day 5: Gangtey / Bumthang
  • Sample Itinerary

    Day 6: Bumthang

    The Jambay Lhakang Festival is a village festival, with people from all over Bumthang attending the celebrations dressed in their finery. It takes places within the courtyard of the temple and is conducted by the head lama. It is one of the most important religious festivals in Bhutan, celebrated with ancient dances and song. Enjoy a full day of colourful and vibrant festival entertainment.

    Tonight partake in an evening of local hospitality. Dine on food unique to the central Bhutan region, sample the local 'arra' (rice wine) and join in the traditional dancing of Bumthang.
    bhutan-day6
  • Sample Itinerary

    Day 7: Bumthang / Punakha

    Today journey westward back to Punakha, a total of 6.5 hours. Around half way you will stop to visit Chimi Lhakang, an ancient temple with infamous healing powers. Enjoy a walking tour through a small village and rows of rice terraces to reach Chimi Lhakang, known as the 'Divine Madman'. He is the most notorious of all the Bhutanese buddhas.

    The temple is famous for healing infertility problems and women make important pilgrimages here from all over the country.
    Day 7: Bumthang / Punakha
  • Sample Itinerary

    Day 8: Punakha / Paro

    Drive from Punakha to Paro, a total of 4.5 hours, departing early in the morning in order to reach Paro for lunch.

    In the afternoon, stretch your legs and take a wander down from the hotel to visit local archers at play and try your hand at this ancient sport. Bhutan holds a gold medal in the Olympic Games for Archery and it is considered an ancient art in Bhutan. Peruse the village streets and local markets and purchase gifts and souvenirs to take home. In the evening enjoy a dinner of local cuisine including the famous red rice of Paro.
    Day 8: Punakha / Paro
  • Sample Itinerary

    Day 9: Paro / Taktsang

    This is the most famous monastery in all Bhutan and is perched on the side of a cliff 900 m (2,953 ft) above the Paro Valley. It is a sacred place of pilgrimage which Bhutanese people try to visit at least once in a lifetime.

    Take a guided hike up to the monastery, a return trip of approximately 4 hours. While the hike up is challenging, horses, mules and donkeys are usually on hand to ease the journey. Spend your last night relaxing after your trek, soaking under the stars in a traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath.
    Day 9: Paro / Taktsang
  • Sample Itinerary

    Day 10: Paro

    You are met and transferred to the Paro airport to connect with your early morning outbound flight, and depart Bhutan.
    Day 10: Paro
  • Sample Itinerary

    Epic Suggests

    ... incorporating single or multi-day hikes into your trip. One such suggestion is to turn your hike to Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery into an overnight experience. Taking two days to hike an alternative route to Taktsang, one night is spent at a deluxe camping site en route.
    bhutan-epic-suggest
  • Sample Itinerary

    Indicative Cost

    Pricing from US$ 600 per person per day.

    Various levels of accommodation are available.
    bhutan-indicative-cost
  • 1/12 | Day 1: Bangkok, Thailand
  • 2/12 | Day 2: Bangkok / Paro, Bhutan / Thimphu
  • 3/12 | Day 3: Thimphu / Punakha
  • 4/12 | Day 4: Punakha / Gangtey
  • 5/12 | Day 5: Gangtey / Bumthang
  • 6/12 | Day 6: Bumthang
  • 7/12 | Day 7: Bumthang / Punakha
  • 8/12 | Day 8: Punakha / Paro
  • 9/12 | Day 9: Paro / Taktsang
  • 10/12 | Day 10: Paro
  • 11/12 | Epic Suggests
  • 12/12 | Indicative Cost
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