Beautiful Bhutan with Virtuoso's Remote Lands

Posted by Jenny Heerema

Beautiful Bhutan with Virtuoso's Remote Lands

Posted by Jenny Heerema

Bhutan is an enchanting Buddhist kingdom situated in the Himalayas, nestled between India and China. In the 1800s, various European maps conflated it with Tibet, and it has remained remote and relatively untouched down to the present day; TV and Internet, for example, were only introduced in 1999. It’s no surprise, then, that Bhutan retains an aura of mysterious allure, and visiting can still feel like stepping back in time. The land is rugged and largely virgin; the people, who always wear the national gho and kira dress, are regal yet friendly. It is a beguiling place where tobacco is illegal but marijuana grows wildly; where archery remains the national sport, and where progress is measured not in GDP but “Gross National Happiness.”

Remote Lands’ deep knowledge of Bhutan and its culture goes beyond the five valleys (Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey, Bumthang) to far-flung eastern locales like Mongar, Lhuntse, Trashigang and more.

Bhutan luxury travel with Remote Lands is first and foremost personalized. They create extraordinary one-off experiences catering to your individual interests. Below are a couple examples of itineraries they offer. 


Classic Bhutan - Prices from $760 per day

This 14-day luxury itinerary showcases Bhutan's must-see sites, with time spent in the major cities of Paro and Thimphu, plus visits to remote mountain villages and farmhouses. There's plenty of history and culture in this tour – you'll see ancient fortresses, far-flung monasteries and countless chortens, fluttering prayer flags and ancient Buddhist sites. Each night you'll bed down in style, staying in a selection of Bhutan's most luxurious Himalayan resorts. This itinerary is similar to our Bhutan Luxury Road Trip itinerary, with the added luxury of a flight to Bumthang in lieu of an overland road trip.

Highlights

  • Farm visits with families and brisk mountain hikes.  
  • See ancient fortresses and temples right across Bhutan. 
  • Enjoy luxury stays that offer unbeatable Himalayan mountain views. 
  • Visit the spectacular Tiger’s Nest monastery, Bhutan’s most iconic site.


Day by Day Itinerary

Day 1 - Paro

You start your Bhutan odyssey in Paro, where you'll visit the ancient fortresses the Rimpung Dzong and Drukgyel Dzong, the latter a UNESCO-protected location and perhaps the most important archeological site in the country. After that, visit the Kyichu Lhakhang – a centuries-old Buddhist temple – and in the evening check into a luxurious Paro hotel. We recommend Amankora or the Uma by Como.

Day 2 - Paro

Get an early start to see more of the picturesque Paro. First, see the Kila Nunnery located on a cliffside, then learn a bit about local history at the National Museum. In the afternoon, get some insight into local life with a home visit to a farmhouse before enjoying a relaxing night back at your hotel.

Day 3 - Bumthang

Today you'll fly to Bumthang, which is home to a high concentration of sacred sites. You'll visit the Yathra Center in Chume, the beautiful Kyichu Lhakhang temple – the oldest monastery in Bhutan – and see the Swiss Farm, which makes its own cheese using Jersey cow milk and brews the national beer, Red Panda. In the evening, enjoy a comfortable night's sleep in the luxurious Amankora or Yugharling Resort and Spa, both excellent properties with a fantastic array of amenities.

Day 4 - Bumthang

Rise early for a visit to Tang Valley, where farm houses and fields are dotted between heavily forested mountains. You'll see Mebartso, the "Burning Lake", a deep pool in the river gorge with religious significance. Today you'll also visit Pemacholing Nunnery, a monastic school with nuns from 12 to 70 years of age, situated at the start of the Tang Valley. Ura Village is also on the itinerary today, the highest village in Bumthang, with resident sheep and yak herders. Enjoy dinner back at your luxury resort in Bumthang – the Amankora and Yugharling Resort and Spa are recommended.

Day 5 - Bumthang

There’s a lot of ground to cover in Bumthang, and today you’ll see more of the region, starting with a trip to Ugyencholing. The 16th-century palace here has been converted into a museum where you can enjoy an al fresco lunch in the sunshine complete with valley views. Afterwards browse historic artifacts in the galleries and learn more of Bhutan’s monarchy. In the evening, you’ll return to the comfort of your resort in Bumthang. 

Day 6 - Trongsa

The pretty mountain village of Trongsa, 2 hours' drive away, is your next destination. Here, you'll see the famous fortress Trongsa Dzong, perched over the village on the mountainside. Next, you'll have the chance to learn about Bhutanese history at the Trongsa Museum of Monarchy, with more than 100 years of royal history on display. Tonight, check into the luxurious Yangkhil Resort, offering stunning views over the dzong.

Day 7 - Gangtey

You'll head to Gangtey today, located around 5 hours away in the picturesque and treeless Phobjikha Valley. It's here in the wetlands that the black-necked cranes nest and you'll get to learn more about this intriguing species at the Crane Center. This is also the home of the beautiful old Gangtey Monastery, with its elaborate gate and breathtaking valley views. Tonight, check into the Amankora or Gangtey Goenpa Lodge – both luxurious properties that command unforgettable mountain vistas.

Day 8 - Gangtey

Gangtey in Phobjikha Valley offers plenty of opportunity to hike, with marshlands, lots of flat open terrain and, being away from the more heavily touristed areas, ultimate peace and serenity. After a day exploring the area at your leisure, you can check back into your hotel for a gourmet dinner.

Day 9 - Punakha

Today, make your way for 3 hours to Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan, enjoying the views from Dochu La Pass on the way. There are many historic sites to explore in Punakha, including the island fortress Punakha Dzong and the Chime Lhakhang, a uniquely adorned 15th century temple said to bless visiting couples with fertility. Tonight, stay at the luxurious Amankora or Uma Punakha for a restful night's sleep.

Day 10 - Punakha

Get out into the fresh mountain air today with a hike to Khamsum Yuley Monastery and the elaborate temple chorten that took 10 years to complete. After that, enjoy rafting along the Mo Chu River. There is the option to visit a local farmhouse today before checking back into your hotel for the evening. 

Day 11 - Thimphu

Today you begin your journey to Thimphu, starting with a flight to Paro, driving on 1 hour to Thimphu. Visit the Royal Textile Academy detailing the traditional Bhutanese craft of weaving, then continue to the National Library, a major repository for Buddhist scripture, holding many rare manuscripts. Tonight, check into the luxurious Amankora or the Taj Tashi - two of the best hotels in Thimphu.

Day 12 - Thimphu

As Bhutan’s cultural heart, Thimphu has much to offer travelers. Today you will visit the Folk Heritage Museum, where you have the chance to try a hearty Bhutanese lunch. Then it’s off to the paper mill where paper is recycled into things such as bags and lampshades. Before returning to your Thimphu resort for the night, you’ll visit Buddha Dordenma, where a 149-foot bronze statue of the Buddha presides over the capital.

Day 13 - Paro

You’ll return to Paro today and embark upon a hike to the Taktsang Palphug Monastery, also known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Taktsang Palphug is perched on a cliff overlooking Paro Valley and is one of Bhutan’s most iconic sites. The monastery is home to sacred paintings, a prayer wheel, several buddhas and many religious relics. After exploring the temples here, you will return to Paro for your final night of this tour. The Amankora and Uma Paro are both recommended resorts.

Day 14 - Paro

Today, enjoy your final day of our itinerary. You may stay to enjoy Bhutan or arrange for transport to the airport to continue on your travels.


Druk Path Trek - Prices from $460 per day

A Himalayan trek is the ultimate travel experience, and this six-day itinerary allows you to traverse some of Bhutan's most breathtaking terrain. The climb starts in Paro, with a few hours' of trekking per day until you reach Simkota at more than 12,500 feet above sea level. End your journey in a luxury hotel in Thimphu.

Highlights

  • The Tiger's Nest Monastery, perched on a cliff face 
  • Lakes Jimi Langsto and Janye, high in the Himalayas 
  • A luxury stay in the Bhutan capital of Thimphu 
  • A visit to an animal preserve to see the unique national animal, the takin

Day by Day Itinerary

Day 1 - Paro

You'll start this amazing Bhutan trek in Paro. Here, check into your luxury resort – we recommend both Amankora and the Uma by COMO – then spend the afternoon acclimatizing and sightseeing. Paro is impossibly picturesque and you have today to relax and enjoy this Himalayan setting.

Day 2 - Paro

Start off your morning with a brisk walk to Taktsang Monastery, the famous "Tiger’s Nest" perched on a cliff 3,000 feet above the Paro Valley. This half-day hike takes you through fragrant pine forest and offers some of the most breathtaking views in the Himalayas. At night, relax and get a good night's sleep at your luxury resort in preparation for the upcoming treks.

Day 3 - Jili Dzong

Today, you'll walk through beautiful apple orchards and forest, ascending to the fortress of Jili Dzong, at an elevation of 10,300 feet. This 16th-century fortress has long been a resting spot for travelers making their way between Paro and Thimpu. After a break, you'll trek onwards to Jangchula Camp, where you'll spend the night.

Day 4 - Simkota Lake

Continue your ascent today, covering 11 miles on the way to Simkota at an altitude of 12,700 feet. The trail traverses ridges with an average elevation of 10,000 feet, with some challenging rocky areas. By lunch time, you’re trekking party will break above the tree line to the alpine Jimi Langtso Lake. From here it's onwards another two hours to the smaller, but no less beautiful, Simkota Lake, where you'll camp for the night.

Day 5 - Phajoding

Today you'll cover 11 miles, starting from Simkota and ending the day's journey in Phajoding, a downward trek of about five or six hours. The trail will lead you through dwarf rhododendron trees and past the glacial Lake Janye. On the way, there's a good chance you'll meet yak herders, and on a clear day, you'll be able to see Mount Gangkar Punsum, at more than 24,000 feet – the highest unclimbed peak in the world. The campsite is close to the monastery of Phajoding that overlooks the Thimphu Valley.

Day 6 - Phajoding / Thimphu

It's all downhill today as you make your way to the capital of Thimphu at 7,500 feet. You'll trek through beautiful blue pine and rhododendron forests. On the way, take time to see the national animal – the takin – at the Motithang Takin Preserve. In Thimphu, you can enjoy a nice hot shower in your luxury resort – Amankora Thimphu and Taj Tashi are both recommended five-star hotels. This afternoon, you have free time to explore the charming narrow streets and shops of Thimphu.

For more information please contact our Adventure Travel Specialists Anne Bird or Jane Patrick. They can be reached at 604-736-7447 or click above for “prices and schedule” to leave us an inquiry via the website.

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