CULTURAL TOURS IN BHUTAN
The Best Tours of Bhutan
We offer small group and tailor made tours of Bhutan. We have designed our cultural tours of Bhutan to showcase the best places to visit while staying hotels. With our itineraries we have chosen the best locations to explore the Bhutanese culture and landscape. We also organise cultural tours of Nepal and can design a combined tour of Bhutan and Nepal. The Mountain Company has been operating in Bhutan since 2005. Our Managing Director, Roland Hunter, has set up our tours based on his knowledge of the country. He has inspected a large number of hotels and selected the best ones for our tour itineraries. We look forward to welcoming you to Bhutan in the future.
What are your tour itineraries of Bhutan?
We have set up two types of cultural tours of Bhutan depending on the time you have available for your holiday. They are Highlights and Classic. These are the best tours of Bhutan and visit the most interesting places. There is the option to stay at standard or luxury hotels.
Our Highlights Tour of Bhutan itinerary is 7 days. This is an introduction to Bhutan where you see the main places. We visit Paro, Thimphu and Punakha.
Our Classic Tour of Bhutan itinerary is 12 days. This includes the same places as Highlights and extends your visit to Phobjika valley and Bumthang.
What are the luxury tours of Bhutan?
We have a luxury version of our cultural tours of Bhutan where you stay at the best hotels available in the country. We have carefully selected hotels to stay at each place on the itinerary. For a tailored holiday we can change accommodation based on your requirements. We will provide you with suggestions for other hotels when designing your itinerary. A luxury tour of Bhutan is a wonderful way of visiting this country while staying at the best properties. Our itineraries are Luxury Highlights Tour of Bhutan and Luxury Classic Tour of Bhutan.
What hotels are available in Bhutan?
There is a wide range of hotels in Bhutan from standard hotels to higher end hotels and resorts. Over the years of operating in Bhutan we have stayed at and inspected a large number of hotels. We can provide suggestions and advice based on first hand experience.
Do you offer tailor made tours of Bhutan?
You can join one of our fixed date tour departures or have a private tour of Bhutan with dates that suit you. We can tailor our standard itineraries depending on your requirements. Your point of contact during the design of your bespoke itinerary will be Roland Hunter.
When is the best time to travel to Bhutan for a tour?
The most popular months to visit Bhutan are March, April, October and November. The weather can be warm and sunny during these months. This is also the peak trekking season. The best time to visit Bhutan on a Cultural Tour is during the Winter. During the months of December, January and February the weather is often sunny. There are far fewer other visitors in Winter compared to the busiest months of the year. It will be colder during the winter although for a tour you have the comforts of a hotel. The temperature would be too cold for most treks in the mountains.
What is a Tsechu in Bhutan?
If you are planning a tour of Bhutan consider coming during one of the tsechu (religious festivals). These are held each year at most dzongs and monasteries throughout the country. The largest teschus are in Paro and Thimphu. Please be aware that during these dates hotels will get booked up so it is best to plan your trip well in advance.
There are colourful religious dances at the tsechu festivals. These commemorate Guru Rinpoche who brought Buddhism to Bhutan. Shabdrung started many of these dances. He was a Tibetan Buddhist lama who unified Bhutan in 1634. The dances are performed by monks as well as lay people. They bring blessings to the onlookers as well as instructing them about the Buddhist Dharma. The Bhutanese people attend tsechus to gain merit and to reduce the chance of misfortune in their lives. Tsechus are large social gatherings and it is a chance for people to get together as a community. Everyone dresses in their best clothing and jewellery. During tsechus a fair is set up outside the dzong with fortune telling, food stalls and shops.
A tsechu lasts for three or four days. The dates of the tsechus will vary at different dzongs throughout Bhutan and also year to year. The highlight of the festival is the sacred Cham Dances. This is where masked dancers take on the wrathful and compassionate deities, heroes and demons. During the festival there are also clowns who mimic the dancers and harass the onlookers for donations. On the last day of the festival a large religious painting (known as a thondrol) depicting Guru Rinpoche is unfurled in front of onlookers. The thondrol can only be seen before dawn and by sunrise it is rolled up until next year’s tsechu. The belief is that everyone who views the thondrol will have their sins cleansed and washed away.
What is a Dzong in Bhutan?
Bhutan is famous for its dzongs. A dzong is a fortified building that incorporates both administrative and monastic institutions. The dzongs in Bhutan serve as a focal point for the local community. They showcase the country’s artistic and intellectual heritage. Dzongs are the locations for Tsechus (religious festivals). They are usually built on high ground for defensive reasons and dominate the main towns of Bhutan.
No visit to Bhutan would be complete without visiting a dzong. If you only have a short time in Bhutan we recommend you visit Punakha dzong. This is one of the most impressive. This dzong was constructed by Ngawang Namgyal, 1st Zhabdrung Rinpoche, in 1637-38. Punakha is the second oldest and second largest dzong in Bhutan. Punakha dzong is an impressive building and is located at the confluence of the Pho Chhu (father) and Mo Chhu (mother) rivers in the Punakha valley.
If you have time we recommend you also visit the dzongs art Paro, Thimphu, Trongsa and Jakar (in Bumthang valley).
What is the dress code for visiting a Dzong?
There is a dress code for visiting dzongs, monasteries and lhakhangs. It is best to discuss the visit with your tour guide to reconfirm appropriate attire. You can use the details below to assist with your planning for the trip.
- Go for a smart casual look such as long sleeved shirt with collar i.e no T shirts or short sleeved shirts.
- Full length trousers or long skirts (ankles must be covered) i.e no shorts, ¾ length trousers or short skirts.
- Shoes with socks covering ankles i.e no sandals or slippers.
- No hats and umbrellas allowed.
- Photographs are only allowed to be taken in the courtyard of most monasteries.
- Walking around Buddhist temples or stupas is traditionally done clockwise.
- Turn off your mobile/ cell phone and talk in a quiet tone.
- It is customary to give a small donation when visiting a monastery.
Where is the best place to see black-necked cranes in Bhutan?
About 500 Black-necked cranes spend the winter in Bhutan. These birds can be seen in their roosting areas from early November through to the end of February. Phobjikha is one of the best places to see the cranes. There are also overwintering areas in Gyetsa village (start of Kitiphu Ridge trek), Jakar in Bumthang valley, Punakha and Wangdi.
Phobjikha is located on the north western edge of Jigme Singye Wangchuk National Park. This area has ecological significance and a rich natural heritage. Phobjikha valley has the largest wetland in Bhutan. It is home to about 300 Black-necked cranes that migrate in winter from their breeding grounds in Tibet.
In Phobjka you can walk along the Gangtey Nature Trail with views onto the wetlands. This is a good place to see the Black-necked cranes. At the end of the nature trail you will drive up to the Black-necked cranes visitor centre. This place overlooks the roosting area of the cranes. You can read more about black-necked cranes in Phobjika on our Blog.
TRIP STYLE FOR CULTURAL TOURS IN BHUTAN
For our tour itineraries in Bhutan we explore the best places while staying in a hotel. There is a wide range of hotels from standard to higher end hotels and resorts.View Hotel based trips in Bhutan