Highlights Tour of Bhutan
Bhutan

Dochu La pass
  • TRIP TYPE: Cultural Tour
  • TRIP GRADE: Easy
  • TRIP STYLE: Hotel
  • TRIP LEADER: Local Leader
  • GROUP SIZE: 2 - 10 people
  • NEXT DEPARTURE: 10 Oct 2020

Details

Our Highlights Tour of Bhutan is is a perfect introduction to this fascinating country where you have time to explore Paro, Thimphu and Punakha.

Throughout this itinerary you stay at mid level hotels classified as three star. There is no day to day trekking in this itinerary however there are opportunities for day walks while in Paro, Thimphu and Punakha. You have the option to join one of our fixed date departures or to have a private tour tailored to dates that suit you. 

There are superb views of the Himalaya from Druk Air flight to and from Paro and also on a clear day from Dochu La pass between Thimphu and Punakha.

We have arranged for all of our fixed date departures to coincide with one of the main festivals (Tsechus) in Bhutan. Tsechus are annual religious Bhutanese festivals of Drukpa Buddhism held in each district or dzongkhag of Bhutan. Please download Trip Dossier for details of which tsechus are taking place for each departure.

Itinerary

Arrive in Paro

Drive to Thimphu (1 hour)

Sightseeing in Thimphu

Lunch and Dinner

Gyelsa Boutique Inn

On a clear day the flight to Paro is sensational with views of the Himalaya to the north. Upon arrival our guide will receive you at the airport and drive you through the hamlets of Paro along the riverside to Thimphu the capital city of Bhutan. You will immediately notice the unique architecture and Bhutanese lifestyle with many people wearing traditional clothes (men wear the ‘Gho’ and women ‘Kira’).

The drive from Paro to Thimphu takes about one hour, on reaching Thimphu you will check into the hotel. You can discuss with your guide what to do for rest of the day depending on your arrival time.

Sightseeing in Thimphu

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Gyelsa Boutique Inn

You can discuss with your guide where you would like to visit in and around Thimphu. There are several places to see and the most popular are the Thimphu Dzong, Takin sanctuary (Takin is the national animal of Bhutan with the head of a goat and body of a bull), folk heritage museum, the textile weaving center and the Institute of Arts and Crafts.

Drive to Punakha (2 hours)

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Hotel Meri Puensum in Punakha

Today we leave for Punakha which is the old winter capital of Bhutan. En route we drive over the Dochu La pass at an altitude of 3,050m known as one of the finest viewpoints of Eastern Himalaya. On a clear day you can see the peaks Masangang, Tsendagang, Terigang and Gangkar Punsum (the highest unclimbed mountain in the world).

On arrival to Dochu La you can get out of the car to admire the view and walk around the 108 chortens marking the summit of the pass. We then descend through beautiful forest into the Punakha Valley at an altitude of 1,350m.

Before reaching Punakha we visit Chimi Lhakang also known as the fertility temple of Bhutan. Lama Drukpa Kunley, who was a highly unorthodox Buddhist saint, deeds form the basis of many local legends blesses the monastery. The temple is fondly regarded by local families as a potent fertility shrine. It takes about 20 minutes to walk across rice fields to reach the temple.

On the way to your hotel we drive past Punakha Dzong, this 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 we have time we will visit the Dzong if not we will go tomorrow. This dzong is the second largest in Bhutan and was constructed by Ngawang Namgyal, 1st Zhabdrung Rinpoche, in 1637-38 so it is also the second oldest.

Sightseeing in Punakha

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Hotel Meri Puensum in Punakha

There are a number of options for more places to explore in Punakha valley. For a good view of the valley you can walk up to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal chorten perched on a hill above Mo Chhu river. It takes about 45 minutes to walk up to the chorten after crossing the suspension bridge over the river.

Drive to Paro (3 hours)

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Hotel Olathang in Paro

After breakfast there is a long climb to Dochu La where there is superb view of the Himalayas including Gangkar Punsum, from the pass the road descends to Thimphu. We continue our drive for a further hour to Paro.

Walking for 9km (4 hours)

Sightseeing in Paro

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Hotel Olathang in Paro

After breakfast we will organise an optional walk up to the Taktsang monastery known as the “Tiger’s Nest”. It takes about 3 to 4 hours to walk through pine forest and up to the monastery perched on a cliff overlooking the valley. Lunch will be served in the viewpoint cafeteria.

We will also arrange sightseeing where we visit Kichu monastery which is one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Genpo who built 108 monasteries around the region. Also visit the Drugyal Dzong at the end of the valley.

Fly home

Breakfast

Transfers to Paro airport for flights back home.

Dates & Prices

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2020

Dates Trip Leader Price Single Supplement: Room/Tent Availability
Dates 10 Oct 2020 to 16 Oct 2020 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$1,695pp Single Supplement:
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Dates 07 Nov 2020 to 13 Nov 2020 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$1,695pp Single Supplement:
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Dates 05 Dec 2020 to 11 Dec 2020 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$1,695pp Single Supplement:
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2021

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Dates 13 Mar 2021 to 19 Mar 2021 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$1,695pp Single Supplement:
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Dates 03 Apr 2021 to 09 Apr 2021 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$1,695pp Single Supplement:
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Dates 09 Oct 2021 to 15 Oct 2021 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$1,695pp Single Supplement:
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Dates 06 Nov 2021 to 12 Nov 2021 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$1,695pp Single Supplement:
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Dates 04 Dec 2021 to 10 Dec 2021 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$1,695pp Single Supplement:
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For private and bespoke trip, please contact us

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What's Included

  • Bhutan visa.
  • All transfers including airport collections in Paro.
  • Twin share or double rooms at all places on the itinerary.
  • All meals and mineral water included while in Bhutan.
  • All tour arrangements including Bhutanese guide (English speaking trained and licensed by the Department of Tourism).
  • Private vehicle and driver.
  • All entry fees to museums and sites where applicable.
  • Full financial protection for all monies paid to us through our membership of Association of Bonded Travel Operators Trust (our ABTOT membership number is 5365) and having an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (our ATOL number is 10921).
  • Pre departure support and advice from The Mountain Company by email, phone or face to face meetings in London. After booking with us we will send our comprehensive “Bhutan Pre Trip Information” notes.

What's Not Included

  • International flight to/from Paro.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Use of bar and beverages in hotel, laundry, telephone calls or internet and personal shopping.
  • Tips to your guide and driver.
  • Other items not listed in “What is included”.

Accommodation

Hotel Olathang in Paro

Hotel Olathang is located amidst 28 acres of blue pine forest on a hill overlooking Paro valley. This hotel is designed in traditional Bhutanese style and was established in 1974 for the guests invited to the coronation of the Fourth King of Bhutan.

There are 28 rooms with attached bathroom and the cottages have an outdoor deck with chairs. There is a restaurant and bar in the main building and other facilities include a spa and a traditional hot stone bath.


Hotel Meri Puensum in Punakha

Hotel Meri Puensum is located above Punakha with good views down to the river and valley below. This property is family owned and was one of the first hotels in Punakha.

The rooms have attached bathroom and are simple yet functional. Some of the rooms have balconies overlooking the valley. There is a restaurant serving Bhutanese, Indian and Chinese with most meals are served as a buffet.


Gyelsa Boutique Inn in Thimphu

Gyelsa Boutique Inn is a family-run hotel located in the centre of Thimphu city and within walking distance of the restaurants, cafes and shops of the largest city in Bhutan.

The hotel has 6 suites and 12 twin rooms where the furniture is carved out of Himalayan wood and made in Bhutan. Every room has access to high speed wireless internet connectivity. Other facilities include a restaurant, bar and café.


Practical Information

Clothing and Equipment List for Bhutan tours

Footwear:

  • Comfortable shoes i.e trail shoes or trainers.
  • Flip flops or sandals.

Travel clothes. You will need clothing as follows:

  • Lightweight waterproof jacket.
  • Casual long sleeved shirt with collar (for visits to Dzongs).
  • T shirts.
  • Lightweight trousers.
  • Micro fleece.
  • Socks and underwear etc.
  • Swim wear

Please carefully read Ethics and Etiquette paragraph for dress code when visiting Dzongs.

Headwear:

Personal Equipment:

  • Toiletry bag include toilet paper, soap, towel, toothbrush, etc.
  • Useful during power cuts.
  • Backpack for day trips. Recommended size is 15 to 20 litres.
  • Water bottle.
  • Sunscreen and lipsalve with a high SPF.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Books, ipod and cards etc.
  • Power adapter.
  • Camera with spare batteries and memory cards.
  • Insurance certificate.
  • Hand sanitizer. We suggest you keep this in your day pack.
  • Duffle bag (or backpack) for your personal gear. Bring a small combination padlock to secure the bag.

Personal first aid kit:

Please bring personal medications and other items you might use regularly such as:

  • Any personal medications.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Plasters and blister treatment (Compeed patches are the best).
  • Anti-septic cream.
  • Analgesics (paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin).
  • Throat lozenges.
  • Diarrhoea treatment (Immodium) and oral rehydration salts (Dioralyte).
  • Antihistamine cream and tablets (Cetirizine or loratidine)
  • Multi vitamin tablets.

Dress code and cultural considerations for entering Dzongs

Depending on whom you talk to the exact dress code for dzongs, monasteries and lhakhangs can differ. Use the details below to assist with your planning and we recommend you discuss each days visits with your guide to reconfirm appropriate attire.

  • Go for 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.

Ethics and etiquette in Bhutan

The Royal Government of Bhutan has a strict policy to preserve its cultural and traditional values.

  • All lakes in Bhutan are believed to be inhabited by spirits therefore no fishing, swimming or throwing stones is permitted.
  • Do not disturb or feed wildlife or do anything to destroy their natural habitat.
  • Do not use detergent in or near rivers, for personal washing use biodegradable soap at least 50m from any watercourse.
  • Do not give sweets, pens or gifts to children or distribute medicine to villagers (there is a network of Basic Health Units operated by Bhutan Government throughout the country).
  • Do not purchase local household items or religious artefacts from villagers, please note that antiques may not be taken out of the country.
  • Please respect the culture and traditions of local people (trek crew, villagers or pack animal owners).

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