Journey to discover Bhutan's Gross National Happiness


Heart of Happiness: Travel to Bhutan's spiritual center 

A Bhutan Himalaya Signature Journey

Bhutan is often described as a “happy place,” a reference to the government’s stated goal of “Gross National Happiness” for its citizens. The beautiful Himalayan landscape, the overarching cultural and spiritual sensibilities, and the philosophical outlook of the people make Bhutan’s quest for a meaningful existence more than a mere Utopian adventure.


In a world shaped by mass consumerism and ego politics, Bhutan begs the question: “What is the secret to happiness in a country where the fundamental well-being of the people, termed Gross National Happiness, or GNH for short, is a higher goal instead of Gross Domestic Product? To answer this question we meet personalities and thought leaders familiar with Bhutan's quest for a harmonious society based on the happiness of its citizens. 

We take a dramatic Himalayan flight from Paro in the west to Bumthang in central Bhutan, where we attend an ancient mask dance festival that gives us an insight into the kingdom's religious traditions. We visit a string of temples and monasteries to understand Vajrayana Buddhist art and learn about Bhutan's rich traditions; two factors that hugely influence the national policy of Gross National Happiness to this day.  Returning west via the scenic national highway,  we meet interesting locals, sample local culture and hike forested trails, while getting to know what makes the Bhutanese way of life sustainable and meaningful. 

Along the way, stay at a series of scenic and well-appointed lodges built in the traditional style, enjoy the beautiful landscape of the last Himalayan kingdom and, finally, close our unforgettable journey with a morning trek up to see the “Tiger’s Nest,” Bhutan's holy shrine perched on a sheer cliff! This tiny nation presents a striking message of balance and  harmony for the world today. If you're a traveler who seeks to  positively influence world affairs, this is a journey that will stay with you long after the pictures have faded! 


  •  Learn about Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Policy and its relevance to the wider world 

  • Meet interesting local officials and thought leaders 

  • Attend an ancient mask dance festival

  • Visit some of the most beautiful temples and monasteries in the Himalayas 

  • Markets, Monuments, optional hikes and more

Route Map - Heart of Happiness 


“Through the eyes of a select few informed leaders we saw the dilemmas of a culture: A hitherto sheltered nation discovering the arguments for and against remaining a cloistered society in this 21st Century. I loved the adventure, and I loved the discovery. Unlike anything else I have ever experienced!”

~ Lola W.


Stroll into Paro town, visit the national museum and 7th century Kyichu Temple  Settle into your comfortable, well-appointed lodge.


Take the beautiful mountain flight to Bumthang valley in central Bhutan and complete the mostly level walking loop around the valley entering several temples along the way ● Experience a medieval Bhutanese mask dance festival with all the religious pageantry and and cultural symbolism alongside local residents.

Enjoy a second day at central Bhutan's remarkable annual festival, or explore the beautiful trails of Chamkhar on foot (optional) or alternately explore some of the valley's more remote temples and monasteries  Explore the beautiful Tang valley, gateway to Eastern Bhutan. Learn about Bhutanese life as it has continued for centuries, visit a peaceful  Buddhist nunnery. 


Drive from the scenic  highlands Bumthang into the lush gorges and valleys of Trongsa; visit the royal museum and the magnificent fortress of Trongsa.    Drive over the high pass of Pele La to the sultry valleys of Punakha, with scenic stops enroute. 


Visit beautiful Punakha Dzong and peaceful local temples and villages  ● Drive over the high pass of Dochu La to Thimphu with views of the greater Himalayan peaks; explore the markets and monuments of Bhutan’s busy capital; evening dinner with Bhutanese dignitaries, thought leaders and artists where you exchange ideas and learn more about “GNH.” ● Explore Bhutan's exciting and vibrant capital, its museums, markets and monuments.


Morning hike to famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery with time in the afternoon for people-watching and a final stroll through downtown Paro; Farewell dinner.   Following a leisurely breakfast this morning, we bring you back to the airport in time to catch your return flight to Bangkok or another  gateway city.



(with optional Bangkok Transit arrangements)

If you'd like to spend a little more time exploring the magnificent World Heritage sites of Cambodia and Laos before or after Bhutan with arrangements in and out of Bangkok, we can take care of those details as well. Start the Conversation and tie in a visit to the awe-inspiring temples of Angkor Wat or explore the quaint streets of Luang Prabang where French Colonial meets a distinctly unique Asian sensibility. 




2019: November 12 ~ 23 closed to new participants; Spaces may be available for other months.   


From $4,500 per person (Custom trips may require additional arrangements, which may add to the trip costs.) 


Flights from Bangkok to Bhutan round trip and domestic flights in Bhutan (if noted on your itinerary) are NOT included in Trip Price. Bhutan Himalaya Expeditions will make flight arrangements. 


  •  All ground transportation and airport transfers

  • All Accommodations

  • All meals, including excursions to try well-known local restaurants 

  • The expertise and services of your Bhutanese Trip Leaders, Guides & dedicated trip field staff

  • Courtesy booking services & arrangements for round-trip regional flights from gateway cities (such as Bangkok) to Bhutan & any internal domestic flights (airfare is additional). 

  • Sightseeing, special events & receptions, visits and entry fees 

  • All environmental national parks & conservation fees and permits

  • All Trek Arrangements (if you signed up for a trek), including community camping and commissary equipment (comfortable and roomy two-person tents, kitchen and dining tents, and other  community equipment), camp, cook and support staff



Did you know we also arrange custom journeys throughout the year? Just tell us what you need from your trip and we will put it together for you. 


Getting There

Fly from your home city to Bangkok, Singapore, New Delhi Kolkata or Kathmandu (Main Gateway Cities)* 


Fly from Gateway City to Paro, Bhutan.

​Important: Bhutan Himalaya Expeditions makes round-trip flight arrangements from the Gateway City of your choice to Bhutan as a courtesy to our travelers. Airfare is not included. 

For further details please email us using the contact form on our Request Full Details page. 

*Bangkok is the primary Gateway City & offers the most frequent and reliable flights to Bhutan. 




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Telephone: 1-805-534-9224

Toll Free: 1-855-4-BHUTAN (24-8826)




1189 Los Osos Valley Road, #6858 

Los Osos, CA 93412


Member: Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) | Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators (ABTO) |

Registered: California Seller of Travel (CST) CST#2077990-40 

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