Travel to Bhutan’s spiritual & cultural interiors to learn about a government in the service of human happiness
Group Travel| 12 Days
Moderate to challenging hikes; easy to moderate cultural touring
2020 Dates: November 12 ~ 23
(Closed to new participants);
November 24 ~ December 05
2021 Dates: custom dates available for both spring and fall
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.
Learn about Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Policy and its relevance in 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
FROM OUR PHOTOGALLERY
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 well-known personalities and local 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 visit exquisite temples and monasteries dating to the 8th century to study Vajrayana Buddhist art and cosmology. We learn about Bhutan’s ancient customs and traditions, and attend a colorful mask dance festival that provides a vibrant window into the people’s spiritual and communal lives. Returning west via the scenic national highway, we meet interesting everyday Bhutanese people from all walks of life—including farmers, monks, shopkeepers, artists and artisans—gaining key insights into local culture on long scenic hikes along forested trails while gradually deepening our appreciation for what makes a Bhutanese life environmentally sustainable, spiritually meaningful, and ultimately life-affirming—powerful ingredients to human happiness.
We stay at a series of scenic and well-appointed lodges built in the traditional style, enjoy the breathtaking Himalayan landscape, and close our unforgettable journey with a morning trek up to “Tiger’s Nest,” Bhutan’s holy shrine perched on a 2,000-foot sheer cliff! This is an intimately curated journey presented with heartfelt authenticity into a tiny kingdom that offers its striking message of balance, peace and harmony in a world that can seem poised on the brink of forgetting the core values of our common humanity. If you’re a traveler who seeks to positively influence world affairs, and wants to return home from your travels not just with happy memories but with valuable life-lessons you can use in your day-to-day, this is a journey that will stay with you long after the pictures have faded!
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
The activities on this trip are rated as moderate and suits a wide range of interests and physical fitness levels. The hikes on this trip can range from moderate to challenging, depending on your abilities. Trip members should be in good health and comfortable standing or walking for extended periods of time and confident navigating mixed and steep terrain that may include rocky trails, slippery conditions and, or, steps and stairs. Daily activities include city walking tours, hiking to and entering monasteries, temples and fortresses, driving over winding mountain roads and easy to moderate hiking with some strenuous options where possible. The general elevations in the valleys will mostly range from 6,800 ft to 9,000 ft, with drives that will take us over higher passes before descending to the average elevations mentioned above. The final hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery is 10,000 ft.
The high-end accommodations on this journey feature traditional Bhutanese style with modern elements. The lodges are handpicked for regional character, comfort, and hospitality, including our beautiful family lodge in the central highlands of Bhutan, the Mountain Resort (see more on the Mountain Resort below). In peak season, depending on availability, we may use lodges comparable to the ones we have listed or advertised.
Every expedition is curated by expert native-born guides and trip leaders who also facilitate meetings and learning experiences with other locally knowledgeable people along the way. Our experienced team shares valuable insights and local expertise to ensure a culturally rich adventure of discovery through the Himalayan landscape and traditions of Bhutan.
All Travelers must carry passports that will remain valid to a minimum 6 months AFTER the final date of travel in Bhutan.
Bhutan Himalaya Expeditions will take care of all visa requirements
Regional and Domestic Flights
Bhutan Himalaya Expeditions will take care of all regional flights from the gateway city of your choice and all local domestic flights. It is your responsibility to shop for, and book, flights from your home city to a gateway city (such as Bangkok).
Mountain Resort - Bumthang, Bhutan
Set against a sacred cloud forest a short distance below Bumthang's Jakar Dzong (fortress), our family-run lodge in Central Bhutan features the best elements of traditional architecture, including flagstones of river rock, the beautiful wood-and-stone masonry construction of Central Bhutan, and spacious rooms with wood paneling and post and beams of fragrant pine. Guests can enjoy a healing soak in traditional "hot stone" baths enhanced, in accordance with indigenous practices, by mugwort and other medicinal herbs. It's our perfect base for exploring the ample beauties and blessings of the central highlands of Bhutan.
DATES & PRICES
November 12 ~ 23 (closed to new participants)
November 24 ~ December 05 (open)
For a limited time only: custom dates available for both Spring & Fall
Prices are per person based on double occupancy and do not include international airfare to/from your destination or internal flights during the expedition. Single traveler prices are available upon request. Internal flights are $980 per person & $175 per person where a short-duration flight is included on the itinerary. Surcharges may apply to certain travel dates based upon international or local holidays, as well as local events and festivals. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars and subject to change.
All ground transportation, visas for Bhutan and airport transfers
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
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED
Airfare to and from destination, as well as internal airfare where applicable
Trip cancellation insurance or any other travel insurance
“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
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 in trip price.
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 most reliable flights to Bhutan.
CUSTOM JOURNEYS TAILORED JUST FOR YOU
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.
(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, please see our Triple Gems of Cambodia and Laid-back Laos travel programs. 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 Asian sensibility.