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NEW DEPARTURE | Spring 2022

Visit the grand Talo Festival of western Bhutan

An active hiking journey to Bhutan’s 2020 springtime festival in the valley of Bhutanese Queens

Group | 12 Days | Moderate Touring

Dates: March 28 ~ April 08, 2020

The bucolic Talo & Nobgang valleys in western Bhutan, surrounded by green rice paddies during sowing season, and overlooking the ancient capital of Punakha, is the ancestral home of Bhutanese Queens. Each year, a Buddhist mask dance festival celebrates the foundations of the monastery established by the illustrious Shabdrung, the "Great Unifier," who codified the religious and administrative laws of Bhutan. This journey takes us to the Grand Talo Festival, named for the famous monastery pictured on this page, combined with a hiking adventure across the main cultural centers of Bhutan. 

  •  Active country hikes and walks

  • Buddhist mask dances 

  • High-end, traditionally authentic lodges & accommodations

  • Highlights of central & western Bhutan

  • Markets, monuments, museums and more





Talo is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s queens. Our hiking journey to visit this colorful splash on the kingdom’s springtime festival calendar sidesteps some of the other, more crowded, venues, and brings us to the fertile agricultural valley of Punakha. But first, we begin the journey with a mountain flight to the lovely central highlands where we explore a series of scenic valleys before making the overland road trip back west to attend the festival. A final climb up to fabulous “Tiger’s Nest,” closes this early April 2020 adventure. 

    Flight from Bangkok to Luang Prabang Arrival in Luang Prabang Upon clearing Customs and Immigration, your guide and driver will meet you at the airport and present you with a welcome packet including all necessary documentation and vouchers as well as their contact information and information for local staff, offices and contacts you may need for the duration of your stay. Transfer by air conditioned vehicle (6 kms) Overnight in Luang Prabang
    Morning at leisure A Wat to Wat Insider Walking tour (4 hours) Discover the main sights of Luang Prabang and get an insider's view of the religion and culture from a renowned photographer and author. Acommpanied your own private guide take a tuk tuk to the centre of the city to start your walking tour. Stroll through the winding streets to Wat Visoun, one of the oldest and most beautiful temples in Luoangphabhang. Visit That Makmo, also known as the "Watermelon Stupa." Continue to Wat Xieng Thong, the city's best-known and most visited monastery. The three tiered roof of the monastery sweeps low to the ground and the walls have been beautifully decorated in black lacquer and gold leaf with beautiful scenes carved in gold-painted bas-relief drawn from Hindu and Buddhist mythology. The back of Wat Xieng Thong features an intricate glass mosaic of the tree of life set on a dark red background. Later, take a walk along the Nam Khan River to Wat Khili. Here, at the temple, you will be introduced to a Luang Prabang native who has produced photography projects about world religions, and participated in art and education projects in Laos. He currently has a permanent exhibition, 'The Floating Buddha', inside the temple. He will take you on a private tour of the exhibition and share his extensive knowledge and expertise on Laos. Our final stop on this walking tour is the National Museum, which once served as the Royal Palace. After a short orientation tour through the Museum we transfer back to the hotel by tuk tuk. Transfer to/from restaurant Restaurant: Tamnak Lao Restaurant Luang Prabang (Dinner) Overnight in Luang Prabang
    Excursion by boat to Tham Pak Ou Caves (5-6 hours) Travel up the Mekong River to the steep limestone cliffs overlooking the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers, home to the Tham Pak Ou Caves. These extraordinary caves are filled with Buddha images, of every style and material imaginable. On the way to the Caves, stop at Ban Xang Hai Village (If time permits). The village is open 6.00 am - 15.00 pm and closed every major Buddhist holiday. This traditional Lao village is famous for the production of lao lao, the local alcoholic brew distilled from rice. The village also provides an opportunity to learn how to make traditional Laotian Corn Leaf Paper and Rice Tree Paper. First you learn how the material for corn leaf and rice tree paper are sourced and then prepare the paper from the raw materials provided. Once the paper is dry you will be shown how it can be fashioned into lampshades, a booklet or a postcard. You get to keep what you make as mementos of your visit. Overnight in Luang Prabang
    Sightseeing in Luang Prabang Luang Prabang, the ancient capital city of the Lan Xang Kingdom, is famous for its historic temples and beautiful setting surrounded by mountains. In 1995 it was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site. Visit Talat local market (Tour will start early morning) (30 minutes) Visit the National Museum (former Royal Palace) and Wat Mai Visit the National Museum (Royal Palace), a modest but graceful building which combines traditional Lao and French beaux-arts motifs. This turn-of-the century royal residence has been preserved as it was when the royal family last lived here and provides unique insights into the history of Laos. Then, visit the Hor Phrabang, a royal temple built on the palace grounds especially to house Laos' most sacred Buddha statue. The Buddha, cast in gold, silver and bronze alloy, stands at 83 cm tall and weighs about 50 kgs (more than 110lbs). Continue to Wat Mai, which was built in 1821 during the reign of King Manthatourath, and was once the residence of Phra Sangkharaj, the Patriarch of Laos' Buddhist clergy. Excursion to Kuang Si Waterfalls (3 hours) From Luang Prabang, travel by vehicle to the Kuang Si falls. The waterfalls are in a perfect natural setting near Luang Prabang. The multi-tiered falls tumble over limestone formations into a series of turquoise pools. Bring your swim suits and sandals if you'd like to dip your toe or part of your body in a relatively gentle pool. Please exercise caution! During certain times of the year, the falls can be dangerous because of strong torrents and the volume of water rushing downstream. Visit the nearby village of Ban Ou or Ban Na Ouane, before returning to Luang Prabang by vehicle. Overnight in Luang Prabang
    Today you have a free morning to enjoy a cozy breakfast for two at an interesting local cafe, relax at the hotel or do some exploring on your own. Later in the afternoon your guide will meet you at the hotel and take you by local tuk tuk to the pier. Board the local boat and then sit back and relax on a short cruise on the mighty Mekong River. Take in the scenes of local life alongside the river and look out to the distant misty mountains. Farther down the river, the boat will bring you to the opposite bank where the temple Wat Had Siew is located. After exploring the temple environs, you will be introduced to your monk teacher who will take you through a short guided meditation (your guide is on hand to help with the translation.) After clearing your mind through meditation amid the spiritual surroundings, travel by boat and tuk tuk to a local yoga school (optional). After a warm welcome by the instructor, you will be taught some basic yoga aimed at improving mental and physical balance. Be sure to wear or bring some comfortable clothes if you plan on doing yoga this afternoon. At the end of the day return to your hotel by vehicle. Restaurant : Dyen Sabai Restaurant and Lounge (Dinner) Overnight in Luang Prabang
    Transfer by air conditioned vehicle (6 kms) Flight from Luang Prabang to Vientiane Transfer by air conditioned vehicle Sightseeing in Vientiane The capital city of Laos and the seat of Laotian government sits on a bend of the Mekong River amid the fertile alluvial plains. Vientiane (pronounced Wieng Chang by the locals) is a laid-back city with lots of history, interesting temples and lively markets. Overnight in Vientiane
    Sightseeing in Vientiane (8 hours) The capital city of Laos, Vientiane, still feels like a sleepy city with a relaxed charm, tree-lined boulevards, beautiful temples and colorful markets. Tour the many highlights of the city, including Pha That Luang, a gleaming golden stupa with a vibrantly painted interior (below) that is perhaps the most important national monument in Laos; Ho Pha Keo, the royal temple, now a museum with beautiful examples of Buddhist sculptures; Wat Si Saket, another built in 1818; Patuxai, a monumental arch inspired by Paris' Arc de Triomphe, but executed with Lao motifs. Stop by the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE) for a reckoning with the awful legacy of American bombs, and the progressive work of the organization rehabilitating those injured by unexploded ordnances. See Wat Si Muang, a gold monument built in 1563. End your day at the Talaat Sao, or the "morning market" (actually open all day), the best place to buy traditional Lao fabrics. Overnight in Vientiane
    Today you have a chunk of leisure time to explore on your own, try some interesting local restaurants, visit an art gallery or just spend some time reading and relaxing at the hotel. This evening visit the home of a local chef and learn how to cook delicious Lao dishes. Travel to Ban Nong Bone Village, where the Head Chef, Vanpheng, will welcome you to her home and teach your cooking class. Over the next few hours you will learn how to cook three local dishes using traditional ingredients and techniques. Afterwards, relax and enjoy the feast everyone has created together. Traditional sweets and snacks will also be on offer, although the savoury dishes tend to be most popular to prepare. Tropical drinks are also included with the meal. Say farewell to Vanpheng and spend the rest of the evening at leisure (or see recommendation below): Recommended Tour: This evening we recommend a stroll along the banks of the Mekong River through Chao Anou Park and the Night Market, observing locals and taking in the views. Both are situated along the Mekong and this area comes alive after dark. Adventurous foodies can sample a wide range of local snacks along the way. Cap off the night with a bottle of the Beerlao, a tasty local beer brewed from local rice and high-quality malt. Overnight in Vientiane
    Transfer by air conditioned vehicle Flight from Vientiane to Bangkok ™


The activities on this trip are rated as moderate and suits a wide range of interests and physical fitness levels. 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. 

Expedition Staff

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. 


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.     


2020 Dates


March 28 - April 08, 2020

2021 Dates

  • March 26 - April 06, 2021

2020 Pricing



Per Person doubles; Single traveler Supplement ($550/-pp)


2021 Pricing



Per Person doubles; Single traveler Supplement ($550/-pp)

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 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


  • Airfare to and from destination, as well as internal airfare where applicable

  • Trip cancellation insurance or any other travel insurance 

  • Alcoholic beverages

  • Gratuities


The country is beautiful, and its story is compelling but the special sense of a privileged view into the life of the country that you provided is beyond describing. We are very grateful; thank you!

~ Laurie H. Z, Denver, Co.



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. 




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, we can take care of those details as well. 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. 





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