Journeys International - vacations and travel

Buddhist Valleys Of Bhutan

Bhutan, Asia

from $2,050* per person 6 Days September-July
Comfort accommodations Exertion level: 3
Operator: Journeys International 12 people max
  • Paro airport, paro, bhutan
  • Culture & Nature trips
Experienced world travelers are unanimously enthusiastic about Bhutan. Everything here is different, intriguing, serene, and peaceful.  From the moment you emerge from your thrilling flight into the high Paro Valley, you will find validation for the King's claim that his traditional Buddhist nation values GNH - Gross National Happiness - above material wealth.

In six days, focus on the beauty, culture, and charm of the two most famous towns in Bhutan -- Paro and Thimphu, the capital.   A few steps off the road, find yourself in a 12th century monastery or a never-logged hemlock forest. Visit markets, artisans, archery tournaments, schools, farms, and whatever else piques your interest. Your Bhutanese JOURNEYS  guide will help you define your experience.  We are ready to make these six days count among the most unique and inspiring days of your traveling life.  We're also ready to make your trip longer; ask about our array of fascinating extensions.

Locations visited/nearby

Bhutan, Asia

0 testimonials about this trip.

3 testimonials about the provider, Journeys International:

  • Reviewer: located in Chagrin Falls, OH USA
    We love that JOURNYES is eco-minded. The quality of the overseas tour companies are excellent. We have been very pleased with the quality and diversity of the content of your tours. We will definitely be back.
  • Reviewer: located in Sahuarita , AZ USA
    The major reasons that we enjoy traveling with JOURNEYS, are the fast responses to questions and information, talking to a real person who is friendly and empathetic to individual needs, the professionalism of the staff and the knowledge of all trips we have taken.
  • Reviewer: located in Chicago, IL USA
    This trip captured our souls and will live with us forever.  Our daughter still talks everyday of the Masaai people in the Sinya camp who carried her during our stay.  Our son bores anyone who comes through our door with our slide show.  We all look at our pictures and pinch ourselves…..were we really there?!  Did we really watch and listen as a mother lion “spoke” to her cubs and they sassed back?  Did we really see giraffes, monkeys, elephants and zebra….all in the same spot?!  Could we really see for hundreds of miles across the savannah?!  Could the sky hold any more stars and has the Milky Way ever been clearer?!  Could the people have been any nicer!?  It is all like a magical dream…

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Special information

  • This is a custom departure, meaning this trip is offered on dates that you arrange privately with the provider. Additionally, you need to form your own private group for this trip. The itinerary and price here is just a sample. Contact the provider for detailed pricing, minimum group size, and scheduling information. For most providers, the larger the group you are traveling with, the lower the per-person cost will be.


Day 1      Paro/Thimphu

Fly into Paro, enjoying extraordinary views of the Himalayas (arrival dates into Paro may vary according to city of origin). The landing in Paro is dramatic, on the single runway at the bottom of a long valley with snowy peaks on either side. Drive about two hours to Thimphu and savor the serenity of Bhutan and the opportunity to converse with your guide. The afternoon and evening are free to rest or walk around Thimphu (7,380’). This is the world’s only capital city without traffic lights. In sports fields, men and women love to practice archery, the national sport. Note the traditional dress: kiras, long wrap-around dresses, for women, and ghos, knee-length robes, for men. Here, the modern meets the medieval. There are automobiles and storefronts, but a few blocks from the main street, farmers are still plowing with oxen, and bright red chili peppers are drying on rooftops. Roads quickly become footpaths as they lead up steep mountainsides.

Lodging: Bhutanese style lodge. Expect modern Western style bath and toilet, hot water, electricity, and colorful tantric Buddhist-themed decor. Possible internet access in lobby.
Meals: Lunch, Dinner
Lodging: Bhutanese style lodge    

Day 2      Thimpu/Cultural Institutions

There are many choices of activities today. Thimphu is the site of many national institutions which preserve history and perpetuate the pursuit of Gross National Happiness as a national goal. You may want to visit the Folk Heritage Museum, National Library of Ancient Texts, National Textile Museum, National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Royal Academy of Performing Arts, or one of several traditional artist-training programs.

Visit Tashichho Dzong, built in 1216 and completely renovated between 1962 and 1969 without the use of nails or written plans. Also visit Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Bliss), an active monastery with 500 monks. Earn a fantastic view at Changangkha Lhakhang, an old fortress temple and monastic school perched on a ridge above Thimphu.

Not far from Thimphu, there are numerous Buddhist temples and monasteries. Depending on your fitness and ambition, you can choose some combination of auto and hiking to visit one or more of them and possibly observe some ceremonial activity.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging: Traditional Bhutanese style hotel    

Day 3      Thimpu - Markets, Dzongs & Hikes (Sat)

On your second day in Thimphu, you may want to see more of the city sites or venture a bit farther out on foot or by car. Bhutan’s most striking buildings are the dzongs huge, traditionally-designed structures that serve as municipal administrative headquarters and as religious centers.

On Saturdays, the Weekend Market is a great way to experience local life. Throngs of Bhutanese from Thimipu and from great distances gather to sell their vegetables, traditional masks and textiles, incense, and jewelry.

If you would like to get a taste of trekking and nature observation, consider day hikes of two to four hours to visit Drolay Gomba, Lungchuzekha Gomba, Phajoding Gomba, or Trashigang Gomba. Your guide will help you decide which is the best choice based upon weather, season, and wildlife or temple ceremonies you might witness.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging: Traditional Bhutanese style hotel    

Day 4      Thimphu/Paro

From Thimpu to Paro, travel even further back in time to a simpler, quieter place. Paro, located on the banks of the Paro Chhu (river), is in the center of an open valley. Entering via the road from Thimpu, you pass the archery ground. Today and tomorrow, there are various options for your visit. If you want to learn more about Buddhism, archaeology, and history consider touring Paro Rinpung Dzong, one of the most impressive dzongs in all Bhutan, a large Drukpa Kagyu Buddhist Monastery and fortress housing the monastic body and government offices. From here, there are famous views of the wooden covered bridge known as Nyamai Zam. Enjoy the fantastic architecture of Ugyen Pelri Thang Palace (the residence of the Queen Mother) from the outside and fine temples including Druk Choeding, built in 1525, and Dumtse Lhakhang, built in 1433. Ta Dzong, in the shape of a conch shell, contains a superb collection of ancient and modern religious Thangka paintings.

JOURNEYS travelers love to accept the invitations of local farmers to visit inside their colorful farmhouses. Traditionally built with mud walls and wooden frames without nails, these houses are normally three stories high, with the ground floor used for the animals, the second floor used as the family living quarters, and the third floor generally used to store food and hay.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging: Traditional Bhutanese style hotel    
ay 5      Paro/Tiger�s Nest (Tatksang Monastery)

Visit more of Paro or go farther afield. The most classic half-day hike in Bhutan is the climb to famous Tiger’s Nest (Tatksang) Monastery on the side of a cliff almost 3,000 feet above the Paro valley. You can hike two hours up to the monastery, ride a horse, or view the site from the road. From Tiger’s Nest, drive to the ruins of Drugyel Dzong for spectacular views of Mount Chomolhari. You might also stop at Kyichu Lhakang, one of the oldest and most beautiful temples in Bhutan, thought to have been built in 659 by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet.

If your schedule allows you to spend another day in Bhutan, we recommend visiting the ancient Haa Valley. Occupied since before the sixth century, but first opened to foreigners in 2002, this area remains largely undeveloped and infrequently visited by tourists. Visit the Haa Dzong and the surrounding monasteries. This is an especially good option if the weather is clear; the ridge you cross between Paro and Haahas offers some of the best mountain views in this part of Bhutan.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging: Traditional Bhutanese style hotel    

Day 6      Paro/Onward

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight. Or consider extending your trip with a few additional days to see more of Bhutan or other neighboring countries such as Nepal, India, or Thailand.
Meals: Breakfast
Lodging: None

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