Join me on an exploration of Enigmatic Bhutan

Main Destination Bhutan Nov 20 - Nov 29 , 2024

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The last remaining great Himalayan Kingdom, Bhutan boasts magnificent mountain scenery, incredible architecture and colorful culture. A diverse natural Shangri-La, the country boasts of a staggering variety of landscapes, as well as an incredible array of flora and fauna. Set within one of the world’s most breath-taking mountain chains, Bhutan is famed for its high mountain peaks and range of trekking opportunities. Enigmatic and shrouded in myth, Bhutan is filled with tangible examples of its extraordinary culture, from the striking architecture of its mountain forts and monasteries to the images of Buddhist religious figures painted or carved onto the craggy cliffs. Colorful prayer flags flutter on spectacular mountain passes and prayer wheels turn slowly with the current of clear mountain streams. 

Why Ralph Recommends this trip... 

  • It is a chance to experience a new lodge on the scene - Punakha River Lodge- new!
  • Bhutan has great weather in November.
  • India is a short flight (Delhi 2 hour 20 minutes) so it is a perfect opportunity to add on a trip to Taj Mahal, Tigers or both!  
  • Nepal is also a short 1-hour flight away if you want to fly over the Himalayas and visit Katmandu. 
  • Visit Thailand before or after, Beaches of Koh Samui, elephants in Chiang Mai, and Bangkok is always bustling! 
  • The properties included on this itinerary are luxurious and intimate. 
  • Feel a sense of place, the itinerary is paced perfectly!

Click here to find out more information. 

Day-by-Day Itinerary: 

Wednesday, November 20, 2024, Arrive Paro / Punakha 

This morning, board your flight to Paro, Bhutan’s only international airport. The flight into Bhutan takes you close to the great Himalaya, offering dazzling scenic views of some of the world’s highest glacial peaks. As you enter the Paro valley, you will pass forested hills with the silvery Pa Chu (Paro River) glistening below, the Paro Dzong (fortress) and Ta Dzong (watch tower) on a hill above the town. 

As you exit from the arrival hall of Paro airport, you will be met by your guide and chauffeured to your hotel in Punakha (3 hour’s drive). 

Once the capital of Bhutan and the seat of government, Punakha is the heart of some of the most important moments in Bhutanese history. The very first National Assembly was held here in 1953, and in 2011 the royal wedding between King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema took place in Punakha Dzong. Popular amongst travellers, this district of the Dragon Kingdom is located at an elevation of 1200 m (3937 ft) above sea level. It is a rich agricultural area producing local rice, vegetables and fruit from its many orchards. Two of Bhutan's precious rivers converge here, the Mo Chu and Pho Chu, and at their confluence stands the majestic Punakha Dzong. The river banks of Pho Chu, are home to the last surviving populations of the critically endangered white-bellied 

Then as you cross the outskirts of Thimphu, the road climbs steeply through a scenic forest of pine and cedar trees, to Dochu La pass. An incredible Bhutanese mountain pass those peaks at 3140 m (10301 ft) above sea level. It presents exceptional views of the snow-capped eastern Himalaya range in the winter along its path, linking the city of Thimphu and Punakha. Head on over to the Druk Wangyal Chortens, where 108 memorial stupas and chortens stand in honour of Bhutanese soldiers slain in the war against Bodo insurgents from India. The Queen Mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, sanctioned the shrine in 2003 after King Jigme Singye Wangchuck overcame the insurgents. 

Stop on Dochu La to visit the 108 stupas to honor the fallen Bhutanese soldiers. 

On arrival, check-in to your hotel and rest of the evening at leisure. 

Spend three nights at andBeyond Punakha River Lodge, Punakha. Your accommodation will be in a Tented Suite on Full board (Breakfast, lunch and dinner) basis. 

Thursday, November 21, 2024, Punakha 

Early this morning, you will begin your hike to the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten. You will be driven to the suspension bridge and hike only about 45 minutes. This three storey lhakhang is a recent addition to Bhutan's string of architecturally splendid buildings. Built by Her Majesty the Queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon, it houses representations of the tantric form of Buddhist deities that subjugate enemies and ward off harmful influences on the people of Bhutan. Built for the protection of the country and the present King, Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten also offers impressive views of the valley below. We will carry a packed breakfast with us. Enjoy your packed breakfast in this serene setting before other guests start arriving on top of the hill. After breakfast, you will be taken for a show around of the temple. 

Optional – Rafting session can be organised this morning after the hike. 

Post lunch, proceed towards Punakha to visit Punakha Dzong. Constructed in 1637, this was the second dzong to be built in Bhutan, and for many years served as its seat of government. Widely referred to as the most beautiful dzong in the country, the towering white walls form a lovely contrast to the surrounding greens and blues. It is the winter residence of the central monastic body, and holds a very important relic over which many wars were fought with the Tibetans. All of Bhutan's kings are crowned here before they can take their throne in Thimphu. The dzong’s magnificence is especially striking in the spring when the lilac-coloured jacaranda trees are in full bloom. 

Next, visit to the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang Nunnery. Perched on a ridge amongst the pine trees gleams the magnificent structure of the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang. This temple houses a 14 ft (4.2 m) bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara, made by local Bhutanese artisans. Other statutes include those of The Buddha, Guru Rinpoche, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, Tsela Namsum, and the 21 Taras. The temple complex also houses a permanent school of higher learning and a meditation centre for nuns where, apart from religious training, provides vocational training such as tailoring, embroidery, statue making and thangka painting. (B/L/D) 

Friday, November 22, 2024, Punakha 

This morning after breakfast we will start our hike to Hokatsho lake (3.5 – 4 hours uphill and 3 hours downhill) with a packed lunch. Drive through villages before reaching a 15th century temple - Chorten Nyeabu. The hike to Hokatsho lake begins here. This beautiful untouched lake is hidden away, tucked in between dense jungle vegetation. From here, the path follows a man-made irrigation channel almost all the way upto the lake. As you proceed upwards, the jungle around you comes to life with the sounds of insects and birds. Upon reaching the lake, a small path leads down to the water and offers magnificent views in its peaceful and untouched surroundings. Hiking time: 3 – 4 hours 

You can break for lunch (Please ask your hotel to pack the same for you a day prior) here at the lake. Should you wish to walk around the lake, this will take about two hours (lunch on direct payment basis). 

On the way back you will stop for a short rest in one of the charming farmhouses scattered on the hillside overlooking the valley at the village near Chorten Nyeabu. Here you can enjoy the gorgeous views from the family room whilst sipping some ngaja (milk tea) with the locals, before commencing on the last hour down. 

Rest of the evening is at leisure. (B/L/D) 


Saturday, November 23, 2024, Punakha/ Phobjikha 

After an early breakfast this morning, you will be chauffeured to Phobjikha (3 hour’s drive). 

As you are exiting Punakha, stop en-route and hike to Chimi Lhakhang. Perched on a hill in the centre of the valley, Chimi Lhakhang is a temple dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley. Also known as the 'Divine Madman', he used humour, song and dramatic reenactment to disperse his teachings back in the 15th century. Chimi Lhakhang is widely known as the temple of fertility; locals come here to receive blessings from the lama. They pray and ask to be blessed with a child. Locals also bring their newborns to be named here. The lhakhang is about a 30-minute walk through fields from the main road. 

Crossing Wangdue, the road once again gradually climbs to Lawa La pass, which offers the magnificent view of Mount Jhomolhari (24,035 feet/7,326 metres) and Mount Jichu Drake (21,856 feet/6,662 metres). There is an abrupt change in vegetation as we drive, with mountain forest replaced by high altitude dwarf bamboo. 

The Phobjikha valley is a U-shaped glacial valley. It serves as a winter home to a group of globally endangered black-necked cranes that migrate every winter from the Tibetan plateau. This crucible of beauty is on the western slopes of the Black Mountains, bordering the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. Some people refer to the entire region as Gangtey, which is well known for its magnificent nature trails. Gangtey also has its own monastery, perched at the head of the valley. 

On reaching Phobjikha, check in to the hotel. Soak in the beautiful views of the Gangtey valley and relax over lunch. 

In the afternoon walk along the Gangtey Nature Trail, a popular excursion for those who enjoy hiking. Leaving the Goemba and crossing streams, past the Sumchubara village, you enter mixed forests, much of it covered in Spanish moss. Emerging from the trees, the path opens up to a fabulous view of the valley and the marshy conservation area below. The trail will end in the village of Khewang as you cross the Nake Chu. Altitude descent: 224 m (734 ft). Distance: 4.6 km (2.9 mi). Hiking time: 2 hours. 

In the evening head towards the Shedra which is a monastic school. Attend the prayers this evening where about 300 monks chant every evening. 

Spend three nights at Gangtey Lodge, Phobjikha. Your accommodation will be in a Suite on Full board (Breakfast, lunch and dinner) basis. 

Sunday, November 24, 2024, Phobjikha 

Early this morning you will be escorted to the Gangtey Goemba (monastery), perched on a forested hill overlooking the green expanse of the whole Phobjikha valley. In 1613, the grandson and reincarnation of Pema Lingpa, Pema Thinley founded the Nyingma temple here, which has grown into today's Gangtey Goemba. It serves as the seat of the ninth reincarnation of the body of the Terton (treasure discoverer) Pema Lingpa. You will participate with the monks and lamas in the Tshewang prayer ceremony (a prayer for personal empowerment, wish fulfilment and a healthy life). The prayer will last approximately 30 minutes, during which you will participate in the lighting up of butter candles. At the end of the prayer, guests will receive a personal blessing from the Tulku (a reincarnated Master) and an exclusive tour of the Monastery.
Followed by a private breakfast within the monastery. 

Then, ride mountain bikes down to the valley floor to visit the Black-necked Crane Education Centre. A visit to this centre is a great way to learn about the endangered black-necked crane and the folklore that surrounds them. These splendid birds occupy a very special place in Bhutanese culture. The centre is equipped with spotting scopes, installed to improve your experience and watch the cranes as they fly around. They are only seen from the months of November to February, but there is an enclosure where rescued cranes are rehabilitated. Amongst the educational exhibits, you can also enjoy a 15-minute documentary called “The Birds of Heaven”. 

Ride back up to the lodge in time for lunch. 

Rest of the afternoon is at leisure. Or you can try your hand on some traditional archery (dha) or darts (Khuru). The other option is to cycle to Kumbu Lhakhang and back. (B/L/D) 

Monday, November 25, 2024 

This morning you will go on the Longteng hike. The morning begins with a 30-minute drive from Gangtey to your hike’s starting point near Longteng village on the east-west highway. Start by walking downwards following the path to the right of the road. The path leads through bush bamboo towards a small cluster of village houses. There are vibrant rhododendron forests on both sides of the trail, and in the winter months, yaks graze in the area. The last part of the trail through the forest is steeper until you reach the pass at 3,586 metres (11,766 ft) with impressive views of the Gangtey Goemba, the Shedra, and the valley below. After the pass you continue downward towards the idyllic Kumbu village. It is possible to get collected from here, or you may continue down to the Shedra. The full hike will take about four hours and you will be back at your hotel by lunch time. Altitude gain: 431 metres (1414 ft). Distance: 7 kms (4.4 mi). Hiking time: c.4 hours 

Return to the lodge. Rest of the day is at leisure. (B/L/D) 

Tuesday, November 26, 2024, Phobjikha/ Paro 

Today early morning post breakfast, you will be transferred to Paro (5 hour drive)

Paro is a historic town, situated at 2250 m (7382 ft,) with many sacred sites and historical buildings scattered through the area. It is home to many of Bhutan's oldest temples and monasteries, the National Museum and the country's only airport. Mt Jhomolhari (7326 m /24035 ft) reigns in its white glory at the northern end of the valley. Its roaring glacial water plunges through deep gorges to form the Pa Chu (Paro River). Paro is one of the most fertile valleys in the Kingdom, producing a bulk of the locally famous red rice from its terraced fields. 

On arrival in Paro, check-in to your hotel and have lunch. 

Alternately, drive to visit the Ta Dzong; a watch tower built to defend Rinpung Dzong during the inter-valley wars of the 17th century. Since 1967, the Ta Dzong has been serving as the National Museum of the country. It holds a fascinating collection of art, relics, religious thangka paintings, natural history, and Bhutan's exquisite postage stamps. The building's circular shape comes from its defensive origin. 

Followed by a visit to a local farmhouse. The beauty of Paro valley is embellished by clusters of old-fashion farmhouses. Bhutanese farm houses are very colourful, decorative and traditionally built without the use of a single nail. All houses follow the same architectural pattern. A visit to a traditional farmhouse is educational and offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of a farmer. 

Spend three nights at Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary, Paro. Your accommodation will be in a Terrace room on Full board (Breakfast, lunch, dinner and Wellness activities) basis. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2024, Paro 

Early this morning, take a short drive to Ramthankha, and start your hike to the Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s Nest). Built on a sheer cliff face at a height of 2950 m (9678 ft.), the four-hour trek offers spectacular views. The trail climbs through a beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche, founder of Buddhism in Bhutan flew from eastern Bhutan on a tigress, bringing Buddhist teachings and meditation here on this cliff. This is one of the most venerated and sacred of all Buddhist sights around the world. This hike takes about five hours with a 900 m (2952 ft) approximate gain in altitude. 

Take the rest of the afternoon to relax, or if energy permits, explore Paro town to shop for souvenirs, or visit the local brewery. (B/L/D) 

Thursday, November 28, 2024, Paro  

Today post breakfast, you will make your way to the Chele La at an elevation of 3788 m (12139 ft) and is considered to be one of the highest motor-able passes in Bhutan. The pass provides stunning views of the sacred Mt Jhomolhari, Mt Jichu Drake, and on a clear day, the world's third highest peak, Mt Kanchenjunga. It is marked by hundreds of prayer flags, fluttering in the wind. In spring, you will see cascades of wild roses, purple and yellow primulas and swathes of deep blue irises covering the entire forest floor. The top of the pass blooms with rhododendrons in a variety of colours ranging from pink, burnt orange, mauve, white and scarlet. The road up to the pass is good for bird watching in the early mornings, throughout the year, including pheasants and tragopans. 

After the two hours’ drive up to Chele La, it's time to stretch your legs. Hike up about 305 m (1000 ft) and experience a 360-degree view of Bhutan’s natural beauty, including the Paro and Haa valleys. The trail is great for flora enthusiasts, with a huge variety of plants, especially during spring including thick rhododendron bushes. Your destination is the Kila Goemba Nunnery, considered the oldest nunnery in Bhutan. Housing over 100 nuns, there are seven small temples and several retreat huts built on the cliffside. 

You will be picked up from here and driven back to your hotel in time for lunch. (B/L/D) 

Optional - You will do a helicopter tour using a seven-seater, single engine, Airbus H130, you will take off from Paro airport and enjoy some of the most iconic sights around Paro before heading towards Mt Jhomolhari. You will start over the Paro valley, which includes Paro Rinpung Dzong, Ta Dzong, the iconic Tiger's Nest Monastery, Drugyel Dzong and the Lingzhi Dzong. Next you head towards Mt Jhomolhari, flying further north along the Paro River. Mt. Jhomolhari stands at 7320 m (24015 ft) and straddles the Tibet Bhutan border. 

On this ride, make a short stop at Jangothang basecamp (subject to permissions) to marvel at the majestic surroundings. On your return flight you may be able to see the turquoise lake on a clear day. 

Friday, November 29, 2024, Departure Day 

This morning you will be chauffeured to Paro airport to board your onward flight (TBA). 

Optional extensions 

Optional extensions can be arranged to visit India, Nepal and/or Thailand. Additional planning fees apply

Flights are not yet published to travel in and out of Bhutan. 

Currently on Wednesdays 

Bangkok to Paro 5:00am land 7:15am 

Katmandu to Paro 9:10am land 10:30am 

Delhi to Paro 12:30pm land 3:20pm 

Currently on Fridays 

Paro to Katmandu 7:10am land 8:10am 

Paro to Delhi 9:40am land 11:30am 

Paro to Bangkok 4:20pm land 10:00pm (1 stop IBX)

Fares and pricing $13,850 USD per person based upon Double Occupancy 

  • Single Supplement $5000
  • Internal airfare $750 per person 
  • Deposit 25% non-refundable
  • Balance due 01 August 2024 
  • Getting to Bhutan is difficult. Daily flight operates from Bangkok. 
  • Schedules for 2024 are not yet available. 
  • Recommended arrive November 19 to Bankgok, overnight Novotel (not included) 
  • Tentative – Fly 20 November 2024 Bangkok To Paro 
  • Return Flight 29 November 2024 Paro to Bangkok 
  • Helicopter service to Mount Jhomolhari price is based upon number of participants, max 7 allowed, ask for details.

We want to speak with you prior to booking to be sure you have made the right choice, explored all options before, during and after this trip including flights, transfers, travel insurance, passports and visas. 

Your price includes: 

  • Accommodation on ONE DOUBLE / TWIN ROOM in hotels as mentioned in the QUOTE. 
  • All transfers as mentioned in a private vehicle, and sightseeing. 
  • Sightseeing tour will be provided as per the itinerary with the English-speaking Bhutanese Guide and in a private Vehicle. 
  • All entrance and monuments fees mentioned in the itinerary 
  • Visa and SDF fees for Bhutan only. 
  • All current taxes as on date – subject to change as per hotel/airline/Government policy. 
  • Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary also includes wellness activities on a complimentary basis – Doctor Consultation, Massages, Yoga, Meditation, etc. 
  • 01 Prayer service at the Shedra and 01 blessing ceremony and Breakfast at the monastery in Phobjikha 
  • COVID-19 Kit on arrival.

Your price does not include: 

  • Any Airfare 
  • Tipping to guides and drivers. 
  • Any Insurance and rescue of any form. 
  • Cost arising out of flight cancellation/road blockades/landslides/riots and events beyond our control. 
  • Expenses of personal nature and any other expenses not mentioned in the above cost. 
  • Any international air fare/airport taxes not mentioned above 
  • Hotel surcharges during festival period/ Christmas & New Years Eve 
  • Any change in tax structure resulting from the hike in published tariff. 
  • Items of personal nature like tips, laundry, phone calls etc. 
  • Any video/still camera fee to the monuments and places of visit 
  • Any other item not explicitly mentioned under price includes. 
  • Any airfare for domestic flights other than the quoted details. 
  • Any cost of the meals other than the one indicated in room meal plan. 
  • Sightseeing and excursions other than those specified.

Click here to find out more information. 

Important information 

We want to speak with you prior to booking to be sure you have made the right choice, explored all options before during and after this trip including flights, transfers, travel insurance, passports and visas. 

Payment and Cancellation Policy: 


  • 25% non-refundable advance payment to be remitted within 3 days on receiving confirmation for the hotels booked. 
  • 75% of the balance payment to be remitted 61 days prior to arrival into Bhutan except for the periods of Tshechus/ Festivals where 75% advance is required 90 days prior to arrival into Bhutan.

&Beyond Asia reserves the right to cancel all services booked should full payment not be received 65 or 90 days prior to arrival date. 

Should it be a last-minute booking, &Beyond Asia will allow for 3 days from time of confirmation until payment (100%) reaches us before &Beyond Asia will cancel any services booked. The amount is NON– REFUNDABLE. 

Kindly note that payments may be processed with Visa and MasterCard credit cards. Payments may also be paid directly into &Beyond bank account details. 

  • All payments received through credit card will attract an additional 2.50% transaction fee on the total invoice amount being paid. 
  • All payments received through PayPal will attract an additional 2.0% transaction fee on the total invoice amount being paid.


Booking made within 65 days of arrival100% payment at the time of booking (within 72 hours) (non-refundable)
Booking made more than 65 days prior to arrival25% payment at the time of booking *within 7 days) and balance 75%, 65 to 100 days prior to arrival
Cancellation 65 days or more prior to arrivalNo cancellation / retention charge, except for cancellation fee on air tickets
Cancellation within 65 days of arrivalRetention of full deposit levied as cancellation charge

We recommend the purchase of Travel Insurance. Click here to view full details

Deluxe Travel Protection designed by Travel Experts 

Travelers Age Cost
0-17 yr3.2%
18-34 yr  4.1%
35-59 yr6.1%
60-69 yr  8.5%
70-79 yr   10.9%
80+ yr   14%

Terms, conditions and restrictions apply; pricing, availability, and other details subject to change and/ or apply to US or Canadian residents. Please confirm details and booking information with your travel advisor.

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