Bhutan Mini Explorer 10 Days / 9 Nights
We love Bhutan….it really is the most wonderful, rewarding destination! The Bhutan and Beyond team travel to Bhutan annually. This ensures our itineraries and inclusions are the very best possible for our valued clients. Below is our Bhutan Mini-Explorer 10 day/9 night itinerary. This is designed for private travellers and can be tailored to suit your exact requirements.
Tour Itinerary Overview.
- 2 nights Thimphu with sightseeing, hiking and shopping options.
- 2 nights Phobjikha valley for hiking and exploring.
- 2 nights Punakha valley with monastery & Dzong visits.
- 3 nights Paro valley with Taktsang Monastery hike, shopping & sightseeing.
Why Book with Bhutan & Beyond?
- 17 years experience, service & knowledge.
- We personally visit Bhutan at least once every year.
- Competitive pricing and luxury hotel upgrade options.
- Exceptionally well constructed & flexible itineraries.
- We provide a comprehensive pre-departure planning kit.
- Experts at combining Bhutan with India & Nepal.
- ATAS Accredited via our parent company MTA Travel
- Access to our exclusive travel app COMPANION
Your Bhutan Land Package Inclusions:
- English speaking guide & driver with SUV or minibus.
- All touring & transfers throughout your journey.
- Traditional 3 star hotel accom with private bathrooms.
- All meals & bottled water daily.
- Entrance fees and sightseeing.
- Visa fees, Government royalties & taxes.
- Bank transfer & communications fees.
- Professionally operated by Bhutan Tourism Corp.
- Comprehensive Trip Planner & full support from Bhutan & Beyond.
Your Bhutan land package excludes:
- Airfares to/from Bhutan.
- Personal items – laundry, drinks, tel calls, tips etc.
- Luxury hotel upgrades are additional costs.
- Travel Insurance – mandatory to enter Bhutan.
Please ensure your travel insurance covers you for these activities.
- White Water Rafting – Punakha Valley. US$250.00 for up to 5 persons.
- Archery in Paro town @ US$7.00 pp.
- Mountain bike hire in Paro & Thimphu from US$25 pp per day.
Deposit date until 60 days prior departure – Loss of deposit.
From 60 days prior arrival in Bhutan – No refund permitted
Paro Valley to Thimphu Valley (1 hr 30 mins)
After clearing immigration and customs you will be greeted by your BTCL guide and driver. Transfer to Bhutan’s capital Thimphu, travelling through the spectacular countryside en-route. All the houses and buildings in the Kingdom are painted and constructed in traditional Bhutanese style.
On arrival into Thimphu check-in to your hotel and take lunch. Enjoy the remainder of the day to explore Thimphu, both by vehicle and on foot. Your options include visits to the National Memorial Stupa; the celebrated Royal Textile Academy and the Takin Preserve – home to Bhutan’s most unusual national mammal.
Sightseeing in Thimphu.
This morning visit the awesome Golden Buddha which also offers an excellent 3 km hike option with sensational valley views. Continue on to the majestic Trashichhoe Dzong and the beautiful Tara Lhaden Zhingkham lhakang (temple). Next visit the ‘Simply Bhutan’ traditional display village followed by a Bhutanese lunch. At ‘Simply Bhutan’ you can try ara tasting (local spirit); suja tasting (butter tea); try your hand at archery and enjoy a cultural performance of song & dance during the lunch.
Other recommended places to visit are Zorig Chusum – the Institute of the 13 Arts & Crafts of Bhutan (sometimes closed for visitors); Folk Heritage museum; National Library, which holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts and the hand-made paper making factory.
The weekend market (Fri-Sun) is a must. This is where everyone goes to buy an array of fresh fruits & vegetables; home-wares, handicrafts and clothes.
Don’t forget to take a wander along Thimphu’s main street, Norzin Lam, which offers good shopping and the Craft Bazaar.
For those who have an interest in quality weavings and local art check out the Gagyel Lhundrup weaving centre. Here you can interact with the weavers. The adjacent S. Bishwa art gallery is also worth a visit.
Finally, the city bars are also worth checking out. Your guide will advise you the best options. Please note Tuesday is ‘dry day’ in Bhutan and most bars in the city will remain closed.
Overnight Thimphu – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.
Thimphu to Phobjikha Valley (4+ hrs)
This morning you will be transferred by road eastwards to the Phobjikha Valley. En-route pass the Semtokha Dzong. This was built in 1629 & is the oldest fortress of its kind that guarded the Thimphu valley. Today it is a monastery.
Continue ascending to Dochu La (pass) to view the 108 Stupas, commissioned by a former Queen as a memorial to those who lost their lives during the low intensity conflict in late 2002. This was when Bhutan evicted Indian rebels camped in the jungle on the Bhutan – Indian border. On a clear day you will witness a breathtaking view of the eastern Himalaya. Depending on the time of the year the vista can vary from alpine snow (November – February) to a profusion of blossoms (March – May).
When the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong comes into view notice the large cacti that cover the hillside below. These were planted long ago to discourage invaders from climbing the steep slope to the Dzong. From the road view Rinchengang, one of Bhutan’s oldest villages, which did not have access to water, electricity or schooling until the early 1990’s. The craftsmen of Rinchengang are sought after for their skills in construction of Dzongs and Lhakhangs (temples).
Potatoes are Phobjikha’s primary cash crop and mainly exported to India. Phobjikha is a glacial valley on the western slopes of the Black Mountains and is one of the most beautiful open valleys in Bhutan. Furthermore it is also one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country. It is the winter home (late October to early February) of the rare black necked crane which annually flies in from Tibet. There are also muntjaks (barking deer), wild boar, sambar, Himalayan black bear, leopard and red foxes.
Sightseeing & Hiking in Phobjikha.
While you are in Phobjikha you will visit the Black Crane nature information centre and the sacred Gangtey Monastery.
Also enjoy time to wander through Gangtey village and hike the Gangtey Nature Trail.
There are many additional hikes available in this beautiful valley and your guide will advise you the best options. One is the remote Phobji area further up the valley. Here you can take an easy, flat hike through temples, farm houses and small villages.
Overnight Phobjikha Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.
Phobjikha Valley to Punakha Valley. (2+ hrs)
Depart early this morning to the Punakha Valley which holds the title as the winter capital because of its more temperate climate.
Arriving into Punakha check out the markets at Mesina. After that visit Chimi Lhakhang, a monastery built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley (also known as the Divine Madman or Mad Monk), which is a pleasant 20 minute walk across paddy fields. It is believed that childless women who visit the temple will conceive after receiving a “wang” (blessing) from the resident monk.
Take lunch at a local restaurant before an orientation tour of the valley. This includes the nunnery and the small village of Talo. Here you can wander through the serene grounds of the monastery with its beautiful gardens.
Sightseeing & hiking in Punakha.
This morning visit the dramatic Punakha Dzong, which formerly served as the seat of the government and is still the winter residence of the Dratsheng (Central Monk Body). Furthermore it is an excellent example of how a medieval fortress, and a centre of both monastic and administrative functions, has evolved for modern day use.
After lunch at a local restaurant we recommend a fascinating hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten. The hiking trail is through fields of vegetables, rice paddies and tiny hamlets. This Chorten holds very special significance. It was consecrated in 1999 and dedicated to the protection of the former Crown Prince – today’s current King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.
Overnight Punakha Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.
Punakha Valley to Paro Valley (4 hrs +)
Depart Punakha early this morning for your transfer westwards to the Paro Valley. Once again traversing Dochu La and arriving in Paro for lunch at a local restaurant.
This afternoon enjoy an orientation tour of the major features in Paro town. These include Rinpung Dzong, with its cantilever bridge, and the National Museum. Here you will view the fine collection of ancient Thangkha paintings, textiles, weapons and other artefacts. Finally we recommend a wander along the main streets which offer good shopping for jewellery and handicrafts.
Sightseeing & hiking in the Paro Valley.
Early this morning take a pilgrimage hike to the very revered Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tigers Nest. All Bhutanese Buddhists strive to make this pilgrimage at least once in their lives. Each step they take on the trail counts accrues merit points for their future. Choose between a 1.5 hour round trip hike to the Monastery viewpoint, or a longer 5 hour (and more strenuous) hike into the Monastery itself.
Tigers Nest clings impossibly to a cliff of rock at 800 m above the valley floor and is where Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress to subdue the local demons. That was followed by 3 months meditation in a cave still visible in the monastery. In 1998 the monastery was seriously damaged by fire and has since been painstakingly reconstructed to its original condition and consecrated by the 4th King in 2005.
Take a Bhutanese vegetarian lunch at the Taktsang Viewpoint cafe before finishing your hike. Finally visit the nearby Kyichu Lhakhang – one of Bhutan’s oldest and most beautiful temples boasting an orange tree that perpetually bears fruit.
Overnight Paro Valley – Bhutanese Style 3*Hotel.
1/2 day trip to Chele La or full day trip to Haa Valley.
Weather permitting enjoy a trip to Chele La (pass) on Bhutan’s highest motorable road at 3988 metres. Consider the option of continuing down into the remote valley of Haa, a very beautiful valley that only opened up to tourist visitors in 2004. Alternatively enjoy one of the ridge top hikes near the pass which can afford spectacular mountain vistas on a clear day. Visit nearby Kila Nunnery, the oldest in Bhutan, where you can easily interact with the 45 odd resident nuns.
Overnight Paro Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.
Early morning departure from your hotel to Paro Airport for your onward flight.
Please scroll down the page to locate the interactive map of Bhutan.
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Name of your private tour: Bhutan Mini Explorer 10 days/9 nights