Bhutan on a Budget- 12 night tour

Bhutanese Monk

Your Bhutan Tour Inclusions

  •  Freelance professional guide, driver and vehicle
  •  All touring & transfers in Bhutan
  • All sightseeing, hiking & most entrance fees
  •  All meals at 3* hotels & some local restaurants as per guides discretion
  • 3* hotel accommodation with private bathrooms
  • Option to stay at Bhutanese farm house accom with limited/share bathroom
  • Bhutan government taxes and ‘Sustainability Fee’
  • Bhutan visa fees & processing
  • Bank transfers and communications charges
  • A comprehensive Bhutan visitor guide
  • ZERO FLIGHT RISK – free cover for supplier default.
  • ATAS Accredited via our parent company MTA Travel

Tour Exclusions:

  • Flights to/from Paro are additional.
  • Comprehensive Travel Insurance which is mandatory to be granted a visa. Please ensure your coverage allows for hiking up to 4000m.
  • Bottled water & all other drinks which you can purchase yourself daily.
  • Snacks & drinks in-between meals are your personal responsibility.
  • Laundry, telephone calls, local SIM, medications, personal expenses.
  • Tips for guide & driver as per our tipping guide.

Bhutan Season & Tour Costs 2020

Minimum of 2 persons travelling together to take advantage of this offer. This tour is not available to (solo) single travellers. 

Peak Season: March, April, May, September, October & November.
Regular Season: January, February, June, July August & December.

  • 2 persons travelling on a twin share basis.
    Peak Season US$3348.00 pp Regular Season US$27360.00 pp
  • 3 or more persons travelling together.
    Peak Season US$ 2988.00 pp  & Regular Season US$2376.00 pp 

Cancellation Conditions

Deposit Date until 60 days prior departure – Loss of deposit
From 60 days prior arrival in Bhutan – No refund permitted

Day 1:

Paro Airport to Thimphu City (1 hr 15 mins)

After clearing immigration and customs proceed to the terminal exit door where you will meet your guide & driver and be transferred 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.

Whilst in Thimphu your sightseeing options include the following and you must arrange your daily schedule with your guide each morning.

Please note you will not be able to do all listed sightseeing & hiking options so please just choose those that interest you the most.

• Golden Buddha (Buddha Dordenma)
• View the majestic Trashichhoe Dzong.
• The National Memorial Chorten.
• Tara Lhaden Zhingkham lhakang (temple)
• Visit the Takin Preserve
• Wander along Norzin Lam (Thimphu’s main st) & visit the Craft Bazaar
• Weekend Market (FRI – SUN only)
• Royal Textiles Academy, closed SUN & Public Holidays (PH)
• ‘Simply Bhutan’ display village
• National Library, which holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts, closed SAT & PH
• Visit the cottage industries of Handmade Paper & Incense, closed SAT/SUN/PH
• Gagyel Lhandrup Weaving Centre, closed SAT/SUN/PH
• Zorig Chusum – the Institute of the 13 Arts & Crafts of Bhutan, closed SAT/SUN/PH exam & school holidays.

Hiking options available in Thimphu.

  • Wangditse hike:
    Drive to BBS tower, approximately 15 minutes drive and start hike from there. It’s a gradual walk towards Wangditse Goemba, approx 30 minutes walk. (round trip 1 hr)
  • Tango Goemba hike
    Travel north up the Thimphu valley and hike through the forest to Tango Goemba (2hr round trip)
  • Golden Buddha hike:
    An excellent 3 km hike option with wonderful city & valley views.

Overnight Thimphu – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.

Day 2:

Activities in the Thimphu valley today.

As per the suggestions above.

Overnight Thimphu - Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel

Day 3:

Thimphu Valley to Phobjikha Valley – 5 hrs

This morning and drive eastward to the Punakha Valley. En-route pass the Semtokha Dzong built in 1629, the oldest fortress of its kind that guarded the Thimphu valley, and which today is a monastery. Ascend to Dochu La (pass-3116 m) to view the 108 Stupas; a memorial to those who lost their lives in late 2002 when Bhutan evicted Indian rebels camped in the jungle on the Bhutan Indian border. On a clear day witness a breathtaking view of the eastern Himalaya.

Descending into the Punakha valley pass the new town of Bajo and, when the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong (under reconstruction) 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.

Phobjikha is a glacial valley on the western slopes of the Black Mountains and is one of the most beautiful open valleys in Bhutan. It is also one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country and the winter home (late Oct to early Feb) 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 fox.

On arrival into Phobjikha enjoy a walk through the quaint Gangtey village and to the revered Gangtey Goemba.

Overnight Phobjikha Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.

Hiking options available en-route to Phobjikha – time permitting

  • Lumichawa hike:
    Drive to Dochu La, from Thimphu. The hike starts at Dochu La and is a gradual walk down to Lumichawa along a old ancient trail, towards Punakha. (2 hours walk).

Day 4:

Sightseeing & hiking in the Phobjikha Valley.

This morning visit the Black Crane nature information centre and the nearby hide. The Cranes will be resident in the valley at the time of your visit. Later take a light hike along the Gangtey Nature Trail.

After lunch at a local farm house (with a local family) drive further down the valley to the Phobji area where you can take an easy afternoon hike through the local villages and farm houses.

Overnight Phobjikha Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.

Hiking options available in Phobjikha.

  • Longtey Hike:
    If you are looking for a picturesque hike through some of the most beautiful parts of Gangtey, this is the one. A 30-minute drive will take you to the starting point in Longtey village, and the hike takes about 3-5 hours. The trail initially takes you through a small village where the yak herders put up their camps in the winter. From here you continue upwards through mysterious old-growth rhododendron forest. For the next two hours or so, you might feel like you are in the settings of Lord of the Rings surrounded by tall old trees which appear to be living creatures around you. The last part through the forest is slightly steeper uphill until you reach the pass with impressive views of the Gangtey Goemba, the Shedra, and the rest of the valley. A great place for a picnic lunch before you continue on the path as it slopes down the valley towards the idyllic Kumbu village. It is possible to get picked up from here, or you may continue down to the Shedra.
  • Tongphushing Trail
    This is a beautiful leisurely walk through the pine forest, farmland and the villages. The hike starts from Gangtey and continues through Tokha village all the way to the Phobjikha valley. The walk provides insight into village life, farming and also offers great views of the Phobjikha valley. The hike ends near the RSPN campsite. Alternatively, you could also start this hike from RSPN Cafeteria. The hike takes about 1 ½ – 2 hours.
  • Gogona Hike:
    The trek leaves the valley at 2830km and leads south, then west through meadows and fields. It then climbs through a mixed forest of juniper, bamboo, rhododendrons and magnolia. The trail is rough and rocky and weaves through trees where pack animals have created deep muddy furrows. After crossing Tsele La (3440m) the trail crosses several meadows, and then descends through forests to Gangak (3020m). It is then a short climb to the camp at Gogona (3100m), a beautiful hilltop site overlooking a long valley. Nearby is Gogona Lhakhang and dozens of poles with white prayer flags fluttering. A 30-minute walk beyond Gogona is a hamlet where you may find homemade arra to buy. The women here weave blankets and speak a different dialect called Bjop-kha (language of the nomads).

Day 5:

Phobjikha Valley to Choekhor Valley (3+ hrs)

This morning depart Phobjikha to the central Bumthang region comprising the 4 valleys Choekhor, Tang, Ura and Chhume. Traverse the Pele La (Pass) which crosses through the Black Mountains National Park and divides western and central Bhutan and stop for lunch near Trongsa, where you will spend more time on your return journey. Keep a watchful eye out for Rhesus Macaques (Brown Monkeys) on the side of the road. The Trongsa Dzong is perched at the end of a ridge and seems to hang in space at the head of the valley. The Dzongs location afforded it great power over this part of the country as the only foot and mule trail between east and western Bhutan leads straight through Trongsa and through the Dzong itself.

On arrival in the Bumthang region notice the large fields of buckwheat that cover the valleys…..buckwheat noodles and pancakes are a Bumthang specialty. Enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at leisure. There are short walks and hikes to choose from and your guide will be happy to make recommendations.

Overnight Choekhor Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel

Day 6:

Sightseeing in the Bumthang Region.

Today your sightseeing includes visits to the Wangdicholing Palace (exterior access only) and one or both of the Jambay & Kurjey Lhakhangs. These are the oldest two monasteries in the kingdom and all the former Kings of Bhutan are cremated at Kurjey Lhakhang. Other options include the Tamshing Monastery where about 95 Monks reside – most are under 15 and from poorer families who cannot afford to send their children to state school; drop in at the Swiss Farm to taste sweet cheese, apple brandy and locally brewed wine and beer.Alternatively enjoy one of the hikes available in this region.

Overnight Choekhor Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.

Day 7:

Sightseeing & Hiking in Bumthang Valleys (4 hrs drive time)

Take an excursion to remote Ura Valley today. Ura is the cradle of Buddhism in the Kingdom. Enjoy an easy downhill hike to the valley floor for a picnic lunch at the village Lhakhang. Take a wander through the village which has an almost medieval feel with its stony paths. Meet up with your driver and return to Choekhor valley mid-afternoon via Membartsho (the burning lake).

Overnight Choekhor Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.

Hiking options available in the Bumthang Valleys:

  • Kikila Hike:
    From Bumthang, drive to Kikila, about 7kms away. This hike is along a bicycle trail, ( 4 – 5 hour hike). Sited on the pass in a glass case is a statue of the founder of Tharpaling. From here the views are phenomenal – looking south you can see over the Chumey/Domkhar Valley with the Black Mountains in the distance. You also have a fabulous view of Chamkhar town the airport runway and the dzong far below.
  • Thangbi Mani Hike:
    From Jakar drive towards Thangbi (30 mins) From Thangbi Mani hike towards Ngalakhang along ancient trail route, through a pine forest. ( 2 – 3 hour hike) Enroute you can visit Ngalakhang village and temple. Towards the end of Ngalakhang village, your car will pick you up from the Damphe bridge.

Day 8:

Choekhor Valley to Trongsa (up to 2 hrs)

Today transfer back towards Trongsa via the Chhume valley for the opportunity to shop for excellent local handicrafts and textiles. This region is renowned for its exceptionally high quality weavings. The Trongsa Dzong is the ancestral home of the Royal Family of Bhutan and has added the excellent Tower of Trongsa museum into it’s ancient watchtower, which you will visit this afternoon, followed by an excursion to the Dzong itself.

Alternatively there is a good 2 hour valley hike below the Dzong that your guide will advise you on.

Overnight Trongsa – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel.

Day 9:

Trongsa to Punakha Valley (4.5 hrs )

Depart early this morning to the Punakha Valley which holds the title as the winter capital because of its more temperate climate. Take lunch at a cafeteria en-route. Arriving into the Punakha area stop at the markets at Mesina followed by Chimmi Lhakhang, a monastery built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley (also known as the Divine Madman or Mad Monk) with a very colourful history. It is believed childless women who visit the temple will conceive after receiving a ‘wang’ (blessing) from the resident monk. The walk across rice paddy fields takes about 20 minutes each way.

Overnight Punakha Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel

Day 10:

Sightseeing and hiking in Punakha today.

This morning, visit the dramatic Punakha Dzong, which formally served as the seat of the government and is still the winter residence of the Dratsheng (Central Monk Body). This is Bhutan’s most spectacular Dzong and an excellent example of how a medieval fortress and a centre of both monastic and administrative functions has adapted and evolved for modern day use. Followed by a visit the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang & nunnery and the small village of Talo where you can wander the beautiful & serene gardens of the monastery. Time permitting consider an option to hike back to the valley floor from Talo.

This afternoon we recommend you travel further up the valley & hike through rice paddies and fields of vegetables and through tiny hamlets to Khamsum Yulley Namgyel Chorten. This Chorten holds very special significance being consecrated in 1999 & dedicated to the protection of the former Crown Prince now King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

Overnight Punakha Valley – Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel

Hiking option available in Punakha.

  • Logodama Hike:
    From Talo you have the option of hiking to Logodama (3+ hrs). Enroute enjoy the forest scenery and pass the villages of Lungtam & Pachekha and view the Punakha Dzong below. Your guide will also advise any other hiking options that may suit you today.

Day 11:

Punakha Valley to Paro Valley (4 hrs)

Depart Punakha early morning for your transfer westwards to the Paro Valley, once again traversing Dochu La, and arriving in Paro town in time for a late lunch.

This afternoon, enjoy an orientation tour of the major features in Paro town including the Rinpung Dzong with its cantilever bridge; the National Museum and take a wander through Paro main streets for good handicraft and local jewellery shopping.

Overnight Paro Valley - Bhutanese Style 3* Hotel

Hike option available en-route to Paro.

  • Lungchuzey Goemba hike 1-2 hours.
    Hike up through the forest and visit Lungchuzey Goemba and return by the same trail to Dochu La.

Day 12:

Hiking Pilgrimage & Sightseeing in the Paro Valley.

This morning hike to the Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest. This is Bhutan’s most revered monastery and all Bhutanese strive to make the pilgrimage here at least once in their lives. This visit is much more than ‘just a hike’ and each step gains merit points for the next part of life’s journey. Choose between a 1.5-2 hr round trip hike to the monastery viewpoint, or a longer 5 hour and more strenuous hike into the monastery itself. Please note you must be of at least moderate fitness to make it all the way to the monastery and back. Tigers Nest clings impossibly to a cliff of rock at 800 metres above the valley floor and where Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of a tigress to subdue the local demons followed by 3 months’ meditation in a cave still visible in the monastery. In 1998 Taktsang was seriously damaged by fire and has since been painstakingly reconstructed to its original condition and consecrated by the 4th King in 2005.

This afternoon, time permitting, visit 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.

Day 13:

Day of departure

Early morning transfer to Paro airport for your onward flight.

Essential Reading – Booking Terms & Conditions

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Name of Tour: Bhutan on a Budget – 12 nt tour

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I require a single occupancy room (a supplement applies).I am interested in trekking option, if available.I need help arranging Travel Insurance.

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