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Off-the-beaten-track: highlights of Bhutan

A 9-day itinerary through the last remaining Himalayan Kingdom

 

From hilltop fortresses and ancient Buddhist monasteries to breathtaking landscapes dominated by one of the world’s most famous mountain ranges, our bespoke itinerary will take you off grid to discover the natural beauty of Bhutan. If you’re after luxury in its most remote setting, our Travel Advisors are on hand to help put everything in place.

 

 

AT A GLANCE

  • 9-day independent itinerary journeying east from the lower valleys of Thimphu up towards Phobjikha, based on flying in and out of Paro, Bhutan’s only international airport
  • Take in the colourful culture and rich history from the comfort of specially selected traditional Bhutanese hotels, before heading to a secluded SLH boutique lodge to experience alpine life
  • Highlights include unparalleled mountain views from the Dochu La pass, the spectacular fortresses of Thimphu and Punakha, hot stone spa serenity in Gangtey, and the iconic hike to ‘Tiger’s Nest’

 

 

START IN STYLE: THIMPHU

 

 

After over some of the world’s highest glacial peaks, touch down in Paro before a scenic hour-long transfer, passing by local landmarks including the gigantic Buddha Dordenma, before arriving in the pristine Thimphu Valley. Surrounded by forested hills, the country’s capital and largest city is as peaceful as it is picturesque.

Mornings are best spent walking through shaded rhododendron forests (look out for Takin, the national animal of Bhutan) to reach Tango Goenpa, a 12th-century monastery only a short hike away from the city. Continue the culture trail by visiting the Weaving Centre, Textile Museum, or the Jungshi paper making factory – learn the ways of this ancient craft and take home your very own paper souvenir.

 

UNPACK YOUR SUITCASE

Nestled in the heart of the Thimphu Valley, Taj Tashi is a charming blend of Dzong architecture and modern design adorned with classical hand-drawn Buddhist murals. Sip on Suja, Bhutan’s distinctive salted-butter tea, from your suite overlooking the Wang Chu River. Suggested stay 2 nights.

 

THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES: PUNAKHA

On the road from Thimphu to Punakha which climbs steeply through forests of cedar trees, make a stop at the Dochu La pass for panoramic views of the Himalayas. Early risers can trek from the hotel with a picnic breakfast through rustic farmlands and paddy fields to the Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten, a stunning stupa built by the Queen of Bhutan. If you’re tired of travelling on foot, take to the impossibly blue waters of the Mother River on a rafting trip down to the centuries-old Punakha Dzong monastery.

 

 

 

YOUR RIVERSIDE RETREAT

Practically part of the landscape, COMO Uma Panakha sits on a bend in the Mo Chu River. Furnished from sheesham wood with floor-to-ceiling windows and outdoor terraces, this hotel offers the best vantage point over the entire valley. Suggested stay 2 nights.

 

 

 

ONWARDS & UPWARDS: PHOBJIKHA

Swap luxury in the lowlands for high altitude hedonism at one of the most beautiful valleys in the country. You’ll be staying at Gangtey Lodge, an all-suite Himalayan hideaway which takes farmhouse living to new heights. Think log fires, exposed beams, and slate underfloor heating. Here you will feel a world away from the everyday, whilst modern amenities add a touch of luxury without offsetting the traditional design.

On the outskirts of the Black Mountain National Park, the sloping wilderness will be yours to explore from the quaint yak herder camps to the idyllic Kumbu village. Suggested stay 2-3 nights.

 

 

 

LAST BUT NOT LEAST: PARO

Live like a local for the day in one of the clusters of colourful farm houses decorated in traditional Bhutanese style which are scattered throughout the Paro Valley, a historic settlement famed for its many sacred sites. Most sacred of all is the Tiger’s Nest, the Taktsang monastery a short drive to the north of Paro in Ramthankha. This is a pilgrimage well worth the wait at the end of your trip, as one of the most legendary Buddhist sites in the world.

 

 

 

SETTLE IN FOR THE NIGHT…

Your zen journey comes to a relaxing end at the Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary, a home-from-home with wellness at its core. Meditate in the mountains with a sunrise yoga session, then warm up with a cup of local herbal tea and a good book from the hotel’s open-plan library. Suggested stay 2 nights.

 

 

TRAVEL TIPS

You must apply for a visa before travelling (as visas are not available on arrival) in addition to engaging a licensed Destination Management Company in Bhutan to create an itinerary (which we’ve done for you!) as you cannot explore the country on your own. As always, ask our Voice Reservation Team for further details.

 

BOOK YOUR BOUTIQUE HOTELS

To book the hotels on this independent itinerary, get in touch with our Voice Reservation Team on 0800 0482 314 (UK) & 1-877-234-7033 (US). You can find a full list of our dedicated toll-free numbers here. We’re ready and waiting to plan luxury adventures 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So whenever inspiration strikes, just get in touch.