Region Overviews: Bhutan Travel Guide: Overview
Known as the “Last Shangri-La.", Bhutan's culture is deeply influenced by a unique form of Buddhism and rich with traditions of spirituality, art, music, dance and food.
So exotic. So dramatic. Its magical essence can't be articulated. From the rich Buddhist culture to its remote Himalaya setting. Here the people live unimaginably hard but full lives, rooted in age-old tradition yet ready to join the 21st century. Bhutan seems like a place that couldn't still exist. A place you feel lucky to have experienced.
THIS ITINERARY: 8 days, 7 nights
ACCOMMODATIONS: Premiere Hotels*
Start/End Bangkok, Thailand
Start/End locations may vary. Do not book flights until your trip details are confirmed.
Welcome to Bhutan! Touch down in the self-proclaimed happiest country on Earth | Hike to Dzong Drakha, a seldom-visited cliffside temple complex set high above the valley | Admire the views of Paro—Bhutan's second largest city—as you pass nomads wandering into town from the high mountains.
This upscale resort is nestled between the Himalayan foothills and Paro Chhu River. (pool, spa)
At the top of Dochula Pass, take in a panorama of snowcapped Himalayan peaks | Sip tea while you learn the story of the 108 memorial chortens (or stupas) built along the pass | Pine forests line our path through Punakha Valley | Hike to Chorten Nebu, a 14th-century temple accessible only on foot | Backroads was one of the first foreign groups to be warmly welcomed at this monastery, which offers an authentic look at traditional Bhutanese culture.
Surrounded by thick pine forests in the heart of the Punakha Valley, this secluded contemporary hotel is perched above lush rice fields and the Punakha River. (spa)
Ascend herders' trails to find valley views and colorful prayer flags | Raft down the Punakha's Pochu River on our way to the exquisite riverside Punakha Dzong, Bhutan's winter capital | Enjoy the valley views from the meticulously cared for Wangditse Monastery, built in 1715.
Designed in Bhutanese dzong architectural style, and just steps away from Thimphu's lively central square. (pool, spa)
Visit a giant golden Buddha that houses 125,000 smaller figures inside | Stay at a remarkable luxury hotel that celebrates the colorful and ornate architecture of Bhutan | Hike to secluded monasteries and temples, including the otherworldly cliff-clinging Tiger's Nest | Walk trails with thousands of prayer flags flapping in the wind | Sip a hot brew 9,200 feet up at Taktsang teahouse | Practice your aim as you learn archery, Bhutan's national sport.
With impressive masonry and elaborate hand-carved cornices, this hotel is set on a verdant mountainside and combines Bhutanese hospitality with modern conveniences. (spa)
The earlier you book, the more choice you'll have and the lower your price. And you can always change your mind — you won't be charged to transfer to a different trip before your final payment is due. View cancellation policy
Click on dates for pricing, itinerary variations and to book your trip. Price is per person, double occupancy.
Every Backroads trip is designed to appeal to a wide variety of interests and fitness levels. We know your pace may vary from one day to the next—and your traveling companion's may differ somewhat from yours. So we present a range of mileage options, and each day you decide exactly what and how much you want to do. LEARN MORE.
Note: The terrain on this trip includes a mix of rugged mountain trails and ancient village and Buddhist pilgrim footpaths, with some steep ascents and descents. The mountainous terrain and altitude can make the routes more challenging than the mileage may suggest.
We want to make sure you're on the right trip and that you have the best experience possible. Every Backroads trip is unique and this one is no exception.
The accommodations on this trip are quite comfortable and are becoming more luxurious every year. Several new hotels are in various stages of completion, and we've taken advantage of them as they've opened their doors.
This trip includes two nights at a Casual Plus Hotel, the relatively new Dhensa Boutique Resort. While we expect great things from this beautiful hotel, it may take a few seasons for their amenities and services to be fully operating at a Premiere Hotel level. We've chosen it because of its proximity to our favorite routes, its friendly hospitality, strong cultural character and the tremendous view from the deck.
Many hotels and restaurants on our itinerary see few Western travelers and therefore lack many Western-style services. The leisurely service found in neighborhood restaurants and the limited supply of beer can all be appreciated when you keep a sense of humor and see patience as a traveler's virtue.
Your journey through Bhutan will be unlike any other travel experience. Bhutan is a remote corner of the world where ancient culture, traditions and religion are still the deep-rooted cornerstones of everyday life. That said, modern Bhutan is not always the Shangri-La depicted in glossy travel magazines. Rather, it's a developing country, where the scenes of poverty, trash and pollution can be jarring. And yet, the beauty of the people, the culture and the landscape shines through, making for an amazing exotic experience that's unforgettable and completely worthwhile. Though not a paradise, there simply isn't any other country like Bhutan.
Our itineraries and Trip Leaders remove as many obstacles and inconveniences as possible, making your next extraordinary encounter always within reach. Of course, even all the efforts of our amazing leaders can't remove haze and noise from the air, or replace a poorly maintained road or trail, so it's a good idea to be aware of the ways that travel in Bhutan can be challenging. If you can be flexible and approach the region with a curious mind and good humor, you'll enjoy your trip to the fullest!
We ordinarily staff our trips with three leaders: two leaders out on the trail offering support—allowing everyone to have the experience they want, whether it's an easygoing interpretative walk or a rigorous hike—while the third leader moves the van from trailhead to trail end. This trip is a little different in that our routes are a combination of loop hikes and out-and-back trails that begin and end in the same location. This means that you'll still have the same two leaders providing excellent trail support without the need for a third leader to move the van.
On this trip we travel into and out of Bhutan by plane. We'll be flying commercially with Druk Air (or Bhutan Airlines) aboard a narrow-body jet that seats 160 passengers.