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Bhutan Private Expedition
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9 days

from $8,078 AUD trip_detail hint icon

($5,495 USD)

Prices are per person, based on twin share occupancy. The AUD prices are based on USD and calculated at today’s rate of exchange. The expedition price will be finalised at time of booking.

trip_detail module icon Private Expedition

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Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include walking tours, visits to sites, safari drives, and easy hikes; and some days will have more physical activities such as longer hikes, kayaking, snorkeling, or biking.

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Premium expeditions are led by a National Geographic expert, an expedition team, or top guides, and tap into National Geographic's worldwide resources to allow for in-depth exploration and special access to sites and experts in the field. Itineraries are fully planned, with some free time. Accommodations are high-end or best available. Ground transportation and most meals and activities are included in the trip price.

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Expedition Overview

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EXPEDITION OVERVIEW
  • Get a glimpse into rural Bhutanese life on a private tour of Thimphu's Folk Heritage Museum and during a visit to a local farmstead in the Paro valley.
  • Stay at Zhiwa Ling Hotel, and admire the exquisite Bhutanese architecture and artistry of this National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World.
  • Visit the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup temple in Punakha and receive a blessing from the resident nuns.
  • Decorate ritual cakes to offer to deities, and participate in a butter-lamp offering with monks.
Itinerary

Ringed by the staggering peaks of the Himalaya, Bhutan is a remote Buddhist kingdom where age-old traditions hold strong. Amid verdant valleys dotted with historic fortresses and shrines, delve into Bhutan’s rich culture with a private guide, discovering how everyday life is intertwined with Mahayana Buddhism. Meet with monks, nuns, farmers, and artisans; take part in ancient rituals; and witness firsthand the cautious evolution of this tiny kingdom.

Day 1: Arrive Bangkok, Thailand

Arrive in Bangkok for an overnight stop on your journey to Bhutan. Transfer independently to your airport hotel, connected to the terminals by covered walkways.

Day 2: Bangkok/Paro, Bhutan/Thimphu

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The adventure begins on your way to the kingdom in the clouds, before your feet even touch the ground: On a clear day, the flight from Thailand over the eastern Himalaya offers extraordinary views of the range’s highest peaks, including Mount Everest. Upon landing in Paro, travel to Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital and the best place to witness the country’s newly embraced modernity. Meet your Bhutanese guide, who will travel with you throughout your stay. Then visit a wildlife sanctuary for the takin, Bhutan's national animal, described as having the body of a cow and the head of a goat.

Day 3: Thimphu

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Delve deeper into Thimphu on a private tour of the city. Gain insight into rural Bhutanese life at the Folk Heritage Museum, a replica of a traditional mud-and-timber farmhouse. Observe the delicate artistry involved in creating deh-sho, or locally handmade paper, at the Jungshi Paper Factory. End your excursion with a walk alongside local parents to Changangkha Lhakhang, a 12th-century monastery popular for providing blessings to newborns.

Day 4: Thimphu/Punakha

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This morning, visit Thimphu's Royal Textile Academy and admire the displays of intricate and diverse Bhutanese weavings, which are considered spiritual expressions. Journey to Punakha by way of the Dochu La pass. With its circular formation of 108 chortens set against a panoramic backdrop of majestic mountains, the pass is an awe-inspiring and spiritual place. Upon arrival in Punakha, set out on a hike through the surrounding rice paddies to Chimi Lhakhang—a temple blessed by Drukpa Kunley, known as the "Mad Saint."

Day 5: Punakha

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Spend the day discovering Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan that still retains its regal feel. Hike to the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, a colorful temple poised on a scenic mountain ridge overlooking the Punakha valley. After lunch, explore the elaborately designed fortress of Punakha Dzong; its positioning at the confluence of the Mo (mother) and Pho (father) Rivers helps make this dzong one of the most beautiful in the country. End the day with a blessing from the nuns at the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup temple and nunnery.

Day 6: Punakha/Paro

Travel through the emerald rice paddies and quaint farming villages of the Paro valley, and visit Jangtsa Dumtseg Lhakhang, a unique temple designed in the architectural style of a chorten. Settle into the stunning Zhiwa Ling Hotel, a National Geographic Unique Lodge that celebrates the artistry of Bhutanese architecture and embodies the principles of the country’s Gross National Happiness initiative. Immerse yourself in the peaceful customs of the Bhutanese as you linger in the lodge’s intricate temple, meditation house, and tearoom.

Day 7: Paro

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Spend the day discovering Paro. Visit the National Museum of Bhutan, and admire the impressive architecture of the Paro Dzong, a stronghold that once defended the country from Tibetan invasions. Lunch at a local farmstead, and then return to the lodge for an afternoon devoted to Bhutanese traditions—an experience exclusively offered to National Geographic travelers. Learn how ritual cakes are baked and decorated to offer the deities, and participate in a butter-lamp offering with monks.

Day 8: Taktsang Lhakhang/Paro

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Your journey through Bhutan culminates at the kingdom’s most iconic site: Taktsang Lhakhang, famously called the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. This majestic structure is poised high above the Paro valley, built dramatically on the ledge of a granite cliff face. Make the steep, strenuous trek to the temple or hike to a nearby viewpoint, taking in a landscape dotted with pine trees, prayer flags, and ancient shrines. Enjoy lunch at the home of a local farmer before returning to Paro for the evening.

Day 9: Bangkok, Thailand/Depart

Depart for Bangkok, where you can connect with your international flight home.

What to Expect

This trip has an activity rating of light\/moderate and suits a range of interests and abilities. Travelers should be physically fit and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods and navigating uneven or slippery terrain. Excursions include city walking tours, visits to temples and dzongs, drives along winding mountain roads, and easy hikes, with options for more strenuous hiking. You will be traveling at elevations of up to 7,600 feet on most days and Tiger's Nest Monastery is at 10,000 feet.

Accommodations
Throughout the expedition, you’ll stay in high-end accommodations selected for their exceptional quality, location, and character, including Zhiwa Ling Hotel, a member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World collection.

Expedition Team
Top private guides will accompany you throughout the trip, and local experts will meet with you along the way as described in the itinerary.

ACCOMMODATIONS
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Zhiwa Ling Heritage - Paro, Bhutan

Nestled in the hills outside Paro, Zhiwa Ling Heritage, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, is an architectural gem that unites Bhutanese culture and heritage with 21st-century comforts. In the spirit of Bhutan’s Buddhist tradition, guests can join monks at the Meditation House, experience the tranquility of the Tea House, and enjoy a yoga session looking out at the legendary Tiger’s Nest Temple.

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Zhiwa Ling Heritage - Paro, Bhutan

Nestled in the hills outside Paro, Zhiwa Ling Heritage, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, is an architectural gem that unites Bhutanese culture and heritage with 21st-century comforts. In the spirit of Bhutan’s Buddhist tradition, guests can join monks at the Meditation House, experience the tranquility of the Tea House, and enjoy a yoga session looking out at the legendary Tiger’s Nest Temple.

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Zhiwa Ling Heritage - Paro, Bhutan

Nestled in the hills outside Paro, Zhiwa Ling Heritage, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, is an architectural gem that unites Bhutanese culture and heritage with 21st-century comforts. In the spirit of Bhutan’s Buddhist tradition, guests can join monks at the Meditation House, experience the tranquility of the Tea House, and enjoy a yoga session looking out at the legendary Tiger’s Nest Temple.

PRICES & DATES

  • date Sep 1-Dec 31, 2019
  • 2 People $8,372 AUD ($5,695 USD)
  • 4 People $8,078 AUD ($5,495 USD)

  • date Jan 1-May 31, 2020
  • 2 People $8,372 AUD ($5,695 USD)
  • 4 People $8,078 AUD ($5,495 USD)

  • date Sep 1-Dec 31, 2020
  • 2 People $8,372 AUD ($5,695 USD)
  • 4 People $8,078 AUD ($5,495 USD)

Prices are per person based on double occupancy and do not include international airfare to/from your destination or internal flights during the expedition. Single traveler prices are available upon request. Internal flights are $970 per person. Surcharges may apply to certain travel dates based upon international or local holidays, as well as local events and festivals. The AUD prices are based on USD and calculated at today’s rate of exchange and subject to change. See the terms and conditions for this trip for more information.

  • Transfers upon arrival and departure
  • Accommodation as indicated in the itinerary
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Daily activities and excursions as indicated in the itinerary
  • Airfare to and from destination, as well as internal airfare where applicable
  • Trip cancellation insurance or any other travel insurance
  • Visas
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Gratuities