Recommended Program for 12 days exploring the mystical land of Bhutan –
PRIVATE TOUR FOR SMALL GROUPS MIN. 4 GUESTS REQUIRED
Destination: The Kingdom of Bhutan, often described as ‘The Last Shangri-La’, nestled peacefully between Nepal, Sikkim and Tibet in the Himalayas.
Travel style: Experience breath-taking remote monasteries, ancient Buddhist myths & legends, the benefits of Himalayan wellness and a warm Bhutanese welcome for a unique, authentic, life-enriching experience
Next date: Choose your own dates! This is a private tour available for small groups, min 6. people
For further information and queries email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stop for a moment, leave the stress behind. For 12 days, just …
Immerse yourself in the natural beauty, be captivated by the national happiness that surrounds you and … intrigued by this small Buddhist Kingdom with its simple yet mindful and conscious way of life, steeped in ancient Buddhist traditions and philosophy.
Return home feeling rejuvenated, relaxed, enriched and refreshed, with a yearning to return.
Bhutan is now emerging as one of the hot new destinations for travellers who are seeking deeper, richer, more personal travel experiences.
Bhutan is truly unique.
The Land of the Thunder Dragon, Bhutan is a small Buddhist kingdom of immense natural beauty, nestled peacefully in the heart of the majestic Himalayas. A country of only 740,000 people where centuries old traditions, Buddhist beliefs, mythology and legends continue to guide the daily life of the people.
Until the mid 20th century, Bhutan remained completely isolated from the world. While Bhutan today is modernising, tourism remains limited. This helps to preserve Bhutan’s authenticity and charm, with its traditional Bhutanese lifestyle, lively Buddhist culture, commitment to environmental protection & dedication to Gross National Happiness.
If you have an adventurous spirit, love discovering new cultures, exploring the great outdoors, are curious to learn more about Buddhism and experience hands-on the benefits of mindfulness meditation … or are simply looking for authentic travel experiences that inspire and delight …
You will love this authentic travel experience with your own private guide and you choose when you want to go! Its time to explore Bhutan for an unforgettable, soul-lifting experience.
It’s time to step into Bhutan …
Over 12 days, you will discover why Bhutan has been described as ‘The Last Shangri-La’, as you open your heart to this enchanted kingdom and are welcomed by the warm hearted, good-natured people.
Bhutan offers so much to enrich your mind, body and spirit.
From a pristine environment with snow capped mountains, virgin forests, glacial valleys, crisp mountain air and fields full of organic crops to a rich Buddhist culture with remote temples, a world of enchanting myths, legends and colourful local festivals, you’ll be captivated. As you travel across Bhutan you will feel nourished by the delicious organic regional food & local dishes and rejuvenated by ‘Eastern’ traditional or 5-star wellness experiences.
With our trusted and accredited local tour guides, Wholesome Life has organised a tailored, experiential trip that will take you beyond the major tourist sites to unlock the ‘real’ heart and soul of Bhutan. Many unique and exclusive experiences await you… all is organised for you.
Your private tour commences in Paro (the International gateway to Bhutan) and travels East through Thimphu (the capital) into the rural heart of Bhutan – Punakha, Gangtey, Trongsa and the Phobjikha Valley) – and then onto Bumthang in remote Central Bhutan. You will enjoy –
Himalayan wellness and natural wonders …
- A guided hike through a forest of blue pine and rhododendrons to the breath-taking, iconic Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) perched precariously on a sheer cliff face 3000m above the valley floor.
- Immerse yourself in a traditional Bhutanese hot stone tub, where stones, heated for many hours over red hot coals, sizzle as they are added to mountain fresh water, creating pulses of warmth and energy that will restore, invigorate and provide a deep sense of relaxation. Your body will benefit from the minerals in the stones and the healing effects of the local herbs.
- Travel across high Himalayan mountain passes strewn with colourful prayer flags and descend into fertile, glacial valleys with abundant vegetation and animal/bird life as we head East into remote Central Bhutan.
- Enjoy the local life! From markets, to remote villages, the food, people, culture, live in the moment and see where it takes you…
- Yoga session with a local master.
- Experience the benefits of mindfulness meditation with respected monk/s in a remote monastery. Enjoy the stillness and witness the deep spirituality of these centuries old temples.
- Understand more about ‘Eastern’ alternative therapies and herbal medicine with a visit to a medicine museum and traditional medicine ‘hospital’.
For a more personalised understanding of the Eastern philosophy to health and wellbeing, you may like to
- Try a local treatment with a holistic doctor qualified in traditional herbal medicines, who can provide diagnosis, steam therapy or herbal treatments.
- Visit Bhutan’s astrological monastery (Pangri Zampa Lhakhang), home to around 100 monks studying astrology and rarely visited by tourists. A personal reading can be arranged if you like a deeper understanding of this ancient experience.
- Enjoy an afternoon of 5-star pampering in one of Bhutan’s Exclusive Day Spas. A wide range of treatments are available (extra costs apply) and for those looking for some extra re-treating in 5-star luxury, you may like to upgrade and extend your stay in Bhutan with a deluxe relaxation package: further details below.
- Learn from one of the great Buddhist Masters about the history and impact of Gross National Happiness (GNH) on the Bhutanese way of life: how it guides government decisions and unites the people, strengthening communal happiness and a strong sense of national identity and pride. (Private talk exclusively for Wholesome Life guests, subject to availability and further details below).
- Festival life! We can help co-ordinate your travel with one of Paro’s colourful festivals.
Authentic cultural and local highlights …
- Festival life! We can help co-ordinate your travel with one of Paro’s colourful festivals.
- (April 2018): Experience the colourful, vibrant Paro Tsechu, an annual festival for local villagers, where monks clad in elaborate masks and intricately hand-woven and appliquéd costumes, perform traditional dances, telling age-old Buddhist legends.
- Visit the major Dzongs in Paro, Thimphu and Punakha. Originally built as fortresses during Bhutan’s feudal past, today they are the regions’ religious and governing centres. Stunningly beautiful architecture found only in Bhutan and Tibet.
- Visit remote monasteries, where saffron-robed monks live, meditate and study Buddhist philosophy, mathematics, physics, environmental philosophy.
- Join local Bhutanese as they spin prayer wheels and circumambulate the National Memorial Chorten in Thimphu, reciting their daily prayers and mantras to bring merit to their lives.
- Meander through small, traditional villages, where rural life continues as it has done for centuries … and visit small markets filled with locally grown, organic vegetables.
- Learn the essence of Bhutanese cooking in a private cooking demonstration in a traditional family-owned farmhouse. Learn how to make farm cheese and the delicious chilli paste that accompanies most meals, how to use buckwheat flour for spaghetti and dumplings (nutritious and delicious) … and more.
- Bhutan offers a bounty of skillfully painted artworks, unique handcrafts (including fabrics woven from yak hair) that will amaze and delight.
- There will also be plenty of personal time to just relax or explore at leisure. (See below for details about the regions you will be visiting).
Wholesome Life will organise everything for you. The only thing you will need to do is make sure you are staying near the Bangkok airport the night before ready for your early morning flight and let us take care of the rest …
Come and enjoy a trip of a lifetime! Return home with a smile on your face, feeling refreshed and bursting with stories of wonderful local experiences to share with your family and friends.
- 11 nights accommodation, includes:
– 11 nights in Bhutan (12 days)
- Internal scenic flight over the Himalayas Bumthang to Paro:
- Bhutan Visa (issued by the Government of Bhutan once all travel arrangements have been finalised)
- Your Bhutan experience includes all land content:
– A licensed English-speaking local guide will support you throughout the trip.
– Accommodation in 3-4 star hotels approved by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. All rooms are clean and comfortable, with a private bathroom.
– All meals in Bhutan: breakfast, lunch, dinner. Includes dining experiences in hotels, local restaurants, farmhouses and picnics.
– All internal transport with an experienced and accredited local driver in a private, air-conditioned vehicle.
– Included Wellness Experiences includes traditional Hot Stone Bath, Meditation class, Yoga, Astrology reading (all optional).
– All permits, entry fees, cultural immersion and wellness experiences (excluding the optional 5-star Day Spa Treatments and other personal treatments).
– Included Wellness Experiences includes traditional Hot Stone Bath, Meditation class, Yoga, Astrology reading (all optional).
- Luggage handling.
- Complimentary bottled drinking water throughout the trip in Bhutan.
- All travel / Government fees, including internal taxes (10%), service charges (10%) and government royalties ($USD 65 per day).
- Wholesome Life will provide personalised pre-travel support throughout including organisation of all your travel documentation and a dedicated point of contact for questions. Optional add on for groups an Australian Wholesome Life representative guide, can accompany you on this trip.
- BONUS! Wholesome Life pre-travel information pack and wellness travel gift.
Optional upgrades and add-ons
- * Private Room upgrade: Single’s supplement applies.
- ** Business flight upgrade available: enquire when booking.
- Extend your stay in Bhutan with one of two alternative add-on packages (see Extend your Stay Retreat Package section below)
REASONS TO CHOOSE WHOLESOME LIFE FOR YOUR BHUTAN ADVENTURE
- Experienced in Wellness travel, offering regular retreat holidays in Australia and abroad.
- Customised small group tours to your needs and interests. If you have a small interest group we can always have a Wholesome Life experienced ‘Western Guide’ to join you.
- Expert local knowledge with qualified, English-speaking guides.
- Wellness adventure for health and wellbeing is our passion and focus, scouting out the best experiences for this.
- Unique itineraries that go well beyond just the tourist sites. A focus on authentic, local experiences that will delight.
- Time at leisure to spend relaxing, exploring, discovering, pampering yourself.
- Not the typical tour group restaurants: dine in hotels, local restaurants and farmhouses. Experience the authentic Bhutanese cuisine
- Includes all travel arrangements: including Bhutanese Visa, all local content in Bhutan and all inclusive travel agent service available for flight, accommodation, travel insurance, travel extensions you may require with our travel partners.
- Transparent, all-inclusive price. No hidden ‘nasties’. Includes taxes and government fees.
- A comprehensive Wholesome Life Pre-Travel Information guide will be provided once bookings are confirmed, answering all the FAQs about travelling to Bhutan, eg. Airline baggage allowance, customs regulations, currency exchange, climate, altitude, safety, etiquette, electricity, packing list and much more..
- Guests will be fully supported throughout the planning and travel stages by a Wholesome Life representative. Email your questions at any time to email@example.com
ALL INCLUSIVE TRAVEL PACKAGE
Recommended length 12 day / 11 night Bhutan Cultural/Himalayan Wellness tour package Length of stay can be shortened and extended.
If you have a small interest group please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org
Small groups: Min. 4 guests required.
For further queries please contact us email@example.com
*** Note: this tour package is priced in USD, in accordance with the specified currency for payment to Bhutan. .
ADDITIONAL EXPERIENCES AND EXTEND YOUR STAY IN BHUTAN
Choose from one of the following additional packages and if you would like to extend your stay in Bhutan.
4 day / 3 night Himalayan Druk Trek Adventure
For the fit and adventurous, a 4-day Druk Path Himalayan trek is an amazing experience. Hike to over 4000m through virgin wilderness dripping with moss and lichen to high mountain lakes, hot springs and untouched villages. Dates: recommended to follow after the guided tour.
You will only need to carry your day-pack; everything else will be transported for you by ponies. As you arrive at your campsite towards the end of each day, everything will be set up for you and a hot cup of tea/coffee will await. A chef will be on hand to prepare all meals. A highly experienced and well-trained hiking guide and experienced horsemen will be with you throughout the trip.
This is a beginner-moderate level hike, at altitude. A good level of fitness is required and some pre-training is recommended. If you have a pre-existing health condition (including asthma/lung conditions), it is imperative that you check with your travel doctor before embarking on this hike.
If you are in good health, have the time and an adventurous spirit, this is a MUST!
2 or 3 night Luxury Body and Soul Wellness Package
For those who love luxury, you might like to end your trip with a 2 night indulgence body and soul package staying at one of Bhutan’s luxurious 5-star resorts, where you will be totally pampered for a complete wellness experience, before flying back to Bangkok.
You can even book a private villa, complete with an alfresco hot stone tub and 24-hour butler service! Enjoy yoga, massage, a pampering hot stone tub, a facial/body treatment, take a hike into the countryside or simply relax in the beautiful environs of the hotel.
Please enquire when booking your trip as there are several accommodation options available, at different price-points.
HOW TO BOOK
These add-on packages can be arranged for guests travelling on the tours and they can not be purchased individually. If you are interested in these add-on packages and would like to know more, please inquire when booking.
Please note the following applies –
- Any add-on packages must be arranged when you confirm your booking, as it will affect flights and your visa application. Late changes to your itinerary will incur a penalty payment.
- You will be supported by a local guide during these add on packages.
- Personalised special interest add-ons to your stay (e.g. mountain biking, photography) can be arranged please enquire when booking.
Discovering the essence of mindfulness and Bhutan’s core philosophy of Gross National Happiness.
PRIVATE GROUP TALK by Guest Speaker, Khenpo Phuntshok Tashi
It is a great honour to have a direct connection to Khenpo who can guide a private session exclusively for any Wholesome Life travel group on Mindfulness Meditation and The Essence of Achieving Happiness, including an introduction to achieving Gross National Happiness, one of the core objectives of Bhutan’s democratic monarchy.
Khenpo is currently the Director of the National Museum in Paro. He is also an accomplished author of many published books and articles, including Mindful Living in Bhutan (2010) published by the ABC in Australia and The New Principle of Children published by UNICEF (1992). He tours the world as an expert guest speaker on Buddhist Philosophy and Art, Meditation Instruction, Invoking Gross National Happiness and the Journey to Liberation. Khenpo is fluent in 7 languages. His research interests include poetry, philosophy, physics, environmental philosophy, history, culture and the interdependent principle of Acharva Nagarjuna.
Whatever your personal beliefs, we are certain that you will take away valuable insights and wisdom from this great Master.
Additional cost involved, recommended as a MUST for small groups. Subject to availability and location.
MORE INFORMATION …
Private tour suggested itinerary
Note this is a guide to our recommended travel tour, we can change and personalise your program if you have any specific
DAY 1: Bangkok
DAY 2: Bangkok-Paro
DAY 3: Paro
DAY 4: Paro-Thimphu
DAY 5: Thimphu
DAY 6: Thimphu-Punakha
DAY 7: Punakha
DAY 8: Punakha-Gangtey/Phobjikha Valley
DAY 9: Gangtey-Bumthang
DAY 10: Bumthang
DAY 11: Bumthang
DAY 12: Bumthang-Paro (includes morning flight)
DAY 13: Paro-Bangkok (includes return flight) or extend your stay with one of our add-on packages
About the touring locations
Paro: The International Gateway to Bhutan. Set in the heart of the picturesque Paro Valley at an elevation of 2,200m and a population of only 15,000 people, Paro will provide your first, exciting glimpse of Bhutan. From the first images as you fly though the mighty Himalayas on a clear day, past remote hilltop villages with beautifully hand carved and painted timber houses, to land in Paro International Airport, you will be transported into the exotic and mystical world of Bhutan.
With the snow capped Himalayas as the backdrop and a mountain fresh river running through this fertile valley, Paro is home to two of Bhutan’s most sacred and historical sites: the 7th century Kichu temple (the oldest temple in the country) and the iconic 8th century Tiger’s Nest (deemed to be one of the 12 wonders of the world!) The 5-day Paro Tshechu (held annually in the second lunar month since the mid 17th Century) is well attended by local villagers who come together to gain merit, receive a blessing and to celebrate. The main street of Paro is lined with colourfully hand painted wooden buildings housing small shops and family-run restaurants. Red rice and chillies (staples in the Bhutanese diet) grow in abundance in this area.
Thimphu: The Capital of Bhutan
Thimphu is the capital and largest city of Bhutan with a population of just over 90,000 people. At an altitude of 2,600m, it is the third highest capital city in the world. Thimphu is home to the outstanding Thimphu Dzong and Bhutanese government, Dechencholing Palace (the King’s residence), the National Memorial Chorten, weekly local food & craft markets, small shops selling locally made art & handicrafts.
A short drive into the mountains and you will discover remote, centuries old monasteries including Bhutan’s University for Monastic Studies and a monastery dedicated to astrological studies as well as a museum and ‘hospital’ dedicated to traditional medicines. Bhutan also has the largest sitting Buddha in the world.
The mountains are peaceful and beautiful, the perfect place to meander, meditate or simply enjoy the stillness.
Heading east, after crossing a high, mountain pass (Dochula) with the 108 Wangyel Chortens built in a Mandala pattern (dedicated to Bhutan’s victory over Indian rebels), you will descend into the warmer region of Punakha and its more rural lifestyle. A highlight of this area – aside from its sheer beauty – is the Punakha Dzong, the most beautiful Dzong in Bhutan and the winter residence of the Chief Abbot and the Central Monastic Body.
In Chimmu Lhakhang, a short walk through the rice paddies will lead us to the auspicious fertility temple, dedicated to the Tantric Buddhist master Drukpa Kinley (The Divine Madman). He is well known for his tradition of oral legends and song, his outrageous teachings and ribald behaviour. Houses in the local farming village are decorated with beautifully painted motifs, including giant phalluses (to protect and bring fertility to the family).
Gangtey, Trongsa & The Phobjikha Valley:
We are now moving into the more remote regions of Bhutan with picturesque wide-open spaces and the impressive Black Mountains. Phobjikha is a fertile valley dotted with small, traditional villages and smiling, welcoming people. This valley is home to abundant wildlife, including many endangered species (eg the Black-Necked Crane).
We will cross another high mountain pass (Pele La pass at 3390m) before descending into Trongsa, home to Ta Dzong watch-tower, one of the country’s finest historical museums. The first and second Kings of Bhutan ruled the country from Trongsa Dzong, which was originally built in 1648 as a fortress. Even today, successive Kings of Bhutan will be invested by the Governor of Trongsa before ascending the throne.
Bumthang: Central Bhutan
Bumthang is the spiritual centre of rural Bhutan. Most visitors to Bhutan do not venture this far into remote central Bhutan, but for those who do, the trip is definitely worth it!!
Bumthang lies in a lush and richly vegetated valley, dotted with temples and traditional farmhouses. Buckwheat, dairy products, honey, apples, potatoes and red rice are grown throughout this region and Bumthang is also famous for yathra (woollen) weaving. In Bumthang you will experience first-hand the authentic rural life of Bhutan: making butter and farm cheese in hand-made churns, local beer production, lunch or dinner with a Bhutanese family in a traditional farmhouse. There are also beautiful short walks or longer hikes into the surrounding countryside and you may like to finish the day with a traditional hot stone tub, for ultimate relaxation!! For the Adventurous white water rafting is available (additional costs apply).
Together as a group we will then return to Paro, where you have the choice to fly back to Bangkok or extend your stay in Bhutan.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What’s not included
The following is not included in the tour package –
- Return flight to Bangkok: the group will meet in Bangkok the evening before the flight to Paro International Airport.
- Meals while in Bangkok.
- Personal bar bills: soft drinks, alcohol (in Bangkok and Bhutan).
- Personal expenses, e.g. laundry, wifi (in most hotels wifi is provided complimentary).
- Personal travel insurance.
- Personal purchases in Bhutan, eg souvenirs, handicraft.
- Guide tips/gratuities. Suggested that the traveller gives the guide a tip for the 12 day experience – however all tipping for tour costs will be handled by your guide.
- Private 5-star spa treatments, yoga sessions in Bhutan (optional).
- Additional supplement is payable for singles.
- Additional supplement is payable for those continuing on the Extended Stay packages choice of –
– 4 day hiking adventure package
– 2 day luxury body and soul wellness package.
A visa is required for entry into Bhutan. Visa applications are processed prior to your arrival in Bhutan. The Bhutanese government will provide travel visas once all guest travel arrangements have been finalised (including flights and accommodation), and payment in full is received. The visa will be stamped into your passport on arrival at Paro International Airport.
All travel arrangements to Bhutan must be made through an accredited travel agency. It is not possible to travel to Bhutan independently. You cannot book your flight into Bhutan without a visa. Wholesome Life will submit your travel plans and visa applications to the Bhutanese government and all documentation required to enter the country will be provided prior to your departure.
Getting to Bhutan
Recommend arriving the day before in Bangkok (at hotel close to the airport) on the evening before our departure to Bhutan. Druk Airlines – Bhutan’s National airline – flies from Bangkok to Paro International Airport (in Bhutan) once a day, with an early morning departure. These flights are not included in the package price of this trip. Wholesome Life guests will be responsible for organising their own return flights to Bangkok or use our preferred travel agent.
Transport within Bhutan
Your transport within Bhutan will be via a small, air-conditioned, private vehicle with a qualified and experienced Bhutanese driver.
A return flight from Bumthang to Paro is available for those who are time limited and do not wish to make the return journey by road. This has not been included in the costing for this trip; an extra charge will apply.
It is a 2-day drive from Bumthang to Paro; however, this drive is very scenic, passing through many villages and across the high alpine passes, with lots of stops along the way. If time is not an issue, the recommendation is to travel both directions by road: it is a spectacular drive! This can be nominated over the flight also.
3-4 star hotels will be used throughout our trip, all approved by the Royal Government of Bhutan’s Department of Tourism and regularly inspected. Rooms are twin share, clean and comfortable with a private bathroom. Single rooms are also available; a single’s supplement is payable.
Although Bhutan lies at relatively high altitude, altitude sickness is not common (unless undertaking a hiking trip at altitudes above 4,000m). On our Cultural/Wellness tour, we do not reach altitudes higher than 3,500m. Further recommendations will be given in your pre-travel information pack.
The 12-day trip includes short walks to remote monasteries and walks to enjoy the natural beauty of Bhutan. Good walking shoes are recommended.
The 4-5 hour hike to Tiger’s Nest (round trip) is more challenging, but it is a beautiful hike that we will take slowly, with stops along the way (to enjoy the scenery and acclimatize to the altitude). If you are able to comfortably walk 5-6 km, including some uphill gradients, you should comfortably manage the hike to Tiger’s Nest. For those unable to complete the hike, donkeys are available to take you most of the way.
Those planning to complete the 4-day Druk Trek hike at the end of the tour will need a good level of fitness and some pre-training is recommended. Regularly walking 5-6 km, including uneven surfaces and uphill gradients will prepare you for this hike. Some hiking gear will also be required. More details to help you prepare for this trek have been provided in the Pre-Travel Information Pack.
While Dzongkha is the national language of Bhutan, English is widely spoken throughout the country. Your guides will all be English speaking.
This package has been priced in USD. Exchange rates vary on a daily basis and banks currency conversion fee in most cases. Further information regarding currency exchange when in the country will be provided in your BONUS pre-travel information pack.
For all cancellations, any refunds will be repaid at the exchange rate on the day. Variations in currency rates will apply.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
Wholesome Life is working with an authorised local tour operator to assist with this tour experience. The following terms and conditions apply to this tour. Please read the following before booking:
It is a requirement for ALL guests travelling with Wholesome Life to provide proof of personal travel insurance (covering baggage, personal injury/medical expenses and cancellation of travel expenses). Guests who do not provide proof of personal travel insurance will not be issued with a travel visa. Bhutan is a very safe country in which to travel, with a very low crime rate; however, your valuables and personal possessions will be at your own risk and responsibility.
PAYMENT / PAYMENT PLANS:
Payment will be via two installments: an initial deposit when booking, with the final outstanding amount payable prior to travel.
Credit card payments in USD can be paid into a PayPal account also, however a 3% processing fee will be charged by merchant.
If the deposit, installments and/or final balance are not paid on time, we reserve the right to cancel your travel arrangements. If the balance is not paid on time, we shall retain your deposit and monies paid based on the below cancellation policy.
If there is a need to cancel your booking, please note the following terms. We encourage you to make sure your personal travel insurance covers you for cancellations. This is your responsibility, so please check your policy conditions.
- A handling fee of USD $300 will be payable for ALL cancellations once the initial deposit has been paid, if the final payment is not received by the agreed date.
- 70% refund of the land content only (ie no refund for the airline ticket) for bookings cancelled between 4-5 months prior to departure (when full payment has been received).
- 50% refund of the land content only (ie no refund for the airline ticket) for bookings cancelled between 2-3 months prior to departure.
- No refund for cancellations received less than 60 days prior to the departure date.
- For all cancellations variations currency rates will apply.
By submitting the online booking form you have agreed to the above terms and conditions for this trip.
The tour operator / Wholesome Life has the right to change the daily program as needed for unforeseen issues; however, we will ensure that similar alternatives are put in place.