bhutan chorten himalaya

Chorten , Bhutan

Prayer flags wave beside a chorten at Ugen Guru Monastery, near Paro. Our Bhutan Private Journey explores this mystical Buddhist kingdom and its deeply traditional culture on day hikes and village visits.

Photo by Thinley Namgyel

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Bhutan Private Journey route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $3995  
Length: 10 days
Arrive: Paro, Bhutan
Depart: Paro, Bhutan
Lodging: 9 nights in lodges
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level: Moderate to steep trails, 3 hours a day, altitudes averaging 7,000-10,000 feet


  • Experience a mystical Himalayan kingdom
  • Magical Taktsang, Bhutan’s legendary cliff-perched monastery
  • Meet Bhutanese villagers, explore colorful markets

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

In the serene, secluded Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, spirituality permeates every aspect of daily life, traditional festivals are living manifestations of a national faith, and the king decrees “Gross National Happiness” as the standard by which to measure the country’s wealth. On this lodge-based Private Journey with your own private guide, hike to tiny villages of whitewashed homes, through magical forests, and up to mountainside chortens (shrines) bedecked with colorful prayer flags. Along the way from Thimphu, the capital, to the beautiful Paro, Punakha, and Haa valleys, meet villagers, farmers, and red-robed monks, explore colorful markets, and marvel at the Shangri La setting of sublime fortress monasteries reigning over wooded valleys.

Short on time? We also offer an 8-day journey, please call for details.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-2
Thimphu Valley

Bhutan possesses a vibrant traditional Tibetan Buddhist culture and a stunning Himalayan setting. Spirituality permeates every aspect of daily life, time-honored festivals are living manifestations of a national faith, and the king decrees “Gross National Happiness” as the standard by which to measure the country’s wealth. In this magical and mountainous land of demons and deities, explore the serene retreat of Tango Monastery, with views of the valley and a beautiful inner courtyard, and enjoy an afternoon hike through riverside villages of traditional architecture, with a picnic lunch. Overnights in the Bhutanese capital of Thimphu (7,600’).

Days 3-5
Punakha Valley / Chimi Lhakhang

A spectacular road journey across the Dochu La Pass, with its summit shrines festooned with prayer flags, brings you to the subtropical Punakha Valley. Hike forested riverside trails to Lobsakha village and to the Khamsum Yuley Namgay Chorten, walk across rice fields to the fascinating Chimi Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to Bhutan’s renegade saint, Lama Drupka Kinley, a nd explore the magnificent Punakha Dzong, 17th century seat of Bhutan’s kings, set at the confluence of two rushing rivers. On Day 5, visit the Chimi Lhakhang temple.

Days 6-8
Haa Valley / Paro

Haa Valley is one of the most deeply traditional regions in Bhutan. Visit the ruins of the old fortress of Dobji Dzong and hike a footpath contouring along the Haa Chu River through small villages, with stops at a local farmhouse and the Chundu Lhakhang temple. On our way to Paro, hike to Killa Gompa, one of Bhutan’s largest retreat centers for Buddhist nuns (about 40 to 50 women reside here), and in Paro, explore the National Museum, whose collection includes ancient artifacts, weapons, and Bhutan’s beautiful stamps, and the 15th century Paro Dzong.

Days 9-10
Paro and Taktsang, the Tiger’s Nest

For a grand finale, hike up through forests to the striking monastic retreat of Taktsang, the “Tiger’s Nest,” built in the 17th century into a sheer cliff face about 2,700 feet above the Paro Valley. Taktsang is the most famous temple in Bhutan, with one of the most spectacular settings in the world. Depart on Day 10.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

What the Trip is Like

This trip is graded “2+” according to the Wilderness Travel trip rating system. The hikes are moderate and suitable for people in good shape who enjoy mountain hiking. The longest hike is about three hours. Although you carry only a daypack, there are some steep ascents and descents, and the hikes are at moderate altitude, which can make them feel strenuous. For your own enjoyment, we recommend that you make a special effort to be in good physical condition for the journey.

Most of the accommodations in Bhutan are somewhat rustic but very charming, and we’ve chosen some of the country’s most well situated hotels/lodges for this journey. Please note that most hotel rooms are twin-bedded. Optional upgrades are available. All are luxurious, stylish 5-star retreats featuring beautifully appointed rooms decorated with traditional Bhutanese arts and crafts, and relaxing spa facilities with Asian-inspired therapies.

Meals are included as noted in the detailed itinerary (lunches and dinners are not included at upgraded hotels unless prearranged). Generally, you will eat breakfast on your own at the lodge before meeting your guide for the day's activities. Your guides may join you for some lunches and dinners, depending on the schedule and your preference. Please be aware that many hotels/lodges in Bhutan provide simple buffets at lunch and dinner. The cuisine in Bhutan is generally based on basic rice with stir-fry and stew options. If you have any dietary restrictions, be sure to advise us on your application form.

Please note that travel times vary depending upon local conditions, and the itinerary may change while you are in Bhutan due to government regulations and local climate conditions.

Explanation of Trip Levels


When to go

Late September to mid-May

For our Private Journey trips, you choose your own group and your preferred dates—there are no set departure dates. Private Journeys are available to groups as few as two people or as large as you like. Contact us for availability, questions, or to book your adventure!

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2016

8-day Itinerary

$3395 per person, double occupancy
Single supplement: $395
Internal airfare: $995 (subject to change)

10-day Itinerary

$3995 per person, double occupancy
Single supplement: $470
Internal airfare: $995 (subject to change)

Taj Tashi Hotel Upgrade from: $590 per room, per night (double occupancy)
Le Meridien Upgrade from: $370 per room, per night (double occupancy)
Dhensa Resort Upgrade from: $495 per room, per night (double occupancy)
Hotel Druk Upgrade from: $210 per room, per night (double occupancy)
Uma Paro Resort Upgrade from: $675 per room, per night (double occupancy)
Uma Punakha Resort Upgrade from: $795 per room, per night (double occupancy)
Zhiwa Ling Hotel Upgrade from: $370 per room, per night (double occupancy)
Bhutan Visa Fee (WT acquires visa for you): $40

Prices are not guaranteed until services are confirmed.
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Temples of Angkor Extension
   from: $755
Bangkok Extension
   from: $645
Burma Extension
   from: $2595
Laos: Luang Prabang Extension
   from: $840

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $600
90 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: $250 per person
61-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
46-60 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Standard accommodations as noted (unless optional hotel upgrades are chosen)
  • All meals included (unless staying at hotel upgrades)
  • Services of a local guide and driver
  • Guided sightseeing as noted
  • Entry fees for activities as described
  • Mineral water during all meals and also during transfers
  • Airport transfers as noted in the Full Trip Brochure

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, lunches and dinner at upgraded hotels, alcoholic or soft drinks, any activities described as optional, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities for guide, driver, restaurant services, porterage and baggage handling, room service; optional sightseeing staff; additional hotel nights made necessary by airline schedule changes or other factors, pre-trip expenses such as medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas; and other expenses of a personal nature (laundry, etc.).

Arrival & Departure Information

Our Private Journeys can be tailored to your group so arrival and departure cities and dates may vary. Below are suggested airports to reference during your booking process. Please note: you are responsible for your own transportation to and from the arrival and departure cities of your Private Journey. For more detailed information, including transfers, please download the Detailed Itinerary.

Please do not purchase your tickets until you are confirmed on the trip. Once your tickets have been purchased, please send us a copy of your airline schedule.

2016 Departures

Meeting Place:
Paro, Bhutan
Date: Day 1

Suggested Arrival Airport:
Bangkok, Thailand (airport code BKK)
Paro, Bhutan
Date: Day 10

Suggested Airport for Departure:
Bangkok, Thailand (airport code BKK)

Hotels in Thimphu

Days 1 to 2 (2 nights),
Day 5 (1 night), Thimphu, Bhutan

In Thimphu we stay at one of the following properties based on availability and choice of accommodation:

Hotels in the Punakha Valley

Days 3 to 4 (2 nights), Punakha Valley, Bhutan

In Punakha we stay at one of the following properties based on availability and choice of accommodation:

Rigsum Lodge

Days 6 to 7 (2 nights), Haa Valley, Bhutan

Rigsum Lodge, located in Haa, Bhutan’s westernmost valley, is a small, simple hotel on the outskirts of a tiny village. The twin-bedded rooms at the Rigsum have en suite bathrooms with hot-water showers. Meals are served buffet-style in a large central dining room.

Hotels in Paro

Days 8 to 9 (2 nights), Paro, Bhutan

In Paro we stay at one of the following properties based on availability and choice of accommodation:

Extension Accommodations

If you would like to view the accommodations offered with our extensions options:

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Kipchu Dorji

Kipchu Dorji, whose name translates to “Calm Water Thunderbolt,” was born in the village of Katsho in Bhutan's little-visited Haa Valley. Kipchu attended Dr. Graham’s School in Kalimpong, India, and completed his professional training back in Bhutan, with studies in Buddhist iconography, culture, history, and botany. When Bhutan's doors were first opened to outsiders in the late 70’s, Kipchu was at the frontier as one of the first official guides to his country. In addition to his decades of experience as a Trip Leader, Kipchu has also traveled to England and Nepal for advanced trek leadership training. He has led countless trips throughout Bhutan since 1985, certainly earning the rank of one our most experienced—and beloved!—Trip Leaders. Kipchu shares the rhythm of daily life in Bhutan with his travelers, through personal welcomes in villages and farmhouses and tastes of the traditional Bhutanese food (be careful—the national favorite, chili-yak cheese ema datse, is fiery!). Equally appreciated for his caring nature, deep wisdom, and attention to detail, Kipchu leads our remote treks, hiking trips, and cultural adventures, and when he's not on the trail, you'll likely find him visiting his farm in Haa, practicing archery, or birdwatching with his children.

Upcoming Trips:

Festivals of Bhutan, September 8-17, 2016
Hiker's Journey to Bhutan, October 12-23, 2016
Festivals of Bhutan, November 6-15, 2016

Recent Photo Blog Posts

Client Testimonials:

One of the best guides we have ever had. Carol M., Mount Kisco, NY
Festivals of Bhutan
Fantastic guide, super knowledgeable, easy going, organized and very relaxed and intuitive about the needs of the group. Jennifer T., Guttenberg, NJ
Festivals of Bhutan
Kipchu was most pleasant and accommodating for all of the groups needs. He and his team pleasantly exceeded expectations. Greg S., Bow Mar, CO
Bhutan Private Journey
Kipchu is a mature and very knowledgeable trip leader with outstanding English and deep knowledge of his country. Peter R., Santa Clara, CA
Hiker's Journey to Bhutan
We could not have asked for a better trip leader than Kipchu. He was extremely knowledgeable and provided great insight into the nature of Buddhism and the history of Bhutan. He is obviously well known throughout the country, and was greeted with great warmth by many of the locals at every location we visited. Ray L., Superior, CO
Festivals of Bhutan
How do I even begin? We have had many many wonderful tour guides in many different parts of the world, but Kipchu Dorji is truly in a class by himself. His unflappable patience, his serene optimism, his endless store of knowledge about all things in Bhutan, and his overall gentle presence will be something that I hope to carry with me for the rest of my life. I consider it a great and wonderful blessing that we were able to spend 10 days with this enlightened human being. As incredible as the scenery, festivals, and hikes were, my personal absolute favorite aspect of this trip was getting to know Kipchu. Margot L., Superior, CO
Festivals of Bhutan
Kipchu was absolutely a treasure. He was knowledgeable about everything Bhutan (culture, history, religion, flora, and fauna). He was kind and helpful and a truly delightful person. Ellen K., Boulder, CO
Hiker's Journey to Bhutan
Kipchu was first-rate and I felt privileged to have him as our trip leader. He also knew so much that I felt at ease in asking him any question. Melodie M., Seattle, WA
Festivals of Bhutan
Kipchu was a marvelous guide. He was extremely well organized, very knowledgeable, attentive to all our needs and requests, and a charming person. Julia K., Bend, OR
Festivals of Bhutan
Kipchu was fabulous and a terrific representative for his country. Scot R., Dalhart, TX
Festivals of Bhutan
Kipchu's attention to details, vast knowledge, and patience really made the trip. Bee Y., Brussels, Belgium
Hidden Bhutan
Kipchu is one of the best guides I have had throughout my travels—extremely professional with attention to detail and true warmth and care. I will never forget how special he made this trip for our group. Karen M., Danbury, CT
Hidden Bhutan
We’re such fans—what can I say! Susan C., Florence, MA Kipchu is the best trip leader I have ever traveled with. He brought the local culture to life, making things easy to understand, and he has a wonderful calm spirit and great sense of humor. Kim M., Phoenix AZ
Hiker’s Bhutan
Kipchu must be the dean of Bhutan trip leaders. He was exceptional in every aspect you could think. Susasn M., Pittsburgh PA
Hiker’s Bhutan
Kipchu Dorji has a great sense of humor, patience, and modesty—the best guide I’ve ever had. Ann D., Santa Fe NM
Hiker’s Bhutan
Kipchu Dorji is a gracious and mindful host and guide, with great attention to detail. He has an easy interaction with staff and guests alike. Alix B., New York NY, Bhutan: The Chomolhari Trek Kipchu was gentle, but firm, tactful, and so caring. A very wise man with a lovely sense of humor. Lorian J., Mamaroneck, NY
Hiker’s Bhutan
Kipchu made this trip. Wise, caring, thoughtful, and sensitive. One of the best trip leaders I’ve had in the seven walking trips I’ve taken. Joel J., Mamaroneck, NY
Hiker’s Bhutan
Kipchu made this trip an experience I will never forget. He is charming, knowledgeable, and warm. Joanne L, Long Beach CA
Hiker's Bhutan

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:


Burma Extension

Yangon and Bagan

Cultural Adventures
6 days  -  Level 2


angkor wat cambodia temples

Temples of Angkor Extension

Exploring the Glories of a Bygone Khmer Civilization

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 2


Laos: Luang Prabang Extension

Gilded Temples and Traditional Buddhist Culture of Laos

Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 2


Burma Extension

Yangon and Bagan

Cultural Adventures
6 days  -  Level 2


wat arun bangkok thailand

Bangkok Extension

Discover the Beautiful Cultural Monuments of Bangkok

Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 1