Bhutanese dancer wearing painted mask and holding drum

Tsechu mask

Mask dances, called tsechus, are part of the heritage of Tibetan Buddhism in Bhutan. Masked and costumed dancers perform in the courtyards of ancient monasteries, reenacting tales of the triumph of good over evil.

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Hiker's Journey to Bhutan route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $5795  
Length: 12 days
Arrive: Paro, Bhutan
Depart: Paro, Bhutan
Lodging: 4 nights deluxe hotels, 7 nights rustic lodges
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: 7 hiking days on moderate trails, 2-6 hours a day, altitudes between 4,100-12,000 feet


  • Hike local paths to venerated hilltop temples and explore remote Bumthang, the spiritual heartland of Bhutan
  • Attend an exuberant Buddhist festival with masked dances and drummers
  • Meet artisans, farmers, Buddhist pilgrims, red-robed monks
  • Overnights in a combination of deluxe hotels and welcoming lodges

Loved this trip. It was a great combination of hiking and cultural activities, with the comfort of staying in hotels and lodges.Andy C.—Carrboro, NC

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.

Bhutan is a hiker’s paradise, with lush rhododendron and evergreen forests, pure mountain air, and serene valleys where the rhythms of rural life remain unchanged. Our exquisite hiking journey explores this rare Himalayan world, from the famed “Tiger’s Nest” in the Paro Valley to remote Bumthang, a little-visited realm of tranquil hamlets, traditional artisans, and ethereal temples. Our experienced Trip Leaders share their homeland with you, and we’ve timed each departure with an enchanting festival—a great opportunity to witness a vibrant Tibetan Buddhist pageant and mingle with the locals in a joyous gathering.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-5
Paro / Thimphu / Punakha and Phobjikha Valleys (Domkhar Festival Departure)

After meeting in Paro, head to Thimphu for a hike up to Tango, a Buddhist monastery and school, where you’ll see monks performing their daily rituals and prayers. In the Punakha Valley, our hikes bring you through riverside villages, to the Khamsum Yuley Namgay shrine for grand vistas of the valley, and to Chimi Lhakhang, a renowned fertility temple dedicated to a popular Tibetan Buddhist saint and folk hero. After exploring the Punakha Dzong, magnificently set at the confluence of two rivers, head to the scenic Phobjikha Valley for hikes in a beautiful alpine setting.

Days 6-12
Bumthang / Domkhar Festival / Paro

In Bumthang, forested mountainsides shelter centuries-old monastic complexes and religious retreats, and our hikes lead to some of Bhutan’s most sacred pilgrimage sites, including the 17th century Kurjey Lhakhang. While here, join the locals to watch the whirling masked dancers and drummers of the age-old Domkhar Festival, a spirited expression of Bhutan’s Buddhist culture. Flying back to Paro, take the pilgrimage hike up to Taktsang, the “Tiger’s Nest,” a breathtaking monastic retreat clinging to a cliffside. Depart on Day 12.

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 Level 3+, according to our trip rating system. There are hikes on 7 days, ranging in length from 2 to 6 hours.  The hikes are moderate and suitable for people in good shape who enjoy mountain hiking. 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.
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.

Getting in Shape
For your own enjoyment, we recommend you make a special effort to be in good physical condition for the journey by hiking, running, swimming, bicycling, or engaging in other forms of aerobic exercise well beyond your normal routine. Walking up and down flights of stairs is also an effective way to train for the steep ascents and descents in the Himalaya. Weekend hikes that involve long sections of uphill and downhill walking are great for conditioning your legs.

Accommodations and Food
Our accommodations in Bhutan range from rustic to very comfortable. The Zhiwa Ling Hotel in Paro and the Taj Tashi in Thimphu offer a great deal of comfort, while the lodges in Punakha, the Phobjikha Valley, and Bumthang are rustic, but well situated and cozy. Most rooms are twin-bedded. At most guesthouses, simple buffets are provided at lunch and dinner. Bhutan’s cuisine is generally based on basic rice with stir-fry and stew options.

Explanation of Trip Levels


Departures & Leaders

Apr 9-20, 2016   Domkhar Festival

Sep 4-15, 2016   Tamshing Festival
Oct 12-23, 2016   Jambay Festival
Nov 8-19, 2016   Nalakhar Festival

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2016
$5795 (4-15 members)
Single supplement: $1470
Forced single supplement: $1170
Internal airfare: $1250-$1950 (subject to change)
Bhutan Visa Fee (WT acquires visa for you): $40
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Laos: Luang Prabang Extension
   from: $840
Phuket Extension
   from: $795
Temples of Angkor Extension
   from: $755
Chiang Mai Extension
   from: $470
Burma Extension
   from: $2595
Bangkok Extension
   from: $645
Tharu Lodge Extension
   from: $690
Karnali Lodge Extension
   from: $1460

Trip Payment Schedule

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

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

Up to 91 days prior to departure: No charge!
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

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations; please note that rooms with double beds are usually not available in Bhutan. Most lodge rooms are twin-bedded.
  • All meals included
  • Government taxes and fees
  • Land transportation, airport transfers for passengers as noted in the Full Trip Brochure

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare and airfare within Bhutan, hotels in Bangkok, airport transfers for individual arrival or departure, any meals not specified after each itinerary day, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessitated by airline schedule changes or other factors, pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Arrival & Departure Information

You are responsible for your own transportation arriving to and departing from Bangkok, Thailand. For more detailed information, 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 so we can reserve your airport transfers.

2016 Departures

Meeting Place:
Paro, Bhutan
Date: Day 1

Suggested Arrival Airport:
Bangkok, Thailand (airport code BKK)
Required arrival time: At least one day prior to Day 1 of the trip
Paro, Bhutan
Date: Day 12

Suggested Airport for Departure:
Bangkok, Thailand (airport code BKK)
Suggested departure time: after 8:30 pm or the following day

Le Meridien Hotel

Le Meridien Hotel

Days 1 to 2 (2 nights), Thimphu, Bhutan

Opened in 2014, Le Meridien’s brilliant white building capped with a vibrant red roof and orange-trimmed windows reveals a modern twist on ...
Click here for full description and more photos

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:

Yulo Guest House

Day 5 (1 night), Phobjikha, Bhutan

This small, rustic country lodge with its classic Bhutanese architecture is set in a wonderfully remote location in one of Bhutan’s most pristine valleys. The rooms are simple, clean, and comfortable, with private bathrooms and showers. Please note that the electricity is generator-powered, available in the mornings and evenings. The staff can prepare a hot-water bottle to warm up your bed at night, a pleasant treat during Bhutan’s chilly evenings.

Hotels in Trongsa

Day 6 (1 night), Trongsa, Bhutan

In Trongsa, we stay at one of the following properties:

Yangkhil Resort
Tashi Ninjay Guest House
Puenzhi Guest House

Gongkhar Lodge

Days 7 to 9 (3 nights), Bumthang, Bhutan

This small family-run hotel is located just outside Jakar and enjoys a superb location with 360-degree views of the valley. The large cottage-style rooms are warmed by a wood stove and offer a comfortable ambiance. Locally made jam, honey, and cheese are some of the breakfast buffet highlights. The staff is attentive and helpful.

Hotels in Paro

Days 10 to 11 (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.

Our Trip Leaders

Here are the Trip Leaders scheduled for this journey (please note that leader assignments are subject to change).

Kipchu Dorji

Departure Dates: October 12-23, 2016

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 ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

Kinley Gyeltshen

Departure Dates: April 9-20, 2016, September 4-15, 2016, November 8-19, 2016

Kinley Gyeltshen hails from Gaselo village in Bhutan’s green and rugged southwest, where traditional farming is still the center of daily life. When Bhutan first opened its doors to the outside world, Kinley was among the early guides selected and formally trained by the government of Bhutan ...
Click here for a full bio and list of all upcoming trips

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


Karnali Lodge Extension

Exploring Bardia National Park

Photography, Safaris, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History
4 days  -  Level 1

Tharu Lodge Extension

Cultural Encounters, Jungle Walks, Elephant Rides

Cultural Adventures, Photography, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History
3 days  -  Level 1


wat arun bangkok thailand

Bangkok Extension

Discover the Beautiful Cultural Monuments of Bangkok

Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 1

Chiang Mai Extension

Explore the Wonders of Northern Thailand

Cultural Adventures, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History
3 days  -  Level 2

Phuket Extension

Explore a Jewel Set in the Andaman Sea

Cultural Adventures, Sea Kayaking
4 days  -  Level 2

Client Comments

Loved this trip. It was a great combination of hiking and cultural activities, with the comfort of staying in hotels and lodges. Andy C., Carrboro, NC A very valuable trip for people who want to experience Bhutan with feet-on-the-ground. Peter R., Santa Clara, CA Going to Bhutan was a longtime dream, and the trip more than met my expectations. Susan M., Minden, NV Best trip I've ever taken! Our Trip Leader was absolutely a treasure and so knowledgeable about everything. Ellen K., Boulder, CO Absolutely one of the best trips I've ever taken—an amazing experience. How can one improve upon perfection? Kathryn H., Seattle, WA
A spectacular trip! Susan H., Boulder, CO Our trip leader was one reason we loved the trip so much. He introduced us to his culture, country, and religion and we appreciated every climb, every monastery, every van ride, and every experience. He was extremely knowledgable and interesting. Peggy and Michael W., Hingham, MA WOW! I want to go back. Superb planning and execution at every step of the process. Jack G., New York, NY Loved the trip—it was such a rich cultural experience. Jan S., Boise, ID