The World’s Last Shangri La


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 and Punakha 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.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-2
Paro Valley (7,500’) / Thimphu Valley (7,600’)

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, you’ll visit the Iron Bridge, a 15th century chain bridge laced with prayer flags, explore the serene retreat of Cheri Monastery where Buddhist monks go about their daily rituals, and tour a sanctuary for the takin, a rare Himalayan creature and Bhutan’s national animal. Overnights in the Bhutanese capital of Thimphu.

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Days 3-5
Phobjikha (9,800’) / Lungchuzekha Monastery (11,800’) / Shashila Pass

A spectacular road journey across the Dochu La Pass, with its summit shrines festooned with prayer flags, brings you to the Phobjikha Valley on the western slope of the Black Mountains. Take forested trails to isolated Lungchuzekha Monastery (11,800’) where you can enjoy views of the Bhutan Himalaya on a clear day. Hike from lodge to lodge along a nature trail to the gold-roofed Gangtey Monastery, visit the Crane Foundation Center to learn about the black cranes that migrate from Tibet, and spend a full day hiking across the Shashila Pass, winding through rhododendron forests with sweeping valley vistas.

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Days 6-9
Punakha / Paro / Taktsang Monastery (10,200’)

A morning hike brings you to Khamsum Yuley Namgay Chorten, a shrine built by the royal family with a rainbow of Guru Rimpoche images and superb views of the Punakha Valley. Follow ancient riverside trails to the 17th century Punakha Dzong, Bhutan’s former winter capital and the winter home of the head abbot of Bhutan. A walk through mustard fields brings you to Chimi Lhakhang, a monastery and fertility temple flanked by nearly 100 tall prayer flags and a pilgrimage site for childless couples. In Paro, explore the National Museum, with its collection of ancient artifacts and weapons, as well as the 15th century Paro Dzong. A hike to the iconic Taktsang, the “Tiger’s Nest,” built on a sheer cliff high above the Paro Valley, will be your grand finale on Day 8. Spend time exploring this striking retreat, the most famous temple of Bhutan and one of the most venerated pilgrim sites of the Himalayas. Depart on Day 9.

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


Length: 9 days
Cost From: $4295  
Arrive: Paro, Bhutan
Depart: Paro, Bhutan
Lodging: 8 nights hotels and lodges
Meals: All meals included (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level:

Moderate to steep trails, 3 hours a day, altitudes averaging 7,000-10,000 feet

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