Today, Bhutan or the land of the Thunder Dragon is one of the most highly acclaimed travel destinations. This is a land of remarkable natural beauty with a pristine and intact environment and a friendly, tradition-bound people. To the discerning international traveler, Bhutan has become an exotic and enticing final frontier. Bhutan's present travel status comes as no surprise given that this tiny kingdom, the size of Switzerland, was zealously sequestered from the world for centuries. The door to this mythical Buddhist kingdom was opened to limited tourism only three decades ago. Travel to Bhutan is still regulated through a policy of high value tourism.
At this time and age when tourism most often dictates national economics, travel to Bhutan is a refreshing experience. Here, a deeply ingrained sense of hospitality, a universally acknowledged ecosystem and a living culture ensures every traveler the best that any nation has on offer. Travel to Bhutan is really an exploration.
Explore a tradition and culture that has been preserved through the centuries. In Bhutan, it is not about seeing a display showcased for tourists but living and sharing an experience with the Bhutanese. From religious festivals to a celebration on a farm or a game of archery, become a part of it all. This is true interactive travel.
Regions & Attractions
Our cultural tours run through the regions of western, central and eastern Bhutan, which have distinctly different geographical features, language, people, architecture, culture and ways of life.
Regions of Western Bhutan comprises of the Haa Valley (2670m, 8760ft.) opened to visitors only in 2001, Paro (2280m, 7480ft.) the Valley that encompasses the only airport in Bhutan, Thimphu (2320m, 7600ft.) the capital city, the Punakha Valley and Wangduephodrang (1250m, 4200ft.). Western Bhutan is known for its stunning scenery with beautiful farmlands and apple orchards, the pristine rivers from perpetual snow-capped mountains meandering through the main towns of Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and Wangduephodrang.
Central Bhutan is separated from Western Bhutan by the Pele Pass (3420m) in the Black Mountain ranges. The region includes Trongsa (2180m, 7153ft.) and the valleys of Bumthang (2580m , 8500ft.), comprising of Chumey ,Choekhor, Tang and Ura valleys. Central Bhutan is known for its buckwheat cultivation, sturdy stone houses, and presence of ancient monasteries and temples.
Remote eastern Bhutan is the least travelled area of the country because of terrain and distance. It is also a least developed area and tour to eastern Bhutan provides a complete rustic experience. This region comprises Mongar (1600m, 5250ft.), Lhuentse (1555m, 5100ft.), Trashigang (1070m, 3525ft.) and Tashiyangtse (950m, 3200ft.). Nomadic villages of Merak Sakten, in the extreme north east of Bhutan stands as the legendary beauty of eastern Bhutan. Besides eastern Bhutan is known for exotic textiles weaving tradition and simple lifestyles of people.
Further down the south east is Samdrup Jongkhar, a small commercial hub of the eastern Bhutan, which also serves as convenient entry and exit point. Samdrup Jongkhar is 110km and three hours drive from Guwahati, the nearest airport in Assam, India.
Trekking in Bhutan
Trekking in Bhutan is a wonderful way to experience the charm of inner Himalayas. With large assortment of trekking supplies and crew, you will trek through wild and verdant forests with abundant birds and animal lives, across high passes against the back drop of towering snow-capped mountains and along ice-fed gushing streams. The trails are clean and unspoiled, and the wilderness still pristine in its natural beauty.
The scope for trekking in Bhutan is enormous – from short low altitude walks to arduous treks, we have trekking itineraries to suite aptitudes of every trekkers. Our low altitude treks such as Samtengang Trek and Punakha Trek, which normally happens in winters run through typical villages, temperate forests and rice paddy terraces. New 4-day Gangtey Trek runs through nomadic villages, monasteries, forests and valleys and Chele La trek will suffice your botanical curiosity. Gasa Hot Spring Trek takes you to the highest district in the north where you can experience Bhutanese curative hot spring.
High altitude treks like Jumolhari Trek, Laya Gasa Trek and Druk Path Trek going over 5000m plus would befit your adventurous mind. And high altitude Snowman Trek, which is billed as one of the most difficult treks in the world will quench your alpine quests. Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek runs through many high altitude shimmering lakes and the Wild East Rodung La Trek traverses from central to eastern Bhutan on traditional mule tracks.
All our trekking tours are well planned, accompanied by efficient trained team who will take care of all the necessities and make sure that you enjoy trekking in Bhutan.
About Bhutan Travelers
Bhutan Travelers is a locally owned travel and tour company based in Thimphu, Bhutan. Registered with the Royal Government of Bhutan, we are one of the most experienced tour companies in Bhutan offering personallized services in planning and execution of every tour. Our unique and innovative tour programme enable visitors to enjoy a genuine and authentic experience of a country steeped in mysticism, rich in culture, tradition and natural beauty.
Karma Tashi, the founder has spent years scouring the country seeking the best places to go. You will benefit from his years of experience, as he reveals his discoveries through unique tour itineraries infused with his passion for all things Bhutanese. His expert tour guides connect you to Bhutan behind the scenes, opening the doors to some of the world’s most zealously guarded secrets. zeal, enthusiasm, and good taste defines everything that Bhutan Travelers does. We choose our hotels carefully for their décor and ambience. We give you the best of both worlds; the complete insight in to Bhutan and friendly, efficient service with the help of our dynamic management and highly professional staff.
Getting into Bhutan
There are two ways by which you can travel to Bhutan: Either by Drukair or overland through Phuentsholing, a small town in south Bhutan bordering Indian state of West Bengal. Drukair, the only national airline of Bhutan services to and from Bangkok, Delhi, Kathmandu, Kolkotta, Dhaka and Singapore. Quite recently, another locally owned airline, Tashi Air has been added to the Bhutanese sky. It opeartes to and from Bangkok, Kolkotta, Kathmandu and Delhi. Overland entry from Phuentsholing is more convenient if you wish to tour Sikkim and Darjeeling before your tour in Bhutan. While you can exit from Samdrup Jongkhar, a town in south east of Bhutan bordering Assam. This exit is more convenient if you wish to tour Assam after Bhutan without tracing back the same lateral route back to Paro for your flight to other destinations.
Tour & trekking cost
Bhutan tour tariff is set by government and it is mandatory for all the tour operators to provide this tariff to people wishing to travel to Bhutan. Tariff is the same for cultural tours, treks and any other special interests tours. Although all tour operators are registered by the government, there are some operators who often run tour below the government set tariff. This is often termed as “under quoting” and if government comes to know, your visas will be revoked. So be wise in choosing the tour company for your travel to Bhutan.
The set Bhutan tour tariff is US $250 per night per person for high seasons months of March, April, May, September, October and November. And US $200 per night per person for low season months of January, February, June, July, August and December. If you travel in a group of less than three people, you are liable for the surcharge: US $40 per night for one traveler, US $30 for 2 travelers and there is no surcharge for three travelers and above. The cost include meals, government taxes, hotels, tour or trekking guide, driver, land transport within Bhutan, necessary entrance fees and sightseeing but does not include your personal expenses such as drinks and beverages, bottled water, phone calls, laundry, tips and insurance of any kind.
Licensed Bhutanese travel guides will introduce you to the many facets of this wonderful country. Our tour guides are trained and certified by the Tourism Council of Bhutan and refreshers course are given frequently to update their knowledge and standards. They all speak fluent english and are well versed in country's histrory and tradtions. We also have specialized guides for bird watching, ethno-botany or other special interest tours in Bhutan.
In Bhutan, the biggest draw for travelers is the annual religious festivals called Tsechu held in all districts. What appears as a gala fest of mask dances and people in bright attire is actually one of profound religious significance to the Bhutanese. These festivals are enactments of the teachings of Guru Rimpoche or the second Buddha, devised centuries ago so that the laity would understand. To attend the festival is to be blessed. The timing has also been set ingeniously after the harvest so that people can also celebrate a year of hard work on the farm.
Bhutan Travelers has a wide range of activities specially designed for visitors to enjoy tours, treks and cultural events. Information can be sought from us as to which particular festival, tour or trek will be of interest to the guests.
When to travel
Tour and trekking in Bhutan is possible all the year round except in the months of July and August when it is little wet for tour. Spring (months of March, April & May) and Autumn (months of September, October & November) are the best seasons for travel to Bhutan as there are couple of festivals in different places in these months. Spring season is warmer with flowers blooming around, while Autumn although little colder in mornings and evenings, days are warmer with clear blue sky for great mountain sceneries.
Arranging your travel to Bhutan is not difficult as you assume. Once you get in touch with any of the local tour operators, you will be advised to produce documents necessary to process your visas and your travel can be arranged within few days including your visas, Drukair flights, hotels, guides, transport and other logistics.
Bhutan visas should be arranged through any of the tour operators in Bhutan (all the tour operators in Bhutan are registered by the government of Bhutan). No foreign missions or embassies abroad sanction tourists’ visas. As per the government regulations, you are required to make full tour payment in advance and upon receipt of full payment, your tour operators will process visas with the government. It normally takes 2-3 working days to clear your visas. The Bhutan visa confirmation letter will be sent to you in advance and your actual Bhutan visas will be stamped in your passports on the strength of this confirmation letter on arrival at Paro airport. You will have to carry this copy along with you always. Some airports do not allow you to board Drukair flights if you do not have this copy.
For the visa application process, you will have to send scanned copies of your valid passport via email.
Hotels used for tours
We take utmost care in selecting your hotels. In your Bhutan tour package , we provide 4 starred hotels. Wherever four starred is not available, we provide you three starred hotels. All these hotels are approved and classified by the Tourism Council of Bhutan and they are clean and well maintained ones with choices of Bhutanese, Indian, Chinese and Continental foods. There are few luxury hotels in Bhutan -- Uma, Aman, Taj Tashi, Zhiwaling and Le Meridien which have come up recently. These hotels do not fall under government categorized hotels and they have their own rates. If you wish to stay in any of these hotels, you will have to meet premium of these hotels yourself in addition to daily tariff.
Kayaking and rafting are becoming increasingly popular because of the many rivers in Bhutan, ranging from turbulent alpine rivulets to staid wide sub-tropical rivers. These adventures offer splendid views of fortresses and people going about their daily chores as towns and villages are all located alongside rivers. Grades range from the basic to beyond the most dangerous.
Several new routes have been developed on ancient mule tracks that make mountain biking a wonderful experience in Bhutan. Just traversing Bhutan’s lateral highway is an exhilarating adventure in itself. Fresh air, limited traffic and the scenic beauty of the routes make mountain biking a most worthwhile way of enjoying Bhutan.
Transport for tours
The cost that we provide includes land transport within Bhutan including airport transfers. The car is going to be with you through the day and can be used for off tour - meaning ferrying you to and from market or any other drop or pick up. We take utmost care of your safety and comfort while travelling in Bhutan. We always provide well maintained cars with experienced drivers.
For one to two people, we use comfortable SUVs 4WD cars such as Toyota Land Cruiser Prado and Korean cars like Tucson, Santa Fe and Terracan.
For three tofive people in a group, we provide comfortable Korean Hyundai H-1 and Toyota Hi-ace buses and for five people and above, we provide AC Toyota coaster buses.
We write this reference for Bhutan Travelers with a smile on our faces and much gratitude in our heart.
Karma and his team provide a very unique service in their attention to detail and their willingness to construct and deliver a custom itinerary. Our brief to them was to deliver a week of outdoor experiences which included trekking and white water rafting, a week of spiritual development which included meditation training from lamas and meeting reincarnations and week of cultural immersion (hot stone baths, staying in a farm house and so many Dzongs and the best part of all meeting so many locals.
We really got under the skin of this amazing Kingdom and this would not have happened if not for Karma's network of contacts and the project management skill of his staff.
Many thanks Karma!
Derek Leddie and Nicole Lenord
Festival Schedule 2015
28 Feb - 2 March 2015
23 - 27 February 2015
27 - 29 March 2015
Tour of the Dragon (Biking Race)
05 September 2015
Paro Spring Festival
31 March - 4 April 2015
28 - 30 April 2015
Ura Yakchoe Festival
30 April - 4 May 2015
24 - 26 June 2015
Kurjey Tshechu Festival
26 June 2015
Wangdi Tshechu Festival
21 - 23 September 2015
19 September 2015
Black Necked Crane Festival
11 November 2015
Tamshing Phala Chhoepa
23 - 25 September 2015
Thimphu Tshechu Festival
23 - 25 September 2015
Thangbi Mani Festival
27 - 29 September 2015
Jakar Tshechu Festival
21 - 23 October 2015
Jambay Lhakhang Drub
27 - 30 October 2015
18 - 21 November 2015
19 - 22 November 2015
Trongsa Tshechu Festival
20 - 22 December 2015
Lhuntse Tshechu Festival 20 - 22 December 2015
Latest news on Bhutan
Royal Bengal Tiger
Presence of Royal Bengal Tigers in Bhutan above 3,700 meters above sea level
After a herder lost a bull, the forestry officials has set up camera trap at Sonala Mountain Range at 3,700 meters, a five hour walk from the Lamperi, which has confirmed the presence of Royal Bengal.
Bhutan - 16th peaceful country in the world
In the lastest Global Peace Index, Bhutan has ranked 16th most peaceful place in the world, which is an improvement from 91 places in 2012. Bhutan has succeded in establishng internal peace and change from Monarchy to democracy. GPI model infact vastly differs from the tenet of GNH - for instances GPI focuses in external peace while the GNH takes in account mental state.
New Drukair flights
Drukair procures new airbus A5-JSW
The Royal Bhutan Airlines recenty purchased a new airbus, which is tecnically registered as A5-JSW. The airbus is equipped with a new technology, blended winglets attached to the wings, more fuel saving, better endurance for high temperature and more load capicity. The airbus which was received with a traditional procession ceremony will fly to long haul routes like Bangkok and Singapore.