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Bhutan Explorer - 12 days/11 nights

Paro - Thimphu - Wangdue - Bumthang - Gangtey -  Punakha - Paro

Experience the charm of Bhutan with visits to Thimpu, Wangdue, Bumthang, Gantey, Punakha and Paro. This itinerary takes the highlights of our other tours and adds an additional trip to the beautiful valleys of Bumthang. Known as the religious heartland of the country, it was in this region that the Guru Rinpoche cured a local king of a spirit-induced ailment in the 8th century, an event that resulted in the king, and finally the whole country, embracing Buddhism.  

Privately-Guided! Whether you are a single person, a couple, or a group, you'll have your own guide and driver for all airport pickups, dropoffs, and daily excursions. 

Choose Your Own Dates! This is not a fixed departure date tour. Just let us know the dates that work best for you and we will arrange everything.
Customizable! Need more time? Less time? Want to see or do something that isn't included? Just let us know, and we will arrange it for you and let you know the change in costs.

Click here to read what our clients have told us after they return.

Trip Highlights

  • Taksang Monastery
  • Rare wildlife in the fascinating Phojibka valley
  • Sample local specialties in a farm house
  • Colorful wool woven mats and clothing
  • Bhutan’s oldest and most impressive monasteries


Day 1:  Paro to Thimphu (7,780 ft.)
Upon arrival at Paro, you will be welcomed by your guide and drive about an hour to the capital city of Thimphu. After checking in at your hotel, you will have lunch before visiting the major historical sights of Thimphu. Visit the National Memorial Chorten, built in honor of late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, the Folk Heritage Museum and the Takin Preserve where you can see a Takin, Bhutan’s national animal and a rare member of the goat family that can only be found in Bhutan. Overnight in Thimphu. (Lunch, Dinner)
Day 2:  Thimphu (7,780 ft.)
After breakfast, you can stop by a swanky local café if you’re up for some good western style coffee. Drive up to Buddha Point and offer your prayers to the largest Buddha statue in the country while enjoying great views of Thimphu valley below. Continue to the Changangkha monastery and the Drupthob nunnery temple. Stop by the craft bazaar where artisans and craftsmen come across the country to sell their products. Have some time to explore the streets of Thimphu before dinner time. Overnight in Thimphu. (All Meals)
Day 3:  Thimphu to Wangdue (4,300 ft.)
Today you will drive eastwards for about 3 hours towards Punakha valley. You will cross the Dochula Pass (3,140m) and have a glimpse of the Himalayan mountain range if the sky is clear. Arriving in Punakha valley, you will stop at Lobesa for a short walk through farm houses and fields to Chimme Lhakhang, a monastery built in 1499 in honor of Tibetan Lama Drukpa Kuenley, popularly known as the "Divine Madman". This temple is also known as fertility temple as it’s very popular for couples praying for children. After, continue on to your resort located by a small scenic river. If you’re not too tired from the drive, it’s possible to visit a village close by. Overnight in Wangdue. (All meals)
Day 4:  Wangdue to Bumthang (8,500 ft.)
Today you will embark on a full day’s drive to the central valleys of Bhutan over 2 passes that are over 10,000ft. Along the way, you will stop at Trongsa and see the biggest fortress in Bhutan. It is from this area where the present Royal Family emerged as most influential at the beginning of 21st century. At present time, every King of Bhutan is required to be governor of Trongsa before he ascends to the throne. After lunch, continue on to Bumthang, home of the great Buddhist teacher, Pema Lingpa, to whom descendants of the present dynasty traces its ancestry.  As you descend eventually into the valley, you come across the first valley of Chumey, a famous weaving region using sheep’s wool. Overnight in Bumthang. (All meals)
Day 5:  Bumthang (8,500 ft.)
After breakfast, visit the Jakar Dzong, 7th century “Fortress of the White Bird”, some famous temples and an old royal palace. Visit a local farmer’s house and enjoy a simple lunch with your hosts. This region is famous for buckwheat noodles and is one of the staple foods for locals here. After, stop by a local cheese making factory using Swiss technology. Overnight in Bumthang. (All meals)
Day 6:  Bumthang (8,500 ft.)
In the morning, drive 2 hours outside of Bumthang to Ura village and visit the new Ura monastery. On the way visit the sacred burning lake, an important Buddhist site. Enjoy a stroll around the village before your return trip back to your hotel. Overnight in Bumthang. (All meals)

Day 7:  Bumthang to Gantey (9,200 ft.)
After breakfast, you will drive 5 hours to Gantey where you will explore the beautiful Phojibka valley on the flanks of the Black Mountains. This is the winter home of black-necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains in the north. Upon arrival, you will visit an old monastery of Gangtey Gompa dating back to the 17th century. Overnight in Gantey. (All meals)

Day 8:  Gantey (9,200 ft.)
Today, you will do an easy hike around the local villages of Phojibka valley. Meet local farmers and learn more about their daily lives. If opportunity permits, you may visit a local farm house and have tea with the family. There might also be an opportunity to view some black-necked cranes during the winter period. Overnight in Gantey. (All meals)
Day 9:  Gantey to Punakha (4,300 ft.)
After breakfast, you will drive 3 hours to Punakha, which served as the capital for over 300 years. Stop by the Punakha Dzong which served as the seat of the government till 1950s and currently the winter seat of the Je Khenpo. The Dzong is opened to visitors only in summer when the Je Khenpo and the Monk Body are in Thimphu. Situated on the confluence of the Mother (Mo) and Father (Pho) rivers, this beautiful Dzong was built in 1637 and is the second largest in Bhutan. Overnight in Punakha. (All meals)
Day 10:  Punakha to Paro (7,780 ft.) 
Today, you will drive 4 hours over the Dochula Pass to Paro. In the afternoon, visit Kichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. Later, do a short hike of 15minutes up to Drukgyal Dzong, a defense fortress built in 1647 and now in ruins. If the weather is good, you can catch a glimpse of the snow-covered Mt. Chomolhari, a 23,000ft. peak. Overnight in Paro. (All meals)

Day 11:  Paro (7,780 ft.)
After breakfast take a 2 to 3 hour hike to the famous Tigers Nest (Taktsang) Monastery, an incredible monastery built on the side of a 3,000 foot cliff. The trail goes through blue pines and switchbacks uphill to the ridge. First built in 1692, around the Taktsang Senge Samdup, a cave where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated for 3 months in the 8th century. Afternoon, visit the Paro Dzong and stroll around the streets of Paro town. Overnight in Paro. (All meals)

Day 12:  Departure
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (Breakfast)

Inclusions and Exclusions

Our Package Rate Include

  • Flights in/out of Paro from India, Nepal or Bangkok
  • Private airport transfers
  • Daily accommodation with breakfast
  • Daily lunch and dinner at local restaurants
  • Private vehicle transportation for all excursions per itinerary
  • Services of a local, English-speaking guide for all visits and excursions
  • All tours and activities mentioned in the itinerary, including entrance fees
  • Bhutan tourism development fee
  • Bhutan visa application fee

Rate Do Not Include

  • International airfare
  • Supplements for stays and meals at upgraded hotels such as the Uma Paro, Uma Punakha, Taj Tashi, Haven Resort, or Zhiwaling
  • Beverage during included meals
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips for guides and drivers
  • Expenses of a personal nature

To Book This Tour

Please call us toll free at 1-877-362-2793 and let us know that you are interested in this tour. To prepare a proposal, we'll ask questions about how many people are traveling, your preferred travel dates, standard and types of accommodation, and any special interests that we may be able to accommodate.

Once we have finalized a customized price quote for you, your agent will inform you a per-person non-refundable deposit to initiate reservations (typically 20% of tour cost). Final payment is due 75 days prior to departure.

If your reservation is made less than 75 days prior to departure, the non-refundable deposit will allow us to initiate reservations. Full payment will be due immediately upon confirmation of all hotels and transportation services. If the services quoted cannot be confirmed, alternate accommodation or transportation will be arranged and the price will be adjusted accordingly.

Payments can be made by personal check, bank wire transfer, or credit card. Upon receipt of your deposit, we will initiate your reservations and send you a statement showing your payment. Approximately 2 weeks prior to your departure, we will send you a final confirmation containing your itinerary and detailed information on the logistics of your trip.
Please review our complete terms and conditions:
Booking Terms and Conditions

Cancellation/Refund Policies

- Cancel more than 60 days prior to departure - forfeit your deposit.
- Cancel between 30 and 60 days prior to departure - forfeit 50% of the tour cost.
- Cancel less than 30 days prior to departure - NO REFUND of tour cost.
- Cancellations must be made in writing and sent via mail, fax, or email to Red Lantern Journeys.
- Refunds will be processed within 30 days of receipt of your written request.
- No refunds are available for unused services or tours during your trip.

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