Private Tour

Bhutan Explorer - 12 Days / 11 Nights

Experience the charm of Bhutan with an overland journey to the beautiful valleys of Bumthang and Phojibka. Known as the religious heartland of the country, it was at Bumthang 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. A winter home to the endangered Black-Necked Cranes from Tibet, Phojibka offers idyllic hikes around ancient monasteries and charming farm houses.

Private, Local Guides!

Whether you are a single person, a couple, or a group, you'll have your own guide and driver for all airport pickups, drop offs, and daily excursions.

Choose Your 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? The options are unlimited, so talk to us about the different possibilities and our recommendations.

Great Accommodation!

We've scouted the best hotels in the best locations of all categories. We'll recommend accommodation to suit your budget and travel style.
  • Bhutan’s Oldest and Most Impressive Monasteries
  • Cross the Dochula Pass at 10,300 ft. for Himalayan Mountain Views
  • Visit the biggest Dzong Fortress of Bhutan in Trongsa
  • Famous Wool Weaving Region of Bumthang
  • Rare Winter Black Neck Cranes at the beautiful Phojibka valley
  • Scenic Hike to the Famous Tiger's Nest Monastery
Private Tour

Bhutan Explorer - 12 Days / 11 Nights

Experience the charm of Bhutan with an overland journey to the beautiful valleys of Bumthang and Phojibka. Known as the religious heartland of the country, it was at Bumthang 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. A winter home to the endangered Black-Necked Cranes from Tibet, Phojibka offers idyllic hikes around ancient monasteries and charming farm houses.

  • Day 1Paro to Thimphu (7,780 ft.)

    Upon arrival at Paro Airport, you will be welcomed and proceed about an hour’s drive to the capital city of Thimphu. Afternoon visit the city highlights including 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 Bhutan’s national animal and a rare member of the goat family found only in Bhutan.

    Overnight at Thimphu

  • Day 2Thimphu (7,780 ft.)

    This morning 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 Changangkha Monastery, a 12th century temple perched like a fortress on a ridge above central Thimphu. This temple has a special place in Thimphu life as parents come here to get auspicious names for their children.

    Also visit Drubthob Goemba which now houses the Zilukha Nunnery, one of the very few nunneries in Bhutan. Located by the slopes of a hill, you can have nice views of the surrounding valley and a golf course

    Stop by the craft bazaar in the city center where artisans and craftsmen come across the country to sell their products. Later this evening, meet a local expert over a casual dinner to learn about fascinating facts on Bhutan’s “Gross National Happiness Index”. Enacted on 18 July 2008, this index is instituted in the Constitution of Bhutan.

    Overnight at Thimphu

  • Day 3Thimphu to Wangdue (4,300 ft.)

    Today you will drive eastwards for about 3 hours towards Punakha valley. Cross the Dochula Pass at 10,000 ft. for a glimpse of the Himalayan mountain range. At 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.

    Afternoon, meet friendly locals at a small village in Wangdue to experience typical rural life. Enjoy friendly conversations over tea inside a typical farm house.

    Overnight at Wangdue

  • Day 4Wangdue 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, stop at the valley of Chumey, a famous weaving region using sheep’s wool. A quick browse through a workshop to see traditional weaving techniques and perhaps pick up some unique pieces.

    Overnight at Bumthang

  • Day 5Bumthang (8,500 ft.)

    This morning visit an old Royal Palace and some of the oldest temples in Bhutan including Jakar Dzong, the 7th century “Fortress of the White Bird”, where religious festivals are held.

    Another historic temple is Jambey Lhakhang. According to legend this ancient temple was built by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in 659 A.D. as part of a chain of 108 simultaneously constructed temples in order to subdue an evil demoness that lay over the Himalayan region. This is the oldest temple, also known as a “lhakhang” in Bhutan.

    Stop by 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 before taking a stroll around the small town where locals shop for daily necessities.

    Overnight at Bumthang

  • Day 6Bumthang (8,500 ft.)

    Today you can discuss with your guide to take a short hike around the beautiful valleys of Bumthang and enjoy more scenic rural atmosphere. Perhaps your trip coincides with a religious festival where you can witness the colorful and elaborate Tibetan style Masked Dance held in an ancient temple. We highly recommend catching a religious festival in Bumthang that see far less crowds than the ones held in Thimphu or Paro.

    Overnight at Bumthang

  • Day 7Bumthang to Gantey (9,200 ft.)

    After breakfast, drive about 5 hours along the scenic mountain highway to Gantey where you will explore the beautiful Phojibka Balley on the flanks of the Black Mountains. This is the winter home of black-necked cranes that migrate from the arid plains in Tibet.

    At Phojibka, visit an old monastery of Gangtey Gompa dating back to the 17th century. It is the main seat of the Pema Lingpa tradition and one of the two main centers of the Nyingmapa school of Buddhism in Bhutan.

    Overnight at Gantey

  • Day 8Gantey (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. There might also be an opportunity to view some black-necked cranes during the winter period. The best months to view these endangered species is between October to mid-February.

    Overnight at Gantey

  • Day 9Gantey to Punakha (4,300 ft.)

    After breakfast, drive about 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 at Punakha

  • Day 10Punakha to Paro (7,780 ft.)

    Today depart for Paro over the Dochula Pass, about 4 hours’ drive. In Paro, visit Kichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan originally built in the 7th century by the Tibetan Emperor Songtsen Gampo.

    Later do a short hike 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 at Paro

  • Day 11Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery (10,240 ft.)

    Today you will hike about 4-5 hours to the famous Tiger’s Nest (Taktsang) Monastery, an incredible monastery built in 1692 on the side of a 3,000 foot cliff. The trail goes through blue pines and switchbacks uphill to the ridge. This iconic monastery was 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.

    After the hike enjoy a relaxing traditional hot stone herbal bath before visiting the Paro Dzong and strolling around “downtown” Paro, a series of small lanes with a handful of local shops.

    Overnight at Paro

  • Day 12Departure

    Transfer to the airport for your onward journey.

Private Tour

Bhutan Explorer - 12 Days / 11 Nights

Our private tours include the things that make it so you don’t have to worry about logistics for your trip.

This Tour Includes

  • Flights in/out of Paro from India, Nepal or Bangkok
  • Airport Transfers
  • Visa Fees & all applicable Government Tourism Fees
  • Standard Accommodation, including all Taxes and Service fees
  • Private, Local, English-speaking guides for Tours and Activities
  • All Tours and Activities as described
  • Entrance fees to Sights
  • Daily Lunch and Dinners at Local Restaurants

This Tour Does Not Include

  • International Airfare
  • Supplements for Stays and Meals at Upgraded Luxury Hotels
  • Beverage during Included Meals
  • Travel Insurance
  • Tips for Guides and Drivers

Itinerary Add-Ons to Consider

Consider a pre- or post-tour extension to this itinerary in either Nepal or India depending on which city your international flight is routed through. It’s quite easy to add a couple of days in Delhi with an excursion to see the Taj Mahal, or Kathmandu to visit its seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Kathmandu Stopover

Starting Price : $1000 / Person

Kathmandu Valley contains seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites and provides a fascinating contrast to the more rural and less populated Bhutan. Visas on arrival, make Nepal an easy place to include.

Taj Mahal Stopover

Starting Price : $1200 / Person

If you are traveling through New Delhi, consider a side trip to Agra to see the iconic Taj Mahal...truly a must-see. India makes it easier to get e-visas now, so if you're flying through Delhi, take advantage of the opportunity!

Private Tour

Bhutan Explorer - 12 Days / 11 Nights

Here’s an explanation of what to expect and why about the planning and booking process and working with a Red Lantern Journeys travel consultant.

The price for this trip will vary based on many factors including:

  • Dates of travel – high vs. low vs. shoulder season
  • Your preference of hotel standards – 3, 4, or 5-star categories. We’ve scouted the best hotels and the best locations in each category and will make our recommendations based on your budget and travel style. We’ll even try to book specific room categories to avoid street noise or other inconveniences.
  • The number of people in your group
  • Customization of tours and activities
  • How far in advance you book the trip
  • Personal Travel Consultant

    Your personal travel consult to work with you to prepare your itinerary, recommend tours and activities and accommodation and explain the reasoning behind every aspect of your tour.

  • Private Vehicles with Driver and Guides

    You'll have your own private, chauffeur-driven vehicle for all of your airport transfers and daily excursions. These will also include your personal, English-speaking guide who is licensed and will provide the insights to make each of your tours an exceptional experience.

  • Hotel Recommendations

    We've inspected hundreds of hotels and can recommend accommodation that fits your style and budget.

  • Activity Recommendations

    We have access to a wide range of activities to make your trip truly memorable. Activities range from visiting iconic sights to meeting local personalities, adventure sports, and exclusive dining experiences!

Private Tour

Bhutan Explorer - 12 Days / 11 Nights

The Best Time to Do This Itinerary

The best time to visit Bhutan is during the spring months of March to May when the valleys come alive with flowers in bloom. The Himalayan peaks are at their most visible with the clear skies of October and this is the best time for trekking though temperatures will be on the cold side.

Other Good Times To Travel in Bhutan

April, May, September and October are the best months with optimum weather. Although it is colder, the skies are generally clear and blue, and most importantly, it won’t be muddy.

Winter is a good time to catch the endangered black necked crane in their winter home, the Phobjika valley and summer is a wonderful time for mushroom picking (there’s even a Matsutake Mushroom Festival) and to catch glimpses of (sometimes double) rainbows over the valleys. If you’re there to seek solace or for spirituality reasons, anytime would be a good time to go.

Times to Avoid
The Monsoon Season

The monsoon season lasts from June through September. During this time, light rain (1-2 hours) in the morning is typical.

Private Tour

Bhutan Explorer - 12 Days / 11 Nights

Customize This Itinerary

Starting From: $3860 / Person
Call us at 206-568-0710 or fill out the form below. We’ll get back to you within 1 business day!

Please provide as much information as you can to help us prepare before contacting you. For example:

  • Number of travelers – adults and children with ages
  • When you want to travel – are your dates fixed or flexible?
  • Destinations of interest – country or countries, plus destinations within a country
  • Activities of interest – like beaches, wildlife, hiking, shopping, art, local culture, adventure, etc.
  • Purpose of trip and Special Occasions – holiday, honeymoons, important birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
  • Approximate budget per person

Submit Your Inquiry Here

Have A Question?

Call us at 206-568-0710 or email us at info@redlanternjourneys.com. Click Inquire Here to fill out and submit a form.

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