Bhutan Last Shangrila this trip captures many of the top highlights of this beautiful Himalayan kingdom. You visit the magnificent Tiger’s Nest, a monastery perched up in a cliff; you marvel at the cute yet curious tarkin, the national animal of Bhutan; you visit the former seat of government at Punakha, with monasteries along the way; and see some of beautiful landscapes of this mystical ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’. At Phobjika, you can go hiking and even spot the endangered black-necked cranes (during winter months).
This comprehensive tour gives a good taste of what Bhutan has to offer. Ideal for anyone of any age and fitness, it would be a good trip for families with children, small groups and single travellers.
The government of Bhutan ensures that all operators in Bhutan have to be responsible, but this operator goes further than that. As a single mother herself, she is particularly sensitive to the needs of her staff, providing good working conditions that are flexible and supportive of family life. Starting in Paro, where she comes from, the operator is setting up a pilot project in a farmhouse that not only can provide guests with an authenticate experience of rural life, but also form a family home for the staff running the place.
Day 1: Arrival at Paro and sightseeing
Day 2: Sightseeing in Paro
Day 3: Sightseeing in Thimphu
Day 4: Sightseeing in Thimphu, drive to Punakha
Day 5: Sightseeing at Punakha – Wangdue Phodrang and drive to Trongsa
Day 6: Sightseeing and drive from Trongsa to Bumthang
Day 7: Sightseeing in Bumthang
Day 8: Drive from Bumthang to Phobjikha – home of the black-necked cranes
Day 9: Walk the Sashila Trail, drive to Thimphu
Day 10: Sightseeing in Thimphu
Day 11: Visit Takshang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery
Day 12: Departure
Apart from operating in a responsible way as required by the government of Bhutan (in terms of environmental care, promotion of local products and local employment), the operator is especially keen to provide good working conditions to the staff, even as guests are provided a genuine insight into Bhutan’s local culture. Running a small farmhouse ‘homestay’ enables the tour operator to provide a home for her staff, as well as an authenticate experience for visitors.
Being a single mother herself, the operator is particularly sensitive to the needs of her employees and provides them with flexible working conditions that enable them to take care of their families by working from home.
Sensitive to being responsible, the operator is particularly keen to share the benefits of tourism with her employees and to help create employment opportunities in the local areas where the tours are run.
- Tiger’s Nest – a wondrous monastery set in the cliffs
- Tarkin – a cute and curious national animal
- Thimphu and Punakha with their fascinating architecture
- Phobjika – nature trail and black-necked cranes
- Bumthang and its beautiful dzong
- Beautiful, unspoilt scenery
- Fascinating monasteries all along the way
- Accommodation gets simpler as you move away from the capital, but is clean and comfortable.
- Beware the red-hot chillies used in local dishes.
Passionate about sharing the benefits of tourism with those around her, Thinley Dem is a generous and dynamic lady. As a single mother running a business, she is especially sensitive to the needs of her employees who, like her, have to juggle family life with work. She pays fair wages to her staff regardless of the work load, as they are also young single mums with no other source of income. Working from home allows them to work flexibly, around their families’ needs.
Thinley is keen to support, use and recommend hotels and farm homes that are locally operated. She’s keen to provide job opportunities to people in remote areas, so as to discourage the problem of migration into the towns and cities. She is running a pilot project for this from her home in Paro, where she is setting up a scheme to share her home with staff and family, or locals who will be able to run small farmhouses all over Bhutan, giving guests a way to gain an authentic insight into the most remote parts of Bhutan but in comfort.
Ideal For Whom
This 12-day sightseeing tour of Bhutan is ideal for anyone interested in the rich culture and beautiful scenery of this unspoilt Himalayan kingdom. You get a chance to explore the main highlights of this mystical kingdom, often referred to as Shangrila.
It would suit anyone of any age and level of fitness. Most of the time, you are driven to the places you visit. The Tiger’s Nest, however, requires a modest level of fitness, as although it is not a long hike, there are a few short steep sections along the way up. You hike a few hours along a nature trail, though this is not difficult and is mainly flat.
This trip would be ideal for families, as children are very welcome and transport and accommodation child-friendly.
When To Visit
Spring and autumn are the best times to visit, when the weather is warm, dry and fairly settled. There may be the odd showers in spring, while the skies tend to be clearer in autumn.
Winter is cold, but offers crisp, clear days and it gets quite warm during the day.
Summer is not the best time of the year to visit as this is when monsoon falls – but it usually only rains for a few hours each day.
Things To Bring
Lightweight clothes for walking, though a jacket will often be useful in the evenings, when it can get quite cool. Thimphu is at around 2,600m, so it can get quite chilly in the evenings.
Thermals and warm layers will be needed from late autumn to spring, when it can get very cold.
Waterproofs and an umbrella are useful particularly during late spring and early autumn, when pre-monsoon showers and late rains can be expected.
By Air: Flights come into Paro Airport, the only international airport in Bhutan. It’s about a two-hour drive to Thimphu, the capital.
For foreigners other than Indian nationals, entry or exit into Bhutan has to be via a Druk Airways flight into Paro Airport. (Your visa will be arranged for you in advance by your operator). This means that a flight is needed at least one way, to enter or leave Bhutan.
By Land: It is possible for foreigners to enter Bhutan from Phuentsholing and to leave via Samdrup Jongar. There are no restrictions for Indian nationals, who in addition to the option of flying, can use either land border points.
Samdrup Jongar is a three-hour road trip to Guwahati in Assam, from where it is possible to fly to Kolkata, Delhi or Bangkok; or take a train to West Bengal, to Siliguri or Kolkata. This area is politically unstable, so it is wise to check in advance.
Phuentsholing, on the western border of Bhutan, is a few hours from Darjeeling, Sikkim and West Bengal. Siliguri is the main transport hub (169km). Buses leave Siliguri twice a day for Phuentsholing.
Panitanki (Ranigan), in north western Bengal, is opposite the eastern Nepal border town of Kakarbhitta. It is possible to arrange transport with the Bhutanese operator from here to Bhadrapur or Biratnagar for flights to Kathmandu. Panitanka is an hour away from Siliguri (35km) and buses run regularly.
Normal Payment Policy: At time of booking a non-refundable deposit of 10% is charged to your credit card in Euro equivalent by Travel To Care on behalf of the tour operator. Full Tour payment to be made by bank wire transfer upon which tour operator is officially permitted to process the visas.
Normal Cancellation Policy: Initial deposit is non-refundable for any cancellations.
50% refund if tour cancelled within 60 days from the start of the tour.
25% refund if tour cancelled within 45 days from the start of the tour.
No refund if tour cancelled less than 30 days from the start of the tour.
100% refund on airfare if air ticket is cancelled within 90 days from the start of the tour.
50% refund on airfare if air ticket is cancelled within 60 days from the start of the tour.
25% refund on airfare if air ticket is cancelled within 30 days from the start of the tour.
No refund for tickets cancelled less than 30 days from the start of the tour.
Payment Options: Bank wire transfer
Period(s) tour is not operational: N/A