Our Private Bhutan Tour reveals the true spirit of a fabled land that resonates in the imagination of accomplished and inquisitive travelers. With our Bhutan-born expert at your side, you’ll experience the rich history, living Buddhist traditions and inspiring landscapes of this mountain kingdom.
Day 1 – Arrive Paro, Bhutan + Journey to Thimphu
On arrival in Paro, you’ll be greeted by your personal guide. Embark on a scenic 1-hour drive through the lovely Paro Valley to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. Begin your touring at the King’s Memorial Chorten, a revered landmark with golden spires and tinkling bells; built in 1974, it is continuously circumambulated by devout Buddhist pilgrims chanting mantras and spinning their prayer wheels. You’ll also visit the 17th-century Tashichho Dzong Fortress; with its impressive 3-story towers and triple-tiered red and gold roofs, this imposing landmark has been the seat of government since 1952. Enjoy dinner and two wonderful nights at the deluxe Taj Tashi Hotel. Meals L+D
Day 2 – Art, Culture + Life
This morning’s exploration begins at the National Institute of Zorig Chusum, where you’ll meet young students who are learning and preserving Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts including painting, woodcarving and embroidery. Continue your foray into Bhutan’s enduring traditions at Dechen Phodrang, a monastic school that hums with the Buddhist recitations of its young students.
Sit down to a satisfying meal of traditional cuisine and then mingle with town residents at the colorful market; with insight from our expert guide, this experience offers a genuine look into Bhutanese life and culture. In Centenary Park, you’ll gaze upon a unique 45-foot tall image of a walking Buddha. Then continue to Kuensel Phodrang to see the immense seated-Buddha statue. Towering more than 160 feet, this bonze monument is filled with 125,000 smaller statues of Buddha and is said to be one of the largest Buddha images in the world. Before dinner, enjoy an evening stroll and visit a market developed by the Bhutanese government to promote authentic artisan crafts. Meals B+L+D
Day 3 – Journey to Punakha
After breakfast and check out, this morning’s scenic drive into the lovely countryside brings you first to Simtokha Dzong. Built in 1629, this is one of Bhutan’s oldest fortresses and features beautiful murals and an elaborately carved and painted ceiling. Then continue over the 10,300-foot Dochula Pass; on a clear day, you’ll have breathtaking 360° views over the Himalayas. The lone monastery situated near the mountain pass is distinguished by its 108 shrines; stopping here to take in the views, you can also light a traditional butter lamp – a Buddhist act of wisdom.
Then descend into the Punakha Valley through captivating landscapes of farming terraces, pristine rivers and fluttering prayer flags to visit the historic Punakha Dzong. Built in 1637 along the banks of a rushing river, this imposing fortress is considered by many to be the most beautiful in the country. By early evening, you’ll be settled in to your room at the Uma by COMO – Punakha, our enchanting luxury lodge set on a forested hillside overlooking the Mo Chu River. Meals B+L+D
Day 4 – Onward to Paro
After breakfast and check-out, you’ll set out once again with your personal driver and guide. Delight in the mountain scenery and commanding views as you travel to Rinpung Dzong. Founded in the 15th century and revered as one of the country’s finest examples of traditional Bhutanese architecture, this landmark also houses a monastic school with nearly 200 resident monks. Your guided visit also reveals inviting courtyard galleries with fine Buddhist paintings. Then cross the Paro River over the nearby Nyamai Zam - a traditional, covered wooden bridge. In ancient times, it could be disassembled and removed to protect the Dzong from invading forces!
Then join a local archery team to learn about this national pastime and its importance to Bhutanese culture and identity. You can even take a lesson and try your had at this ancient sport. Then continue to the Uma by COMO – Paro, our delightful resort here in the lovely Paro Valley. The rest of this day is yours to enjoy and explore as you wish. Meals B+L+D
Day 5 – The Magnificent Tiger’s Nest Monastery
Today’s adventure begins with a scenic drive to Ramthanka, the base for one of the world’s most unforgettable experiences. As you make your way up the forested trail on horseback and by foot, you’ll have breathtaking glimpses of Taktsang Lhakhang; popularly known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, this iconic landmark is perched on the side of a granite cliff some 3,000 feet above the valley. About 90 minutes into your privately guided ascent, you’ll reach an inviting café – the perfect place to recharge and take in the fresh mountain air. Continuing your ascent, you’ll stop along the way to hoist your own prayer flag – a traditional ceremony for Buddhist pilgrims. About an hour after leaving the café, you’ll reach the sacred monastery. On your way back down, stop for lunch at the café and then continue your descent back to Ramthanka.
Before returning to your hotel, you’ll enjoy a private tour of Kyichu Lhakhang. Dating back to the 7th century, it was expanded in the early 1800’s with additional buildings and a spectacular golden roof. Today it is considered to be one of the oldest and most beautiful temples in the Himalayas. Your evening at leisure offers a final opportunity to stroll in town and maybe shop for gifts and mementos. Meals B+L+D
Day 6 – Depart Paro
After breakfast, you’ll be chauffeured to the Paro airport for your onward flight. Meals B