Bhutan Encounters tour

Bhutan Encounters tour

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8 Days From

$2640

$2557

Bhutan Encounters tour

8 Days Starting in Paro, Bhutan and ending in paro bhutan

Visiting: Paro, Punakha, Gangtey Palace, Paro, Phobjikha Valley, Wangdue Phodrang, Thimphu, Paro Taktsang སྤ་རོ་སྟག་ཚང་།

Tour operator:

Encounters Travel

Tour code:

150

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

2 - 12

Physical rating:

Low

Age range:

Over 9s

Special diets catered:

Request dietary needs

Tour operated in:

English

Activities:

Sightseeing

From: $2640 $2557 Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$83

NB: Prices correct on 16-Jul-2024 but subject to change.

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Tour Overview

This 8-day tour of Bhutan provides a fantastic chance to explore one of the world’s most remote and fascinating countries. The itinerary is designed to provide a balance between some historic and cultural sightseeing with some short walks through the Bhutanese countyside and some beautiful scenery. You'll also enjoy plenty of Bhutanese food and learn a lot about Bhutanese culture and Buddhist way of life. The tour starts in Paro where we greet you at the airport, which is surely one of most attractive in the world. We visit Paro Dzong and learn about how these beautiful buildings with their joint monastic and civic function have administred life in Bhutan over the centuries. We cross over the higher Dochu La Pass, hopefully enjoying some great Himalayan mountain views, and explore the Punakha Valley with its huge riverside Dzong, and also the Phobjikha Valley which is famous for being the home to many endangered Black Necked Cranes which migrate here from Tibet. We also arrange the itineraries so that you can visit the huge weekend market in the capital Thimphu which displays produce and crafts from all over the country. We have timed several of the departure dates to fit in with some of Bhutan's special 'tsechus', which are important religious festivals held in and around the Dzongs with maksed dances, processions and other. The itineraries on these dates may be adjusted slightly to make the most of the festivals and take account of the limited accommodation availability at the time. Flights into Bhutan are available with the national airline, Druk Air, from Singapore, Bangkok, Delhi & Calcutta and Kathmandu. We offer a range of options to add a little time in India, Nepal, Singapore or Thailand to enable you to connect on with your main international flights.

Highlights

  • Tiger's Nest monastery, Punakha & Paro Dzongs,

  • Phobkikha Valley, Thimphu market

  • Buddhist culture

Itinerary

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Day 1 : Arrive In Paro

Location: Paro

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Paro Hotel

Meals Included: Dinner

Paro airport provides a first taste of Bhutanese architecture and is surely one of the world's most beautiful. In the afternoon we visit Ta Dzong, originally a Watch Tower and now the National Museum. Then walk down to Paro Dzong and learn how these spectacular buildings have combined the monastic and civic administration of Bhutan for centuries.

Day 2 : Paro To Punakha Valley

Location: Punakha

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Punakha Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Cross the 3,050m Dochu La Pass 3,050m today on steep winding roads through beautiful dense forests. In the Punakha Valley, a short walk visits the Chimi Lhakhang Temple, built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley or 'The Divine Madman' and renowned for blessing barren women with fertility. Keen birdwatchers can drive to the Che Le La Pass at sunrise in search of Blood Grouse and the Himalayan Monal.

Day 3 : Punakha Dzong Drive To Gangtey

Location: Gangtey Palace, Paro

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Gangtey Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

A morning walk to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten takes in river banks, mixed forest and terraced fields of chillies and vegetables. Next we visit the spectacular Punakha Dzong, which lies between two rivers known as Phochu and Mochu which symbolise masculine and feminine co-existence. After lunch, drive on to Gangtey.

Day 4 : Phobjikha Valley Walk, Gangtey

Location: Phobjikha Valley

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Gangtey Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We enjoy a nature walk today in the beautiful Phobjikha Valley, famous for the rare black-necked cranes that make it home between October and March after an arduous migration over the Himalayan mountains from the Tibetan plateau (the annual Crane festival in November is well worth a visit). We also visit the Gangtey Monastery.

Day 5 : Drive To Thimphu Via Wangdue Phodrang

Location: Wangdue Phodrang, Thimphu

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Thimphu Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Re-cross the Dochu La Pass to the capital Thimphu. En-route visit the ancient Dzong at Wangdue Phodrang, which is relatively un-restored and gives a real feel for how these buildings have run life in Bhutan over the centuries.

Day 6 : Thimphu Tours

Location: Thimphu

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Thimphu Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today's sightseeing in Thimphu includes the Memorial Chorten, Folk Heritage Museum, School of Arts & Crafts and the Takin research centre. All our tours also aim to fit in with the huge weekend food and crafts market, which is a great place to pick up a souvenir of your time in Bhutan. A stop at the national stadium to view an archery tournament is also well worthwhile.

Day 7 : Taktshang (Tiger's Nest) Walk

Location: Paro Taktsang སྤ་རོ་སྟག་ཚང་།

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Paro Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Start early for a 2-3 hours steep uphill walk to the iconic Taktshang monastery, perched on a sheer 800m rock face. Taktshang is probably Bhutan's most famous site and attracts pilgrims from all over Bhutan. In the afternoon, visit the ruined Drukgyel Dzong and the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang temple. In the evening you could enjoy a relaxing traditional hot stone bath to ease any tired limbs.

Day 8 : Paro, Departure Airport Transfer

Location: Paro

Accommodation Name: N/A

Meals Included: Breakfast

Your time is free until we transfer you to the airport for departure. We can book your international Druk Air flights into Bhutan and extension options in Kathmandu, Delhi and Bangkok are available to enable connections to your onward flights.

What's Included

  • Accommodation
    3*

  • Meals
    7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners

  • All accommodation as per itinerary in 3-star level hotels

  • All meals as indicated in the itinerary

  • 24/7 airport transfer service

  • All transport in private vehicles with driver

  • Bhutan visa fee (US$40)

  • Bhutan government Sustainable Development Fee (US$200 / night)

  • Professional licensed local tour guide throughout

What's Not Included

  • International flights (available on request)

  • Travel insurance (compulsory)

  • Drinks, snacks and other personal expenses (e.g. Laundry)

  • Entrance fees to sites visited (budget approx. US$100 p/p)

  • Tips for tour leader and driver

  • Any other items not mentioned above

Mode of Transport

A/C minibus/people-carrier

Accommodation

3-4 star hotels

Check out our Q&As

  • Are all the relevant entry visa’s included in the price of the tour?

    We will arrange your Bhutan for you in advance of your arrival. You will need to provide us with: a scanned colour copy of your passport identity page (with your photo and personal details). This cannot be a photo showing fingers holding the passport. If you don't have a scanner, then place the passport completely flat and open on a white A4 piece of paper and take a photo of the whole piece of paper with the passport in the middle. That should suffice. a scanned colour passport photo (digital versions are available from most passport photo machines or shops doing passport photos now) a copy of your travel insurance policy certificate Please send these to us as soon as possible after booking or at least 2 months before your arrival. The visa will normally be issued by the Bhutanese authorities around 10 days before your arrival and we will then email it to you. You will need to print the visa out and show it to the Druk Air staff when you check in. No payment is required from you for the visa at this stage or when you arrive in Bhutan - all costs are included in your tour price. . If you are connecting the tour with Nepal, then Nepal visas are available for most nationalities on arrival in Kathmandu airport for a fee of US$25 for single entry, with an extra $20 charged for a multiple entry visa which will be required for most of our Nepal and Bhutan combination tours. This covers up to 15 days in Nepal (from first arrival to last departure). Single entry visas are also available for $40 (16-30 days) or $100 (31-90 days), again with an extra $20 fee to convert these to multiple entry. If you are connecting the tour with time in India, then you will need to obtain an Indian visa in advance - these are not available on arrival in Indian airports. We recommend you allow a minimum of 4 weeks to apply for this visa. If you are connecting the tour with time in Thailand, then many nationalities can arrange a free tourist visa on arrival in Bangkok airport. Please contact us if you have any questions about visa requirements for your travel plans and nationality.

  • What should I know before I travel?

    It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters. General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not. You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds. Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Travel Aware' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    Fully trained English-speaking Bhutanese guides are provided to escort you throughout this tour and many of our travellers consider them a highlight of their tour. Some tours (such as bird watching or trekking tours) will have specialist guides chosen based on the itinerary and activities included on the tour. At Encounters Travel we only use local Bhutanese guides and drivers. We feel this gives you the best experience of the country and the sites you are seeing.

  • Are all entrance fees included in the price?

    From September 2022, new Bhutanese government rules apply to both the pricing charged for tourisit visitors to Bhutan, and also to entrance fees. Formerly, entrance fees to Dzongs an dother sites were included in the government royalty charged to all tourists. This is no longer the case and the new USD 200 per night Sustainable Development Fee no longer covers entrance to sites visited. Instead, tourists will now need to pay new entrance fees for various sites visited during their tours. An approximate budget to allow for entrance fees visited on your tour is given in the 'Not Included' section of the tour page. For your convenience, your tour guide will be happy to collect the entrance fees amount in US Dollars or local currency at the start of the tour and purchase the tickets on your behalf as you go along. However, as many of our tours are designed to be somewhat flexible, the budget given may change slightly depending on the sites visited during your trip. A more detailed list is given below. USD 1 = approx. NU 80 (so NU 1,000 = approx. USD 12.50) Commonly visited sites: Taktshang (Tigers Nest monastery, Paro Valley) - NU 2,000 Kyichu Lhakhang (Paro Valley) - NU 1,000 Rinpung Dzong (Paro) - NU 1,000 Tashichho Dzong (Thimphu) - NU 1,000 Buddha Dordenma (Thimphu) - NU 1,000 Thimphu Memorial Chorten (Thimphu) - NU 1,000 Punakha Dzong (Punakha) - NU 1,000 Chimmi Lhakhang (Punakha Valley) - NU 1,000 Less visited sites: Dobji Dzong (Paro) - NU 1,000 Jangtsa Dungtseg Lhakhang (Paro Valley) - NU 1,000 Simtokha Dzong (Thimphu) - NU 1,000 Trongsa Dzong (Trongsa) - NU 1,000 Jampa Lhakhang (Bumthang) - NU 1,000 Rinchending Goenpa (Phuntsholing) - NU 1,000 Palden Tashi Choling Shedra (Phuntsholing) - NU 1,000 Note: Children aged 0-5 are exempt from these entrance fees. Children aged 6-17 will pay 50%. Note: Entrance fees may be imposed at additional sites over time.

  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?

    Your airport transfers are only included on the first and last day of the set tour itinerary, plus on any additional days if you book your hotel room with us. If you make your own arrangements for additional accommodation at either the beginning or the end of the tour then you will need to arrange your own airport transfers on these days.

  • Are vaccinations required for this tour?

    You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation. Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions. In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for the countries in this region are: Nepal: Additional vaccinations: Diptheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area. Bhutan: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area. Tibet: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area. Malaria: Vaccinations are not available against Malaria, which is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that can be very serious and sometimes fatal. You should avoid mosquito bites by covering up bare skin with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers and applying insect repellents to exposed skin. When necessary, sleep under a mosquito net. Mosquitoes are most active during and after sunset. You should consult with your GP/medical practitioner/travel clinic about the most appropriate malaria prophylactic medication to take for the regions you are visiting. In general the lowland regions Bhutan are considered malarial zones, while higher altitudes including central Bhutan including Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and Bumthang are not. Nepal is considered mainly low risk with prophylactics not normally required. Yellow Fever: This disease is spread by infected mosquitoes that bite during the day. A Yellow Fever Certificate of vacinnation may be required as a condition of entry depending on which country you are arriving from, or that you have travelled or transitted through recently (including connecting flights with stopovers of over 12 hours). You can view this US CDC information about where the virus is present and follow the links to further information detailing which countries need you to have a Yellow Fever vaccination as part of their entry requirements. Please ensure you have this certificate with you and to hand if necessary. Please inform us of any pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma and any prescription medicine you may be taking. We also need to know about any food allergies or physical disabilities that you may have.

  • Is travel insurance compulsory?

    Yes! Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event).

  • What happens if I need to change my holiday date once I’ve booked?

    You are always able to change your travel date. However, some charges may apply depending on how long before your departure you make the change. Our flexible booking conditions and reduced charges will apply if you are changing date because of a Covid-19 reason or because your government is advising against travel to your destination. Please check our detailed booking conditions for full details.

  • When is my balance payment due?

    60 days prior to departure

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    On most of our group tours, solo travellers may choose to form a temporary 'tour bubble' and share a room with another traveller of the same sex in the group. If a room share is not available then a single room supplement may be payable, with the costs for these kept as low as possible. We have also removed compulsory single supplements from many of our tours, and are reducing the cost by 50% on s

  • Can I transfer my booking to someone else?

    Customers may transfer their booking or any Credit on File to another person who satisfies all the relevant conditions to the tour, provided that we are notified not less than 7 days before departure, and the transferee agrees to these booking conditions and all other terms of the contract between us. The Client and new booker are jointly and severally responsible for any outstanding payments and a transfer administration fee of GBP50 / USD75 / CAD100 / AUD100 / NZD100 / EUR75 / ZAR1000 / INR5000 or GBP100 / USD150 / CAD200 / AUD200 / NZD200 / EUR150 / ZAR2000 / INR10,000 if the transfer is made less than 60 days before departure. Important Note: Certain arrangements may not be amended or transferred after they have been confirmed (for example flight tickets, Gorilla Permits) and any alteration could incur a cancellation and rebooking charge of up to 100% of that part of the arrangements.

Reviews from travellers on this tour

Lavinia C  

Bhutan tour

September 2016ber

I went on the 8-days Bhutan tour with Travel Encounters and it was amazing. The guide and the driver were nice people trying to do everything they could for me. The hotels were very nice and the food was simply great. The places I visited were those on the itinerary, plus some additions thanks to my guide who wanted to show me as much as possible. In general everything was well organized and worth the money. I would take this tour again, it was definitely a wonderful experience.

Zimri-Lim  

Well organised trip to Nepal and Bhutan - thanks to Ant.

November 2016

Encounters Travel/Uncover the World in the UK organised a trip to Nepal and Bhutan for me during Nov 2016. When reviewing the various options out there I was impressed with their knowledge in the area and they were able to put together a good itinerary covering a good many sites across a number of regions. They organised hotels, transfers, guides and drivers as well as Bhutanese visas and flights between Nepal and Bhutan. Everything worked well and despite being a solo traveller I had a driver and guide during all my time in both countries. Hotels were good, comfortable, well located and entirely appropriate to this type of trip. The overall itinerary was excellent and I was able to see much of Bhutan - Thimpu, Paro and Punakha valleys - and some very interesting parts of Nepal - Kathmandu, Bhaktaput and Nagarkot - within some 11 days. I booked the major international routes myself and used Oman Air who had by far the best connections to Kathmandu and a reasonable business class fare and Ant at Encounters booked the rest. Not a particularly cheap visit - Bhutan is possibly the most expensive country in the world to visit - but I can't see how I could have done it better or cheaper. I'd certainly use these guys again for this type of trip - they really know their business.

Brad  

Bhutan

Nevember 2017

Wonderful time, great experience. The booking process was fairly simple (Bhutan is slightly more complex than other locations). The guide (Dago) and driver (Yeshee) were great, super friendly and accommodating. Dago was full of information and quite knowledgeable. Yeshee, was great, at times the roads were rough, but he was a great driver, very friendly and kept the truck spotless.

1 Select your preferred date

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Sunday - Sunday

Aug 11, 2024 - Aug 18, 2024
$2640 $2557

Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$83

Monday - Monday

Sep 09, 2024 - Sep 16, 2024
$3170 $3070

Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$100

Monday - Monday

Oct 07, 2024 - Oct 14, 2024
$3035 $2939

Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$96

Friday - Friday

Nov 08, 2024 - Nov 15, 2024
$3035 $2939

Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$96

Saturday - Saturday

Nov 09, 2024 - Nov 16, 2024
$3035 $2939

Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$96

Monday - Monday

Dec 09, 2024 - Dec 16, 2024
$2640 $2557

Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$83

Monday - Monday

Dec 30, 2024 - Jan 06, 2025
$2640 $2557

Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$83

Monday - Monday

Jan 13, 2025 - Jan 20, 2025
$2640 $2557

Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$83

Monday - Monday

Feb 17, 2025 - Feb 24, 2025
$2640 $2557

Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$83

Sunday - Sunday

Mar 09, 2025 - Mar 16, 2025
$3035 $2939

Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$96

Tuesday - Tuesday

Apr 08, 2025 - Apr 15, 2025
$3035 $2939

Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$96

Monday - Monday

May 12, 2025 - May 19, 2025
$3035 $2939

Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$96

Monday - Monday

Jun 09, 2025 - Jun 16, 2025
$2640 $2557

Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$83

Monday - Monday

Jul 14, 2025 - Jul 21, 2025
$2640 $2557

Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$83

Friday - Friday

Aug 15, 2025 - Aug 22, 2025
$2640 $2557

Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$83

Sunday - Sunday

Sep 28, 2025 - Oct 05, 2025
$3035 $2939

Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$96

Book with Confidence

  • Transfer as credit to Future Tours

    Encounters Travel allows you to transfer existing payments to a future tour to avoid cancellation fees if you can't travel and inform encounters travel, 60 days before departure.

  • Low Deposit

    Encounters Travel requires a minimum deposit of 150 GBP per person or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 60 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of encounters travel charges.

    Up to 61 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 35% of booking price.

    At 41 days before tour starts: Forfeit 70% of booking price.

    At 27 days before tour starts: Forfeit 90% of booking price.

    At 14 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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