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To learn more:Traveling with Atlas Obscura amid COVID-19 How We’re Adapting Our Trips Destination Requirements (via Embassy Pages)
Nestled in the heart of the Himalayas, the Kingdom of Bhutan is a tiny country home to pristine forests, extraordinary architecture, and rich cultural traditions. Join us as we journey from bustling Thimphu to the Phobjikha Valley, lush with greenery and wildlife, and finally through the small village of Haa. We’ll witness an annual festival and visit ancient dzongs, art studios, incense factories, and nature preserves—meeting artisans, monks, and farmers along the way. Our adventure will culminate with an ascent to the Taktsang Lhakhang, also known as the “Tiger’s Nest”—the striking cliffside Buddhist temple where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated for four months.
Note on trip dates and festivals: Each trip is centered around a different Bhutanese festival: the Paro Tsechu in April, the Thimphu Tsechu in October, the Black-Necked Crane Festival in November, and the Druk Wangyel Tsechu in December. The order of certain days and locations will slightly vary across trips; however, you can anticipate the same key activities and inclusions regardless of which date you choose. If you have specific questions, please contact us.
The listed price of the trip is per person based on double occupancy.
You’re in good company. Solo travelers typically make up about half of our small groups. With curiosity at the center of our experiences, there’s a natural camaraderie that develops over the course of a trip. We have two options for you:
Shared Room (subject to the latest Covid-19 guidelines): You'll be matched with another solo traveler of the same gender.
Private Room: Have your own room, subject to availability, for a supplemental cost of $425. After booking your trip, please request a single room when you fill out your traveler information form and we’ll send a separate invoice for the cost.
Travelers should be comfortable walking between three and five miles per day without difficulty, and spending extended periods of time on their feet. For those interested in trekking, there will be opportunities for longer and more challenging hikes on certain days of the trip. Some of the places visited on this trip are extremely remote. It can take days to reach the nearest modern medical facility. If you're uncertain about whether this trip is a good fit, please contact us and we'd be happy to discuss with you further.
Once you've signed up for the trip, we'll get in touch to help you book your Druk Air flights in and out of Bhutan. While our group itinerary begins in Paro, Bhutan, on Day 1, you should plan to arrive and overnight in Bangkok the prior night in order to connect with your onward flight to Bhutan the following morning. Flights in and out of Bhutan are prone to schedule changes and tend to sell out, so we don't recommend a tight connection in Bangkok.
The trip ends in Paro, Bhutan on Day 11. Again, we will be in touch to assist in booking your flight out of Bhutan. You should plan to depart Bangkok any time after 9 p.m. that evening, leaving plenty of time for schedule changes or delays on the flight out of Bhutan.
The elevations reached on this trip range from approximately 4,000 feet in Punakha to approximately 11,000 feet when crossing the journey's highest pass by road. Travelers should speak with their doctors about appropriate precautions to take, and consider spending an extra night en route to rest and recover from jet lag before continuing on to Bhutan. It's important to bear in mind that high-quality emergency medical care may be a day or more away due to the remoteness of some of the areas we'll visit.
On this trip, we will be staying mostly in local 3* and 4* Bhutanese-style hotels and guesthouses. For the one night in Haa we will be hosted in a local farmstay. Our accommodations here will be comfortable, but rustic, with bedding consisting of mattresses placed on the floor, shared western toilet facilities, and a homecooked meal. While there is running water for washing, separate drinking water, tea, and coffee will be provided. There will be no shower or bathing facilities at the farmstay for this one night.
Yes, a visa is required for travel to Bhutan, but we will secure it on your behalf.
By traveling to Bhutan with Atlas Obscura, you'll also be supporting a Bhutan-based travel company that strives to achieve an unprecedented zero-waste and renewable-energy travel initiative. Our local partner utilizes a refillable, purified water system to eliminate plastic bottles and all hiking gear is solar-powered. The tourism industry is a major revenue generator for Bhutan, which enables the government to provide free education and medical services to its citizens. Beyond this, you'll also help make a positive impact on local communities and businesses which in turn encourages the efficient conservation of our natural environment and preservation of Bhutan’s unique culture and tradition. You'll also be contributing to the creation of employment and income opportunities for people who are directly or indirectly connected to the tourism industry. And finally, your participation in this trip will benefit the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature and their conservation efforts.
Temperatures in Bhutan vary greatly by season and elevation. In Phobjikha, at 9,800 feet in elevation, you'll generally experience cooler temperatures than in Punakha, which at 4,000 feet has a much more tropical feel. The following are based on historical weather conditions, but you should be prepared for a wide range of weather conditions on every departure and dress in layers.
April: April is springtime in almost every part of Bhutan with green fields and blooming wildflowers and rhododendrons. Average daytime temperatures range from 60°F to 75°F (depending on elevation), and overnight lows may drop into the 40s°F. You may experience some rain at this time of year.
October: October is fall in Bhutan, and the cloudy skies of the monsoon summer months have generally passed, leaving the weather warm and sunny. Daytime temperatures range from 65°F to 75°F (depending on elevation), with overnight lows in the mid-40s°F.
November: November marks the end of fall and the transition towards winter with temperatures starting to turn colder. Daytime highs will be between 60°F and 70°F (depending on elevation), and overnight lows may dip into the low 30s°F.
December: Bhutan in December is relatively mild, with clear crisp skies and generally pleasant weather. Very little snow falls in the valleys in Bhutan in December and normally falls mostly at higher altitudes and mountain tops. That said, it's best to be prepared for some snowy conditions. What you gain in December is smaller numbers of tourists, clear mountain views, and sightings of the Black Necked Cranes in the Phobjikha Valley. Temperatures encountered range from about 30°F to mid-50s°F.