Trip Overview

Fall in love with the hidden jewel of the Himalayas on a 12-day journey through Bhutan in December 2019 just filled with cultural experiences, active exploration, and unforgettable moments!

From Bangkok, fly to the Haa Valley in Bhutan, an unspoiled wonderland and one of the country’s least-visited areas. Get to know the adventurous women joining you on this journey on a hike or mountain bike ride through Bhutan’s primeval forests. A visit to the Chele La Pass offers breathtaking views of the Himalayas towering overhead, and the Paro and Haa Valleys unfurling below.

The ancient Jambey Lhakhang Temple, an extremely holy site for the country’s Tantric Buddhists, nestles in the fertile, peaceful valleys of Bumthang. Walk through the beautiful countryside, over the rushing Chmakhar Chu River on a footbridge, and through the paddy fields on your way to the temple complex at Tamshing, where many young monks are trained.

At the Pema Choeling Nunnery you’ll experience an impressive spiritual drum ceremony performed by the 100+ nuns undertaking a 12-year course of study here. Get to know these amazing women as you share stories over lunch. Visit the famous watchtower of Trongsa Dzong, which guarded the town from rebellion, and currently houses the nation’s most fascinating museum.

A beautiful nature hike through the Phobjikha Valley will offer glimpses of the extremely rare black-necked crane. Share your favorite experiences with your new friends while you gaze out over the glacial plains some have claimed are the setting of the mythical shangrila.

Reconnect with nature while you commune with Bhutan’s unspoiled beauty during a night of tented camping in the Punakha Valley. Marvel at the stunning Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten Temple, perched on a ridge overlooking the lush valley floor, as you hike through Punakha. A visit to the Chimi Lhakhang Monastery will let you commune with generations of Bhutanese women, who travel there seeking fertility blessings!

The modern city of Thimphu is a stark contrast with your Bhutanese wilderness adventure. Visit the world’s largest seated Buddha statue, 169 feet tall and truly awe-inspiring. The national museum in Paro offers a glimpse into Bhutan’s rich past. Cap off your journey with a visit to Taktsang Lhakang, “The Tiger’s Nest”, Bhutan’s most iconic temple. Clinging to a cliff face 900 meters above the Paro Valley, some pilgrims will walk for a month to reach it. Though you are not allowed inside, a 4-5 hour hike will bring you to a spectacular viewpoint, where you can snap some last photos with the amazing women you shared this adventure with.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to travel to Bhutan in December 2019 to experience one of the world’s most incredible, unique cultures!

Main Attractions

  • Visit the Pema Choeling Nunnery in the remote region of Bumthang and engage in an impressive and emotional drum ceremony with the nuns
  • Walk through Phobjikha Valley to see the rare black-necked cranes and visit the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature’s exhibit dedicated solely to these birds
  • Explore the magnificent fortress of Punakha Dzong, once the capital of Bhutan
  • Spend one night camping in an exclusive campsite in Punakha
  • Hike to see the breathtaking views of Taktsang “the Tiger’s Nest” monastery in Paro

What You'll See and Do

  • Anthropology
  • Buddhism
  • Camping
  • Handicrafts
  • Hiking
  • Historical Sites
  • Local Delicacies
  • Natural History
  • Sightseeing
  • Spa Element
  • UNESCO Site
  • Women-To-Women Exchanges

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Call us ~ 1.800.804.8686

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Paro
Meet your group at the Bangkok Airport for your flight to Paro, Bhutan. Flight time TBD.

Once you arrive in Paro, visit the newly renovated Drukgyel Dzong. The Dzong was instrumental in Bhutan’s line of defense against the Tibetan invasion. Explore the Kyichu monastery, one of the oldest and most sacred temples in Bhutan. The Royal Grand Mother conducts all of her religious ceremonies at this temple. Learn its legends and mysteries from your guide.

Enjoy a welcome dinner and group orientation this evening.
Dinner

Overnight: Zhiwa Ling Hotel

Day 2

Paro
Drive to Chele La Pass at 13,000 feet en route to Haa. Enjoy panoramic views of the Paro and Haa valleys as well as the Himalayas and the Kachenjunga. With its three prominent hills representing the three guardian deities, the valley is said to have been named by Guru Rimochey himself – “Haa” means mystical.

Relax at your hotel late this afternoon.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Zhiwa Ling Hotel

Day 3

Paro
Some pilgrims walk for a month to reach Taktsang Lhakhang, or “The Tiger’s Nest.” The surrounding area has many temples, monasteries and, cells where many monks, nuns, and lay-people can meditate, some even for a lifetime. Although you are not allowed inside the monastery, you can hike up to the view-point for a spectacular and breathtaking view of Taktsang. The hike is 4-5 hours round trip.

Return to the hotel this afternoon where you can relax or take advantage of the spa.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Zhiwa Ling Hotel

Day 4

Paro to Bumthang
After breakfast, fly from Paro to Bumthang. Visit Jambey Lhakhang in Bumthang. This temple, along with Kyichu Lhakhang in the Paro Valley, is one of the two oldest temples in Bhutan. It was built around 750 by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet as part of his pledge to build 108 temples to the Buddha during his lifetime. One of the most holy of Bhutan’s religious sites, you will have special permission required to visit the sacred temple.

Continue on to the Kurjey Monastery, a 17th century temple next to which a spectacular monastery has been completed. It was built to resemble the heavenly abode of the Guru Rimpochey. The funeral rites of the senior members of the Royal Family are sometimes conducted here. From Kurjey, begin your walk through the countryside, crossing a bridge over the rushing Chamkhar Chu (river) and walk through paddy fields to Tamshing. This temple complex was founded in 1501 by one of Bhutan’s most famous saints, Pema Lingpa. There are many young monks in training here.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Yu-Gharling Resort and Spa

Day 5

Bumthang
Drive to Tang Valley, one of the most remote valleys of Bumthang. As it is higher than Chokhor and the soil is not as fertile, there is not much agriculture here, although the valley turns bright pink with buckwheat flowers in fall. The people of this valley raise sheep and, at higher elevations, Yak. Arrive at the Pema Choeling Nunnery, a large nunnery where about 100+ anim (nuns) complete 12 years of study. This is one of the few places for women to be educated as nuns. Once in the Lhakhang, participate in an impressive spiritual drum ceremony with the nuns for the well-being of all sentient beings and world peace. Share stories and learn from the nuns over lunch.

On the way back to your hotel, visit Jakar Lakhang, the temple manifested as the celestial abode of Guru Rinpoche.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Yu-Gharling Resort and Spa

Day 6

Bumthang to Trongsa
Leave Bumthang this morning for Trongsa. Stop in the Chumey Valley at a traditional Yahtra sheep wool weaving center. Pick up some souvenirs here if you want! Drive over Yotongla Pass at 12,000 feet, and descend down to Trongsa.

The Ta-Dzong watchtower, which once guarded Trongsa Dzong from internal rebellion, stands on a promontory above the town. It was built by Chogyal Minjur Tempa, the 1st Governor of Trongsa in 1652. It has four observation points resembling Tiger, Lion, Garuda, and Dragon. Climb up the path to visit Ta Dzong which now houses a shrine dedicated to the epic hero, King Gesar of Ling. A visit to this former watchtower provides visitors with an insight into the significance of Trongsa in Bhutan’s history. As of date the Ta Dzong of Trongsa is the most fascinating museum of the nation.

Explore this narrow town on your own late this afternoon and evening.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Yangkhil Resort

Day 7

Trongsa to Gangtey
After breakfast leave Trongsa, and drive to the Phobjikha valley. The Journey will take approximately four hours on fairly rough roads, depending on the number of stops you make along the way. On arrival in the valley, you will see one of the oldest and wealthiest private monasteries in Bhutan – Gangtey Goenpa. The head lama of Gangtey Goenpa is the ninth incarnation of Pema Lingpa, a famous 14th century blacksmith from Bumthang who is one of Bhutan’s most famous Buddhist saints and teachers.

This area is famous as the winter home for the very rare black-necked crane. Experts estimate that fewer than 6,000 cranes exist in the wild. Every year, approximately 800-1,000 birds arrive in Phobjikha Valley late October and stay through mid-February. Learn about the cranes at the Crane Center.

Take a beautiful nature hike through the valley, overlooking the plains created by the glacier that some claim is like the setting of a Shangri-La. The forests surrounding the valley are full of birds and mammals alike, and the nature hike is a wonderful way to experience this pristine ecosystem. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Dewachen Hotel

Day 8

Gangtey to Punakha
The Punakha Dzong was built in 1637 by Shabdrung. It is situated at the confluence of the “Pho” and “Mo” Chus (Father & Mother rivers), guarding the Southern end of the Punakha valley. This huge fortress was the capital of Bhutan until 1966. The “Je Khenpo” (head religious abbot) of Bhutan and most of the monks in Thimphu live in this Dzong throughout the winter, as the lower elevation of the Punakha valley is warmer than higher elevations. In 1651, Shabdrung went into retreat and passed away soon after. For fear of civil unrest his death was kept a secret for over 50 years.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Tented Camp

Day 9

Punakha to Thimphu
Enjoy breakfast at your camp this morning, and then head out to visit the 108 stupas built by the Queen Mother at the Dochu La Pass (10,300 feet). Then head to the Memorial Chorten. The Royal Grand Mother Ashi Phuntsho Choden built this Chorten in 1974 in memory of the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who died in 1972. You will find Bhutanese from all walks of life circumambulating the stupa for merit and for liberating sentient beings from suffering. Check in at your hotel and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

This afternoon, visit the World’s largest seated Buddha statue at 169 feet, the Buddha Dordenma. This Buddha is seated amidst the ruins of Kuensel Phodrang. If you are interested, there is an excellent nature trail here.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Zhiwa Ling Ascent

Day 10

Thimphu
Visit the School for Arts and Crafts, where children and adults are enrolled and study multiple years before they graduate and start a career. You’ll also see a small-scale paper factory. Paper here is made out of the Daphne plant. Take some time to shop for traditional wares at the local craft bazaar.

You’ll be joined by local dignitaries for dinner this evening.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Zhiwa Ling Ascent

Day 11

Thimphu
Enjoy some free time in Thimphu to enjoy some last minute shopping or to explore the city before driving to Paro.

Visit the National Museum in Paro. An earthquake destroyed the old circular tower, which is being rebuilt. The artifacts have been moved to the outer buildings of the museum. Enjoy an archery and dart demonstration this afternoon. Try your hand and see if you are any good at hitting your mark!

Have a farewell dinner with your new AdventureWomen friends. Reminisce over all of the memories you have made and celebrate the end of an incredible trip!
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Zhiwa Ling Hotel

Day 12

Depart Paro
Transfer to the airport this morning for your flight as a group from Bhutan to Bangkok. Time TBD.

Say goodbye to your new AdventureWomen friends as you connect with your flights home from Bangkok.
Breakfast

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Call us ~ 1.800.804.8686

Traveling to Bhutan



Arrive: Arrive in Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) on December 5, 2019. Your flight to Bhutan (arranged by AdventureWomen) will be booked closer to departure.

Depart: Depart Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) on December 17, 2019 after 8:00pm.

We are happy to help you make your flight and travel arrangements. Please contact us at:

(800) 804-8686 or (617) 544-9393
email: info@adventurewomen.com

If you’d like to do anything prior to or following the AdventureWomen trip, we’d be delighted to help you arrange any trip extensions you’re interested in.

Note: The recent trend in travel is for travelers to finalize their plans much closer to departure time than was customary in the past. While we try to be as flexible as possible booking last-minute registrants, we must release hotel rooms two to three months prior to departure! Please keep this in mind when making your travel plans.

Passports and Visas

Citizens of the United States must have a passport valid for six months beyond your travel dates with at least two blank facing pages. If you do not have a passport, please apply now!

You will need a tourist visa to enter Bhutan. We will arrange the visas for the group and send you a copy. This copy must be brought with you when you check in for your flight to Bhutan and at immigration in Bhutan.

Activity Level

We rate this trip as High Energy. Our High Energy adventures are designed for women who enjoy a physical challenge and crave being on the go! You should be prepared for itineraries that include (but are not limited to): a full day of biking on rolling terrain, hiking 5-8 miles on moderate to steep trails, being active at high altitudes, whitewater rafting, or skiing.

We recommend training before your trip (with your doctor’s permission!) to make the most of your adventure. We have a partnership with FitForTrips, a company that will design an individualized fitness plan for you with this itinerary in mind. Best of all, AdventureWomen guests get a 25% discount with the code FITWOMEN. Learn more here.

You should come with a flexible, adventurous, and enthusiastic spirit, and a wonderful sense of humor that adventure travel requires.

Health Considerations

Make an appointment with a travel clinic. There are no immunization requirements for travel to Bhutan, however your local travel clinic may have recommendations for you based on your age, health, and past vaccination history.

For more health information, go to www.cdc.gov/travel and navigate to the page about Bhutan.

Money

US Dollars are accepted in Bhutan. Credit cards are not generally accepted beyond a few large shops in major cities. Visa and MasterCard are more commonly accepted than American Express. ATMs are only available in Thimphu, the capital city. We advise bringing cash for your trip.

Suggested Gratuities:

  • Main guide: $60-70
  • Assistant guides: $40-60
  • Drivers: $40-50
  • Luggage porters: $10-15

How to Register

Call the AdventureWomen office at (800) 804-8686 to determine space availability and register for this trip. We can complete your registration, including taking your credit card deposit over the phone. As a courtesy, we can hold your space for five days while you are making personal and travel arrangements.

If you prefer, you can register online by clicking “Sign Up for this Trip” on the trip page.

Please be sure to read the AdventureWomen policies before registering!

Forms and Final Payment

Once you book, you will need to fill out and return to AdventureWomen:

  • Information Form
  • Booking Conditions Form
  • Copy of Flight Information
  • Copy of Issuing Page of Passport (photo page)

Final payment is due to AdventureWomen in a cash form (check, money order, or wire transfer) on or before September 7, 2019.

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Call us ~ 1.800.804.8686

What's Included

Included

  • Accommodations based on double occupancy
  • Meals as noted in the itinerary
  • All ground transportation throughout the trip
  • All activities as listed in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees
  • English-speaking guide throughout the trip
  • One AdventureWomen Ambassador

Not Included

  • International airfare
  • Domestic airfare
  • Meals not specified in itinerary
  • Beverages, unless otherwise specified
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Gratuities

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Call us ~ 1.800.804.8686

Accommodations

Zhiwa Ling Hotel
The Zhiwa Ling hotel combines the sensibilities of a fine Bhutanese guesthouse with the best of 21st century technology. Created by a local Bhutanese company, the hotel’s elaborate hand-carved wooden cornices and masterful stonework coexist beautifully with cutting-edge telecommunication systems and Swedish under-floor heating.

Yu-Gharling Resort and Spa
The perfect retreat for mind, body and soul, Yu-Gharling Resort offers ultimate rejuvenation and relaxation. All rooms offer spectacular views of Chokhor Valley.

Yangkhil Resort
Within walking distance from Trongsa town, Yangkhil Resort is the most elegant resort in town. The lush green and colorful gardens, fish pond, breathtaking panoramic views of Trongsa Dzong, Taa Dzong, Mangde Chhu, and the view of mountains soaring over 10,000 feet create an unforgettable setting at Yangkhil Resort.

Dewachen Hotel
The Dewachen Hotel is designed and decorated in modern traditional Bhutanese style, and is perfectly blended with the natural garden and apple orchard surroundings. The resort is a perfect hideaway relaxation. Take advantage of individual balconies to enjoy the breathtaking view of the valley.

Tented Camp
Enjoy your stay at this remote tented camp. Basic amenities include cots, an open dining area with a fire pit, and separate toilet and shower facilities.

Zhiwa Ling Ascent
Located just outside the center of the city, Zhiwa Ling Ascent welcomes you to relax in a park-like setting with panoramic views. Relax in one of 20 spacious rooms designed in the most energy-efficient way to capture as much sunlight as possible and take in superb views of the surrounding countryside.

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Call us ~ 1.800.804.8686

What to Bring

As you get ready to pack for your adventure, have a look at The AdventureWomen Store at www.theadventurewomenstore.com - we have picked out our favorite travel clothes and outdoor gear to help make packing easy for you. You can also see our recommendations for this trip on the AdventureWomen Pinterest page.

Temperatures will fluctuate depending on elevation and time of day. You should be prepared for a low of 20°F and a high of 80°F. Plan on dressing in casual, comfortable clothing and layering for this AdventureWomen trip.

Clothing and Gear

  • Duffel bag
  • Daypack and rain cover
  • Medium-weight, waterproof hiking boots (make sure they are broken in!)
  • 4-5 pairs wool hiking socks
  • 5-7 pairs underwear
  • 1-2 lightweight long underwear tops
  • 1-2 lightweight long underwear bottoms
  • 2-3 short sleeve shirts (quick dry recommended) -
  • 1-2 long sleeve shirts (quick dry recommended)
  • 1-2 pairs of pants
  • 1-2 pairs of shorts
  • 1-2 sets of casual clothes for evenings
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 1 medium weight fleece sweater/jacket for cool evenings
  • 1 heavy jacket (down or synthetic)
  • 1 pair gaiters
  • Waterproof jacket (Gore-Tex recommended)
  • Waterproof pants (Gore-Tex recommended)
  • Warm hat, gloves
  • Hat for sun protection
  • Comfortable shoes and/or sandals
  • Sleepwear
  • Telescopic trekking poles (optional)
  • Large refillable water bottle

AdventureWomen Essentials

  • Travel documents (passport, airline tickets, money)
  • 2 spare passport photos in case your passport is lost or stolen
  • Write down/print out travel insurance number
  • Locks for your suitcase/duffel bag
  • Travel alarm clock with spare batteries
  • Headlamp or small flashlight with spare batteries
  • Binoculars (8x40/42 models are excellent choices; center focus models are easiest)
  • Digital camera, memory cards, battery charger
  • Power adapters
  • Sunglasses, case, and strap
  • Spare glasses, contact lenses, cleaner, saline, etc.
  • Money belt or neck pouch
  • Your AdventureWomen insulated bottle (good for hot or cold drinks!)
  • Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Hand wipes/hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Soap, shampoo, and conditioner
  • Small packet of tissues
  • Tampons and panty liners (avoid plastic applicators)
  • Earplugs: We recommend Mack’s Pillow Soft White Moldable Silicone Snore Proof Earplugs. Available at most drugstores or at www.earplugstore.com
  • Assortment of stuff sacks and Ziploc bags
  • 1-2 bandanas/Buff
  • Reading material/journal and pens

Personal First Aid Kit

  • Prescription medicine you usually take
  • Personal epi pen (if you need one, don’t forget to pack it!)
  • Bandages, Gauze, Ace bandage, blister prevention
  • Antiseptic wipes/spray
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Cotton-tipped applicators
  • Oral rehydration tablets/packets
  • Antidiarrheal medication
  • Mild laxative
  • Antacid
  • Cold remedies
  • Ibuprofen/acetaminophen
  • Eye drops
  • Tweezers, scissors (travel size), safety pins

If you prefer to buy a complete kit, we recommend the Smart Travel first aid kit.

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Call us ~ 1.800.804.8686