Trip Overview

Unlock the secret wonders of tiny Bhutan, a peaceable kingdom high in the Himalayas with AdventureWomen in 2021. Discover an astonishing natural diversity as you hike to fabled temples, participate in traditional ceremonies, and camp beneath starry skies. Along the way, experience the warm embrace of a culture rooted in kindness, spiritual traditions, and a deep reverence for nature.

Bhutan’s Himalayan mountain vistas, sweeping valleys, and deep forests create a stunning backdrop for adventures that speak to body, mind, and spirit. During 12 lost-in-time days discover wonders both earthly and divine, and a kingdom that values – and measures – its Gross National Happiness.

Meet your AdventureWomen traveling companions in Bangkok and fly to Paro, Bhutan. It’s instant immersion into this colorful riverside town as you set out for the richly adorned Kyichu Lhakhang Monastery. Toast to your upcoming adventures during a lively welcome dinner. In the morning drive up 13,000-foot-high Chele La Pass, then follow strings of prayer flags on a panoramic walk to the summit.

Throughout your journey your expert Bhutanese guide offers insight into the country’s long history and spiritual focus. You are also accompanied by an AdventureWomen Ambassador, committed to helping make your experience a fun and personally rewarding adventure, and cheering you on as you reach beyond your comfort zone to take on new challenges in your own unique way!

Fly to beautiful Bumthang valley dotted with ancient temples. As special, permission-only guests, explore the sacred monastic site of Jambey Lakhang. A leisurely walk brings you in step with one another as you follow the jade-green Chamkhar River through pastoral countryside. In a remote corner of the valley, visit the Pema Choeling Nunnery, home to approximately 100 female students. Join them in a moving spiritual drum ceremony and engage with the nuns to learn about their lives of devotion.

Continue to the town of Trongsa, stopping at a traditional wool-weaving center and the massive Trongsa Dzong fortress. In the surrounding Phobjikha Valley between 800-1,000 rare black-necked cranes settle in for the winter, offering superb photographic opportunities. As you walk through this exquisite natural environment, some will say you’re in Shangri-La – you may find it hard to disagree!

Onward to Punakha, the ancient country capital and home of your lovely tented retreat. Test your aim in traditional archery and darts before dinner, then sleep sweetly under a canopy of stars. En route to bustling, modern Thimpu, visit the 108 stupas at the Dochu La Pass. The colossal statue of seated Buddha Dordenma bestows a blessing of peace. Follow a pine-scented trail to Cheri Monastery, and visit a colorful traditional bazaar before an enlightening dinner in the company of local dignitaries.

Return to Paro for two final nights and further explore its cultural highlights. The meditative pilgrimage-hike to the viewpoint of iconic Taktsang Lhakhang Monastery, Tiger’s Nest, is a memorable communal experience with your new friends. Celebrate your restored inner calm at the farewell dinner, toasting to the kindred spirit of your fellow travelers, and the gentle harmony that is a way of life in this tiny remote kingdom.

Main Attractions

  • Journey through diverse mountain and valley landscapes, from high passes to river-laced farmlands
  • Explore ancient fortresses, monasteries, and temples, with special permission to enter the revered site of Jambey Lakhang
  • Participate in a moving drum ceremony for peace with the nuns at the remote Pema Choeling Nunnery
  • Observe and photograph the rare black-necked cranes that winter in the Phobjikha Valley
  • Camp under the stars for one night, near the historic valley town of Punakha
  • Hike the pilgrimage trail to the viewpoint of exquisite Taktsang Lhakhang, “Tiger’s Nest” monastery.

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
Bhutan, a jewel between India and China, is about the size of Switzerland. Within its small boundaries the ecological diversity is amazing. Through centuries of self-imposed isolation, Bhutan has been able to preserve its spectacular environment and nurture its unique culture. Drawing inspiration from its neighbor, Tibet, Tantric Buddhism has flourished and influenced art, crafts, and architecture for hundreds of years, and has shaped the Bhutanese way of life.

During your adventure, you’ll get to know your expert Bhutanese guide who offers insight into the country’s long history and spiritual focus. You are also accompanied by an AdventureWomen Ambassador, committed to helping make your experience a fun and personally rewarding adventure, and cheering you on as you reach beyond your comfort zone to take on new challenges in your own unique way!

Meet your group at the Bangkok Airport for your flight to Paro, Bhutan. Morning flight, time TBD. Your guide will meet you at the Paro Airport and transfer you to your hotel.

Explore the Kyichu monastery, one of the oldest and most sacred temples in Bhutan. The Royal Grand Mother conducts all her religious ceremonies at this temple. Learn its legends and mysteries from your guide.

You’ll have time to check in to your hotel and unwind this afternoon.

Enjoy a lively welcome dinner as you get to know your fellow travelers this evening. Share stories and learn about why each woman on your trip is excited to explore Bhutan!
Dinner

Overnight: Zhiwa Ling Hotel

Day 2

Paro
Drive to Chele La Pass at 13,000 feet, stopping to take in the spectacular views along the way. Enjoy panoramic views of the Paro and Haa valleys as well as the Himalayas and the Kachenjunga.

Hike to Kila Gonpa Nunnery, which was established as a meditation site in the 9th century and is said to be the oldest nunnery in Bhutan. Approximately 50 nuns pursue higher Buddhist college studies in a series of nunnery buildings that are pressed dramatically against the cliffs. Combine a visit here with a scenic one and a half hours of hiking to Chele La, passing delightful stretch of forest, chortens, and pray flags en route. Enjoy a picnic lunch during your hike. Your car will pick you up from the base of the nunnery to head back to Paro. (1.5 hours hiking)

Visit the newly renovated Drukgyel Dzong. The Dzong was instrumental in Bhutan’s line of defense against the Tibetan invasion.

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

Overnight: Zhiwa Ling Hotel

Day 3

Paro to Bumthang
Take a short flight from Paro to Bumthang this morning.

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 to Kurjey, 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.

Enjoy lunch at a restaurant along the way. You can spend a little bit of time in Bumthang exploring before heading back to your hotel.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Yu-Gharling Resort and Spa

Day 4

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 a few of 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 5

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.

This 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 6

Trongsa to Gangtey
After breakfast leave Trongsa, and drive to the Phobjikha valley. The Journey will take approximately four hours on rough roads, depending on the number of stops you make along the way. 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. Enjoy lunch as a group.

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.

Visit 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.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Dewachen Hotel

Day 7

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.

Settle into your camp. This is an AdventureWomen favorite! You’ll get to try the local archery and dart games and enjoy a night out under the stars.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Tented Camp

Day 8

Punakha to Thimpu
Enjoy breakfast at your camp this morning. Visit the 108 stupas built by the Queen Mother at the Dochu La Pass (10,300 feet).

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 9

Thimpu
Take a moderate hike over a typical cantilevered bridge spanning over the Wangchu river and ascend through pine forests to Cheri Monastery, with history dating back to 1620s. The monastery is now a major teaching and retreat center for the Drukpa Kagyud sect of Buddhism, which is the state religion. The Monastery serves as the monastic school for study of Buddhist Philosophy, metaphysics, mathematics, poetry, and many other Buddhist topics. The serene setting and the sanctity of the place here invites meditation. Enjoy a picnic lunch along the bank of a stream. (2 hours hiking)

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 10

Thimpu to Paro
Depart Thimphu and drive to Paro this morning. 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.

Hike towards Zuri Dzong, which starts above the National Museum. Enjoy an easy descent, passing an old temple along the way and then ascend to Zuri Dzong. This structure dates to the 14th century and contains temples to the local protective deities. From there it’s all a gentle climb downhill to Paro Rinpung Dzong’s ceremonial ground where every year the Paro Festival is held, attracting thousands of people from all over the country to witness this sacred festival. (2 hours leisurely hiking)

Have lunch at a local restaurant. Enjoy an archery and dart demonstration this afternoon. Try your hand and see if you are any good at hitting your mark!

Enjoy an early dinner this evening at your hotel.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Zhiwa Ling Hotel

Day 11

Paro
Some pilgrims walk for a month to reach the temple of Taktsang Lhakhang. The surrounding area has many temples, monasteries and, cells where many monks, nuns, and lay-people can meditate, some even for a lifetime. Hike up to the viewpoint for a spectacular and breathtaking view of Taktsang. The hike is 4-5 hours round trip.

Enjoy a slightly late lunch after your hike at a local restaurant. Return to the hotel this afternoon. Relax or take advantage of the spa.

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 (likely early evening arrival in Bangkok). Say goodbye to your new AdventureWomen friends as you connect with your flights home.
Breakfast

Please note: AdventureWomen will attempt to adhere to the itinerary as much as possible. However, certain conditions (political, climatic, environmental, and cultural) may necessitate changes in the itinerary. AdventureWomen reserves the right to alter any itinerary at any time, if necessary. We will attempt to notify participants of changes as far in advance as possible. Costs incurred by such changes will be the responsibility of the participants. 

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



Arrival and Departure Information

Arrive in Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) on December 5, 2021. Your flight to Bhutan (arranged by AdventureWomen) will be booked closer to departure, and will depart on the morning of December 6, 2021.

Depart Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) on December 17, 2021 after 8:00pm

We are happy to help you make your flight and travel arrangements. 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!

US Passport holders will need a visa to visit Bhutan. AdventureWomen will acquire this visa for you.

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. Please note that this is a general description of what you might encounter; for specific details about your trip, please consult the itinerary.

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 on the FitForTrips website.

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.

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.

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!

Preparation and Packing

Once you register for your adventure, we will send you a comprehensive preparation guide including weather information, gratuity suggestions, and a packing list.

As a reference, AdventureWomen typically suggests $200-250 for gratuities on most trips. Detailed information will be provided to you prior to departure.

Forms and Final Payment

The deposit for this trip is $800, and is nonrefundable and nontransferable. 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). A maximum of $1,500 per person can be put on a credit card, which includes your deposit.

Final Payment Due Date: September 7, 2021

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 as per itinerary based on double occupancy
  • All meals as listed in the itinerary
  • All ground transportation
  • Round-trip flights from Bangkok to Bhutan and flights within Bhutan (priced separately from the main trip)
  • Fully-guided sightseeing as indicated in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees
  • English-speaking guide throughout the trip
  • Drinking water in large jugs to refill personal bottles
  • Gratuities for baggage handling, drivers, and hotel staff

Not Included

  • International airfare to and from Thailand
  • Optional activities
  • Meals not specified in the itinerary
  • Alcoholic beverages (unless otherwise specified)
  • Fees for passport, visas, immunizations, or travel insurance
  • Cost of hospitalization or evacuation
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Gratuities for head guide

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..

Amenities:
Soap, shampoo, conditioner, hair dryer; electricity; Wifi

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.

Amenities:
Soap, shampoo, hair dryer; electricity; limited Wifi

Yangkhil Resort

Within walking distance from Trongsa town, Yangkhil Resort is the most elegant resort in town. The lush green gardens and 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.

Amenities:
Soap, shampoo, hair dryer; electricity; Wifi

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.

Amenities: Soap, shampoo, hair dryer; electricity; Wifi

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.

Amenities: Soap, shampoo; electricity in common areas

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.

Amenities: Soap, shampoo, conditioner, hair dryer; electricity; Wifi

Please note that all amenities were current when written and are subject to change at any time.

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

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

Call us ~ 1.800.804.8686