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Bhutan. Three Journeys Inside the Hidden Himalayan Kingdom.

What a perfect time to visit the Himalayan hideaway of Bhutan. The king has abdicated, giving the Bhutanese a chance to govern themselves. Choose the highlights you want to visit: Thimphu, the Punakha Valley, the diminutive city of Paro and the Paro Valley, the Phobjikha Valley (home of rare black-necked cranes), and the Bumthang Valley. Each has much to recommend it.

     R. Crusoe offers three sample journeys to get you started. We never promised choosing would be easy...


Bhutan

Type:Custom Journeys

Mode:Land

Sample Journeys

Here are three sample journeys to Bhutan—a 10-day itinerary, a 12-day, and a 13-day. Remember that R. Crusoe can create a Bhutan journey of any length to meet your exact specifications.

Bhutan. Inside the Hidden Himalayan Kingdom. 10 Days.

Day 1: United States
• Overnight flight to Asia.
Overnight in flight

Day 2: Asian Gateway City
• Land in the Asian gateway city of your choice: Bangkok, Kathmandu, Delhi, Mumbai, or Calcutta.
Overnight in Asian Gateway City

Day 3: Asian Gateway City; Paro, Thimphu, Bhutan
• Fly to Paro.
• Drive two hours to Thimphu.
• Remainder of day at leisure.
Overnight in Thimphu

Day 4: Thimphu
• City tour including Memorial Chorten, Choki School of Arts & Crafts, Folk Heritage Museum, Textile Museum, Thimphu Dzong.
Overnight in Thimphu

Day 5: Dochu La Pass, Punakha Valley
• Drive to Dochu La Monastery, follow Dochu La Pass.
• Punakha Valley, Punakha Dzong.
Overnight in Punakha Valley

Day 6: Punakha Valley, Thimphu, Paro Valley, Paro
• Wangdi Dzong or Chimi Lhakhang, the Temple of Fertility.
• Drive to Thimphu for lunch.
• Private invitation into Amin Dratsang Nunnery to visit female monks.
• Arrive in Paro Valley.
Overnight in Paro

Day 7: Paro, Tiger's Nest Monastery
• Day at leisure.
• Option to hike up to Tiger's Nest Monastery, one of Bhutan's holiest sites, or take a less strenuous hike up Dzong Draka.
Overnight in Paro

Day 8: Paro
• City tour including National Museum, Paro (Rinpung) Dzong, Paro main street.
• Leisure time.
Overnight in Paro

Day 9: Paro; Asian Gateway City
• Fly to your Asian gateway city.
Overnight in flight

Day 10: United States
• Welcome home.

Farther Inside Bhutan. 12 Days.
Day 1: United States

• Overnight flight to Asia.
Overnight in flight

Day 2: Asian Gateway City
• Land in the Asian gateway city of your choice: Bangkok, Kathmandu, Delhi, Mumbai, or Calcutta.
Overnight in Asian Gateway City

Day 3: Asian Gateway City; Paro, Thimphu, Bhutan
• Fly to Paro.
• Drive two hours to Thimphu.
• Remainder of day at leisure.
Overnight in Thimphu

Day 4: Thimphu
• City tour including Memorial Chorten, Choki School of Arts & Crafts, Folk Heritage Museum, Textile Museum, Thimphu Dzong.
Overnight in Thimphu

Day 5: Dochu La Pass, Wangdi, Phobjikha Valley
• Drive along Dochu La Pass.
• Dochu La Monastery.
• Lunch in Wangdi.
• Enter Phobjikha Valley.
Overnight in Phobjikha Valley

Day 6: Phobjika Valley, Jakar
• Morning at leisure, nature walks, wildlife viewing.
• Gangte Goemba Monastery.
Overnight in Phobjikha Valley

Day 7: Phobjika Valley, Wangdi or Punakha
• Chimi Lhakhang, the Temple of Fertility.
• Punakha Dzong.
Overnight in Punakha Valley

Day 8: Wangdi or Punakha, Paro Valley, Paro
• Drive to the Paro Valley.
• Private invitation into Amin Dratsang Nunnery to visit female monks.
• Arrive in Paro.
Overnight in Paro

Day 9: Paro, Tiger's Nest Monastery
• Day at leisure.
• Option to hike up to Tiger's Nest Monastery, one of Bhutan's holiest sites, or take a less strenuous hike up Dzong Draka.
Overnight in Paro

Day 10: Paro
• City tour including National Museum, Paro (Rinpung) Dzong, Paro main street.
• Leisure time.
Overnight in Paro

Day 11: Paro; Asian Gateway City
• Fly to your Asian gateway city.
Overnight in flight

Day 12: United States
• Welcome home.

Deeper Inside Bhutan. 13 Days.
Day 1: United States

• Overnight flight to Asia.
Overnight in flight

Day 2: Asian Gateway City
• Land in the Asian gateway city of your choice: Bangkok, Kathmandu, Delhi, Mumbai, or Calcutta.
Overnight in Asian Gateway City

Day 3: Asian Gateway City; Paro, Thimphu, Bhutan
• Fly to Paro.
• Drive two hours to Thimphu. En route, by private invitation enter Amin Dratsang Nunnery to visit female monks.
• Remainder of day at leisure.
Overnight in Thimphu

Day 4: Thimphu
• City tour including Memorial Chorten, Choki School of Arts & Crafts, Folk Heritage Museum, Textile Museum, Thimphu Dzong.
Overnight in Thimphu

Day 5: Dochu La Pass, Punakha Valley
• Drive along Dochu La Pass.
• Dochu La Monastery.
• Enter Punakha Valley.
• Punakha Dzong, walking tour of Punakha countryside, rice paddies, Pana village.
• Chimi Lhakhang, the Temple of Fertility.
Overnight in Punakha Valley

Day 6: Punakha Valley, Phobjika Valley
• Morning at leisure.
• Drive to Phobjikha Valley.
Overnight in Phobjikha Valley

Day 7: Phobjika Valley, Wangdi or Punakha
• Morning at leisure, nature walks, wildlife viewing including black-necked cranes.
• Gangte Goemba Monastery.
Overnight in Phobjikha Valley

Day 8: Trongsa, Jakar, Bumthang Valley
• Drive to Trongsa to view temples and sanctuaries including Trongsa Dzong and its towers, Ta Dzong.
• Arrive in Jakar.
• Evening at leisure.
Overnight in Bumthang

Day 9: Bumthang Valley
• Tour the Bumthang Valley including Kurjey Lakhang, Jakar Dzong, and Wangdichholing Palace.
• Time at leisure.
Overnight in Bumthang

Day 10: Paro
• Fly to Paro.
• National Museum, Paro Dzong, Paro main street.
Overnight in Paro

Day 11: Paro, Tiger's Nest Monastery
• Day at leisure.
• Option to hike up to Tiger's Nest Monastery, one of Bhutan's holiest sites, or take a less strenuous hike up Dzong Draka.
Overnight in Paro

Day 12: Paro; Asian Gateway City
• Fly to your Asian gateway city.
Overnight in flight

Day 13: United States
• Welcome home.

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Sample Pricing

Bhutan. Inside the Hidden Himalayan Kingdom: Per person sharing room from $5,490 for this 10-day sample itinerary

Farther Inside Bhutan: Per person sharing room from $6,490 for this 12-day sample itinerary

Deeper Inside Bhutan: Per person sharing room from $6,980 for this 13-day sample itinerary

Upgrades to Aman hotels are possible on all three sample journeys at additional cost. For details, please speak to an R. Crusoe travel specialist.

For more information, to book, or to speak to an R. Crusoe & Son tour specialist, please call us at 800-585-8555.

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Thimphu.

Tashi Taj. A blend of dzong architecture and modern design. Adorned with classical hand-drawn Buddhist murals, its 66 guest rooms afford breathtaking views of the mountains that rise above Thimphu Valley. Amenities: fitness center, spa, heated indoor pool, 2 restaurants, 2 bars.

Amankora Thimphu. This property, in a blue-pine forest, sits close to the area’s intriguing sites and its charming traditional shops. The Amankora is a quiet retreat. Its dzong-like architecture incorporates stone, whitewashed buildings, and traditional wood burning bukhari stoves. A flagstone outdoor dining deck offers views of surrounding forest. 16 suites. Amenities: spa, 1 restaurant.

Punakha.

Uma Punakha. Opened September 2012. Positioned on a river bend in the Punakha Valley, the Uma offers stunning views from its light-filled rooms. Two villas—an intimate 1-bedroom and a family-friendly 2-bedroom—provide luxury in the wilderness. 9 guest rooms, 2 villas. Amenities: holistic treatment center, 1 restaurant.

Amankora Punakha. Based around a traditional farmhouse built by the queen mother, this hotel is surrounded by orchards and rice paddies and flanked by the Mo Chu River. Indulge in the spa, if you choose, or practice meditation during your stay. 24 suites. Amenities: spa, 1 restaurant.

Paro.

Uma Paro. Located on a 38-acre site atop a tree-clad hill close to town. 9 villas, 20 guest rooms. Amenities: holistic spa, indoor pool, fitness center, 1 restaurant.

Amankora Paro. This lodge stands nestled in a beautiful pine forest in the shadow of Mount Jhomolhari. The property is cozily understated, its architecture drawing from traditional Bhutanese design. Natural rammed-earth walls and gently sloping roofs characterize its rooms. 24 suites. Amenities: library, spa, boutique, 1 restaurant.

Phobjikha Valley.

Amankora Gangtey. On a forested knoll close to the valley floor. A winding path leads guests through the forest and offers sweeping views of the stunning valley landscape, fields of dwarf bamboo, and lush potato crops. The lodge accommodations and guest areas are in a rammed-earth building. Cozy chairs and sofas and family-style dining tables all providing valley and mountain views through floor-to-ceiling windows. 8 guest rooms. Amenities: spa, massage, yoga, 1 restaurant.

Bumthang.

Amankora Bumthang. Set in apple and pear orchards and framed by fields of buckwheat, millet, potato, and deep pine forests. Each of the suites is warmed by a wood-burning bukhari stove and offers views onto a courtyard, a nearby palace, and a monastery. 16 suites. Amenities: spa, library, 1 restaurant.

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Bhutan Birding.

Those of you who love birds know who you are. (Count R. Crusoe in.)

     One bird that gets an ornithologist grabbing for a pair of binoculars? The Black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis), sometimes called the Tibetan crane.

     Of the 16 known species of cranes, the black-necked was the last to be discovered. Nikolai Przhevalsky, an officer with the Imperial Russian Army, first recorded a sighting in Tibet in 1876.

     Late each October, black-necked cranes (the Bhutanese call them thrung thrung karmo) begin their migration from the Tibetan Plateau to Bhutan. Many settle in the Phobjikha Valley, feeding on dwarf bamboo shoots that grow in this wetland. By mid-February, the birds begin their return flight to Tibet.

     Hunting and habitat encroachment threatened the black-necked crane population until the Bhutanese government took action and outlawed hunting in 1980. Today, killing a crane is a serious crime in Bhutan, and the government has designated the bird’s habitats as protected conservation areas.

     The cranes have attained celebrity status in Bhutan. They typically circle the Buddhist Gangtey Monastery in the Phobjikha Valley three times upon arrival and again upon departure, which is seen by the locals as a nod to the gods. Indeed, many Bhutanese consider it a blessing to see black-necked cranes flying overhead.

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