October 2023 Royal Bhutan Development Trip : 20-28 OCTOBER, 2023
* Pricing is based on an intimate group of no more than 12. Prices will vary based on number of participants.
From dining with dignitaries to meditating with monks, experience Bhutan the way we share it with our families and closest friends—through the eyes and hearts of the people. Often called “The Last Shangri La,” Bhutan is one of the few places left on Earth where people and nature exist in harmony.
Bhutan known as the Land of Thunder Dragon, has a population of 750,000, and it famed for being the only carbon negative country on our planet and pioneering the concept of Gross National Happiness.
Day 1 October 20: PARO
Touch down in Paro, home to the country’s only international airport. A day of Bhutanese wellness traditions follows at five-star stay, Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary, from yoga, specialised massages and hot stone baths to the savoury six-course meal sourced from nearby farms.
Day 2 October 21: PUNAKHA
Find Your Center
Before your journey onward, receive a blessing and spiritual cleansing by the Head Lama at one of Paro’s most sacred monasteries. A scenic drive through the lush and fertile Punakha Valley—lovingly carved by the Bhutan’s “Mother” and “Father” rivers—delivers you to the famed meditation caves of Dochula Pass, where a monk will lead you through a transformative practice. Later, put your centered mind to the test during an archery match with a national champion at Aum Karma’s home.
Day 3 October 22: PUNAKHA
Honoring the Present and Past
Set off on a morning stroll or on horseback to take in deep, restorative breaths of fresh mountain air. Or simply sit back and enjoy the breathtaking vista from your hotel balcony. On the horizon? Rich cultural exploration at a Buddhist temple built by Queen Mother in 1999. Khamsum Yuelley Monastery’s intricately carved shrines to wrathful deities ward off evil to promote peace. This sentiment carries forward at Relief Rider’s dentistry camp for monks, where you will spend a few hours helping restore smiles within the happiness capital. This evening, an intimate bonfire dinner, with folklore shared in vibrant detail through Layap song and dance, further glimpses Bhutan’s spellbinding rituals and celebratory traditions.
Day 4 October 23: PUNAKHA
Currents to Constellations
A rafting excursion rewards with stunning views of the Himalaya before gently delivering you to your delectable picnic. Then, step back in time at the famed “Palace of Bliss,” 17th century fortress, Punakha Dzong—the second oldest and largest dzong in Bhutan. Dinner this evening shifts the gaze to the starry sky, accompanied by Bhutan’s leading astrologer who shares insights about your personal chart before you cap off the night sipping rare Bhutanese Whiskies fireside.
Day 5 October 24: PUNAKHA
Your day is filled witnessing Bhutan’s honor for the past and its eye for the future. This starts with a visit to a monastery, where conservator monks grant you special access to their restoration efforts. Then, feel the energy of one of the world’s largest Buddha statues, housing 125,000 miniature Buddhas—all in gilded pure bronze. After planting trees to promote the health of the land, sit down for dinner with Bhutan’s Minister of Health, the country’s only female cabinet member, to discuss her plans for fostering Bhutan’s famed saying, “no illness in body and no stress in mind.”
Day 6 October 25: THIMPHU
Lunch with the Buddhist Art and Cultural Conservation Center, a soccer match with monks, and meditation session with a lama: just another day-in-the-life for you in Bhutan. Your day also includes a visit to the Royal Textile Museum to see the elaborate crowns, pearl robes and bedding fit for kings. Then, nature’s majesty reigns supreme during your hike to your overnight stay at iconic Phajoding Monastery, where a butter-lamp offering awaits, symbolising peace and hope.
Day 7 October 26: THIMPHU- PARO
Specials of the Day
A morning hike finds you back in Thimphu, followed by a transfer to Paro. Here your efforts are rewarded with a hearty lunch by Aum Deki—a beloved home cook whose ema datshi (chile cheese) among other local specialties serve as a trip highlight.
You might recognize Rinpung Dzong or “Fortress on a Heap of Jewels” from 1993 Keanu Reeves film, Little Buddha. This architectural icon reveals storied tales of invasion and flood, offset by the peaceful chants of resident monks.
Your esteemed companion this evening is a representative of His Majesty’s Office, whose dinner conversation falls nothing short of riveting—full of rich cultural insight and aspirational plans for Bhutan’s future.
Day 8 October 27: PARO
The Peak of Happiness
Your trip to Bhutan would be incomplete without a hike to the legendary Tiger’s Nest Monastery. It’s believed Guru Rinpoche arrived at this spot on the back of a flying tigress. Perched high upon a cliff, it’s accessible by hiking path only, but the journey proves as rewarding as the destination. Explore sacred caves where monks seek enlightenment and follow your visit to the monastery with an unforgettable cliffside picnic.
This memorable day culminates at dinner with the Principal Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office and former Secretary of the Gross National Happiness Commission. Garner an intimate understanding of the innovative philosophy that has shaped Bhutan’s creed of kindness.
Day 9 October 28: PARO
Depart from Paro for your flight home.
Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary, Paro. 1 Night
Bhutan’s first and only spa-inclusive 5-star stay in Paro.
Dhumra Farm Resort, Punakha. 3 Nights
High-end Agro-tourism Resort overlooking Punakha Valley.
The Pema, Thimphu. 1 Night
A sparkling new 4-star property at the crossroads of modernity and tradition in Bhutan’s capital city
Phajoding Monastery, Thimphu. 1 Night
A 14th century monastery and one of the most sacred sites in Bhutan.
The Himalayan Keys Resort, Paro. 2 Nights
Tastefully appointed cottages nestled within a pine tree forest extending breathtaking views of the Himalayas.
AUTHENTICITY TOPS THE MENU
Whether ducking into a secreted local hotspot for casual fare, enjoying multiple-course fine dining, or partaking in Bhutan’s bounty during a Comfort Picnic, your palate will be introduced to the best in flavourful tradition.
When curating culinary experiences, we select only chefs living within the individual valley regions we explore. Each sources natural local ingredients, supporting Bhutan’s carbon-negative footprint so you can enjoy guilt-free indulgence.
Flights can be arranged separately by you or our partner on ground. Paro International Airport is conveniently reached via Delhi, Bangkok, or Singapore. However, there are multiple points of entry that we would be happy to discuss.
A travel visa is required to book your flight and can only be issued by a licensed Bhutan tour operator. Once you have booked your tour, we will submit your visa application.
Bhutan’s constitution requires that over 60% of its land always remain forested. You will be gifted a tree sapling to plant as a special reminder of your time in the Kingdom.
Though there are many inroads to Bhutan, this fascinating country still eludes many well-seasoned travelers. It is said that you do not find Bhutan. Bhutan finds you.
End of program
THIS ITINERARY IS FLEXIBLE AND MAY BE SUBJECT TO CHANGE AT ANY POINT DUE TO UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES.